Paul Andrews

Insight into why cyclists may “waffle” on bike safety legislation

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on January 26, 2010 at 1:35 am

Interesting take from Cathy Tuttle of Spokespeople on “Why I Waffled” re Washington State’s proposed “vulnerable user” legislation. From a note Cathy sent out to an email list, by way of explaining why she delayed acting on the issue:

“Right now, if a driver is speeding, or runs a light, or makes an illegal u-turn and mows down my child walking to school or maims my husband biking to work, that driver most likely will be given nothing more than a $42 traffic ticket. There are drunk driving and vehicular homicide laws that are more aggressive, but if a driver is breaking the law and kills or maims a pedestrian or bicyclist, Washington State laws favor the driver. So what caused my reluctance to support this bill?
I support all sorts of good causes these days, some quite controversial, with no qualms at all: 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, SCALLOPS, Sustainable Food Systems, Transition Towns.  And I don’t like the idea that a distracted, incompetent driver can mow down walkers and bikers with impunity. It hearkens back to the Middle Ages when lords could run over peasants and not look back.
And then I realized why I waffled. It is because I could be that distracted driver. I speed (just a little). I talk on the phone in the car (only in rare cases). I have been known to catch just the tail end of a green (well, yellow) light. My car. My weapon.

I have an obligation not to cause great harm in everything I do. I would want the redemption of punishment, more than a $42 ticket, if I killed a cyclist while I was running a red light. That is exactly what the Vulnerable User Bill does. It fills the gap between a simple traffic ticket and more serious offenses. It requires a court appearance and possible community service for drivers who kill or gravely injure pedestrians, bicyclists or other vulnerable road users. It is a deterrent to negligent driving and will encourage us to focus our attention as we negotiate the urban streets more and more filled with our friends, children, and neighbors.
Please choose to fill out the quick on-line form supporting the Vulnerable User Bill. Now.”

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