Monday, September 14, 2009

Bikes & Rules of Recognition

Apparently there is a big split among bike commuting advocates about traffic laws. While everyone agrees that the current rules of the road in most cities are designed to benefit drivers at everyone else's expense, one group claims bikers should follow the current rules while another holds that to do that adds up to treason against the entire bicycle community.

The dissenters' argument boils down to this: bikes are different than cars and need their own, bike-specific traffic laws; since they don't have those, the current laws are invalid; since the current laws are invalid, cyclists shouldn't follow them. Well, that sounds fine at first - especially because it rips off some old fashioned American political rhetoric - but there's a big difference between "invalid" laws that are unjust (e.g. segregation) and those that are invalid merely because they could be better.

The really bad principle behind the argument that bikers shouldn't follow the traffic laws is that only cyclists are considered capable of determining whether traffic laws are valid. No dice, friends. If you don't like the current rules, agitate to change them - but I missed the memo giving Critical Mass a veto over traffic laws.