Maus vs. Huckaby Exchange on KATU : The “Take-Aways”

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Background Viewing

  • KATU Video Can Be Viewed Here

Points Made By Speakers

  • Maus and Huckaby BOTH agree cyclists should follow the Rules of the Road
  • They disagree about how to gain cyclist conformity
  • Maus admits that 90% of cyclists already have drivers licenses
  • Maus says focus on reform and not revenge
  • Maus “people just don’t follow the law as they should”
  • Maus sees road users who are engaged in lots of
  • Maus reform the system so education is better and more stringent
  • Maus road vehicle access is built to move cars and not bicycles
  • Maus is arguing for looking beyond SAME ROADDS SAME RULES (Vehicular Cycling is being challenged)
  • Maus dislikes license plates because of the number of bikes
  • Huckaby agrees that drivers are using cell phones and driving distracted
  • Huckaby believes that enforcement would generate revenue.
  • Huckaby cites the effectiveness of enforcement
  • Maus believes that improvement of infrastructure will cause behaviors to improve
  • Maus cites the notion of differences between bicycle and motorvehicle laws
  • Maus thinks that there is a gap in the knowledge of road users.
  • Huckaby strongly disagrees with the 90% figure of drivers license owners by cyclists
  • Huckaby thinks that only 50% of the cyclists have drivers licenses
  • Maus believes that cycling needs to be encouraged and not

Take Aways

  • Huckaby is pointing out that there is a need to enforce the existing laws and to strengthen conformity to them by licensing cyclists. He believes that the costs (roughly $10 annually) are not onerous. Each bicycle owned would require a license and the same responsibilities that motorists have for knowing the laws of jurisdictions they visit would apply equally to cyclists. In essence he is requesting that cyclists behave as vehicle operators.
  • Maus has uppermost in mind not discouraging cyclists from using the road. His argument is that cyclists do less damage to the environment and their road use is vital to the growth of cities. He wants name changes to existing organizations to better reflect both motored and non-motored usage. He believes that increased infrastructure will solve the problems of cyclist non-compliance.

My Thoughts

The 800 lb. gorilla in the room for Maus is the notion of Vehicular Cycling. Like his European counterparts he feels that John Forester is wrong about the “SAME ROADS, SAME RULES” approach. This overthrow of the Vehicular Cycling strategy however has an unintended consequence here in United States. We are unlikely to ever completely revamp our streets to add the kinds of painted protected lanes that are currently the vogue in major metropolitan areas. To do this will require a commitment on the part of municipalities to provide cycling infrastructure, which will of course be expensive.

Europeans have committed to physically separate bicycle lanes. These are more than just painted areas on existing roadways. These are elevated with a curb and in some cases are not just improved sidewalk areas but truly separate trails. In the latter situation you have little or no interaction between bicycles and automobiles since they are on separate tracks.

Our cycling usage is not at the point where we can go hat in hand to the overall taxpayer community and request that level of isolated infrastructure for bicycles. And because of the unwillingness of bicyclists to obey the existing laws it is unlikely that the average motorist is going to see the need for additional expenditures on cycling in a favorable light.

It is at this point that I believe Maus and others in the Cycling Advocacy Community are misguided. Lack of infrastructure cannot be the excuse we give for non-compliance with existing laws. The very fact that as many cyclists are scofflaws as is easily seen makes the arguments for great expenditures the single biggest deterrent to increased public support of cycling. Nobody wants to reward cyclists with even better accommodations on the roadways until they prove their worthiness as partners on existing infrastructure.

Grousing about having to have licenses comes off as being a “I want to have my cake and eat it too” mentality. If you really want to have greater monies spent on improving infrastructure then you will have to accept the notion that being a part of the infrastructure usage community comes at a price. Having the Department of Motor Vehicles change its name to something that more closely reflects the existence of cycling as part of the roadway community means that cyclists will have to step up to the plate and take ownership of their role as equal partners.

At present it sounds more like we as cyclists are willing to hold hostage the roadways until we get our way. We complain bitterly when motorists break the laws by using cell phones while driving or are otherwise distracted or even speeding. We demand that law enforcement be applied to motorists and that stiff penalties be applied when they cause accidents with injuries. We are going to have to expect the same reaction to our own road usage from motorists.

Helmets are shunned by Europeans. Are we willing to go that same route in an effort to emulate what they have in terms of bicycle usage levels. Their current arguments against helmet use is that it creates the notion that cycling is dangerous and thus has a limiting effect on the growth of cycling in general. Are American cyclists willing to head down that road?

It is time for American cyclists to stop waiting for the Roadway Messiah. We are not going to gain any greater compliance with red light and stop sign laws by improving the roadway infrastructure. If that were the case then Portland would have decreasing amounts of scofflaw behavior from its cyclists rather than increasing. They are currently lightyears ahead of Chicago in that regard.

Our leaders in the Cycling Community need to stand up and lead from the front. Maus and Buhrke sound timid when trying to both express their disgust with cycling non-compliance while excusing it because the names of agencies do not better reflect the presence of cyclists. They sound even more wishy-washy when they decry the need to register bikes and adorn them with licenses. Part of this ambiguous behavior stems from the hybrid vision of improved infrastructure that is permeating the discussion here in the United States.

If we accept the notion that Maus puts forward that 90% of all cyclists already have drivers licenses then one must ask the following questions:

  1. Why bother with bike licensing since the overwhelming majority already know the Rules of the Road and are already have indoctrination enough to not need any further practical testing.
  2. But the other side of that coin is the question of why so few cyclists honor the very traffic controls for which they have been tested?
  3. In fact this would gravitate against Maus’s notion that it is further education of the cycling public that will help to shape their levels of compliance.

I would argue that you cannot have it both ways on this issue. And for that we have Huckaby to thank for flushing out a very weak argument.

We want the kind of truly physically separated infrastructure that Europeans have but we know that the price is too dear to press for that at the moment. So we are adopting a hybrid system that is supposed to get us further towards a more equitable and safe system for bicyclists. But in the meantime we are constantly reinforcing in the minds of cyclists that sharing the road lawfully is silly. We offer monthly group rides that we label as celebrations but are actually protests, known as Critical Mass. We do not use those reads as “teaching moments” for cyclists.

Instead we show them how a group of cyclists have enough of a presence on the roadway to be a “force with which to be reckoned”. By using corking techniques when passing through intersections we actually reinforce the notion that cyclists really do not have to observe the Rules of the Road. And by allowing ourselves to get into shouting matches with both motorists and pedestrians we characterize our behavior as aggressive in the minds of the very people whose votes will be need to alter the roadway landscape in our favor.

There is a madness inherent in these approaches that is being dignified by having Cycling Advocates get before cameras and cry crocodile tears over scofflaw behavior while decrying measures to enforce existing laws. It is very confusing to the general public to hear this kind of “Double Speak”. Parents have a difficult enough time getting teenage drivers to behave themselves when behind the wheel. Why would they want to encourage even more flagrant flouting of laws while their teenage children are riding bicycles?