Urban Cyclists Adopt The J-Walking Ploy?

Background Reading

Summary

1937 Works Progress Administration (WPA) Jaywalking Poster

1937 Works Progress Administration (WPA) Jaywalking Poster


TakeAways

We are as likely as our motoring cousins to cry foul when anyone steps into our lane.

pedestrians-in-bike-lane

pedestrians-in-bike-lane

But we cannot have it ‘both ways‘. Our spiritual leaders the Pope of Bicycle Heaven makes it abundantly clear that the concept of Jay Walking was designed to ‘keep pedestrians in their place‘. In essence it is an attempt to make certain that motorists have a way of avoiding responsibility when a collision occurs.

It appears that we have also found comfort in seeking to employ the same sort of arguments. Suddenly the ‘bike lane‘ is sacrosanct. Pedestrians who cross the street in any location other than the crosswalk are invading the bike lane in those instances where their trajectory intersects with our bike lane.

How is that any different than normal, garden variety ‘jay walking‘?

Left, a cartoon from 1923 mocks jaywalking behavior. Via the National Safety Council. Right, a 1937 WPA poster emphasizes jaywalking dangers.

Left, a cartoon from 1923 mocks jaywalking behavior. Via the National Safety Council. Right, a 1937 WPA poster emphasizes jaywalking dangers.

It would be nice for the sake of discussion for the True Believers to follow their Pope by ‘staying on point‘. According to his version of things, automobiles are the villains. Anything that disrupts the normal pecking order for which God designed streets is simply wrong.

People and frankly most bicycles are at the top of that pecking order. And in gratuitous fashion we could add mass transit (although recent events show it is far too dangerous even when the driver of the bus is carrying no load) followed by automobiles.

So let’s stop trying to pin the situation of a collision on a pedestrian. We need to ‘own‘ this one. Furthermore riding around without the benefit of a friction device to aid in deceleration is cause for extra care on our part. Right?

The bike lane is not ‘our right of way‘. In fact it is the right of way of anyone with the exception of automobiles on a generalized basis. There are those times when a right turn necessitates an intrusion however:

Right Turn and Right Hook Illustration

Right Turn and Right Hook Illustration

But note that the cyclist is advised to take the lane normally used by automobiles. This is a bit confusing since the idea that a bike lane is solely our province of operation leads one to think that the other lanes are thus reserved for everyone else, but that is not true.

Being Taken Seriously As Users of the Roadway Requires Ownership

Cyclists seem to have a convenient excuse for anything they do which they find troubling. If they hit a pedestrian, it is because that person is ‘in their lane‘. Yet when they described the offenses of motorists who complain about ‘jay walking‘ they drone on and on about how this term is something designed by the villains of the roadway (namely automobiles) to justify their wrongs done to pedestrians.

In fact one individual explained that her biggest difficulty when riding home from work on her bicycle was avoiding children who were likely to cross through the bike path along streets that have playgrounds and ball fields.

That is precisely how motorists feel. But as she explained slowing down made all the difference. That means of course that having a goddam brake on your bike should be required.

We need to be a self-policing community. Instead we look in desperation for one of our journalistic lapdogs to bail us out of our predicaments with a neat believable explanation about why what we did was understandable. Hitting a pedestrians is never understandable. It is simply wrong!

Stop The Hair-Splitting In This Instance The PEDESTRIAN is the VULNERABLE USER!

Stop The Hair-Splitting In This Instance The PEDESTRIAN is the VULNERABLE USER!

So let’s own it and then begin the conversation by asking why it is as difficult for us to behave we on streets as we find it to be for motorists. And the proper place to look is at the speed differentials between both cars or bicycles and pedestrians.

The faster moving vehicle is always the one who needs to adopt responsibility for the possibility of danger in their interactions.