The Tyranny of Speed

Background Reading




This article begins as follows:

Speeding is probably the most common and socially acceptable form of lawbreaking. Close to 100% of motorists will have less than perfect adherence to the posted limits, with a sizeable number of scoff-laws routinely flouting the law. There appears to be a belief amongst those routinely flouting speed limits that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing, that they have a right to drive at whatever speed they wish too. The inference is that their perceived right to go fast is more important than the rights of other road users to be and feel safe going about their business. I have observed strong resistance to measures as reasonable as 20mph zones in residential areas from people I would not necessarily expect it from. See the Association of British Jeb-ends Driversfor further examples of this kind of behaviour.

As both a cyclist and a motorist I recognize this trail as universal no matter what the mode of transport. In the forest preserve today I routinely saw bicyclists who were joyfully exceeding the 15 mph speed limit for the trail.

In every instance where one vehicle is clearly superior in speed attainment over others there is a further problem. We are dismissive of the right of the slower moving vehicles to share the road with us. I find this true for motorists dealing with bicycles and bicyclists dealing with pedestrians and runners.

Everyone is in a seeming hurry. To get where I am not certain, but we all seem hellbent on getting there first. What is also seemingly a universal trait is the tendency of both motorists and cyclists to give their slower roadway partners less than a respectful passing distance.

By law most states require a 3-Feet Rule for motorists passing cyclists. But the same distance is needed to safely pass pedestrians when riding a bike. But the problem is that moving as fast (relative to the slower traffic) as cars and bicycles do having to slow down and take ownership of the safety of others seems burdensome. And yes that means a certain amount of resentment creeps into your psyche and makes you question why the slower traffic is even allowed to share the roadway.

Getting faster traffic to understand that when it approaches slower traffic from the rear the onus is on the vehicle gaining on the slower one. But cyclists (like motorists) do not wish to own their responsibility in these circumstances. They far prefer that the runner up ahead or the dog walker or the couple walking hand-in-hand constantly turn and inspect the trail or MUP behind them for bicyclists.

Evidently car drivers feel the same about bicyclists. Neither the bicyclists on trails or the car drivers on roadways is right about their ownership of the problem. This is something that can be worked on for both groups going forward.