Monday, July 21, 2008

Licensing for cyclists?

Actually I should clarify-- "Adults on bicycles". The term "cyclist", for me at least, denotes competence. A certain level of skill and knowledge. Not everybody riding a bike is a cyclist.

No. This is not about snobbery.

This is about safety and sharing the road. I saw three folks on bicycles riding on the wrong side of the street!! Two of them were smart enough to wear a helmet and they both appeared to be commuters of some sort. One guy was super preppy on a Trek Portland. But he was on the wrong damn side of the street. And he pulled some bullshit short-cut move through a gas-station parking lot. The third was some kid coming at me. No helmet. I told him that he was on the wrong side of the road and left it at that. He doubtless thought me some short of elitist bike-lane hog.

Now you may be wondering about the gas-station short-cut and why I'm calling bullshit on that. Because the guy on the bike wasn't behaving like a car. He was being unpredictable.

When I'm out on the road I'm an adherent to the notion of "vehicular cycling". That means that I act like a vehicle rather than someone playing around on a toy.

And that brings us to the thing that really pisses me off and makes me think that any adult riding a bike on a public road should be required to have a license (and pass the tests required to get it). When people get out on bikes and ride on the wrong side of the street, ride on the sidewalk and then shoot out into a lane of traffic -- acting unpredictable -- they are just a ninny on a toy. Not someone operating a vehicle. And that makes motorists not take the rest of us seriously. That makes motorists perceive us as roadway dilettantes.


Sasha said...

Wouldn't an "adult on a bicycle" that is riding the wrong way in a bicycle lane be eligible for a ticket? Wouldn't that be education enough, without mandating licensing?

Brian-J said...

You're right-- that would likely create a behavior change. Just like a speeding ticket or other traffic violation penalty would spur a behavior change in someone driving a car.


However, I just fear that the wrong and unpredictable behavior by these "adults on bikes" makes "adults in cars" mistrust people on bicycles as a group. In my experience I get either preferential treatment (waved through intersections after I've already stopped and yielded right-of-way to a car) or completely ignored.