Doug is my rolling role model, my two-wheeling muse, my eco-physio-communal inspiration. Doug bikes to work most every day. (Once, I biked with him, but disliked the taste of my own blood.)
Doug is right.
He observed me riding a bicycle in traffic and saw me take unlawful advantage of being on a bike: when there was no moving traffic, I zipped through a red light.
It’s not normal behavior for me. I’m pretty strict about adhering to the law. Of all my fears, a top five fear is going to jail.
The Jay-Biker’s Rationalization
Running a red light on a bike is so available and so juicy when there’s no crossing traffic in any direction and, really, who expects a bicycle to wait at a traffic light when there is no cross traffic?
Plus, it’s safer for the bicyclist to cross a big intersection when there is no traffic flowing from any direction. Similarly, I’ve read that jaywalkers are safer crossing in the middle of a block (where there is only cross traffic) than lawful pedestrians crossing at an intersection (where traffic is flowing in various directions and turning). If safety is our goal, then I should be a jay-biker.
Doug gently admonished me. "Please don’t do that," he said. He went on…
"There is such tension between automobile drivers and bicyclists. The tension — and the danger it produces — could be resolved if: (1) each automobile driver would recognize each bike rider’s right to a safe share of the road; and (2) each bike rider would obey the laws of the road."
Ever the lawyer-citizen, Doug added this gem:
"Every time someone breaks a law, even a small infraction, I think that democracy dies a little bit."
Now, today, in the Columbus Dispatch, comes a front-page story of the tension between bicyclists and drivers.
Today, I renounce jay-biking. I will uphold the law.
Now, egad, my self-righteousness is complete. Run for your lives.
Or read about my day in traffic court.