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Xtrarecycling

by Josh Lipton

This past few weeks at Wandertec:
1. Watched my shop being built
2. Attended Interbike
3. Picked up some Wandertec woven labels
4. Rode in the Tour de Fat parade.
5. Unsuccessfully attempted to fight a bicycle traffic ticket

The expansion of the Wandertec shop is starting pick up some steam. The framing and roof are complete. Now the utilities are going in and the painters have just showed up. It’s looking great and I’m hoping it will complete perhaps in a month or less.

It was a quick trip to Interbike this year. I spent some time handing out the Wandertec mLite. I was able to get it displayed on BOB Trailers as well as several other bikes and trailers around the show. I was busy gathering information about a variety or bike pannier companies in preparation for expanding into bike rack and pannier sales.

Yesterday, I went to traffic court to try to get out of a traffic ticket for running a red light. The light was turning from yellow to red as I rode through. I didn’t really dispute the charge but was hoping to get a different penalty than is applied to motor vehicles. Unfortunately, the law in AZ gives you the same punishment on a bike as if you were in a motor vehicle. Here are a few thoughts on the matter that I put together before going into court:

I strongly agree that bicyclists need to obey traffic laws, however violations of traffic laws should be punished in a manner that takes into consideration the very different nature of bicycle travel vs. motor vehicle travel. Motor vehicles are inherently much more dangerous to others. A bicyclist violating traffic laws is extremely less likely to injure or kill someone else when compared to a motor vehicle doing the same traffic violation. Given this factor, punishments and fines for bicycle traffic violations should be adjusted to fit their relative impact. Punishments and fines for bicycle traffic violations should not be combined in with the fines of the exponentially more dangerous motorized vehicles.

Additionally, the use of motor vehicles also creates pollution and congestion. The use of bicycles poses less risk to others, does not cause pollution and causes comparably far less congestion. The many benefits to our society of using bicycles instead of motor vehicles deserve some consideration in determining how traffic violations are punished.

On a practical level, riding a bicycle is a very different experience than driving a motor vehicle. When riding a bicycle there is a much greater sense of vulnerability. There is also a much greater sense of awareness of surrounding traffic because you have a completely unobstructed view and are in standing position where it is much easier to swivel around in any direction. While traffic laws are very appropriate for motor vehicles, they do not currently take into consideration the very different nature of riding a bicycle. Bicyclists should be supported with laws adjusted to the different nature of the vehicle. Perhaps, bicyclists should be required to get licensed, registered and insured in a manner that is appropriate for bicycle use. This would lead to safer, more knowledgeable, better equipped, and better supported bicyclists.

 
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