Taxing churches, Drivers rights, and sharing the road

We’ve seen a huge influx in religion based politics and it hasn’t been to the benefit of anyone but a select few. There is a call to tax the churches and make them start paying their share. After all they are enjoying both the privilege of tax free and playing politics. You can’t have both. Right?

The old way of thinking was that if churches were taxed then the big bad government would tax them into oblivion and we’d end up with an atheist/ communist dystopia. So by not taxing the church we are in fact nurturing freedom of religion.

But we’ve seen a huge influx in political religion, or is it religious political? Either way it’s bad.

The rights of all individuals are being infringed upon by a noisy religious minority.

This is really frustrating to people like John Oliver, who did a brilliant segment on taxing churches.  John’s argument is superb, witty, and clever. He pulls no punches and makes it clear that not taxing these churches is a detriment to society. But he is wrong.

This church wants to be taxed.

We absolutely should not tax churches. Not because of their fears of being regulated out of existence by big government. (Which is a false fear), But because once that genie is out of the bottle, there is no getting it back in.

When any group accepts a tax exemption, it agrees to play by certain rules and accept a certain degree of oversight. Federal law actually makes it more difficult for the IRS to audit churches than other charities. In addition to this modest “no electioneering” rule, for example, tax-exempt groups cannot collect money for a “charitable” purpose and then use it all for the personal benefit of the director and her family (or the pastor and his family). Do you seriously believe that the IRS and possibly even criminal investigative bodies have no right to try to scrutinize possible misbehavior?
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a longtime civil liberties attorney.

Tax exempt means that churches don’t get to play openly in politics. You should not ever hear your pastor preaching from the pulpit and encouraging you to vote for a specific candidate. Churches don’t get to raise funds for elections and etc.

We do see religious leaders trying to skirt the fringes of the law and stick their fingers into the political honeypot. We’ve seen religious people taking our Civil Rights and twisting them out of existence. How or why we are allowing the meddling that we see today, I don’t know. I’m sure someone can explain it. But that doesn’t mean we open the gates of hell and give church’s legal political rights. The separation of Church and State is too vitally important to start taxing churches. Pastors, in case you weren’t aware, do pay taxes on their income. (I could flesh these thoughts out more but I’m going to leave it here for now.)

I use this example of Church and Taxes to illustrate a finer point.

Just because it seems to make sense doesn’t mean it’s logical or right or safe.

Drivers rights.

Minnesota is one of 13 states that makes refusing a breath test a crime. In 2014, there were more than 25,000 DWI arrests in Minnesota, and an estimated one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI. Via: CBS Minnesota

Drunk drivers are the scourge of our public right of ways. ( I say public right of way because if I said “Highway” you would think I’m referring to asphalt. A river is also a highway. Drinking and operating a boat is illegal.)

Highway: Public Right of Way commonly used for travel.

When you are operating a vehicle, you have a responsibility to operate carefully and with regard for other road users. Drinking and driving is showing a complete lack of regard for anyone but yourself. So is speeding and/or texting while driving. In fact anything you do in your car that takes your focus off of not killing yourself, your passengers, or anyone else on the road is a completely selfish act.

Operating a motorized vehicle is a huge responsibility. One which we take for granted. Much like churches being tax exempt keeps “church and state separate,” is taken for granted.

We see all the bad that comes from people driving drunk and we think that this gives us the right to take away the constitutional rights of drivers. It doesn’t.

Police are still duty bound to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of the people they are investigating. Any breach of this duty and bad things happen. If the Supreme Court rules that it’s legal to suspend constitutional rights because “driving,” then we have a real problem on our hands. There wouldn’t be anything to stop them from searching your backpack or saddlebags as you bike commute around town. Refusing an unreasonable search would be enough to land you in jail.

Cyclists and Drivers have a real opportunity to come together on this one. Your Constitutional rights don’t evaporate once you get behind a wheel.

The Minnesota case is interesting and I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the favor of the defendant. Or at least I sure as hell hope so.

That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of people driving drunk or about to drive drunk.* What it means is that I am in favor of cops following the law and not acting like they are somehow magically above the law because they have a badge.

Suspending someone’s Constitutional rights because they are operating a car is a slippery slope and once that genie is out of the bottle…Well you know the rest.

There is this niggling thought in my head that the auto industry and the government have a symbiotic relationship. Like drugs and needles. To inject the drug you need the needle.

We have a lot of drugged out people wanting that next injection.

Government bailouts of the auto industry. Increased spending on widening roads. building new roads, while the infrastructure we currently have is crumbling.

The best way to eliminate drunk driving is to yank licenses. It isn’t a right to have a license. It is your right to travel. But how  you travel is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Why we need to focus on sharing the road.

Part of sharing the road entails creating safe places for people to operate vehicles which are not autos. This can be through infrastructure but it can also be through education about cyclists right to use the roads we already have. Public transportation is another way we share the road. It serves the greater good to invest in public transportation, sidewalks, and low speed roads designed with bicyclist and pedestrians as priority.

Giving people choices on how to get from point A to point B is good moral governance. It gives the court options on how to deal with DWI or DUI offenders that it normally wouldn’t have. Good judges want to help people who appear in their court. Good prosecutors do not want to keep seeing the same people over and over again because they have a problem that is bigger than them. There are bad courts** out there too but I’m going to write this under the hope that they are few and far inbetween.

We don’t need to have the government strip away our Civil and Constitutional Rights away because we are auto dependent. We need to get away from our auto dependency and our abusive supplier. But to do that we need some serious rehab in the way of sharing the road.

 

 

*(I pissed off my then husband because I called the cops when he drove drunk to go get more beer. The police took the information I gave them and didn’t do anything about it. My ex made it to the store and back without killing himself or anyone else. Which just goes to show that stupid is often rewarded in society.)

**Nicholasville Kentucky, Judge Oliver, the County Prosecutor and his entire staff. These are a shining example of bad courts. My crime; being too poor to afford a car and riding a bicycle for transportation to and from work. 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Motorist Awareness Wednesday

Motorist Awareness Wednesday.

KRS 189.390 Speed
(2) An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.

Part 1
Driving on rural roads.

“Shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent,”

What does that mean?

From an engineering perspective operating at speeds for which the road was designed for, which is only a small part of this statute.

How does it apply to a driver operating on a clear day with high visibility on a rural back road?

Let’s assume a straight stretch of road, out in the middle of nowhere. No side streets, no business’, or residences with traffic pulling in or merging out.

It means you can operate at or near the posted speed limit as long as doing so does not interfere with the established rights of those already lawfully present on the highway.

Now let’s add a residence.

It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a pet or child suddenly dart out into the road. There is reasonable expectation that someone could be checking their mailbox or crossing the road to visit their neighbor, when residences are present.
I’d also add that we are still assuming a perfectly flat and straight road.

Now let’s add a curve in the road.

It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a vehicle, pedestrian, pet, fallen log, or a wild animal present itself on the road.
The lesson here is never ever operate as though the road ahead of you is clear when you are not able to see what is actually ahead of you. You do not have a reasonable expectation that there won’t be anything around a curve in the road.

Engineering standards require you to slow down even for gentle curves with some visibility ahead. You can not operate with the assumption that your vehicle is going to maintain contact with the pavement as you take a turn at speed.

 

Let’s add a hill.

We are going to go back to assuming a straight road without any potential conflicts from the side of a road.

You are required to operate your vehicle at a speed which allows you sufficient braking distance should you encounter another vehicle or object over the crest of a hill.
You should never operate at a speed which causes you to “catch air.” When your tires are not in contact with the ground you do not have any control over your vehicle.

Some law enforcement officers have trouble understanding these basic driving rules.

“Gribler said that, “in hindsight,” Oliver should not have been speeding through Bloomingdale into the sun and over a blind hill…”

The mother of the injured boy had this to say.

“I was almost physically ill,” she said. “All along I’d been telling my boys to keep faith, there will be a reprimand, he’ll suffer, he’ll be punished, and I just felt such failure. How am I supposed to help my boys keep their faith when there is no repercussion?

You can never ever assume that there isn’t something on the other side of the hill.

Summary of part 1

All things being perfect you still can not operate faster than the posted speed nor can you operate at a speed which interferes with anyone who is already lawfully present on the road.
You are still required to operate at a speed which allows you sufficient reaction time and braking distance to avoid a collision.

This falls under reasonable and prudent operation of a vehicle.

 

l2tCN.So.9
PETA activists who drive imprudently are hypocrites.

Next week we will look at dense urban areas and discuss this tragic story.

http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/04/01/nypd-no-charges-for-driver-who-hit-10-people-leaving-boy-brain-dead/

Bernie Sanders and Bicycles

Ask me why I want Bernie for President. I’m a woman, pro-choice, and I ride a bicycle for transportation.

Let me start by saying that I am perpetually shocked by cyclists who maintain a conservative view of women and their bodily rights.
Rights aren’t for a privileged few. Rights are for everyone. Yet, it appears the greater majority view personal rights as a privileged status.

You have rights if you can buy them.
You have rights if you can fight for them.
You have rights if you can defend them.

If you don’t fall into any of those categories? Oh well!

Bicycling as transportation; effectively destroying the stranglehold that the wealthy have over the poor.

I don’t mean people like “Make America Great Again,” (hereafter referred to as MAGA) I mean people who make up agencies such as your local DOT and Auto Manufacturers. Though it also includes those who make up MAGA as well as the after mentioned DOT ruling class.

Bernie Sanders understands these institutions do not MAGA and will never and have never MAGA’d. He also understands political lobbying and why institutions like DOT, FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), and the Auto Manufacturers, which breathe life into them, use your tax dollars to effectively lobby politicians to pass legislation against your best interests.

I’ve spoken to transportation employee’s and heard them refer to cycling advocacy groups as “special interest” groups. These people are completely unaware that the very departments they work for are Government sanctioned “special interest” groups. And they lobby for laws which effectively restrict any of your tax dollars being spent on infrastructure which is not auto centric, I’m talking about sidewalks and public transportation.

Tennessee is currently trying to pass legislation which prevents your tax dollars from being spent on any infrastructure that doesn’t benefit autos. Click here to read about it.

HB 1650 (with a companion in the Senate), as originally introduced and intended, would entirely ban the use of state gas tax revenue for building any sidewalks (even as part of a larger road project), bike lanes and trails, or other similarly cost-effective and popular projects to help make traveling on foot or by bike safer and more convenient.

P1760756-1024x682.jpg
Sidewalks would be useful here on Nolensville Rd, a state highway that’s also a local street through Nolensville, TN southeast of Nashville. A new Tennessee law could prevent state gas tax dollars from being used to add them.  Photo and Caption by: Stephen Lee Davis

Want to know something really scary?

Your state already has legislation like this and it’s most likely written into your state’s constitution. Lobbied for by special interest groups and paid for with your tax dollars.

You need to understand that these people are serious about taking your rights away. Look at what they did to women in Tennessee.
Tennessee amended their state constitution to guarantee a woman does not have any legal rights to abortion. Click here.

Tennessee voters reversed that decision last fall by adding language to the state constitution that denies abortion rights protections.

Wouldn’t it be amazingly powerful if we could get all people who respect Civil Liberties of Women and all people who respect Civil Liberties of Pedestrians and Cyclists to come together and promote the election of a President who will fight for all of our Civil Liberties?

Minorities have the most to gain from a President who defends everyone’s Civil Liberties.

You don’t have to be a cyclist to respect cyclists and you don’t have to be a woman to respect women. But you do have to be a decent human being who values others Civil Liberties so that your own Civil Liberties aren’t taken away.

Bernie Sanders understands the bigger picture.

Have you read any articles about how auto owners spend 30% of their income on transportation?

Imagine if you could break up with your auto. Yes, “break up” because it really is that emotionally fraught for some people.

By dumping the auto, you would effectively increase your income by up to 30%. That is 30% which becomes flexible income.  You would have money to spend on your dreams, your family, a hobby, and really anything which tickled your fancy.

That is the real difference between those who have and those who have not. Those issues have consistently been highlighted by Bernie Sanders.

The ability to spend money on items which produce happiness and have money to spend on those things which bring us joy is empowering. If you aren’t enjoying living are you really living? I suspect not.

Bicycles have been the great social equalizer. Historically providing women the means to travel outside their narrow confines, elevating the poor to independent, and giving minorities a chance long before it was “cool” to do so. Though not without the threats from racists in the organization. Read about Major Taylor.

12049214_10153949368578744_3427732750015799269_n.jpg

And that is what I want to highlight now.

Cycling is a great equalizer, and yet! There are those within who would exclude and ridicule anyone who is different from their perceived notion of cycling. Just as there are women who will harass and ridicule women seeking abortion care. I’ve volunteered as a clinic escort and the vitriol which comes from women is shockingly disturbing.
So again, I emphasize that you must respect others Civil Liberties so that your own may be protected.
I personally believe that if Major Taylor had been fully and unconditionally accepted more minorities would have given the cycling community the oomph they so desperately needed to fight back the destructive “special interest” auto lobbyists.

Your auto isn’t freedom, if you are poor and middle class. It is the illusion of freedom.

Bernie Sanders has promised to give power back to the American people, that is a Republican value, and why I, as a Republican, will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

Read: “Why we drive” by Andy Singer

If we should fail to elect Bernie Sanders in the primaries then I would ask you to consider the following.

ProBernie.PNG

Before I leave you, I want you to consider this, I’m writing this article as someone who has spent a great deal of time reading and studying this issue. If you disagree with something, first ask  yourself “what does she see that I’m not seeing?”

Being arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road tends to give you 20/20 vision on a lot of social issues surrounding car culture. It is this knowledge that I am trying to impart to you. Without you having to first experience the drama of being arrested and having tea party libertarians assault you for safely and legally cycling. The Republican party has greatly sidestepped their original values. Values which first inspired me to join the Republican party back when I was in middle school.

Living in a town which is the epitome of tea party libertarian agenda, I have first hand experience and can confidently tell you that their idea of liberty doesn’t include yours.

With a Democratic establishment we can hold off the impending apocalypse but we won’t fix it. Which is why my first choice is Bernie Sanders and I hope yours will be too.

 

Observing Traffic Court

If you want to put your finger on the pulse of car culture; observe traffic court.

The light was yellow for 2.7 seconds. I didn’t have time to stop in 2.7 seconds. So I went forward because I was worried about being cited for impeding traffic.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

 

There was so much traffic. The light was hard to see. I was worried about what the people behind me would do so I went through the light. I didn’t want to block the intersection.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

 

My van was loaded down with bricks. I must have had like a ton of weight back there. The road was really slick from all the rain and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop in time. So I went through the light.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

The motorcycle cop who cited all three of these defendants had a helmet cam. He presented the video evidence to the court.

One of these defendants had their traffic ticket dismissed. The other two did not.

Traffic Lights

§ 811.260¹

Appropriate driver responses to traffic control devices

(4) Steady circular yellow signal. A driver facing a steady circular yellow signal light is thereby warned that the related right of way is being terminated and that a red or flashing red light will be shown immediately. A driver facing the light shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…

(7) Steady circular red signal. A driver facing a steady circular red signal light alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…

The driver of a vehicle is required to keep their vehicle under control at all times. They are required to be on the lookout for other road users who may be in their path of travel.

As I sat and listened to the drivers giving their excuses as to why they failed to head the traffic control light, a theme began to appear.

  1. I was distracted.
  2. I didn’t have my vehicle under control.
  3. I was worried about the people behind me.
  4. I couldn’t stop in time.

All of the defendants excuses appeared to be valid in their minds. None of these excuses took into consideration anyone else who may have been using Oregon’s public right of ways. Namely pedestrians but also cyclists.

Speed Laws

§ 811.100¹

Violation of basic speed rule
(1) A person commits the offense of violating the basic speed rule if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to all of the following:
(a) The traffic.
(b) The surface and width of the highway.
(c) The hazard at intersections.
(d) Weather.
(e) Visibility.
(f) Any other conditions then existing.

If you can’t keep your vehicle under control; you are going too fast.

If you can’t safely stop at the yellow; you are going too fast.

If you can’t safely stop at the red; you are going too fast.

If the speed limit is posted at 35 mph but you can’t safely drive 35 mph then by law you are required to slow down.

Safety Zones

§ 811.030¹

Driving through safety zone
(1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of driving through a safety zone if the driver at any time drives through or within any area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected or is so marked or indicated by adequate signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
In the video, which the officer showed to the court, each of these drivers went through a safety zone. Their testimony indicated their inability to ascertain if there was a pedestrian present at the time they committed their violations.
While no one was injured, this time. It is a clear indicator that motorists are not educated about the rights of pedestrians. Nor are they educated about their duties as a motorist to be on the lookout for pedestrians or cyclists.
A glaringly obvious example of this is through TriMetsShow them your shine.” ad campaign. Seeing these ads on display throughout Portland heats my blood to a simmering boil.
sddefault
Part pedestrian and part cyclist. It is clear that the ad is placing the onus on the vulnerable road user to be seen. A subversive form of propaganda and victim blaming.

Oregon’s roads are first come, first served, and duty of care.

§ 801.440¹
Right of way
Right of way means the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed and proximity as to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other. [1983 c.338 §81]

Two of the defendants were found guilty.

One of the defendants was able to get his ticket dismissed. The dismissal was due to a lack of evidence. The evidence was based on the question of whether the yellow light was timed correctly and the vantage point of the officers video did not reveal the defendants traffic control signal.

All in all it was very edifying and I highly recommend it for all pedestrian and cycling advocates.

In all things, remember this, running a red light is illegal. The reason it is illegal is because it isn’t safe. It isn’t safe for you and it isn’t safe for any of the road users around you. Keep your vehicle under control and keep the safety of other road users in mind. Do not worry about what the people behind you are going to do. The person behind you is required to show you courtesy and safety by keeping their vehicle under control.

 

 

 

 

Why do you use the road like that?

Rachel @Kentuckygirl844 “…how many of those cars behind then actually have to be out and how many are just in the way “exploring.”

Grammatical errors aside.

I want to explore everything that is wrong with this tweet.

  1. It isn’t any of your business why other people are on the road. It is a public road and everyone pays to use it. When, how, or where they use it is up to them.
  2. “how many are just in the way” No one is ever in anyone else’s way on a public right of way, also known as a road. It belongs to the public and the public has the right to use it. These roads are first come, first served, and duty of care. We show compassion for other road users. We yield the right of way to those who were there first. It is courteous, it is wise, and it shows others that we have a heart beating in our chest.
  3. You have nothing better to do on a terrible winter day except to sit and wonder about what other people are up to? Lucky you! This is a picture of those who are not so fortunate. So how about a little compassion?
  4. “Adulting.” Only adults use the roadway. Only adults use cars on the roadway. This isn’t any place for “other” road users. If you aren’t adulting on the road then you are in the way. “Exploring” is for kids. So GTFO!
  5. If they are out there having a light hearted romp in the snow; is it really any of your business?

I think  your tweet says more about you than it does the people using the road.

This is why we can’t have nice things!

Snowing
I’m more concerned with the driver of the SUV. Why doesn’t he have his lights on? It’s your right to be on the road but you do have to show regard for other road users. Safety first!

 

Who needs a safe passing law? SB 80 Part II

When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?

Before we can answer that question we first need to explain what a highway is. The definition for Highway is listed in KRS 189.010 (3).

“Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots…

We have a highway and within the highway is a Roadway or synonymously a Lane; and KRS has a specific statute for those lanes. KRS 189.340 (6) (a)

A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

If everyone is following the law and more importantly the spirit of the law; the spirit of the law being safety, then there isn’t any harm to any road user and no need for extra measures of protection.

Unfortunately not everyone feels duty bound to operate their vehicle with due care.

A lot of people are under the misguided notion that speed grants extra privileges.

KRS 189.390 is very clear that there isn’t a right of speed on Kentucky’s Highways.

An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.

Traffic: The ​movement of ​vehicles or ​people along ​roads, or the ​movement of ​aircraft, ​trains, or ​ships along a ​route. Via: Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

What is the purpose of a safe passing law?

The purpose of a safe passing law is to give the police a statute with which to cite the offending person. It also provides lawyers and insurance adjusters something tangible when trying to ascertain fault and how much liability goes where and with whom.

Did this explanation bring up a mental image of buzzards picking over roadkill?

That would be because this law is what I term an “after the fact law”. There isn’t any visual guideline to show a person operating a motor vehicle just how much space is three feet. Often times that three feet puts the cyclist’s head right under the motorists tire. Should the cyclist fall over, their head would be squashed. Bicycle helmet included.

Have you ever heard of Dr. McCarroll?

[Dr] June McCarroll, a physician in Indio, California who started experimenting with painting lines on roads in 1917 after she was run off a highway by a truck driver. In November 1924, after years of lobbying by Dr. McCarroll and her allies, California officially adopted a policy of painting lines on its highways. A portion of Interstate 10 near Indio has been named the Dr. June McCarroll Memorial Freeway in her honor.

Painted lines give drivers a visual marker with which to judge distance.

It is safer to have a stated change lanes to pass law than it is to have a minimum three feet law. In Kentucky there are drivers who will fail to understand KRS 189 and give only the minimum passing distance. And in a state which educates teen drivers that it is OK to driver 10 mph over the posted speed limit; see Transportation.ky.gov/Drivers Licensing Documents Page 5. giving a cyclist the minimum distance when passing at 10 mph over posted speed limit; is a recipe for disaster.

Our car culture has created a social, cultural, and legal norm for people to kill, without penalty, on our public right of ways.  It’s the “Oops I didn’t see them syndrome” and it is bullshit.

The driver of an automobile is bound to anticipate the presence of pedestrians upon the streets of a city or upon rural highways, as well as to exercise reasonable care that he does not injure them after he is aware of their presence. O’Dowd v. Newnham 13 Ga. App. 220, 80 S. E. 36.

A safe passing law is a band aid on a gaping wound.

A safe passing law is an after the fact law.

Do we need it?

Yes.

We need it because it is a start. Not the best example of a start, especially when other states are making better statutes from which we can draw from. But it is a start none the less.

We also need it because the infrastructure here is substandard.

Misguided advocates are pushing for bike lanes (think paint) on highways with 45 to 55 mph.

Gallons of paint will never replace the infrastructure we so desperately need. Nor will it replace urban designed spaces which give precedence to walking, public transport, and biking.

We are terribly entangled in car culture which is choking the very humanity out of us.

If you are wondering what we can do to make it better.

We can form a statewide advocacy group and lobby for better laws. Laws which require city planners to take into consideration all users of our public highways. Laws which specify dense urban planning as opposed to sprawling communities which are harder and more expensive to maintain. We need laws which require a one year mandatory probationary period for new drivers, mandatory retesting every four years, and an education program enacted in our schools. Driving school should have a required bike law and safety instructional forum.

We need a multi pronged approach to cycling and more importantly pedestrian safety.

Tiered licensing which ensures that teenagers are truly ready for a license to operate a vehicle. An exception for farmers children to operate farm equipment in the natural course of their duties. But not to operate non farm equipment on public highways.

Lower speed limits as a means of changing the culture of speed along with enforcement of speeding during times where operating a vehicle at speeds under the limit but higher than is safe for road conditions. Mandatory slow down laws when pedestrians or cyclists are present. Policies which make separate infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians a mandatory part of all construction. Policies which ensure that for every 100 people there are adequate shopping districts within walking distance. Wider and better sidewalks. Enforcement of stop lines. Elimination of right on red. Timing streetlights to favor pedestrians and cyclists. Narrower streets and wider bike lanes and sidewalks.

Vulnerable road user laws which enact stiff penalties for harming any road user with their vehicle.

When we pass another vehicle we are required to pass in the lane adjacent to the vehicle being passed. We are required by  law to pass left of the center of the highway. To pass with enough clearance to avoid a collision or to cause the vehicle from being passed to have to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. These are the laws. These are for safety. These ensure the courteous use of public roads and when those laws are broken the best possible outcome would be a citation. The worst would be a collision and people hurt. All too often these brazen flaunting of laws are unobserved and the confidence of the abuser is increased. The police can’t be everywhere but we can create legislation enacting a police task force which takes these complaints and investigates them and if found guilty penalties applied.

Remember the opening question?
“When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?”

The answer which you may have realized by now is No. We are all vulnerable on the highway. While there is a hierarchy of how much vulnerability each user has, we are each of us putting our lives at risk by walking out our front door.

We need more, we need better, and we need it now!

So let’s start with three feet and then demand more.

I’d rather have miles of this…

bikeINFRA

Than miles of this…

DowntownLexington.PNG

 

Kentucky SB 80 Part 1

When changing the law doesn’t actually change the law.

Some people are confused over SB 80.

This is my attempt to clear things up and encourage you to call the legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181 and tell them to vote yes on SB 80.

KRS 189.300 requires “all” vehicles to operate on the right “whenever possible”. It isn’t always possible to operate on the right due to the ever changing nature of highways. This is acknowledged in the statute by the words “whenever possible”. Which simply means it isn’t a requirement when changes exist to the highway which prevents operation on the right. Or simply stated, you are allowed to pass another vehicle.

But!

You have to make sure that the left side of the highway is clear of all other traffic before passing.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

If this is a two way highway we are on how much of the highway is on the left?

It could be safely assumed that half the highway is on the right and the other half is on the left.

But!

We don’t have to assume. When we read KRS 189.310 we see that indeed on a two lane road. Half the highway is yours and the other half belongs to oncoming traffic.

Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

Q: As nearly as possible? What does that mean?

A: Not all vehicles are created equal. Some have big butts. Just kidding. Some vehicles are larger than others and when a really large vehicle is going down a two lane road they need to…Wait for it!

Operate as close as practicable to the right hand boundary of the highway!

Q: The statute says slow moving vehicles! So really fast vehicles don’t have to follow that rule?

A: Wrong!

You have to give nearly half the highway to oncoming traffic and if you are moving quickly and are large then you too have to get over as close as practicable.

Odds are very likely though that you won’t be moving that fast if you’re operating a large vehicle. The more junk you have in your trunk the slower you tend to be.

Q: So are big trucks and farm equipment required to operate on the shoulder? I mean what is this whole boundary thing? You sound like my ex.

A: We have two places to look to. One is KRS 189.340

(3) The operator of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movements in safety. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway unless passing vehicle comes to a complete stop and such movement may be made safely.

The other place we need to look at is the definitions for the chapter. KRS 189.010

(10) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel,exclusive of the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two (2) or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” as used herein shall refer to any roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

So a really large and slow moving vehicle is not supposed to travel off the roadway.

Q: But it says “roadway” and not “highway”. Doesn’t the word highway include the shoulder?

A: I feel like I’m talking to the Jessamine County attorney and his ever faithful sidekick Eric Wright. To answer your question we once again turn towards the definitions.

(3) “Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.

The definition of a highway is A main road or thoroughfare, such as a street, boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for use for travel or transportation. And as we already learned it is exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

The traveled portion of the road is also referred to as a lane of traffic and KRS 189.300 clearly states

The overtaking vehicle shall return to the proper traffic lane as soon as practicable and, if the passing vehicle enters the oncoming traffic lane, before coming within two hundred (200) feet of any approaching vehicle.

Roadway and traffic lane are synonymous.

The final piece of the puzzle is the phrase

allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.

Q: What is considered reasonably free passage to the left?

A: The left side of the highway.

Q: But what if it is a multi lane road?

A: Then it would be the left lane.

Q: Why can’t we all share a lane?

A: Because sharing a lane is expressly illegal! Both KRS 189.310 and KRS 189.340 make it very clear that on a two lane road half the highway is yours and on a multi lane road

KRS 189.340 (6)(a)
A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

Omigosh! That was so hard to understand.

Correction: That was/is so hard for Eric Wright and the rest of the Jessamine County Attorney’s office to understand.

The updated proposed legislation specifically names bicycles and clarifies already existing language.

They have taken the existing statutes and made the language so simple that even the Jessamine County Attorney can understand it.

(3) The operator of a bicycle shall travel as closely as practicable to the right hand side of the traveled portion of a highway unless there is appropriate signage or markings to indicate otherwise. The operator of the bicycle shall not be expected or required to:
(a) Travel on the shoulder of the highway;
(b) Operate over or through hazards at the edge of a highway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards; or
(c) Operate without a reasonable safety margin on the right-hand side of the highway.

Remember that the original statute stated “Whenever Possible” but didn’t actually specify what hazards can be expected other than to mention other vehicles. So this clarification is essential for the deeply prejudiced.

All efforts have been made to dispel any myths about where bicycles “should” be.

 

images (39)

 

Q: Does this mean I have to make a left turn from the right side of the road?

A: (Face Palm) No! Nothing has changed about how you operate on the road. You are operating a vehicle per KRS 189.010.

See KRS 189.330 for rules on turning and intersections.

(6) The operator of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(a) Right turns – both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;
(b) Left turns – the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme right-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as such vehicle on the roadway being entered.

Now please stop being silly and follow the Rules of the Road! 

 

Stay tuned for SB 80 Part 2.

I understand now why so many cyclists in the US and UK are being killed.

I understand now why so many cyclists are being killed. Cycling like you are in the Netherlands or Copenhagen will get you killed in other countries.

There are some false beliefs out there. One is that infrastructure requires mandatory use laws, the other is that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure means you just ride willy nilly all over the road.

  1. Netherlands cycle tracks are, for as near as I can tell, complete and connected. Like any highway, they go exactly where the user wants or needs to go.
  2. This is not true for the UK and US.
  3. If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
    1. When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
    2. You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
    3. You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
  4. The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
    1. The Netherlands set a bad example by legally mandating the use of their bike paths. Even in the Netherlands, if you are being honest when you bring them up, they do not have perfect infra everywhere you go. They still have door zone bike lanes. I sometimes find them in videos of locals who post their cycling trips but there aren’t any video’s of the Netherlanders specifically railing against them. Here is a blog on the subject for the Netherlands: On road cycle lanes: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
    2. The reason this is often not considered an issue is because the Netherlands also have strict liability laws. So if a driver injures a cyclist by throwing the door open without looking, the cyclist (should they survive the experience) can rest assured that the police and public media are not going to further victimize them by questioning their right to be there. No one will ask if they were wearing a helmet (as though that could really protect you from having your head run over by 2 tons of machine). No one will question the color of your clothes. The cyclists in the Netherlands have the homefield advantage, even in the face of crappy infra. Their medical bills are promptly paid and they get to go on with life as usual.

Bike specific infra (in the UK and US) is often a painted line on the ground. More often this painted line on the ground places the cyclist out of the driver’s field of vision. With a very narrow margin of passing clearance. In many ways it’s like we forget that often touted slogan of “3 feet minimum” to pass. Our engineers do not take safe passing into account when painting bike lanes. The faster the traffic the wider the bike lane should be.

  1. We often overestimate a driver’s area of vision as extending from the front side windows forward. The average driver does not drive with a 90 degree arc of vision. The average driver drives distracted. This is often compounded with age and limited physical mobility which makes it difficult to turn the head and look to the left and right as well as over the shoulder.
  2. To avoid a drivers blind spots always put yourself directly in front of the driver when operating your bicycle. The Dutch/Netherlands started (as near as I can tell) this idea of hugging the curb. Which is easier to do if you are operating at a snails pace.
  3. So if you are riding like the Dutch/Netherlands (think hugging the edge or weaving haphazardly in and out of traffic, also those box style turns where you cross like a pedestrian, honorable mention to filtering forward to the front of the line), if you ride like this, on public highways, you are riding with a death wish.
  4. The Netherlands have taken into consideration that motor traffic occupies a great deal of space and they have adjusted their light signals to accommodate cyclists at intersections.  
    Which as you can see from the video, still needs a lot of tweaking. It’s o.k. to let loose on all sides for cyclists but not for cars? Come on! Where is the fairness in that? 😉

I’ve watched several videos of average people in the Netherlands, they are catching the film my ride fever too, cycling in the Netherlands, Copenhagen, and the Dutch. They do all of these things. (See this video for a full understanding of what I’m talking about:

I’ve also had the opportunity to read their laws and it is expressly illegal to haul passengers on bike racks. You will see a lot of law breaking in the video’s promoting cycling in the Netherlands.

If the Netherlands did away with the mandatory use laws this would solve the problem of faster cyclists running over pedestrians and slower cyclists. (This is a hot button topic in the Netherlands.)

Remember the Netherlands also have fast club rides. I feel very strongly that those cyclists do not belong on bike paths with slower moving traffic.

There will be the usual stupid comment: “Oh you just want children to cycle on heavily trafficked fast moving roads!”

No, I don’t. What I want is for there to be no heavily trafficked fast moving roads. Any roads that are used to swiftly move people from town to town should be limited access and built to those standards. All other roads should be built to accommodate all other road users regardless of vehicle type. All roads should be safe for foot traffic above and beyond anyone else’s needs.

When we build communities that are based on people walking, then we will have a community that is safe for cyclists of all ages.

I, as a responsible parent, taught my children how to cycle safely on the only road that took us to our destination.

I’m not the only parent out there who understands where the real risks are to riding in traffic. This is an old article but it clearly shows where the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from and if you yourself don’t know, allow me to state it plainly.

UK father commutes kids to school by bicycle. Stopped by police.

1. Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Overtaking through intersections on the passenger side is illegal because it is dangerous. You wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bicycle.

2. Motorists obey the rules of the road. Treat cyclists just like you would any other vehicle out there on the road. Change lanes to pass and yield right of way when legally required. Do not create confusion by yielding right of way when not legally required to do so.

For both Cyclists and Drivers, use sound judgement and know your transportation codes and laws before heading out. Always leave at least 10min early. You will never be late and find that your commute is much more relaxing when you don’t feel pressed for time.

Perception vs. safety

“When a situation feels dangerous to you, it’s probably more safe than you know; when a situation feels safe, that is precisely when you should feel on guard.”
― Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

There is a social construct to driving and bicycling, much the same way as there is a social construct to walking in a crowd. There are rules which guide our behavior and if everyone follows the rules, no one gets hurt.

Rule number one: Don’t hit what is in front of you.

As humans our eyes are adapted to seeing that which is directly in front of us. Though some of us require corrective lenses to make even this task feasible.

We trust our eyes but can our eyes be trusted?

How the brain processes the images we take in everyday is amazing. That we believe half of what we see is, to me, even more amazing.

I recently discovered “Brain Games” and I want you to pause your reading and watch this clip.


So did you trust your eyes?

Seeing is a task and driving is a task. When we are seeing and driving we are multi-tasking. Throw into the mix other drivers, street signs, stop lights, painted lines on the ground, billboards, lights, radio, cell phone, kids in the back seat, a passenger, and driving just became even more complicated.

We believe that we are safe when we are far from safe behind the wheel.

The CDC reported that in 2012 there were roughly 34K deaths attributed to the automobile. 2.5K of these were teenagers between 16 and 19 years old. Statistics

In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States (Tables 1 and 3). On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes. TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS

One of the things that I found interesting when reading the NHTSA website, was their reassurance that driving is much safer nowadays when compared to past history. When you have an average of 2 people killed or injured every hour is it really that safe?

Not enough emphasis is put on eliminating unnecessary multi-tasking such as talking on the phone. Example

From the data, it is possible to draw the conclusion that it isn’t safe to drive. It isn’t any safer to walk either. The only mode of travel that had under 1K deaths per year was the bicycle.

So if cycling is so much safer than the alternative, why then do we spend so much money on infrastructure that caters to car culture. Especially when it is such a dangerous mode of transportation?

Have you heard of social conformity?

Social conformity is the same construct which gives us gutter bike lanes and tells us it is “safer” to cycle on the shoulder as opposed to the travel lane.

The rules of the road tell you to occupy your lane. Even on a two way only highway.

We would have far fewer cycling deaths if people would stop trusting their eyes and social norms. Instead trust education and the rules that have been laid out for safe road travel.

For example: In Kentucky we have KRS 189.310 which states:

189.310 Vehicles meeting other vehicles and animals.
(1) Two (2) vehicles passing or about to pass each other in opposite directions shall have the right-of-way, and no other vehicle to the rear of those two (2) vehicles shall pass or attempt to pass either of those vehicles.
(2) Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

Our perception and social construct tells us to ride on the edge of a road. To be as far out of the way of motorists as possible. This puts us out of the line of sight and creates a safety hazard. It “feels” safe but in reality it isn’t safe at all.

Examples of unsafe cycling and a message from the CDC. 

What does safe cycling look like?

What is your lane position visually communicating?
What is your lane position visually communicating?

We need to clarify already existing laws to direct motorists to change lanes to pass.

We need transportation infrastructure that isn’t based on car culture. (pedestrians, public transit, and cycling as priority over automobiles)

We need NHTSA and the FHWA to have dedicated bicycle commuters as members of their board of directors.

We need all cyclists, motorists, city planners, transportation committees, and law enforcement to be educated in Cycling Savvy.

“Human attention, in the best of circumstances, is a fluid but fragile entity. Beyond a certain threshold, the more that is asked of it, the less well it performs. When this happens in a psychological experiment, it is interesting. When it happens in traffic, it can be fatal.”
― Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

How do you get people to want to cycle? How do you get comfort loving people to want to….?

I love a good military story.

I grew up with a stepfather whose father was in the military. My stepfather couldn’t join the military and I’m pretty sure he never wanted to any way, but he loved a good military story. I was a little girl in Oldham County Kentucky when I first watched “The Big Red One” I remember participating in a charades project to help us with our spelling. I selected “The Big Red One.” as my topic. I drew a dash on the chalkboard for each letter and then pantomimed “Big” “Red” “One”. Nobody got it.

I was shocked. How do you not get military movie titles? I was even wearing something red to help out with that word. To me it was clear as day, but the kids in the class kept picking titles they were familiar with. They stuck to the things they knew. The stories they had been sold through the local news and popular media. They only knew what others wanted them to know. So those were the titles they were guessing. Their choices didn’t make sense and totally didn’t fit.

What does that have to do with cycling? What does it have to do with getting people to want to cycle?

Let’s play a game. Below is one way to encourage more people to get out and try a bike. Can you guess the title?

__ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

Here’s a hint.

The above title will protect cyclists.

Are you thinking….

Remsen-Bike-Lane2

If you were thinking “Bike Lanes” then you have the same thinking pattern as my classmates from years ago.

“Laws Protect” is the title.

This brings me to my all time favorite movie. “The Hunt for Red October”. I own it and watch it whenever I’m feeling down.

Here you have a guy who is trying to convince Politicians and Military personnel that this Russian is wanting to defect. Ryan asks himself “How do you get people to want to leave a submarine?” “How do you get people to want to get off a Nuclear submarine?” and then the lightbulb goes off in Ryans head. Ryan now knows how the Russian is going to get his men to willingly evacuate the submarine. Ryan is excited and he is met with some derision from the Commanding Officer as he explains the plan to the Captain.

It made sense to Ryan. He thought it through and based on the factual information he had obtained, Ryan came to a reasonable conclusion. It just wasn’t so easy to get everyone else on board.

A lot of people are pushing for the infrastructure. The laws are lagging behind.

A cyclist was struck and killed in a bike lane.

A cyclist was struck and injured in a bike lane.

No charges filed.

In most states cyclists are legally mandated to use unsafe facilities.

When they use those facilities they should be protected. Not just by the facilities but also by law.

We need laws protecting road users. Everyone is vulnerable to careless and aggressive drivers.

Lets stop fixating on bike lanes and start thinking outside the box. With the history of injuries and deaths associated with bike lanes and even separate bicycle paths we need to do more. People need to feel safe. They need to be comfortable.

People understand liability and sadly the majority of people are not altruistic. They are lazy and basic in their needs and wants. If you make a law which holds a motorist liable for injuring a cyclist, if you create anti-harassment task forces and laws, if you enforce the existing laws you will have more people feeling safe and confident. If motorists get tickets for harassing cyclists, if motorists get taken to court and forced to stand before a judge and account for their behavior, you are going to have the best advertiser for cycling that you could ever possibly have. It would go something like this.

Motorist: Man I just got out of court.

Motorists friend: What did you go to court for?

Motorist: Oh some damn cyclist was in the road and I passed him in the lane. Honked my horn at him too.

Motorist friend: How did you end up in court over that?

Motorist: Well this officer saw me and pulled me over. Told me that is illegal and I got a ticket for improper lane usage and unnecessary use of the horn.

Motorist friend: Those are laws?

Motorist: Yea.

Later that day.

Motorist friend is out driving and sees a cyclist in the road. He adjusts his speed for traffic conditions, changes lanes when safe, and passes the cyclist. Cyclists gives a wave and the Motorist friend waves back.

The passenger in the motorists friends car turns to him and says “Those damn cyclists, I’d have buzzed him and honked the horn”. Motorists friend “Yea, but it isn’t worth getting a ticket.” Passenger “You can get a ticket for that?” Motorists friend “Yea, it happened to my friend and he just got out of court today, pretty hefty fine.” Passenger “Good to know. I’ll just pass them like you did. Nothing is worth a ticket like that.”

The cyclist is left feeling good about the people operating their vehicles around him. He gets to his destination and tells his friends who drove all about the great ride he had and how courteous the other road users were. His friends find his exuberance catching and before you know it they are at the bike shop and wheeling around on their own bikes. The cyclists feel good about the people operating on the road around them and they have the assurance that should something happen, law enforcement will take him seriously and protect his rights equally under the law.
And there we have a cycle of courtesy that goes beyond any infrastructure or expensive educational Public Service Announcement.

The message should be loud and clear. “If you endanger vulnerable road users you will pay a hefty fine and possibly lose your driving privileges.”

Driving behavior is based on laws and if those laws are enforced drivers will behave.

Let’s imagine another scenario.

Person A is watching the evening news.

News reporter: This just in, a new anti-harassment law has been passed. State lawmakers have unanimously passed a law making it a crime to shout, buzz, role coal, throw objects, or generally harass other road users. New penalties have been added to vehicles which fail to change lanes to pass. Our own Reporter in the Field has more on this ground breaking new law.

Reporter in the field: A new law passed today making it a first class offense to treat other road users in an aggresive manner. Most motorists will try to squeeze past a cyclist in the lane. This new law clarifies the already existing passing laws which make it a ticketable offense to pass another road user in the lane. If a cyclist is shouted at, unnecessarily honked at, or an object thrown at them the cyclist only need to take the license plate number and present a report to the police. Form number A-99 is the form to request. An officer will investigate the claims and if any evidence is found that harassing behavior occurred it is a $100.00 fine or the offender, in an interesting twist, can take a cycling safety course and have the fine waived. The intention of the law is to create a safer and more civil environment for all road users and to create passing laws that the police can actually enforce. It is hard to tell what three feet looks like but everyone knows how to change lanes to pass and if an officer sees you pass with out all four tires in the adjacent lane, it means a ticket for you.

The next day person A is out driving and sees a cyclist. Person A remembers the news report from last night and adjusts his speed to traffic conditions and changes lanes when safe to do so and passes the cyclist. A life was saved because more people understood what it means to change lanes to pass.

Laws protect cyclists.

Bike lanes are just there. Like any road it is only as dangerous as the people who use it and the laws which govern them.

Trying to get people to understand this novel idea, Well, It’s hard. Really hard. The bicycle advocates throw you the cold shoulder when you try to explain it to them.
Providing cyclists with peace of mind shouldn’t be hard to understand.

Start advocating for laws which protect cyclists. Advocate for those laws as hard as you advocate for paint on the streets. Your cycling numbers will boom before you know it.

As the opening sequence goes in “The Hunt for Red October”.

Commanding Officer: “It’s cold out Captain”

Captain: Холодная и трудно (Russian) Cold and hard.

If you have ever been on the receiving end of harassment or know someone who has, then please share this with the people you know.