06 March 2008

Alderman Stone strikes again

From Chicago Bicycle Laws:
City Traffic Committee considers the newly proposed motorist/cyclist city ordinance.

"The Sun Times is reporting on city committee meeting regarding the proposed city ordinance that would fine motorists who turn in front of someone on a bicycle, violate the three foot passing law or open a vehicle door into the path of a cyclist. The ordinance would also increase fines for people who park in bike lanes or double park in a shared bicycle lane.

"Alderman Bernard Stone brought up the issue of bicyclists who don't obey the law..."


Well of course he did. Why 50th ward voters (from what I hear the Bernard Stone Memorial Conspicuous Lack of Bridge on the North Shore Channel Trail is really the least of their problems) continue to vote for him election after election after election after election is a mystery to me, until I remember that I live in Chicago. At least my alderman is apparently too busy attempting to strangle the city's Olympic bid to do anything really crazy in City Council. (Not that I don't somewhat agree, mind you.)

[What's wrong with this picture? Er, aside from it being too dark. Drat.]

But back to the point. The Chicago Sun-Times article is filled with even more juicy tidbits:
City committee targets bicyclists, motorists

"Mayor Daley’s plan to curb motorists whose reckless driving endangers bicycle riders -- with $150 fines that rise to $500 if there’s a bike crash -- cleared a City Council committee Wednesday amid demands that the city do the same to cowboy cyclists.
[Yee-haw?]
...
"'One of the things [Manger-Lynch's death] highlighted was the fact that laws should also be obeyed by the bicyclist. Here, we’re highlighting the motor vehicle obeying the law. Are we also going to insist that bicyclists obey the rules of the road?' said Ald. Bernard Stone (50th)."

As has been noted, this technically shouldn't even be an issue: in theory all road users obey all traffic laws at all times. But in practice they don't, and as a result "tragic" "accidents" happen that claim lives. In our messy real world where politicians are consistently reelected despite being more crooked than a suburban cul de sac, the problem lies in the enforcement of the laws that already exist. And unfortunately, that often requires making new laws to spell out tougher penalties for breaking the old ones. Yay for big government. Why can't they just get things right the first time?

But as Lawyer Jim explains, big heaping piles of laws still don't do anything when the law enforcers are ignorant:

"I do think it is important that when a traffic law violation causes an accident the parties involved are treated fairly and equally, regardless of whether one person is on a bicycle or in a car. This is an area where CPD could use some help. I have seen police reports where officers criticized cyclists for 'crossing the street outside of the crosswalk' when the cyclist was attempting to make a left turn. Clearly that officer believed cyclists were pedestrians. I have also seen a number of tickets issued to drivers involved in accidents with cyclists for violations against pedestrians. Apparently, some officers in CPD don't know that it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, and bicycles are legally permitted users of the road. Hopefully that will change as cycling becomes a bigger part of transportation in the City."

Or maybe, one by one, we'll all just give up and ride the bus.
...
Oh, the melodrama... Here is some good news: Cyclists are hot. I'll put Avenger back together tonight, I promise.

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