Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trains, Trucks, Cars and Bikes

    In vehicles, the protocol for staying out of each others way is generally dictated by the laws of Physics: The smaller, lighter, more vulnerable vehicles avoid conflicts with the larger and heavier. In most cases, the smaller, lighter vehicles are more maneuverable and easier to stop.

    Trains have the right of way, as a matter of law, because they are larger and have more moving inertia and take much longer to stop. Trucks, cars, bikes and people stay out of their way to avoid sudden death or maiming or to avoid a fine which could decimate a bank account.

    Trucks are larger, heavier and take longer to stop than a car. Cars, bikes and people stay out of their way to avoid sudden death, maiming or loss of driving privileges.

    Cars are faster than people and take longer to stop than a pedestrian. People stay out of a cars way.

    Bikes on the other hand have become contrary to the protocol. Cars now have to avoid bikes. Wait a minute. What's wrong here? Trains have Rules for the Conduct of Transportation which they must abide by to avoid derailment or colliding with another train. Trucks have the Regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which they must adhere to or risk a heavy fine or being placed out of service.

    Cars have licensing and registration and insurance requirements which must be scrupulously obeyed or risk loss of license and registration. Bikes also have regulations which include licensing, lights fore and aft and instructions to follow the rules of the road.

    Why then do I see most bikes without lights and their operators blatantly ignoring the rules — riding northbound in the southbound lane, riding southbound in the northbound lane, crisscrossing all lanes or intersections and ignoring stop signs or red lights meandering freely wherever they wish to go and it is my responsibility to avoid them?

    With the potholes, the surface depressions from poorly filled post-excavation trenches and the higher-than-surface utility access covers from incomplete repaving, when you add avoiding bicyclists this city could have the slogan, "Welcome to Lancaster. It's our pleasure to swerve you".
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