I, E and E: Inform, Educate and Enforce
Everyone keeps talking about “new” bicycle laws. The way I look at it, we don’t need a lot of new laws – we need to Inform and Educate the general public. And we need the police to Enforce the existing laws. The only additional law I see as necessary would be the “3 Feet Please” law, because as it currently stands, all Missouri law states is, “The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, RSMo, shall leave a safe distance, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.”
That’s too vague. What’s a “safe distance”. And even if an accident occurs – it’s only a class 3 misdemeanor! What the —-?! It should be classified as “assault with a deadly weapon”. Or, in the worst case scenario, “Vehicular homicide”.
As one lady told me at a recent ride sponsored by Trailnet, she was in the designated bicycle lane on South Grand & still someone yelled from their car, “Get on the sidewalk, where you belong.” Even as a kid, I don’t remember riding on the sidewalk that much; mainly because there were few sidewalks in Jennings at that time. And as a dumb kid, I was likely to ride anywhere – weaving back & forth, etc. I don’t remember any problems. Why? Probably because drivers were more aware back then & there were also fewer drivers. Today, many drivers (motorists) have that “I own the road” attitude. Nobody “owns” the road. If anyone in this country has the right to claim ownership of the roads, it would be Interstate truckers & their companies. It was their tax dollars that paid a good chunk on the initial cost for Interstate highways – and still does for road repair & upkeep.
I’m wandering too much… Within the test for new motorists & drivers should be questions regarding cyclists. And there should be follow up test (at least written) containing these same questions to see if they remember. Your driver’s license expires about every 4 years. Who’s to say people don’t forget that a bicycle is a “vehicle” too? We need massive meetings (somehow) that the general public will attend to educate & inform them. We need police who are knowledgeable and willing to enforce the existing laws. Case in point… On a recent evening ride to Ted Drewes on South Grand, I asked the policeman on duty why he didn’t say or do anything about the amount of people riding that night with no lights on their bicycles. He wasn’t even aware cyclists needed lights at night. “I don’t know bicycle laws.” Honest to God – that was his response. When I lived in Bellefontaine Neighbors, there was at least one cop on a Trek “Police Special” mountain bike patrolling the neighborhoods on a regular basis in nice weather. They knew the law. They enforced the law. St. Louis city police are a joke – in my humble opinion. I’ve seen the cop on a bicycle patrolling “The Grove” area at night – riding the WRONG way – a salmon. Inform, educate & enforce. We don’t need a lot of new laws. We need the existing laws to be upheld!