When Bad Things Happen to Bad Drivers

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

I live just off Blackstone Boulevard (GPS coordinates available for GM Black Ops rotary winged aircraft). It's RI's urban highway: two-lanes in each direction with a large, leafy central island (once a streecar route, now joggers' paradise). The Boulevard is also the Mother of All Speed Traps; I'll pay anyone who can drive down that piece of tarmac at 25mph to wear one of those Mission Impossible masks and sit through my kids' school plays. Well, that's the way it used to be. Suddenly, Renaissance City Planners have added a bike lane to Blackstone Boulevard, restricting traffic in each direction to a single lane. As a two-wheeled boulevardier, I can only say WTF? The new lane places two-wheelers closer to the traffic (there's a lane for parking next to the curb). Why didn't my unelected representatives ban parking and put the bike lane next to the curb? And now I hear these self-same traffic planners [sic] are going to install speed bumps. All I've got to say about that is this article about a Canadian traffic calming strategy gone serious awry. "[Local resident Brenda] White says cars and a motorcycle have spun out of control after hitting or dodging [constricted] curbs. Some cars spin onto lawns, she said. Some shear off trees or dent traffic signs and cable boxes. Curbs are chipped and blackened by the many tires that have struck them. A recent survey found residents are almost as concerned about the curbs as they are about speeding. Their concerns are justified. Between 2004 and 2006, five drivers lost control on Heritage Drive and crashed. Five more vehicles crashed for other reasons. One of these 10 collisions claimed a life."

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • BlueBrat BlueBrat on Aug 11, 2008

    Is there any evidence that speed bumps damage your car even if taken at the posted speed? Some of these things are insane and can't be good for (suspension, shocks, whatever).

  • MagMax MagMax on Aug 11, 2008

    I believe that cyclists should have the same legal status as drivers and, therefore, should also be licensed; their bikes should be licensed; they should have to carry liability insurance; and they should be subject to the same rules as any other vehicle/driver combination. That means no passing on the right on city streets and no making cars stop to let "pedestrians" cross who then ride across in crosswalks, no riding on sidewalks, parking only in designated areas (and paying for it); and active ticketing of violators by police. In Vancouver cyclists pay no road tax so why should they be allowed to use roadways and cycleways for which they don't pay? They're not required to carry liability insurance so who pays when they smash into your car? It's not as if we live in a little village with a population of 36.

  • Durishin Durishin on Aug 12, 2008

    @MagMax, Aren't road taxes determined by weight class? If so, I am sure that the costs of administering a road tax on cyclists would certainly outweigh the revenue thus collected. I don't disagree that cyclists should be licensed. The biggest problem I see with motorists and cyclists is that cyclists are frequently unpredictable - running stop signs, cutting in and out of traffic and going the wrong way up one-way streets... That makes motorists nervous and disdainful of cyclists and rightly so. What ever helps to stop that I am for. And whatever helps motorists (including occifers of the law) understand that moving over 50cm and squeezing your right foot down a little harder to pass a cyclists should be done sans single-finger salutes...I am for that as well. I know it is soooo difficult to press that loud pedal a little further. Finally, all you non-drilling, non-nuclear, non-wind farming, high-tax, car loving East Coast liberals...move over! You'll be sharing the road with far more cyclists in the immediate future!

  • ChuckR ChuckR on Aug 12, 2008

    License bicylists? Do you not remember the sense of accomplishment your 5 year old self felt when you first rode w/o training wheels? Will you license 5 year olds? Thats crazy. I've got an idea. Why don't we enforce the laws we have! Cyclists should obey traffic laws. Pedestrians shouldn't jaywalk. And so forth. There should be proportionate consequences for failure to do so. Licensing cyclist and pedestrians won't fix any of these problems. It will merely add more useless government dead weight. Cyclists smashing into your car? Damage is almost always cosmetic - bad enough mind you. The other way around it can easily be fatal - apply proportionate penalties. Wear and tear on a roadway goes as the third or fourth power of axle weight - the damage done by even a fat cyclist amounts to about a butterfly fart.