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Thread: The Ethics of Breaking Traffic Laws

  1. #1
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    Default The Ethics of Breaking Traffic Laws

    https://www.outsideonline.com/229668...g-traffic-laws

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    Quote Originally Posted by f148vr View Post
    https://www.outsideonline.com/229668...g-traffic-laws

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    I do like the statement that the infrastructure creates the culture...interesting


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    "...if you want cyclists to follow the law, you’ve got to make it possible for them to do so without dying."

    One of the many lines from this article that stood out as gold.

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    I dislike that law abiding is posited as irrational for cyclists. Break the law if you want, justify it as you want, but don't judge those many of us who deem traffic laws as part of the same social contract that all laws serve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    I dislike that law abiding is posited as irrational for cyclists. Break the law if you want, justify it as you want, but don't judge those many of us who deem traffic laws as part of the same social contract that all laws serve.
    I don't see Eben saying that those who follow the letter of the law where he would not are irrational. He said he sometimes breaks the law to improve his safety (for survival is clearly an exaggeration - waiting for the green at an intersection with chaotic turning behavior, instead of proceeding on the all red phase, may make it more likely you will get hit, but your odds are still not that bad). You may make a choice that slightly lessens your own safety, due to some other value you have. I know I often forego Idahoing a red where Idahoing is likely safer, and I do not feel judged by this article.

    I find the piece pretty sensible, and am happy to see Eben express himself this well without cursing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    I ... am happy to see Eben express himself this well without cursing.
    Were you reading the same article I was?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkel View Post
    Were you reading the same article I was?

    Okay, "cursing less than usual"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    I dislike that law abiding is posited as irrational for cyclists. Break the law if you want, justify it as you want, but don't judge those many of us who deem traffic laws as part of the same social contract that all laws serve.
    I think the sentiment is not to judge those who follow traffic laws more strictly but to acknowledge the moral relativism in breaking said laws and how the extenuating circumstances play into effect. I think it's the idea that traffic laws (specific rules and regulations) fail to communicate the general intent of creating a safe environment because there is no flexibility.

    We all have a spectrum of what would be more/less acceptable in our eyes, and I know everyone would differ in opinion when looking at situations of potentially breaking the law like the following examples (BTW only some of these are lawful):
    • Cyclist filtering through gridlocked vehicular traffic
    • Cyclist not stopping at every stop sign on a bike trail
    • Pedestrian entering crosswalk on flashing "Don't Walk" signal
    • Driver making a right turn on red with "No Turn on Red" sign but no pedestrians/cross traffic anywhere nearby
    • Cyclist slowing to walking pace but not stopping at a stop sign
    • Cyclist in bike lane sees a car with its hazards on blocking the bike lane in distance, moves into travel lane a block away in anticipation to get around
    • Driver on interstate pulling over onto the shoulder to check their phone (non-emergency)
    • Cyclist only crossing at non-bicycle-detecting stoplight after waiting the full 2 minutes or 2 full light cycles
    • Pedestrian crossing a street mid-block
    • Driver driving less than 10 mph above the speed limit

    I guess to sum it up, I would only consider it irrational if someone were to only follow traffic laws to their strictest interpretation instead of considering the circumstances in each situation.
    Last edited by bobco85; 04-12-2018 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Reworded the driver on interstate example

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    Two things:

    1 - There is a myth that some drivers(and bike thieves) believe in; that some cyclists have money to burn just because they ride "fancy" bicycles. Why they don't use cheap bicycles? I don't know about the rest of you, but I am 30% faster on average(for a 10-Mile ride) on my road bike(18 LBS) vs my upright aluminum hybrid with front suspension(28 LBS). I am probably 50% faster than *mart-type bike or even more. So having the right tool for the job means getting there on time, or not at all.

    2 - The one who breaks traffic laws(regardless of whether they were enforced or not) will get more liability. The one who doesn't fully stop, gets more liability when bad things happen. A driver who keeps his lights off and prefers to be invisible gets more liability. A cyclist who go the opposite way on bike lanes gets more liability, and so on.

    A cop could be present and not enforcing the law when there are no crashes, but once something happens, you discover that enforcement or lake of, or how traffic laws are commonly interpreted(by people copying each other) is irrelevant in court. The one who's opinion matters is the judge presiding on your case. A police officer or lawyer with a long experience in the subject may have a better guess on what the judge is going to decide.

    So, many people fall for the trap of deducing laws based on how they were enforced, and this seems to be a local thing(County/State).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    I dislike that law abiding is posited as irrational for cyclists. Break the law if you want, justify it as you want, but don't judge those many of us who deem traffic laws as part of the same social contract that all laws serve.
    I don't see it as any different than law abiding being irrational for motorists. Swing round the beltway doing 55 or less and let me know how safe you feel? I dislike that the social contract is not enforced. But that's the point right? It's not enforced because we get the infrastructure users that the quality of the infrastructure deserves.

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