This morning, as I was riding to the office, I hit a red light. And I stopped and waited for it to turn green. As WABA’s DC Bike Ambassador, I do this a lot. What’s more, it’s part of my job to try and get everybody else to do it too. Even among WABA members, encouraging cyclists to obey the law can be a challenging task. So, it was both a pleasant surprise and an unfortunate indicator of how much work I have left to do when a motorist pulled up alongside of me at that red light and rolled down his window to say:
“You’re the first cyclist I’ve ever seen follow the laws!”
And then he gave me a thumb’s up and drove away. This is exactly what WABA has long been working towards: making the streets a safer and more enjoyable place for bicyclists, and consequently, all other road users too. Safe bicycling is not just about keeping bicyclists safe, it’s also about respecting the safety of others.
So this winter, WABA is announcing our Resolution to Ride Responsibly, an online New Year’s resolution that we encourage all cyclists in DC, Maryland and Virginia to take. The arrival of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past and to change bad habits, make personal improvements and lay the foundation for the next twelve months. We want people who ride bicycles–whether for fun, for work, or for transportation to either one–to think about what it means to ride safely and responsibly and to make these things their priority for 2011.
WABA’s Resolution to Ride Responsibly
…I resolve to be a more responsible bicyclist.
…I resolve to better respect the rights of other road users.
…I resolve to make a good faith effort to better follow the law.
…I resolve to yield to pedestrians.
…I resolve to help make bicycling safer and easier for all of us.
Please click here to sign the Resolution! Help WABA and everybody on a bicycle by being a responsible rider.
Plus, it turns out that being responsible out on the road isn’t particularly difficult or burdensome, and it will actually make you a better cyclist. But that’s not all!
It will also:
- Make you thinner – Stopping at red lights and stop signs burns more calories.
- Make you more attentive – Headphones and cell phones while cycling are a bad idea.
- Make you a role model – Other cyclists will emulate you, honest.
- Make your husband/wife/parents/children/girlfriend/boyfriend/boss happier – Because they won’t have to worry about you being irresponsible.
- Change drivers’ attitudes – Following the law makes you more predictable, which makes it easier for drivers to anticipate you, avoid you and go on their way without aggravation.
- Help the bicycle community – Like it or not, all cyclists are often tarred with the same brush, and lawbreaking cyclists make us all look bad.
- Help WABA – Bicycle-specific traffic laws may be out of reach for now (think: Idaho stop), but being able to say “look at all the cyclists out there following existing laws” would be a huge help!
Remember, click here to sign the Resolution to Ride Responsibly and click here to read our press release. We’ll be collecting signatures throughout January (for all you late resolution-makers), and to kick off the year in the responsible gear, we’re having a New Year’s Resolution Ride on Saturday, January 8th.
yeah, a big amount of the cyclists ignore most traffic lights and traffic signs thinking that they can squeeze through, when they are more vulnerable than any other people on the street, they need to be more careful not less, you're doing a great job inspiring them
I've signed the pledge. I think I currently ride responsibly, but I'm not perfect and there are times that I do stupid things while riding, usually because I'm in a hurry. In no way does signing this petition "effectively surrenders the moral high ground to those who would see cyclists banned from the road" Quite the opposite, it encourages cyclists to ride according to the rules of the road, a responsibility that comes with our rights to the road. Motorists need to take a similar pledge; in fact, it should be a generic pledge for all of us to respect each other and try to make our roads safer for everyone. Thanks to WABA for encouraging good behavior among cyclists.
@ RW: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's the law that a right-turning vehicle is required to safely merge into the bike lane before turning right. This is to allow the vehicle to essentially 'take the lane' and thus prevent right hooks. If I'm right, the cyclist you mention was wrong in berating the cabbie. 'Taking the lane' works both ways.
As a slow and cautious cyclist, I often feel safer running a red light (when I can clearly see that the cross-street is clear) than waiting for it to change to green, due to the risk of being side-swiped by the car next to me turning right at the same time I begin to go forward after the light change. In this region many people don't bother using their turn signals, so you never know where the car next to you is headed. I understand that this situation can be avoided by putting bike boxes at every intersection with lights, but that's not likely to happen any time soon. Until then I expect that many cyclists like me will continue to run red lights. Speaking of lawlessness, a few years ago I saw a cyclist almost attack a cab driver with his U-lock b/c the cabbie had blocked the bike lane on R St. in an attempt to turn right onto 16th St. The cyclist smacked the cab, which led to words exchanged, and the cyclist dismounted and advanced on the cabbie, waving his U-lock. I believe the incident de-escalated without violence, but it was a close call. At the time I was on my bike, but as a driver I know that it is impossible not to block the bike lane in many such right-turn situations, as the curb lane is full of parked cars all the way up to about 1 or 2 car lengths before the corner. I don't know for sure, but due to the cyclist's shoulder bag, I suspected he was a courier. The perception (if not the reality) of cyclists being scofflaws is heightened for couriers, just as it is for cabbies. I suggest that WABA do some focused discussion with couriers about bike policy, traffic laws and safety. Like cabbies and bus drivers, couriers make a living that depends in part on speed. The economics and social dynamics of this kind of job tend to lead to cutting corners on safety and consideration for other road users. Maybe WABA or Phil Mendelson can spearhead a discussion of this problem among policy makers and groups who represent these riders and drivers. As a side note, as a driver, I notice that I tend not to use my turn signal for lane changes as often as I should because other drivers often speed up to block you from pulling in ahead of them. I believe this is the root cause of the "driving culture" of not using turn signals in this region. Once you stop using turn signals for lane changes, it's easy to stop using them for turns.
I'm not signing, because it seems to me that this petition gives the false impression that I am not already a responsible cyclist, that I don't respect the rights of other road users, that I do not make a good faith effort to follow the law, that I don't yield to pedestrians, that I don't work to make cycling better and safer. The petition seems to suggest that I can and should do better. How can I sign a pledge to do better at doing what I already do to the best of my ability? Anyone who signs this is essentially admitting that he/she is a poor cyclist and a scofflaw. This pledge is not something that a cyclist advocacy group should be involved with. It effectively surrenders the moral high ground to those who would see cyclists banned from the road. This sort of 'advocacy' is shameful! WABA should be advocating on behalf of cyclists, not siding with their detractors.