Traffic Debts to Society

David Alpert worte a nice piece at Greater Greater Washington about the attitude toward bicyclists in Virginia. What caught my attention is one of the arguments that Virginia legislators made against a newly proposed bike law:
Bicyclists are often law breakers, unworthy of any added protection under the law.
The knee-jerk retort is: motorists are law breakers too, there's plenty of proof out there. Indeed, there is plenty of proof. Think about it... any driver who has ever gotten a moving violation is a law breaker. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that most drivers have either themselves gotten a moving violation during at some point in their life or personally known someone who has gotten one.

(from Flickr user Bob L2008)

Tickets for moving violations can be expensive, and they can be nearly impossible to dispute. Violators might have to pay a few hundred dollars or go to court-ordered driver-ed. The question becomes, once their debts have been paid, does it clear the driver from social responsibility of the fact that he or she was a law breaker?

To me, it seems like the anger with "law breaking bicyclists" is an anger rooted in the perception that bicyclists aren't getting busted when they roll through a stop sign or proceed through a red light. It's similarly a perception that motorists are targeted by money-hungry police departments and state highway patrols while bicyclists are allowed to go hog wild.


    Speeding is against the law, and it's expected--other drivers get angry if you only drive the speed limit.

    It does suck that bikers give this guy credibility by ignoring traffic laws. One reason I don't participate in Critical Mass rides, though. I'm strongly opposed to corking and similar anti-social traffic violations. Probably I should go and just follow the traffic laws, but another reason I don't is that I don't have a bike.


    that's ridiculous that bicyclists are being cited as law breakers by a politician. when the cyclist runs a stop sign, they largely endanger themselves. When a driver ignores a traffic law fatalities are possible to anyone around. that why B.U.I.'s are so dumb.