“The law” is not divinely inspired!

A Dallas Morning News blog article says cops are running ticket mills in White Rock Lake park. The crime? Bicyclists running stop signs.

Even though I am frustrated by White Rock Lake bicyclists, I believe this enforcement is just revenge. Let me explain.

I think motorists are justifiably upset at arrogant bicyclists. Commenters on the DMN blog and my experience confirm many who:

  • Decline to yield when entering a roadway.
  • Decline to use a special bridge intended for them. Instead, they choose to endanger themselves and motorists by cycling amidst traffic running three times as fast. (I’ll give them medals for bravery! They don’t even have the visibility and protection of vehicles!)
  • Do things just to provoke motorists.
  • Have holier-than-thou attitudes againt cars.
  • Ride 3-4 abreast, making it difficult to safely pass them.
  • Decline to watch out for pedestrians.

What’s the stop sign’s point? Mitigate right of way issues. That’s it.

Compared to cars, cyclists travel slowly. They have plenty long to review intersections and make right of way judgments. They rarely need a full stop. Why force them?

Full and complete stops don’t address any of the above problems. That’s why I believe this is simply revenge.

Add the simpleton logic of “it’s the law so it should be enforced,” and it becomes sweet revenge.

I don’t subscribe to simpleton logic, so I don’t approve victimizing bicyclists with this revenge, profit-fueled ticket mill.

7 thoughts on ““The law” is not divinely inspired!”

  1. Great comment. Bicyclist behavior and motorist behavior are entirely consistent. Bicyclists often roll through stop signs…and so do motorists. However, the public health threat posed by cars is far,far greater than the threat posed by bicyclists. Vehicle collisions kill more than 40K people in the U.S. every year.

  2. Thanks. We must be careful not to convert a legitimate concern (40K annual deaths) into blind allegiance to traffic law or uncritical support of current traffic enforcement practice. Both have caused safety problems that would not otherwise exist.

  3. Aren,

    I’m basically in agreement with you on this. The police are usually “dispatched” to do something.

    My only real disagreement is over cyclists still being on Mockingbird lane. The new bridge is a bridge for the trail, but not all the cyclists are using the trail. There are a number of cyclists who use Mockingbird Lane as part of their commute (there are no other viable alternatives for a vehicular cyclist), and are legally allowed on Mockingbird. The problem (for cyclists and motorists alike) comes when the cyclists don’t know proper lane position and ride to the FAR RIGHT of the lane instead of in the middle of the lane (as state law actually encourages in a lane less than 14′ wide). http://cycledallas.blogspot.com/2008/09/reading-is-fundamental-comprehension-is.html

    But you are “spot on” about revenue generation and probable cause.

    You might find this of interest, as well: http://cycledallas.blogspot.com/2008/10/they-take-law-into-their-own-hands.html

  4. You are a better citizen than I realized. My ticket (and tickets for a lot of cyclists that day) was at a notorious location. Its right after the downhill on Tiffany at the East side of the Lake. The cyclists has a panoramic view of everything to the right and left–and can’t go straight. It is much safer to roll through than to stop. but the cops wait around the bend (they can see you; but you can’t see them) and haul people over. The ticket mill on Skillman between University and Mockingbird is also a disgrace. Put up a computerized milage sign to let people realize they are gong to fast.

    Yes; some cyclists habitually scoff the traffic laws. But, most do not. dalls is not a cycling friendly city at all!

    1. Put up a computerized milage sign to let people realize they are gong to fast.

      I disagree with that. If the normal behavior of reasonable motorists is not causing a problem–safety, traffic flow, etc.–then it should not be illegal and should not be cited. Ergo, there should be nothing illegal about bicyclists blowing through the stop sign at this location, and unless there is a clear speed-related safety problem on that part of Skillman, the speed limit should be higher, or the cops should have the decency to start ticketing at a higher speed.

      The law isn’t “right” just because it exists.

    2. I would disagree with the statement about Tiffany Way’s entrance to White Rock Lake Park. Even without a stop sign, the Texas Vehicle Code would still require a “stop” at an uncontrolled T-intersection. Your claim that cyclists have a panoramic view could also be made by motorists. The bottom line is that there is no excuse for running a clearly displayed stop sign. The warrant for a stop sign there is a good one. The tree coverage, and the deep shadows and bright sunlight patterns along that part of East Lawther are all visual obstructions, compounded by the need to be alert to the varied traffic (mixed trail users, runners on the road going with and against traffic, cars, service vehicles, children at the playground and cyclists).

      You made a decision that your judgment superseded traffic law… and you got caught. Had a car “rolled through” the stop sign and struck someone they didn’t see, I doubt you’d be declaring them innocent. The fact that you failed to see the police standing by the tree indicates your panoramic view isn’t as thorough as you might think.

      Full disclosure: I got a ticket at that location ten years ago for the same thing. I was guilty, and I modified my behavior to avoid further tickets (or worse). As Texas vehicle law reads, “Every person riding a bicycle shall be granted all rights, and be subject to all duties, applicable to the drivers of other vehicles”. We can’t have it both ways.

      However, not all the stop signs at WR Lake are warranted. There is a notorious one on the west side (where Lakewood Boulevard intersects with White Rock Trail) that was placed there due to political pressure… so a home owner could more easily back his RV out of his driveway.
      There is no excuse for not stopping at that one either, even though there is no engineering warrant for its placement.

      As for Dallas not being bicycle friendly: I presume you mean that because cyclists aren’t always allowed to break traffic laws, that denotes “unfriendliness”.

      1. I support something like how I understand the Idaho law to work: you have to follow all right of way rules except you don’t need to come to a complete stop. Face it, bicyclists have superior situational awareness than cars and do not need a full and complete stop to prudently and courteously navigate an intersection.

        The law is not “the end.” It is just a means. “The end”–safe roads with obvious right of way rules–can be accomplished without pretending that bicyclists are always unable and unwilling to navigate intersections safely unless they come to a stop.

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