Tortured Traffic Laws

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At some point – I think it happened back in the late ’80s – a government bureaucrat decided it was “unsafe” to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. Not content to wear one himself (assuming he rode motorcycles; in all likelihood he – probably she – never did) a law was passed requiring that all motorcyclists wear helmets. Bureaucrats in other states – possessed of the same strong, bizarre and wholly improper determination to parent other adults – passed similar laws. Today, in most states, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.stupid laws pic 1

But it’s legal to ride without any meaningful protection for the other parts of your body. Not even shirts (or shoes, for that matter) are required. Shorts, T-shirt (or no shirt), flip-flops or sneakers… it’s all good (well, it’s all legal). So long as you’re wearing a helmet, you’re fine as far as the law is concerned. But you won’t be fine if you wreck.

The in loco parentis bureaucrats apparently never thought of this – or haven’t yet gotten around to passing laws requiring that motorcyclists also wear protective riding suits, boots and gloves.

We should not give them ideas.

Virginia still has an active ban on radar detectors. The only other place in the U.S. where they’re illegal is – big surprise – that nexus of freedom, Washington, DC.traffic law radar detecttor pic

But the ban is actually a boon to those with balls enough to flout it. Because most cops assume (rightly) that most people (being sheeple) will Obey The Law – and so, will not possess much less use a bacon detector. Which means those few who do possess and use them have a leg up on the cops – who in general won’t be as sneaky about running their radar. After all, if the sheeple-people haven’t got detectors, why hide?

The cops are also less likely to use “instant-on” radar – which was designed specifically to counter radar detectors. Instead of a steady beam up ahead for your detector to detect, the cop looks for cars he believes to be speeding – and then hits them with the signal. Your detector might screech – but it’s probably too late. Instant-on is widely used in other states where radar detectors are legal – but much less so in Virginia, where they’re not.

So, a pat on the back to the Virginia pols who keep the radar detector ban in place. It’s made life – and speeding – a lot easier for people like me.senile driver pic

. . . .

Like the war on some drugs, traffic laws smile – and frown – on different forms of impairment. It’s doubleplusungood to operate a motor vehicle with even trace amounts of alcohol in one’s system. You don’t even have to wreck. It’s assumed you will – and therefore must be punished proactively. What about people whose driving is impaired for other reasons? If an oldster blows a red light and actually T-bones your car, all he gets is a ticket  – not a trip to jail – since senescence or poor vision are not regarded as impairment. Which is kind of like refusing to categorize alcohol as a “drug” perhaps also worthy of a “war” being waged upon it.

. . . .

How are you supposed to execute a safe pass if you can’t do it quickly?

The law says it’s illegal to drive even 1 MPH over the posted speed limit. Apparently, this is unsafe – by definition. But it’s also pretty unsafe to attempt to pass someone doing say 42 in a 55 zone when you’re not allowed (legally) to exceed 55. Even in a passing zone. Even if only briefly – which would be inherently safer than attempting to creep by in the limit space (and time) allotted at no more than 55 MPH.stupid laws 2

They’ve got us coming – and going.

On the one hand, passing is still nominally legal. On the other, to do it legally requires so much time (and distance) as to render the maneuver practically impossible – or terrifically dangerous. If you pass safely – by bringing your speed up enough to get around the slow-mover expeditiously – you’ve committed a traffic infraction – “speeding” – even though your action reduced the chance of an accident happening. You’re supposed to either pass unsafely – but legally.

Or not pass at all.

Cops, of course, never face this conundrum themselves. They are legally sanctioned to drive as fast as necessary to catch up to scofflaws – or get through/around traffic impeding their progress. Apparently, one is immune from the axiom that “speed” “kills” when in uniform. Maybe we should all wear uniforms, since we’d be so much safer then.

PS: Did you know that it’s illegal to curse on the highway in Maryland? Apparently, it’s ok on secondary streets. Also, it’s ok to pick up roadkill (and eat it) in West Virginia. But not ok to drive with a blindfold on in Alabama.

Seriously.

Throw it in the Woods?

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Nothing’s as enjoyable as being behind three RVs or tour busses all in series and all going 10 mph below the speed limit. That’s basically one big long pass — good luck doing it successfully without going “too fast!”

  2. I never considered what an advantage the Virginia radar ban could be. Good deal.
    I used detectors for many years, starting with a primitive FuzzBuster unit in 1978.
    Stopped using them a few years back due in part to false alarms and laser. Beaten many an instant on radar by being quick on the brakes, and got finger shakes from cops who knew what I did but didn’t have a reading. Even got pulled over a time or two for this but knew the cop couldn’t write me up for speeding.

    As for passing, here in Georgia there are many stretches of rural road with 3 lanes: two in one direction and one lane going the other. The 2 lane part is designed for passing and often goes uphill for passing trucks and slow traffic. Over the last 10 to 15 years these passing lanes have been turned into 2 lanes, with the center striped yellow and “No Passing” signs. These are designated as “Turn Lanes”, even along rural stretches with nowhere to turn! This has been done gradually over the years and now includes maybe 85% of the former passing lanes.

    I’m convinced that there is an anti-car faction at work somewhere that wants to make driving as frustrating and inconvenient as possible.

    • “I’m convinced that there is an anti-car faction at work somewhere that wants to make driving as frustrating and inconvenient as possible.”

      Amen to that!

    • I’m convinced that there is an anti-car faction at work somewhere that wants to make driving as frustrating and inconvenient as possible.

      Indeed there is. They are politically organized and foundation supported. Lots of useful idiots following along. You can find them online if you wish to mess with them as I have. They don’t know what to do with car guy bicyclists. Especially those of the old bicycle militancy like me. Today’s bicycling politics is nothing more than a tool for an anti-car agenda IMO. Their desire is to reserve as much of the public way for anything but cars as possible. The old militancy was for equal rights, but today they want special rights and IMO ride like small children, not adults.

      BTW, the login and captcha means I’ll be posting less since I prefer my posts come from my own personal machines no matter where I am. The command line browser, lynx, doesn’t do captcha. I’m not too keen on opening up a PC with remote desktop capability.

      • Hmm, I didn’t know I was a car guy bicyclists.
        The things you learn online, eh?
        I think maybe I’m a motorcycle guy bicyclists, too.
        When I ride a bicycle I often find myself twisting the right-hand grip wishfully seeking full throttle while missing my motorcycle.
        It’s still fun though. Especially on the curves.

        Anyway, It’s a bummer the captcha is tripping you up BrentP.
        I enjoy your posts, even when I disagree with them.
        I hope you find a workaround. Or something.

        I do Not like captchas, but this is the best captcha I’ve ever had to deal with. I don’t even have to tilt my head sideways, or squint, trying to figure out wtf I’m seeing.

      • I know this is a late reply which will not be popular on this website, but frankly I don’t know what to do with car guy bicyclists either, because bicyclists are a big part of the reason why fast driving is so difficult these days.

        There’s a guy on YouTube who does videos of… certain activities in the mountains. I figure I’ve already raged at him enough for chopping the center line, so this time I asked instead if he’d ever encountered someone stupid enough to walk or bike along one of those narrow, completely unlit cliffside roads at night.

        He said he had, and thus takes steps to ensure the area is empty before he starts going at it.

        That was so stupid I think I’ve actually lost IQ from retyping it, but I’m not surprised at all. See, I think that’s a lot of what the bicycle community doesn’t get about why drivers don’t like them. It’s not just because they “don’t follow the law” or “are unpredictable”. It’s because they’re EVERYWHERE AT ONCE. So us drivers have to drive as if you’re around (or a pedestrian is around) literally any time we’re not on a racetrack. Not even on the freeway, not even in the mountains at 2AM can we be free from the prison of liability your potential presence builds around us. Nowhere where we can just throw down the hammer and let the horses sing without going through the pomp and circumstance (and cost, and time commitment, and rules) of a full-on Event. Is there some kind of hiker/biker conspiracy to take over every road in the known universe?

        On top of which, bicycles don’t even work well for transportation, let alone recreation. Put them on the sidewalk and they’re a menace, put them on the road and they’re a liability. Legally they might be vehicles, but in practice they’re just a car-pedestrian hybrid that fits nowhere and is annoying everywhere.

        • Proper vehicular bicycling is not a problem. It has never been a problem for me when motoring. Vehicular bicyclists are about 10,000 times easier to pass than someone plodding along tapping the brakes at every imagined hazard.

          Bicyclists aren’t the reason you can’t drive fast. If Designed the roads I would make the curb side lane about 15 feet wide. That would make passing bicyclists easy and make roads wonderful for bicycling. The reason you (and I) can’t drive fast are control freaks. People who don’t want us having cars and those who don’t want us going faster than they do.

          These control freaks use bicycling the same way they use windmills and solar panels. They use them because it suits their control freak goals. The moment they achieve those goals with transportation or energy use is the day they will turn on what they previously promoted.

          • Hi Brent,

            I call them Spandex Harleys because they exhibit some of the same behaviors, such as riding in groups at speeds well below both the speed limit and the flow of traffic, without yielding to it. Yes, you can technically pass a cyclist (unlike a motorcycle) but the two are very close to occupying the same physical space on the road and on many roads, it is difficult to pass a cyclist with adequate room between the car and the bicycle, without crossing over the double yellow into the opposite lane of traffic. This is both illegal as well as dangerous if there in oncoming traffic – and if the oncoming traffic is steady, you may find yourself stuck behind a Spandex Harley doing 16 in a 45 for several miles – having to look at the Spandex-clad ass at close quarters, too!

            • I love how the anti-bicyclist crowd becomes so letter of the law when it comes to passing bicyclists. It’s just an excuse to rationalize the irrational. And dangerous? Hardly. Most of that double yellow used to be legal passing zone once upon a time. Passing of other motor vehicles. Well below the speed limit? The moral minimum? Irrelevant except to people who don’t know how to drive and can’t time the pass. When a motorist slows to my speed I know immediately I am dealing with a moron who might kill me.

          • To be clear, my problem really isn’t with commuter riders in places with proper infrastructure. In fact, I rarely see those anyway and more often on the sidewalk than the road, which you can get away with in Alaska due to the lower population densities. I suspect I might feel differently if I lived somewhere with a lot of space-eating bike lanes, but still. My main beef is with people who ride (or walk!) where they shouldn’t and expect everyone else to dial it back out of deference. These places include:

            -Any and all freeways. This should be obvious.
            -Main thoroughfares where they can’t keep up with traffic.
            -Two-lane “main roads”, posted at 45-65 MPH, lacking any more than about a foot and a half of shoulder, but theoretically capable of supporting much higher speeds if only there was some way to keep the non-motorized traffic well away from the road surface.
            -Mountain backroads, two lanes or even no center line, likely to be no shoulder as well. These are like a magnet to recreational walkers/riders, which gives me no end of rage as these are exactly where I’d like to push my car and abuse the gutter/road edge as a cornering aid. I’d be perfectly satisfied with a time-split system where non-motorized road use is allowed some times and not others, but when people still walk/bike these roads long after dark, I think it’s time to officially declare that this whole road biking/”get in touch with nature” thing has gotten way out of hand.

            Think of Mulholland Drive above LA. It’s not much anymore, but in olden days when the rope made of McMansions hadn’t completely strangled it yet, there was an active street racing scene on that road. They raced there for decades, and they never managed to kill anyone as far as I know, despite being center chopping idiots. I suspect that record would have carried many more blemishes, and been ended by the authorities much sooner, if “road bike culture” had existed back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s the way it does today.

            Hence, why I cringe whenever I see “active lifestyle” paraphernalia on a tuned car. These people really don’t seem to realize that they, themselves, are a big part of the reason cars are so much harder to enjoy now.

            Eric has also complained in the past about these kinds of people, but being a Super Hardcore Libertarian does not want to legislate against them. I, however, do. Around this country there are bike paths, hiking trails, and even snowmachine trails maintained by state and local governments. I think it’s high time cars and motorcycles got a taste of that action.

            • Sidewalk riding is very dangerous at any speed above a walking pace. When people yell at me to ride on the sidewalk my response is ‘f— off’ or the middle finger.

              Being banned from roads of your arbitrary choosing like main two lane roads means making bicycling completely pointless. I live in a built up area and I can’t go very far without using a ‘main road’ or a two lane road or even a main two lane road. Why should bicyclists be banned because some motorists don’t know how to drive properly or execute a proper pass and others are too damn lazy?

              And you want the bicyclists banned from the slow narrow backroads where nobody goes too. So bicyclists can use the roads that lots of people use or the roads that few people use. Why not just get to your real point, you want bicycling banned period.

              Go ahead and let the motorcyclists on the ‘multi-use’ paths. You’ll grow to hate them as much I do. First most of them go nowhere. Second they are filled with ‘clovers’ except in the off hours or when the weather is particularly bad. Oh and then you’ll have to obey the 8mph speed limit too, which is on some paths because the ‘clovers’ complain about faster bicyclists.

              Bicyclists are not the reason people can’t enjoy cars. The numbers are trivial. You simply don’t like bicyclists for your own reasons and are trying to rationalize it. I have exactly zero problems passing solo bicyclists. The only problems are the group riders and I refuse to ride with groups. I won’t even do organized bicycle rides because those things are filled with ‘clovers’.

              The same people who have speed limits underposted. The same people who get all the passing zones removed.
              The same people who drive 15 under.
              The same people who accelerate on a glacial time scale.
              You’re not getting rid of them. You’ll just have them in their cars more often. So instead of a very brief pass you’ll be stuck behind them for miles on end.

              • My dislike of bicyclists is not because I can’t pass. I can pass a bicyclist just fine if I’m moving at somewhere close to the speed limit and not too far over on the shoulder.

                I seem to recall it was you on an old post I backstalked, taunting a bicycle hater with “I have more money in my bike than you do in your car, and my car is even faster! Wanna race?” My response would have been “Sure, but I’m leaving it up to you to find us a road your pedaling brethren haven’t already taken over!”

                In the kinds of conditions I’m thinking of, I think I’d honestly rather deal with the slowpokes. Yes, they can be annoying, but they are (in theory) easier to see coming due to being larger, having fairly powerful rear lights, and still moving faster than a bicyclist… and also, an encounter with one of them is less likely to end with a manslaughter charge.

                Yes, racing is illegal and backroad bicycling isn’t. That doesn’t make this any less annoying. Think of it this way: you’re 21, and you’re thoroughly enjoying your newfound freedom of alcohol consumption, but you have a friend who’s only 18 and still wants to be friends. And yeah, even at 18 he’s cool and mature, but because he’s not fully of age yet, he can’t go to drinking establishments with you. Then maybe he wants to bring along his friend who is only 16, and then that guy brings his 14-year-old girlfriend whose parents are still very much a force in her life, and now half the people in your car might as well live on a completely different planet from the other half. Now, both you and your 18yo friend have to hold back, because if you drive too fast, or try to watch a war movie, then you might attract the wrath of Teenybopper Girl’s or Just Started Driving Boy’s parents who think you put their offspring in danger or set a bad example for them.

                Or maybe you’re planning to throw a birthday celebration for a friend at some crummy little hole in the wall where you can just cut loose and have a good time, only for one of his other friends to bring their girlfriend, who proceeds to spend the entire night whining about how the establishment is too grubby for her, and how she doesn’t drink anything less pretentious than Grey Goose, and blah blah blah blah blah all night, in the process making it impossible for anyone else to actually enjoy said night.

                Or perhaps a better analogy, since those sound like I endorse going to raunchy bars and getting completely smashed (which I absolutely don’t), would be going to a track day and then getting black-flagged if you pass someone in a corner or the authorities find out you’re actually dicing with someone, because the event is set up to accommodate newbies who don’t know how to race and could get spooked if a car materialized next to them on corner entry.

                Or maybe the immature 17yo co-“worker” who thinks it’s funny to constantly body block you and throw fakeout punches while you’re trying to actually do your job, then when he finally gets fired, you end up having to come in on your day off to cover what would have been his shift.

                Or, really, any other situation you can think of where you have to hold yourself back because you’re stuck looking after someone who can’t handle whatever you were actually planning to do.

                Those are all pretty good analogies for how I feel about backroad bicyclists and hikers. Like the birthday party whiner who kills everyone else’s good mood, the underage friends-of-a-friend whose parents are always there in spirit even if not in terms of physical presence, or the track day newbie who forces everyone else to dial back their own intensity, they aren’t directly harming anyone by being there, but you can absolutely say the party don’t start ’til they walk out.

                And yes, we all have to hold ourselves back according to the situation sometimes, but when it gets to the point where you could find the loneliest road in the world and there would still probably be a bicyclist or hiker there to turn a gutter hook into a manslaughter charge, there’s a problem, and it’s not the speeders. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this isn’t about commuter riders, this is about the bicyclists and hikers who insist on overrunning every somewhat curvy non-residential road (itself a difficult thing to find these days) within 30 miles of civilization, at all hours of the day and night, even when the road is obviously not well suited for it.

                And before you say”just go to a racetrack”, well, here in Alaska there aren’t any outside of a dragstrip and a very few ovals. I’m no great fan of most racetracks not called “Nurburgring” anyway – too fast, too smooth, too blatantly artificial.

                • so now the misrepresentation. If I told the stories here it was TWO distinct stories. In both stories, the asshole motorists made their own remarks. In one a woman driving an old $1000 driving appliance told me I shouldn’t be on the road because her vehicle was worth more. In the second it was someone in a car making a big deal of his vehicle’s power. Your conflation and fabrication says I am dead nuts correct on you.

                  Your analogies are nonsense. Roads are for traffic. Bicyclists are traffic. If you can’t deal with it, stay home.

                  What you can’t seem to grasp is some ‘clovers’ are bicyclists. You paint all bicyclists with their brush. They are not all bicyclists just like they aren’t all motorists.

                  You want to go out and enjoy the roads in the middle of nowhere? So do bicyclists. Let me guess in the city you want the bicyclists to go out in the middle of nowhere and when you’re out in the middle of nowhere the opposite. And if you don’t do both there’s another motorist just like you demanding the opposite. The net result is the same. Just admit you want to trample people’s rights to the public way instead making these tortured “arguments”.

                  Since you want to enjoy the public way what if it isn’t a slow bicyclist but simply Mr. and Mrs. Clover who’ve parked on the side of the road with driver’s side of the vehicle where the bicyclist would normally be? What then? You come around the blind corner and cream the Clovers’ car. Maybe nail Mr. Clover as he’s getting out. And yes, idiot motorists will park behind blind curves and where you can’t see their vehicle easily.

                  • Frankly, I see far fewer shoulder parkers than hikers and bikers on the mountain roads. If the car is broken down, then it may well be unoccupied when you get there, and will definitely be easier to spot and avoid than a bicyclist (a lack of illumination, combined with the fact that that a bike really isn’t much bigger than the rider themself, actually makes the problem worse as they can easily hide behind trees, rocks, and other things that a car might stick out from behind, or just blend into the darkness until you’re right on top of them). If someone just parked on the shoulder because they were lazy or couldn’t find anywhere better, the odds are they’ll leave before too long, but again, they will at least be easier to spot and avoid than a bicycle or pedestrian (also, at least you admitted they aren’t very smart for doing so).

                    A biker or hiker, meanwhile, could show up at any moment from any entry point or even, for hikers, through places that really aren’t entry points, including trails you might not even be aware of if you’re not an active-lifestyler yourself – and, as I said above, they’re much harder to see coming in the dark as well, often having no illumination beyond some wimpy little LED thing that isn’t nearly as useful as it’s apparently supposed to be.

                    Also, sorry but I really never have had a problem with bicycles or even pedestrians in more built-up areas. I really don’t. Like I said, this is not and never has been about them. The fact is, if it’s stupid to park your car in a certain place and get out, then it is also stupid to park your car elsewhere and walk or ride your bike in that same place. Sometimes it can’t be helped because of circumstances (mechanical failure & etc.), but quite often it can.

                    I’ve got a question for you, though. State governments, universities, and so on will often build trails for hikers, bicyclists, snowmobile riders, and even horseback riders. What would be the problem with doing the same thing for drivers? Do you believe that cars, alone out of all the forms of personal ground transportation, don’t deserve this consideration, or do you think you should be able to ride your bike on all those other trails too?

                    • Where the hell does one randomly enter a road from out in the middle of nowhere? There isn’t any place for a bicyclist to suddenly enter the road in the middle of nowhere. Now the hiker could appear but more likely it’s going to be a deer or a moose or some other creature that will ruin your day.

                      There’s no such thing as a ‘bike trail’. They are multi-use paths and unless time of day or weather keeps the idiots away they are largely useless due to ‘clovers’. I do not advocate for them. I’ll use them when I don’t feel like dealing with motorist ‘clovers’ or I am tired or they happen to be the shortest route between a and b.

                      A proper system of bikeways would be acceptable to me but they are not economically or politically feasible hence I will argue for wide curb lanes. Not even the people you think are pro-bicycle politically will argue for proper bikeways because they aren’t pro bicycling. They are anti motoring.

                      For instance, Chicago has a grid system. Proper bikeways or at the very least bike routes could be created using side streets. The new urbanists oppose it in favor of their idiotic bike lanes.

                      There are car only roads. They are called limited access highways. The reason they aren’t fun is because of well “clovers”.

                    • “There are car only roads. They are called limited access highways. The reason they aren’t fun is because of well “clovers”.”

                      Thanks Brent, should be obvious. Happy Holidays, Jeremy

                    • “Where the hell does one randomly enter a road from out in the middle of nowhere? There isn’t any place for a bicyclist to suddenly enter the road in the middle of nowhere. Now the hiker could appear but more likely it’s going to be a deer or a moose or some other creature that will ruin your day.”

                      True, that’s more the hiker than the bicyclist, but both are valid concerns, and like I’ve said… stupid always finds a way. I could easily see myself getting a whole crew together to try to mitigate these problems – sentries, radios, even blockers if we can get away with it – and still wreck trying to dodge someone who wandered in from the wilderness. I’m just paranoid like that.

                      As for the animal impact, yes, an animal can smash up your car pretty badly, and it can smash you up pretty badly depending on what it is, but it’s not the kind of thing that gets you sent to jail or that you have to carry on your conscience for the rest of your life. Of course racing involves risk – but don’t imply animals are on the same level as people. It’s not even close.

                      “There’s no such thing as a ‘bike trail’. They are multi-use paths and unless time of day or weather keeps the idiots away they are largely useless due to ‘clovers’. I do not advocate for them. I’ll use them when I don’t feel like dealing with motorist ‘clovers’ or I am tired or they happen to be the shortest route between a and b.

                      A proper system of bikeways would be acceptable to me but they are not economically or politically feasible hence I will argue for wide curb lanes. Not even the people you think are pro-bicycle politically will argue for proper bikeways because they aren’t pro bicycling. They are anti motoring.”

                      I apologize, as I was unaware. I assume the multi-use trails are what I was thinking of as there are quite a few around where I live and they quite frequently seem to be associated with bicycling (even the shop ads on the radio will frequently refer to “cruising the trails on a fatbike”); not being into anything except driving, I never really looked further. But if what you’re saying is true then it would seem that transportation planning, like so much of modern life, has been bungled in the most annoying way possible for all involved. Like, not just the wrong decisions, but exactly the right amount of wrong to ensure that no one can be happy with any of it, ever… definitely including bicycles being forced into a situation where they simultaneously annoy and are annoyed by literally everyone else no matter what they do. Insert conspiracy theory here if you wish; I personally agree that cars are the ultimate target and bicyclists are just being used to do the dirty work. Somewhere along the line, agents of government stopped trying to serve the people and started trying to manipulate (or just get rich off of) the people. There really is hope for peaceful coexistence between motorists and non-motorists, but only if we can get “the powers that be” to stop using the non-motorists as a bludgeon, and only if we can convince politicians to spend money on something that isn’t an obviously-doomed pet project for once. Granted, that concept does seem to scare them, but perhaps some at the local level could be brought around…?

                      I’ll even be perfectly happy, as I said above, with some kind of time-split system on the backroads so that the riders can ride there during the day and the racers don’t have to worry about them at night (say, 10PM-6AM), but good luck getting THAT through any legislative body. It would be too obvious that you were trying to make an ersatz racetrack out of the road, and the safety cultists (and probably some bicyclists as well) would pitch a fit of historic proportions.

                      “There are car only roads. They are called limited access highways. The reason they aren’t fun is because of well ‘clovers’.”

                      Would you believe I see people walking and biking on those shoulders too? Maybe it’s just an Alaska thing, but I’m really not joking when I say there’s no escape from them. Besides, You can cruise pretty fast on a limited-access highway, but you can’t really attack all-out, because if your car is any decent you’ll quickly reach a speed where a slow driver in the wrong place (over a crest, for example) could lead to an unavoidable, fatal crash. Plus, there it really is the breakdown you have to worry about… or, if you lose control, the fact that the people who designed the road (stupidly) didn’t think the median needed any kind of solid barrier.

                      Nevertheless, Germany seems to be doing just fine, and other than lane discipline I’m not really sure what their secret is. Something to study, I guess.

                    • In very rural areas the shoulder of interstates is legal for other users because it is often the only road from a to b.

                      It’s legal to murder bicyclists with an automobile or truck if you know how. There’s no going to jail or prison for it so long as your BAC level is not arbitrarily high, you’re not using prohibited recreational drugs, and you say the magic words. “I didn’t see him, he swerved right in front of me” and other such things. And you can’t flee the scene.

                      The only people who go to jail or prison for hitting bicyclists are those who are drunk, flee the scene, and/or clearly hit them deliberately beyond any reasonable doubt with living witnesses.

            • “Eric has also complained in the past about these kinds of people, but being a Super Hardcore Libertarian does not want to legislate against them. I, however, do.”

              It’s odd how bicyclists bring out an inner authoritarian, even among libertarians. It’s true that there are asshole/clover bicyclists. But, their number and impact is dwarfed by asshole/clover drivers. Everyday I am inconvenienced and sometimes endangered by the actions of a clueless driver. I am almost never so affected by a cyclist.

              Yes, it’s annoying as hell when cyclists ride in packs, and there are clearly some roads that they should avoid (most of them do) but, as Brent noted, any driver that cannot pass me safely without slowing down is either an asshole or a moron.

              Cheers,
              Jeremy

              • So long as I don’t go on certain roads on a saturday or sunday morning I will never encounter the pack riders. A I am just as annoyed with them with a car or bicycle.

              • “It’s odd how bicyclists bring out an inner authoritarian, even among libertarians.”

                Maybe that should be a clue… a clue that bicycles are just a massive pain to have around and only really work in congested urban centers. And since the law is currently on their side, the only way to be rid of them is to find a road they haven’t… which is getting difficult to do and even more difficult to be sure you’ve done.

                Strangely enough it’s actually Japan, usually the land of Shut Up and Obey, where the police in some areas will actually allow racers to block off certain otherwise-deserted roads at night and go at it. An imperfect system as it basically requires you to be rolling with a crew,who probably won’t be running every night of the week either, but it’s way better than what most places have. Unfortunately this system isn’t universal even there and is basically unheard of anywhere else. Besides, if it were tried here someone would probably have a fit at the thought of being prevented from riding their bicycle down an old road to nowhere at 2 in the morning, let alone any road that actually serves a purpose the rest of the time.

                • Hi Chuck,

                  You imply that if it were not for cyclists and pedestrians then there would be roads where drivers could “go at it”. Sorry, this is false. It’s not cyclists that have denied this freedom to you but standard GovCo apparatchiks. Ban cyclists and pedestrians and you’ll still have those apparatchiks denying you your fun. After all, you can never get a deer to obey an edict from GovCo.

                  “…but when it gets to the point where you could find the loneliest road in the world and there would still probably be a bicyclist or hiker there to turn a gutter hook into a manslaughter charge.”

                  This is absurd. You will probably not find a bicyclist on the “loneliest road in the world”. You are much more likely to find a deer, other animal, slower driver, etc… Encountering any of these inconveniences is much more likely than encountering a cyclist.

                  The world you lament has not been destroyed by cyclists but by busybody government control freaks. These people will never free up roads for you to play on. Your attitude empowers these people.

                  Kind Regards,
                  Jeremy

                  • “You imply that if it were not for cyclists and pedestrians then there would be roads where drivers could ‘go at it’. Sorry, this is false. It’s not cyclists that have denied this freedom to you but standard GovCo apparatchiks. Ban cyclists and pedestrians and you’ll still have those apparatchiks denying you your fun. After all, you can never get a deer to obey an edict from GovCo.”

                    True, but GovCo also does not, as far as I know, avenge deer with lengthy stays at the Gray Bar. Somehow (and to the great consternation of certain activists, I’m sure) our laws still reflect the obvious truth that animals are worth a lot less than people. I hit a bicyclist, my first thought is going to be “he’s gonna live, right?” I hit a deer, my first thought is going to be “what’s the damage to the car?” followed closely by “is there any edible meat left here?” Moose, now, those are an entirely different class of problem, though there may be ways to mitigate that too, and also they aren’t around as often during the summer. Is an SCCA-spec roll cage strong enough to deflect a moose?

                    “This is absurd. You will probably not find a bicyclist on the ‘loneliest road in the world’. You are much more likely to find a deer, other animal, slower driver, etc… Encountering any of these inconveniences is much more likely than encountering a cyclist.”

                    I will admit to some exaggeration, but the problem is that it seems to me it’d be pretty hard to know when you’d found said loneliest road in the world, or indeed to know that there wasn’t a bicyclist… which is exactly my point. Those kinds of roads, with curves and hills and not a house in sight, are like a magnet to recreational/workout riders. If you’re far enough from civilization, and it’s late enough at night, you can be 90-95% sure there isn’t one, but that last 5-10% is enough. As I said above, I actually consider the slowpoke drivers easier to deal with. It’s not the delay that bothers me – it’s the possibility and probability of “first contact” involving actual physical contact. Once I’ve seen the possible threat and successfully avoided an incident, it doesn’t really matter how long I have to wait for them to clear out, but with a hiker or biker, a lot more can go wrong in getting to that point.

                    I really, genuinely do not want to hurt anyone driving. I guess just I feel like the people who ride and bike in these places are basically holding themselves hostage, demanding slowness and paranoia as their price for the fulfillment of that goal.

                    The strange thing is, for my first few years of driving, I hardly ever saw any kind of non-motorized traffic, including on the back roads, and so I was able to cut the shoulder quite freely, pull parking brake slides in stupid places, that kind of thing. Then one day the wake-up call came (thankfully with no injury to anyone; I spotted the jogger while stuck behind a slowpoke and ABOUT to hit the shoulder, rather than once I was actually on it), and ever since I seem to see more and more of these people everywhere. I’m young, so I suppose you could say I was just lucky early on, but considering the constant push by the Omnipresent Green Blob to promote things like hiking and biking, you might have a tough time convincing me of that.

                    See, those are the other reasons I resent non-motorized road users. First, I know that bicycles in particular wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem if they hadn’t been deliberately reintroduced to the American transport ecosystem (long before I was born for the most part, but Alaska tends to run behind on some things) by the same people who are still trying to make us like soccer. Second, I was born in 1995 to (and homeschooled by) unusually old parents, so I’m young enough that the car scene’s best days were gone before I could even start trying to participate, but still old enough to know what I missed and maybe even to have had a tiny taste. Thus, I come away feeling like something I loved has genuinely been lost, and quite recently at that.

                    • The era without much bicycling ran from roughly 1960 to the late 1970s. Other than that bicycling has been part of the american road landscape since the 19th century.

                      Again, the bicycling instructional film I often cite. Usually for vehicular bicycling but this was made towards the end of a time when it was still widely known that bicyclists were traffic.

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDm6jiQz5BY

                    • Hi Chuck,

                      What you feel you have lost, the ability to use publicly accessible roads as a raceway, without consequence, has never existed. While speed limits are mostly arbitrary, and in no way a proper measure of a “safe” speed, it is always the responsibility of a driver to drive in such a way that if something unexpected occurs, they don’t cause harm to others. As Brent has noted, bicycles have always been part of the traffic landscape, which means it is your responsibility to take that into account when deciding how you drive. But, as Eric points out, every user of the roads has a responsibility to be aware and courteous to other users.

                      Perhaps, if more people behaved this way, we would not have the stifling, one size fits all, lowest common denominator safety cult that all of us here hate.

                      Control freaks always turn to the State to impose their values and attitudes on others. While I am sure from your posts that you are not a statist control freak, your stated desire to ban bicycles, empowers those who are. You are entitled to feel however you want about cyclists, I sympathize with some of your thoughts, and disagree with others. I do care that you wish to further empower GovCo to take away a little more of my freedom.

                      You see, people who think it’s OK to use the power of the State to impose their preferences on others, did take something away from me. You believe that you have lost something but, that which you lament, never existed. I, and every person who enjoys riding their bicycles in beautiful, secluded places, did lose something due to the efforts of people who argued exactly as you do. Of course I understand that you probably do not share the concerns and values of Sierra Club fanatics. But, your desire to use force to impose your preferences on me, perfectly coincide with them.

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

                • Hi Chuck,

                  “And since the law is currently on their side”

                  What does this mean? I do not know of a single bicycle specific pathway/road/trail in the US (if you do, please let me know). In fact, “we” (bicyclists) were retroactively barred from all wilderness areas by a slick word change from “motorized” to “mechanized”. This occurred almost two decades after the original 1964 Wilderness act, and without congressional approval. I’m not invoking the “law” to support my case but to question your assertion that “the law is currently on their side.”

                  Cheers,
                  Jeremy

                  • There are these anti-bicycle hikers that sought to have bicycling banned from many areas. There was a well known crank on usenet regarding this. They usually don’t need mentioning because they are small in number and generally the trails they get bicycling banned from are unpaved, unimproved, and generally require a skilled rider. In other words, what would be out in the middle of nowhere.

                    • Hey Brent,

                      I ride road and MTB. Years ago, in Santa Fe, one of these anti-bike hikers was intentionally sabotaging trails in order to injure cyclists. This person would place obstacles across the trail directly beyond a slight curve, in the hope that the rider would be going fast enough to get hurt.

                      Even as an MTB rider, I’m a little “off”. A while ago, one of the bike magazines rated the Winsor trail one of the top 10 “downhills” in America. Now, I consider “downhillers” (riders who get shuttled to the top, and then bomb down the trail) to be the MTB equivalent of “pack” road riders.

                      I was interviewed by the local paper and carefully explained that “we” MTB riders mostly believed that you “earned” the downhill by climbing up the trail. I explained that climbing up revealed your your skill and fitness, and made you familiar with the trail. I concluded by saying that if you can’t climb up the trail, your probably not good enough to ride down it safely. The last quote was, of course, the only words of mine that made it to print.

                      In Cuba, NM I saw one of the original Wilderness area signs that barred access to “motorized” vehicles (it was removed years ago). Now, due to behind the scenes lobbying by the Sierra club and other fanatics, it reads “mechanized” vehicles. This was done specifically to ban bikes from these areas, and the change was made without public or congressional input.

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

  3. The cops are also less likely to use “instant-on” radar – which was designed specifically to counter radar detectors. Instead of a steady beam up ahead for your detector to detect, the cop looks for cars he believes to be speeding – and then hits them with the signal.

    Bull! This is what they say is legal procedure but, in reality, these badged turds don’t determine if a car is “speeding” before hitting it with Instant-On. They shoot at anyone at whom they have a clear shot.

      • If you get ticketed by radar/laser, check the distance from where the cop was when he stung you (as alleged on the ticket) to the nearest corner or rise. You’ll find they usually match.

        As Doug noted, this isn’t legal procedure – at least not here in Oz. Their rule book states they must have a “visual tracking history” of at least 3 seconds before blasting 904nm laser or aircraft impeding radar at you. Reason being is that they can cross-reference this visual tracking against the reading to ensure the device is measuring more-or-less accurately.

        It’s rarely ever done though. Besides, their rule book has been described as mere “guidelines” by a few magistrates here, rather than letter of the law.

        In any case, in Oz all measuring devices used for trade or revenue (fruit scales at the supermarket or the home elec/gas meter must have pattern approval and a tracking number attached or printed on the device in clear view either from the National Measurement Institute or the National Standards Commission (NMI or NSC number). This is a Commonwealth law and the fines for non-compliance are massive.

        If you guys in the US check your elec meters you should see the specific numbers from your own measurement bodies which are also listed on your bill.

        Naturally, your cops might> be using devices approved under your measurement bodies and are fully compliant, but here in Oz they’re not – even cop car speedos need this certification.

        Several greedy magistrates here have waved this requirement aside and got red faces at subsequent appeals – because when pressed, nobody in the courtroom can produce a valid law or act that absolves speed measuring devices of this certification requirement.

        Besides, it’s always a good idea to contest every fine you get and, at least ask in court when the laser/cam/radar was last calibrated and certified for field work, approved by whom under what qualifications and clearance etc. You’d be surprised how many have missed their calibration date and been used on you anyway.

        Then again, the officer/prosecutor/camera operator can’t possibly define exactly how well the unit was treated since last calibration until the cop pointed it at you – at least not honestly on the stand.

        They also need to be properly shielded. Most are normally plugged into an unshielded cigarette lighter socket, causing glitches and incorrect readings from fluctuating alternator voltages.

        Pays to ask the right questions.

  4. Eric,

    Well written.

    Does immunity from the laws of physics apply to all uniforms or only some uniforms? 😉

    In Paragraph 7

    Instant-on is widely used in other states where radar detectors are illegal – but much less so in Virginia, where they’re not.

    Do you actually mean to saylegal?

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