Thursday, September 27, 2012

And for Comparison to Texas...

I give you excerpts from the Louisiana Drivers Guide for Classes "D" and "E" description of sharing the road with bicycles...

Sharing the Road with Bicycles
...Many drivers find it hard to know how to react to bicyclists riding in the street.  For the safety of both drivers and bicyclists the following precautions should be taken while driving and bicycling.

• Be aware that bicyclists not traveling in the extreme right of the lane may be trying to avoid gravel, debris, bad pavement, sewer grates and other obstacles.
• Be cautious of bicyclists moving legally into the center of the lane because of road hazards or into the left lane because of a left turn.
• A three foot distance must be present between the passing automobile and slower traveling bicyclists.
• Railroad crossing can cause bicyclists to slow down and possible [sic] zig zag in order to cross the tracks.

Bicycling Safety
• Obey the instructions of official traffic control signals and signs.  Stop at stop signs and for stoplights just like a motor vehicle
• Ride on the right hand side of the road with traffic.  if you are making a left hand turn, ride on the left side of the turn lane.  You may ride in the center of lane [sic] to avoid hazards
• Be predictable by riding in a straight line and follwing traffic laws

Now, none of these things are untrue.  But they give an incomplete picture, and make cyclists sound like deer crossing the road at night; you never know quite what they are going to do.  And this does little to explain the obligations and responsibilities of car drivers and bicyclists.  I should note here that the laws that govern cycling in Louisiana are virtually identical to those of Texas, and of every state in the Union.  They can be found here:

http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?folder=106

The most glaring exception is the 3' passing rule.  I've heard both sides of the argument for this rule, I come down against it,  mostly because people aren't good at discerning distance, especially at higher speeds.  Many people dont realize that the stripes on the road can be as long as 10', and struggle to park closely to the curb while parallell parking.  Just for fun, ask your friends to show 3' with their hands and see how close they are.  Now imagine showing 3' with a moving vehicle.

I think Louisiana could do a much better job of explaining the rights and responsibilities of cyclists in this handbook.  It's just an example of what Texas does right that Louisiana does not. 

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