August 6, 2012

"If my rule-breaking is ethical and safe (and Idaho-legal), why does it annoy anyone?"

Asks Randy Cohen, the original NYT "ethicist," who admits to treating stop signals as yield signals when he's on his bicycle.
I choose my riding style mindful of my own safety and that of my neighbors, but also in pursuit of happiness. Uninterrupted motion, gliding silently and swiftly, is a joy. 
And you ask why it annoys anyone! There will always be some people who are annoyed by somebody else having fun — you know, the people H.L. Mencken was knocking when he defined Puritanism as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." But there's something else about rule-following that matters. If there's a system of rules, individuals can always subjectively, flexibly, pragmatically spin out all sorts of applicable exceptions that let them do what they want. Randy Cohen has used his big brain to determine that he's right about the unnecessary severity of the rule in this case, but he's promoting a style of thinking, an approach to ethics, that others will use in all sorts of self-serving ways. If we're not going to follow the rules anymore... then what?

Interestingly, Cohen ends his little essay with a quote from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who, we're told sometimes bikes to work:
“The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it’s fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it’s not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend it.” 
Now, Breyer isn't saying anything about whether or not he follows the rules, and Cohen seems to be injecting relevance by quipping: "I don’t know if he runs red lights. I hope so." But if you know a few things about Supreme Court Justices and their theories of interpretation, you shouldn't think Cohen dragged in Breyer because he's some random celebrity who, like Cohen, bikes for fun.

Breyer is not a rules guy:

Breyer has six interpretive tools—text, history, tradition, precedent, the purpose of a statute, and the consequences. In his view, it's a mistake to ignore the last two. Scalia replies that to look at either the purpose or the consequence of a statute is to invite subjectivity and beg the question.
And yet, Scalia admits he's "exceeded the speed limit on — on occasion."
PIERS MORGAN: Have you ever been caught?

SCALIA: Oh, yes. I've gotten tickets. None -- none recently.

MORGAN: That's it? That's -- that's the only criminal act..

SCALIA: Yes. I...

MORGAN: -- in your life?

SCALIA: -- I am pretty much a law-abiding sort.

MORGAN: I like the phrase "pretty much." It gives me somewhere to go.

SCALIA: No I -- I'm a law-abiding citizen.

128 comments:

edutcher said...

If the guy from the Gray Lady thinks it's ethical and safe to run stop signs on a bike, then I hope he has better healthcare than ObamaTax.

As for the annoying part, nothing scares a driver, more than kids generally, than some moron on a bike who thinks he is bullet-proof.

TosaGuy said...

"But although it is illegal, I believe it is ethical."

That is the thing about ethics....people can rationalize to fit them to their situation.

traditionalguy said...

Law abiding is the safest place to be. But observing rules against everything will slow us down to a crawl, which is fine until a crisis comes along and then the rules make us unsafe.

Then we may become mini Abe Lincolns who tell the Courts to enforce their Habeas Corpus orders with their own damn Army.

Sorun said...

I exceed the speed limit every single time I'm on the road. I bet Althouse does also, unless she's that one lady holding up traffic and irritating everyone else.

I'm also too embarrassed to sit at a red on my bicycle if the coast is clear. Can't do it.

BarryD said...

I'm not seeing how reckless disregard for the safety of others around me is the alternative to Puritanism.

It doesn't bother me when bicyclists roll through Stop signs. Hell, it doesn't bother me when hot rodders drag race on an empty farm road, either.

The problem with bicyclists of a particular attitude and mentality is, "rules for thee, never for me."

I ride a bike. I like it. But I don't expect to ride directly in front of a car that has the right of way at a 4-way stop, without even tapping my brakes.

If you don't like getting in and out of your racing pedals, then DON'T COMMUTE WITH THE THINGS! I have clipless pedals on my mountain bike. They're great, for their intended purpose. Downtown during rush hour isn't it.

I look out for bicycles. I don't care if they follow every rule. Most bicyclists are respectful, also, and there's a friendly, safety-conscious give-and-take on narrow streets, between bikes and cars, usually.

But... It seems to me that too many of the bicyclists who complain the most about drivers failing to respect them on the road, are the most arrogant jerks on two wheels, and there's a reason that they end up having close calls: themselves.

Jay said...

Here we go with the cyclists again.

I do enjoy seeing the "ethics" exposed, however.

They are "part of the road" up until they meet a stop sign. Then they are just meager little people on harmless cycles.

I can't stand these people.

Sorun said...

I also have no regard for jaywalking laws (if there are any).

MadisonMan said...

I will go through Stop Signs/Red Lights on my bike if there is no one else around. Otherwise, the drivers who might see me will be further prejudiced against cyclists. I can't stand seeing bikers zip through red lights in full view of cars.

Jaywalking laws are ridiculous. I'll cross where I see fit. If Big Government doesn't like it, they can bite me. That hasn't happened yet, but I don't live in Seattle. Madison police don't care if you're crossing somewhere away from where you are "supposed to" cross.

TosaGuy said...

I have some very serious cycling friends.....they want to beat the crap out of these type of cyclists. They refuse to ride with them.

They do wish that Idaho stops were the norm, but they understand that they are not and that they need to follow the rules of the road.

The guy says it is his skin and bones on the line and can make that decision. Okay, so if someday he pulls his stunt and doesn't see that car that splats him will he admit that he ran the sign and assume all liability for the accident? Will he apologize to the driver that is distraut over hurting somebody in an accident?

Or will he claim that it was the evil car's fault?

Chef Mojo said...

I choose my riding style mindful of my own safety and that of my neighbors, but also in pursuit of happiness. Uninterrupted motion, gliding silently and swiftly, is a joy.

At least until the point he gets injured or killed by a motorist, and then it's all the motorist's fault for not "sharing the road."

We've had a number of cyclist deaths and injuries in Charlottesville over the last few years, including one where a cop was the motorist. In every single instance the cyclist has been at fault. This usually tends to be tamped down in the press as the story gets old and moves on.

I have a problem with this guy's attitude. Fuck you, asshole. Your pursuit of happiness can easily become your pursuit of my ass in a court of law, which is why you, above all others, need to be fucking observant of the rules of the road.

Another thing: Road cyclists who insist on riding the local county routes around me. These roads are notorious for their blind curves to the point that my road to work from Scottsville to Charlottesville - RT20 - is known as a death trap for cars and trucks. There is a constant stream of tractor trailors and logging trucks plying their trade along this road, and yet I keep seeing cyclists using it it in full Tour de France fig with a goddamn 6 inch space between the road and the usually very soft shoulder. Traffic backs up for miles sometimes because there's nowhere to pass. That's how curvy the road is. And then some moron in a car decides to pass after all, and it becomes accident city.

When I see crap like this article, I really, really want to mow that silly dumb fuck down. He's a danger to me.

Sorun said...

When I see crap like this article, I really, really want to mow that silly dumb fuck down. He's a danger to me.

This makes me suspicious that it's not always the cyclist's fault.

purplepenquin said...

Here in the Land of the Free we punish illegal gardeners more harshly than rapists and child molesters, yet no one has ever been able to explain what is "unethical" about someone doing a bong hit in their own basement.

Kids learn early that "breaking the law" isn't the same thing as "doing a bad thing", which can result in all kinds of problems later on down the line...when they break one of the laws that should actually be followed.

bagoh20 said...

Any rule that is satisfied with a monetary penalty is just a suggestion.

TosaGuy said...

The real danger of Idaho stops is when cyclists ride in groups and the lead guy is one of these clowns. He will blow through stop signs that he can easily make but the riders behind him usually can't. Drivers when faced with the first guy blowing through make the rightful assumption that the trailing riders will blow through also, thus they will stop quickly.....causing a potential ripple effect behind him.

Hagar said...

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are dead flat and very suitable for bicycling, so understandably a large percentage of the population bicycle. However, at least some years ago when I visited these cities, the bicyclists there were better about observing "the rules" than automobile drivers, never mind pedestrians; I do not remember any signs of the sense of moral superiority that make American bicyclists impervious to any obligation to observe common courtesy to their fellow citizens or even reasonable concern for their own safety.

James Pawlak said...

I approve of you subject. We need more body parts donors.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

If he thinks he's the only one endangered, he has never spoken with a driver who killed a cyclist. Even when the driver is blameless, that horrific memory NEVER goes away.

tim maguire said...

His point, and he's right, is that the rules that are applied to bicycles were created for cars and hamfistedly pushed onto bicycles.

It makes no sense to treat bicycles, which are clearly not cars, as though they were cars. It's not necessary, not safe, and even the drivers who whine about bicycles not behaving like cars don't really believe it--look past their words to their actions on the road and it's clear they know bicycles aren't cars.

Chef Mojo said...

This makes me suspicious that it's not always the cyclist's fault.

Oh, bullshit, Sorun.

First, I did not make that assertion. Read for contend, ok?

Second, cyclists have every right to use the roads. Whether it's wise to do so is another matter all together, and my experience around here is there are some very unwise, if now downright stupid, cyclists. If you put yourself in danger, you should expect danger.

Thirdly. Fuck you and you not being able to sit still at a red light, motherfucker. If I have to sit there, so do you. It's the law, and if you go ahead an break it and get whacked in front of me, I'm gonna laugh. Then I'll see what I can do to help you, if anything. But mostly, I'm gonna laugh. Love how you cutely threw that out there like, "Wow! Look at me! I'm such an edgy free spirit!" Fuck that shit, pal. You're a moron.

I'm not against cyclists. Only stupid, reckless ones who won't hesitate to sue my ass if I hit them through no fault of mine.

Chef Mojo said...

It makes no sense to treat bicycles, which are clearly not cars, as though they were cars. It's not necessary, not safe, and even the drivers who whine about bicycles not behaving like cars don't really believe it--look past their words to their actions on the road and it's clear they know bicycles aren't cars.

Then fine, Tim. Change the fucking laws and educate drivers accordingly. In the meantime, the law is the law, and cyclists have a responsibility to follow that law for their own safety.

Sorun said...

If I have to sit there, so do you.

Make me.

Andy Freeman said...

As a general rule, "ethicists" are folks looking to rationalize the obscene and give themselves special priviliges.

For example, pretty much every "ethicist" ends up justifying eugenics. They don't agree on the criteria (beyond "but not people like me") but they're all itching to "help evolution".

This is just an extreme form of the special privs they argue for. Running stop signs is a minor, but telling, form.

Chef Mojo said...

And for all you hotshot, redlight running cyclists?

http://www.cyclelicio.us/2011/new-york-cyclists-hurt-1000-pedestrians-annually/

You guys are plowing down 1000s of pedestrians nationwide!

I'm sure the pedestrians just needed to be more mindful of the cyclists and their free spirits, right?

Chef Mojo said...

Make me.

Why should I bother, Sorun? You've already made up your mind.

Let me know how you feel when you plow down the lady pushing the stroller. Maybe you'll have your own little "Battleship Potemkin" moment...

TosaGuy said...

Since Idaho apparently is to be the guide when it comes to bike laws, I hope the author does not want to ride his bike on a tennis court.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

Sorta reminds me of the John Stossel report on Fox Business a couple of years ago:

"Do We Really Need Traffic Lights":

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4304480/do-we-really-need-traffic-lights/

Ann Althouse said...

What's the point of being an ethicist if you're not going to come up with something other than following the rules (or following tradition)? If you're going to be an expert, you have an interest in expertise.

Hagar said...

About Tim's comment above,

You should read the AASTO "Green Book" section on bicycle paths. It would be hilarious, if it was not so sad.
Years ago there was a "Blue Book" for rural highways, including Interstates, and a "Red Book" for urban arterials, which clearly should be different subjects, but the FHWA and AASHTO have combined them into one all-purpose "Green Book." Since bicycle lanes are now very PC, they have also included a section on these, and what they have done is basically to take the Interstate/Urban Arterial design rules and back them off slightly to account for bicycles being somewhat smaller and slower than 18-wheelers, but otherwise the rules are the same, just different numbers.
It's lunacy, but it's POLICY, so you have to do it, at least on paper.

The Crack Emcee said...

SCALIA: No I -- I'm a law-abiding citizen.

Scalia lives by my rule - Be good, not goodie-goodie.

Peter said...

What I'm tired of are bicyclists who think they're morally superior just because they're riding a bicycle and not a motor vehicle.

This "I'm better than you" does sometimes lead to some stunningly stupid and dangerous behaviors.

But aside from that it's BS- do you think riding a bicycle is like buying an indulgence, that every time you do it you're absolved of some measure of enviro-sin?

TosaGuy said...

"What's the point of being an ethicist if you're not going to come up with something other than following the rules"

The only thing more over-the-top than the author's rationalization for his selfish behavior was the Sylvester Stallone movie "Over the Top."

I understand that the guy is arguing that we should follow the intent of a law and ignore its letter if it's stupid (we all do that...and if we all do it then it's a banal concept). However, his article is more about elevating himself above the four-wheeled rabble and less about engaging in an ethical debate.

jrberg3 said...

"But... It seems to me that too many of the bicyclists who complain the most about drivers failing to respect them on the road, are the most arrogant jerks on two wheels, and there's a reason that they end up having close calls: themselves."

Amen to that. And I bike to work everyday in the summer.

Sorun said...

"do you think riding a bicycle is like buying an indulgence, that every time you do it you're absolved of some measure of enviro-sin?"

Biking is fun and good exercise. It can be as simple as that. Jeez, you and Mojo have some serious issues. Creepy kind of issues.

Rabel said...

I don't understand Immanuel Kant. Way too deep and Germanic for me.

But the joy of reading a NY Times article is that it makes me feel like I do. Even if it's just a bullshitter yammering about running red lights.

Chef Mojo said...

Biking is fun and good exercise.

So's working out in a gym. What's your point? That you feel the need to recklessly endanger others in order to have fun and get good exercise?

Instead of pulling my supposed "issues" out of your dumb ass, Mr. Blog Comment Shrink, maybe you should try to address the undeniable issues I've bought up in this thread, begining with the fact that you and others like you are reckless assholes.

Please explain to me how your violation of traffic laws is responsible citizenship. Please. I dare you.

TMink said...

I had an ethics grad student for a patient. The insurance company denied some of my claims because of a mistake I had made. No biggie, I just payed some stupid tax.

Ethics grad student reads her EOB, figures out what happens, and tells me she will allow me to bill for spurious sessions that never happened to make up for the ones I did not get paid for.

Oh yeah, she was a medical ethics grad student.

Trey

Sorun said...

That you feel the need to recklessly endanger others..

I never said I endanger anyone, recklessly or otherwise. And you have no idea how I ride. You're an idiot.

LYNNDH said...

Twit. Laws are for little people.

Aridog said...

Wow. Every time I start thinking I might just go out and buy a good bicycle for fun and exercise, a bike thread comes along and convinces me not to do so.

Hell, I just mentioned, on another thread re: Detroit) that my inner city living kidlet is gong to buy a bike for urban use and I was thinking, foolishly, that we could do this together.

Thanks for yanking me back to reality. If riding a Harley isn't safe around here, a bike sure isn't either.

CWJ said...

Tim Maguire @ 12:12

There's a reason that traffic laws are called the rules of the road, and not the rules of cars, the rules of bicycles, the rules of scateboards, or even the rules of riding mowers.

Following the rules of the road is the price you pay for using the roads regardless of what type of vehicle you drive.

Seems pretty simple to me.

Also, it would help your argument if you made an actual case for your claim that having one set of rules is more dangerous because I don't get that one at all.

Chef Mojo said...

I never said I endanger anyone, recklessly or otherwise.

Really?

I'm also too embarrassed to sit at a red on my bicycle if the coast is clear. Can't do it.

Those are your words, Sorun, back at the top of the thread.

And you have no idea how I ride.

Actually, I do. You told me all I need to know above. You're a cyclist who rides for "fun," without the slightest regard for the rules of the road. Is that an accurate assessment? If not, why not?

Who are you to judge that the coast is clear? That's why you're supposed to sit at the red light, you moron. Because you are incapable of making that judgement in the eyes of the law.

If you run that red light, you are proving yourself unsafe and reckless. Not only that, you are reveling in that violation of the law by your very description of the act. "Can't help it." Oh, my! Really? The urge is that strong?

You're an idiot.

You haven't refuted a single point of mine.

rhhardin said...

It's time for my explanation.

Stop signs and traffic lights are not safety devices.

They're traffic flow efficiency devices.

You're in fact safer without them. If a red light is burnt out, you won't stop and the other guy won't stop, neither knowing that the other guy also thinks he has the right of way. Likewise if a stop sign falls down, both sides think they have the right of way.

Without such devices, you have to stop and negotiate. This is very slow, but safe.

Since they're not safety devices in the first place, but flow devices, then if you come upon one and check that the way is clear (simply look!), it's no safety encroachment to proceed across the road.

One of the amazing things in life was the institution of right turn on red, against the combined forces of busybodies. People can see traffic coming, was the idea. Somehow that got through.

Bicycles get very good views of traffic, reenforced by sound cues (you can hear tires a mile away if there's no competing noise).

So this guy isn't hurting anybody except the feelings of people who don't understand traffic signals.

MadisonMan said...

You guys are plowing down 1000s of pedestrians nationwide!

The one time I 'plowed down' a pedestrian was the time she stepped into the middle of the bike lane from the curb without even a glance in my direction. Cracked my helmet and was sore for a week, but otherwise okay. I tried very hard not to hurt her, although in hindsight she certainly caused any injuries she acquired.

MadisonMan said...

(And that was in the middle of the block -- that is, not at an intersection)

Chef Mojo said...

But MadMan, you're supposed to share the road! Why is it the pedestrian's responsibility to be aware and responsible? You're the one on the dangerous vehicle! the pedestrian is powerless to your hurtling chunk of metal and rubber!

Sure. I'm overstating my point. But the rules of the road are for everybody.

And that includes cyclists stopping at stop lights.

Chef Mojo said...

Stop signs and traffic lights are not safety devices.

They're traffic flow efficiency devices.


That's a moot point. The point is that there are LAWS governing their use. If you violate that law and someone other than yourself gets injured or killed, I think it should be automatically assumed that you are at fault and responsible.

You don't agree with the law? Fine. Change it. In the meantime, it's equal in everyone's eyes.

wyo sis said...

It's ethical when I do it.
More of the "I'm a special little flower" attitude that has always advanced us toward a more fair and just society.

Balfegor said...

I roll through a red light if and only if no pedestrian is in the crosswalk and no car is in the intersection.

Haha, yeah right!

SeanF said...

rhhardin: You're in fact safer without them. If a red light is burnt out, you won't stop and the other guy won't stop, neither knowing that the other guy also thinks he has the right of way. Likewise if a stop sign falls down, both sides think they have the right of way.

Seriously? When you come to an intersection with no traffic control devices, your assumption is that you have the right-of-way? Why?

bagoh20 said...

Bicycalist don't run stop signs to be assholes, most do it because stopping and starting a bicycle is a lot of work, which is why it make no sense for bicyclists. You should slow down and stop if there is traffic coming, but if it's clear, I'm going for it.

I follow the law unless it's just silly to do so, and slowing down, stopping and then pumping my ass off to get back up to speed every block is just stupid. I'm not putting anyone, including myself, at risk when I slow down and look and continue through when no traffic is coming.

I assume all you puritans properly dispose of your mercury filled light bulbs, batteries, and all recyclables, claim every penny of income on your taxes, and never exceed the speed limit. If you do, I like you even less, you liberty-robbing, tyrant-enabling shills.

bagoh20 said...

" When you come to an intersection with no traffic control devices, your assumption is that you have the right-of-way? Why?"

Yes, unless you always stop at intersections that have no stop signs or lights, which will really piss-off the people behind you...except for the bicycliss, who will wave and show you their ass.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carnifex said...

I don't need a liberal scold telling me how he breaks the law. It's just another liberal scold telling me how he breaks the law. Boy, there sure are a lot of them.

SeanF said...

Bagoh, so if you're approaching an uncontrolled intersection, and there's another car approaching the same intersection from your right, you both have the right-of-way?

bagoh20 said...

"Bagoh, so if you're approaching an uncontrolled intersection, and there's another car approaching the same intersection from your right, you both have the right-of-way?"

I'm not suicidal, but if I'm gonna get there 30 seconds before he does, no, I don't stop. Do you stop at uncontrolled intersections when there is clearly nobody coming?
Obviously for normal people their must be something else in play beyond following the rules.

"The rules" are made by people far away from the situation in both time and space, so I just think maybe I can use my judgment once every leap year. I know it's crazy, but I'm a radical.

Goju said...

15 ipBagoh; does everyone get to decide which laws are silly or is it just special people like you? Can I too just roll thru red lights or stop signs? And if both you and I roll thru a 4 way stop and I run you over in my Truck, can I just say "whoops" and be on my way because I think laws about reporting accidents are also silly?

SeanF said...

"When there is clearly nobody coming?"

Rhhardin's post, which I explicitly quoted in my response to it, was about accidents being caused by both drivers assuming they have the right-of-way.

Methadras said...

If you are a bicyclist and want to run a stop sign or a red light or whatever, I don't give a shit. But what I do care about is that you stay in the fucking bike lane, okay? Don't be one of those douche bag Tour De France douchebag wannabes and drift all over the fucking place 5 across into traffic lanes. This make you an unsafe hazard and if you get tagged it's on you.

bagoh20 said...

"does everyone get to decide which laws are silly or is it just special people like you?"

Yes, and I bet you do all the time too. You are just posturing that you never knowingly break any law no matter how minor or silly it may be.

That's why there are penalties - because all decide that, everyday. I'm not silly enough to imply that I follow all the laws all the time. I'm being honest. I break em a lot, but never if I think it's unfair or going to hurt someone else. Hell, we're anonymous here and you still need to posture? You never exceed the speed limit? If you do, what gives you the right?

Goju said...

Ironic scenario;our ethicist gets picked off at an intersection by car. He sues for damages. Driver claims ethicist ran stop sign and introduces this article as proof of behaviorial pattern.

Who would you believe?

Chef Mojo said...

This make you an unsafe hazard and if you get tagged it's on you.

Well, it would be fine if that were the case, but count on a lawsuit from the cyclist. And that's after the cop nails you for "not sharing the road," and you get charged. It's a fact in these situations that the one injured screams the loudest. The motorist is the one that usually gets charged, unless there are sufficient witnesses otherwise.

This is why reckless cyclists are an endangerment. Not so much physically, but litigiously.

Chef Mojo said...

Yes, and I bet you do all the time too. You are just posturing that you never knowingly break any law no matter how minor or silly it may be.

Bullshit. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about cyclists who believe they are ethically entitled to breaking those laws and holding motorists responsible when they do.

Whether I speed on I95 is not the issue here. There are no cyclists on I95. It's against the law.

Goju said...

Bagoh; And if you get hit by a car after wrongly judging an intersection, will you admit you ran the stop sign? If I exceed the speed limit - and I do - I pay the fine. I have had several speeding tickets and have paid everyone of them. Would you also admit you had run a stop sign or would claim it was the driver's fault for not seeing you?

What if you run the stop sign and cause a driver to stop short to avoid hitting you = and the cr gets rear ended? Would you stop to own up to your part in causing the accident, or would you just go your way?

rhhardin said...

Seriously? When you come to an intersection with no traffic control devices, your assumption is that you have the right-of-way? Why?

Say you're on a main road, and there's a dinky intersecting road.

Your red light is burnt out.

The dinky road has green.

You assume you have right of way because it's a main road. He assumes he has the right of way because he has a green light.

What these "safety" devices do is allow you not to slow down. That's why they're efficiency devices, not safety devices.

SeanF said...

rhhardin: Say you're on a main road, and there's a dinky intersecting road.

Your red light is burnt out.

The dinky road has green.


Malfunctioning traffic lights do not translate to "I have the right-of-way."

Chef Mojo said...

Say you're on a main road, and there's a dinky intersecting road.

Your red light is burnt out.

The dinky road has green.

You assume you have right of way because it's a main road. He assumes he has the right of way because he has a green light.

What these "safety" devices do is allow you not to slow down. That's why they're efficiency devices, not safety devices.


jWell... Most of us were taught that if you see a non functioning light up there in front of you, you come to a complete stop and yield the appropriate right-of-way.

How's that work in your neck of the woods, rhhardin?

Seriously, dude? That's an argument?

Chef Mojo said...

@rhhardin:

With that previous comment of yours, I wouldn't trust you in a fucking car, let alone on a bike.

bagoh20 said...

"Bagoh; And if you get hit by a car after wrongly judging an intersection, will you admit you ran the stop sign?"

Of course, because lying would hurt the other person. I'm talking about breaking the law when it hurts no one. Some here are jumping on others when they do that, despite having to admit they do it themselves. I'm willing to break the rules when nobody is being put at a real risk, and I think law enforcement should use discretion and not punish people for the letter of the law in those cases just because common sense says you need to write the law with little built-in discretion. The "I was just following orders" excuse has been long discredited as a way to treat each other.

The person who frivolously sues is actually following the letter of the law, but that also does not make it right to sue someone just because the law allows you to.

I don't understand why someone in a car gets pissed at someone on a bike who runs a stop sign when there clearly is no risk, and they are stopped anyway. There is a big difference between doing that on a 20 pound bicycle and doing it in a 2000 pound vehicle. Like the difference between shooting a sling shot in your back yard and a 30-06. Both could potentially cause a problem, but it's hardly the same risk, and should not have the same laws governing it.

Chef Mojo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef Mojo said...

I don't understand why someone in a car gets pissed at someone on a bike who runs a stop sign when there clearly is no risk, and they are stopped anyway.

The problem I have is your ability to judge risk at my expense.

I know nothing of your ability to judge the risk. Why should I not be apprehensive at your abilities? I don't know you, and I certainly don't trust you? Why is it incumbent upon me, the motorist, to just let you judge the risk?

Do you have a license to operate that bicycle? Did you take lessons in its operation recognized by the state in which you reside? Do you pay insurance in order to operate that bike?

Now, I happen to know that in LA, for instance, you need a license to operate a bicycle. and that's very well and good. But there's no penalty for violating that ordnance. Face it; California never met a fee it wouldn't charge on its citizens.

Don't know how it is elsewhere, but here where I live, there's no such thing.

Why should I trust your abilities to make roadway judgements?

dbp said...

For those who seem to have a zero tolerance level for bicycle violations: Have you ever passed a biker in your car? Most roads have double yellow lines and are no-passing zones. Are you telling me you would drive behind a biker doing 17 mph for 5 miles and never pass him?

Chef Mojo said...

@dhp: Google map RT20 between Charlottesville and Scottsville, Virginia.

I'll wait.

Those fucking yellow lines mean shit.

The cyclists love this road, because it's so "scenic." Never mind the "scenic" logging trucks barreling in barreling in both directions.

What, dhp? You think the traffic only goes in one direction?

Don't know about you, but I'm not suicidal enough to take a bike - without risking it and it's rider - over double yellows when I can't see what's coming around the other way.

Unfortunately, some people do. The last time I saw it, it resulted in one serious injury - the motorist - who went careening off into a ravine. Rough country around here. The cyclist was just slightly injured because everyone agreed that the motorist who injured went out of her way to avoid hitting the cyclist.

So, yeah. I sometimes go 10 or more miles without passing the cyclist, because I'd prefer not to take a chance on killing the cyclist.

There are exceptions to the cyclists on RT20: When there are sanctioned rallies. Like Ride for the Cure or some such. There's plenty of notice, and we make it a point to be off the roads. There are plenty of guides, and most importantly, the cyclists are aware and respectful of the fucking law.

Are you seeing the distinction, dhp?

Goju said...

Mojo kind of stole my thunder regarding the ability to asses the danger of the situation. But, as Bagoh posits, he car is stopped at the intersection. This means that the car has fully complied with the law and is not allowed to proceed. And if the driver also is making assumptions - like the cyclist stopping at the sign as required - can the cyclist then do an instant calculation of speed of both cycle and car?

I am willing to believe Bagoh would admit to police he had run the stop sign. What about the emotional issues? Can you fix those as easily as the liability issues? Would you also be willing to accept full financial responsibility or would you go with proportional responsibility?

If the cyclist does not have to obey the rules of the road, why does the driver of a car? True, the 2000lb car is more dangerous that the adult male on his 20 lb bike. But the adult male on the 20lb bike is more powerful that the 6yr old kid darting into the street. And the 2000 lb car is a whole lot less dangerous than the 86,000lb semi. Do I get to roll thru a stop sign if theres a semi at the other sign? I see lots of problems with that line of reasoning.

dbp said...

"So, yeah. I sometimes go 10 or more miles without passing the cyclist, because I'd prefer not to take a chance on killing the cyclist."

You must be a real hit with the 100's of cars stuck behind you!

In my commute--Rt 4 between Chelmsford and Bedford MA--it is all double yellow and most warm days I pass two or three cyclists. If even one car obeyed the letter of the law, the road would be hopelessly gridlocked. We all also somehow get around the trash trucks, which for some reason need to service this part of their route during rush hour.

Goju said...

I really don't mean this to sound like I'm jumping on Bagoh here. My issue is with the author of this article. Cohen claims to be an ethicist, then proves he is not even ethical himself. What of those other cyclist who read his article and decide to emulate him? Ah yes, the wonderful feeling of uninterrupted motion...until its rudely interrupted by 2000bls of steel.

Chef Mojo said...

You must be a real hit with the 100's of cars stuck behind you!

Yes, I am dhp. And sometimes I'm in that line of cars, and I really do understand the guy up front.

But you're missing the point.

If you're in a situation where you can't pass the cyclist, are you going to attempt it?

The vast majority of the time, I'm able to get around. That doesn't mean I'm always able to. I'm a mature, 52 year old driver who has some patience.

What about the young kid who is late for work?

I dunno, dhp. You live in Mass. I live in Virginia. Most of my dealings with cyclists are when I get to Charlottesville, a university town (UVA) with a very liberal view on cyclists. I can appreciate that, but in the end, I simply ask for equal protection under the law, and for cyclists to be considerate of the laws they expect me to obey. And that, they too, are required to obey. Simple as that.

I don't hate cyclists at all. I have immense respect for them. I participate in a Bike MS road team.

What I object to is the "ethical" argument of breaking the law and placing the consequences on another party. I expect to have the law enforced against me if I break, and I will not tolerate idiotic "ethical" excuses from those arguing that they're exempt from the law so they can have "fun" and be "free spirited."

Fuck that shit, dude.

ricpic said...

If you're driving toward an intersection on a road with no stop sign and the car or bike rider on the road intersecting your road, which has a stop sign, slows but doesn't come to a complete stop, it is beyond annoying, in fact it is high anxiety creating due to the uncertainty introduced into what should be a certain situation. There are hard right of way rules because guessing wrong can be fatal. And the car or biker that doesn't comes to a complete stop makes the driver with the right of way guess.

dbp said...

Chef,

I get what you are saying, the author is pretty off-putting with his breezy insouciance. My point along with rhhardin and bagoh20 is that we all break the letter of the law in the pursuit of efficiency.

I would never pass a biker on Rt 4 if it was unsafe, but every time I do pass one it is against the law. Do I feel like I have done somethigng immoral? No. quite the opposite. If I followed the letter of the law, I would inconvienence hundreds of people every day and add not one iota to safety.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

TosaGuy,

The guy says it is his skin and bones on the line and can make that decision. Okay, so if someday he pulls his stunt and doesn't see that car that splats him will he admit that he ran the sign and assume all liability for the accident? Will he apologize to the driver that is distraught over hurting somebody in an accident?

It's a lot worse than that, potentially. Drivers get killed all the time hitting deer. A cyclist is a lot more massive than a deer is. It's not only the cyclist who is at risk in a car/cyclist collision.

Mary said...

"The one time I 'plowed down' a pedestrian was the time she stepped into the middle of the bike lane from the curb without even a glance in my direction."

Yet, you advocate upthread for crossing the road any damn place you wish, nevermind the cyclists and motorists who are unable to stop on a dime when you pop out in front of them...


Talk about wanting to have it both ways: either the pedestrian has the right of way at all times in all places, or you don't.

Were you in the wrong when you hit here where she was crossing, or are you in the wrong when you pop out into the street wherever you choose to cross the road, because you're too ... busy to make it the crosswalk in the designated, high-traffic urban area?

Sheesh. Teach your kids better; it'll hurt to lose em if they make a dumb fatal mistake "popping out" before a bike or a car, where nobody was expecting em to be.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

purplepenquin,

Here in the Land of the Free we punish illegal gardeners more harshly than rapists and child molesters,

Um, no we don't. Really, not. You have to have been dealing your, um, produce to get jail time, and let's just say that the lot of dealers in prison is a hell of a lot more pleasant than the lot of child molesters.

Besides which, if you grew pot, you don't get on a Pot Growers Watch List circulated to all your neighbors. (Possibly because that might have an effect contrary to the one intended by law enforcement, but whatever.)

Mary said...

"I follow the law unless it's just silly to do so, and slowing down, stopping and then pumping my ass off to get back up to speed every block is just stupid. I'm not putting anyone, including myself, at risk when I slow down and look and continue through when no traffic is coming."

You could make the same claim about rolling stops in a car, no?

Plus, think of all the gas you'd save not having to slow down, then accelerate again.

Let's treat stop signs as "yellows" then? Just to alert us to an intersection -- full and complete stop is optional? What could go wrong with that?

bagoh20 said...

"Why should I trust your abilities to make roadway judgements?"

Because that's what we do with each other as adults. Just because you have a drivers license does not mean you aren't crazy, stupid, or experiencing road rage. I have to trust you. The law is not what protects you most of the time. People being reasonable is what mostly does. Sometimes following the law is downright ignorant and rude, as when you drive the speed limit on a freeway where everyone else is going 10 - 20mph over it. Following the letter of the law in that case is downright dangerous.

If you are driving 10mph over the speed limit on the highway, I won't be calling 911 on you, even though I could make a technical case of how you are endangering all the people on that highway as well as all the children in schools along the way where your vehicle might launch off into a classroom. It simply would not be true, and your driving is not dangerous.

When we don't reasonably trust each, nothing works. The less we trust, the less things work, and the more you hand over to the powerful who don't give a shit how difficult they make your life with their rules primarily designed to control and exact payment.

People keep bringing up some hypothetical or anecdotal proof that other people should follow the law, but it's always the other people. How often do you look in the mirror and say: "hey asshole, stop driving like an idiot"? Because, believe it, sometimes it's you.

I have no problem with people reasonably speeding past me, or bicyclist running lights, or people talking on their cell phones while driving, as long as they are doing it in a reasonably safe manner, and yes that is possible to do even while breaking the law. You should know. You do it all time, whether you will admit it or not.

I reserve my anger for those who actually put me in danger, whether they are following the law while they do it or not.

Are you gonna call the cops if you see someone in New York with a 24oz coke?

bagoh20 said...

"Let's treat stop signs as "yellows" then? Just to alert us to an intersection -- full and complete stop is optional? What could go wrong with that?"

I have no problem with that, and apparently many others don't either, since most stops I see are exactly that. I bet very few accidents are cause by people slowly rolling through a stop sign when they can clearly see nothing is coming.

This place is like a meeting of the neighborhood communist party during scouring of the countryside. What a bunch tightly clinched panties.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

bagoh20,

Bicycalist don't run stop signs to be assholes, most do it because stopping and starting a bicycle is a lot of work, which is why it make no sense for bicyclists. You should slow down and stop if there is traffic coming, but if it's clear, I'm going for it.

I follow the law unless it's just silly to do so, and slowing down, stopping and then pumping my ass off to get back up to speed every block is just stupid. I'm not putting anyone, including myself, at risk when I slow down and look and continue through when no traffic is coming.


Actually, stopping and pumping your ass off to get back up to speed every block is great exercise, though likely not terribly good for the bike.

Bicyclists who do what you're talking about I can deal with. I mean, I'd prefer that people obey existing law and lobby to change it if it's obviously stupid, but disobeying an obviously stupid law where there is no possibility of injury to any innocent party is kind of low on my list of sins.

But, you know, there are bicyclists and bicyclists. It's not such a big problem here in OR, but in Novato, CA, the sidewalks were apparently for the convenience of cyclists, and the very nice bike lanes were for the convenience of pedestrians about to be run over by them. And when you found cyclists actually using the bike lanes, half the time they were riding opposite the traffic. Because. crossing to the other side of the street is almost as onerous as OMG stopping at a Stop sign.

But I'm one of those pedestrian dweebs (or dweeb pedestrians) who actually waits for the light before crossing the street.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

bagoh20,

I have no problem with people reasonably speeding past me, or bicyclist running lights, or people talking on their cell phones while driving, as long as they are doing it in a reasonably safe manner, and yes that is possible to do even while breaking the law. You should know. You do it all time, whether you will admit it or not.


Nope. I don't. I neither drive nor bike; and when I walk, I do it on the sidewalk, unless (as I just wrote) a cyclist using the sidewalk forces me into the street. And I cross the street only where and when it is legal for a pedestrian to cross the street. (Which is to say, with the light where there are lights, and at an intersection without nearby oncoming traffic where there are no lights. OR traffic law.) I don't jaywalk except in my own short cul-de-sac, however clear the coast seems.

bagoh20 said...

" I don't jaywalk except in my own short cul-de-sac"

Ahaaa! Busted. Please provide your address. Your lawless depravity must be stopped. Someone could be surprised by your cul-de-sac jaywalking (which sounds like it involves some nudity). It could be a truck transporting Sarin gas for the military and swerve into an orphanage. It only takes one law breaker to bring us all down. They always think their brand of lawlessness is harmless, but it all eats at the fabric or civilization, dragging us to a barbaric future of Mad Max rarely bathed women. Please stop, before it's too late.

bagoh20 said...

" Those rules, and signals, are there because somebody had more information than you about the dangerousness of the intersection, lighting, weather conditions, etc."

You're kidding, right? A stop sign was planned because someone somewhere knew better what is happening at the intersection I'm at than I do when I'm there?

Mary, if I believed your elaborate hypothetical were even slightly reasonable expectations, I would never get out of bed, let alone go in the street, because whether you realize it or not, nobody is following the rules. At least not enough to prevent your massive killing by these "bad habits".

The real bad habit is to expect that you can just make laws and give people tickets and thereby prevent all these accidents from happening. Or if not at least extract a bunch of money from the citizens for their sins. That is a bad habit that has become an addiction, and like all addictions, it never provides the nirvana imagined, but rather weakens and disables.

I'm fine with people getting tickets for doing dangerous things, but not for doing safe things that might be dangerous in some extremely unlikely scenario that someone could imagine, if they were paranoid and control driven enough, and then ticket everyone forever that might do that harmless thing.

bagoh20 said...

Mary, it is you who wants to take things from me, because you get scared of your fellow man easily, and assume all of us are the boogie man. I trust you, you don't trust me, and you are wrong about that, because I'm trustworthy, and I've proven it my whole life. You are not, because you are wiling to make me pay for you unfounded fears. Yours is the dangerous thinking, as history has proven time and again.

Where is the society that is suffering from a little respect for individual freedoms?

bagoh20 said...

From the moment we wake up in the morning we are following laws and regulations every second of the day. From the moment at dawn when we sit on the toilet with it's carefully mandated flow through our day in the streets where it is impossible to look in any direction at any time without multiple signs telling you what is allowed and what is not, and how and where it can be done. Every thing you imagine doing throughout the day, you have to ask yourself first: "Is that legal?" It's so natural you don't even notice that you do it about the most harmless and even beautiful things you may want to do to help someone.

Some people think that's not sufficient control and regulation of free people because they can imagine someone failing their trust. That's simply lack of reflection on, and appreciation for what is lost in the endless and ultimately unsatisfying quest to control ourselves into paradise.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

bagoh20,

Ahaaa! Busted. Please provide your address. Your lawless depravity must be stopped. Someone could be surprised by your cul-de-sac jaywalking (which sounds like it involves some nudity). It could be a truck transporting Sarin gas for the military and swerve into an orphanage. It only takes one law breaker to bring us all down. They always think their brand of lawlessness is harmless, but it all eats at the fabric or civilization, dragging us to a barbaric future of Mad Max rarely bathed women. Please stop, before it's too late.

Hey, if it'll please you, I shall walk around the end of the cul-de-sac rather than directly across to where the mailbox is. The reason I do not do this now is a very small but very fierce (and exceptionally territorial) terrier belonging to my next-door neighbor. He's a great dog, but I really don't want to make his acquaintance when he's in territory-defending mode, so I cross the street (or rather the "bulb" of the cul-de-sac) as far away from him as I can.

As regards jaywalking in general, I'm one of those preposterous people who wait for the light to change. Believe me, in Salem, there are lights that take at least two minutes to change if you happen to hit them at the wrong moment. I stand and wait. Unless a cyclist comes barreling down the sidewalk, in which case I step aside into the pavement that the cyclist was supposed to be on, get up onto the sidewalk again, and keep waiting until the light changes.

I'm married to a guy who did a 12 mi. each way bike commute routinely in CA, and who did a 35 mi. ride today. There are four bikes in our garage.

But ... you want to be equal to motor vehicles on the roads, you follow the same rules. Which emphatically includes niceties like going in the same direction as the rest of the traffic, not using the sidewalk as an extra lane, and, yes, stopping at stop signs. Is that really insupportably oppressive?

bagoh20 said...

"Is that really insupportably oppressive?"

If the reward is virtually nothing, then yes, because it's the compounding of these laws and then the police and courts using them to extract money from the citizens that is addictive, and in the end does not work. If they worked, this very discussion would not be happening. The people on here who want these laws would have nothing to complain about. The truth is they mostly don't work, or save lives.

I support rules like against riding on the wrong side of the road, because that really is dangerous. But if some bike rider goes though a stop sign while I have to wait, and it's not dangerous to do so, which it usually isn't, then it does not bother me. Cyclists are doing this all day, and it's not nearly the problem people make it out to be. They simply don't like anyone appearing to break the rules, period.

Such things used to piss me off too, when for instance, people use the carpool lane without a passenger. It used to make me boil, but now I just don't care, because slowing them down does not help anyone. I don't do it, but I also don't take it as some affront that others do. The damned lane is empty, it's not dangerous to use it, we all paid for it, but most can't jump into it? If not for the $500 dollar cost of the fine, I would do it. I do get pissed about people perfectly legally driving slow in the passing lane. That causes accidents, and traffic jams, but nobody gets a ticket for it. Laws have to actually help the situation, and not in some unlikely scenario that happens once in a million. That's all I ask

Laws should be designed to make sense and solve a problem. They should not exist just to make people feel better, safer or more equal when they do little else.

Mary said...

"Laws should be designed to make sense and solve a problem. They should not exist just to make people feel better, safer or more equal when they do little else."

So work to change the laws you don't like. Don't toss the baby with the bathwater, in expecting "special" rights because the laws as written simply don't work for you...

(Isn't that what we tell the minorities who don't wish to follow the rules as written? Why not you more well-to-do white guys? Surely you too can work for effective change, if the numbers are with ya.)

Seerak said...

but he's promoting a style of thinking, an approach to ethics, that others will use in all sorts of self-serving ways.

You yourself, are promoting a style of thinking, an approach to epistemology, that others will use in all sorts of self-serving ways too. Equivocation, in this case.

"Rule-following" is not "ethics", but there you are, sliding from the first to the second as if nobody will notice.

Following "rules" robotically, substituting the judgment of others for your own, is not "ethical" -- it is an abandonment of ethics, a handoff of moral responsibility to others. "Don't blame me, at least I was following orde -- er, the rules."

Ethical thinking involves applying constant moral principles to changing situations -- not "following rules". Rules are not principles, and laws do not substitute for ethics.

Now, the general point you are making is sound *in context*. The rules of the road exist for a reason: we need to be able to trust that everyone else around us is going to behave in predictable ways. It's when expectations aren't met -- the surprises -- which result in accidents, after all. The key to this is that the context is "there are others around", others who need to be able to trust that you will act a certain way, and won't do something stupid like ignore a red light. If this guy does his shtick in traffic, he's asking for it and he'll get no sympathy from me.

Obviously the need for most road rules is not present if others are not. If you sit at the red because "that's the rules" despite the evidence of your own brain that the situation for which the rule exists is not active, that doesn't mean you are "ethical" -- it means you follow orders without question, without thinking. I want no part of any "ethics" that demands that.

Mary said...

" A stop sign was planned because someone somewhere knew better what is happening at the intersection I'm at than I do when I'm there?"

I live in a rural area. We don't just plant stop signs in the middle of nowhere. You see one, you better stop. Chances are, there's a reason that intersection has one.

If you live someplace with "unnecessary" stop signs, signals, etc. and think there're there to just unnecessarily slow you or make revenue off your rule breaking, you ought to come out here and live more in reality.

Yes, I do believe that planned traffic signals are good things and am glad all drivers (old, drunk, inexperienced, tourists unfamiliar with the landscape) don't all get to rely on their "instincts" whether they need to come to a full stop or not before crossing.

You see, every year you read of two or 3 cars getting t-boned, because somebody simply didn't see the other car coming, or truth be told -- simply assumed out of habit, and never slowed enough to look.

That's reality, friend. Get out of your suburb and really live a little?

bagoh20 said...

Mary,
Just because I might only slow to 5mph at a stop sign where there no chance of an accident and where I can stop in 1/20th the distance that you can in a car, doesn't make me an anarchist.

You do break laws, you will break more of them, and pretending that you don't, may make you feel superior, but does it really make it so?

I'm probably as law-abiding a person as you will likely meet and in many ways a bit over the top about it, but I admit that I don't follow them all, and I also admit that I alone choose when to follow them and when not to. Can you? Did you ever drive that thousand- pound-killer-of-more-Americans-than any-other-thing vehicle over the speed limit. That thing can wipe out whole families in a second. Don't you think that's a little nihilistic.

I don't see how you can write what you did here today and ever exceed the speed limit by even 1 mph. Do you really believe what you wrote? Will you speed again?

Mary said...

"Just because I might only slow to 5mph at a stop sign where there no chance of an accident and where I can stop in 1/20th the distance that you can in a car, doesn't make me an anarchist."

It makes you a fool, willing to rish other people's lives. Every year, we read about "accidents". Your brakes fail and you don't stop in that /20th distance. Your bike slips on a patch of wet leaves. (not YOU of course, you're infailible. I'm thinking of all the other imitators, who don't have your mechanically well upkept bike, or "I looked, and just didn't see anything coming" excuses.)

You see, if you want special privileges, lesser others will too. Most of use prefer to live under a simple, accepted set of rules. IT's what got us thus far.

I've sped, when nobody else is on the freeway and it's daylight with no chance of even hitting a deer. I got popped -- by radar -- and every single time, I accepted I was in the wrong under the law, thanked the officer for doing his job (he'd be cleaning me up, afterall if it were an accident) and accepted/paid my fine.

I never tried to talk my way out of it, and accepted it was on me. Now, I don't speed. Older, slower, no reason to push it over 65. I just better understand, more than you, why we have comprehensive rules of the road.

I read the paper, and have studied enough accident reports. People make mistakes. Good people, with skills even. It really isn't asking much to expect others to follow the rules of the road, or choose other roads they prefer for their style of driving.

You cost us all our freedoms. Your way of thinking, adopted by enough others, leads to degraded places to live. No thanks. Do unto others... yep, even in obeying stop signs, at midnight, with no body around. You get popped, you pay for your error. Just be thankful we're not scraping you off the pavement, eh?

bagoh20 said...

" Don't toss the baby with the bathwater, in expecting "special" rights because the laws as written simply don't work for you..."

That works both ways. Passing laws that do no good, or worse is what I call throwing out the baby. You really need to see that baby before you see leaving.

Discussing this with you, is one of the ways I am trying to fix the laws I disagree with. First, I need to convince you that there are such laws that are not worthwhile, that even you don't follow, that pile up and create a system nobody respects, with so many laws that nobody can avoid breaking them even with the mildest of lifestyles.

That has to be accepted first. Otherwise another law or more enforcement, or more intrusion is the only solution you will see. We have done little else for my entire lifetime, and much of that has been wildly counterproductive.

And I never meant to ridicule you. It's all just good-hearted fun among friends. I'm not a flamer.

Mary said...

"I'm probably as law-abiding a person as you will likely meet and in many ways a bit over the top about it"

From what you've already written here, I'd say not.

It's the attitude. You need to free yourself before you go "rebelling" in ways that affect others.


Trule free men don't see running red lights and stop signs as some great display of personal individual freedom, striking a blow to "the man" who dared slow you down by putting a stop sign in such an inconvenient place...

Think on it?

Mary said...

"Passing laws that do no good, or worse is what I call throwing out the baby. You really need to see that baby before you see leaving."


Lol.
Most of us don't have the time nor the energy to go about contesting the placement of stop signs that have stood for decades.

But you go to it. Burn off some of that energy, if this is the personal fight which you wish to make a change.

Sadly, you haven't changed my mind, but shown me so much of what's going wrong in our country.

One of you, we could tolerate. Hundreds, or thousands of you, choosing to "cheat" on taxes, follow the rules that make sense to you, etc. it cripples the system.

Thanks for slowly robbing the rest of us, who are willing to sacrifice a bit for what's really important, of our freedoms little by little by little....

The sad thing is, you don't see how your immaturity in accepting reality and playing by the same rules as the "littler people", is costing us all.

Cheers. I'm not a flamer/Moby/angry commenter either.

bagoh20 said...

36mph in a 35mph zone by your standards, Mary is destroying our freedom? Really? Riding a bike through an intersection at a fraction of the speed the cars do is tearing it all down? Because I didn't stop for a split second, where I had to then put my foot down and then restart by looking at my feet as I peddle forward? That's smart - that's safe? Also you need to realize that intersections in the city can be hundreds during a short trip. Making that dangerous mistake hundreds of times in a day is not sensible to me.

Just because the people elected make a law does not mean it's smart or helpful or safe. There is no magic in legislation, and if you know how it's made as a law student, then you should have some appreciation of the folly of treating it like gospel.

And I believe that you do still speed, even when under 65mph on other roads at slower speed limits which are just as much the law. You do it, but you don't admit it. Why do you do it? I'll tell you why: because you know it's safe to do. You use you mind and don't just blindly follow rules that can't possibly be flexible enough to be reasonable. You don't need to hide that.

Anyway I'm done badgering. I'll think about and consider your views. I hope you do the same with mine.

bagoh20 said...

Wow, you jump to calling me a tax cheat. At least you avoided a Hitler reference. I think you will find that much more of the goodness of your life is due to rule breakers of the past than rule followers. It's knowing when to be which, and not considering either sacred.

SeanF said...

bagoh20: Just because I might only slow to 5mph at a stop sign where there no chance of an accident...

I'm curious. Is there a distinction here between bikes and cars? I mean, is it okay for a car to go through a stop sign without stopping "when there's no chance of an accident," too, or is that just for bikes? Is there perhaps a situation where there's no chance of an accident if you're on a bike but still a chance of an accident if you're in a car?

bagoh20: 36mph in a 35mph zone by your standards, Mary is destroying our freedom?

What about 37mph? 38mph? At what point, by your standards, does it actually become a problem?

Mary said...

"36mph in a 35mph zone by your standards, Mary is destroying our freedom? Really?"

You stop at 36mph, the next guy's personal limit is 40. His buddy? 45? Next lady thinks it's silly to have a 35 there -- I don't see no schoolkids present, and goes even faster.

What can you do now? There is no limit, except what each person thinks they can handle. Some can do 50, cleanly, in that 35. You ok with that then?

Gotta draw the line somewhere. We don't pull you over for doing 36 -- bigger fish to fry. But you ought to know, if they did? 36 is over 35. It's on you. The starting place, so we can tell that lady doing 50, very safely today I might add, that she's 15 over. (not 14 compared to your own personal standard, or only 10 over compared to the guy choosing to do 40...)

It's the discipline of numbers. YOu don't have to like it. But you have to admit 36 is greater than 35, and if 35 is the rule for one, it ought to be the rule for the rest of us too. Even those who can safely pull off 75 mph, in the same area, if only they were permitted to be ... "free".

I get where you're coming from. We played that game a lot as prospective 1L's, before we got a law school education and better understanding of law and society.

You're not gonna get me to your more "entitled" state of mind, too much reality ahead of me here to allow me to start thinking like that.

"You do it, but you don't admit it. Why do you do it? I'll tell you why: because you know it's safe to do. You use you mind and don't just blindly follow rules that can't possibly be flexible enough to be reasonable. You don't need to hide that."

The old car rattles and hums at 50/55. I don't speed on the freeways -- 65 seems fast to me now, even in the newer car.

Once you start breaking the rules routinely, and justifying how you're not breaking the rules, it's funny how you can't admit that others aren't doing the same. Seeing your "sins" in others, and assuming everybody is "cheating" like you are.

It's sad, but it's so predictable how personal discipline fails, neighborhoods and school systems fall, and yet we always find something else to blame... Personally, I see it as the "I gotta be me... I gotta be free" mindset, damn all others who are affected down the pipe...

We come from different places, let's leave it at that? (do you waste the court's time contesting citations, or will you just pay up when/if you're caught?)

Mary said...

"Wow, you jump to calling me a tax cheat. At least you avoided a Hitler reference."

Let me scroll upthread; maybe I misread. But I thought it was youj, not another commenter, who brought in the list of examples on how everybody doesn't follow the rules, pay all their taxes, etc...

Let me check on that, apologies if it was someone else using that defense...

Mary said...

Nope, it was you:
"I assume all you puritans properly dispose of your mercury filled light bulbs, batteries, and all recyclables, claim every penny of income on your taxes, and never exceed the speed limit. If you do, I like you even less, you liberty-robbing, tyrant-enabling shills."


How many "pennies" in income do you not claim, and do you understand that some of us are in no position (no under-the-table undocumented income) to not claim our full incomes?

That doesn't make us Puritans though.

Or stormtroopers, marching in lockstep to unfair "rules".

Mary said...

"It's knowing when to be which, and not considering either sacred."


I consider red lights and stop signs to be sacred and non-negotiable.

Your mileage may vary.

(You don't like society's rules, you're always free to drive on your own land where you won't affect others relying on those same rules. "I gotta be freeeeeee....")

bagoh20 said...

Some may claim that you never exceed any speed limit, have always claimed every penny you ever earned on your income tax for baby sitting or whatever you ever did, but it's just not reasonable to believe that.

People here playing games like whether or not 37mph OK, or how about two pennies on your taxes are obviously being disingenuous. If you have never done any of those things and never break any law then you can take that position, but excuse me for not buying it.

We all break some of the rules, because it is not possible to follow them all without being foolish. To assume that laws written by people are always appropriate in all instances is just silly, and I assume you realize it, but have so much invested in telling yourself that you are one of the good ones, because you have that little myth running in your head, and the veil must not be lifted.

I don't generally break rules, and I always substantially overpay my taxes, despite finding them abusive, unfair, and counterproductive, because the tax law is so abusive that it's not even possible to know if you pay all your taxes, unless you over pay or owe very little, in which case you have no idea what you are talking about. No two accountants will give you the same tax liability. So much for following the law.

Since people seem to be taking things to the extreme on the compliance side, I'd just offer that the country would be a different place if the founders just followed the rules that the legal authority of 1776 had in place, and Jim Crow would have been far worse, and Anne Frank wouldn't even have gotten the first page of her diary written if everybody blindly followed the rules just because they thought it made them right.

In much smaller ways, I have saved people, animals, and relationships by breaking laws that had no nuance to allow the avoidance of evil while still following them.

If you can follow every law you encounter, then you are not trying hard enough. They are not written by God, so at that level, what do you do when the moral thing is not the legal thing?

I know my point of view here makes people associate me with the problem, but you are just missing the mark, and you really need to develop a more expansive, realistic and grown up view of the world. Being able to follow all the rules is incredibly naive. You have better laws in your soul, and you should not give them over to cold=blooded authority.

Methadras said...

Chef Mojo said...

This make you an unsafe hazard and if you get tagged it's on you.

Well, it would be fine if that were the case, but count on a lawsuit from the cyclist. And that's after the cop nails you for "not sharing the road," and you get charged. It's a fact in these situations that the one injured screams the loudest. The motorist is the one that usually gets charged, unless there are sufficient witnesses otherwise.

This is why reckless cyclists are an endangerment. Not so much physically, but litigiously.


I'll fight that shit tooth and nail. No problem with that here. Hope Mr. Tour De Douche has enough money to fight back. Like I said, if you're a cyclist, just stay in your fucking lane. I don't ask for much. I had a friend nearly killed by someone while he was cycling in his own neighborhood. He also thought he owned the road. It nearly cost him his life. It's certainly taken years off his life though. He will never be the same again.

SeanF said...

It'd have been a lot shorter to just say, "I can't actually justify my position," Bagoh.

bagoh20: People here playing games like whether or not 37mph OK, or how about two pennies on your taxes are obviously being disingenuous. If you have never done any of those things and never break any law then you can take that position, but excuse me for not buying it.

It's not about whether or not we've ever done it, it's about whether we say it's okay to do it.

bagoh20 said...

"It'd have been a lot shorter to just say, "I can't actually justify my position," Bagoh."

I confess, I take responsibility, I offer my justification, and I even absolve you for the same.

So now that you admit that you break the law too, we can get past that piece of dishonesty and move on to the next bit where you think it was wrong, but did it anyway and have not either justified it nor fixed it. You didn't turn yourself in for doing 37mph nor did you refile those taxes to catch that bit of money you made under the table that year What you do offer is confession that you do the exact same thing, but add the extra nicety of hypocritically judging others bad for it, while you remain above it all without even offering justification nor amends. Would that just be for convenience? Is it just not worth it?

ed said...

Liberals; rules and laws are for other people.

Pretty much sums up liberalism.

ed said...

@ rhhardin

"Stop signs and traffic lights are not safety devices.

They're traffic flow efficiency devices."

Says a man who has never ridden a bicycle on a New Jersey road. Seriously where do you get this stuff?

You think you can run a red light because the coast is clear? Then you've just gotten hammered by a big SUV doing 70 through the intersection.

You think you can go through the intersection because you got the green light? You just got hammered by a sedan running that red light on the crossing road.

You think a 2,500lb car doing 60 mph is going to give a damn that you're a -cyclist-? Frankly you're all a bit out of your minds.

ed said...

@ Seerak

"
Obviously the need for most road rules is not present if others are not. If you sit at the red because "that's the rules" despite the evidence of your own brain that the situation for which the rule exists is not active, that doesn't mean you are "ethical" -- it means you follow orders without question, without thinking. I want no part of any "ethics" that demands that."

When I was in my early 20's I used to be an armored car guard doing bank runs in an armored truck. Fully loaded with pallets of coin the truck would weigh in about 25+ tons or 50,000+lbs.

One of these bank runs we're in Somerset county, NJ, going down a hill and the driver announces that he doesn't have any brakes. We're in the front cab, a very very =very= thin wall of steel separating us from 20+ tons of boxed palleted coin and if we hit anything we'll go through it, over it and probably die as the coin behind us crushes us to death.

At the bottom of this tall hill is an intersection and a light. And to survive we went through that intersection with lights flashing and the horn blowing. And if you were crossing that intersection on a bike because you thought it was clear then you would be dead.

A number of my family members are truck drivers, mostly long haul semis. They all have stories. So do I. And frankly a lot of them revolve around people like you who think you know the situation, but you really don't because sometimes you cannot know.

I do stop at red lights even if there isn't anyone around. Because I know that I -do not know- if there is a truck hurtling through because it lost it's brakes. Waiting only takes a few minutes. Dying lasts forever.

ed said...

@ bagoh20

Your argument is intellectually dishonest, lazy and frankly beneath you. Speeding 2 miles an hour above the speed limit does not put other people at risk. Two pennies on a tax form does not put other people at risk.

You know that. You're old enough, mature enough and experienced enough to know that is a bullshit argument. That you are using such a bullshit argument to justify yourself should tell you in no uncertain terms that even you don't believe the bullshit you're spouting.

People -die- because they try to avoid hitting animals. People also die because they try to avoid hitting people. Deliberately violating the laws and rules of the road puts not only yourself in potential danger but everyone else around you because people will risk their lives to avoid hurting you.

How dare you put other people into that sort of position and then try to justify it!?

I've read many of your comments on other topics and by and large I've agreed with you far more than I have disagreed with you. On this I cannot help but completely disagree with you.

John Lynch said...

"The rules don't apply to me because I'm special."

John Lynch said...

BTW Crack's thing about riding against traffic-

I think it's great. I had a cyclist do that on a particularly annoying county road with no shoulder. Here's the thing- a car can't get stuck behind a bicycle if it's going the other way. You just swerve a bit and you're around the cyclist.

Genius.

Mary said...

"I don't generally break rules, and I always substantially overpay my taxes, despite finding them abusive, unfair, and counterproductive, because the tax law is so abusive that it's not even possible to know if you pay all your taxes, unless you over pay or owe very little, in which case you have no idea what you are talking about. No two accountants will give you the same tax liability. So much for following the law."



Justify justify justify.
This is also inconsistent with what you previously wrote... overpaying and embracing the Puritan label yourself?
Not consistent with your overall mindset on display here... I think you just got caught, can see now how bad you look justifying the ... "cheating" (even just a little bit) and now are claiming you in fact, overpay. Or get conflicting tax advice. Those of us with no ?'s in our mind how much we owe are simply ... too poor, liars, or in denial to see that we too are "cheating" but just a little bit...

Keep at it, friend. Sounds like you are indeed wrestling with your own personal ethics now, and on public display with the need to take the audience into account.

Be a better man than you were a boy? Grow up and accept your responsibilities? Work for change to the system, rather than simply sneaking special privileges for yourself, that don't apply to others?

Yes you can. Lots of people plan better bike routes, where they don't have to blow stop signs but aren't physically up to slowing down, stopping and pedaling back up to speed again. You're really not that uni-k, despite what you might have been told (again and again and again) coming up...

You and President Obama indeed share more than just that Eddie Haskell psyche you mentioned earlier (I think it was you...) Plus, not everybody is so sold on the routine, like perhaps your friends' parents were, when you were a younger man...

Not everybody makes a mockery of the system. Come join us?

Mary said...

"Being able to follow all the rules is incredibly naive. You have better laws in your soul, and you should not give them over to cold=blooded authority."


You really, honestly and truly believe that the country would be a better place if your rule applied across the board?

That EVERYONE listen to ... "the better laws in our souls" instead of following the accepted set. You trust EVERYONE has a good smart soul to follow, instead of established and time-tested laws?

Who's the naive one now who needs to get out and know the people more? I believe in "do unto others" but I know there are too many ill-educated souls to simply go on ... "trust" in our fellow man. That's why everybody has an interest, Iran too, in gaining a big stick too, in case we have ... soul failure, amongst our more freedom-loving (alleged) betters...

Hope this helps.

Carnifex said...

Here's a heads up to all the cyclists, hell, car drivers too. It takes 300 yards, that's 3 football fields to slow a semi from 60 to zero. With perfect road conditions. Now, you add on reaction time, you add on the time it takes to see a threat, and you add on the time it takes to recognize a threat is occurring.

Now add inertia from a load.

Semi drivers are taught to scan constantly for threats, looking at all 4 mirrors, and ahead.

You better pray that the driver sees you, and in time, because he literally can not stop. He will blow through that intersection, because something else we get taught is minimizing damage. He can lock up the brakes, risking jack knifing, sliding, loss of control of the truck, which is never a good thing, or he can scrape your dead ass off the undercarriage when he finally does get stopped.

ps.

if the light changes quick, he's gonna blow through that intersection as well. As I said, you can't argue with the physics.

pps

All you people who play tag with semi's have no idea how close to death you really are. You're ALL crazy.

Mary said...

Btw, who's playing the hitler/jew card here?

"I'd just offer that the country would be a different place if the founders just followed the rules that the legal authority of 1776 had in place, and Jim Crow would have been far worse, and Anne Frank wouldn't even have gotten the first page of her diary written if everybody blindly followed the rules ..."

So waiting your turn at a stop sign is the same as being complicit in killing ann frank, eh? Follow one dirty steenkin rule, you'll obviously follow them all.


(The mind boggles. The victimhood club expands. Freedom dies a bit more each day... )

rhhardin said...

"Stop signs and traffic lights are not safety devices.

They're traffic flow efficiency devices."

Says a man who has never ridden a bicycle on a New Jersey road. Seriously where do you get this stuff?


Your theory leaves open the question how, after a stop, anybody manages to enter a road.

If you can do it after a stop, then you can do it from a rolling stop, which is more or less bicycle speed.

TMink said...

"Cohen claims to be an ethicist, then proves he is not even ethical himself."

All the ethicists I have read or had contact with would more correctly be called sophists or prevaricators.

Theirs is a study of situational ethics, which is a nice word for selfish rationalization. Real ethics are built on accepted truth such as Biblical revelation.

The point of ethicists is to show how real ethics are annoying poppycock.

Trey

Mike Chuck said...

i don't obey stop signs and traffic signals while driving my car. why would i do it on a bike?

ed said...

@ rhhardin

"If you can do it after a stop, then you can do it from a rolling stop, which is more or less bicycle speed."

That's a nice theory you've got there. But it's just a theory. The reality is somewhat different. I'd invite you to take a spin on the roads here in New Jersey, but I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

As someone who has driven in New Jersey for about 15 or more years now I'd have to say that I've seen just about every kind of nonsense anybody could imagine. My favorite are those people who go straight through a red light because the turn left arrow is green. All they see is a green light somewhere and hey, evidently that's good enough.

Michael The Magnificent said...

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/346/VI/37/1/c/2

No pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device facing such signal (red) shall enter the roadway unless he or she can do so safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.

Yup, that was me who slowed down sufficiently to see that there was no other traffic before proceeding right through the red light on my bicycle, with the full blessing of the law. If I see any other traffic, I stop and wait until there isn't any, or my light has turned green.

And my favorite as a motorcyclist:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/346/VI/37/1/c/4

Notwithstanding subd. 1., a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle facing a red signal at an intersection may, after stopping as required under subd. 1. for not less than 45 seconds, proceed cautiously through the intersection before the signal turns green if no other vehicles are present at the intersection to actuate the signal and the operator of the motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle reasonably believes the signal is vehicle actuated. The operator of a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle proceeding through a red signal under this subdivision shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicular traffic, pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device proceeding through a green signal at the intersection or lawfully within a crosswalk or using the intersection. This subdivision does not affect any authorization for a bicyclist under subd. 2.

I like this one, because I sometimes get stuck at red lights who's sensors are not calibrated to detect motorcycles. Forty five seconds later, I'm on my way, right through the red light.

If you don't like the above laws, which permit both motorcycles and bicycles to proceed, while cautiously yielding to other traffic, to proceed through a red light, take it up with the legislature; don't take it out on bicyclists and motorcyclists.

SeanF said...

bagoh20: So now that you admit that you break the law too, we can get past that piece of dishonesty and move on to the next bit where you think it was wrong, but did it anyway and have not either justified it nor fixed it. You didn't turn yourself in for doing 37mph nor did you refile those taxes to catch that bit of money you made under the table that year What you do offer is confession that you do the exact same thing, but add the extra nicety of hypocritically judging others bad for it, while you remain above it all without even offering justification nor amends. Would that just be for convenience? Is it just not worth it?

That's not how it works, Bagoh. My words and my beliefs are perfectly consistent, so I am not a hypocrite. That I occasionally fail to live up to them does not make me a hypocrite, either, it just makes me human (as I tell my kids, if you never fail to live up to your own standards, you need to raise your standards).

So, again, I put it to you - 36 in a 35 is okay, by your standards. What about 37? 38? Where do your standards draw the line?

And hey, Rhhardin - isn't your contention that traffic lights and stop signs are merely efficiency devices rather than safety devices rather undercut by your claim that taking them away from an intersection would cause accidents?

Unknown said...

SeanF

"I'm curious. Is there a distinction here between bikes and cars?"

There is a distinction in how they work and how much physical effort the operator must exert in order to get them going from a dead stop.

The issue is that stop signs pose a disparate impact on bicycle riders as opposed to car drivers. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that stop signs impose a disparate impact on drivers of cars and trucks with manual transmissions.

Stop signs are a negligible issue for cars with automatic transmissions. For people operating almost any other kind of vehicle, they are a major PITA. In Europe, where due to high gasoline prices underpowered engines and manual transmissions are more common than ample engines and automatic transmissions, yield signs are far more common than stop signs.