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♬I want to ride my bicycle/ I want to [text while riding] it where I like♬
October 5, 2011 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Most states have enacted laws banning texting while driving. The New York Times even featured a game testing simulated drivers' attention. Chicago, one of America's more daunting traffic hubs, will now be extending the prohibitions to non-motor vehicles. The City Council today passed an ordinance prohibiting bicyclists from texting while moving.

Fines will start at $20 for a first offense and go up to $100 for a third or subsequent violation. If an accident is involved, the fine could shoot up to $500.
posted by obscurator (133 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
That laws have to be passed prohibiting people from texting while operating a vehicle is a sign of how poor we are at common sense.
posted by ardgedee at 1:25 PM on October 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


That laws have to be passed prohibiting people from texting while operating a vehicle is a sign of how poor we are at common sense.

I think the key part, and what I like about this law, is the specific restriction against "moving."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:27 PM on October 5, 2011


What annoys me most about these sort of laws is the incredibly dumb assumption that making a behavior illegal stops the behavior. Nope, it just creates more unenforced/underenforced/unenforceable laws.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:28 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm driving right now.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


in wrecks where talking or texting are a factor, the person with the phone should be treated like a DUI - fine them, jail them, take away their license.
posted by nadawi at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(talking on the phone)
posted by nadawi at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2011


I'm on my unicycle right now.

Am I safe from the fines?
posted by Ahab at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


They can take my cell phone when they pry it from my cold dea
posted by Thorzdad at 1:34 PM on October 5, 2011 [28 favorites]


Can they ban fucking around with the GPS, too ?

I watched a dude make a right turn from the third lane of a 4 lane road and nearly kill a cyclist because his stupid GPS could navigate all the way from Nebraska but can't get him around the block on a missed turn.

But the cake goes to the young woman I passed one day who was driving erratically. I thought she was drunk, but as I went by she was texting on two(!) phones. One in each hand, both wrists on the steering wheel....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:36 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can we ban texting while walking? I generally assume that I'm 3 seconds away from dying whenever I'm out driving in Chicago, so that really doesn't affect me too much. But rear-ending a person who suddenly stops moving to look down on their phone while we're walking down the sidewalk is something that I still haven't gotten used to.
posted by phunniemee at 1:36 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


They've found texting is worse than driving drunk, since your not watching the road. Comments like the above are as about as funny as "I'm driving drunk right now" and "They can take my beer can when they take my gun" sorta stuff that was more typical back in the 80s.
posted by stbalbach at 1:38 PM on October 5, 2011


I have definitely seen people texting while biking. I wouldn't have believed it was a thing otherwise.
posted by ghharr at 1:39 PM on October 5, 2011


I watched a dude make a right turn from the third lane of a 4 lane road and nearly kill a cyclist because his stupid GPS could navigate all the way from Nebraska but can't get him around the block on a missed turn.

If he was in Boston, don't blame the GPS. It'll dump you in the harbor if you're not careful.
posted by Melismata at 1:40 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can we ban texting while walking?

How about we simply ban communication? It would go a long way to fixing a lot of our problems.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:40 PM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I saw something yesterday after the iPhone launch saying that the new "artificial intelligence" voice-activated stuff would prevent car accidents, since it would let people do everything other than drive without even using their hands. Unfortunately, the research I've seen suggests it's not the use of your hands but the division of your attention that makes texting lead to car accidents. That would seem to apply to bikes as much as cars, and since a bicyclist mowed down and killed an elderly man who used to take walks every day in the neighborhood where I work, I've gotten a lot more firmly on board with laws that require people on bicycles to pay attention to the dangers they're creating just like people in cars do.

And I concur about texting while walking, and that's only partly because I'm in the middle of a weeks-long recuperation from a serious ankle sprain I managed to get because (I'm pretty sure) I stepped on an uneven sidewalk while looking at my phone like a knucklehead. Step carefully and look where you're going -- your ligaments will thank you.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:41 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fact that there are such laws shows the stupidity of the legislators and probably a bit of ageism since texting is done more often by the younger crowd at least that is the stereotype.

The reason I say such laws are ignorant is that they make no sense and are not needed.
You don't have a law that says stabbing is illegal. Instead you have laws banning assault, murder, etc.

Equally to single out texting as the one distracting driving that is illegal makes no sense. I imagine putting on one's makeup, reading a book (maybe reading a text?), eating, turning around and yelling at the kids in back seat, reaching down for the dropped CD, air drumming, and a million other activities that are equally dangerous are fine. At least they aren't illegal.

Would be more logical to make accidents caused by distracted driving a larger penalty/fine.
posted by 2manyusernames at 1:41 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have definitely seen people texting while biking.
Me too. I can never decide whether I'm appalled at their idiocy or in awe of their coordination.
posted by craichead at 1:42 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What about fiddling with your ipod / iphone for the next song while driving? I would think that is similar to changing the dial or changing a CD.
posted by Rashomon at 1:42 PM on October 5, 2011


I see people texting while biking on practically a daily basis. Usually while salmoning without a helmet, too.
posted by the painkiller at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would be more logical to make accidents caused by distracted driving a larger penalty/fine.

Teenagers think they're invincible and don't believe they could ever get in an accident until they do. You can't make them learn that lesson but you can give them a ticket and hope they at least learn that they can get hit in the pocketbook for dangerous behavior.
posted by ghharr at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2011


Can we ban texting while walking?

In my area, banning electronic devices held whilst crossing the street was proposed. Don't know how far that's going to go, as it was just tacked onto the existing law banning such devices whilst driving so all it does is use the same verbiage.

I agree that texters/talkers on the sidewalk seem just as oblivious to traffic conditions as drivers, though. One girl was so focused on her iPhone that she went through a crowd waiting for the walk signal and nearly stepped into the busy road had it not been for an alert bystander.
posted by CancerMan at 1:46 PM on October 5, 2011


I text while biking a lot. A huge difference between doing this and texting while driving is that you can't steer your car with your ass.

That said, I don't really do it unless I'm out on a low-traffic area, like a quiet side street or a bike path.

It probably is a bad idea, but I can keep my eyes on the pavement AND steer while I do it, PLUS I'm not navigating a one-ton hunk of metal. -shrug-
posted by rocketman at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


When are you not moving? That's right: never. Burn!
posted by swift at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2011


texting worse than using cell phones but in my experience, seldom are laws enforced and usually if ever a cop stops someone there is a warning issued. Usually you do not know a phone in use till an accident takes place.
posted by Postroad at 1:49 PM on October 5, 2011


Since I just got run into while walking a couple days ago --- by someone who had their cell phone glued to their ear with one hand, and the other hand on the joystick of their power wheelchair --- I'm totally in favor of this kind of ban.
posted by easily confused at 1:49 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see people texting while biking on practically a daily basis. Usually while salmoning without a helmet, too.

Isn't it difficult to ride a bike while wearing waders?
posted by nathancaswell at 1:50 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What annoys me most about these sort of laws is the incredibly dumb assumption that making a behavior illegal stops the behavior.

No one is making the "incredibly dumb assumption" that illegalizing something stops it altogether. Of course laws will always be broken. But a law reduces the behavior by making it more risky.

Nope, it just creates more unenforced/underenforced/unenforceable laws.

No, the law is enforceable. If anything, a law against doing something while on a bike is easier to enforce than a law against doing something in a car, since bikers are slower and more visible.
posted by John Cohen at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back when.... The law was both hands on the wheel except when signaling, hand out the window type, and it was enforced, mostly on young folk with an arm around a sweetie.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 1:57 PM on October 5, 2011


2manyusernames
Yeah, but it can be tough to enforce a law about things that distract drivers because it would cover every single one of us all the time. I remember before I learned how to drive I thought in order to avoid crashing the driver had to always have his eyes on the road and never stray from that determination. Naturally, once I learned to drive I realized that kind of focus was impossible and not necessary unless I was driving 120 mph.

And note not all distractions are alike. Eating or dropping a CD or air drumming don't usually involve one's full attention the way texting does. Reading is a distraction but most would agree reading a book or newspaper while driving is not smart - plus it's not like texting, which - besides being a prevelant fad - is a live form of communication and involves a different kind of focus while doing.
posted by Rashomon at 1:57 PM on October 5, 2011


More laws! More reasons to put people in jail! More hysteria! Just what we need in this country!

Nevermind that we already had perfectly enforceable reckless driving laws in every state before the "driving while texting" problem was invented with dubious assumptions and implausible unsourced statistics.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:58 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is the wrong way to write traffic laws: "Sponsoring Ald. Margaret Laurino, 39th, said the issue is a matter of fairness as well as safety, since motorists already are prohibited from texting and making calls with hand-held devices in Chicago." (Emphasis mine.)

If you can establish a case based on a safety need, that's excellent. But let's not draw out this childish canard that it's not faiiiiiirr that the laws are different for radically different vehicles.
posted by lantius at 2:00 PM on October 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, what about when autonomous cars start becoming more available? Siri-like AI assisted voice navigation? What about heads-up displays in cars? These could even include useful features like identifying other vehicles that are swerving or should be given a wide buffer.

I've seen the studies on cognitive load texting while driving. It's bad. But I don't see how these laws can keep up with technology that is increasing at such a rapid rate. And we've seen once these laws are in place (speed restrictions) that evidence-based counter-examples and studies are ignored, because it's yet another income stream for the city or department.
posted by formless at 2:01 PM on October 5, 2011


But the cake goes to the young woman I passed one day who was driving erratically. I thought she was drunk, but as I went by she was texting on two(!) phones. One in each hand, both wrists on the steering wheel....

True story. A few months ago, a friend and I were driving behind an SUV moving erratically. When we pulled up to the light, we moved up beside it, and saw the driver on her laptop, which was propped open against the steering wheel. Only in Silicon Valley.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:01 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bonus pop quiz:

Who's more likely to get passed by with a shrug, and who's more likely to go to jail:

a) The respectable-looking white man playing with his radio while driving 90 mph on the freeway
b) The young minority man engaged in the perfectly safe activity of texting while stopped at a red light, which poses zero risk to anyone but is punishable by outrageous penalties under the new "texting while driving" law people passed because they thought police needed even more power.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:01 PM on October 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


They've found texting is worse than driving drunk, since your not watching the road. Comments like the above are as about as funny as "I'm driving drunk right now" and "They can take my beer can when they take my gun" sorta stuff that was more typical back in the 80s.

That's nothing. I'm drinking a gun right now.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:02 PM on October 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


I live in a bicycle friendly college town. I work on campus. My office window -- where I am sitting right now, in fact -- faces out onto one of the main streets that run through campus. Class will be letting out in about 30 minutes. If anyone questions whether texting and biking really happens, I could take a video out my window with my cell phone and in two minutes would probably count 10 students messing with their phones (and definitively NOT paying attention to where they're going) within a few minutes' time.

I'm opposed to talking on the phone while biking too, but at least talking allows the biker to keep his/her eyes on the road. There's no way to text without looking down.

But yeah, yeah, laws don't stop the behavior. What we really need to outlaw is 18- to 22-year-olds.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:03 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


A few weeks ago I saw a guy eat a pizza while biking. A large pizza, from a cardboard box, which he had balanced on the handlebars.

In-flight fueling, I guess.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Editing one's comments while driving or biking or sitting at one's desk, however, should totally be allowed.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2011


If texting while driving is worse than driving drunk, why isn't it punished more harshly than DWI?
posted by mullingitover at 2:05 PM on October 5, 2011


Does "texting" include activities on the phone that, well, aren't texting? How do they prove that you weren't, say, using the GPS function on your phone or something? Does browsing the web count? Emailing?
posted by nzero at 2:06 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the cake goes to the young woman I passed one day who was driving erratically. I thought she was drunk, but as I went by she was texting on two(!) phones. One in each hand, both wrists on the steering wheel....

Back before cell phones (yes children...the Cretaceous period) I was in thick morning rush-hour traffic heading to downtown Indy, when I happened to look over to the car in the lane next to me. I saw a young woman eating her breakfast while driving...Bowl of cereal in one hand, spoon in the other. It's one of those images that will remain stuck in my head. An ur WTF moment.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2011


That's nothing. I'm drinking a gun right now.

Colt 45? You really know how to live.
posted by pracowity at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


If texting while driving is worse than driving drunk, why isn't it punished more harshly than DWI?

I suspect that's because MATD isn't as catchy of an acronym.
posted by nzero at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


...the "driving while texting" problem was invented with dubious assumptions and implausible unsourced statistics.

Do go on. What assumptions? What statistics? Referenced by whom? Are you saying that you think texting while driving or biking is reasonably safe?
posted by invitapriore at 2:10 PM on October 5, 2011


This morning on the way to work, I saw a guy texting while driving a street cleaning machine (similar to one of these) down the middle of a busy sidewalk. I was too flabbergasted to even get a picture.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rashomon: "And note not all distractions are alike. Eating or dropping a CD or air drumming don't usually involve one's full attention the way texting does. Reading is a distraction but most would agree reading a book or newspaper while driving is not smart - plus it's not like texting, which - besides being a prevelant fad - is a live form of communication and involves a different kind of focus while doing."

Yes, but my point is that reading a newspaper/book is at least equally and I'd say more distracting. Yet it would be legal.


Also since texting is such a HUGE fad and fills many peoples lives, why isn't the number of accidents skyrocketing? In fact the average accidents are either very close or even less today than they were 10 years ago

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1103.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year
http://www.car-accidents.com/pages/stats.html
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:11 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


At the campus where I work, I have seen a man on a bicycle who was simultaneously smoking a cigarette, holding a 32 oz. drink from 7-11 and handlebar in his left hand, and holding a phone up to his ear with his right hand and having an active conversation with someone on the other end. It should go without saying that he was holding the cigarette in his mouth and puffing away, I assume that he assumed the wind would blow away his ash. All of this WHILE STILL RIDING HIS BICYCLE! Talk about a ticketable offense! Some people... Sheesh!
posted by mrzer0 at 2:12 PM on October 5, 2011


The reason I say such laws are ignorant is that they make no sense and are not needed.
You don't have a law that says stabbing is illegal. Instead you have laws banning assault, murder, etc.


Does this mean you would repeal the drink-driving laws?
posted by reynir at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2011


"The fact that there are such laws shows the stupidity of the legislators and probably a bit of ageism since texting is done more often by the younger crowd at least that is the stereotype."

Uh, you know that young people are involved in the vast majority of traffic accidents, right?
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2011


I can't tell you how many drivers I have seen who were distracted and driving erratically who had cell phones up to their ear. A huge number of people can't handle talking while driving let alone texting. As personally annoying as such laws are I'm completely in favor of them for motorists or bicyclists just based upon my own observations.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:14 PM on October 5, 2011


Does "texting" include activities on the phone that, well, aren't texting? How do they prove that you weren't, say, using the GPS function on your phone or something?

They can check to see whether you were sending and receiving messages at the time.

The problem is not just whether your hands are fiddling with your phone (or the radio or a burger), but mainly whether your mind is elsewhere. People talking or texting are not fully in the driver's seat.
posted by pracowity at 2:15 PM on October 5, 2011


Back in college I used to ride my bike to school in the morning wearing sunglasses and big headphones, a coffee mug in my right hand and an iPod in my left hand. My favorite thing was to give a little nod to the guys wearing helmets and reflective vests as I passed them.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 2:15 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was driving beside an old lady in a convertible who was knitting while driving. KNITTING. I phoned her in and followed while the police tried to stop her.
She ignored the lights and siren, so the cop pulled up beside her and yelled at the top of his lungs, "PULL OVER!"
She just smiled, and yelled back, "NOPE--CARDIGAN."
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2011 [41 favorites]


why isn't it punished more harshly than DWI?

Still a new phenomenon, not enough angry mothers testifying on capital hill. That's how we do things, introduce new technology, test and see what happens, retroactively add safety laws. Sometimes it can take generations while the skeptics and deniers string it out as long as possible. The companies profit from their deadly products at the expense of the public. Socialism for the capitalists, capitalism for everyone else.
posted by stbalbach at 2:17 PM on October 5, 2011


reynir: "
Does this mean you would repeal the drink-driving laws?
"


No, but I would argue against a law that said driving after drinking too many rum & cokes was illegal instead of making driving drunk illegal
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:19 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to admit that I used to roll a cigarette while drinking coffee while commuting on my bicycle when I was a young car-less Marine. I imagine that if cells phones had been within my buying power back in those days I would have added that to the mix.

Just shows the power of stupid youth versus common sense.

What I have not been able to replicate since is the ability to roll a cigarette one handed. That just goes to show that agility fades in concurrence with the increase in common sense.
posted by jason says at 2:19 PM on October 5, 2011



I'm on my unicycle right now.

Am I safe from the fines?


As long as you're only balancing on a stationary unicycle.

Anyway, more seriously, these laws are interesting. We just instituted a "distracted driving" law here which is much more vague. It includes anything that you might do behind the wheel, other than driving: brushing your hair, eating food, reading the newspaper, checking on the phone, sexual antics with the passenger, WHATEVER. Unfortunately the law might be necessary, but my libertarian sensibilities still get a bit riled up by it.

All in all, I guess it's just not a hill I'd choose to die on. I hope that it encourages people to stop using phones while driving. I guess if I had a choice, the government would spend more time regulating businesses and corporate activity, and less time worrying about individuals.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:20 PM on October 5, 2011


I'm driving right now.

what a coincidence! - i'm driving righ3eio09hyujivlkcxvzlkhvc
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


ageism since texting is done more often by the younger crowd at least that is the stereotype

If young people are more likely to text while biking, they should be ticketed more often. That just means young people are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior. The legislature isn't prejudiced just because a law is more likely to be violated by certain kinds of people. Would you say any law that's violated more often by men is sexist against men? I don't think so. It's up to individual men, women, young people, old people, everyone, not to violate the law. I'm amazed that anyone is complaining about such a common-sense law. As for the argument that it's redundant with the law against reckless driving, that seems more like an argument for the law than against it!
posted by John Cohen at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2011


klangklangston: "Uh, you know that young people are involved in the vast majority of traffic accidents, right?"

That doesn't justify singling out texting as illegal and allowing knitting, eating a pizza from a box, using a laptop and similar EQUALLY if not more dangerous activities legal
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:22 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks a lot, this guy!
posted by resurrexit at 2:23 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


In Iowa we passed a no texting while driving law.

In Iowa we passed a dove hunting law. (Shoot a lot it takes a bunch to fill you up!)

We failed to pass the no shooting guns from cars law.

So you can't text while driving, but those fucking doves had better watch out for gun toting motorists!
posted by cjorgensen at 2:23 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


More laws! More reasons to put people in jail! More hysteria! Just what we need in this country!

I didn't see anything about jail time.

Nope, it just creates more unenforced/underenforced/unenforceable laws.

I don't have a problem with there being more laws, particularly common sense ones like this. The "fairness" argument aside, I really can't see an argument for why one should be able to text and bike on the street when it's illegal for cars. The consequences remain: someone gets smoked by a car. It's not really an acceptable outcome and there should be laws to prevent things like that happening.

Although Metafilter seems to have issues with the whole idea of speed limits too, so I'm sure it's not as clear cut as it seems to me.
posted by Hoopo at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2011


Back in college I used to ride my bike to school in the morning wearing sunglasses and big headphones, a coffee mug in my right hand and an iPod in my left hand. My favorite thing was to give a little nod to the guys wearing helmets and reflective vests as I passed them.

Yeah, I remember you--they're probably still talking on campus about that one time that you went bum-over-teakettle off your bike, bent the frame, broke your iPod into about a thousand pieces, and spilled your coffee in the lap of a cop that was taking a donut break, all because you didn't hear people yelling at you that you were about to catch a frisbee in the spokes of your front wheel. We wanted to give you the PSA In Real Life award that year, but we didn't know where you were doing your physical rehab.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:25 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


^^^ fucking ultimate frisbee players
posted by nathancaswell at 2:27 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hey to draw attention back to the original post, there is a substantial difference between the bike law and the car law:

When you don't pay attention in a car, other people get hurt.
When you don't pay attention on a bike, you get hurt.

In this case, I'd say it's more analogous to helmet laws than to drinking an driving laws.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:27 PM on October 5, 2011


That laws have to be passed prohibiting people from texting while operating a vehicle is a sign of how poor we are at common sense.

Not just us USians; also those fucking Dutch. Don't try to walk on a street in Amsterdam without a suit of armor lest you get clobbered by some six-foot-tall sweet young thing doing 30 MPH on a bicycle while texting her friends. In the rain.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2011


The fact that there are such laws shows the stupidity of the legislators and probably a bit of ageism since texting is done more often by the younger crowd at least that is the stereotype.

I'm not sure I can agree with this; texting is an unambiguously dangerous distraction when driving. Sure there are other distractive things that you can do behind the wheel, but texting often has a persistent component to it as you are basically in a conversation, where you could be coming back to the device again and again.

I think that the real problem here is that the vast majority of people overestimate their driving ability while distracted and believe that they are being perfectly safe, when they are actually leaving their lane or tailgating or any number of other high-risk behaviors that they aren't even aware of.

Personally, I don't care what mechanism they use, be it education, punishment, attack robots, whatever. I'm just sick and tired of following some car weaving from lane to lane only to pass and see someone typing away.

Hell, I don't even talk on the phone in my car anymore, because I understand that at 70 miles an hour in two and a half tons of steel, glass, and gasoline, I should really be giving it my undivided attention, because there is nothing more important I should be doing when driving that car than being completely aware of my surroundings.

Anything else puts me and the people around me at risk, and I'm not willing to risk killing someone because I had a funny thought I needed to share.
posted by quin at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't text while driving, but I have been mesmerized by the little TV playing Sponge Bob in the minivan ahead of me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


When you don't pay attention on a bike, you get hurt.


No, bikes can hurt people and it's not exactly a great day for the guy who runs over the cyclist who blew through an intersection against his signal.
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are there weird anti-bike culture wars going on in Chicago right now, or is that just NYC? If the city council passed this here, the NYPD would set up a Bicycle Texting Task Force tomorrow.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I recently saw a guy riding a bike while texting and smoking a cigarette. I remembering thinking at the time that he really needed to be drinking a martini, too.

Plus, we have this Portland establishment.
posted by Specklet at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It probably is a bad idea, but I can keep my eyes on the pavement AND steer while I do it, PLUS I'm not navigating a one-ton hunk of metal. -shrug-

Drivers (my brother who regularly calls and texts me while driving all along the Jersey turnpike is one) will tell me this too. Almost EVERYONE overestimates their ability to talk on the phone while driving or text while driving, or their ability to drive when having only one or two beers.

Maybe you are right, but I'd hate to be a ped in your neighborhood.
posted by xetere at 2:33 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


When you don't pay attention in a car, other people get hurt.
When you don't pay attention on a bike, you get hurt.

Actually people can and do get hurt when bikers don't pay attention all the time. I will grant it isn't the same thing as a car, and death is much less likely an outcome, but trust me, getting nailed by a biker zooming through a red light is no picnic, and someone upthread mentioned an oldster died because of a texting cyclist.
posted by xetere at 2:35 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ridiculous part of this law is as crush-onastick says: it's just another law on the books that won't be enforced to any measurable degree. I am not exaggerating (and in fact am pushing my estimate downwards from what I really think) when I say that 80% of the time that I almost get hit by a car while I am riding my bike in Chicago, the driver of said car is either texting or holding a phone to his/her ear. Yet there's been a "no talking without a hands free device" law on the books for a while now. It doesn't stop anyone, and it isn't enforced.
posted by misskaz at 2:36 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Word to the wise: do *not* try to play that NY Times game while driving!

Your score takes a beating.
posted by mazola at 2:38 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks a lot, this guy!

Holy shit. At first I thought the guy was on some kind of recumbent motorcycle, which would have been weird enough. But that's just... wtf.
posted by kmz at 2:38 PM on October 5, 2011


That doesn't justify singling out texting as illegal and allowing knitting, eating a pizza from a box, using a laptop and similar EQUALLY if not more dangerous activities legal

You're not paying attention -- were you texting when you wrote that comment? -- those activities are not all equally dangerous. Things that can be done with little thought and attention (eating, knitting, etc.) are not as dangerous as looking down at a little telephone screen while thinking about, reading, and writing messages. Using a laptop is probably as dangerous and probably as illegal (or it should be).

My version of the law would be: Fines will start at $20 for a first offense and go up to taking your bike (or car) and phone for a third or subsequent violation. People who just ignore escalating fines because they have too much money need stronger punishments.
posted by pracowity at 2:39 PM on October 5, 2011



Actually people can and do get hurt when bikers don't pay attention all the time.


Of course they do, and sometimes people hurt themselves in cars without ever involving anyone else.

But I don't think that really changes the thrust of my argument. It makes sense for cyclists like a helmet law does, and a lot of the same arguments for and against it seem to apply.

A lot of space here seems to be dedicated to whether or not it's okay to text while driving cars, and that does seem to be bit of a tangent.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2011


"That doesn't justify singling out texting as illegal and allowing knitting, eating a pizza from a box, using a laptop and similar EQUALLY if not more dangerous activities legal"

Well, one way we might be able to discern a difference is ask how prevalent knitting while driving is. What proportion of accidents do you think knitting plays into? Is it rising? Is it likely to be a concern without legislation?
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2011


I wonder if they had to enact this law because existing laws against distracted driving only covered motorized vehicles?
posted by nomisxid at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011


What proportion of accidents do you think knitting plays into? Is it rising? Is it likely to be a concern without legislation?

OUR POPULATION IS AGING KLANG
posted by Hoopo at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The ridiculous part of this law is as crush-onastick says: it's just another law on the books that won't be enforced to any measurable degree.

So would it make it better if they *did* enforce it to a measurable degree?

Because the fuckers are forever zipping through the traffic jams on quad-bikes around here, and then issuing tickets to anyone they catch using a mobile phone in any fashion, whether moving or stationary. Have a £60 fine and three penalty points on your license.

When your cops figure out how much revenue there is to be made from this, they'll be all over your asses as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011


But I don't think that really changes the thrust of my argument. It makes sense for cyclists like a helmet law does, and a lot of the same arguments for and against it seem to apply.

I respectfully disagree. In a crowded city like New York, it makes sense for cyclists both for themselves and for other cyclists and pedestrians with whom they share the road.

One can say that no texting while driving a car is like a seat belt law or a helmet law because you can text and run off the road and injure and kill yourself. Perhaps that is a reason, but for both cyclists and drivers I am more interested that they are not distracted so they do no harm to *others.*
posted by xetere at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011


Jazz drummer Mezz Mezzrow responded to someone asking what was so bad about smoking pot by answerng, it;s illegal.

Point being that regardless of enforceability, the very fact that the act does carry legal consequences reminds us that every act is risk/reward.

The risk of texting is while driving/biking is getting killed or worse. Clearly that's a common sense message that isn't getting through to a lot of people. Headlines/laws like this can help.

it's just another law on the books that won't be enforced to any measurable degree.


It will be after the fact. Making it illegal means that when the inevitable Tragic Incident is brought to court, the plaintiffs can point to stupid and illegal texting to up the legal punishment. Which I have no problem with.

So when they drag your sorry ass into court for knocking down the geriatric and the Daily News notes you were texting, other people can shake their heads and call you a dumbass and quietly stop doing the same damn thing.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011


Perhaps that is a reason, but for both cyclists and drivers I am more interested that they are not distracted so they do no harm to *others.*

That's fair, and a legitimate concern.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:46 PM on October 5, 2011


Many people note that this law is ridiculous.

This being the US, I would think that a big reason for laws like this on the books is LAWSUIT!

So the legislature probably knows that the laws are "unenforceable" but it could have a deterrent effect when the civil trials for damages and pain and suffering work through the system.

If you are in an accident, the minute it can be shown that you were texting, your lawyer is picking up the phone trying to cut a deal with the plaintiff's lawyers so you can hopefully keep some of your cash. In deciding who was at fault, your lawyer has bigger job of convincing a jury.
posted by xetere at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2011


Oh Sorry IndigoJones, your point entirely, and much more eloquent too.
posted by xetere at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2011


Just this very morning, in stop-and-go traffic, I watched the driver in the car behind me flossing her teeth and check the mirror for a good two or three minutes.

I thought to myself, "How is that any less dangerous than texting?".

Actually, what I really thought was "You freak, who flosses their teeth during the drive to work?"
posted by jeremias at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2011


When you don't pay attention in a car, other people get hurt.

When you don't pay attention on a bike, you get hurt.


I live dead central to two hipsters bars, a frisbee golf course, a bike trail and the most popular music venue in town. I nearly kill an average of one cyclist per week. I REALLY don't want to. I also really don't want to be arrested, villified or charged with manslaughter in this pro-bike area. Or swerve and get into a head on wreck with another car. Ive been in one of those, the other driver was distracted, I nearly died and its cost me $30,000 in medical bills over the years. With insurance. I actually had to make the choice of being t-bones by a pickup or completing my (legal) left turn and hoping the biker who blew the light and passes on my right was going fast enough to get out of the way. Luckily for all if us he was. Headphones in of course.

So yeah, you do hurt other people.
posted by fshgrl at 3:07 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


We failed to pass the no shooting guns from cars law.

That is not true at all. Iowa law prohibits carrying loaded weapons in vehicles, and unloaded weapons must be secured and stowed away. It is illegal to shoot any weapon from any road, or shoot across any road. It is illegal to hunt from aircraft or snowmobiles. The only exceptions are for physically handicapped people. With specific hunting permits in limited off-road hunting areas, they are permitted to fire weapons from snowmobiles and ATVs. The Iowa DNR has an aggressive program to prosecute people hunting from vehicles on the road, and gives rewards to tips that lead to arrests and convictions.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That doesn't justify singling out texting as illegal and allowing knitting, eating a pizza from a box, using a laptop and similar EQUALLY if not more dangerous activities legal

Yes, those things are illegal. It's called driving while distracted or negligent driving and almost all states have laws prohibiting the general concept.

Also the whole "these laws are unenforceable" arguments are nonsense because when I lived in California and the anti-texting and cell phone without an earpiece laws came into effect there were many tickets given and they were entirely enforceable. $300 bucks and possibly a point on you record are going to cut and have cut down on this thing a lot. One $300 fine and even the stupidest will go out and pay twenty bucks for an earpiece. Here in Nevada the earpiece laws are just taking effect but I noticed a huge difference between distracted drivers here and in California (where the laws already took effect) the past year. I see them weekly here and will be glad when the law takes effect. Don't notice it so much with bicyclists but I think it is a great idea for the very same reasons.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:12 PM on October 5, 2011


True story:

Whilst driving through Austin's west campus neighborhood (which I hate to do because of student insanity), I sat through a four way stop while witnessing a young lady...on a bike...texting...diagonally through the center of the intersection. She couldn't really ride. One foot kept pushing along the ground, and the bike was wobbling all over creation.

It was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. She really couldn't be bothered to stop for a couple of seconds?
posted by kaseijin at 3:16 PM on October 5, 2011


I am all for asshole inconsiderate cyclists getting a ticket once in a while. I hope it works like seat belt laws, which met a lot of opposition, were called unenforceable and fascist, but a generation later it feels normal even for teenagers to wear a seat-belt. I just don't like the fact that this is happening in an environment of growing anti-cyclist sentiment and police abuse.

One woman killed by a cyclist blowing a red light in San Francisco.

As the same article says, bicycle injuries to pedestrians are few, and not usually as bad as car incuries to pedestrians.

I am a cyclist. I ride a bike every day, and in my 13 mile each way commute I go through mixed use paths, bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, shared roads and a few hundred yards on a freeway shoulder (The city of South San Francisco seems to think it is a good idea to make it part of a bicycle route).

The two scariest risks for me are drivers passing at high speed less than 10 inches from me and texting drivers. Both are illegal, but I have never seen a car stopped for passing withing inches of cyclists. I use a helmet camera sometimes, and I am tempted to report licence plates to the police, but as a rule I avoid police interaction. Could I just anonymously send in the videos?

The most common risks are distracted, inconsiderate and asshole cyclists. I see at least a couple of cellphone using riders every day. They weave all over the bike lane, unpredictably. It is a PITA to pass them. You will either crash into them or have to swerve into potential car traffic. I ring my bell and yell "your left", most don't know what they are supposed to do. Cyclist with headphones should also be fined, unless they are wearing open headphones or just one ear-bud. They wont hear the bell, they wont hear other bicycles or cars approaching, and it really hurts one's throat to scream FUCK YOU ASSHOLE in their faces loud enough for them to hear.

So yeah, start fining these mofos. I can provide hours of video.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 3:38 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


reynir: "Does this mean you would repeal the drink-driving laws?"

Here's a completely politically untenable idea: How about we treat vehicles more like the dangerous weapons they are? Simply look at the trajectory of the vehicle when trying to determine if we should press manslaughter charges against drivers. Run a light and hit a pedestrian, does it really matter if you were tired, adjusting your music preferences, or chugging beer?

Whether it's bike or automobile, we've got people treating both carelessly in ways that we'd never tolerate from a person with a shotgun.
posted by straw at 3:45 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My version of the law would be: Fines will start at $20 for a first offense and go up to taking your bike (or car) and phone for a third or subsequent violation.

My version, for cars at least, would tie into Americans' horrible diet, would be for every time you were caught texting while driving after the second, you'd have to bring your car into a special center once a week and have someone whose entire diet consists of fast or processed foods fart in it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:00 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we ban texting while walking? I generally assume that I'm 3 seconds away from dying whenever I'm out driving in Chicago, so that really doesn't affect me too much. But rear-ending a person who suddenly stops moving to look down on their phone while we're walking down the sidewalk is something that I still haven't gotten used to.

Also, ban groups of people who insist on walking abreast on busy city sidewalks, with the fine being greater if their arms are interlinked or on each others' shoulders. Any more than two people side-by-side is a ticket!
posted by krinklyfig at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2011


I watched a dude make a right turn from the third lane of a 4 lane road and nearly kill a cyclist because his stupid GPS could navigate all the way from Nebraska but can't get him around the block on a missed turn.
Actually the GPS would probably have just recalculated. What's funny about those things is that people will OBEY them no matter what, even to the point of making dangerous maneuvers, even though they are totally fine with you skipping turns or whatever.

Anwyay, I think this law is stupid. Riding a bike poorly is not as dangerous to other people as driving a car poorly. Treading them the same is moronic. How many people die each year because of other people on bikes? How many die because of other people in cars? People may be putting themselves at risk, but it's not much of a risk to other people.
Does this mean you would repeal the drink-driving laws?
I bet making it legal to drink and cycle would drastically reduce roadway fatalities (except perhaps of the cyclists themselves) because people would bike rather then drive to the bar and hope to make it home OK.
What proportion of accidents do you think knitting plays into? Is it rising? Is it likely to be a concern without legislation?
proportion of accidents do you think texting cyclists play into?
posted by delmoi at 4:15 PM on October 5, 2011


> Yes, but my point is that reading a newspaper/book is at least equally and I'd say more
> distracting. Yet it would be legal.

Getting a red hornet trapped in the car with you should NOT be legal. They can go to any length they want to to put a stop to that.
posted by jfuller at 4:19 PM on October 5, 2011


They wont hear the bell, they wont hear other bicycles or cars approaching, and it really hurts one's throat to scream FUCK YOU ASSHOLE in their faces loud enough for them to hear.

Solution.

Sometimes I just don't know what is going through their bicyclist's heads.

Example: yesterday I was waiting at a red light, right lane, no cars in front, waiting to turn right. I didn't have enough time at the stop to even turn right on red. The light turns green, I'm starting to move forward, and a bicyclist comes shooting off the sidewalk in front of me, through the intersection, in the pedestrian crosswalk. He had both hands on the handlebars, but he had a cell phone tucked under his ear, propped up with his shoulder. I don't understand how he could even hold a tiny cell phone to his ear like that, I can't do that even sitting still.

It is times like this that I think about a story by Phil Dick. He says he always wanted to ask God why there is random evil in the world, and in particular, why his poor innocent cat got hit by a car and killed. He eventually meets God and asks him why. God explains that his cat was stupid, and this particular breed of stupid cats is now extinct.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:22 PM on October 5, 2011


Riding a bike poorly is not as dangerous to other people as driving a car poorly.

Tell it to my friend who got hospitalized (broken orbit, required massive reconstructive surgery) after being hit by a cyclist going the wrong way, directly into him, biking correctly. Even if cyclists were incapable of harming motorists, they're certainly dangerous to other cyclists.

After hearing that story, the scary cyclists have moved up significantly against the scary motorists on my fears-while-bike-commuting-daily list.
posted by asperity at 4:24 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell it to my friend who got hospitalized (broken orbit, required massive reconstructive surgery) after being hit by a cyclist going the wrong way, directly into him, biking correctly.

Ubu's law: as a cycling thread gets longer, the probablity of a fallacy of misleading vividness involving a bike accident approaches 1.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I bet making it legal to drink and cycle would drastically reduce roadway fatalities (except perhaps of the cyclists themselves) because people would bike rather then drive to the bar and hope to make it home OK.

That sounds like really bad idea. Cyclists are allowed to ride on roads where cars are also driving (except freeways).
posted by krinklyfig at 4:55 PM on October 5, 2011


Every day I see so many drivers *and* cyclists acting so recklessly and irresponsibly that I now think of crowded city streets as an obstacle course full of things that could kill me.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:06 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ubu's law: as a cycling thread gets longer, the probablity of a fallacy of misleading vividness involving a bike accident approaches 1.

I'd say that consequence is certainly an uncommon one (thank goodness, or I wouldn't bike), but all it'd take is a (super-common in my city) wrong-way rider approaching a right-way rider with no available escape route. If only the wrong-way cyclists in my area could hear my fallacious argument, my commute would be less scary.
posted by asperity at 5:08 PM on October 5, 2011


I got a ticket for talking (to my mother) on my cell phone while driving. $149. And you know, I deserved it; I did not pay it begrudgingly. Now, the time I got a ticket for doing 80 in a 75?
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:15 PM on October 5, 2011


asperity: totally true, and I honestly didn't mean to single you out for snark. It just always happens, that in a cycling thread somebody has known somebody who was once hit by a cyclist & badly hurt, which doesn't establish that it's a common problem statistically - it just means that in a community of thousands, add a degree of separation or two, and all you need is a 1 in 100,000 event & somebody can mention it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on October 5, 2011


When you don't pay attention in a car, other people get hurt.
When you don't pay attention on a bike, you get hurt.


I understand where you are coming from, but the fact is that as another vehicle on the road, a bicycle has just as much responsibility to stay alert and be operating safely as the car that may get into an accident while trying to avoid hitting them.

I text while biking a lot. A huge difference between doing this and texting while driving is that you can't steer your car with your ass

No, but I can easily drive with my knee, which is pretty analogous. I don't because, as I said before, I don't want the responsibility of hurting someone because I wasn't paying sufficient attention.
posted by quin at 5:28 PM on October 5, 2011


What annoys me most about these sort of laws is the incredibly dumb assumption that making a behavior illegal stops the behavior. Nope, it just creates more unenforced/underenforced/unenforceable laws.

Rarely enforced > Not enforced
posted by Sys Rq at 5:38 PM on October 5, 2011


Ubu, yeah, I've seen that and it gets annoyingly predictable. How I heard this story: I was griping about nearly having been t-boned (on my bike) by some twit going wrong-way on the sidewalk and not even pausing for the intersection. My coworker then told the broken-orbit story in the least dramatic way possible (I mean, seriously, I'd have drawn pictures or at least made crash noises). "Yeah, those people riding the wrong way are really something... wait, what happened to you?"
posted by asperity at 5:44 PM on October 5, 2011


That's how people get hit by cars.
posted by tomk2011 at 5:48 PM on October 5, 2011


I wouldn't try texting and cycling if I were on a bike path with no cars or people or any possible moving thing around -- because I would fall off my bike. Don't these people need to hold onto the handle bars?

(actually, I used to be able to cycle without hands, but only sitting back and holding relatively still and certainly not squinting at my little phone screen and trying to get the bad predictive text to work)
posted by jb at 7:35 PM on October 5, 2011


The two scariest risks for me are drivers passing at high speed less than 10 inches from me and texting drivers.

100%. There are many uncertainties inherent to biking and that's why being a defensive cyclist is so important, but what I have to cling onto is the basic assumption that if I am riding directly in front of someone they will see me and not hit me, and chillingly, even that's not a solid assumption when dealing with texting (or phoning, or drunk) drivers.

I don't offer beers to alcoholic friends, I don't leave loaded guns around other people's houses, and I refuse to speak with anyone over the phone if they are driving a vehicle. This is the most powerful way to reorient people. I'm simply firm with them: I won't be the accessory to your manslaughter.
posted by threeants at 7:49 PM on October 5, 2011


nadawi wrote: in wrecks where talking or texting are a factor, the person with the phone should be treated like a DUI - fine them, jail them, take away their license

And short of an admission of guilt, how do you prove the texting caused the crash? I, for one, have no qualms about firing off a short text while I'm stopped.
posted by wierdo at 7:55 PM on October 5, 2011


I wouldn't try texting and cycling if I were on a bike path with no cars or people or any possible moving thing around -- because I would fall off my bike. Don't these people need to hold onto the handle bars?

n00b.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on October 5, 2011


n00b
posted by Sailormom at 8:48 PM on October 5, 2011


"I recently saw a guy riding a bike while texting and smoking a cigarette. I remembering thinking at the time that he really needed to be drinking a martini, too."

Guilty as charged. Laws like this seem so ridiculous until you realize it is probably necessary to protect people from injury. I bike to work or the gym daily, usually with a cigarette in my hand. I have my phone on me in case I need to answer. However, I can't imagine texting while riding a bike. Just pull over for a second and make the text. I was a witness to an awful accident where a cyclist was on the phone and just went right into the street from a bike path. I would have hit her if I wasn't paying attention, but as I was driving towards her I could sense she was not 'in the moment'. I braked, and the car in the lane next to me ran her over. I don't know whether she lived or died. This law seems crazy, but sometimes people need to be protected from themselves.
posted by WilliamMD at 8:57 PM on October 5, 2011


krinklyfig: It's legal to ride bikes while intoxicated in Washington state (RCW 46.61.790), and it really hasn't made Seattle some kind of cyclist killzone, nor has it seemed to remove dramatic numbers of drunks from behind the wheel, except some of my friends.

I'd like to chime in with the headphone hate. I drive with my windows rolled down whenever the weather is at all amenable, and don't drive with music playing. It's so strange to be in a car and have no ability to hear what's going on around you, and seems incredibly dangerous to me.
posted by lantius at 11:56 PM on October 5, 2011


I don't understand the problem with headphones. I wear them when I bike. I keep the volume at a reasonable level. I can still hear more of what is going on around me than if I were driving a car with the windows rolled up and with no music playing.
posted by orme at 5:40 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't have a law that says stabbing is illegal.

I'm pretty damn sure it's illegal to walk around a crowded street randomly stabbing at the air. That's what people are doing who text while driving.
posted by any major dude at 5:45 AM on October 6, 2011


As a fervent cyclist, good, and I hope they enforce it too.
posted by valrus at 6:37 AM on October 6, 2011


The one time I attempted to text while cycling ended up with a shattered phone on the pavement, which was then stepped on by an oblivious text-walker. So, I sorta passed my own law. Plus, I cycle like a maniac with auto traffic, and can get pretty much anywhere in town in 12 minutes or less. The phone stays in my bag.

Also, I (foolishly) believe that the more aggressively I ride in traffic, the better I can sense all of the stupid driving maneuvers about to take place in front of/behind me. I'm always looking in people's rearviews, listening to stuttering engine revvers, (again, foolishly) able to predict when a talking/texting driver is about to do something idiotic. Most of the cyclists I see who are texting are also riding on the sidewalk, which is in itself a stockable offense.

In my Chicago cycling experience, I've witnessed that any lack of attention will eventually lead to one of the following:
-fall ass-up into a giant pothole
-get doored (check out another barely enforcable Chicago ordinance here)
-get plowed by a Crown Vic searching for fares

trying to uphold the image of the daring yet sensible cyclist...
posted by obscurator at 6:50 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


krinklyfig: It's legal to ride bikes while intoxicated in Washington state (RCW 46.61.790), and it really hasn't made Seattle some kind of cyclist killzone, nor has it seemed to remove dramatic numbers of drunks from behind the wheel, except some of my friends.

Then what is your point? Do you have any references for the claims you're making? I think a lot of people make assumptions about how many accidents there are based on personal experience, which isn't going to give anyone an accurate picture.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2011


lantius, as for that law:

"(1) A law enforcement officer may offer to transport a bicycle rider who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any drug and who is walking or moving along or within the right-of-way of a public roadway, unless the bicycle rider is to be taken into protective custody under RCW 70.96A.120."

The bicyclist can refuse transport, but...

"(3) The law enforcement officer may impound the bicycle operated by an intoxicated bicycle rider if the officer determines that impoundment is necessary to reduce a threat to public safety, and there are no reasonable alternatives to impoundment."

So, while it's not technically illegal for a bicyclist to ride under the influence, meaning a rider would not be arrested for doing so, a police officer can still impound the bike if necessary.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:20 AM on October 6, 2011


It doesn't stop anyone, and it isn't enforced.

I don't even know how driving while texting could be enforced. By the time they pull you over, you can delete all your recent receipts and sends and say you were just looking at your phone to see the time. Are they really gonna subpoena your carrier for usage details for a $X ticket?

-get doored (check out another barely enforcable Chicago ordinance here)(check out another barely enforcable Chicago ordinance here)

Gah. I really want to stop and tell those folks with their car doors wide open, filling the bike lanes with their asses, that what they are doing is illegal, but no police anywhere would ever cite anyone for it. Never. You're probably more likely to see a truck get a ticket for parking in the bike lane (yeah right).

22517. No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Car doors are killers, folks. Don't forget it.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2011


At the Addison Blue Line Station this morning I saw 7 drivers in under 5 minutes texting. No one is stopped for this in Chicago. This law is pointless when cops don't even stop cars for it.
posted by agregoli at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2011


I'm dri [picture of penis]
posted by tehloki at 11:49 AM on October 6, 2011


At the campus where I work, I have seen a man on a bicycle who was simultaneously smoking a cigarette, holding a 32 oz. drink from 7-11 and handlebar in his left hand, and holding a phone up to his ear with his right hand and having an active conversation with someone on the other end. It should go without saying that he was holding the cigarette in his mouth and puffing away, I assume that he assumed the wind would blow away his ash. All of this WHILE STILL RIDING HIS BICYCLE!

One of the very few times I've ever called the New York Taxi board to complain about someone was when I was in a cab with a guy who was driving while rerolling his meter receipt tape AND having a cell phone conversation. He was using his hands to roll the tape, had his cell phone wedged in the crook of his shoulder and ear, and was steering the car with his elbows.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on October 6, 2011


I imagine putting on one's makeup, reading a book (maybe reading a text?), eating, turning around and yelling at the kids in back seat, reaching down for the dropped CD, air drumming, and a million other activities that are equally dangerous are fine. At least they aren't illegal.

I was once pulled over for putting on makeup while driving, fwiw. I got off with a warning, and the cop just sputtered when I asked him what law I was breaking, exactly, but maybe there is in fact a distracted driving law in DC? I won't claim it was a responsible thing to have been doing.
posted by naoko at 5:52 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's extremely common in Hanoi for people to text while driving a scooter in heavy traffic. Apparently it's a Darwin-free zone.
posted by grubby at 8:53 PM on October 6, 2011


Then what is your point [regarding cycling under the influence]? Do you have any references for the claims you're making? I think a lot of people make assumptions about how many accidents there are based on personal experience, which isn't going to give anyone an accurate picture.

We've got a reasonably long-running ad campaign against drink driving here, showing guys playing pool in the pub like sharks, then one goes to drive home, is confronted by a complex situation, and has a horrific crash.

The point being made is that although your motor skills may be fine under the influence (up to a point) it's your complex decision making capacity that suffers. The ads explicitly say something like "so, although you can still steer straight & use the gears & controls, your brain won't be able to process multiple competing factors or respond in time when something unexpected happens..."

Now, on a bike that's not such an issue, because you travel so much slower that critical split-second decision making isn't nearly as important as when driving a motor vehicle. As long as you can still pedal in a straight line, you can probably respond in appropriate time if anything unexpected happens. Just as long as the alcohol doesn't turn you into a silly teenaged daredevil, that is.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:52 PM on October 6, 2011


Now, on a bike that's not such an issue, because you travel so much slower that critical split-second decision making isn't nearly as important as when driving a motor vehicle.

Nonsense.

It might not be "such an issue" for those with a welded frame and airbags protecting them from the outside, but cyclists do not have ABS, bright-enough lights, or the benefit of general awareness of their existence. My average cycling speed is 17mph, which may seem slow relative to a motor vehicle, but it is basically a terminal velocity if a texting driver swerves into me or jams on the brakes trying to make up for their piss-poor reaction time. Knock on chromoly...

As long as you can still pedal in a straight line, you can probably respond in appropriate time if anything unexpected happens.

Unexpected shit always happens, but drunk or not, cyclists have no significant advantage over motorists due to their lower relative speed. If you are puttering around in the park, doing stupid hand pantomimes than there is certainly a tree with your name on it. But if you are, like me, pragmatically commuting home (after a couple beers), your risk is the same as if in an auto.
posted by obscurator at 2:00 PM on October 7, 2011


You know, it's precisely this sort of "bikes are death traps!" BS that gets my SO's knickers all twisted any time I go riding like a normal human being, where God intended: In the street.

Your slow speed definitely provides no advantage if a car plows into you. Obviously you could be stopped and still be injured by being struck by a car. Your slow speed most certainly is an advantage if a driver has situational blindness and fails to yield. I find that very rare when I take the lane and much more common when I'm in a bike lane, FWIW. I also find dumb hicks are less likely to yell and/or throw things, oddly enough.
posted by wierdo at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2011


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