Subscriber Post: Driving as a right versus biking as a privilege

Excerpt from Sellwood Middle School newsletter, 11-30-2016

Excerpt from Sellwood Middle School newsletter, 11-30-2016

This post was written by Carrie, a BikePortland subscriber. As a community member who supports our work, Carrie (and 306 other individuals and businesses) can create and submit posts whenever she wants. We publish most submissions in our Subscriber Posts section and will elevate the post here to the Front Page when warranted. This is just one perk of subscription! Learn more and sign up here.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Vision Zero, the enforcement angle, and the difference in the way we treat traffic scofflaws.

I agree with the data that show that speeding and other ‘minor’ infractions are the leading causes of injuries and deaths to road users. And I am not happy that enforcement of existing laws (rules) regarding speed limits, general traffic control devices (stop signs and turn prohibitions and crosswalks at every intersection) and existing infrastructure to keep all users safe is not a high priority.

This is reflected in the Community’s perception of the value of different road users. The attached image is an excerpt from the Nov 30, 2016 newsletter sent to the families at Sellwood Middle School. Since the beginning of the school year there has been a paragraph in the letter asking car drivers to respect the law and not park in the bus zone and to not block the sidewalk at the entrance to the school (where there is significant bike and pedestrian traffic). And yet except for pleas of compliance, there have been no consequences on those putting others in danger. However, breaking of the law by the teen cyclists has lead to the [not enforceable] threat of removing the ‘privilege’ of getting to school.

The school cannot provide logical consequences to either road user — they cannot remove the driving privilege from the dangerous car users and they cannot remove the cycling privilege from the dangerous cyclists. And yet the administration seems to think that they can punish the kids, who have NO other transportation options other than their feet or the bus, or else it never even crossed their minds that there should be equal consequences to both sets of road users. Because it never crossed their minds that both road users are equal.

I want my desire to get to work and my children’s desire to get to school in a safe and timely manner to be given the same priority as all of the rest of the people out there on the road doing the same things. And not devalued because we are not in a personal automobile. I want existing laws enforced, so that we can all get where we want or need to go equitably.

— Carrie

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