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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 24, 2009 at 3:03 PM

3-foot rule for bikers

Questioning the need for more rules when bikers break them

Share the road and stay 3 feet from bikers? For their safety? I have to think about that.

When they’re ones that run red lights, split lanes and break all the other rules I, as a car driver, must follow for everyone’s safety, I just don’t see it.

What about my safety? I would like them to keep 3 feet from me — and stop running lights. I am afraid the bikers in this town have some very dangerous habits.

— Lynn Durfy, Seattle

A call for proportionate, not equal, responsibility

House Bill 1491 asks motorists to give pedestrians and cyclists a 3-foot berth as they pass. Simple enough. Who could argue with that? Surprisingly, Owen Linch of the Teamsters Local 28 opposes House Bill 1491 because he wants motorists and cyclists to bear equal responsibility.

Asking for equal treatment is a powerful opening argument, except it doesn’t make any sense in this instance. What, Mr. Linch, is equal about the awareness of your truck driver as he overtakes an elderly couple walking along a rural roadway? What, Mr. Linch, is equal about the physics of your multi-ton truck colliding with a child on a bicycle?

If advance knowledge is unequal, if potential harm is unequal, if the ability to ensure another person’s safety is unequal, then responsibility is — must be — unequal.

Our goal should not be “equal responsibility;” it should be “proportionate responsibility.”

I would pose a simple question for Mr. Linch and those who agree with him: If 3 feet is too much, what number would you propose?

Take a stand and let us know how much margin for error you think is adequate. Is it 2 feet? One foot? Six inches? If it was your parent, or spouse or child, how much space would you want?

Three feet. It’s not equal, but it’s simple — simple enough to make our roadways a little safer for everyone.

— Ron Rhinehart, Oak Harbor

Comments | More in bicycling

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