Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: A ticket to ride

Bicyclists can now add one more item to their list of dangers faced when traveling down the road: getting a ticket. When the Cambridge Police Department started to hand out citations to bicyclists, the two-wheeled riders began truly being treated like cars. Because they use the road, it is fair to expect bicyclists to follow ‘the rules of the road.’ This new action will appropriately hold bicyclists to the same responsibility as drivers.
Cambridge police started to issue tickets as part of a broader plan to increase traffic safety. Some bicyclists may consider the citations unfair, but these are likely to be the same bicyclists who think that the traffic laws do not apply to them. However, if bicyclists were to turn right on a red light, veering through without stopping, they are just as likely to hit a pedestrian as a car. While it may be difficult to cite bicyclists for speeding ‘-‘- as the Cambridge plan calls for ‘-‘-‘ it is realistic to cite bike riders for not following traffic lights.
Getting hit and ‘doored’ by a car, are realistic concerns for bicyclists. A dangerous mindset for bicyclists, therefore, is assuming that all cars, vehicles and pedestrians will see them and take care to avoid them. This is when accidents happen. All road travelers ‘-‘- pedestrians, cyclists and drivers ‘-‘- need to pay attention to traffic laws and each other. Pedestrians need to be aware when they cross the street and when bicyclists join them on the sidewalks. Cars need to be wary of cyclists and pedestrians. It is a three-way circle that only works when everyone cooperates.
The citations need to be distributed evenly and fairly. Sometimes cyclists choose to trek along the sidewalks to avoid cars. But that could prove to be just as dangerous as crossing the street against the traffic lights. Again, when anyone assumes that the other person is acting responsibly, that’s when accidents happen.
Boston is trying to recreate itself as a bike-friendly city. Cambridge has taken the next step to treat bicyclists more like cars, something that bicyclists should want when they ride on the streets. Riding on the road requires the same responsibility as driving on the road.

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