A Bicyclist’s Bill of Rights Part II

Despite a few last minute grammar and punctuation controversies, the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights is now public at the Bike Writer’s Collective:


WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people – with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

We’d like to highlight article 12, “Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.” Take a look at this excerpt from an old film, showing a trip down Market Street in San Francisco circa 1905, the year before the 1906 earthquake and fire:

Most people looking at this film today would probably think that our present day congested, but reasonably orderly, streets have improved, that the chaos of this old street scene has been “cleaned up.” But what has been lost? Our streets in the United States are no longer the living, breathing, admittedly chaotic spaces they once were (Or still are in many parts of the world—witness this video of a present day intersection in India). Instead, the typical U.S. street is a monolithic traffic sewer, a blighted corridor with the only purpose being moving as many cars as fast as possible.

Today, all the pedestrians in this old film would be cited for jaywalking, the cyclists for “impeding traffic”, and the various equestrians and carriages would be harassed by the entitled, luxury car driving hordes. And while San Francisco still has its trolleys, most cities, including Los Angeles, ripped up the tracks in the 1950s.

This unquestioned idea that our streets are for cars not people would be extremely offensive to our founding fathers. Since it costs, on average, $8,000 a year to own and maintain an automobile this discrimination amounts to an unfair tax and worse, an infringement of our right to traverse public space.

This is why we need to assert our rights. This is why we need a Cyclist’s Bill of Rights.

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  1. Well said Erik! I’m excited for this. Great video too – I would’ve LOVED to ride my bike down Market Street 102 years ago.

    P.S. I didn’t know Washington rode a Bianchi!

  2. Here in Minneapolis they’ve been mulling over the design of the next branch of the light rail system. The U.of MN insists that where the track will be on U property (or near U property – I’m not sure) it must be buried in a tunnel to protect all the peds and cyclists. This will of course greatly increase the cost of that section of track, which will delay final design approval, which will increase the cost of the entire branch due to inflation. And yet, as this video (and existing rail in Europe) proves, humans are capable of coexisting with street-level rail in a chaotic, busy environment without getting themselves killed. The U’s nanny attitude reminds me of an author I just saw on CSPAN discussing his book “Sissy Nation.” God forbid people be asked to take a little bit of personal responsibility for their own safety in a world that can never be made 100% safe. How about slowing the train down as it passes through/by the campus? God forbid.

  3. Hey Ken–good to hear from you as always and funny you should mention the nanny state issue. Late last night on the radio I heard a report that Los Angeles’ new Expo light rail line is getting some heat over exactly the same issue–the need, at great expense, to build overpasses to seperate trains and people. Somehow it’s o.k. to mix cars traveling high speeds with pedestrians, but with trains there’s a double standard.

    These types of grade seperations are never a good idea. They tend to create univiting spaces that do nothing but facilitate public urination and other undesireable behaviors.

    Note also how the press covers train/pedestrian accidents. It’s always big news, often reported as an accident when, in many cases, it’s actually a suicide.

  4. Wow, complaining to a blog that is powerless to affect transit changes in Minnesota really does work! It was just announced that the U of MN dropped its tunnel requirement for the new light rail line, and other features have been dropped from the plan to lower the cost (to qualify for huge Fed dollars) and the whole project has taken a big lurch forward. Thanks H.E.!

  5. Look, I would have no problem supporting cyclists and so long as they obey the law. Not a day goes by that I don’t see them running stop signs like they weren’t there, and riding two or three abreast on narrow country roads.

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