Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm a cyclist and I break traffic laws. 5 reasons why.

Many motorists break the law because they feel entitled to every square inch of space around them.

I do break traffic laws. But I don't go on pavements/sidewalks honking at people who are walking where they should be walking. I don't block pedestrian lanes because I want to be ahead of other vehicles queued up at the stop light. Those insensitive behaviors are reserved to those who ride stuff with engines.

I salmon every now and then, when deemed absolutely safe (no traffic, no pedestrian). I pedal through a stop sign, but only when I don't cause risk or inconvenience to other motorists (most of whom, by the way, don't think cyclists deserve to be on the road so get as close as they can to being homicidal when they see cyslists).

I don't follow the “no right turn on red signal” when the lane I'm turning to is as empty as a newly formatted hard disk.

I break traffic laws but I do have good reasons for doing so.

1. To stay safe. When I'm on a red light next to a bunch of cars, I pedal through the red line (but only when there are no vehicles crossing) so I can get a good position on the street on the next block. If you have tried waiting for the sign to turn green, you'll know how chaotic it gets for cyclists who can't accelerate as fast as motorized vehicles do.

Cars and motorbikes would dart from your left and right. Even when you've already placed yourself on the rightmost side of the lane, some motorcyclist would still try to squeeze in to your right. They'd come from the blindside of other vehicles and always assume that the lane ahead of them is solely theirs.

Of course, let's not forget that motorcyclists love to race with each other when the lights turn green. They think being reckless is being cool. (I have nothing against motorcyclists. I have a motor bike myself, which I ride a couple of times a month. It's just that many motorcyclists in Cebu don't deserve to be on the street.)

2. Because Cebu's infrastructure is not for cyclists. I just want to get one thing out of the way first: Cebu is too poorly planned for bike lanes to make sense. But if there is some guy out there who can come up with a sensible plan to make bike lanes a reality, then I'm all in for it. But look at our clogged streets now. We don't even have room for people to walk on safely.

Cebu's streets are not designed to handle the traffic volume we have right now. And, if take off the stop light at the exact time as other other vehicles, I'd definitely be at the mercy of a half-educated, self-entitled dimwit whose mind is as narrow as the streets of Cebu City.

3. Because Cebu's traffic officers are not there to protect cyclists' rights. Or do their job, in the least. If a jeepney swerves to stop right in front of a cyclist, and it happens right in front of a traffic officer, that jeepney won't get a ticket-- even if that happens right in front of the a sign that yells "no stopping anytime."

In Lahug's JY to Mormon area, motorcyclists, mostly habal-habal drivers, would counterflow and our brightly uniformed traffic enforcers couldn't care less. And we all know about that junction to Sudlon, Lahug that was supposed to be blocked to make traffic smoother in the area. It became a U-turn spot for habal-habal drivers.

Somehow I can't blame traffic enforcers for not doing their job. If they give a ticket to every habal-habal driver in JY, that would put them in a dangerous spot. But since they're not enforcing anything, maybe they should be called something else.

Greater responsibility must be assigned to those who impose more harm. But, in the Queen City of the South, they always get away with it.

4. About the salmoning part. Well, the only place I ever counter-flow is at that access road to Cebu Business Park that exits to Cardoc Building. And when I do, I often walk the pavement while dragging my bicycle my side.

Salmoning is dangerous. When you're cycling somewhere you shoudln't be, it confuses pedestrians and motorists. Motorcyclists do that a lot but, cyclists are generally more educated.

The main reason I do it is because, if cycle along that road fronting Camp Sutero Cabahug, I always get cut off by motorists who want to take a short cut to Rahmann Street.

5. I don't want to cycle in front of a taxi driver. It seems that, among other motorists (next to motorcyclists anyway), they're the ones who love to drive closest to cyclists. Law of attraction much?

I'm more worried now than before because they all have smart phones mounted near their steering wheels. I don't assume they can pay 100% attention to the road when they're “grabtaxi-ing” while driving.

Motorists often perceive cyclists as inconvenience to traffic, as if the four-foot width we take up is the reason why our streets are clogged. That's why I do everything I can to stay as reasonably far from them as possible. And, sometimes, that means I have to break traffic laws.

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