Texting while biking

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Taking it to a whole new level of dumb.

California Cyclists Split On Two-Wheel Texting Ban
California is one of 23 states that have made it illegal to text while driving. Now a state lawmaker wants to take it one step further — and ban texting while riding bicycles.

In San Francisco, where cyclists clog the bike lanes and smart phones are all the rage, some question whether the proposed law is really necessary, while others welcome it.

Read more: npr.org.

I have to admit, I have used my cell phone camera to take a photograph while I was coasting along on a bicycle. I have also used a film and digital camera to capture similar images. I will, in all likelihood, continue to do so.

But, conducting a text-based conversation while astride a bicycle? That I have not done. I’m not sure it has ever crossed my mind.

From the article:

State Sen. Joe Simitian drafted the proposed law, which is now making its way through the Senate. He says cyclists should have been included in the ban on texting and using hand-held cell phones all along.

“As it happens, in this case there was an oversight when we passed our hands-free law some years ago, and cyclists were inadvertently omitted,” he says.

But Simitian has gotten a mixed reaction.

“There are some folks who say, ‘I’m not sure I want to be liable for a fine if I’m violating the hands-free law.’ Others say, ‘You know what? We want to be taken seriously as part of the transportation system. If we’ve got a right to share the road, then we also have a responsibility to follow the laws and the rules of the road that apply to everybody else.’ ”

More reading, in no particular order as follows:

SFGate article: Simitian wants hands-free law to cover cyclists.
Santa Cruz Sentinel piece: Hands-free law proposed for bicyclists.
Overview of California “hands-free” law: What might the hands-free law accomplish?
State by state breakdown of Cell Phone and Texting Laws.

I’m not sure where I stand on this one. I can certainly see the public policy concerns behind attaching liability to a cyclist involved in an accident whose texting-while-cycling contributed to the accident. But, that is a rather extreme example. Is there a serious issue of text-based distractions causing bicycle related accidents on the nations roadways?

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

13 Replies to “Texting while biking”

  1. It would seem that california has some more important things to worry about than telling its residents how or when they can use their cell phone.

  2. Two semi-relevant items today:

    1) In Seattle, there is a howling mob calling for bicycles to be banned from bike trails because an old lady apparently jumped in front of a cyclist on the Cedar River Trail last week and died of a resulting head injury. Shit don’t have to make sense.

    2) I had a Washington State-marked vehicle miss me by about six inches today as he drifted into my bike lane on a curve. He was yapping on a cell phone, probably never saw me.

  3. The technology may be different, but the causes of inattentive movement are the same as they always have been: There will always be idiotic people.

    I have, often at times, had more concern for my safety in heavy bicycle traffic than heavy car traffic. A car isn’t going to come popping out from every tiny walkway. And there are the walkers. The old man standing in the bike path just thinking, his mind somewhere else and he takes a step backwards or sideways without looking, barely being missed by a 20mph cyclist (me) and then there are the people walking three and four abreast… on a bike path. People just don’t know how to stay out of the way. They have to be told, with lines, signs, etc…

    Bikes are quiet, and this makes them dangerous. People too reckless to be behind the wheel of a car often take that same attitude to the readily available bicycle, whom no law will take away from them. There’s fuck-wads with their gas motor powered ‘bicycles’ and drunk bums on their PACIFIC rigs, plastic bags hanging from the steering apparatus; the handlebar. Kids ride bikes down the sidewalk with near oblivion, taking a chance at getting t-boned when blindly passing the edge of a building. I feel SAFER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOULEVARD, with relatively predictable automobiles, than on the Burke-Gilman trail, which idiotically goes to sidewalk and then back to trail. When I want to meander and putz and look at women, it’s great. When I need to fucking get somewhere, I take Leary Way and I take the lane.
    We don’t need any more stinking municipal codes around bicycles. That won’t help a damn thing. We just need to pay attention and LOOK OUT for danger out there, like every other species with senses is capable of doing.

  4. I’ve texted while biking… on a very rural road with absolutely no traffic. I also scratched up some nice SRAM Red shifters cause I couldn’t completely stop fast enough while talking on my phone with one hand and bumped into my daughter, who stopped suddenly. I guess this rule is for me…

  5. We really need a law for that stuff? If they get hit by a car, it’s their own fault.

    By the way, I have actually seen lots of people texting while riding their cruisers down the road in LA.

  6. I used to courier for a company on that used Blackberries instead of radios. Texting on the bike was part of the job.

  7. There are a lot of dumb people out there. As cycling as a mode of transportation gets more popular, we will need more laws so the dumb people know not to do things. Cyclists want more laws and better enforcement of current laws against what is really a very small portion of drivers. Car drivers are going to see a smaller portion misbehaving or ignorant cyclists and want the same. Banning texting while cycling might seem overkill and it probably is…but can anyone think of a safe way to do text and ride a bike in traffic? If I was in my car and some dipshit texting cyclist jumped out in front of me from a sidewalk, I would want some guarantee in court that I wouldn’t be seen as a deathcab driving murderer. There are some people in the world that take the view that if there is no law against a certain behavior, it’s probably ok to do (and some of those people sit on juries). If you live near a college campus, you probably know this but….dumb people need dumber laws for their own good.

    The other thing I notice is that a lot of cyclists are over-sensitive, especially newer cyclists. Most drivers are courteous and give me reasonable room even though there are more people that hunt hogs than ride bikes here. There are always assholes, but I stick as close as reasonable to the paint and have few problems with 99% of drivers in Tennessee. If you can’t ride a straight line near the side of the road, you really shouldn’t ride on the road. Take the lane when necessary, like before turning, at stop signs and lights, to prevent an unsafe passing,etc; but if you can’t “share the road” responsibly, stay the fuck off.

  8. When it comes to spending tax dollars on alternate transportation like bicycle lanes and maintaining them (aka snow plow) nobody’s for it and bikes shouldn’t be treated like transportation.

    But if you restrict drivers from something they gotta squeeze bikes into transportation also.

  9. Funny, I’ve never felt the need for more bike lanes. Got ’em in abundance if you know where to look. They’re called public streets and we’ve had ’em since long before this horseless carriage nonsense came into vogue. We cyclists were the ones who got the first roads paved, if you’ll look into history. And that’s how I ride-Like I belong. Because I do.

  10. Not gonna lie. I have sent and responded to text messages while riding.

    What’s worse?
    1. Texting while riding one handed.
    2. Riding a bike with no brakes.

  11. Well, I’ve ridden brakeless fixed. All depends on the venue and the rider. In my case no one, including yours truly, was ever in any danger.

    Mostly I rode on the C&O, which is flat, car-free twotrack. About as much danger in that as there is in riding a beach cruiser on the boardwalk.

    But after I’d been doing that awhile I started feeling like a badass, so I rode down to the city on my brakeless fixed gear. Around 70 gear inches for those of you who speak the lingo.

    Suffice to say that I now run a brake on all my fixed gear bikes.

  12. Will that be extended to my stoker??? We did the Rice Valley Tandem Rally in Feb., and I don’t know how many shots she took, ran the phone’s battery down between that and posting to fb.

    The real problem is that people are too stupid to be trusted on their own to not do stupid things and endanger others lives while doing those things.

    I also avoid bike paths like the plague. I belong on the road. That is where I ride.