The Law Is A Ass

Or, One Law for the Lion and The Lamb is Tyranny

by Charlie McCorkell

(Originally posted to ebikes, the new York cyclists' mailing list, during one of the NYPD's periodic "ticketing blitzes" of cyclists. The author is the proprietor of Bicycle Habitat, the favorite bike shop of this site's maintainer.)

I have a different slant on the bike tickets.

I believe that when a law is passed mandating an equal fine for cars and bikes when proceeding through a red light, then the law is an ass. The law is wrong on several counts and is misused by public officials in even worse ways. We talk to each other but only a few of us have raised our voices to the press and our elected officials to complain about the tyranny of the streets and the laws against cyclists and pedestrians.

We need a complete overhaul of how we design and use and legislate our road space.

I believe that change only comes on the back of hard work and sacrifice. I believe we have a responsibility to preach against road tyranny by word and deed. We have a responsibility to ignore red lights when proceeding will neither endanger nor inconvenience other road users. Think of this as not shouting fire in a crowded theater. We have a responsibility to let others know what is wrong and why it is wrong.

I believe one day there will come a hero. A hero when stopped by a police officer will deny the source of the officer's authority. He or she will handcuff themselves to their bike and refuse to give ID. They will be arrested. And like the parting of the red sea which opened only when one person was willing to proceed; the rest of us will finally get off our asses and on to our saddles to protest, we will circle police headquarters running lights till we are all in jail. We will spit on the judge's ruling when they try to fine us, we will go to jail for contempt, we will go on a hunger strike. We may succeed or we may fail but the world will know that we tried and sometime in the near future the way of transportation will change because of one cyclist who can be likened to Rosa Parks.

Change will come -- it is inevitable.

The Surgeon General will order cars to come with stickers warning owners that driving can be hazardous to themselves and others, as well as to the environment and to the well-being of future generations. The Consumer Safety Product Commission will recall cars because they are involved in far more accidents than the faulty eyes on teddy bears. The Department of Defense will decide that our strategies and preparedness are corrupted by a need to protect a supply of cheap oil. The Department of Energy will issue statements of condemnation regarding the squandering of non-renewable energy resources. Car companies will be sued successfully for making engines of mass destruction without making meaningful efforts to protect the users and others. It will be proven that they knew cars killed 40,000 to 50,000 people a year and that they ignored this in the interest of marketing their product. It will be demonstrated that they marketed their cars to the young and immature for the purposes of profit at the expense of all.

The future can come today - get on your bikes and run those red lights. It is not about $100.00 or equal rights. It is about the sanity and future of society.

Bicycle Habitat

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