What gave you the idea to print these cards? A few clients came to me and said things like, "I got doored, but the cop told the car to leave. Is there anything you can do?" And I had to say, "Well, no, because I don't have any of the driver's information, so I can't go after their insurance company to pay for your medical bills." What I realized is that, the time of an accident is a confusing time. In a car accident, there's at least a protocol: you exchange insurance-company information, phone numbers, etc. With a bike accident, it's very different. Boston drivers already sort of hate us for the most part. You might have an altercation. I wanted to make it easy. You fill in the blanks, and you'll be all set.
What's the biggest misconception bikers have about their legal rights on the road? Or the most common mistake bikers make, from a legal standpoint? The biggest deal I've made on my Web site is stopping at red lights. I've written about it fairly extensively. Not only is it the law that we have to obey, but it's important as a PR move for all of cycling. When everyone sees you running a red light, all of those drivers and pedestrians out there are going to see cyclists that way, as people who don't care about the law. We need every person on the road to see us as members of traffic, really. That's the only way we will get laws that take us into account.
What are your future plans for Bike Safe Boston? I just announced Bike Safe Nation yesterday on my Web site. The plan for the cards in other states is to have a card for each city or state refer people to the Web address of their city's Bike Safe website. You go to that Web site and there's a full [explanation] of all bike laws for that state or city. You can get a plain English explanation of what they are, and bikers can educate themselves. At the same time, it will show you some of the really great laws that other states have passed. For example, in Pennsylvania there's a four-foot passing rule. Cars need to give you four feet of passing room. The Web site will show you, here's the organization in your state that's trying to bring that law to your town. So hopefully it will get people who wouldn't normally get involved in advocacy involved in the groups in their town that are working to improve their biking rights.
Liz Pelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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