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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cycling v cars - The American right-of-way @TheEconomist

ONION-LIKE though its title may be, Daniel Duane's opinion piece in Sunday's New York Times, "Is It OK To Kill Cyclists?", is in deadly earnest. As Mr Duane writes, motorists in America generally receive no punishment whatsoever for crashing into or killing cyclists, even when the accident is transparently their fault. This insane lacuna in the justice system reflects extreme systemic prejudice by drivers against cyclists, and would be easy enough to fix. All that America would have to do would be to adopt traffic regulations like the ones in place in the Netherlands, where the number of cyclists is vastly higher than in America while the rate of fatalities per kilometre ridden is far lower. To illustrate how traffic regulations in the Netherlands differ from those in America, here are a few mostly hypothetical Dutch cases to consider.
• Let's say a truck is making a turn onto a high-speed four-lane street in The Hague, and rides over a cyclist in the bicycle lane. The accident is witnessed by a very reliable observer whose testimony is likely to stand up in court—say, the prime minister of the country. Who is at fault, and will have to pay damages and/or face criminal penalties? Answer: the truck driver.

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