Should the driving rules favor cars or bikers?

Not everyone likes DC drivers and more here, both from Megan.  I am more sympathetic to the position of cars and their drivers (NB: I don’t ride a bike.)  I see two major arguments:

1. Riding a bike is dangerous no matter how considerate the drivers, at least in the car-intensive cities of the United States (maybe not in Amsterdam).  Furthermore accidents and potential accidents impose costs on both parties and more generally Coasian externalities are symmetric.  The first best equilibrium involves less mutual contact and the cheapest way to bring that about is probably to discourage biking.  (After all, they’re the ones who can be scared off with risk of death and dismemberment.)  That means road rules which discriminate against the interests of bikers.

2. If a bike has to stop and wait ten seconds for a car, that biker loses ten seconds of travel time.  If a car has to stop and wait ten seconds for a bike, the driver loses ten seconds of travel time.  The expected loss in distance traveled is much greater for the car, especially in areas where cars are going fast (i.e., the disputed areas when safety is a concern).  Furthermore the cars are more likely inhabited by people with a higher value for their time, at least on average if not for every biking blogger. 

The case for favoring the bikes is that taxing the privileges of cars will lead to truly safer behavior through greater driver caution.  Maybe.

Will chimes in, Arnold too.  Arnold is unhappy.



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