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Outlaws Code of the Road

by Daniel Convissor

ICA News
December 1989

We all know how safe most of us ride, how many accidents are the pedestrians fault, and how messengers are constantly injured. But at some points most messengers, and other cyclists as well

Ride fast
Go against the flow of traffic
Run red lights
Ride on the sidewalk


But are you scaring people or causing accidents in the process?


Did you know why the state has laws to ban running lights, riding on the sidewalk, and going the "wrong way?" Do you know why the NYPD is issuing summonses to cyclists? Do you know why there is licensing of messengers and much more severe measures proposed? Do you know why the city tried to ban bicycling in midtown? Do you know why the media puts out reports about "killer messengers?"

Since the number of accidents is quite low, the reason is partially because of near misses between bicyclists and other people, usually pedestrians. Often heard is the complaint "I was almost hit by a messenger."

We are not asking you to obey all laws or slow down all together, just be safe and courteous. We know time is money, but the few seconds it takes to be cool are much more valuable as public relations than the added efficiency of not having to slow down. The positive public relations make the public like us and will allow the police department to stop harassing careful cyclists and the city will not want to regulate us further. In all actuality this code can and should be used by people in al modes of motion. For the circumstances here we are presenting the code to reduce the heat from other New Yorkers on cyclists. Following the code will make you and the entire bicycling community look good:

Order of Priority

other animal < pedestrian < skater < cyclist < scooter rider < motorcyclist < auto driver < truck driver

The Code

If you encounter one of these creatures that have a higher priority and you are on their turf (sidewalk, etc.) or where the signals give them the right of way (including people crossing where you are turning):

When you are doing something against the flow (riding on the sidewalk, running a red light or going the "wrong way"):

When approaching people:

When passing people:

This was written by Daniel Convissor, in collaboration with other couriers, for the December 1989 edition of the ICA News, a publication of the Independent Courier Association.

This was reprinted in issue number 7 of Moving Target, a messenger 'zine from London.

[PHOTO: bicyclist] Up to the Bicycle Page or to it's Riding Technique Section.


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Last updated: 7 April 1999