If I Owned the Road

Recently I found myself in this situation:

If I Owned the Road

And I wished I could show this dude what would happen if I really did own the road. Things would be very different.

If I Owned the Road

I wouldn’t have to take the lane ever again. People would have their roads back, and they’d be safer because…

If I Owned the Road

Bad behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.

If I Owned the Road

And parking wouldn’t be so free and flowing.

If I Owned the Road

And that’s just the beginning.

If I Owned the Road

No, drivers don’t realize how easy they have it. But, how about we make it a little easier for people?

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64 Responses to “If I Owned the Road”

  • john

    Grammar, please.
    You wrote “pedestrians, punishments, speed limits and neighborhoods,” which are all correct, but you also wrote “driver’s” and “SUV’s”, which are incorrect. Apostrophe-S is possessive, as in the driver’s car, or the SUV’s exhaust. No apostrophe is plural, as you mean: the drivers would take a driving test, or push a button.
    Advanced: The plural possessive, all in one! That would be S-apostrophe, when you are talking about things belonging to multiple entities, like the cars’ colors, or the bikers’ rights.
    But then you know all that already.
    Great cartoons! (plural)

  • Awesome! I wish “You owned the roads”,they would be SOOO much nicer :D

    The DC

  • David Merfeld

    You are correct that “driver’s” should not have an apostrophe. But, “SUV’s” is a perfectly acceptable form. According to the New York Times Manual of Style: “Use apostrophes in the plurals of abbreviations and in plurals formed from letters and figures: M.D.’s; C.P.A.’s; TV’s; VCR’s; p’s and q’s; 747’s, size 7’s…” You might choose the Chicago Manual’s approach, which does not add the apostrophe after an abbreviation, but “SUV’s” is not wrong.

  • a0145

    Cars have no place in the heart of urban cities.

  • Reminded me of this song by heather lev, “if cars were banned”:

  • Julia

    After today’s sad news of a cyclist’s death in Charlestown, I feel the weight of your post heavily. I wish you did own the road, then I wouldn’t feel so unsafe on it.

  • If I owned the road, it would be downhill in both directions.

  • Goldmarble

    If I owned the roads?

    I would seek funding to increase the cycling infrastructure within all cities. I would not promise “two-way separated bikeways across the city”, because some cities do not have the road-space to accommodate it.

    I could agree to the division of trucking within cities and outside of it, 24′ maximum length within cities makes sense. All trucks within cities require side-guards or side-skirts. I’m okay with this.

    I would see cyclists have unique license plates for every road going bicycle, so that they can be called to task on their illegal cycling actions; riding on sidewalks, running red lights, riding recklessly, illegal lane changes, improper signalling, riding while using a cell phone, riding at night without lights, etc. Cause simply put? The average cyclist breaks traffic laws more frequently than drivers, and can never be caught because there is no way to identify them. Equality is only fair, right?

    On-bike child carriers would be banned, unless using a cargo bike with a low-load floor. Otherwise? Get a child bike trailer.

    To be perfectly honest, I would be disgusted if most “cycling advocates” were in charge of road laws, because I am disgusted by the mentality of cyclist elitism, and yes, I used to live by bike: commuting to work, groceries, laundry, everything.

  • Faktorek

    This looks like a blog of a person that failed driver licence test and has to use a bike.

  • Erik

    Here I thought bicyclists DID own the road. They sure act that way, crossing lanes in front of cars, ignoring traffic signals and signs, weaving in and out of designated bike lanes. I know that not all of them are like that, just the same as not all drivers warrant the draconian ideas presented. I like the idea in first panel, every city should adopt this concept. Of course since it would benefit a specific group, that group would be tasked with paying for it, with hefty taxes on bike and bike accessory purchases, registration fees for bikes and licenses for bicycle riders. Also they would have to maintain insurance and pay for parking the same as motorized vehicles. And here’s an idea to keep trucks out of the city, how about you and a bunch of your friends unload the trucks at the city limit and bike the cargo to its destination?

    You realize that “Share the Road” works both ways?

    • David Merfeld

      You’ll get no argument from most responsible cyclists about the scofflaws. They give us all a bad name, and I am ashamed of them.

      But I am a bit confused by your reference to paying for infrastructure. Motorists pay something in the order of 10-15% of the cost of constructing roads in the US, through gas taxes. Since the majority of the proceeds of gas taxes are spent on highways (which, of course, exclude bicycles), virtually the entire cost of building local roads is paid by taxes we all pay: income and sales. In addition, cars, with their vastly greater weight, do essentially all the damage to roads; you will not get a pothole from the impact of a bike tire.

      So, we are **already** paying for roads. All we ask is that the same funding sources be used to construct cycle-friendly facilities.

    • Hmm, response. I’ll frame this as a comparison of destructive power. A cyclist has the destructive energy of a .22 Short round and is even less lethal than such a round. The current US average sedan has the destructive energy of an artillery round at normal street speeds where I live, varying between an 88mm on residential streets and a 155mm on arterials. Lethality varies from 5% at 20 MPH to ~100% (you get the occasional oddball survivor like me) at 50 MPH and above. And that’s just the family car at an average weight of 3700 lbs. Once you start getting to heavy trucks and the like lethality just goes off the scale. And that’s just one measure of why motor vehicles need to be taxed more and their operators kept to a higher standard.

      The other issue is what motor vehicles do to roads, aside from taking up all the space. Making the unit of comparison a fat guy on a bike or a normal cargo bike loaded to about half its maximum load (in other words pretty much a worst-case scenario for the bike) we get the smallest and lightest vehicle currently on sale in the US does the same damage to the roads as 1100 bicycles, average does about 3000 bicycles damage, and your luxury SUVs hit the scales at just shy of 8000 bicycles of damage. A semi loaded to half the DOT limit GVW does 10,000,000 bicycles of damage, while a limit load 40 ton truck does… 160,000,000 bicycles of damage assuming the load is distributed equally on all 18 tires. And before someone points out my bicycle was probably delivered by a truck I would like to point out that is only because we have been systematically dismantled out rail freight system starting about the time we started building Interstate highways.

      Damages were calculated using the latest AASHTO formulas for relative damage from the 2001 paper. Destructive energy calculated based on projectile weigh and muzzle velocity.

  • Tim

    As someone who rides daily and year round…..

    Grow up and stop complaining. Yes, there are crappy drivers. But roads were built for cars. Bikes and cars share them. Riding in the city is never going to be a Utopia for cyclists. Ride defensively and stop crying about cars, buffered bike lanes and everything else….

    Most drivers are pretty good about having bikes around. But you’re never going to weed out all the idiots. Just like there are idiot cyclists.

    • No, roads were not built for cars. At least not in older cities. They were originally built for horses and carts. They only got to be good usable roads when the “Good Roads” movement was started by, guess who — cyclists! They were then used by trolleys, cyclists, etc. Repurposing for motorized auto and truck traffic occurred later. And the roads are in the process of being repurposed again, as things continue to change.

    • Jon

      Tim is misinformed. The creation of roads was most certainly not made for cars. As Jon Webb stated the “good roads movement” was started by cyclists. It’s all right here:

  • Some of these ideas are quite practical. It would not be technically difficult to make it impossible to text while driving. Cellphone towers “know” how fast someone is moving (because they get handed off from tower to tower). Change protocols so texts won’t work for the first x seconds after a cellphone starts using a tower and texting while driving disappears.
    And almost no one is aware of how much damage heavy cars and trucks cause to roads. It is a fourth power law. So a car that weighs twice as much as another causes 16 times as much damage; a truck that weighs 10 times as much causes 10,000 times. Make registration fees and tolls proportionate to road damage and people would start choosing lighter, smaller cars fast, and long distance truck traffic would shift to rail.

  • John

    Regarding the separated bikeways, it’s all fun and games until someone has to turn. How do you propose to from the bikeway on the right to the actual businesses and residences on the left side of the picture.

    I think the drawing also shows how dominant attitudes about bikes and transport have infused even your thought. Cars and destinations are on the left. People are using cars to get from place to place. Bikes and a pastoral scene are on the right. People are using bikes for recreation and other frivolities, and they’re out of the way of people who have actual business to attend to.

    • John

      Missing a “get”

      How do you propose to get from the bikeway on the right to the actual businesses and residences on the left side of the picture.

  • Working Class Cyclist

    I agree that we have a great need for completely separated bike lanes. And it’s true that if horns were as loud inside the car as they are outside, violent drivers wouldn’t be so anxious to use them. However, you completely ignore the fact that working class and poor people – predominately people of color – are being forced out of America’s urban areas with a big thanks to gentrification. Everyone is being pushed out to remote, shi*&thole suburbs while trying to hold on to crappy service jobs in the cities. That means they have to drive. In the meantime, bridge tolls are going up, gasoline is expensive and the newly arrived gentrifiers are crying for congestion fees, more surveillance cameras, more cops (that always ends well for people of color) and more taxes on the poor.

    A mass movement that actually organizes in the streets around demands for public transportation and affordable housing is the only thing that will change things for the better (for all of us, not just the middle and upper classes). Otherwise, bike lanes will still be called white lanes, and all so-called improvements in the streets will really just be hidden acts of aggression against the most vulnerable communities in this racist/classist country.

  • If I was god, I’d turn the clock back 300-2000 years (depending on the place) and institute comprehensive planning, rendering cars unnecessary and less common today. Then I’d make sure taxes and fees were proportional. I wouldn’t go after groups to try to correct past wrongs with new inequities. I’d make rules apply to everyone and make enforcement even. Go ahead, roll you eyes.

    But first I’d prosecute the guy who drove over the cyclist in Boston this week because the idea that you didn’t see a cyclist as you passed him and was paying attention just isn’t believable. This point needs to made.

  • ben

    So many over-serious, sometimes angry comments! I can’t look away, what’s wrong with me? Seriously though, great comic. And I gotta admit, my “if I owned the road” fantasy is usually much less restrained. $15/hr curb parking? If I owned the road, wouldn’t be nooooo parking! Great comic, as always!

  • Miles

    I just want to be able to cross the street without getting hit and run by a clueless motorist. Six times struck in three years, and five of those being hit and runs while crossing at an intersection, is not acceptable. It didn’t stop it from happening, though.

  • I would love to link this to my blog if you dot mind? So freaking awesome!!!!

  • Mark Garvey

    I drove trucks for a living. I drive a car when I need to and a bicycle or small motorcycle by preference. Sometimes semis really need to be in the city. I did not like it. But I had to. Motorcycles. .. um. ..I don’t like loud pipes either. But understand the thinking. My small bike gets 100-135mpg my “big” (250) one gets 60-65 but will keep up with traffic on country roads and highways. I avoid super slab when I can. I had enough windshield time. I do want to comment though that I see a lot of fellow cyclists running lights and not following traffic rules. I would like to see tickets for cyclists. Because face it. .a lot of cyclists are as rude as car drivers. Ride right!

  • Lee Hollenbeck

    As always great post. I think a great way to foster better road respect for all would be to have some kind of biking info/test/rules for new drivers. Like on the drivers road and written tests.

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