Wayne Waddell: Naive Do Gooder Or Complete Jackass?

Waddell, a Republican who represents parts of southeast Shreveport in the Louisiana legislature, has filed a bill requiring bikes to have a flashing red light on the rear at all times.

The ostensible reason for the bill is rider safety. If that’s his intention, it’s a good one. Making it a law, though, is ridiculous. Fundamentally, I oppose this bill for the same reasons I oppose helmet laws and seatbelt laws: It’s none of the law’s damn business whether I injure myself through my own actions or inactions. Unfortunately, I realize my beliefs about personal freedom and limited government ain’t real popular (unless the subject is anything Obama wants to do). Still, the law remains a bad idea. Anyone with any sense already uses a light at night. No one I know uses one during the day. Why the difference? No matter the make or model of the light, you can’t see them during the day. This is pointless legislation.

Unless, of course, the point is more nefarious. Waddell represents an area with plenty of cyclists. Not coincidentally, it’s also home to plenty of people who hate cyclists. Perhaps the intent of the bill is to make cycling more of a hassle and thus less popular? I’m not just talking about the expense of the lights. What do think a cop is more likely to write a ticket for, a driver who breaks the three-foot law, or a cyclist without a light? There’s another possibility, too. In a civil suit following a bike-car crash, it would make a great defense for the driver to say the biker had broken the law by not having a rear light.

No doubt, I cannot read Waddell’s mind. If he’s really interested in rider safety, however, then he ought to re-think this bill when confronted with its uselessness. He should do something more productive like requiring that driver license tests include information on sharing the road, or fund more education about the three-foot law, or create stiffer penalties for drivers who hit cyclists. At the least, he ought to limit this bill to night time hours. If he does none of this and leaves the bill as is, though, it’s perfectly reasonable to speculate about his real motives.

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2 Comments on “Wayne Waddell: Naive Do Gooder Or Complete Jackass?”

  1. mauriceloridans Says:

    Wheeler, I have his attention due to the Channel 6 piece Thu. He will drop the daytime requirement and has invited me to send draft of how the bill should read. I too worry about the liability shift and would like a clause like the mandatory seatbelt law that says no comparative negligence for a violation of this rule. Problem is a true “night ninja” does make himself a candidate for hood ornament so I am thinking the proviso that if he has reflectors and any other visibility aids he should not be comparatively negligent if he had no working blinkie.

    I know it is easier to say leave the law as is but I want to compromise some to make sure we don’t have a full time blinkie requirement.

  2. wheeler Says:

    clearly no change would be best, but reality being reality, i’d be fine with a night only requirement.

    even it didn’t have the no comparative clause, i’d probably still be o.k. with a night only requirement. like you said, and contra daytime riding, anyone who rides at night without a light is asking to be hit. i hate the daytime requirement because it could be used to excuse a driver’s negligence even though in reality the light would have nothing to do with the crash. at night that isn’t the case. not having a light could be a huge cause of the crash.


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