Cyclists should be forced to have insurance

By | December 4, 2015
Flipping the Bird

Flipping the Bird

Oh how I love arguing with bike haters.  Well not really.  They are pig headed, arrogant and can be dangerous when driving.  The vast majority of them drive cars, while talking on their phones, eating or speeding.  Then they have the nerve to say that cyclists do not follow the rules of the road and are rude arrogant road hogs.  The mere presence of cyclists is somehow offensive to the bike hater.  In the past these people have honked at me, thrown things at me, swore at me, flipped me off, passed too close to scare me and even gotten out of their car to fight me.

The language and attitudes of bike haters helps to lead to these types of scary confrontations and even worse. However, things are slowly changing.  I have been cycling in the Seattle area since 2000.  As more cyclists use the road and more bike infrastructure is constructed in the Seattle area, I have experienced less negative interactions with bike hating motorists.  I am far more likely to get a wave than the finger from a driver these days.  However, bike haters and bike lash still persist.  Any time I get to talk to one of these people, it is an opportunity to explain things from my perspective.  This series of blog posts focuses on defeating typical bike lash rhetoric.  In the past we have covered topics such as Cyclists do not pay for the roads and cyclists should register their bikes.  This time we tackle another silly topic, cyclists should be forced to insure their bikes.  As with previous posts in this series, this post will be structured like a conversation between a bike hater and a reasonable cyclist.  Comments by the bike hater will be italic.  The cyclist’s reasonable responses are in bold.  In addition, I will add a bit of narration in regular type.

Cyclists should be forced to insure their bikes. 

They should have insurance, because if they run into me on their bikes, I want to be sure I am covered for damage to my vehicle. 

Woah!  I am always shocked by the callousness of this comment.  This argument is so cold, I have to bring it up.

So you have a collision in your multi-ton vehicle with a vulnerable cyclist and your first concern is not the well-being of the cyclist?  That person may very likely be injured, and you are worried about a scratch in your paint.  That is a terrible attitude!  I have been in one car accident in my life.  My first concern was the well-being of all those involved.  Then afterwards, we worried about the details such as insurance and fault.

I drive my car on the road and I have to be insured, the same should apply for bikes.

Not every road user is required to be insured.  This is certainly true of pedestrians, but in many states, motorized vehicles with an engine displacement less than 50cc’s are not required to carry insurance.  Furthermore, in states like Washington, motorcycles are not required to be insured regardless of displacement.  Cars and trucks are required to carry insurance because they carry a much higher level of liability than a pedestrian, bicycle, scooter or even a motorcycle.  When a car loses control, it is a danger to far more life and property than a bicycle.  For this reason commercial vehicles are required to carry a higher level of insurance than cars.  Based on this, it makes no sense to require cyclists to carry insurance.  The risk to you is just too low. 

 They should carry insurance to pay for damage to my property in the event of a crash. 

Well the law says otherwise.  Many states require drivers to carry un/underinsured policies on your car.  If this is the case, you are still covered. 

Well I do not want my insurance rates to go up.  If I am hit by a cyclist I will sue that cyclist for damages. 

So now we hit the heart of the matter.  Believe it or not, I am going to agree with the bike hater.  If you spend considerable time on a bicycle, sooner or later you will crash.  It is a good idea to carry insurance.  However, this insurance is not for the driver and his car’s benefit.  A cyclist should carry insurance for two reasons.  To cover your injuries in the event of a crash.  I have had friends injured in crashes.  In both cases their crash fell into a lapse in their insurance coverage leaving them to write out checks to fill in the holes.  This can amount to thousands of dollars.  The other reason to carry insurance is to protect yourself from litigation from another party involved in a crash.  Jerks often have lawyers.  It is best to protect yourself, but it is a personal choice.  Requiring a cyclist to carry insurance to cover a driver and his car in the event of a collision does not make sense.  Requiring cyclists to be insured is just an obstacle for new cyclists looking to get started.

So if cyclists are required to insure their bikes, should the 5 year olds with training wheels call Allstate?  Bikes pose a tiny risk to you and your giant multi-ton vehicle.  If the worst happens and there is a collision between you and a bicycle, the person with the bicycle will come out far worse for wear.  Seattle is one of the few major metropolitan areas with a bicycle helmet law.  Enforcement is a low priority because enforcement is expensive and detracts the police from more important tasks.  There is no way they could enforce an insurance mandate.  It will never happen. 

I tried calling my insurance company, but that damn gecko was busy.

I tried calling my insurance company, but that damn gecko was busy.

Well there it is.  I hate the idea of cyclists being required to carry insurance.  However I think being protected in the event of the worst is a good idea, especially if you ride regularly.  After writing this post, I am going to call my home/auto insurer and make

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