Is drinking and biking ever okay?
The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed last week that the city's 1925 driving statute prohibits not only drunken driving, but also drunken bicycling (as well as, it turns out, intoxicated operation of "draft animals and beasts of burden"), the Legal Times reported Thursday.
The case stems from a 2007 incident that found a "yelling and screaming" Baker N. Everton on a Petworth sidewalk, struggling to mount a bicycle, according to court documents. A police officer "repeated his warning not to ride the bicycle, but appellant rode away. As he crossed Otis Place, appellant almost hit a small child who was in the crosswalk" before falling to the ground and being arrested, the court's opinion recounts. In his appeal, Everton argued he wasn't driving drunk because he wasn't driving.
But while Everton's was perhaps an extreme case, fed-up commuters and thrifty city dwellers are increasingly shedding automobiles for alternative modes of transport such as bicycles -- and that includes not just travel to work, but for shopping and fun, too. Some who live close to bars, but not close enough to walk, may assume a leisurely bicycle ride would be a good way to enjoy a couple beers at the neighborhood bar without getting behind the wheel.
However, 2008 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF) show that a significant portion of bicyclists who died on the road had alcohol in their bloodstreams; nearly a fourth had blood-alcohol levels of .08 or higher.
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-- Luke Rosiak
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