November 12, 2014

"9 Things Drivers Need to Stop Saying in the Bikes vs. Cars Debate."

I don't like the "Need to Stop Saying" phraseology, but this does elaborate on 9 things that get said a lot... obviously for good reasons.

59 comments:

rhhardin said...

Wide car lanes beat bike lanes and produce no political backlash.

There's a line of gravel and broken glass that forms at the edge of a wide lane, marking where traffic almost never goes.

A bike is good just inside that line.

tim maguire said...

The article is too kind, even if the title is wishful thinking.

For instance: bicyclists probably do break the law more often than drivers, even though drivers are breaking the law most of the time. The reality is, those laws were written for cars and don't always make sense for bicyclists. When I'm on a bicycle, my number one goal is to not get killed by a careless driver. If I have to break the law to keep myself safe, then I will break the law. Period.

The reality is, cars need to be the transportation priority in rural and semi-rural areas, but the more dense the population, the less true that is. In many urban areas, cars are a net negative, damaging the economy and compromising public safety while maintaining infrastructure for them is a huge drain on the public purse, warping the city environment.

Reason recently put out a statistic that only 10% of people use bicycles as a major source of transportation. This number was used to criticize the movement to build more bike lanes. Personally I was amazed the number is so high. Given how hostile most areas are to bike traffic, if 10% of people are biking it anyway, then there is obviously a huge well of unmet need for bike lanes.

The love affair with the car is causing a failure of vision.

rhhardin said...

Running red lights -

Traffic lights are not safety devices. They're traffic flow efficiency devices. You don't have to slow if you have a green light.

A bike, or a car for that matter, can run a red safely if "run" means look carefully first.

To my astonishment in the 70s, a lot of states legalized right turn on red, overcoming a little the safety myth which seemed unkillable.

It still survives for thru and left turn, though. As if looking didn't work for those.

Texas Annie said...

Loved this one from Liam in the comments:

"So we can go on pointing out that cyclists are annoyingly self-righteous and have no sense of humour about cycling? Good, because those are the real reasons cyclists aren't liked. Sort those out and the above list disappears."

MarkW said...

"6. Drivers pay for roads so they should get priority"

This one was explained very poorly. First of all, gas taxes *would* cover highway construction if a big fraction of the money wasn't diverted to fund public transport and...ahem...bike trails. BUT, cyclists aren't allowed on interstates and rarely use other highways. The local streets and roads that cyclists do use, on the other hand, are generally funded by local property taxes that are paid by everyone regardless of whether or not they drive. AND, of course, nearly all cyclists are also drivers who do pay gas taxes.

Bob R said...

If you walk around a college town, you see an awful lot of cyclists whose "number one goal is to not get killed by a careless driver," and whose number two goal is to kill as many pedestrians as possible.

SJ said...

Item number 1 on the list uses what looks like an invalid comparison.

For bicyclists, the data is:
Last year, New York magazine sent an intern out to see how cyclists handled traffic lights at three intersections. She found only 14, 22, and 36.6 percent of riders stopped at red lights, respectively.

For cars/drivers, the data is:
Well, an internet questionnaire found two-thirds of drivers admit to breaking the law at some point. The Society of Automotive Engineers concluded that US drivers use their turn signals just half the time when changing lanes, and only a quarter of the time when turning improperly, which could be responsible for as many as two million accidents annually.

Has anyone done a study of intersections in New York, to see how many drivers run their cars through red lights on a given day?

Is the behavior any different in other driving areas? Do stop signs produce a different response rate from either drivers or cyclists?

In reverse, how many bicyclists admit to ever breaking the law?

What's the distinction between failing to signal for a lane-change or turn, and failing to stop at a stop-light?

The comparison given does not refute the assertion that Cyclists break the law [and drivers don't].

The conclusion in that section may be correct, but it's not well-supported by the data given.

Ipso Fatso said...

I hate bike riders. Here is why:

1)Run Red Lights
2)Drive the wrong way down one way streets
3)Drive on the wrong side of the road on two way streets
4)Create third and fourth lanes of traffic where they don't belong
5)Run stop signs and cause cars to pass them three and four times (greatly increasing their risk) on the same road when if they had obeyed the stops signs in the first place that wouldn't happen
6)Ride side by side in an aggressive display of "Fuck You" to car drivers and greatly reduce traffic flow
7)Cut in front of car traffic at busy intersections and slow everything down so they can be the first to make the turn.

Did I say I hate bike riders? My greatest happiness is when I hear of one of them being killed by a car or truck.

I give bike riders a great deal of space and don't challenge them even when they should be. Our court system is so crewed up that I am sure all the fault for any accident will fall on the car driver and not the angelic bike rider.

Brando said...

I'm all for more people biking, if only because it means less parking spaces for cars being taken up and fewer cars on the road causing gridlock. But it's true that our cities and suburbs haven't been designed for safe biking--squeezing a bike lane in along the roads isn't safe for anyone. Build separate, protected trails where there's no likelihood of a car hitting a bike, and we'll all be better off.

Bikes are also a hazard to pedestrians when they're on the sidewalks.

Levi Starks said...

Over the last 10 years I've probably logged 6k miles on a bike, but this last year I just decided to walk. 6-12 miles a day during the summer months. And #2 was the one that struck me as being the most relevant. its assumed there would be no roads if not for them.
If there's a bike lane I'll stay in it, but even the bike lanes are really only doing lip service, as they're sporadic at best, and rarely actually get you from one place you need to be, to another place you need to be. Throwing in a 1/2 mile of bike lane in the middle of an otherwise impassable road just invites road rage. Just design all roads 2 feet wider, and be done with it. I actually know of one road which is the only way to cross the meramec river in one part of St Louis county that used to have a generous shoulder, but to accommodate more cars they made the shoulder a narrow lane, making genuinely dangerous for bikes and pedestrians. Ok ,I'm done.

Christy said...

Reads like a middle schooler wrote it and made up his limited supporting info.

Levi Starks said...

Ipso, I think your name says it all....

Henry said...

Believe it or not, Ipso, your items number 2 and 3 make cycling a lot more dangerous for me as a cyclist.

One of the best explanations I've seen for an Ipso-like hatred of bicyclists (and why item #1 is #1) is that drivers envy bicyclists. They want to run more red lights too. Bicyclists are your happy-go-lucky younger brother who broke all the rules and never got in trouble for it.

One thing item #6 could mention, but doesn't is that bicycles don't take up parking spaces. Every driver who curses the cost of urban parking should thank a bicyclist.

Which brings up #10 which is the complaint that parked bicycles and bicycle stands clutter up sidewalks. But that's a pedestrian complaint, I suppose, which is why it didn't make the list.

Paul said...

Quoting from the article: "When protected bike lanes are implemented well, they have been found to improve everyone’s safety, generate more revenue for shops along the street, and, yep, even speed up car traffic."

That would sound quite lovely, if it wasn't for the glaring qualifier of 'implemented well'. I've no doubt that when bike lanes are 'implemented well' they can provide a net benefit to almost everyone, but I'm not nearly so confident that they meet that standard often enough to support them.

MisterBuddwing said...

As a part-time pedestrian, part-time driver (it's been a long, long time since I mounted a bike), I have to admit one major pet peeve of mine re: bicyclists is the way not a few of them will whiz past me on the sidewalk, even on streets with bike lanes.

Forgive the attempt at mind-reading, but these cyclists seem to have an attitude that might be summarized as: "Whether I miss you by six feet or six inches, it's all the same, so it doesn't matter." Another seeming attitude is one of, "So what if you didn't see me until I whizzed past you - I saw you, so you were perfectly safe."

Was I? If you say so. My basic issue with cyclists in public places is, they're not as big, noisy and lumbering as cars, and not slow and predictable like pedestrians - they zoom silently out of nowhere, and are large enough and heavy enough to do serious damage if they were to crash into you.

One specific peeve: There was the time I was on a sidewalk approaching a street corner, and for once, I spotted a cyclist coming toward me, from my left side. So I stopped dead in my tracks, because I didn't want to confuse the cyclist as he cut around me, either in front of me or behind me.

Which ticked him off - apparently he felt I was simply blocking his way. Boy, was he mad. I was mad, too.

viator said...

Child automobile protection device legally required for any child up to four years where the child is entombed inside the car and restrained facing the rear and later the front.

Car seat

Child device for riding a bicycle outside the automobile but sharing the roads with said automobiles.

Bike trailer

Another fine example of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.

kcom said...

Yeah, every time I pass a bike trailer with a kid in it when I'm out riding I can't help seeing a mental picture of a car coming up behind and rolling right over it.

SGT Ted said...

Being a motorcycle rider, I sympathize with how unsafe bicyclists feel on the road. One is extremely exposed to severe injury while riding on 2 wheels.

But, there is a large cohort of smug, holier than thou, urban assholes riding bikes aggressively and unsafely that is responsible for the negative attitudes towards urban bicycle riders and bicyclists simply won't own up to it.

Peter said...

Many years ago I rode a bicycle as a Wall Street messenger. I very quickly learned that if I didn't make eye contact with a pedestrian then the pedestrian would always yield.

Although that probably doesn't work so well anymore, with so many pedestrians lost in their cellphone screens.

I also remember riding to work on a four-lane highway with curbs, no shoulders, and bicycle-tire-eating storm sewer grates. I had to swerve out into traffic to avoid the storm sewer grates, and sometimes drivers would holler and throw their fast-food detritus at me (but their aim was poor).

Of course it is the arrogance and righteousness of bicyclists that annoys (and will continue to annoy) motorists. And roads and streets were indeed made for cars and not bicycles (and painting an extra stripe on the pavement and labeling it "bicycles" doesn't change that, although it does often remove a lane that once carried motor vehicles to accommodate perhaps a dozen bicyclists per day, on a nice day).

Shanna said...

1. Cyclists always break the law

Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it’s the one you hear most often: “I can’t respect cyclists because they ignore stop signs” or “Cyclists don’t seem to understand the rules of the road.” And yeah, when I’m on my bike, I sometimes bend traffic laws and see other cyclists doing the same.


So, this one is completely valid, right? Except for that 'always' business.

When you are riding around in a bicycle, you are the one who needs to follow the laws because your personal safety depends on it. In car vs bike, bike loses. You need to be where you are expected to be, also, because cars have blind spots. If you can't be seen, you can be avoided. Ugh.

MadisonMan said...

smug, holier than thou, urban assholes riding bikes aggressively and unsafely :Most Normal Bicyclists::ISIS:Most Normal Muslims

There's always someone who will spoil the perception of a group.

Shanna said...

whose number two goal is to kill as many pedestrians as possible.

I learned to hate cyclists in DC, after being almost mowed down countless times on M street and other sidewalks as a pedestrian. I have not changed my opinion, now that I am having to deal with them driving and on walking paths where they go 30 mph zooming around grandmas and children. So much concern for safety displayed then!

RecChief said...

we have a road here, divided 4 lane but lots of at grade access. 60 mph speed limit. The state spent millions of dollars building a bike path on one side of it, that bicyclist groups lobbied hard for. The bike path runs about 25 miles. And bicyclists ride on the roadway anyway.

Yesterday, I was stopped at a 4 way stop sign on a residential street. I saw a bicyclist approaching the intersection from my right, probably 50 yards from the intersection. So I started to drive across the intersection and had to brake halfway through because the bicyclist didn't stop at the stop sign. Same road same rules, right? And the stupid shit flipped me off.

Now you know why I dislike bicyclists.

Beldar said...

I'm a cyclist in addition to being a driver. I don't pick fights, verbal or otherwise, with drivers. I've rarely heard any of these arguments, and the ones I have heard ("cyclists always break the law"), only infrequently and by people on whom I didn't waste my time.

The argument that carving dedicated bike lanes out of existing roadways won't affect car traffic is ridiculously stupid.

But more fundamentally: An argument phrased in terms of "You need to shut up about ..." is not going to be very effective as anything but preaching to the devout. It will convert no-one, but it will influence some — to hate cyclists more.

Balfegor said...

Re: SJ:

Yes, there's a huge apples-and-oranges issue going on there. They found one single intersection -- just one!! -- where 84% of bicyclists passing through broke the law. Multiply that over the hundred-odd of intersections a bicyclist might encounter in a given day, and perhaps one might understand why I, as a pedestrian detest bicyclists. Maybe it's just a lawless 84% giving a bad name to the decent 16%, but once scofflaws pass supermajority status, I don't feel any compunction about tarring you all with the same brush.

Bicyclists! How I hate them!

Balfegor said...

Sorry, that's 86% lawbreakers; 14% decent law-abiding folk. Among bicyclists.

n.n said...

Each form of conveyance should be exploited to purpose. Bicycles are a poor choice in geographically open or diverse areas; in inclement weather; to transport cargo; to name a few circumstances. The individual ego and fitness-factors are a separate consideration.

retail lawyer said...

Political bicyclists are very obnoxious. In San Francisco you can see the bikes festooned with proclamations like "Doing my part against wars for oil". And Critical Mass has been a PR disaster. Adolescents going the wrong way in an unpredictable manner is one of my pet peeves. But here's the thing: bikers nowadays are almost as diverse as drivers. "They" are not a type and don't conform to any stereotype.

MadisonMan said...

They found one single intersection -- just one!! -- where 84% of bicyclists passing through broke the law.

There is one such intersection in Madison that I will break the law at on my bicycle, because the light sensor won't work for my bike.

Normally I will bike so I don't go through that particular intersection, but sometimes it happens. (Regent and Spooner for you Madisonians). Of course, I could dismount, walk over to the crosswalk and push the button to get the walk signal.

How many light cycles would you wait through in a car for a broken red light?

retail lawyer said...

In the '80s I worked for a park district. One of the parks had a crucial bike lane insofar as any alternative route from one part of town to another involved a steep climb on narrow roads. Cars could use freeways to travel from the one part to another. One day a day care facility had the children in their care at the park, and a 5 year old girl on a tricycle hit and knocked over an 80 year old lady, who broke her hip. She sued, and the park district's settlement included closure of the path to bicycles. The old lady just was terrified of bicycles.

Henry said...

Balfegor wrote: Multiply that over the hundred-odd of intersections a bicyclist might encounter in a given day, and perhaps one might understand why I, as a pedestrian detest bicyclists.

Jaywalkers. All the trouble starts with Jaywalkers.

Shanna said...

There is one such intersection in Madison that I will break the law at on my bicycle, because the light sensor won't work for my bike.

Did they not talk about stop signs at one point? It's not just about censors.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Mil gracias, Prof. A. for remarking on "need to". Reading stumbles and halts wherever an inanimate or abstract subject (noun) is described in passive voice as having a "need".

Perhaps you could post "fails." "Fail" implies an intent to accomplish. Often the intent lies with the writer, not the actor. "Congress failed to pass..."

Another over-used word is "forced." "The cab failed to appear, so she was forced to walk five blocks to the market. Masked gunmen prevented her from taking the bus, riding a bike, driving a car, or asking a friend for a ride."

But on topic, as a former bike commuter, bike lanes were the worst place to ride. Gravel, broken glass, sewer grades with slots wider than the bike tires, cars making right turns from the "left hand" lane, ....

Better and safer to mix with the car traffic.

Red lights? If the Global Warming crowd were serious, they would lobby for laws permitting traverse of an empty intersection after full stop.

Matthew Sablan said...

As a pedestrian, these two issues are my highest, that someone listed above:

"1)Run Red Lights"
--> YES. I've been nearly run over more by bikes than cars, with the upside that if the bikes had hit me, they at least have a much lower shot of killing me.

"2)Drive the wrong way down one way streets"
--> I get that cyclists don't want to be in the way of traffic. But when there's not a lot of sidewalk and you are barreling down on me, I don't wan to have to do the quick two-step into the road and then immediately hopping behind as you zoom beyond me.

Freeman Hunt said...

We have extensive bike trails, including a sort of bike highway system linking up the major towns. I think it is because of this that cyclists aren't a problem here. (And if there is a bad actor, the yell would be, "Get back on the trails!") They are a huge problem if you want to walk the trails. So it goes.

Shanna said...

They are a huge problem if you want to walk the trails. So it goes.

Yes. The thing that bugs me when I'm on the trails is that if they would slow down for a mile or two, they would clear most of the walkers and runners and could then go faster. But they won't even do that, on densely packed trails on saturday mornings. They could also ride at off times. That they don't do this, tells me they don't really care about the safety of people that are not themselves.

And they insist on parking in the first few spaces of the parking lot, before they ride 30 miles. ?

Paul said...

"When I'm on a bicycle, my number one goal is to not get killed by a careless driver. If I have to break the law to keep myself safe, then I will break the law. Period"

Exactly.

I just ride on dirt now, except for riding residential streets to get to trailheads, but I used to race road bikes and trained and commuted a couple of hundred miles a week in San Francisco and the surrounding countryside. I'd be dead if I obeyed the traffic rules designed for cars. Many times over.

My only rule was don't get hurt and don't hurt anybody else. Other than that it was all about picking lines and staying out of the way of cars and pedestrians. Red lights, stop signs only served to let me know if it was safe to move through. If not I would track stand and wait but being stationary on a bike is a very vulnerable position. Forward momentum provides evasive strategy.

I agree that there are a lot of self righteous road riding assholes. They are to a man liberals of course...doing their bit to save the earth...and I despise them too, but my goal when I used to ride the road was to be as unobtrusive as possible and never frighten a pedestrian or motorist with an unexpected close appearance or move, even if I could do it safely.

Freeman Hunt said...

Our trail system. Fayetteville is an especially bike-able city. You can get just about anywhere on the trails.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I bike to work about half the time, in San DIego, about 12 miles each way. A couple common sense rules:
1) WHen there is automobile traffic, stop at stop signs and red lights. (i.e. about half my morning ride is prior to much traffic, so I will go through without stopping if no cars are there)
2) Give the right of way to cars even if it's technically yours.
3) Keep your head on a swivel, and expect them to not see you.

There have been a couple of times when I was the one not paying attention, and luckily the drivers of the cars were.

Too many bike riders have too much of a sense of self-importance, and don't think the laws of physics apply to them. Probably those who voted for Obama.

SteveR said...

If you want me to stop saying them come up with better reasons. And its not a debate. Bicyclists want to turn the roads into a gymnasium and in very large part that won't happen.

John Lynch said...

Yeah, they are all true so we're not allowed to say them anymore.

Shut up, he explained.

I've personally witnessed cars hitting cyclists, and I've been hit by a car myself. I don't believe the statistics, and I don't believe cycling activists because they are not honest.

Gordon said...

It's no different from "We need to have a conversation about race, but white people can't say...."

DougWeber said...

I am a avid road cyclist and have done it in rural and urban setting. Probably the biggest problem with looking at the behavior of cyclists is that there is not just one type of cyclist and they need different rules. When I am moving at 16mph or 25 in a pace line, I need to use the road and need to follow the rules. I do not want a bike path and do not need a bike lane. These are usually occupied by the other classes of cyclists.

The next class is low level recreationist. They may do 10mph and less if they have children. For them a path works well. But not if I and my 16-20 mph guys are there also.

The final class is people at the low end who are using bikes as kind of transportation. Here in Berkeley these are usually students and the homeless. For some reason these people believe that they should be on the sidewalk, even when going 10 mph. But then they are unstable usually.

These different people need different rules and environment. But most often the advocates only see one type.

mrs.e said...

"The argument that carving dedicated bike lanes out of existing roadways won't affect car traffic is ridiculously stupid."

This is true - there's a former four-laned road on Madison's west side where, a few years ago, bike and parking lanes were carved out. And yes, it has affected car traffic - it's slowed traffic down, actually approaching posted speed limits far more often than prior. Yay!

The neighborhood petitioned for this. What's also happened, is that there's many more bikes on the road than before (kids and families).

For the most part, cars are respectful of the bike lanes. I've only had a few instances of cars purposefully diregarding the safety of others. Honest mistakes and general thoughlessness, I can deal with, but when it's on purpose, then you're being a dick and may the wrath of God rain down upon you. Or whatever.

Ipso Fatso said...

Just for the record, I really don't jump for joy when a biker gets hit by a car. Venting accomplished.

The real problem is that roads are in some cases barely able to fit 2 cars let alone car and bike traffic due to the fact that these same roads were designed 60, 80 or 100 years ago with very different vehicle sizes and traffic volumes in play. So what happens is that bike lanes get retro-fitted to existing roadways which isn't good for anyone.

In a perfect world (one in which Obama would serve a third term) roads would be designed for both car and bike traffic. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

Shanna said...

The real problem is that roads are in some cases barely able to fit 2 cars let alone car and bike traffic due to the fact that these same roads were designed 60, 80 or 100 years ago with very different vehicle sizes and traffic volumes in play.

Indeed. My neighborhood has no sidewalks, and people are allowed to park only on one side of the road because there is no space. So, you effectively have one lane roads anyway. Now, this is a neighborhood granted, but we have plenty of roads that have really no space left for a biking lane.

Just for the record, I really don't jump for joy when a biker gets hit by a car.

I had a friend killed biking a couple years ago. A few years before that, she fell and broke her collarbone. I have other friends who bike extensively.

That doesn't change the fact that I find many of the activist types irritating, and bikers (of the 20mph, spandex, mow down pedestrian variety) extremely irritating and unsafe, so it is annoying to have so many people want to basically make the roads less useful to benefit the handful of people who are willing to actually bike to work.

So many of the campaigns to protect cyclists and those on motorcycles are very scolding towards people driving cars, and I don't think that helps. You will see a big add to watch out for them and 'share the road' and then you see them fly through a stop sign or darting in between cars...it doesnt' actually promote good will.

Loren said...

FWIW, there is a stop sign in front of my house. Cars must turn either right or left, as it is a "T" intersection. Compliance by cars, based on non-scientific observation of about 25 years, is about 10%. Most cars perform a "California stop." So about 90% don't follow the law at this one intersection.

I both drive and ride. And honestly, I am starting to question the definition of "running a red light" because, I think if it were what most envision, we would have lots more cyclists becoming hood ornaments. Or is it a redefinition of "running a red light" to still being in the intersection as it changes from yellow to red? Much like the redefinition of "sexual assault" to "Good Morning!" as in the catcalling video?

Loren said...

Shanna,

Riding 20 mph and mowing down pedestrians are mutually exclusive. You can't do one while doing the other!

Spandex and lycra are wonderful for cycling apparel.

southcentralpa said...

http://www.copenhagenize.com/

is an invaluable resource for those interested in bike culture (trigger warning for our patroness, occasional pictures of men in shorts)

Jupiter said...

The reason bicyclists run stop signs is that it takes a lot of work to get a bike moving fast, and you don't want to waste it just because someone else *might* need to use the intersection. If they need it I'll stop.

I have frequently heard that "a bicyclist ran the stop sign in front of me without even looking". One day, as I rode to work, I counted the number of times I would have been killed if I had not stopped at a stop sign. Five. Fortunately, I stopped at all five of them. I ran all the others.

I think what is going on here, is that cyclists see you a long time before you see them. By the time you see them, they have already determined that you are not a problem, and they are looking somewhere else, which makes you think they were not aware of your presence. They were aware. A cyclist who behaved the way drivers say they do, would not last long. Of course, some don't.

DougWeber said...

Jupiter, the problem with that analysis is that it would also be true for cars. It takes a lot of gas and co2 output to stop. If a bike can check the intersection then a car should also be able to. So let's let cars run stop signs.

The reality is that there are many circumstances where the cars could safely run the stop sign. But we do not let them(modulo cal stops). They justifiably get upset when the rules that inconvenience them are not respected by others. When doing urban cycling, one should obey all the rules for a car, no matter how stupid it looks or painful it is. Need to power bike, get out of the city.

Jupiter said...

DougWeber said...
"Jupiter, the problem with that analysis is that it would also be true for cars. It takes a lot of gas and co2 output to stop. If a bike can check the intersection then a car should also be able to. So let's let cars run stop signs."

I would reply, that if I run the wrong stop sign, I get killed, but if the car runs the wrong stop sign, I still get killed. So, the cases are not really symmetric.

But here's the real nub of the matter. Police don't ticket bicyclists, and even if they do, the ticket isn't much, and even if it is, your insurance doesn't go up. And the reason those incentives are structured the way they are, is that real people in the real world agree with my analysis, not yours.

I have never understood why some people get so pissed off when bicyclists run stop signs. I drive all the time, and I get far more annoyed by other drivers than I ever do by cyclists. Although those nancy-boys in the spandex are pretty damn silly-looking.

Zach said...

There is nothing wrong with a cyclist doing a rolling stop at a stop sign.

1) Speeds are considerably lower than cars (and *much* lower maximum speeds). The cyclist spends just as much time checking out the intersection, and there's no need to prevent cyclists from speeding up to unsafe speeds.

2) The single most dangerous time as a cyclist is starting from a dead stop at an intersection. That's when cars are most likely to hit you while turning, when you have the worst balance, and when you have the least ability to swerve. Not to mention, it gives you the biggest speed differential with car traffic, so that you give more cars a chance at you.

The safest thing for a cyclist to do is to go at about 2/3 the speed of traffic while taking up a whole lane. Stopping frequently is unsafe and should be avoided.

CWJ said...

SGT Ted @ 8:44,

Regarding your second paragraph:

If you're still around to see this. That goes double for motorcycle riders.

Steven Davis said...

We have a bike trail through our community that crosses two major roads. Although the stop signs are posted to those on the bike trail, motorists have been "trained" to stop at the crossing to allow bike traffic to cruise across without regard to the actual posted traffic rule. Needless to say, this creates a huge traffic snarl, plenty of fender-benders, and a few casualties to bikers that fall victim to drivers not familiar with the local habit. I've been cursed at a few times for proceeding though the crossing without stopping by a biker that was forced to actually obey the sign.

kcom said...

I went riding earlier today. For me it's never commuting, it's just because I enjoy it. No close calls. When I ride I don't go through stop signs or red lights unless there's absolutely no one else there and no one else approaching. If there's a car coming from any direction, and I don't have legal right-of-way, I stop. I owe them that. They can see I am following the rules of the road and as a result, or by pure chance, cars treat me really, really well in general. In fact, I dislike it when they ignore their right-of-way and want me to go because it's disruptive and adds uncertainty to the encounter. A lot of times when they should go and they don't I think they're probably waving me through. But since it's frequently very difficult to see through the reflection on their windshield, I can't be certain. So then I have to decide between risking pulling out when I don't have right-of-way or sitting there in a face-off waiting for someone to go who is (probably) trying to be polite. If they sit there long enough, I usually wind up going just as a way of saying thank you for the effort, even if I would rather they just follow the law and take their right-of-way.

One more thing, I usually don't ride with others because bike people are kind of weird for my taste and they do stupid stuff. Riding alone allows me to have complete control over my interactions with cars. The other reason I ride by myself is so many cyclists seem to ride the same damn route every time. Borrringgg! Every ride I go on is made up as I go and I never do the exact same thing twice. That's the part I enjoy the most.

Deb said...

They've ruined the Silver Comet Trail here, bike groups using it for training purposes, traveling at high speeds in packs. And they are extremely rude and obnoxious. Same is true on the roads. The trail crosses many streets - it goes across several counties - where there are red lights that are largely ignored by the bicyclists so that when you approach you must slow down to be sure some cyclist is not going to zip across. It's very disappointing. But then, there have been a couple of women attacked on the trail which is the main reason I don't use it any more.

Shanna said...

But here's the real nub of the matter. Police don't ticket bicyclists, and even if they do, the ticket isn't much, and even if it is, your insurance doesn't go up. And the reason those incentives are structured the way they are, is that real people in the real world agree with my analysis, not yours.

So rules don't apply to cyclists. That's all well and good as a system, so long as nobody cares when they are killed by a car!

In case you haven't noticed, that is not the world we live in. You are either on the road or you aren't. If you are on the road, you follow the rules. Period.

Jupiter said...

Shanna said...
"In case you haven't noticed, that is not the world we live in. You are either on the road or you aren't. If you are on the road, you follow the rules. Period."

Shanna, I and several other people have said, here on this comment thread, that we are frequently on the road, not following the rules. Are you suggesting that we are lying about this? Do you maybe live in a different world than we do? Are you unable to distinguish your preferences from reality?