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Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. WP article  RSS feed

 
Tom Kozak
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Read this article, http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/15/dont-make-bicyclists-more-visible-make-cars-stop-running-them-over/, it is absolutely histarical! especialy the line "this quaint idea that the person operating the giant machine should look out for other people." Unfortunately, its also spot on, wish I could write like this.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I drive motor vehicles and I ride a bike. I accept that cars own the road. They also pay for the road, in various ways depending on where you live.

Every day, I see someone do something silly while driving. It may be as high as 1 car in 100. About a third of my fellow cyclists do crazy dangerous shit every day.
 
Patrick Mann
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I drive motor vehicles and I ride a bike. I accept that cars own the road. They also pay for the road, in various ways depending on where you live.

Like you, I drive and bike; I pay as much as any driver for road maintenance. Why should I not enjoy equal privileges of using them when on a bicycle?

Dale Hodgins wrote:Every day, I see someone do something silly while driving. It may be as high as 1 car in 100. About a third of my fellow cyclists do crazy dangerous shit every day.

I don't see that ratio where I ride. And since there are many more cars than bikes on the road, 1 in a 100 are poor odds. In any case, the consequences of doing something silly while driving are potentially so much worse, that drivers should be expected to exercise exceptional care.
 
tel jetson
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where I live, property taxes pay for the roads.

I'm also in favor of more unpredictable bicyclists, more jaywalking, more kids in the road, and generally more use of that space than just traveling through it as fast as possible.
 
Patrick Mann
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Here is an informative - though less entertaining - article that makes similar points with data to back it up:

http://www.bicyclinglife.com/EffectiveAdvocacy/BicycleMyths.htm
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's dark now. I got home 20 minutes ago. During my 3 km commute, I saw four bikes without lights. One went through a red light. There were about 7 bikes with lights. One girl signaled her intent to turn left.

It's become common for cyclists planning a turn, to stick their arm out, and immediately turn in that direction. I've had bikes turn right in front of my truck. When I turn, I signal and check to see if it's clear, before making a turn. The lack of carnage surprises me. If evolution works properly, the problem should self correct.
...........
I bought an awesome mountain bike for $50 on Saturday. That's about $40 American.

Yesterday, I tested an electric bike. It was great, but it's $4000. Maximum speed 32 km/h. About 20 mph. I would pay $1500, so obviously, we're too far apart on price.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
Post Today 7:54:37 PM Subject: Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. WP article
I drive motor vehicles and I ride a bike. I accept that cars own the road. They also pay for the road, in various ways depending on where you live.

Every day, I see someone do something silly while driving. It may be as high as 1 car in 100. About a third of my fellow cyclists do crazy dangerous shit every day.


So much this. Something about spandex seems to be antithetical to common sense...

To be clear, in Canuckistan where I live, there is an enormous amount of tax on gasoline, which is supposed to pay for roads. I believe there are other funding sources as well, but the gas tax is substantial.

Bikes are a wonderful way to get around, and a transport network that better accommodates them is a good thing. I use roads on a bike, in a car, and on foot. I usually don't find myself in conflict with cars when I'm not in one, because common sense and courtesy mean I make room on the pavement for the vehicles that need it the most. Just like when I'm in my terribly slow truck, I stick to the slow lane, or in a pinch pull off the road to allow faster vehicles to get by. Simple stuff.

Cyclists are allowed to use the road. Great! Cyclists are given dedicated lanes in many, many areas around here. Even better! Yet I still regularly see spandex-clad mobs, 2-4 abreast, taking up the entire car lane as well as the bike lane. I also see people riding 2-abreast in the bike lane, so that they stick out a foot or more into the car lane. I even see individual cyclists riding in the car lane when there is a bike lane; I've heard this explained as 'sometimes there is a bit of gravel in the bike lane'...

Other highlights include those cyclists who for whatever reason are not making it easy to pass. Often they are going too fast to stay within the dedicated bike lane... You hang out behind them for a while, until you can safely get by. Then they catch up at a red light... and NOW they can suddenly figure out how to get over to the side, zip by all the cars, and establish themselves at the front of the line, forcing everyone to do the whole dance all over again. That assumes they even bother stopping for the red light. Presumably when they get home they congratulate themselves on how fast they made the trip...

Cyclists are allowed to use the sidewalk. Wonderful! Gets em off the road, and this was where I chose to ride when I last biked in a city. However, some seem to feel they can pick and choose which law to follow, and change their mind at any moment. Cars must stop at the red? I'm on the sidewalk, I have a walk light! Don't walk sign lit? It's alright, I'm a vehicle, light's green! This dodging back and forth is a headache for drivers, more responsible cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

I'm also a big fan of the cyclists where have brilliant wide-angle strobe lights on the front and possibly rear, and maybe the helmet, too, which are literally migraine inducing in my case, and way beyond any reasonable sort of 'safety' feature. Especially when on a bike/pedestrian path; seems to me that the biggest risk is that two cyclists will blind each other with their ridiculous lightshows, and crash head-on into something immobile.


I think laws 'turning cyclists into cars' are a bad thing, ditto for mandatory helmet laws. Yet, when driving, I could often occupy more space than needed, pass someone on the shoulder, run a red light, prevent faster vehicles from getting by, or blind everyone with my high-beams or aftermarket lights. These things would be foolish, inconsiderate, and mostly illegal... I don't do them, and I don't see drivers do any of them on any sort of regular basis. IMO, For cyclists, a lack of common sense is why we can't have nice things.
 
William Bronson
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Dillon Nichols wrote:

Bikes are a wonderful way to get around, and a transport network that better accommodates them is a good thing. I use roads on a bike, in a car, and on foot. I usually don't find myself in conflict with cars when I'm not in one, because common sense and courtesy mean I make room on the pavement for the vehicles that need it the most. Just like when I'm in my terribly slow truck, I stick to the slow lane, or in a pinch pull off the road to allow faster vehicles to get by. Simple stuff.



Well said.

Dillon Nichols wrote:
I think laws 'turning cyclists into cars' are a bad thing, ditto for mandatory helmet laws. Yet, when driving, I could often occupy more space than needed, pass someone on the shoulder, run a red light, prevent faster vehicles from getting by, or blind everyone with my high-beams or aftermarket lights. These things would be foolish, inconsiderate, and mostly illegal... I don't do them, and I don't see drivers do any of them on any sort of regular basis. IMO, For cyclists, a lack of common sense is why we can't have nice things.


The bike culture in my hilly town seems infused with counter culture tendencies. Once you make a break with mainstream culture on one issue ,it's easier to reject or set aside the rest of mainstream conventions.
I suspect that in places where cycling is mainstream,mainstream conventions of civil behavior are the norm, not the exception.


To put it another way, now that tattoos are mainstream, the artistic content of most tattoos are considerably more soccer mom friendly than when tattoos were for punk rockers, criminals,sailors and bikers.
 
Dale Hodgins
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You forgot hookers. When I was a kid, I remember seeing tattoos on bikers, hookers and on ex cons that worked for my dad.

This has permanently colored my view of the practice.
 
Tom Kozak
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tel jetson wrote:where I live, property taxes pay for the roads.


ditto, this is true in most places, and since most cyclists are also drivers (when necessary) we are paying for roads any way you cut it.

Dale.Hodgins wrote:About a third of my fellow cyclists do crazy dangerous shit every day


True, but how come when a driver does something stupid "their just a bad driver" (ie. individually accountable)but when a cyclist does something stupid all cyclists are are tared with the same brush?
 
tel jetson
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here's a look at who's subsidizing who on the road issue: whose roads?. that's a study from Canada, but the conclusions drawn can reasonably be extrapolated to the rest of North America. studies from the US are available, too.

here's a great podcast about the automobile lobby's takeover of public space: the modern moloch

the next time you see a bicyclist do something dangerous, consider why it is actually dangerous. hint: how many bicycle or pedestrian deaths occur without an automobile involved? is the situation really dangerous if there is no automobile?

here's a dangerous thing that every motorist does: drive. even when cars aren't being driven, they cause harm. they require enormous amounts of paved, impermeable surface (that comes at a hefty environmental cost). they require large sums of money to purchase and maintain, thereby requiring more economic activity. more economic activity, in the aggregate, means more environmental damage. the embodied energy of even the greenest automobile is ridiculous. private automobiles are just not a reasonable way to move people in most situations.

and the next time you're stuck behind a bike, go ahead and start counting to get a rough estimate of how much time is actually added to your drive. if it's less time than you typically spend filling up at a petrol station, well, draw your own conclusions about how valuable your time is.

I own a car and drive it regularly. and if I see a bicyclist on the road, my reaction is jealousy.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm using my bike to cruise around neighborhoods where I have had success finding tree work. My average speed is less than 10 mph. This allows me to stop, without finding parking.

I could not do this from the truck. Bikes afford 360 views, with no roof in the way. The primary way that mine saves gas, is by ensuring that my next job is near the one I'm on. Most of my work is done within 5 km of downtown Victoria. If the truck is full of firewood and branches, I drive it home, then drop off the wood along the way. If I'm on a job that produces little debris, the bike can take me home, while the truck spends the night at my customer's place.

My bike helps to minimize the distance travelled by a big truck.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Interesting report, Tel, and very local to me. Right on page three, it specifically references parts of the UVC which address most of my complaints. Legally, bicyclists are not supposed to do any of the traffic impeding things I was complaining about. In fact, they are supposed to ride about the same way that I drive my slow truck.

It had never occurred to me that I am legally obliged to pull over for faster vehicles if there are at least 5; I accommodate faster vehicles because it seems like the courteous, common sense thing to do.

The switching back and forth from pedestrian to vehicle laws, and the overly bright lights, I do not believe are addressed in the law... but I suspect this is simply because the option to legally ride on the sidewalk in my city, and the existence of cheap, extremely bright led lights, are both fairly recent developments, and the law is a very slow sort of monster. Given enough time someone will probably do something about this, and we will have one more set of poorly written laws addressing something which could have been a non-issue if common sense, was.


tel jetson wrote: the next time you see a bicyclist do something dangerous, consider why it is actually dangerous. hint: how many bicycle or pedestrian deaths occur without an automobile involved? is the situation really dangerous if there is no automobile?


Well, that's a bit of a false dichotomy, isn't it? If I want to walk down the centre of a highway in the dark in black clothes, this would be perfectly safe if there were no cars on the highway! Ditto for driving the wrong way on a one way street, or veering into the oncoming lane on a blind corner... No other cars, no problem! Of course, then you start to get into some rather major complications... in the absence of all the inconvenient other vehicles, the entire society that creates the roads, and the imperative for making said roads, would not exist in the current form...

Yes, I know a significant portion of funding for roads comes from the populace as a whole including cyclists, but that populace as a whole tends to be wearing clothes, eating food, riding bikes, and sleeping with hookers that all required that road network to reach the end consumer. Good or bad, without the motorized transport, the road network would not exist...


I consider cyclists actions to be dangerous if the other road users around them must suddenly react to unpredictable/unexpected/inconsiderate behavior in order to avoid an accident. This behavior may or may not be illegal; the law is often a fuzzy thing when you get right down to it. Oddly enough this is the same standard I apply to pedestrians and drivers.


As far as danger goes, as a pedestrian I've been winged twice by bicycles, on a mixed use path; in both cases there were no visibility or congestion issues, and I was on the correct edge of the 8 foot wide pathway. They were simply moving downhill too fast to fully control their course. Both times, they got a piece of me with their handlebars, managed to stay upright, and didn't stop to apologize. I can well imagine what it would feel like if they had been another 6 inches to the right. On the other hand I might still have been able to have a nice intimate discussion with them about their recent lapses in judgement...

I wouldn't be surprised if some smaller, frailer pedestrians avoid using the mixed use trails due to the perceived danger from speeding cyclists... Does this compare to the risk from cars? Not really, but it's still not cool.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Very thoroughly thought out Dillon.

I never give way to idiots who come barreling down the sidewalk. We don't often exchange words, I simply hold my ground and they wisely go around, to avoid a confrontation (elbows and knees).

I don't often use the Galloping Goose trail system. When I do, it's for a leisurely ride that usually includes wild harvesting. Some see this mixed use path as a great spot to race. Absent minded walkers are the real menace here. Groups will stop on the pavement for a chat. Abrupt turns into the bike lane are common. The walkers do many of the silly things that bikes do on the road. Single minded, abrupt action is taken, as though they are the only users of the path.
............
Back to the public roads. There are many cyclists who are involved in a speed contest with the clock, other cyclists or with the cars. I can usually tell by looking, which ones are likely to do something rash. The visible guy with a good bike, helmet and lights is seldom suicidal. The one with no shoes, helmet or shirt and his handle bars flipped up in a manner that impedes braking, must be given a wide berth.
 
Vera Stewart
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Confession. I am a bad cyclist. Sometimes, I don't signal my turns.

Why?

Because I'm not an experienced cyclist, and I find it difficult to signal in a certain situation that never came up when I grew up on the prairies, and is now something that I encounter every time I go out on my bicycle. Turning while accelerating due to gravity coming down a hill.
Having to brake, steer, check for other traffic, and stick my arm out is still unusual and complicated for me. The only way I'm going to improve at it, is if I keep practicing/riding into these situations. I feel guilty every time I can only manage a quick arm out flap back on to the handle bars kind of move. I know that my inexperience is endangering myself and others. So I try to be careful by only turning on my bicycle when there is very little or no other traffic, which is fortunately not uncommon in a town of 5000. If there is too much traffic, I'll pull over, get off, and walk my bike to the intersection and turn/cross on foot. At least I can pay more attention to the traffic that way, even if the traffic might have a harder time recognizing me if I'm just a pedestrian.

I've been hit by a car while out for a stroll a few blocks from home - I saw the car stopped at a corner, sitting there for a few seconds, and assumed it was all right for me to walk across the intersection in front of them. It wasn't. It seems a person walking right in front of you in broad daylight can be difficult to see. Fortunately as they were moving from a stop, I was only knocked down and got a few scrapes and bruises on the gravel.
I've seen pedestrians in this town just launch themselves across main street at "pedestrian crossings" like the little white lines on the road are magical protection, assuring that all traffic will screech to a halt, never mind that main street is also a major highway and used by slow-stopping vehicles like commercial trucks and RVs, and strangers not used to pedestrian launchings. Some of these pedestrians are on the elderly side, and one would think they'd know better by now. A woman was killed crossing main street this way a short time after I moved here last summer. It seems to have not made the least bit of an impression on the launching crew. Another young woman was killed in a pedestrian-vehicle accident on the highway just recently, although details are unclear. Legal rights or no legal rights to be on the public road, if you're smaller and more vulnerable, doesn't it just seem like common sense to wait for the bigger faster traffic's attention?
Me, I act like the painted x-ings don't exist and go to the three traffic lights in town. At least they have blinking magical lights instead of simple magic white lines.
Often I see pedestrians in the evening walking along the side of the highway, and they are hard to see. As a driver, it makes me nervous. I wish they'd not wear all black when deciding to go for a night-time jaunt beside traffic moving at 80km/hour. It wouldn't take very many moments of inattention to step into the traffic lane from the shoulder.

There is a hike/bike trail passing through town. It's great, and underused for much of it's length. But, it's also the sight of my only bicycling accident in B.C. so far. Dogs are supposed to be on-leash along the trail. 90% of the time, they are not. Sometimes, they decide to launch at bicyclists. So of course now theres a proposal to allow off-leash dogs, because obviously they're not a problem, and I just imagined having to swerve into a tree to avoid dear Fluffy.
I have a dog. I'd love to let her run around on her own down the path - but I'll never do it, because a) I don't want my dog squished and b)I don't want anyone to have an accident avoiding squishing my dog.
Don't get me started on all the dogs that are allowed to "walk themselves" in my neighborhood. Five minutes out of your day to stroll down the street so that your dog won't be hit by a car/won't terrify a child/won't run away and be eaten by coyotes/won't leave poop is too much to ask?

There are also deer that wander the streets, and racoons, and, well, possibly bigger beasts on occasion. Plus ATVs at midnight. Traffic in a town in the mountains can certainly be interesting. And a bit anarchic.


 
Dale Hodgins
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Sir Michael Jagger (Mick) recorded this 49 years ago. It's a spoken bit, at the end of the song "Something happened to me yesterday", the last song on the album, Between the Buttons. The song is purported to be about LSD. Perhaps some of my fellow cyclists use it. Inhibitions fall away, and rash decisions are made.

Mick --- "So, if you're out tonight, don't forget, if you're on your bike, wear white".☺

 
Cristo Balete
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Vera, I think there is something the auto industry is going to have to address. The first vertical support between the edge of the windshield and the door is called the A pillar. Cars in the last 5-8 years have increasingly wide A pillars that create a huge blindspot to the left and right of the windshield. In cars from the 1960s, A pillars were maybe 1 1/2 inches, to 2 inches wide with a "wing" window that kept the windshield farther forward. Now the wing windows are gone and the A pillars are 5 and 6 inches wide and the windshields wrap around, putting a huge vertical block where it never was before.

I had it happen to me in a crosswalk/ stop sign circumstance where I was in no hurry at all, glided slowly to the stop sign, stopped, there were no cars and no pedestrians (I thought). I was obviously looking for cars in all directions, and never saw the jogger coming from my left until she was right in front of the vehicle. Luckily I had lazily started to accelerate, and had to slam on the brakes to not hit her. She instantly got angry, I was shocked and surprised. I think her speed was exactly connected to my wide A pillar and slow speed of the vehicle blocking her from my view. I actually have to lean forward to look to my left as I drive, because now I know I cannot see what is coming from the left.

So all of us, even in cars, have to realize that the way cars are designed are now blocking our views to the left and right. All these reports of more and more pedestrians/bicyclists being hit by cars, I honestly think a high percentage aren't seen because of this design issue.

 
tel jetson
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Mick --- "So, if you're out tonight, don't forget, if you're on your bike, wear white".☺


posted in jest, I'm sure, but putting the onus on bicyclists and pedestrians to not be hit strikes me as pretty egregious victim blaming. while our culture seems to consider driving enormous and dangerous machines around willy nillily to be completely reasonable, I don't believe that point of view would stand up to objective scrutiny. automobiles can be extremely useful tools in the appropriate context, but I really hope that widely using them for private human transport is soon seen as a ridiculous behavior confined to history.

on the other hand, while I'm not in the habit of taking life tips from Mick Jagger, that's probably good advice. there's fair and right, and there's reality. while I think hordes of heedless bicyclists and pedestrians clogging city streets would immediately remove the need for defenses against automobiles, I recognize the unlikelihood of that scenario save for a few isolated events.

which reminds me: we went out to see a cheap movie the other night to get out of the sticky weather. walking to the theater, we saw a whole bunch of folks riding their bikes nekkid on the way to a group ride. something like 10,000 people ended up riding in this year's naked ride in Portland. I didn't participate, but I'm glad the naked bike ride exists.
 
Vera Stewart
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Cristo Balete wrote:Vera, I think there is something the auto industry is going to have to address. The first vertical support between the edge of the windshield and the door is called the A pillar. Cars in the last 5-8 years have increasingly wide A pillars that create a huge blindspot to the left and right of the windshield. In cars from the 1960s, A pillars were maybe 1 1/2 inches, to 2 inches wide with a "wing" window that kept the windshield farther forward. Now the wing windows are gone and the A pillars are 5 and 6 inches wide and the windshields wrap around, putting a huge vertical block where it never was before.

I had it happen to me in a crosswalk/ stop sign circumstance where I was in no hurry at all, glided slowly to the stop sign, stopped, there were no cars and no pedestrians (I thought). I was obviously looking for cars in all directions, and never saw the jogger coming from my left until she was right in front of the vehicle. Luckily I had lazily started to accelerate, and had to slam on the brakes to not hit her. She instantly got angry, I was shocked and surprised. I think her speed was exactly connected to my wide A pillar and slow speed of the vehicle blocking her from my view. I actually have to lean forward to look to my left as I drive, because now I know I cannot see what is coming from the left.

So all of us, even in cars, have to realize that the way cars are designed are now blocking our views to the left and right. All these reports of more and more pedestrians/bicyclists being hit by cars, I honestly think a high percentage aren't seen because of this design issue.



Thank-you for pointing this out. Both motor vehicles that I regularly drive/ride in are older, so I haven't seen this change. In the case of the car that hit me at the intersection, I don't think that was the problem, as it seemed to be an early 90's vintage, but it's definitely something that I will be considering and watching out for now. It does sound from your description on the new wide A pillars that there should be a move to limit and reduce the pillars! Just another reason to be careful.
(And the van I grew up traveling around the country in had wing windows. They were great, especially for "air conditioning" and funneling half-smooshed bugs into the back seat to land on the younger siblings. Good times.)
 
Dale Hodgins
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