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Bike Lane Backlash, Backlash'd
March 10, 2011 11:39 AM   Subscribe

"When the city introduces a bike lane on a given street, it removes dozens of parking places." John Cassidy, staff writer on economics at The New Yorker, blogs his feelings about bike lanes in New York City.

The New York Times responds, as does The Economist, The Washington Post, and, finally, Mr. Cassidy himself.

Via bsnyc.
posted by everichon (162 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
"When the city introduces a bike lane on a given street, it removes dozens of parking places."

Yes, but what are the drawbacks?
posted by mullingitover at 11:41 AM on March 10, 2011 [135 favorites]


YES LET'S KEEP PRETENDING THE HAPPY MOTORING SOCIETY WILL NEVER DIE A PAINFUL DEATH
posted by entropicamericana at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


He expects to find parking in New York City? He should probably just hop back in his time machine and head home to 1931.
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


John Cassidy is trotting out selfish, tired arguments that ignore the conclusions of solid research about street allocation and urban transportation. It's too bad he's getting this much attention.
posted by entropone at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


What?? Since when? When they put a bike lane on Kent Ave they moved all the parking to the MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING STREET! What is he talking about?>
posted by spicynuts at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently you can caption The New Yorker's blogs just like the comics: Christ, what an asshole.
posted by RogerB at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


It's inconvenient to park my XJ6 in Manhattan!? This must be the work of cyclists!!
posted by theodolite at 11:50 AM on March 10, 2011 [22 favorites]


Here in the LBC, when they add a bike lane, they take away a traffic lane and leave plenty of parking.
posted by notyou at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2011


They replaced a lane of traffic with bike lanes on Spruce and Pine in Center City, over bitter howls of protest - effect on automotive traffic appears to be zero - there's only one lane now, so much less chance for drivers to dick their compadres over.
posted by Mister_A at 11:52 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"When the city introduces a bike lane on a given street, it removes dozens of parking places."

That was the point.

Up next: when the city inspect restaurants, the end up closing all the really cheap places with uncertain sources of meat.
posted by GuyZero at 11:53 AM on March 10, 2011 [26 favorites]


"I'm all for progress and greening this place up, as long as it doesn't get in my way."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's ridiculous that open space on the most densely packed area on the continent is reserved for vehicular parking. Finding a street space in Manhattan is akin to winning the lottery, and for the times where finding such a space isn't possible, you need to shell out $25+ to park in a private garage.

Owning a car in New York City is crazy expensive, and a luxury reserved for the fantastically wealthy, or for out-of-towners. Worse still, NYC has one of (if not) the best urban public transportation systems on the planet. It makes no logical sense for 99% of people to drive a private vehicle in NYC. (The other 1% can take a cab or Zipcar!)

That all said, this chart pretty much kills the anti-bike-lane argument dead in the water. Regardless of the merits for/against the program, the overall impact is virtually microscopic.

I've found NYC's bike lane implementation to actually be pretty good. They're a great topic for the shock jocks to bitch about, but they seem to be working very effectively without a major negative impact against pedestrians or motorists.

People are complaining about an innovation that makes the city cleaner, quieter, and ultimately less congested (should the lanes prove to be effective at removing people from their cars). I say "Build more bike lanes, and bring on the congestion charge!"
posted by schmod at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


I view the Bloomberg bike-lane policy as a classic case of regulatory capture by a small faddist minority

Yes, because people have only been cycling for a 150 years or so. Some fad.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I love when drivers honk at me in the street – I ask them, "Is it reallythis one bike that's holding you up, or the thousands of cars?
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like how the libertarian/conservative view on this subject tends comes out in favor for subsidized private vehicle storage in the public right of way.
posted by floam at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2011 [92 favorites]


Don't bike riders also reduce the number of parking spaces needed? Since they're riding bikes and not driving cars?
posted by octothorpe at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


It is true, though, that powerful cycling interests control the government.
posted by Mister_A at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm not sure if there's a name for that condescending thing where you perfunctorily establish your chops with whoever you're attacking to give the appearance of having Wisdom and Perspective, but this guy does it really badly. I bought a stolen bike once! I even "pedaled it furiously"!
posted by theodolite at 11:58 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]



Owning a car in New York City is crazy expensive, and a luxury reserved for the fantastically wealthy, or for out-of-towners.


That's ludicrous. You are aware that NYC is more than just Manhattan, right? I own a car in Brooklyn perfectly cheaply. And have done so for more than 12 years.
posted by spicynuts at 11:58 AM on March 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


NYC is more than just Manhattan

You wish!
posted by Mister_A at 11:59 AM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


It almost reads like parody to me; I mean, The New Yorker isn't exactly The Nation in its geriatric disconnect, and yet Cassidy's piece reads like it was written by Monty Burns.
posted by everichon at 12:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know, theoretically I might have been inclined to maybe give this guy's arguments the good-faith time of day if he hadn't spent an entire paragraph name-dropping his cars, ending with "(my current heap) an old Jaguar XJ6."

WHAT.
AN.
ASSHOLE.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


one of my favorite pastimes is to drive from Brooklyn, where I live, into the city for dinner

A victim of the New Yorker Writer Subway Ban of '96.

I paid a guy on Second Avenue thirty dollars for a second-hand racing bike (probably stolen).

I have owned and driven six cars in the city, none of which could be classed as a fuel-economy vehicle

I should have been paying higher gas prices to cover the putative costs of cleaning up the carbon emissions I was creating,

I sometimes almost run into a delivery boy

Is this a rant or a confessional?
posted by mikepop at 12:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


What a whiny wanker, dressing up his entitled whinge with pretentious religious and revolutionary patina. Yes, yes, this is exactly like the reign of terror, you gibbering prat. Oh no, when I say something stupid, bicyclists call me stupid! They must be oiling the guillotines now!

Further, if he'd actually bothered to do the research, he'd know that it's a pretty accepted fact that car traffic expands to fill the space it's offered, and that decreasing lane space is generally an anti-congestion measure.

I will say one thing, though, I have come around to the idea that bike lanes should be replaced by sharrows, and that road-sharing should be rigorously enforced.
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you really want to take cars out of a city, put in more trains. And lay more fiber for high-speed networking. And put up more wireless antennas.

Bike lanes are like a pile of dead lawyers -- merely a good start.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


First he waxes nostalgic about his days of having to dodge cabs just to get around and then drops this?

Today, of course, bicycling is almost universally regarded as a serious, eco-friendly mode of transport, and cyclists want it easy.

Those damn selfish bike nazis, unwilling to risk becoming a hood ornament at any moment. The outrage!
posted by JaredSeth at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2011


*head in hands*

I get enough of these articles on the New York Times site every day.

Invariably the conversation turns to "crazy cyclists" who "all run red lights and go the wrong way down one-way streets and run people over." And infuriatingly, there are cyclists who come in and claim the right to do all of that because...they're not cars. Really, that's their argument in a nutshell.

I always end up saying that I'm a cyclist who wants proper traffic rules to be enforced-- for everyone, pedestrians too -- and that it's the handful of idiots that's the real problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cars rock. Bicycles, well. They exist too.
posted by eeeeeez at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's ludicrous. You are aware that NYC is more than just Manhattan, right? I own a car in Brooklyn perfectly cheaply. And have done so for more than 12 years.

Assume my entire comment is referring to Manhattan. A different set of issues surround Brooklyn and Queens, although many of the same issues do apply there. (If anything: Too many curb cuts, not enough public street parking, still too many cars total, and poor local public transport *Cough* *G Train* *Cough*).
posted by schmod at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you really want to take cars out of a city, put in more trains.

Little off topic... but it reminded me: Mad Men on Trains.
posted by floam at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Is it really this one bike that's holding you up, or the thousands of cars? Well in the case of reduced travel lanes, I'd say yes you, your bike, and your self inflated ego are what's holding me up. Get off your bike and into a car. Commie!
posted by Gungho at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]




God, I couldn't make myself finish that. Does it get less dumb by the end, or is the whole thing, "I know, bicycles are better, but I like my car damn it!"?
posted by serazin at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Missing the "monoclepolish" tag
posted by wcfields at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Broadswords in the pit, Gungho!
posted by Mister_A at 12:05 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


it is time to call a halt to Sadik-Khan and her faceless road swipers.

I think I saw those swipers in an old Twilight Zone episode.

I'm so distracted by the language in this article it is hard to focus on his complaints. Hither and thither?

From San Francisco to London, local governments are introducing bike lanes, bike parks, bike-rental schemes, and other policies designed to encourage two-wheel motion

Two-wheel motion??
posted by mikepop at 12:08 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are immensely useful and liberating contraptions.

Financing, insurance, maintenance, fuel, parking, congestion, the impatience and rage of other drivers, the ever present possibility of killing someone with my big hunk of metal. Yes, liberating.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry. What I meant was: I am delighted to read this article and it gives me pleasure to see my preconceived notions confirmed.
posted by eeeeeez at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


One day all the vehicle traffic in Mahattan will grind to a halt and never budge again.

A great day.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:12 PM on March 10, 2011


As a cyclist, I really don't like bike lanes very much. It would be much better if road designers would just keep mixed use in mind when they lay down the lanes and intersections and traffic controls and such.
posted by Chuckles at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I mean, The New Yorker isn't exactly The Nation in its geriatric disconnect, and yet Cassidy's piece reads like it was written by Monty Burns.

Nah, if it was written by Burns, it would have said something like, "It is absolutely inexcusable that these delinquents and beatniks on their velocipedes should block the way of my motor! Smithers- have Greg LeMond killed!"

This guy is just a dick.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


As a cyclist, I really don't like bike lanes very much.

I love 'em. I'm a fairly timid cyclist because I'm always afraid of the car that's not going to see me or who's going to be going too fast or what have you. The bike lanes at least give me a sense of security.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:19 PM on March 10, 2011


"Since 1989, when I nervously edged out of the Ford showroom on Eleventh Avenue and 57th Street, the proud leaser of a sporty Thunderbird coupe, I have owned and driven six cars in the city, none of which could be classed as a fuel-economy vehicle..."

I am imagining hundreds of thousands of people all over the city -- on the subway, at their desks, in their outer-borough hovels -- all simultaneously bursting into merry laughter.
posted by hermitosis at 12:22 PM on March 10, 2011


"I always end up saying that I'm a cyclist who wants proper traffic rules to be enforced-- for everyone, pedestrians too -- and that it's the handful of idiots that's the real problem."

"Handful" of idiots? I guess NY bicyclists must be very different from L.A, where actually obeying the rules of the road is a deep betrayal of your fixie cred.
posted by dvdgee at 12:24 PM on March 10, 2011


A simple solution: underground (or possible elevated) bike lanes.

IT'S WIN WIN PEOPLE!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The prospect park west bike lane problem has much more to do with cyclists ignoring traffic signals and not letting pedestrians cross the street than with less parking spots. Cyclists have to obey traffic laws just the same as cars do, I say start handing $300 tickets the dosh-bags that don't.
posted by Virtblue at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2011


Everyone's venting in here as if the NYT Mag blog's Adam Sternbergh hasn't already thoroughly eviscerated John Cassidy's bloated whinge for us. The FPP and Never used baby shoes linked to it; here it is again; and here's the gist in case you got too riled by Cassidy to click through before posting:
As an occasional cycling commuter, I’m always struck (no pun intended) by the extent to which arguments like Cassidy’s mirror the rhetorical tactics of the Tea Party. (No small accusation, I understand.) For example: The appeal to an imagined golden age of yesteryear (gamely dodging cabs; Thunderbird coupes); the specter of bureaucracy run amok (the scourge of the faceless road swipers); reliance on dismissive shorthand (Park Slope co-op members); and, most strikingly, warnings of a creeping, foreign-based anti-Americanism that’s plainly contrary to our core values (They Came on Bikes From Beijing).
Bonus points for the kicker: These facts are interesting to contemplate. Or, failing that, there’s always: Road-swipers! Thunderbirds!! COMMUNISTS!!!

Magnificently played, Mr. Sternbergh. Set and match.
posted by gompa at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like bike lanes when they're designed well, not when the city just puts up a "No Parking" sign and paints bike pictograms in the shoulder. Yay, now I have a bike lane that is never maintained and full of potholes and broken glass!

My favorite pastime on the bike is to pace someone in the city when they decide I'm blocking their way and they peel around me and accelerate hard into the next red light. Every light they peel out, and I'll meet them at the next red light, smile, and wave. Neighborly!
posted by backseatpilot at 12:30 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The devil you say! These impudent hooligans on their faddish contraptions should be horse-whipped, not coddled with lanes of their own!

Why, most of them have not met a stop signal they will heed; and going the wrong-way, to boot!

The outrage! What is to become of civilized motor-travel?

Bah!
posted by mmrtnt at 12:31 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just registered an account just to shake my fist at the guy.

Then I realized what just happened.

Guys I think we've been trolled.
posted by tempythethird at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


part of the thrill was avoiding cabs and other vehicles that would suddenly swing into your lane, apparently oblivious to your presence. When I got back to my apartment on East 12th Street, I was sometimes shaking.

LOL THAT SOUNDS AWESOME MAN
posted by Greg Nog at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, as someone whose bike was recently stolen, I kind of wish we could retroactively arrest him for that transparently stolen bike he admits to having purchased when he was younger.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Guys I think we've been trolled.

We're going to have to start calling it the intGRARnet.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:38 PM on March 10, 2011


John Cassidy needs a picture that deemphasizes his entitled British douchiness.
posted by stratastar at 12:38 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guys I think we've been trolled.

I really do, too. I mean, in his response, he mentions his "walnut glove compartment". The tenor of his two pieces feels like someone dared him to rile up the bike commuters.
posted by everichon at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2011


On the bright side, the New Yorker got the median reader age on one of its articles below 55 for the first time since the late 80s.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Until we have equal enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists, at least here in Chicago, I'm gonna stick with my time-tested categorization of bikes as "rats with wheels" and drive accordingly. GRAR away, MeFi, GRAR away!
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:44 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Positively dripping with condescension.

I likely agree with him about bike lanes (just take the whole car lane with your bike and make it your own bike lane anyway), but I could only get about halfway before vomiting.

Guys I think we've been trolled.

If the second half gets any worse, I have to agree.

As a cyclist, I really don't like bike lanes very much. It would be much better if road designers would just keep mixed use in mind when they lay down the lanes and intersections and traffic controls and such.

Yeah, this. Bike lanes don't make anyone safer.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on March 10, 2011


If you are going to complain about "scofflaw cyclists," you are not allowed to jaywalk. Ever.

Bicycles are not cars. Treat red lights as a 2-way stop signs, stop signs as a 5mph Yield, and use a little judgement, and you're perfectly safe.
posted by schmod at 12:44 PM on March 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Until we have equal enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists, at least here in Chicago, I'm gonna stick with my time-tested categorization of bikes as "rats with wheels" and drive accordingly. GRAR away, MeFi, GRAR away!

So you're the guy who hit my girlfriend, huh?
posted by theodolite at 12:45 PM on March 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah, this. Bike lanes don't make anyone safer.

Many of NYC's bike lanes are actually cycletracks, which are placed between the parking lane and the curb. This design is generally *much* safer than a standard bike lane.

(And, even then, bike lanes can benefit from good design too. Bike boxes, contraflow lanes, proper signage, and bicycle-specific traffic signals all offer significant safety improvements for cyclists)
posted by schmod at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2011


The bike lanes at least give me a sense of security.

Yeah, but a false sense of security, imo. I've been hit by cars twice in the bike lane and nearly hit many more times.

Just take the whole damn lane. That has never caused me any serious danger. It's the cars that don't see you that are the problem, and cars ignore everything in the bike lane.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2011


...it could open the way to a broader challenge to City Hall, which sometimes seems intent on turning New York into Amsterdam...

Wasn't old New York once New Amsterdam? Why did they change it?
posted by TedW at 12:48 PM on March 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wasn't old New York once New Amsterdam? Why did they change it?

I can't say. People just liked it better that way.
posted by schmod at 12:49 PM on March 10, 2011 [35 favorites]


Here's a much better article about the lawsuit:

How one New York bike lane could affect the future of cycling worldwide
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2011


got the median reader age on one of its articles below 55

I never thought the New Yorker would stoop to "there is no such thing as bad publicity."
posted by tempythethird at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2011


schmod, only tangentially related, but i read your comment and had the uncontrollable urge to shout out "minimum wage!"
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Until we have equal enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists

Tell you what, I'll get behind that if drivers start getting charged with murder when they negligently run over cyclists and pedestrians getting that really important text typed out.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can safely say that, knowing that Cassidy is the kind of guy who would rather take his car into Manhattan and spend half the night looking for a parking space rather than take the subway in (and, if he lives in Park Slope, he's never far from it) and maybe walk a few blocks, I would never accept a dinner invite from him even if it was the best restaurant in Manhattan and he was paying and I was guaranteed that Scarlett Johanson would sit in my lap the entire time.

we'd take turns feeding each other little bites
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Until we have equal enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists, at least here in Chicago, I'm gonna stick with my time-tested categorization of bikes as "rats with wheels" and drive accordingly. GRAR away, MeFi, GRAR away!"

Sure, we can treat them equally when the dangers and consequences are equal. I'm not saying that no bicyclist ever killed a pedestrian, but I'll be damned if I can think of a time when a bicyclist killed a motorist.

But hey, why be reasonable when you can be stupid?
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


The lawsuit, filed by a group with close ties to Iris Weinshall, the city’s transportation commissioner from 2000 to 2007 and the wife of Senator Charles E. Schumer, accuses the Transportation Department of misleading residents about the benefits of the lane, cherry-picking statistics on safety improvements and collaborating with bicycle activists to quash community opposition.

Goddamn influence-pedding bicycle activists! It's not fair that they have so much power!!

No offense, but people like Iris Weinshall and the ridiculous power that they command are the biggest reason I could never live in New York City. It's clear who runs the city, and it's certainly not "the people."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2011


Can't they just pave over this thing and build a parking garage there? Or, ooh, I know, build a vast underground network of tubes connecting more places to park! It's not like they're using it for anything.
posted by phunniemee at 1:03 PM on March 10, 2011


a time when a bicyclist killed a motorist

Worse than that, a person riding a bike inconvenienced and disrespected me!

This will not stand.
posted by anthill at 1:05 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love 'em. I'm a fairly timid cyclist because I'm always afraid of the car that's not going to see me or who's going to be going too fast or what have you. The bike lanes at least give me a sense of security.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:19 PM on March 10 [+] [!]


You will be road pizza before long. As a cyclist and a moped rider ( which I am sure are hated more than cyclists) you must understand that Detroit and Tokyo make cars with windshield glass that act as a cloaking device for cyclists. Even if they wanted to see you that can't. And when they do you are just another target.
posted by Gungho at 1:06 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


New York tried bike lanes once before. Those weren't boxed in like the new ones are, these new ones seem much nicer.

Oh, and owning cars in New York is reserved for the fabulously wealthy? That isn't even true in Manhattan. There is plenty of free parking on the street, you just spend time instead of money circling to find it.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:14 PM on March 10, 2011


Gungho, my way of putting that is:

1) They don't see you. (motorists just aren't used to including cyclists in the range of things that they have learned to have to pay attention to; that's one of the things that Critical Mass tries to change)

2) Even if they see you, they don't care. (probably-subconscious crude math: 1-2 tons of steel trumps <200 lb. of flesh and metal)

3) Even if they care, they might hit you anyway. (motorists can be bad judges of how fast you're traveling and think that they will make that turn in front of you before you run into them)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:14 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Bicycles are not cars. Treat red lights as a 2-way stop signs, stop signs as a 5mph Yield, and use a little judgement, and you're perfectly safe."

Yes, you should be entitled to invent your own traffic laws.
posted by tremspeed at 1:16 PM on March 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Like many New Yorkers who don’t live in Manhattan, one of my favorite pastimes is to drive from Brooklyn, where I live, into the city for dinner and find a parking space once the 7 A.M.-7 P.M. parking restrictions have lapsed.

God, that sentence pisses me off so fucking much.
posted by Tin Man at 1:25 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cyclists, when you can constantly and consistently obey every single rule and regulation pertaining to travel on public thorofares, you will be entitled to some modicum of legal status and protection; until then, your health and life are forfeit the moment you climb into the saddle.

Is that about the size of it? Because, you know, if I was to obey the letter of the law rather than exercise a little common sense here in Philadelphia, I would likely be struck by a car or truck. Do you really want me to sit in the middle of a travel lane on Broad Street, and then begin pedaling only once the light turns green, "forcing" the impatient motorists behind me to swerve into the left lane, accelerate, and then ram their machines back into my lane? Because if I'm a "vehicle," that is exactly what I should do; and other vehicles may not occupy the lane while I'm there.

Or, should I keep to the side of the road and, if the situation permits, roll slowly through reds if there's no oncoming traffic (and I'm not endangering/inconveniencing pedestrians), thereby avoiding the drastic and dangerous mismatch of acceleratory capabilities we face vs cars when starting up from a dead start?

tl;dr don't be a sanctimonious jerk.
posted by Mister_A at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


That is some tough titty, an' ain't no one can suck but a lion or a bear.
posted by Reverend John at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many of NYC's bike lanes are actually cycletracks, which are placed between the parking lane and the curb. This design is generally *much* safer than a standard bike lane.

schmod, where are these cycletrack bike lanes? I've lived in NYC (Brooklyn & Queens, that is) for 20 years now and haven't once seen a bike lane between the parking lane and the curb. I've only ever seen bike lanes between the traffic lane and the parking lane.
posted by Majorita at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2011


Cyclists, when you can constantly and consistently obey every single rule and regulation pertaining to travel on public thorofares, you will be entitled to some modicum of legal status and protection; until then, your health and life are forfeit the moment you climb into the saddle.

So when are car/truck drivers going to start obeying traffic laws? I doubt that I've ever been out for more than a five minute drive when I didn't see someone speeding, rolling through a stop sign or ignoring a "Don't Turn on Red" sign. Have you ever actually seen anyone drive a car 25 MPH in a 25 MPH zone?
posted by octothorpe at 1:33 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Summary of article: Hurf durf WAH CHANGE hurf durf I HATE hurf durf WANT TO KEEP MY PRIVILEGED CONVENIENCES hurf durf ME BABY ME ANGRY hurf durf, ahem.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:33 PM on March 10, 2011


where are these cycletrack bike lanes?

There's a hella sweet one -- the Kent Ave bike lane -- right near me in Greenpoint, going south, then connecting with the concrete-protected bike lane along Flushing Avenue. And I can't recall, but I believe there's one on 8th Avenue, also? On the left-hand side? I vaguely remember feeling safer when I was biking up from the Brooklyn Bridge to Hell's Kitchen recently.

I'm sure there are others, also, but those are the ones I remember offhand.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2011


should I keep to the side of the road and, if the situation permits, roll slowly through reds if there's no oncoming traffic (and I'm not endangering/inconveniencing pedestrians), thereby avoiding the drastic and dangerous mismatch of acceleratory capabilities we face vs cars when starting up from a dead start?

No, you shouldn't do this. When cyclists all think they can invent their own good system for operating in traffic you get what we have today. When cyclists obey signals motorists will learn what to expect when a cyclist is on the road with them.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:36 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah yes; here's a Google Street View of the 8th Avenue one. Bike lane going north, small section to prevent doorings, parking, then the car lanes.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:38 PM on March 10, 2011


Space Coyote, it's a matter of survival. You do understand that it's largely the terrible, dangerous, scofflaw behavior of motorists that encourage cyclists to take some of these liberties, don't you? Did you not get that part of it? I'm not saying that every time a cyclist does something dumb, it's because of motorists; but I am saying that the road is a hostile place for cyclists and we have to do what we can to protect ourselves.

Do you really think it's a great idea in 21st century America for cyclists to occupy an entire traffic lane? Do you really think that's "safer"?
posted by Mister_A at 1:40 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, with all due respect, space coyote - do you honestly think CYCLISTS are predominately responsible for the state of the American roadways and the behavior of its users? Really?
posted by Mister_A at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'know, folks, I've rolled stop signs and run red lights when it was safe to do so — in a car. I have no problem using the same judgment on a bike.

And the one time my car was hit by a bike (I stopped at the four way, he didn't), it didn't even dent my side panel.

Driving around bikers just isn't all that hard, really, even when they're a bit loose with traffic laws. If you can't handle that, you probably just suck at driving.
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you really think it's a great idea in 21st century America for cyclists to occupy an entire traffic lane? Do you really think that's "safer"?


Yes it is safer, because you are where motorists eyes are and you aren't forcing people to guess what random action you are going to take to sneak through traffic at any given point.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:45 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, should I keep to the side of the road and, if the situation permits, roll slowly through reds if there's no oncoming traffic (and I'm not endangering/inconveniencing pedestrians), thereby avoiding the drastic and dangerous mismatch of acceleratory capabilities we face vs cars when starting up from a dead start?

To each his own, but I respectfully disagree. I routinely out-accelerate cars from a standstill. I'm not claiming I'm going to win in a drag race or anything, just that my typical acceleration matches the typical acceleration I observe in the cars around me from a light (of course, my top speed is much lower, but I can at least accelerate through the intersection). At least around here, everyone doesn't just peel out at every green. Maybe your area is different, though.

I don't think different laws for bikes would be a good thing, all things considered. I kinda wouldn't mind special laws from a self-serving standpoint, but A) I think it's more confusing to treat the two types of vehicles differently, and B) I don't believe in changing the laws just to suit my convenience, just like I don't support making life harder on bicycles just to suit the drivers' convenience.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:46 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


A) I think it's more confusing to treat the two types of vehicles differently,

We have different rules for motorcycles as opposed to cars, not to mention different responsibilities for bus and truck drivers. It's not confusing if you're paying attention. Which, unfortunately, many car drivers are not.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not promoting special laws for cyclists, but I am tired of this attitude that any friction between bikes and cars is solely due to irresponsible cyclists running red lights. That's a ridiculous assertion that comes up, like clockwork, in every cycling thread on the blue, and I'm tired of it, and I'm going to call it out when it comes up.

Space Coyote: You have never ridden in Philadelphia, have you? People will not sit there patiently waiting for you to accelerate up to the 13-15 MPH that you're likely to hit between lights. The same is true of NYC and other cities. In these cases, you can be "right" or you can be alive.
posted by Mister_A at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


From San Francisco to London, local governments are introducing bike lanes, bike parks, bike-rental schemes, and other policies designed to encourage two-wheel motion

Two-wheel motion??


Four wheels good, two wheels bad!
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:50 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Park Slope, eh? At least the city isn't installing hip-hop venues along Propect Park West.
posted by yeti at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cyclists, when you can constantly and consistently obey every single rule and regulation pertaining to travel on public thorofares, you will be entitled to some modicum of legal status and protection; until then, your health and life are forfeit the moment you climb into the saddle.
[...]
tl;dr don't be a sanctimonious jerk.


this is great, you should write comedy.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 1:56 PM on March 10, 2011


Thanks Greg Nog. I grew up riding a bike in relatively-rural PA, on quiet roads where the biggest thing we had to look out for was deer. I'm just plain scared to ride a bike on NYC streets, but that type of lane might convince me to risk it.
posted by Majorita at 1:57 PM on March 10, 2011


you should write comedy.

Capital idea!
posted by Mister_A at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2011


excuse me for being stubbornly patriotic I am also a car-owner and an (ex-) Newyorker, and I love cars and traffic and individual choices.
But once on my way to work I saw a top government official in Copenhagen, using his wife's bike to get faster from parliament to the royal palace. No police, no security, just a portly man on an old lady's bike. And that made me feel happy for everyone.
posted by mumimor at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the generic motorist who insists on cyclists obeying all traffic laws at all times before being deserving of any respect from the motorist cult. Because, you know, I am completely certain that they drive a sedate 1 MPH under the speed limit at all times, stop behind the stop sign/white line at all signs/lights, don't make rolling stops, honk when entering the roadway from an alley, pull over for emergency vehicles, and never ever never squeeze that blood-red orange/yellow light.

Because, while I drive most of the time now, I am that driver and let's just say I am consistently harassed, honked at, and raged against more or less the same way I am while on my bicycle. Motes, eyes, glass houses, and all that.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:16 PM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


America has the best set of bicycle paths in the world!

The only problem is they keep letting cars drive on them.
posted by fings at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Majorita: Another extremely useful one is the system leading to the Brooklyn Bridge on Tillary Street (and I believe there's a Sands St equivalent for the Manhattan Bridge now, but I haven't been to Brooklyn in a little while). They are wonderful, wonderful lanes.
posted by zvs at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please NYC, be the first to set up a network of these. Personal cycling monorail fantasy.
posted by goodsignal at 2:33 PM on March 10, 2011


When cyclists all think they can invent their own good system for operating in traffic you get what we have today. When cyclists obey signals motorists will learn what to expect when a cyclist is on the road with them.

Actually, there are studies that show drivers are much more careful when sharing the road with unpredictable pedestrians and cyclists.

"One piece of actual news is hidden among all the unpleasant gossip about Janette Sadik-Kahn, the city's transportation commissioner: 'fewer people have been killed in traffic accidents on New York's streets than at any time in the past century, according to city records.' Shouldn't that have been the headline?"

Eve Jochnowitz
New York, March 6, 2011
posted by mrgrimm at 2:35 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the generic motorist who insists on cyclists obeying all traffic laws at all times

I'm a pedestrian/public transportation only person who is FAR more afraid of cyclists than I am cars. Side-swiped by one just yesterday on the sidewalk. And have known too many people who have been hit (2 to the hospital) after being hit by aggressive cyclists disobeying traffic rules and pedestrian walk signals. A car is certainly more deadly to both pedestrians and cyclists, but living in a city, on the whole, I find cyclists have less regard for obeying some kind of general, predictable flow of things, lawful or not. You guys freak me out.
posted by raztaj at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm a pedestrian/public transportation only person who is FAR more afraid of cyclists than I am cars.

You certainly have the right (as does the writer) to be ridiculously irrational, but don't be surprised when few people agree with you. (Granted, old stats, but IANATR.)

"Official City statistics on traffic accidents provide telling information about risks to cyclists and risks from cyclists. For the full year 1992, there were 298 recorded collisions in New York City between cyclists and pedestrians. Two of these resulted in fatal injuries to the pedestrian. The frequency of collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles was an order of magnitude higher — 3,520 accidents and 17 fatalities (see Table 17).

In the same year, 1992, there were 13,599 collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles in New York City. 294 pedestrians were killed in these accidents, including approximately 15 fatalities on sidewalks and other “off-road” areas. In other words, pedestrians were almost 50 times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle than by a bicycle, and more than a hundred times more likely to be killed."

- Transportation Alternatives
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on March 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Fuck bike lines, I say bicycles get the whole road.
posted by fuq at 2:51 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


You certainly have the right (as does the writer) to be ridiculously irrational

I would be interesting in seeing more recent stats and details about how those collisions occurred. Adjusted for increased popularity in cycling two decades later? Ratio of cars/pedestrians vs. cyclists/pedestrians? Drunk pedestrians wandering into traffic vs. collisions with people at least somewhat conscientious of where they're going? In any case, it's not "ridiculously irrational" to fear being hit by bikes more. One can generally predict cars. There's a greater ebb and flow to them. Cyclists, not so much. And I get that there are some asshole pedestrians too, but we're unlikely to injure/kill someone just by walking, and move a whooole lot slower.
posted by raztaj at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


* "interested in seeing" not interesting in seeing
posted by raztaj at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2011


It takes a special, magical sort of stupid for someone who likes or wants to drive a car to choose to live or work in Manhattan. For that same person to then complain about bikes is, I think, sort of a bonus level of idiocy or something.

But what tops it all off is that he makes a point to mention that he drives one of the worst, most unreliable, heap of garbage cars ever to be driven by someone with suede elbows on their tweed jacket.
posted by The World Famous at 3:13 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


One can generally predict cars. There's a greater ebb and flow to them. Cyclists, not so much.

No, you just trying to predict both as if they were cars, when only the cars are acting like cars. Cyclists are reacting - in predictable ways - to a host of dangers that are invisible to you because you're not experienced in recognizing them, so to you they appear unpredictable, but even so, there are some tricks you can employ. Here's one example of how both are predictable but you use appropriate rules for each.

Cars: You can predict the path a car will take, and if you stay out of that path, you will usually be ok.

Bikes: You can predict the path a bike will not take, and if you stay on that path, you will usually be ok.

For an extreme example, if you see a bike coming, and it looks like it might hit you so you panic and try to jump out of the way, you have greatly increased the danger to yourself by moving suddenly and unpredictably off the path that was the safest one for you to be on.

You might think that bikes are doing the same thing to cars by being unpredictable, but again, they're not - that motion that appears unpredictable to you is actually keeping the bikes out from under the wheels of cars, while the unpredictable panic-jump is putting the pedestrian into the wheels.

In any case, it's not "ridiculously irrational" to fear being hit by bikes more.

Yes, it is. It's not uncommon, it's not unhuman, it's not deviant, but it is an absolute textbook example of being irrational.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:16 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


And have known too many people who have been hit (2 to the hospital) after being hit by aggressive cyclists disobeying traffic rules and pedestrian walk signals.

That's like saying wearing a seatbelt is dangerous because you know lots of people who were in car accidents and got bad bruises from their seatbelts, but you don't know anyone who was in a car accident without a seatbelt. Classic survivorship bias. The reason you don't know people who got hit by aggressive drivers is because they're dead.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:24 PM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ok, not ridiculously irrational, but still irrational.

Classic survivorship bias. The reason you don't know people who got hit by aggressive drivers is because they're dead.

Yeah, this is why everyone thinks they can predict cars, i.e. they've never had to deal with an unpredictable one.

It's hard to imagine ending up on a windshield out of the blue just walking down the sidewalk or crossing an intersection, but it happens all the time.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:45 PM on March 10, 2011


Well, to be fair, cars don't usually drive on sidewalks. I think that's what raztaj might have been getting at. When I lived in Portland and walked to and from the Max every day, I got sideswiped by bikes on the sidewalk ALL THE TIME, like once a week at least. I had to walk along a busy street with no bike lane and no good side street for bikes to use (NE 60th near Burnside), and there were always at least two or three bicyclists riding on the sidewalk at any given time. And hardly any of them ever had the decency to say "on your right" or "on your left" or anything, they just sped by, leaving about 1 mm of space between us. Sidewalks are the last refuge of pedestrians, so being overtaken by fast-moving metal contraptions in the last place you thought you might be able to walk in peace in the city is not an experience many pedestrians savor.

I'm certain that the risk of being killed or injured by a car is greater, but being buzzed by a fast-moving bike when I thought I was generally safe was really jarring and obnoxious. Always made me think of Dave Foley on Kids in the Hall, yelling "SideWALK, ya asshole!" *
* not advocating bicycle violence
posted by dialetheia at 4:03 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't remember where I originally read it, but this has served me well (knock on wood):

1) Ride your bike as if you were invisible* or 2) Ride your bike as if everyone driving cars was out to get you**

I'm lucky to live in a town where there are a lot of cyclists, so the drivers around here are more or less used to having two-wheelers around. Doesn't make it cycling utopia by any means -- some awful accidents have happened in the vicinity -- but it helps.

Which brings up the point: education and information will help more than acting like an asshole, no matter what "side" you're on.

* Because you are to a lot of drivers.
** Because a lot of them might as well be.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:05 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Quoting:
So, by all means, let us have some bike lanes on heavily used and clearly defined routes to and from the city—and on popular biking routes within the city and the boroughs
.

Ok, by all means let us have some streets on heavily used car routes and scrap the rest. It will save taxpayers dozen of millions in maintenance costs (while bike lanes, probably, cost zilch in maintenance when compared to car lanes).
posted by elpapacito at 4:39 PM on March 10, 2011


So NYC is being sued by Park Slope residents over loss of 6 parking spots due to the Prospect Park West bicycle lane. I wonder how many parking spots were lost building the Cross Bronx Expressway?
posted by anthill at 4:47 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bike+pedestrian: Ouch! Damn you, grumble grumble
Bike+car: Likelihood of grave injury or death

I keep my bike on the damn sidewalk, myself. Mom told me not to ride in the road anyway.
posted by scrowdid at 4:58 PM on March 10, 2011


The only reason no one complains about cars driving on the sidewalk is because they can't fit on it.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:01 PM on March 10, 2011


Bike+pedestrian: Ouch! Damn you, grumble grumble

I weight 200 lbs and ride at about 20 mph. If I hit you while I was on my bike you would do more than grumble.

I keep my bike on the damn sidewalk, myself. Mom told me not to ride in the road anyway.

Seriously, don't be an idiot. Almost ever cyclist who gets in an accident did so because they were breaking a simple rule - riding on the wrong site of the street, running a stop sign/light or riding on the sidewalk. Besides, you can barely ride fast enough to stay upright on the sidewalk.
posted by GuyZero at 5:07 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mom told me not to ride in the road anyway.

I hate to break it to you, but your mom may be trying to kill you. It has been repeatedly found that a bicyclist is in greater danger on the sidewalk than in the road. See table 5 in this study and tables 4 and 5 in this one.
posted by dersins at 5:07 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was going to stay away from this thread but...

-harlequin-, I'm glad that you live in a land where cyclists only ever break rules to protect themselves, but that just hasn't been my experience. For example: I almost never see cars driving on the wrong side of the street, for instance, and I've nearly been hit by cyclists riding against traffic more than once. The vast majority of cars use headlights at night; a large percentage of cyclists in my current neighborhood do not, which is pretty frightening for me as a motorist when I'm traveling down the road at a (legal) 35 mph and suddenly a single red reflector materializes out of the blackness.

Not all motorists' complaints can be explained away as cyclists just trying to defend themselves. And it's unfair for safe cyclists like you and me to be lumped in with these people, but just acting like cyclists are never the problem seems wrongheaded to me.
posted by mskyle at 5:09 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Classic survivorship bias. The reason you don't know people who got hit by aggressive drivers is because they're dead.

That doesn't make any sense. I know people who got hit by aggressive drivers and who are now dead. I knew them before they were dead. The fact that someone is dead does not m mean that nobody ever knew them.
posted by The World Famous at 5:13 PM on March 10, 2011


The fact that someone is dead does not m mean that nobody ever knew them.

It means that far fewer people ever know them, because they have 50 fewer years (or whatever) in which to meet people. This should be obvious.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:20 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


It means that far fewer people ever know them, because they have 50 fewer years (or whatever) in which to meet people. This should be obvious.

Technically true, but not really a response to "I don't know anyone who was hit by an aggressive driver." I don't know anyone who was killed in a naked tandem hot air balloon bungee jumping accident, and it's not because they're dead. But I do know plenty of people who are dead, in spite of their having died.
posted by The World Famous at 5:23 PM on March 10, 2011


mskyle: Read more carefully. The subject was not rule-breaking, and I didn't mention it.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:23 PM on March 10, 2011


mskyle: My response sounds a bit nastier than I intended it to. I'm not hostile to your view, I just see it as an inadvertent strawman.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:27 PM on March 10, 2011


It has been repeatedly found that a bicyclist is in greater danger on the sidewalk than in the road. See table 5 in this study and tables 4 and 5 in this one.

That's a lot of good data, but it doesn't seem to take into account the severity of the crashes. What you're able to say from this is that crashes more frequently occur when riding on the sidewalk. But if the crashes on the sidewalk were to, say, involve 90% scrapes and bruises and 10% broken bones, while the crashes in the road were 90% broken bones and 10% fatalities, I'd say the greater danger lies in the road even if the actual crash events are more rare.
posted by scrowdid at 5:36 PM on March 10, 2011


TWF: It's not just technically true, it's also a significant and recurring reason why conclusions of human perception often differ so radically from conclusions of evidence-based study.

It may or may not be in play in this instance, it but that doesn't matter - a large inaccuracy in risk perception has been identified, and I think it's fair enough to speculate that this known "usual suspect" of human perceptual error could be partly or entirely behind it.

It could also be a simple statistical fluke. That explanation absolves us of blame, but absolving us of blame also absolves us of need for vigilance.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:38 PM on March 10, 2011


(In fact, the second link actually *does* study two classes of crashes, "minor" and "serious", which made me hopeful that their sidewalk conclusions would take them into account. Unless I missed it, they did not. Why would they leave that data out of a how-safe-is-the-sidewalk calculation?)
posted by scrowdid at 5:39 PM on March 10, 2011


scrowdid: My understanding is that a lot, perhaps most "sidewalk" accidents occur on the road - people riding on the sidewalk also riding across the side-streets, and get hit by cars not expecting anything faster than peds to appear on the road off the sidewalk.

That might support or oppose the Mom Says position - the accidents can involve road-speed collisions and thus be very dangerous, OTOH technically they're not taking place on the sidewalk, and not all sidewalk riders ride across sidestreets, so there is a semantic loophole.

Mom needs to be more specific about how you cross the street :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:46 PM on March 10, 2011


How you cross the street :-)
posted by phoque at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2011


There are plenty of people who are underserved by mass transit in New York, and who need to drive to get around. There are also lots of people who would gladly bike for transportation purposes, if provided with a safe way of doing so. (Not to mention people who bike as part of their job, i.e., the restaurant delivery people who probably make up a good number of bikes on the road at any given time.)

Then there's the Prospect Park West bike lane, which is being argued over by car owners who do have ready access to mass transit, and want to derail bike lane planning around the city for their own convenience. Do we need that lane in particular? Not really. Does that mean bike lanes are the enemy and Ms. Sadik-Khan is some kind of, uh, Jacobin radical who needs to be taken down at all costs? Not at all.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:23 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


-And yeah, I'll gladly give up the ability to blow through red lights on my bike, in exchange for not having to worry as much about getting doored, or cut off, or run over by a bus that's pulling in and out of the right lane.

-They should really just move the thing over to 6th Avenue, so the Gold Coast shitheads can shut up, and so it doesn't dead-end into Grand Army Plaza, making it more suitable as a through route.

posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:24 PM on March 10, 2011


North America (that is to say: the U.S. and most of Canada) has spent the last sixty years building cities and communities around the car, and it might well take another sixty years to fix the damage*. I say this as a contractor who depends on a car for work: if I didn't have to drive a car, I wouldn't. But I do live in a mid-town district near buses and subway lines, and I use them wherever possible. Most people don't have that option. Hell, many people don't have sidewalks in their communities, much less bike lanes.

Rather than spending time arguing over whether car drivers are more dangerous or disrespectful than cyclists, or whether cyclists are more dangerous or disrespectful than pedestrians, it would be more productive to start lobbying city planners to start implementing better design practices into urban and suburban design. Mandatory sidewalks. Bicycle lanes integrated with roadways. Public transportation. Denser development. Whole generations have grown up with little to no concept of anything but the car-based mode of transportation, and while the car will be the major mode for some time to come, it is crucial to start changing mindsets now. Not by declaring some bogus "war on cars", but by emphasising the strengths of an integrated approach to living where the car isn't so central to peoples' lives. Civil, adult discourse will do us all a lot better than more GRAR-shouting and blame-gaming.


* this is ignoring the real possibility that there might not be enough oil left to allow for this sixty-year retrofit to happen, but that's a whole 'nother thread in itself.

posted by spoobnooble at 8:09 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]



Cyclists, when you can constantly and consistently obey every single rule and regulation pertaining to travel on public thorofares, you will be entitled to some modicum of legal status and protection; until then, your health and life are forfeit the moment you climb into the saddle.

So when are car/truck drivers going to start obeying traffic laws? I doubt that I've ever been out for more than a five minute drive when I didn't see someone speeding, rolling through a stop sign or ignoring a "Don't Turn on Red" sign. Have you ever actually seen anyone drive a car 25 MPH in a 25 MPH zone?


Shit, forget reading the fucking article, you didn't even read the whole fucking comment.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 8:24 PM on March 10, 2011


"Bicycles are not cars. Treat red lights as a 2-way stop signs, stop signs as a 5mph Yield, and use a little judgement, and you're perfectly safe."

Yes, you should be entitled to invent your own traffic laws.


This is the law in Boise, and it makes a lot of sense.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:51 PM on March 10, 2011


Almost ever cyclist who gets in an accident did so because they were breaking a simple rule

Remarkably untrue:

Amine Britel
Joshua Paul Bennie
Alex Hayes
Graham Denton
Patrick O'Connor
20 more...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cassidy's piece reads like it was written by Monty Burns.

Did you see his mugshot? This guy IS Monty Burns.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:08 PM on March 10, 2011


"Bicycles are not cars. Treat red lights as a 2-way stop signs, stop signs as a 5mph Yield, and use a little judgement, and you're perfectly safe."

Yes, you should be entitled to invent your own traffic laws.


It's a problem of design. Creating urban areas with car traffic as the one and only priority creates a situation that is not good for drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians. That is because spaces should be designed for the needs of people (including drivers), not moving hunks of steel as quickly as possible. Even small changes that make traffic more human-oriented can have major benefits for everyone that uses the space regardless of how they get around.
posted by bradbane at 11:09 PM on March 10, 2011


Celsius1414: Can't remember where I originally read it... Ride your bike as if everyone driving cars was out to get you

Could be from Neal Stephenson's Zodiac:
...my guerrilla route, the one I follow when I assume that everyone in a car is out to get me. My nighttime attitude is, anyone can run you down and get away with it. Why give some drunk the chance to plaster me against a car? That's why I don't even own a bike light, or one of those godawful reflective suits. Because if you've put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe -- to see you, and to give a fuck -- you've already blown it.
Also from the same:
"It's dangerous, man. You're invisible."

"I just assume I'm not invisible. I assume I'm wearing fluorescent clothes, and there's a million-dollar bounty going to the first driver who manages to hit me. And I ride on that assumption."
posted by JiBB at 12:52 AM on March 11, 2011


As a cyclist, I really don't like bike lanes very much. It would be much better if road designers would just keep mixed use in mind when they lay down the lanes and intersections and traffic controls and such.

Yeah, this. Bike lanes don't make anyone safer.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on March 10 [+] [!]


I always wonder about this... I mean, I agree that you're not actually safer while cycling in a cycle lane, but then if it makes people feel safer, then more people will cycle on the roads, which makes cycling safer for everyone. So maybe they do make cycling safer, but in a weird indirect way.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:11 AM on March 11, 2011


"Motorists are all jerks who want to run down cyclists!"

GRAR!!

"Cyclists all jump red lights and break other traffic laws!"

GRAR!!

"Some motorists are jerks, but most are OK and are respectful of cyclists, and some cyclists break laws and jump red lights, but most ride safely and legally!"

GR.... oh. OK I guess that makes sense. Yeah.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:03 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Probably already mentioned but damn that's a lot of commas.
posted by dozo at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2011


I always wonder about this... I mean, I agree that you're not actually safer while cycling in a cycle lane, but then if it makes people feel safer, then more people will cycle on the roads, which makes cycling safer for everyone. So maybe they do make cycling safer, but in a weird indirect way.

I actually think the opposite. I think bike lanes end up discouraging bicyclists because they provide an illusion of security with few benefits. When they use them, their expectations are almost always dashed by a semi truck or an intersection, etc. then say fuck it, it's still too dangerous. And they might be right.

more people will cycle on the roads, which makes cycling safer for everyone

And that's a big leap. There are a lot of reasons to encourage people to bicycle instead of drive, but I don't think my safety is anywhere on the list. As long as there are dangerous motorists, bicycling will be unsafe. Perhaps I'm prejudiced, but it doesn't seem like the dangerous drivers are the ones likely to convert to bicycling.

(while bike lanes, probably, cost zilch in maintenance when compared to car lanes)

Basically true, the but the sad, ironic part is that bicycle lanes are often the worst parts of the road because that's where the heavy trucks park to unload for stores, creating potholes.

One can generally predict cars. There's a greater ebb and flow to them. Cyclists, not so much.

Taxis, tourists, people looking for parking, Grandpa (mine), people looking for restaurants ... taxis.

In the city, cars are far from predictable. "Hey, look--parking spot!"

I am biased, but I personally think one of the biggest dangers to bicyclists are car doors. Please, please be careful when opening your car door on a busy city street! (Even if your door is curbside. Yes you in the taxi in the middle of the street.)

non grar: the valuable Ten Ways to Not Get Hit While Bicycling.

I've had a few close calls, but I've never ever experienced any sort of danger by taking a whole lane. A few beeps (very few, actually), but no danger. That's why I don't like bike lanes. They discourage inexperienced bicyclists from properly moving with traffic.

I have a dream of hipsters on double-decker bikes taking all four lanes of Folsom St. on an 8am commute. No critical mass, just hundreds and hundreds of bicyclists, sharing the road with slow(er than now), lightweight, solar-powered cars. Oh, to dream of hipsters ... commuting to work.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2011


Would people stop this whole "oh bike lanes aren't REALLY safer" idea? It's not true.

Moreover, as someone who commutes via bike in what is currently rated the country's best biking city, and who's rode in a bunch of different places, including NYC, here's my opinion on bike lanes:
-they do increase biker safety. Sorry.
-they acclimate drivers to seeing bikes. This is super super important.
-they make the ride a lot less swervy, as they get less torn up, due to fewer cars driving over them
-they make it less scary and intimidating for people who aren't hardcore bikers. If you care about the huge gender gap in cycling, you should care about this. (For reference, from the big bike walk benchmarking study in 2010, bike commuters=77/23 % male/female, gets worse in NYC)
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you believe bike lanes are unnecessary or even bad, you're probably a male aged 20-40 years. Who bikes already. And can keep up with traffic.

Separated bike infrastructure isn't for you. It's to help encourage 50-year olds that want to ride to the store for groceries, or mothers that would trailer their children to school, except it feels too dangerous.
posted by anthill at 8:29 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I weight 200 lbs and ride at about 20 mph. If I hit you while I was on my bike you would do more than grumble.


I weigh more like 300 lbs have been known to indicate in a forceful and direct manner to cyclists riding on the sidewalk where the road actually is. If you hit me while you were on your bike, you would not be riding your bike on the sidewalk again for a long time, one way or another.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:50 AM on March 11, 2011


Well all I was saying is that's the reason I don't ride on the sidewalk. Because I don't ride on the sidewalk.
posted by GuyZero at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2011


"I weigh more like 300 lbs have been known to indicate in a forceful and direct manner to cyclists riding on the sidewalk where the road actually is. If you hit me while you were on your bike, you would not be riding your bike on the sidewalk again for a long time, one way or another."

Please don't assault people
posted by Blasdelb at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2011


I would eat my hat if Mr. Tough Guy actually did anything more than mutter under his breath or glare at the cyclist's back.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:41 AM on March 11, 2011


As goes whether bike lanes are actually safer, I think it's worth mentioning that the lane in question isn't just a painted line in the street. It's a full lane, situated between the curb, and a lane of parking. Photo here.

I think that's a lot more than the illusion of safety. You're more or less freed from dealing with car traffic, and the full lane is drawn so that drivers still have space to open their car doors. Pretty amazing.

But therein lies what the controversy is about: Drivers lost a full lane (one of three), and, iirc, six parking spaces. That is the massive Jacobin inconvenience, for which heads must roll.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2011




Would people stop this whole "oh bike lanes aren't REALLY safer" idea? It's not true.

It's not universally true. For example, this bike lane in my city has taken the skin (and teeth) from many friends. You've got active trolley tracks in the lane, a concrete/asphalt border running alongside them, parking to the right, commercial storefronts with frequent comings and goings, and hidden driveways to gas stations, garages, etc. When someone opens a door into the bike lane (and there are few things that make your heart jump like that), a cyclist can try to stop or swerve into traffic and attempt to negotiate the dreaded trolley track. And drivers themselves don't have many options when this happens in front of them, as there may be oncoming traffic. These bike lanes, as constructed, encourage cyclists to ride dangerously, because it is not possible to ride safely on this stretch of road.

I also believe that bike lanes enforce the seemingly common believe among drivers that cyclists have no right to the lane. Maybe not such a big deal on a modern road that was designed with both cars and bicycles in mind, but when you have bike lanes tacked onto existing roads as afterthoughts, the traffic lane can be quite useful in avoiding obstacles and riding safely.
posted by cl at 1:05 PM on March 11, 2011


It's not universally true. For example, this bike lane in my city has taken the skin (and teeth) from many friends.

So I would generally agree that that's a pretty tough street for cyclists.

But there's an easy way to make it safe. Just don't ride faster than 20 kph.

My daily commute is mostly on quiet suburban roads with dedicated bike lanes. I routinely clock in around 32 kph once I'm up to speed.

But there's a couple km of a paved mixed-use trail where there are people walking, strollers & people walking dogs. As well as blind corners. So I just can't ride as fast there. And it's actually pretty safe at 20 kph. I can't imagine getting into an accident at that speed. Unless you get side-checked by a car door it should be possible to stop for pretty much anything without having to swerve. Heck, do 15 kph. It still beats walking.
posted by GuyZero at 1:10 PM on March 11, 2011


Agreed, but inexperienced cyclists are less likely to understand how fast is too fast on a road like this.
posted by cl at 1:15 PM on March 11, 2011


We need a Ralph Nader of bike lanes.
posted by GuyZero at 1:23 PM on March 11, 2011


I think that's a lot more than the illusion of safety. You're more or less freed from dealing with car traffic, and the full lane is drawn so that drivers still have space to open their car doors. Pretty amazing.

But what happens when you hit commuting hour? Those lanes are far too wide to fit a large number of cyclist biking in both directions.

I'd still prefer the car lane, and take it.

World's Worst Cycle Lanes Flickr group.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on March 11, 2011


doh. far too *narrow*
posted by mrgrimm at 4:28 PM on March 11, 2011


As goes whether bike lanes are actually safer, I think it's worth mentioning that the lane in question isn't just a painted line in the street. It's a full lane, situated between the curb, and a lane of parking. Photo here.

I think that's a lot more than the illusion of safety. You're more or less freed from dealing with car traffic, and the full lane is drawn so that drivers still have space to open their car doors. Pretty amazing.


Ok, now I really have bike lane envy. Here's the nearest bike lane in my neighborhood (Jackson Heights, Queens). That's a single lane of traffic each way, then a narrow bike lane, then parked cars. Double-parked vehicles blocking the bike lane are the rule. That linked photo shows what appears to be a oil delivery truck.
posted by Majorita at 7:56 PM on March 11, 2011


I neither assault cyclists (of which I am one not infrequently) nor glare and mutter; I merely indicate in a forceful and direct manner where the bike is supposed to be.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:23 PM on March 12, 2011


This John Cassidy strikes me as the sort of guy who, after removing his socks at the end of a hard day finding a parking spot in New York for one of this six cards, takes those socks in his hands and presses them to his face and takes a good, long, hard whiff. I've never been to New York and don't plan to but I've seen it in such classic films as Daredevil with Ben Affleck and, well, the last thing that fucking place needs is cars.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:19 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


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