Bike Awareness!
March 26, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

A few of the best bicycle awareness PSA videos you'll ever see.
posted by Windigo (38 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was excellent. Share the road.
posted by Fizz at 11:49 AM on March 26, 2011


Thank you Windigo, that was awesome.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2011


[fixed the first link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 12:01 PM on March 26, 2011


I guess the videos as presented work for pedestrians, animals, motorcycles, potholes, and anything else besides cars, too, as presented.

They don't really do a particularly great job of telling you *how* to look for cyclists. As a cyclist, I know what drivers actually do that's dangerous around bicycles, and as a driver I watch out specifically for those situations. These videos don't really help with those.

For instance, the most common one is for a car to pass a cyclist on the left, and then make a right turn in front of him, assuming he's moving quite slowly, or forgetting that you recently passed him (the directions would presumably be opposite in England than here in the US). I check the right side of the car before turning right if there's any chance there's a cyclist there (i.e., if I've stopped at a light or recently passed a cyclist).

Similarly, because I live in California where lane-splitting is legal, I check between lanes for approaching motorcycles when switching lanes in traffic, even if I know the place I'm aiming to end up in the next lane is empty.

Saying things like 'look for cyclists' is fine, but if it doesn't tell you where to look, it might not be helpful. The reason I know to check the places I do is because of firsthand experience as a cyclist, or experience with friends who ride motorcycles and relate stories about cars changing lanes right in front of them.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:01 PM on March 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


As a motorcyclist, I have only one request of you. Please put down the fucking cellphone.
posted by found missing at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Agree with tylerkaraszewski. The videos are interesting in their own right, but the thing that will make motorists more aware of cyclists is being forced to spend a few hours riding a bike in traffic.
posted by adamrice at 12:15 PM on March 26, 2011


As a motorcyclist, I have only one request of you. Please put down the fucking cellphone.

This.


It's also good to be aware of the physical blind spot we all have in our eyes. For a demonstration of this go here. Take the time to look both ways with both eyes at intersections. A bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian are just the right size to be obscured if you just glance out of the corner of your eye.
posted by calamari kid at 12:47 PM on March 26, 2011


Similarly, because I live in California where lane-splitting is legal,...

I always wondered what suicidal insanity led to people supporting this law. It seems dangerous to the very people in the most danger. Haven't looked, but wouldn't be surprised if rates of accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles isn't at least marginally higher in Cali.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:48 PM on March 26, 2011


I always wondered what suicidal insanity led to people supporting this law. It seems dangerous to the very people in the most danger. Haven't looked, but wouldn't be surprised if rates of accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles isn't at least marginally higher in Cali.

I am not a motorcyclist, but I was talking with one about this very thing, and he took me for a ride. Because I was right out there in the open, I was really paying attention. I couldn't believe how totally tuned out most car drivers actually are. They're on the phone, staring into space, putting on makeup, READING THE FUCKING NEWSPAPER....so basically what he said to me and then showed me was that when you're on a bike/motorcycle, you are an unarmored target in a sea of heavily armored people who tend towards the unconscious side of awareness. If you're in traffic or at a light, the last thing you want to do is just sit there, waiting to get hit somehow. If you're moving, you have a little more control.
posted by nevercalm at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


One thing about the video: it correctly makes the point that your low-level perceptual systems make things that threaten you more visible than things you threaten. It is the precise problem of riding a motorcycle or a bike or being a passenger around people driving cars. It also applies to people driving cars around people driving trucks. You're fighting not just human nature, but natural perceptual programming. Exhorting people to be more careful probably does some good, but until we can rewire their perceptual habits to consider smaller and lower velocity objects to have the same threat value as other cars and trucks, it's going to be riskier to not be a driver. I don't have any brilliant ideas about how to accomplish this, though I would dearly love to see it happen.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I forgot to mention I was referring to the video in the 3rd link.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2011


I don't ride bicycles or motorcycles much anymore, but I do make a point of being aware of bicyclists and motorcyclists on the road when I'm driving my car. I've been sent to the hospital by inattentive drivers before, so I know how dangerous they can be.

That said, I see plenty of motorcyclists and bicyclists who lack basic awareness and put themselves in dangerous situations unnecessarily. Motorcyclists need to be aware of other drivers' blind spots, and actively avoid riding in them. It's scary how often I see motorcyclists happily cruising along on the highway, keeping pace with a car right alongside its rear bumper. Sure, it's the car driver's responsibility to check their blind spot before changing lanes, but as a motorcyclist why would you put yourself in a position where you are relying on someone else's good judgment to keep you alive?

And bicyclists, I'll happily give you momentum every time. I know how much work it takes to stop and start all the time. If you can safely scoot on by without having to stop, that's a-ok with me, red light or not. But when you scoot on up to the front of the line at a red light, stop, and then ride in the middle of the lane preventing any cars from passing you when the light turns green, you're endangering yourself unnecessarily. Sharing the road and being aware works both ways.
posted by Balonious Assault at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those on two wheels: The very best technique i've learned in my attempt to stay alive on a motorcycle is to watch the front wheels of stationary cars at an intersection or side street as I approach. Because I'm moving, it's hard to detect a car moving (my perspective is always changing, I get used to seeing what appears to the car moving and discounting it). However, if I watch the front wheel (assuming it's not a blank disk hubcap), I can see it begin to rotate in relation to the ground and can detect a car about to pull out in front of me.

Tip two... until you've made eye contact with the other driver, assume he/she hasn't seen you.
posted by tomswift at 1:14 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


eye contact

I bet most cyclists reading this have weird tales of zombie eye contact, wherein the driver's eyes were pointed into your eyes, but no seeing was taking place.
posted by everichon at 1:45 PM on March 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


heh, you're right, everichon. Let me change that to "eye contact with an evident spark of life and possible intelligence".
posted by tomswift at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those on two wheels: The very best technique i've learned in my attempt to stay alive on a motorcycle is to watch the front wheels of stationary cars at an intersection or side street as I approach.

I've found this to be helpful, but for another reason. Seeing a car pulling out of a stop sign or a driveway into a narrow or not-particularly-wide street, it can be difficult to gauge how wide they'll swing - if they'll come into your path, if you need to take evasive action. Keeping your eyes on the front tires will tell you if the driver's begun straightening out their wheels, or if they're still turning (and you're in the clear).
posted by entropone at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2011


Tip two... until you've made eye contact with the other driver, assume he/she hasn't seen you.

Tip three…Once you have made eye contact, assume they don't care that they've seen you. I've had motorists turn in front of me when we looked right in each others' eyes at close range.
posted by adamrice at 1:53 PM on March 26, 2011


Here's the problem.

No matter how safe the "average" person drive, there will always be a sweet little old lady whose niece calls her while she drifts off. It terrifies me. I "trust" the people in my town. I have decent street shoulders and culverts and whatnot to bike in, but....every once in a while I see people just randomly drifting off. WHY?! It drives me crazy and it keeps me from biking.

Plus the very rare pile of assholes in their mom's SUV who chuck a Taco Bell soda at me.
posted by carlh at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those are nice. The Brits have done some amazing work at pointing out that there are other vehicles on the road beyond your stupid desensitizing gas-guzzling lardassed idiotmobile (sorry, I've been on the scooter all afternoon, and I'm currently falling on the two-wheels-good side of this fence). I'm mainly familiar with their PSAs on motorcycles, where their best work ranges from the joyous to the witty to the shocking. Our domestic efforts, alas, are decidedly less accomplished.

It's all very, very necessary, though, because whether I'm on my bicycle, my Scootypuff Junior, or my obnoxiously noisy '72 Triumph (loud by vintage design, btw, not my own intervention), you folks don't see me. Not regular folks, out breaking Maryland law to keep up with pointless chatter on their moronphones, or even sensitive progressives, who give me the same "where did you come from?" glare when they hear 139 decibels of bowel loosening air horn screaming at them from an undisclosed temporary location on my scooter after they've done or hinted at doing something intolerably stupid.

You can never, ever trust a car driver, alas, which is something I try to keep very close to my heart when I'm stuck behind the wheel of my own car.
posted by sonascope at 1:58 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus the very rare pile of assholes in their mom's SUV who chuck a Taco Bell soda at me.

A buddy of mine had this happen to him. When he caught up to them at a traffic light, he kicked their sideview mirror off. They chased him for a while, and he eventually wound up hiding in a gas station while his cousin drove to come pick him up.
posted by nevercalm at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


"he kicked their sideview mirror off." I shouldn't have favorited that, but I did...
posted by tomswift at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2011


There is something supremely satisfying about seeing the look of surprise and terror on a car driver's face when you're on a motorcycle and he's just merged into your lane without any awareness that you were even there, and then he looks out his passenger window to see you helpfully adjusting his mirror for him at 60mph, so he won't make the same mistake again. Good times.
posted by Balonious Assault at 2:24 PM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


In my wayward youth, back when I had my first Vespa, a lovely '80 P200e that was good for a solid 60mph cruising speed, the national speed limits hadn't been adjusted to reflect our national genitalia deficit, and I would regularly make what I now regard as obnoxiously long highway trips, the most obnoxious of which being the trek from Maryland to NYC on the Turnpike. People would just drift over into your lane as if you were invisible, which was odd, as my scooter was painted in Holstein-simulating cow paint for some of these trips. Sometimes, I'd pound on their window when they'd get close enough, which might or might not get a response. I got a hint from an old hand in the big city, though, to carry a handful of lug nuts in the crappy little T5-style tray over my glovebox, and when they'd move over, completely oblivious to your little BEEEEEEEEE-ping buzzer horn, you'd pick up a few and sling 'em hard at the lower part of their door. It sounded like gunshots, scared the living crap out of the offender, and they'd lurch away again, cursing you.

I would not do that now. You grow up for a reason. In fact, I'd probably not do the Turnpike on a scooter, either, even if they lowered the speed limits again, because I think people are actually dumber now than they were then, and that was in the late eighties/early nineties, when you'd never have thought that the US populace could possibly get any more idiotic.

At the time, though, it sure felt good.
posted by sonascope at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2011


Sharing the road and being aware works both ways.

I would like to think that I've done a better job these days of being aware of bicyclists these days, and a lot of that is thanks to reading the threads on Metafilter. I'm even conditioned to check my sideview mirror now even AFTER I've parked and before I open my door because of the people relaying their stories of bicycling in cities and careless drivers. So my attention has been heightened somewhat through stories and empathy.

But I can't let go of my mental models about road rules and safety, and the expectations or maps that help in my decision making while on the road in the city. Yesterday, I was driving through a green light when a bicyclist blew threw a red light from a cross street in front of my car. Luckily I was able to swerve quickly. But he gave me the finger and swore at me, so I was genuinely surprised. And because I have been more aware of bicyclists lately, I've also been aware that some obey car traffic laws and some seem to make up their own rules that I'm not privy to which makes me frustrated and confused.

Part of driving is having a reasonable expectation of traffic lights, street signs, etc. Not all cars obey them either and you also have to be aware, but I'm not sure why I find it easier to "guess" when a car isn't planning on obeying road rules and I can avoid, than when a bicyclist isn't planning on obeying road rules. Is there some sort of mental model of bicyclists that I'm not aware of (I'm really not joking here) that would help me to share the road with them more safely? Or is there any talk/PSA campaigns among bicyclists about obeying the same road rules that cars have? I'm not being sarcastic, truly, I'm very interested because if that bicyclist had been a car, I know he would have been at fault. But his reaction towards me made me wonder if there are different rules for bikes and cars that I'm still not aware of.
posted by jeanmari at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2011


jeanmari, your intentions are admirable.

however, we can't generalize about bicyclists. I know many who would stop at a red light at an abandoned intersection, no cars or peds in sigh, and still wait till it turned green. I know some who don't think twice about weaving through a cluttered intersection when they've got the red. And I know many that exist in the middle of that spectrum. Like drivers, some cyclists are terrible at how they operate their machine. Like pedestrians, some are foolish about how they occupy their space (why do some people push their stroller off the curb when looking out into the street? As if offering their child as a sacrifice to a surprise?!).

Some cyclists will bend the rules in order to stay in control and keep things safer for them. Balonious Assault's pet peeve, above, is a good example of that. I'll happily run a red when it's safe in order to get a headstart on the cars behind me - I believe I'm more visible if I get the opportunity to 'take the lane' (as is my legal right) and be in front of a car, rather than on the side - where I can't see a car's turn signal if they're about to 'hook' me.

[Yes, there are "Know and follow the rules" campaigns out there.]

As a driver, your best bet is to keep your head on a swivel, give cyclists plenty of space and caution, keep your speed in check, and when some asshole blows a red like an asshole, don't think that all cyclists are like that.
posted by entropone at 3:04 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bicyclist, motorcyclist, car or truck driver, pedestrian - I've been all of these at various times. And I've always assumed that everyone (including myself) is either mentally or physically impaired, half-asleep, bored, drunk, sociopathic, self-centered, or any combination of them; and comported myself accordingly. Discomforting though the idea may be, paranoia is your friend on the public roads. It's kept me alive and accident-free...so far.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2011


1. The bear wasn't moonwalking.
2. Ripoff!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:33 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they have a PSA about bicyclists who ignore traffic signals and go the wrong way on one-way streets and run over pedestrians expecting the traffic from the correct direction?
posted by crunchland at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they have a PSA about fixies? DO THEY??!
posted by found missing at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Drivers: look for cyclists.
Cyclists: don't ride on the freakin' sidewalk.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 7:41 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few of the best bicycle awareness PSA videos you'll ever see.

I doubt that that's true. In years to come, I'll probably see things like customized computer-generated 3D scratch-n-sniff PSAs generated on the fly and inserted into regular movies I download.

I'll see replicas of my actual children or spouse inserted into the plot of the movie showing them happily bicycling down the side of the street and then -- SURPRISE! -- being spattered all over the asphalt and curb by a stranger or by my own damned self not paying attention while backing out of a driveway or gabbing on a phone. The accident will happen at what appears to be my actual home, or maybe at a dangerous intersection on my actual way to work every day, or near my children's actual school. Maybe my character will be convicted of manslaughter and spend the rest of the movie being abused by evil characters in a prison. Maybe I will watch myself spending the rest of my life -- all of my energy and time and money sapped away -- caring for the person who was crippled in the accident. Someone else who downloads the movie will see the same PSA but with places and characters from his or her real life.
posted by pracowity at 12:28 AM on March 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


1963 Bicycle Safety Video

Creepy...very creepy.
posted by BlooPen at 12:00 PM on March 27, 2011


I'm not sure if this old Chicago Bicycling Federation PSA for Bob Fuller Roadside Memorials is any better. It kinda creeped me out, and I like black humor and comic irony as much as the next guy. Like some of those others it doesn't address prevention.
posted by kgander at 1:22 PM on March 27, 2011


I think I would go crazy if I had to drive in a big city everyday. It's not just bicycles - it's pedestrians too. I was in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago, and at a green light turning right, but I had to stop because the traffic was backed up on the street I was turning onto. A small group of women were standing on the corner, and when I stopped, they started to blindly step out into the street, until they realized my light was green and they didn't have a walk signal. Cue all of them yelling at me "WHY ARE YOU STOPPING?" Um, see, there was a car in the place I wanted to go and so if I didn't stop I would have hit it.

A couple of years ago a bicyclist was coming down a street in my town, and disregarded a red light, and rode right out from a blind corner (a retaining wall blocked the view) in front of my mom just after her light turned green and she started to go. She had to slam on her brakes but she DID NOT touch him - the car did not make contact AT ALL - but he got scared and fell. The cop still asked him if he wanted to press charges, and he said no. My mom was beating herself up all night over not seeing him until about 3am, when it dawned on her that he had been riding on the wrong side of the road. Had he been on the right side, he would not have come anywhere near her. So he disregarded 2 laws (not riding on right side, running red light), did NOT get hit, and the police still had the nerve to offer to press charges like it was her fault and not his. (Press charges against what? That my mom correctly obeyed a green light and started to proceed?!)

Since then we've gotten bike lanes downtown. But I still see cyclists do stupid things and disregard stop signs/stop lights. You have to take at least some responsibility for your own safety.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:27 PM on March 27, 2011


Also: Traffic lights and signs are there to regulate traffic. Bicyclists are always fighting to be regarded as having equal rights to the road. I think, therefore, they should be required to obey all the laws of the road. Just try approaching a stop sign in a car or on a motorcycle and saying to yourself "I don't see anyone coming... I'll just go through the intersection without stopping." You can and will get a ticket if you do it. It doesn't matter how fast or slow your vehicle is - you have to stop. So the momentum argument someone made for running stop signs because it's easier is not a good one.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:43 PM on March 27, 2011


So the momentum argument someone made for running stop signs because it's easier is not a good one.

Except where, uh, it is?

Idaho already has this as law. Utah tried to get it into law, too. The video they made about it, has some good points.
posted by alex_skazat at 2:48 PM on March 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, s/Utah/Oregon/
posted by alex_skazat at 2:52 PM on March 27, 2011


when you'd never have thought that the US populace could possibly get any more idiotic.


If you haven't, you really need to see Idiocracy.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:51 AM on March 28, 2011


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