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Gimme three feet, gimme three feet mister
July 21, 2011 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Six animations from Commute Orlando on cycling and pedestrian safety.
posted by klangklangston (41 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
This one seems pertinent.
posted by zamboni at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2011


These are great. THank you.
posted by notsnot at 12:37 PM on July 21, 2011


Truth, zamboni. I vividly remember someone screaming at me and flipping me off from their car, because I had the audacity to cross the street at a crosswalk, while the light was green. There seems to be this general attitude that walking is more of a recreational exercise than a legitimate way of getting from point A to point B.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:38 PM on July 21, 2011


Thank Babby I live in a city where riding on the sidewalk is legal.

My Rules of the Road Sidewalk: posted by mmrtnt at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There seems to be this general attitude that walking is more of a recreational exercise than a legitimate way of getting from point A to point B.

In my experience there seems to be a general attitude that anyone not in a car is basically an animal or maybe some kind of projected hologram.
posted by theodolite at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


In my experience there seems to be a general attitude that anyone not in a car is basically an animal or maybe some kind of projected hologram.

I think the anger directed at pedestrians by drivers is really more generic human anger than anything having to do with being in a car or other people being pedestrians. Drivers get incredibly angry at other drivers, too.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2011


This "riding to the left" stuff is madness...

There's no way in hell I'm going to try to "control my lane" against tons of steel rolling in excess of 40mph.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that's magnified by the disconnect that you get from being ensconced in a bubble — outside of honking and waiting, there's really so little you can do to influence other people's behavior, and there are no real consequences to the anger, so it's like, of course I'm entitled to do whatever I want.

The internet shitcock theory applies to cars too, I think.
posted by klangklangston at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thank Babby I live in a city where riding on the sidewalk is legal.

Thank Babby I don't live in your city.
posted by Oddly at 12:55 PM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thanks a lot for this, as someone gearing up to become a bike commuter within the month. Dovetails nicely with the recent post about the ludicrous vehicular homicide charge againt Raquel Nelson.
posted by threeants at 1:05 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no way in hell I'm going to try to "control my lane"...

There's actual safety, and then there's the perception of safety (cf. Security Theatre). We humans are piss-poor at telling the difference. Especially so for cyclists, being exposed and vulnerable against tons of metal...
posted by phliar at 1:14 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


This "riding to the left" stuff is madness...

Not around here, it isn't. First off, car doors. Most of my biking is done on streets where cars are parked parallel to the curb. Second, the city green waste pickup allows folks to dump their brush in the bike lane. On Mondays and Tuesdays, hugging the right-hand side of the bike lane means dodging piles of tree branches.

My two biggest safety rules are 1) watch the side mirrors of parked cars. The mirror is the best way to see if there's someone in the driver's seat. And if there is, prepare for that door to open into the bike lane. 2) Make eye contact with EVERYBODY -- drivers, pedestrians, etc. If you make eye contact, you know they see you. If you can't make eye contact, assume they have no idea you're there and proceed with caution.

And, for god's sake, follow the rules of the road. That stop sign? Yes, you should observe it too. The crossWALK and the sideWALK? They're for people who are WALKING.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:21 PM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's actual safety, and then there's the perception of safety (cf. Security Theatre).

Yup, and these animations (and the site in general) make a pretty good argument that vehicular cycling is the former and not the latter. Coincidentally they also re-affirm my own riding style, but that's a whole other cognitive bias.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:23 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's actual safety, and then there's the perception of safety (cf. Security Theatre). We humans are piss-poor at telling the difference. Especially so for cyclists, being exposed and vulnerable against tons of metal...

Agreed. There's an EveryBlock discussion in my city (Chicago) from a few days ago about people that ride with kids in bike trailers. The original poster wanted to ban them (!!!) because she thought they looked unsafe. Of course the American Academy of Pediatrics actually endorses trailers as safer than handlebar or behind-the-seat bike carriers, but she didn't care about that. They just seemed dangerous.

And then the discussion continued and one commenter said that when she rides with her kids in a trailer, she sticks to riding the wrong way on one way streets. Because she thinks it's safer because she can see the cars coming head on. Sigh.
posted by misskaz at 1:26 PM on July 21, 2011


There's no way in hell I'm going to try to "control my lane" against tons of steel rolling in excess of 40mph.

You know those people in cars are actively trying to NOT hit you, right? I'm surprised we haven't had someone chime in with the "I don't like sharing the road with cyclists because I'm afraid I might hit them" argument, also known as the "I am a terrible driver" defense.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:26 PM on July 21, 2011


the "I don't like sharing the road with cyclists because I'm afraid I might hit them" argument, also known as the "I am a terrible driver" defense.

The thing is, I AM afraid I'm going to a cyclist, which is why I'd like them to make it as hard as possible for me to hit them. Don't hide on the right shoulder where I can't see you and where you're likely to dart back into traffic, don't run red lights. Ride like you're a car and it'll be easier for everyone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:31 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised we haven't had someone chime in with the "I don't like sharing the road with cyclists because I'm afraid I might hit them" argument, also known as the "I am a terrible driver" defense.

I think that this is an unfair characterization; if I'm driving, I get anxious when bikes are on the road because they're harder to see and it's harder for me to predict what they'll do since bicyclists will act in different ways. I'm afraid I might hit cyclists not because I'm a terrible driver but because hitting a cyclist would be a HUGE deal for me (and obviously for them) and people on bicycles can feel like an unknown quantity when driving.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:34 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


> You know those people in cars are actively trying to NOT hit you, right?

I'm gonna go with my 40+ years of experience riding in southwestern US cities on this one.

> Not around here, it isn't ... The mirror is the best way to see if there's someone in the driver's seat ... eye contact...

Those are excellent rules - where is "around here" if you don't mind my asking?
posted by mmrtnt at 1:37 PM on July 21, 2011


Those are excellent rules - where is "around here" if you don't mind my asking?

Well, admittedly, I'm in one of the most bike-friendly towns in the US. It's much easier to bike here than almost anywhere else.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2011


I find it simpler to assume that all motorists are aggressive sociopaths who will try to kill me in a heartbeat if they feel they could get away with it. Where I'm usually riding there is essentially zero motorist compliance with traffic regulations (such as the speed limit, stop signs, stopping before turning right at a signal, stopping behind the limit line or crosswalk), unless there is a physical obstacle preventing them. They'll deny this, of course. These are perfectly good, normal people until you put the keys into their hands. They don't get it at all.

These animations are great, very helpful and they will certainly give good ideas to some riders. Everyone's circumstances are different, though, so local factors have to be taken into account. I do agree that some Class II bike lanes and share-rows are worse than no marks at all, for the reasons they state - but I think most are helpful and are safer. Riders should know when they have to take over the lane, and when they shouldn't. You can't be overly timid or you will get doored or crushed by a motorist making a right turn onto you. And you can't hog the lane for too long, or you may cause motorists' poor addled brains to explode because of the prospect of their being delayed by perhaps a minute in their incredibly important journey to save puppies from drowning or stop the war or something equally important like maybe going to Costco. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
posted by zomg at 2:02 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


> You know those people in cars are actively trying to NOT hit you, right?

Ugh. I wish that were universally true.
posted by entropone at 2:15 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, the left cross crash scenario is one I've thought about a lot. I've had a bunch of close calls that way even though I intuitively latched on to their main bit of advice -- do your best to make eye contact with the driver attempting to turn left -- a while ago. I chalk it up to the type of thinking that goes something like, "okay, my chance to turn left is after that next car, don't have to think about it anymore," which from what I know of various cognitive biases I wouldn't be surprised if it led to an actually reduced ability to even visually register my presence, much less react to it. I just don't think we're very good at this wheeled vehicle thing as a species.
posted by invitapriore at 2:20 PM on July 21, 2011


I just assume everyone else is both mentally damaged, blind and crazy when I cycle. Then I thank everyone who isn't in the pathetic hope that positive reinforcement can eventually change behaviour. Except I am in England and I think saying Thank You might possibly be taken as a insult.
posted by srboisvert at 2:27 PM on July 21, 2011


Truly awesome animations/advice/pitfall prevention tips! Thanks for the post. I lived in Berkeley for a while, where motorists treat cyclists like lions about to pounce--that is, they always yield to cyclists. I found it sorta flattering, but also really dangerous because it creates a false expectation among cyclists that cars will always stop for them, no matter how many stop signs we cyclists willfully ignore.

Truth be told, I normally don't stop at stop signs, but I look madly both ways like the craziest owl you've ever seen...during the daytime. Anyhow, I cycle like a car, but most motorists are way too timid to pass cyclists outright; they will basically just idle behind you. This is horribly unnerving and I always have to wave cars by because I have less than one horsepower, whereas they have hundreds.

Side anecdote: While living in Berkeley, I used to have the southbound stoplights timed from Solano Avenue (through the "car-only" tunnel) all the way south on Shattuck to Dwight. Horrifying, but fun and addictive. Fuck me if a car chose to make a right on red.
posted by obscurator at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2011


windshield perspective: the point of view people develop when their ass is planted firmly in the driver’s seat—a point of view in which people on the other side of the glass are somehow always responsible for everything that happens to them.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've become pretty aggressive as a cyclist - meaning I take the lane when necessary and very visibly signal my intentions. I also no longer just point that I'm going left to go around an obstruction, I hold my hand open with my palm back as if to say "stay back" to the cars. It seems to work, although I'm sure it pisses drivers off. The worst thing for a cyclist to do is be all timid and slow down and look nervously behind them but not commit to what they need to do, signal it, and then do it.

Car drivers should realize (and this is something that pisses me off when driving, cycling, or walking) that cars have body language. If you drive like a maniac across a parking lot and go flying out of the driveway only to screech to a halt just before you actually enter the street, don't get mad at me if I preemptively honk (if I'm driving) or shout (if I'm riding) at you to make sure you see me. 'Cause you sure weren't acting like you did and I couldn't tell you were gonna stop.
posted by misskaz at 2:37 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


most of these are good but the bike lanes manufacture conflict one is dangerous BS that marks the creators as members of the vehicular cycling cult (the idea that cyclist should ride in the streets and act like cars rather than have bike-specific infrastructure.)

To quote a manuscript on bicycling that I am currently reviewing:

"Residents of European countries with extensive cycletrack networks find it astonishing
that a theory could persist that separated paths are dangerous. How to overcome the evidence of the massive European experiment, in which, for decades, millions of cyclists have ridden daily on cycletracks, with crash rates far lower than in the USA and a far greater appeal to vulnerable populations such as children and seniors (Pucher and Dijkstra, 2000)"

So yes, learn to ride safely in traffic. But don't advocate against ways to get more people to bike.
posted by markvalli at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would like to say that I am not a terrible driver but I am scared of killing a cyclist. Atlanta is full of hipsters spilling out of the bars, with no helmets, no brakes, no lights, sometimes no reflectors, riding in the middle of the night, all over the road. When I leave work at the bar at three in the morning, I am scared to death for those kids.

I'm with the "act like a car" school of thought, if I can somewhat predict where you will be, life is safer for everyone. I am also the car that everyone honks at for holding up traffic because I absolutely refuse to pass a cyclist too closely or if I am not absolutely sure they aren't going to take a random left in front of me. (Which happens a lot.)
posted by stormygrey at 2:59 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


To follow up markvalli, appropriate and safe bike infrastructure is ideal. However, in most places, in the US at least, that is a long way coming. People park in bike lanes, use them as turn lanes, put trash in them, they randomly stop and start, etc. So often a bike must be in the road, and when you are in the road I think its safer to act like a car.
posted by stormygrey at 3:02 PM on July 21, 2011


"Residents of European countries with extensive cycletrack networks find it astonishing
that a theory could persist that separated paths are dangerous.


Most American bike lanes that I have seen are not separated from traffic by anything more than a white line and are frequently full of road debris or illegally parked cars. I would probably rather have a bike line like that than nothing but I think their animations give good examples of common situations where painted lanes can be quite dangerous. Truly separated bike paths would be lovely but are unfortunately not the norm.
posted by ghharr at 3:04 PM on July 21, 2011


ghharr and stormgrey, agreed that it's good to learn to take the lane etc. I'll be biking home from work soon on 6 or 7 miles of LA and Pasadena streets with just a few blocks of white painted bike lanes along the way.

But the number one proven way to make biking safer is to recruit more cyclists so car drivers get used to bikes. The proven way to do this is with bike infrastructure. Existing cyclists are your most likely advocates for improved infrastructure. Telling existing cyclists in Orlando that bike lanes 'manufacture conflict' seems like a good way to keep your bike mode share at a measly .57% and your risk of death from cycling 30 times that of some cities with good bike infrastructure.

so props to them for helping teach safety, but they should use better messaging on lanes to build a safer future
posted by markvalli at 3:33 PM on July 21, 2011


Residents of European countries with extensive cycletrack networks find it astonishing
that a theory could persist that separated paths are dangerous.


I think the breakdown in communication about bike lanes in the US occurs because they are often so different from the completely separate, often well-thought out, well-designed, and extensive bike paths of places like the Netherlands and Denmark. I'm coming up on my third year of living car-free in Atlanta (Hi Stormygrey! What bar do you tend? I'll drop in with spare lights for the fixie crowd!), and bike lanes around the city tend to be nothing more than an extra bit of paint designating a foot on the side of road as some of bike ghetto. They also tend to be filled with debris and end abruptly after a block or two.

I have nothing against bike lanes, but they way they're implemented in the States is less a boon to cyclists and more a hasty afterthought. Bike lanes without education (of both bikers and motorists), additional infrastructure, good design, and traffic signal improvements aren't a plan to increase cycling, they're a waste of paint. It's far more efficient to simply teach new cyclists to ride confidently in traffic than to try to rely on a few dozen blocks of widely dispersed bike lanes.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:17 PM on July 21, 2011


I've got to say, that quote from the article markvalli is reviewing really annoys me. Maybe it makes better sense in context, but the conflation of bike lanes with cycle tracks that have some sort of physical barrier is a bit much. Bonus points for that condescending bit about Europeans. Riding in the bike lane is a much more stressful experience that requires more awareness than a separated track.

While I take whatever infrastructure I can get, I'd love to have something that didn't force me to negotiate a door zone and traffic moving at 35+ mph. If you build safe infrastructure, people will use it. If you throw down some sharrows or a minimum width bike lane, some people will ride on the sidewalk because they perceive it to be the safer option. (Yes I know sidewalk riding is not actually safer.)
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:27 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"most of these are good but the bike lanes manufacture conflict one is dangerous BS that marks the creators as members of the vehicular cycling cult (the idea that cyclist should ride in the streets and act like cars rather than have bike-specific infrastructure.) "

Yeah, sorry, that bike article you linked to is the crazy bullshit one, based on a really simple misunderstanding of cycling terminology.

American bike lanes tend not to be separated from the street and tend to be in the door zone. Those bike lanes very much do manufacture conflict, like is seen in the animation.

Separate lanes or paths? Those are great, provided that they go where I need to. Otherwise, it simply makes more sense to ride like a vehicle. Because you are a vehicle.

(And by the way, what's up with the bike lanes on the left that I see in videos when I google "bike box"? That seems pretty insane, putting the slowest traffic in the fastest lane.)

So, sure, dedicated infrastructure is best. But barring that, it's dumb to invest in half-assed pseudo-infrastructure that makes everyone less safe and has only moderate benefits in making cycling more visible.
posted by klangklangston at 5:44 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but the 'bicycle in the car lane' methodology usually only works for solitary bikers. It doesn't scale to allow for bicycling as a normal transportation choice for a large number of commuters.

In the US, at present, the few people who ride bikes dress like bike racers, with Spandex shirts, bike jacket, bike pants, bike shoes, and, of course, a very expensive bike. This isn't commuting, this is a hobby.

This is commuting.

So you have a situation where a large percentage of the bikers in the US are sometimes the worst possible people to go to for advice for setting policy.
posted by eye of newt at 8:25 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I really needed this article as a biker in Chicagop. I'll feel a lot less badly for holding up the lane by biking in the middle of the lane. Of course, some people still swerve into an incoming lane if possible to pass me, or honk, or curse.

I find that CTA buses are really bad at treating bikers well!! I've had the long accordion buses blatantly get into my lane, forcing me to run off the road, onto the curb, and into pedestrians. Either that or they'll literally be 6 inches away from hitting me from behind. Is there anyway to deal with that? I mean, you never see buses go to the hospital for anything.


I'll admit to doing one pretty dangerous thing for a biker: riding between lanes. Is that okay if car traffic is at more or less a standstill??
posted by astapasta24 at 9:19 PM on July 21, 2011


"Yeah, but the 'bicycle in the car lane' methodology usually only works for solitary bikers. It doesn't scale to allow for bicycling as a normal transportation choice for a large number of commuters."

That's not really true either — commuters spontaneously pack up here in LA, and it works for a lot of non-arterial routes or on pre-arranged group rides. It might be a problem if a majority of commuters were bikers, but let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, not least because real infrastructure changes take a long time to implement.
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 PM on July 21, 2011


I hold my hand open with my palm back as if to say "stay back" to the cars. It seems to work, although I'm sure it pisses drivers off.

No, clear hand signals pretty much delight me when I'm behind the wheel, because my home town has probably 80%+ who don't. It's a rare and unusual delight for someone at a complicated intersection to give some indication of which way they're headed (assuming they don't just plow through the red light, pedestrian crossing, etc).

Ever since I started commuting by foot through areas that are shared bike/pedestrian areas, though, my day-to-day risk and aggravation has shifted to arseholes on bikes, with abuse for using the waterfront rather than realising that, signage to the contrary, it's actually for Tour de France wannabes.
posted by rodgerd at 3:46 AM on July 22, 2011


In the US, at present, the few people who ride bikes dress like bike racers, with Spandex shirts, bike jacket, bike pants, bike shoes, and, of course, a very expensive bike. This isn't commuting, this is a hobby.

Not in Chicago. I commute 10 miles each way to my office job every day. I ride the city streets and most of the streets I ride have sharrows or bike lanes, although in several places the markings are so worn that no one can see them, and the potholes are terrible. Still, I see people from all walks of life and wearing all sorts of clothes and riding all kinds of different bikes commuting with me: office workers in their work clothes with their briefcases in baskets on slow comfy cruisers; baseball-cap-wearing guys in jeans and t-shirts on poorly maintained Walmart full-suspension mountain bikes; hipsters on fixed gears with big messenger bags; beautiful Godzillas in flowy summer dresses on vintage mixtes; people in workout clothes on hybrids wearing running shoes and backpacks. If anything, seeing a roadie in a full kit is a rarity, not the norm on Chicago streets.

Personally on my commute I do wear spandex because 10 miles is enough to want shorts with chamois, and a sports bra and athletic top or bike jersey because I get hot and sweaty. But when I'm not commuting I fit in with the hipsters, or the beautiful Godzillas, or in the winter I probably just look crazy.

tl;dr: That's a blanket statement that doesn't apply at all to my observations as a bike commuter.
posted by misskaz at 7:38 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am also the car that everyone honks at for holding up traffic because I absolutely refuse to pass a cyclist too closely

I owe you a beer. Thanks.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:40 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


These animations are great, but they ignore the fact that a lot of motorists are actively malicious. If you ride on the far right, they'll drive too close to you (if they' don't actively swerve at you, like what has happened to me on my moped) and if you ride in the middle of the lane, they'll get mad/impatient and pass you in a bum spot with inches to spare. They don't care if they get in an accident themselves, and they don't care if they kill you.

I don't really know what the answer is, but every time I almost have my head taken off by the mirrors of some jacked-up Dodge Ram driven by some bullet-headed lout I wish I had a gun to shoot them with. It's nothing short of attempted murder.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


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