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Roll your own parking space
August 1, 2005 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Portable parking spaces are the mind-bending Atomic-age outcome of centuries of humankind's best technology: they enable a bike to occupy the same perimeter as a car. They're arts and crafts, they're couture, they're vehicles of dissent [Flash, contains photos, project info, instructions on building your own PPS]. See the movie [11MB QuickTime]. A different take on the concept.
posted by Mo Nickels (52 comments total)

 
I am sorry, I don't get it. I don't think I am down with all this artsy message thingy. It doesn't make sense.

Can a nice me-fite explain this in a comment somewhere?

It seems to be a benefit for a very small group of people as the expense of a very large group of people.
posted by countzen at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2005


One car bump with all that rope and he will have a space and a bedpan of his own.
posted by buzzman at 6:14 PM on August 1, 2005


Sorry, they're not enlightening anyone, they're just making drivers angry. They're a danger to themselves and the drivers around them, and the method they're using to spread the gospel of conservation, besides being ineffective, might also lead to the waste of fossil fuels as the cars line up behind them. I'm all for biking, bikers, and bikers having rights, but roads are generally built such that automobiles and bikes have their own separate travelling spaces. They need improvement, sure. These people are just being dicks by taking up more space than they should. They're not fixing anything, but they probably don't care as long as they get to wear a smug grin while they touch themselves thinking about how much smarter and better they are than everyone else.

Here's a hint: you don't win converts by pissing them off with your presumptuous "more-environmentally-friendly-than-thou" vigilante-ism. Take a stand where it matters instead of screwing around with PVC pipe and acting like a 14-year-old who just got a new t-shirt that pisses off the old folks.
posted by invitapriore at 6:25 PM on August 1, 2005


It seems to be a benefit for a very small group of people as the expense of a very large group of people.

You mean the small group of people driving cars at the expense of the rest of the people in the world...right?

The idea (poorly conveyed with this stunt) is to make people recognize bikers as vehicles equal to cars. In most places, you're supposed to follow the same rules as cars do, ride with traffic and so on... but most of the time cars just try and run you down due to your small size.
posted by odinsdream at 6:31 PM on August 1, 2005


I give it max 3 more comments before someone breaks out the "h" word. That said, these people are just attention-whores. Most "activists" are.
posted by nightchrome at 6:39 PM on August 1, 2005


Hippopotamus?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:42 PM on August 1, 2005


In most places, you're supposed to follow the same rules as cars do

Yeah, and in most places I've ever driven bike riders do NOT observe the traffic laws consistently, and are happy to run a red light if the coast is clear, etc. And they don't need these things. Many a biker I've driven behind has occupied the dead center of a lane of traffic going 10 miles under the speed limit and making it dangerous or impossible to pass.

Would the word of the day perhaps be "hypocrisy?"
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:50 PM on August 1, 2005


Thanks, I thought it was something like that....

I walk, ride bikes, ride motorcycles, drive a little 2-seater sports car and really large, old truck, so I figure i can rant about this a little...

I really don't think putting bikes on the same level as cars is fair or safe. They have right of way but they should also realize that metal will always beat meat. (picture a bicycle vs car crash)

Taking this to another level is having a person just walk around on the streets with this BOX on. Because, legally, pedestrians have right of way in ALL conditions over EVERY vehicle, including bicycles. (This includes j-walking, illegal crossings and running across the freeway--the reasoning is sound if you think about it.)

But, er, I would say that's pretty dumb thing to do, right? I think that applies here.

Eck, ranting and getting upset. leaving now.
posted by countzen at 6:51 PM on August 1, 2005


I don't want to referee this thread, but I should like to gently point out that the comment "these people are just being dicks by taking up more space than they should" is the whole point of the PPS, only it is being be applied to automobiles and their drivers.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:53 PM on August 1, 2005


Hippodrome?

If you think NASCAR is fun, imagine 30 road bikes, outfitted with these, racing in a tight oval for the title of Most-holier-than-thou Biker Activist.

Really, I kind of empathise with the point this artist(?) is trying to express, but it will just piss most drivers off.
posted by zeypher at 6:54 PM on August 1, 2005


Hm, my second post didn't make it through:

"Also, what invitapriore said."
posted by odinsdream at 6:54 PM on August 1, 2005


Metafilter: metal will always beat meat.
posted by nightchrome at 6:55 PM on August 1, 2005


That said, these people are just attention-whores. Most "activists" are.

Of course they are. But it's hard to blame a cyclist for taking an us-against-them stance toward cars, rather than a more nuanced attitude, when you've experienced how bikes are treated on the road. When people are regularly going out of their way in an attempt to kill you (in my bike-riding days it was commonplace for cars to swerve toward me for no reason at all when I was at the side of the road; this was generally accompanied by profanity, horns, and/or obscene gestures), your sense of proportion tends to go by the wayside.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:55 PM on August 1, 2005


The reason drivers are annoyed by cyclists is that they are slow. You don't see drivers honking horns at motorcycles or scooters because they can keep up with the normal flow of traffic. Nor would most drivers I suppose be annoyed by a cyclist capable of going 30mph and flowing with normal traffic. However, most cyclists are going 10-15mph, and creating an obstruction to the normal flow of traffic. The difference between a bicycle and a car parked in the middle of the street is only one of degree -- 15mph below normal speed vs. 30mph below normal speed. The only thing that makes this tolerable on a two lane road is that the bicycle can yield by getting over to the side. When they refuse to do this, it's just causing mayhem. Just like the critical mass riders, these people are social retards who think that pissing people off will bring them over to their line of thinking.
posted by cameldrv at 7:13 PM on August 1, 2005


You don't see drivers honking horns at motorcycles or scooters because they can keep up with the normal flow of traffic.

Huh? In my scooter-driving days (which followed my bike-riding days) I got similar treatment (though not quite as bad), even though I almost always rode on roads where I could meet or exceed the speed limit (my scooter would do about 50mph with a good tailwind). The drivers who are (justifiably) annoyed to be held up are not the ones who are shouting and trying to run people down; the real assholes are doing it out of some bizarre class/tribe hatred.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:27 PM on August 1, 2005


Dunno if you'd want to tangle with these things. I heard of one builder -- not in Toronto -- who put hardpoint metal scribers on each corner.
posted by scruss at 7:54 PM on August 1, 2005


Oh man, I got stuck behind these bikers the other day, they were going 25 in a 35mph road, and were unpassable for five full miles! It was completely unacceptable... it took me a full 2 extra minutes to reach the next red light!
posted by mosch at 8:02 PM on August 1, 2005


The biggest problem for bicyclists who actually want to stay far off to the edge of the road is that, quite frequently, the crappiest bits of pavement are also at the edge
posted by kayjay at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2005


While the "Free Parking Space" people are meaning to get across one message with the wearable parking space gizmo (cars are not as energy efficient as bikes) they are also coincidentally articulating a politic of the San Francisco "Critical Mass" ride (monthly on friday @ rush hour).

The Critical Mass movement is about the fact that many bike riders have been killed in the city. According to the foregoing linked article from the SF Chronicle "San Francisco has averaged two or three fatal bicycle accidents a year since 1992. Last year there were two fatalities in the city and 203 reported injuries from bicycle accidents, according to state statistics. That's down from five deaths and 389 injuries in 1994."

So because of such conditions, a few people in 1992 invented a monthly "organized coincidence," and (how it has grown) now ride in packs of 500 to 1000 at Friday rush hour once a month to impress bike rider visibility on motorists.

Also, for purposes of spreading the concept, there's an nicely done noir Critical Mass comic.

One of the problems here is that bikers (on streets without bike lanes) are bullied out of the main lanes...even though local law says a bike should take on non-bike lane streets the same space as a car.

A lot of people have died in SF over these kinds of SUV vs. bike rider problems. However, fatal bike accidents have declined since the Critical Mass movement started over 10 years ago.

But as the Free Parking Space folk seem to wish to involve others in their car-sized gizmo ride project...it seems that their partnership with Critical Mass would be a marriage made in cycle heaven.

Critical Mass Rides Worldwide

Africa (1 Ride)
Antarctica (0 Rides)
Asia (22 Rides)
Australia (20 Rides)
Europe (141 Rides)
North America (213 Rides)
South America (8 Rides)
posted by Dunvegan at 9:34 PM on August 1, 2005


I think this is a bad idea from the everything that pisses off car drivers will come back and hurt me later perspective (as a biker). It's the same reason critical mass (in my city at least) annoys me.

I bike to work every day possible (11 miles each way), and it seems like the very existance of a bike on the road causes some drivers to see red. If I am ever blocking the corner of a lane, it's because a parked car is in my way. Honking at me (especially considering that I didn't cut you off, and that you have an entire other lane to go to) is completely pointless.

With regards to bikers obeying traffic laws. Yes, they should. But, having said that, it's a fine line. It takes a lot of effort to get started from a red light on bike, time where you might be sitting in front of an impatient driver waiting to turn right. On the other hand, rolling through a light, where it's clear there are no cars coming from either direction will prevent that problem. The perfect biker only goes through lights and stop signs when no one else is around to see them.
posted by drezdn at 10:50 PM on August 1, 2005


mosch: If the cyclists were all going 25mph, it would be far less of a problem. However, most people who are riding aren't going anywhere near that fast. As I said before, I'd put 10-15mph as a good average. As for critical mass, it's not an "organized coincidence", it's an organized wholesale violation of traffic laws. They illegally refuse to mix with cars, block off streets, and disobey traffic lights and stop signs. What gives them the right to shutdown traffic every month? As for cyclists getting killed, how about staying off arterial streets, having proper reflectors and lighting, wearing helmets, signalling properly, and keeping to the right? If cyclists did all of those things, I'm sure the fatality rate would drop dramatically.
posted by cameldrv at 10:55 PM on August 1, 2005


Why aren't any of these people wearing helmets?
posted by interiority at 11:56 PM on August 1, 2005


The reason drivers are annoyed by cyclists is that they are slow.

If bicyclists are so slow, why is there a whole industry that employs them as messengers in cities? How could I always beat non-cycling friends in trips around a big city, regardless of their mode of travel?

The traffic congestion on city streets is caused by motor vehicles. If you took away all the bicycles, you really think traffic would move faster?
posted by normy at 12:11 AM on August 2, 2005


Let's see, there was the bicyclist this morning who swerved out in front of me to avoid a car that was pulling over to park. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him and as I passed him after he moved back over he had this exhilirated carefree look on his face.

Then there was that guy who just biked through the stop sign on my right. I thought he was turning right so I was veering left to pass him, but he started swerving around pissed off and got furious and yelled "crosswalk!" He merely wanted to go straight across the intersection without stopping. I didn't have time to yell "you are not actually a pedestrian sir, you must obey stop signs and yield the right of way as a vehicle", so I yelled something else.

Then there was the guy coming down a hill on the sidewalk, towards me on the right side of the road, going pretty fast. I was turning right and he thought he could zip around in front of me, and I think I might have hit his back wheel (I couldn't see him until he was in front of me and I didn't brake in time). He sort of skidded to a stop and shouted something.

Then there was the guy who zooms out on a crosswalk on his little bike in front of 35-40mph traffic, out from behind a parked car and I have to brake hard to a squealing stop. His less crazy girlfriend is still on the corner on her bike and they're both laughing.

And then there was the couple who were coasting towards a four-way stop from my left. I was there first, I started to pull out but slowly, because I knew they were going to go right through the stop sign in front of me, and of course they did.

Then there was the girl, as I was leaving a parking lot, she was biking along the sidewalk at a good clip and passed behind me. The minivan behind me actually hit her straight on.

I'm all for the space taker-upper, if it helps bicyclists realize that they are slow fragile little cars, and not super-pedestrians whose moral superiority allows them to do irresponsible shit. When a car swerves in front of me it's scary but the likely result of an accident is mere inconvenience. When a bicyclist does something dangerous and unpredictable (as many often do), the outcome could be much worse for both of us.

All that said I never crowd bicyclists or honk at them, and I try to be hyper-aware of them, but they really can be just as big of dicks as drivers, you know.
posted by fleacircus at 12:17 AM on August 2, 2005


You guys should come up to Redmond. It bills itself as "The cycling capital of the Northwest", which is bollocks, in the sense that the understanding of cycling there seems to be as a purely 100% recreational activity, so when drivers see you cycling on the road [gasp], they go "Shit! What's that strange thing on the road?! I've never seen anything like it and I can't remember what the road rules are on how to deal with this. I better be REALLY careful".

It's pretty good. Most drivers are really good around cyclists, careful and switch lanes to pass even when you're way out of the lane riding beside the curb, and as I mentioned, a fair few actually seem befuddled by how to deal with a cyclist and play it so safe they actually cause problems for other motorists.

But it's a similar thing with pedestrians here too, so maybe that explains it - I've seen peds walk into a busy intersection without even looking at the road, because the cars all do stop for pedestrians with such reliability it's staggering to those of us who didn't grow up here :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:21 AM on August 2, 2005


The traffic congestion on city streets is caused by motor vehicles. If you took away all the bicycles, you really think traffic would move faster?

Normy here is right. Bikes are, in reality, a non-issue to traffic speed. Which doesn't mean they're not perceived as a big issue to people not thinking it through.
If a cyclist is taking a full lane, there is no passing lane, and it's a country highway, then they're slowing traffic, but in the city, adding an extra 18 seconds to a 30 minute commute is not worth the breath it takes to complain about. Yeah I know, it feels like 5 minutes rather than 18 seconds when you're impatient to get from A to B, but when you actually time it, it's surprising.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:30 AM on August 2, 2005


adding an extra 18 seconds to a 30 minute commute

Actually, I'd be tempted to say that slowing down and being careful around bicycles adds no time to a city commute. It merely causes the driver to take those few seconds longer to get to the next stop light or the back of the traffic queue ahead, with no overall effect on total journey time.
posted by normy at 12:40 AM on August 2, 2005


It's kind of funny. In the city, if you have a 30 minute commute by car, it's typically faster if you bike instead, especially if you travel in rush hour.
So if 5% of people driving to work took bikes instead, not only could they get there quicker, but by taking their traffic-congesting vehicles out of rush hour, congestion would be noticeably eased and everyone else would get there quicker too.

Bikes both get their surrounding traffic moving faster, and make the cyclist's own commute faster. But this doesn't happen much because people assume that "bikes are slow" :-)

On top of the time saved from quicker commutes, you also don't need to waste time at a gym any more, so you get more quality free time. On top of that, you get free money to spend on your newfound free time, since you don't have to waste very much of it on gas and car maintenance any more.

Does the goodness ever end?!
Well, it sucks to have a car drive into you because a cellphone or changing the radio is apparently more important than watching the road, but other than that, it's all good :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:46 AM on August 2, 2005


"In the city" includes suburbia assuming your fitness isn't bad.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:49 AM on August 2, 2005


Tangentially, since the bombings, bike shops in London are reporting a big increase in the number of bikes sold. It seems some people consider cycling as a way to reduce their exposure to the risk of a bomb on public transport. I hope someone somewhere is studying the effect of this on London's notoriously congested traffic. It would be interesting to see if the effect of a spike in the number of cyclists on overall congestion could be quantified, or not.
posted by normy at 12:58 AM on August 2, 2005


Yay. Another bikes vs. cars thread. Thankfully everyone has already posted all the "car drivers are homicidal" and "bikers are annoying and slow" posts, so I don't have to.

My bike uses no gasoline. It keeps the air you and I breath cleaner. It helps me stay in shape. It makes me happy.

When was the last time you actually had a shiny, happy automobile driving experience that was anything remotely like the way all those shiny, happy car commercials make it out to be?

Well, it's like that every time I ride my bike. It's like flying. Like falling in love over and over again.

I sometimes wonder if that's why so many drivers are so pissed off at cyclists. Almost everyone I see on a bike is grinning. Almost everyone I see sitting in a car is frustrated and angry looking.

Smile. Ride a bike.
posted by loquacious at 3:14 AM on August 2, 2005


invitapriore : "roads are generally built such that automobiles and bikes have their own separate travelling spaces"

Ya ain't never been to Houston, have ya son?

What they're doing seems like an asshole thing if you're in a city with a lot of bikers (New York, San Francisco, etc.), as it's just a method of protest that makes you unpassable even in a lane wide enough to allow it. For a city like Houston (my hometown, and, according to my non-Houstonian bicycling uncle, the city rated as "the most unfriendly city in America for bicycles"), it wouldn't be protest, it would be the only conceivable way to get down a city street in safety.

Kinda like hum-vees. Driving a hummer to get to your office in New York City? Asshole. Driving a hummer to get to your office in a rock quarry on the top of a mountain with no paved roads? Not asshole.
posted by Bugbread at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2005


We don't have the cyclists vs. drivers animosity in New Zealand, and every time I see a cycling thread on Mefi the responses (from mostly US-based members) amaze me - both sides are so strident.

I haven't tried biking in London yet, so I'm not sure how the British compare.
posted by wilberforce at 5:32 AM on August 2, 2005


Smile. Ride a bike.

As a New Yorker, I neither drive (these days) nor bike (I'm not suicidal enough). But back when I did own a car in the city I went out of my way to respect and be aware of bikers. Yet the kinds of scenarios described by harlequin above used to happen all the time. Some -- not all -- bikers act very righteous about their ownership of the road, yet *when it suits them* feel free to assume pedestrian rather than vehicle privileges, endangering everyone. (And never mind how many bike-hitting-pedestrian accidents there are in NYC -- including several fatal ones in the last couple of years.) Indeed, the reason bike messengers are fast (to pick up the thread above) is because they can violate traffic laws and weave in and out of traffic. Some drivers suck. So do some bikers. Riding a bike does not make you morally superior a priori; nor does driving a car give you absolute power. And using up more roadspace than you need to doesn't make you safer or make a useful political statement.

I just wish the police would enforce the rules of the road for bikers more often (cars too). So I'm actually glad this dude got a citation for wearing one of these ridiculous safety hazards around his neck.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:44 AM on August 2, 2005


For a city like Houston (my hometown, and, according to my non-Houstonian bicycling uncle, the city rated as "the most unfriendly city in America for bicycles")

Not to say your uncle isn't an expert (nor that I'd want to ride in Houston), but I commute via bike everyday in the city Bicycling magazine named the worst in the country for cyclists, Boston. And while I agree with loquacious' eloquent paean to the beauty of two-wheeled transit, I have to say I generally agree with those critical of cyclists. So many of them do ride like idiots, and have no concept of the rules of cycling -

And while I'm probably jinxing myself, I've never, in 8 years of cycling in and around this city, had an aggressive encounter with a car, which is something I can't say as a motorist. I'm pretty sure it's because I (along with 6 others in the city) use hand signals, stop at red lights, keep right, keep off the sidewalk, wear lights in the dark, and generally cycle in a non-aggressive manner.

Critical Mass can go f*ck themselves. The best way to reduce car/bike incidents is educate both cyclists and motorists on the rules of the road. But of course it's a lot easier to just annoy everyone.
posted by jalexei at 7:07 AM on August 2, 2005


realcountrymusic : "And using up more roadspace than you need to doesn't make you safer or make a useful political statement."

I agree with everything you wrote, including this sentence, but I suspect that I agree with you about this sentence in a different sense than you intended: that is, if you bicycle in an area with narrow lanes and drivers who aren't aware that you are actually legally allowed to bicycle on the street (yes, there are cities where that isn't well-known), using more roadspace than you need may not make you safer, but this frame is not more roadspace then you need, and may make you safer.
posted by Bugbread at 7:17 AM on August 2, 2005


jalexei : "Not to say your uncle isn't an expert (nor that I'd want to ride in Houston), but I commute via bike everyday in the city Bicycling magazine named the worst in the country for cyclists, Boston. And while I agree with loquacious' eloquent paean to the beauty of two-wheeled transit, I have to say I generally agree with those critical of cyclists. So many of them do ride like idiots, and have no concept of the rules of cycling - "

I've got no idea if he's an expert (I'm assuming he just read it in some magazine as well), but I agree with you: lots of bicyclists drive crappily. That said, things really do vary from town to town, and the reasons bicycling sucks in certain cities does too. In Houston, bicyclists are so rare that I wasn't even aware that bicycling on the road was even legal until I was about 17 or 18. Considering the rarity, nobody ever really looks to see if there are bicyclists, because that would be like checking the side of the road for clowns or unicycles, and as such it's really really dangerous to actually bicycle on the road, even on straight flat roads without traffic lights, stop signs, or parked cars. A big fucking frame that both points out "There's a bicyclist here", and also forcibly prevents 6 foot wide cars from trying to pass a bicyclist on a 6 foot 2 inch wide road (adjust numbers for realism, I suck at guesstimates) seems like it would provide greater safety. In other cities that are unsafe for other reasons, it might do the opposite.
posted by Bugbread at 7:31 AM on August 2, 2005


I hear ya - there are quite a few cyclists in Boston (at least in the warmer months, I actually prefer winter riding, less riffraff) and in many ways the dearth of riders (and hence awareness) in places like Houston would make me pretty leery of riding there.
posted by jalexei at 7:35 AM on August 2, 2005


how about staying off arterial streets,

If you are using arterial streets the way I think you are, then why? Arterial streets (4 lanes and up) are often the easiest and safiest to bike down. Wide shoulders with plenty of space to stay out of cars' way 95% of the time. The only problem is turning left on wide streets, and there are several strategies for dealing with that.

Side streets are the really dangerous place to ride a bike.

As pointed out in a previous bike thread, cars do just as many foolish things as bikes (and due to their size, far more dangerous things), it's just we all drive cars and therefor don't generalize about car drivers as much.

Also, in America, I think part of the stigma against bikes (causing people to yell out the car window, etc.) is that many first start biking when they're young, and give it up when they get a driver's license. In turn, biking becomes a childish thing to do.
posted by drezdn at 7:49 AM on August 2, 2005


When in reality, biking as an adult for transportation in America and elsewhere is a willfully conscious and mature thing to do, if we define maturity as "concern for society and the individuals around them".

Bike commuting isn't easy. It's certainly not something someone does because they're lazy.

Realcountry music wrote: Riding a bike does not make you morally superior a priori; nor does driving a car give you absolute power.

Given the above, and defining 'morals' as 'concern for others', I feel that it does on some level. It's no excuse to bike like an asshole, but it certainly places someone a bit higher on the socially and environmentally conscious scale, IMNSHO.
posted by loquacious at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2005


For every anecdote you can produce about a jackass on a bike, I can match or exceed it with motorist anecdotes. (Of course, the two cities I have lived in the longest are Montreal and Boston... the latter, particularly, is home to an endless supply of dangerous, clueless motorists). But frankly, there is a difference: the willfully ignorant driver yakking on a cellphone in an SUV with poor sight-lines is a lethal threat to others; the cyclist on the streets will rarely cause a major injury or death to other vehicles on the street (note: I said the street, since cyclists have no place on sidewalks). Partly as a result of this assymmetry, I have turned into the cyclist you shake your fist at: I will take up an entire lane if its the only way to be noticed and avoid being hit by opening car doors; I will ride down the yellow line because that's often the only place cars leave room; I will pass you on the left, or ride between lanes to avoid getting pinched by cars turning right.

Finally, there is *no* way I am slowing down traffic in the city. Even if I always took up an entire lane, I would not be slowing down traffic.
posted by bumpkin at 9:13 AM on August 2, 2005


Look, we can all agree that there are crappy bikers and crappy motorists. Trying to compare which of the crappy folks are morally superior is like comparing which is morally superior: Stalin or Dahmer. It's a pointless exercise, as both just end out with dead people.

Comparing conscientious bikers and conscientious motorists is another issue, and one that might have relevance, but talking about the most moral immoral folks is just silly (in my opinion).
posted by Bugbread at 9:20 AM on August 2, 2005


roads are generally built such that automobiles and bikes have their own separate travelling spaces

And this is a big mistake for road safety. The more that automobiles are forced to share the space with bicyclists, skateboards, rollerbladers, and other pedestrians, the safer it is for everyone.

Look, we can all agree that there are crappy bikers and crappy motorists

Hear, hear. I've seen some seriously insane bikers. I would warn drivers not to piss us off or you may just lose your taillights.

However, drivers : bikers :: Dahmer : Stalin is bullshit.

In reality, drivers : bikers :: wwners : renters (not to start a class war, in addition to the vehicular war ...)

For every anecdote you can produce about a jackass on a bike, I can match or exceed it with motorist anecdotes.

For every anecdote you can produce about a jackass on a bike, I can give you 500 about motorists, based on sheer percentages alone.

There's really no comparison between the guy on the sidewalk going 5 mph or the guy going the wrong way down an empty one-way street, and the driver who runs a red light and puts you in an ambulance and nearly (literally) kills you. There might be a comparison if the biker was going 35 mph down a crowded sidewalk, but I've honestly never seen that.

There's really no comparison between drivers and cyclists (except that they both earn all the privileges and responsibilities of vehicular laws). The important comparison is between the drivers and the rest of us. Drivers are the problem. We are the solution. Don't forget that.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:15 AM on August 2, 2005


mrgrimm : "There's really no comparison between the guy on the sidewalk going 5 mph or the guy going the wrong way down an empty one-way street, and the driver who runs a red light and puts you in an ambulance and nearly (literally) kills you."

No, but there's a comparison between the crazy driver who hits a biker and kills him, and the crazy biker who swerves in front of a car and kills himself. Both deaths are a result of craziness, both deaths are the result of fast car and slow bicycle touching eachother, but they differ in whose fault it is.

mrgrimm : "The important comparison is between the drivers and the rest of us. Drivers are the problem. We are the solution. Don't forget that."

But...but we are also drivers. So we are the problem, and yet we are the solution. So we cancel ourselves out, and drivers are neither a problem nor a solution...or something. I'm not sure I'm so convinced by your last bit, largely because I'm not really sure what it means.
posted by Bugbread at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2005


mosch: If the cyclists were all going 25mph, it would be far less of a problem. However, most people who are riding aren't going anywhere near that fast. As I said before, I'd put 10-15mph as a good average.

Getting stuck behind somebody like that for a full mile could slow you down... four minutes. Also, it very rarely takes anywhere near a mile to find a safe place to pass.. I'd estimate my mean distance is something like 1/8th of a mile, and the median is 1/4. Most commonly all I have to do is slow down, and put my left tires right on the center line for a hundred yards.

I love driving fast as much as the next guy (actually... a lot more, probably), but slowing down to pass a cyclist safely isn't going to make any difference in your life, whatsoever.

Stressing out about it, however, will. Relax.
posted by mosch at 1:28 PM on August 2, 2005


No, but there's a comparison between the crazy driver who hits a biker and kills him, and the crazy biker who swerves in front of a car and kills himself.

Sure. For the driver's insurance company, it's 100% liability or 50% liability. ;)

Believe me, I know we're all drivers. My mom called me recently to celebrate her new car. I move my girlfriend's car for street cleaning once a week. Most of all my best friends drive. I know the score.

Not sure if this was posted back then and too lazy to search:

No street signs. No crosswalks. No accidents. Surprise: Making driving seem more dangerous could make it safer.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2005


What I don't get is that if I'm cycling in front of someone and they have to lift their foot from the gas for a nanosecond, then turn the wheel 1/8 of a turn to go around me they feel justified in honking me and telling me to fuck off. Why don't they flip off slow moving tractor trailers? Or the streets department guy who is driving a front end loader down the street at ten mph? Or a trash truck? What is it about the sight of an adult on a bike that sends people into a rage? It's OK to cross the double yelow to pass a cyclists, really, it is.
posted by fixedgear at 4:47 PM on August 2, 2005


realcountrymusic:
Indeed, the reason bike messengers are fast (to pick up the thread above) is because they can violate traffic laws and weave in and out of traffic.

This is completely false. I can (and usually do) obey the law to the letter and the bike is still faster than car.

Cars are slow. The fact that they are fast on an open country highway does not mean they are fast in rush hour. Most roads have enough space for an imaginary cycle lane, thus cyclists do not slow down cars, and cars do not slow down cyclists, they both proceed at their natural pace without hindering the other. Since (where applicable, depending on the intersection) the car queue at the red light is much longer than the cycle queue, cycles can spend less time standing still, yet still respect all stop lights and not interfere with car traffic.

Also, there are legal ways to weave through traffic, such as walking the bike to a crosswalk, and waiting for the pedestrian cross light, and walking the bike across. You can't switch to ped like that in a car. In an area with really bad rush hour traffic, even walking a bike is sometimes still faster than a car, because you're actually still moving, while all those cars which are theoretically so much faster, aren't even moving. :-)

It actually goes a lot further than that if you want to cycle agressively - I think there are a lot of practises that you (and sometimes even I) would be surprised to find are entirely legal. But that doesn't mean they won't piss people off.

I'm in washington state, so the laws may be different here, but I can assure you that bikes are faster than cars when respecting the letter of the law, and since my experience of this is in largely suburban areas, I imagine bikes must absolutely kick ass in the General Business District of a large city, which is where you get most cycle couriers.

That cycle couriers might engage in traffic law violations is not the cause of their success. Correlation not causation.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2005


mrgrimm:
Making driving seem more dangerous might have worked previously, or in other countries, but today, I suspect its major effect would be to encourage everyone to buy the biggest SUV truck they could afford, for "protection", and thus the roads would become actually more dangerous :-)

(Cant be assed finding links, but there are some studies concluding from casualties that the extra protection afforded SUV drivers is less than the extra danger they present to other road users and pedestrians)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:49 PM on August 2, 2005


wilberforce:
We don't have the cyclists vs. drivers animosity in New Zealand,

Yes we do, in some areas :) I think it's different place to place, but I've done a lot of cycling in the Christchurch area, and there is definitely animosity there. Arguments like those in this thread have raged in the letters to the Editor in The Press.

Christchurch is small and dead flat - it is the perfect city for cycling, and as such, you see a lot of it there. I think the animosity mainly stems from the popularity of cycling as a way for schoolkids to get to school. Schoolkids are sometimes reckless, sometimes even playing games trying to scare motorists, and frequently cycle more people abreast than is wise. So Christchurch drivers are taught by the schoolkids to dislike cyclists, and carry that attitude elsewhere, sometimes including in their driving. Cyclists pick up on it, and push back. And the cycle repeats :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:01 PM on August 2, 2005


Wow, everyone is saying everyone else is the problem. Here's something I learned, you can't control other people by telling them what to do, I think most of you will agree on this.

What you can control is yourself. When I ride my bike, or motorcycle, or drive, i am always looking out for other people to make mistakes. (Hey I just remembered, that was the one of the main point they thought in my safety classes for motorcycle/Car.)

That makes sense right? Everyone is responsible for themselves. People are responsible for their own action and consequences; it's rather immature to say all these bad things that happen everyday is because of other people. I REALLY don't think a sane person will INTENTIONALLY start hitting others. This is not some MAD MAX commute to the thunderdome.

BTW, I think all the bikers should move on to motorcycle for transportation (not for health....)--- you get all the right and respects of motor vehicle (unlike bicycles), something like 50-60mpg, and ability to cut through traffic/split lanes. Oh, and the ability to leave all but the higher end sports cars in the dust.
posted by countzen at 6:44 PM on August 2, 2005


countzen:
Yes, defensive driving means expecting others to make mistakes, and taking every reasonable action to be safe, but it doesn't follow from that that if someone plows into a farmer's market killing 14, then those 14 only had themselves to blame for not being alert enough. People make mistakes that kill people, and it is right and proper to blame people for their actions when their actions involve dangerous mistakes.

I REALLY don't think a sane person will INTENTIONALLY start hitting others.

Not with their valuable car - it might get scratched :) More likely they'll just throw something at you :). Something that only weighs half a pound can knock you off your bike and under traffic if it hits you at 30 mph in the arms. Tormenting people is just kicks to some people, and of those, some of them don't think it through and do reckless things (like throwing from a moving car). A much more common problem is deliberately "buzzing" people. Both cyclists and motorists do this, but it is a deliberate, agressive action that is unnecessarily dangerious.

you get all the right and respects of motor vehicle (unlike bicycles)

Actually, bicycles do have all the rights of a motor vehicle, you'll just die if you try to use them :)

From Dept. of Licenseing Washington Driver Guide "Every Bicycle rider has the same rights, duties, and responsibilities of a motor vehicle driver".

The thing about motorcycles (I haven't ridden them very often myself), is that it seems like everyone who owns one has an incident where they were almost killed. Cyclists mostly seem to have an incident where there was an accident and they were almost injured :-)

I wonder which is safer? (I genuinely have no idea). I suspect for a rush hour commute where the traffic is slow, a motorcycle would be safer, but outside that where higher speeds become possible, it might change.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:40 PM on August 2, 2005


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