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Bike vs. Cars War
September 3, 2009 6:39 AM   Subscribe

In light of the recent tragic death of a cyclist in Toronto, even normally well-balanced MeFites have polarized in the bikes vs. cars war”. But according to Guillermo Penalosa, the fight is really about better urban design. He helped to radically reinvent the transit and parks infrastructure of Bogata, making it of the best cycling cities in the world. The recent changes to Broadway in New York were influenced by Bogota's success. Gil now advises the Project for Public Spaces and is Executive Director of Walk & Bike for Life. Their solution to the pedestrians vs. cars vs. bikes battle is simple: better urban planning (previously on MeFi) that gives everyone their own safe space. Not sure if your city's infrastructure is up-to-snuff? Apply the 8/80 rule. In the meantime, keep safe out there.
posted by nometa (175 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not that this isn't a good post - it is - but I don't think this particular incident is a good hook to hang it on. As far as I can tell from the media reports, it wasn't about bikes vs. cars, or even about urban design.

It appears to have been about two guys who both let their lizard instincts override their forebrains in really bad ways at the same time, like two waves combining into one big wave that destroyed them both.
posted by Naberius at 6:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


the fastest way is by trism.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


That completestreets.org doesn't meet my 8/80 rule. Pushing a stroller right on the side of the road with only a line of paint for safety? No.
posted by DU at 6:49 AM on September 3, 2009


Utter bullshit. Designing cities to accommodate cars is a loosing proposition. Cars are dinosaurs, on their way out. Design cities to park cars outside the cities. You could call those car parks "salvage yards", or something equally appropriate, if you want to be realistic.

Cars are not objects of love. They are dangerous machines that kill people, every day, while depleting natural resources and polluting the air. Big, ugly, dangerous, deadly machines.

If you love your car, see a therapist.
posted by Goofyy at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


solution to the pedestrians vs. cars vs. bikes battle is simple
A dedicated way or the stick.
posted by tellurian at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


While I find myself frustrated with bikes on the road where I live frequently since it causes traffic snarls and indecision in timid drivers I completely agree with the idea that its a failure of urban planning.. in the Midwest cities just aren't built to be walked or biked. They are made to sell cars.. if everything is too far to walk to you have to drive.
posted by zennoshinjou at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2009


even normally well-balanced MeFites

what
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


@Naberius - Ugh. It was genuinely not meant to be a spurious "hook". The death of Mr. Sheppard is brutal and tragic, and the goal was to (hopefully) get a "let's tone down the 'war' rhetoric and talk about what really caused this" discussion going.

In Toronto, this incident has sparked endless and overblown discussions about the "war" between cars and bikes from left- and right-wing media over the last few days.

The conversation is starting to turn to "how do we avoid these conflicts" - but in light of the fact the stretch of Bloor Street where the incident took place is undergoing a huge redesign, and one of the biggest complaints is the lack of bike infrastructure, the connection made sense. At least in my head.
posted by nometa at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cars are dinosaurs, on their way out.

Cars powered by gasoline engines, perhaps eventually. But if by "car" you mean a powered device for moving you, your family, and cargo around, then no, the car is not going away.

Buses and subways and hoversidewalks or whatever all have their place (mostly in dense urban conglomerations). But there's a place, too, for the practicality of personal motorized transportation, regardless of whether it is private (your own car), shared (Zipcar), or hired (taxi). Europe has lovely cities and fabulous mass transit -- and plenty of private cars. That so many people are willing to pay $10/gallon for gas and extraordinarily high vehicle taxes suggests how valued a personal vehicle can be -- it will take a lot more than "peak oil" to make everyone stop driving.

That said, I think that the centrality of cars in how our landscapes (urban as well as rural) are planned and built is asinine. Cars need to be subordinate to people, and good design protects pedestrians and bicycle access to public space.
posted by Forktine at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


Cars are dinosaurs, on their way out.

What do you base this on? I've not seen anything to indicate that cars would be on their way out in any significant way. What would replace them?

I say this as a guy in his late 20's who has never owned a car who also grew up in a household without one. I've always relied on public transportation, my legs or a bike to get me where I've needed to go. I've spent my entire life living in European capitals so I also realise that my perspective is the exception, not the rule.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


the fight is really about better urban design

Bullshit. I regularly drive on a road that has a well-maintained bike path going from start to end, and a good number of stupid cyclists insist on using the very narrow road (one lane each way at high speed) and force every driver to encroach on the oncoming lane (sometimes needing to straddle the yellow line) to pass them.

A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design and your nice bike paths, they will ride on the road, and fuck everyone else. If this wasn't true I'd never, ever see cyclists riding on the road, a bare 3 feet from the bike path reserved for their use.
posted by splice at 7:15 AM on September 3, 2009


On some issues, MeFites are not "well-balanced." This is one of them.
posted by hermitosis at 7:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've not seen anything to indicate that cars would be on their way out in any significant way.

Have you seen climate change? Just because we aren't using fewer cars yet doesn't mean we can keep using them forever.
posted by DU at 7:20 AM on September 3, 2009


By that standard, all humans are on their way out.
posted by brain_drain at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design and your nice bike paths, they will ride on the road, and fuck everyone else. If this wasn't true I'd never, ever see cyclists riding on the road, a bare 3 feet from the bike path reserved for their use.

I guess I'm one of those stupid cyclists -- separate paths, as opposed to bike lanes in the street, create all sorts of problems. For one thing, they're just like riding on the sidewalk in terms of visibility to cars turning right. And really these paths are designed for recreational use, not moving from point A to point B in your vehicle. Trying to ride swiftly between walkers and old people poking along on their Electra cruisers is dangerous. That's why I ride in the street, with the other vehicles. When I'm riding on the street, I do try to stay to the right as safely as I can without being in the door zone, but otherwise, you're right. I'm pretty much thinking fuck everyone else.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm with Naberius...this isn't a good example to hold up against proper urban design. I also don't think that bicycle couriers are representative of how we should ride bicycles - clearly they know they're taking huge risks at certain times, and often ride with little regard to the rules of the road. I understand why they do this, and sympathize to some extent.

As an urban planner, a runner, a cyclist, a transit user and a driver, I have been on both sides of user conflicts. I've been run off the road by drivers when riding and running, and have been frustrated by cyclists who have little regard for cars. I have to say that I'm always on the losing end when not in my car, so that's definitely something to consider.

The most successful cities I've seen (Amsterdam, Paris, London, San Francisco etc.) seem to integrate various modes of transport much better. However, they are also inhabited by people who are generally

1. much more tolerant of each other.
2. much better at picking their spots and not disturbing the natural order of things.

This natural order includes riding your bicycle properly, and watching for cyclists when you're driving. In Canada, people haven't been too tolerant of cyclists in general. It's getting better, but much more than urban design is a need for tolerance on both sides - understanding that if you weave in and out of traffic on your bike, you're going to unnerve people who don't want to kill you in their car. Understanding that people on bikes are vulnerable and sometimes need to hop over that curb to get out of your way.

I fully agree that we need more bike lanes, more paths, more transit lanes and less big-pipe roadways which just enable the automotive lifestyle. But, I also think people just need to chill the fuck out sometimes and understand that, in an urban environment, you need to go with the flow, be patient and be empathetic. Good design helps this, but it's really a history of congestion and needing to get along which really helps that culture of tolerance along.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:24 AM on September 3, 2009


If you love your car, see a therapist.

Please get over yourself. All kinds of things that are dangerous are objects of love to humans, including things that are not giant, metal machines. You want to approach this problem by trying to change the innate nature of humans to cherish objects? You are going to alienate the very people whose minds you need to change and you are going to lose.
posted by spicynuts at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's a question of scale. The Sun is on the way out too, but it'll take a while. Single-person, high-power cars have a considerably shorter projected lifespan.

A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design and your nice bike paths, they will ride on the road, and fuck everyone else.

Part of urban design is legislative and enforcement. A lot of car drivers don't care about urban design either and speed/run lights/double park/etc but the incidence is kept relatively low via a system of laws and tickets.
posted by DU at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2009


What do you base this on? I've not seen anything to indicate that cars would be on their way out in any significant way. What would replace them?


Why, autogyros of course!
posted by digsrus at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2009


in the Midwest cities just aren't built to be walked or biked.

In the Midwest? How about in America. Having spent a summer in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, I learned what it means to design a city for bikes. It isn't painting bike lanes on roads--it is designing the roadways for bikes in the first place.

These painted bike lanes are usually an afterthought. There's one on an expressway here that disappears at every on-ramp and off-ramp to the road, precisely where bikes are often hit. It is like it was designed to lure bikers to their death.
posted by eye of newt at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


There are too many cyclists that try to remove themselves from the gene pool daily. All power to them, and I say that as a bike commuter who does a 22km round trip daily.

All I want is drivers to realize that while they watch the cars around them and traffic signals, I'm trying to do the same while also looking out for road cuts, bus knuckles, potholes, broken glass, parked cars, driveways and side roads. Give me some space in case I have to react to something suddenly, and we'll get along fine.

Besides, as you race past me and almost clip me (despite the child seat I'm lugging), I'll probably see you at the next light anyway. All I want to do is get from point a to b without getting killed, I'm hoping you want to get from your point a to b without killing anyone.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 7:30 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design and your nice bike paths, they will ride on the road, and fuck everyone else.

Bikes are vehicles. They're allowed on any non-freeway road that a car is, the existence of a bike path has nothing to do with that fact.
posted by octothorpe at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


even normally well-balanced MeFites have polarized in the bikes vs. cars “war”

As long as it's thought of as a "war", with each side viewing the other as the enemy, it's always going to be a problem. Just in the few posts in this thread alone you have drivers complaining of bikes riding on the road (where they're legal allowed to be) and bikers complaining about the very existence of cars, which is kind of like complaining about the existence of, I dunno, squirrels or something. Carbon monoxide pooping squirrels.

More motorists need to be encouraged to, at least occasionally, ride bikes. That way they can see the world from that point of view, and they'll be able to see how difficult it is to be thought of as a second class citizen and just how unaware motorists are of cars some times.

More cyclists need to accept that cars aren't going away any time soon and they need to stop acting like just the mere act of driving a car is somehow a crime against humanity. Cars, though perhaps overused and often wasteful, are necessary for a lot of people.

We need to stop having a "war" and just learn to fucking exist with each other. But we can't. It's always "That fucking cyclists is in the road slowing me down!" and "OMG you drive a two ton pollution machine that you don't need!" We need to coexist, like the Fraggles and the Doozers.
posted by bondcliff at 7:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


wasn't the old thread perfectly suited for this scripted debate?
posted by Think_Long at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design

It's your urban design too - we can share (grin).

Some don't, true. Just like SOME car drivers don't respect bike lanes. In any population, the asshat segment exists. But most people want to get to their destination without ruining their lives or ending others.

Smart people do seemingly stupid things all the time. If a system is set up so that these otherwise reasonable people can - through stupidity, carelessness, or a simple drift in attention - end up in a fatal situation, then the system is flawed, not the people.

I'm assuming the bike lane you're driving along is a painted line (no height difference, no barriers or other separation). Would you send your kid out by themselves on this path? If the answer is "no", it's not a truly safe path. A painted bike lane is better than nothing, but it's the bottom rung of ideal.

For the record, I both drive and bike regularly.
posted by nometa at 7:36 AM on September 3, 2009


"Hi Mr Therapist? Someone on the Internet said I should speak to you... Yes, apparently it's wrong to love cars... No, not love them, that's sick. No he meant that I shouldn't simultaneously think that they're really quite cool technology, quite enjoyable, and a unfortunate necessity of not fitting the demographic of a perfectly fit person living in the middle of a city... Tell him to go fuck himself and stop trying to judge everyone's lives buy his own experiences? Cool. Thanks Mr Therapist."
posted by twine42 at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


Again, I'm going to post the Effective Cycling link in a perhaps-vain hope that we might apply reason to this problem.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2009


Bullshit. I regularly drive on a road that has a well-maintained bike path going from start to end, and a good number of stupid cyclists insist on using the very narrow road (one lane each way at high speed) and force every driver to encroach on the oncoming lane (sometimes needing to straddle the yellow line) to pass them.

A lot of cyclists don't give a shit about your urban design and your nice bike paths, they will ride on the road, and fuck everyone else. If this wasn't true I'd never, ever see cyclists riding on the road, a bare 3 feet from the bike path reserved for their use.


I've gotten screamed at, swerved at, and otherwise threatened with bodily harm by people with with a slightly angrier version of the same attitude you display here. Bicyclists are 100% as entitled to use the road as you are, should they elect to do so, regardless of whether an alternate route is available for them to use. I'd submit that good urban planning is really about "traffic calming" -- i.e. the transformation of urban roads into good safe SHARED spaces for motorized vehicles, non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians. Ghettoizing cyclists and pedestrians onto SEPARATE routes so that cars may travel unimpeded is really the wrong idea entirely.

Bike paths in the U.S. are often poorly graded and/or have a surface that is rough and badly maintained relative to the streets to which they're adjacent, making them suitable only for slow recreational cycling. This isn't always the case, but in my extensive experience it is true more often than not. This explains why you will often see serious cyclists disdaining paths in favor of the road.
posted by killdevil at 7:39 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, octothorpe. They also do about 20 miles an hour. When they have a dedicated lane, just for them, they should be in it, unless they NEED to be in the car lane for something. (a left turn, for instance, or avoiding a hazard in their lane.)

Taking the car lane for no good reason, refusing to use your own dedicated section of the road, is rude, pure and simple. And you wonder why drivers don't like you.

Don't slow down cars unless you have to. If there's a real need, do it. If there isn't, stay the hell out of the way and let the motorized vehicles pass. Forcing cars to travel at your speed just because you feel like it is extraordinarily selfish, and you shouldn't be surprised when people throw things at you. It's not because you're on a bike, it's because you're slow.
posted by Malor at 7:39 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's funny, but when I came into this thread I thought the "war" was silly and I didn't have a side, I was just wondering why we all can't get along. But if you examine this thread so far, you'll find that the bike-lovers hate cars (which are objects) based on facts (like pollution and energy) while the car-lovers hate people (who are people) based on perceived local behavior (anecdata).
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


Have you seen climate change? Just because we aren't using fewer cars yet doesn't mean we can keep using them forever.

That in of itself doesn't means cars are on the way out. perhaps (hopefully) cars powered primarily by gasoline, or other high carbon emitting sources will fade away, but barring a societal collapse and rebuilding around small decentralized population centers cars, in some form, are here to stay.

splice, I have to ask how your experience negates the assertion that the fight in Toronto is not about urban design? IS the road you mention in Toronto? Or, perhaps you are applying a small divergent geographical population to a different set of circumstances. I, do not know why the cyclists you mention ride on the road, but can come up with two plausible reasons off the top of my head without thinking about it. 1. The nice bike path could contain sewer grates and other such hazards that any experienced rider int he area knows means having to weave in to traffic to avoid which is potentially more dangerous than just riding on the road. 2. Bicyclists in that area have experienced motorists using bike lanes to pass of the right, park, whatever enough times that, again, it is safer to ride on the road. 3. Bike path next to sidewalk perhaps, where joggers, pedestrians and stroller moms drift in and out? Again... I don't know what the situation is, but physically separated bike paths (from car and foot traffic) are good design, a bike path designated by a strip of paint and the good will of motorists can be pretty dangerous, and a bike path used by pedestrians can be frustrating.
posted by edgeways at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2009


The most successful cities I've seen (Amsterdam, Paris, London, San Francisco etc.) seem to integrate various modes of transport much better.

The fundamental design of all of those cities were created long before the invention of the automobile. What you see as good design for "integrating various modes of transport" is actually "a city designed for walking and riding horses," with other things layered on top as they were invented and/or made affordable to the masses -- cable cars, trains, cars, mass-produced bicycles, etc.

So, we really can't learn a great deal from Amsterdam, Paris, London, San Francisco and apply it to "younger" cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and Atlanta. Cars exist now. We can't pretend that people don't like them and would rather have something else -- most of them just don't.

If you want to look at something modern and efficient, look at something created from scratch in the mid-20th century, places like Tokyo and Moscow. Or, closer to home for most MeFites, San Jose.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:42 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Notwithstanding splice's anecdote, I really feel like bike lanes are the answer to the problem. In their absence I can't get worked up about the practice of riding on the sidewalk. The consequences of bruising a pedestrian << the consequences of being hit by a passing car. If you want cyclists off your sidewalk, support bike lanes!
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2009


We have really, really done the "bikes are vehicles too" "no get off my road" ideological throwdown just the other day in this other thread that wasn't really about that at all, which was linked from this post above.

If you really want to have that argument, maybe go there and let's let this thread keep being about not that same fucking rehash. Seriously, please.
posted by cortex at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Really Cortex? I was just thinking that the other thread was getting back on track about discussing that particular high profile incident. This seems like a much more appropriate thread to discuss how to integrate cycling into urban traffic.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2009


If this wasn't true I'd never, ever see cyclists riding on the road, a bare 3 feet from the bike path reserved for their use.

Have you used the path extensively? I've encountered seeminly-nice bike paths littered with frost heaves. Ones with random poles installed in the path. Bike paths that have cobbles across the path every so often (really annoying). Some are just too narrow for the amount of traffic they get. Some have storm grates in them that are perfect for trapping wheels. Some only go for a small distance, and then force you to merge back into traffic. Other prevent you from turning if you need to before the end of the path. I occasionally use a couple that require you to merge through moving traffic as the lanes cross.

Or my favorite, one that ends suddenly with a curb and no ramp down to the street in sight (I was sure I was going to crack a rim on that one). Just because it looks nice doesn't mean it's actually funtional. Maybe this one is good and the riders are clueless, but don't be too quick to assume that.

Really, the fundamental problem seems to be the commoditization of time. When I'm on my bike, I don't really worry about when I'll get somewhere; my speed is pretty much the same regardless of road conditons, so I'll get there when I get there. If I'm on a deadline, I just have to plan to leave a bit earlier, but my travel time is predictable and totally under my control.

On the rare occasions I drive, I have an idea of how long is should be taking me to get there, so anybody--car or bike--that's slowing me down in an %!@@&* who should get his sorry butt off the road. Something about the unused power and the smaller margins of error we leave seem to inspire rage.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fundamental design of all of those cities were created long before the invention of the automobile.

That's my point - nothing is the focus (though pedestrianism is of a higher priority) and everything fits better. It's actually an argument against highly interventional, detailed master planning and urban design for cars, bikes etc and instead highlights tolerance and a decent pedestrian environment. We place a whole lot of emphasis on efficiency in cities, but the reality is that people tend to fill the spaces regardless of the type of space. Efficiency of movement doesn't necessarily make the most liveable of environments.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2009


It's not because you're on a bike, it's because you're slow.

But apparently not slow enough for a dumb fuck in a car to be able to judge the speed of the bike well enough to make a right hand turn without cutting the bicyclist off.
posted by digsrus at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This seems like a much more appropriate thread to discuss how to integrate cycling into urban traffic.

I think it's awesome if people want to substantively discuss how to integrate cycling into urban traffic. The more heated "fuck everyone else" and "bullshit" stuff that is threatening to start up in here, not so much. I don't want to doom the other thread to bike-argument purgatory, but if that stuff really needs to have another round or two I'd rather it didn't take over another thread while its still new.
posted by cortex at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bicyclists are 100% as entitled to use the road as you are, should they elect to do so, regardless of whether an alternate route is available for them to use.

You don't inconvenience other drivers unless you need to. It's really, really simple. If you can travel on the road without inconveniencing people, that's what you do. If you can travel in a way that inconveniences others less, you travel that way. You are generally a single person on a bike, and bad driving on your part can seriously impact the trips of dozens of other people, as traffic stacks up behind your slow ass.

When you do need to inconvenience other drivers, you do so for as short a time as possible. This is true no matter what kind of vehicle you drive, from the tiniest unicycle to the largest semi truck. You take turns, you share the road, and you remember that on your 20mph vehicle, you can cause massive problems if you don't drive responsibly.

Selfishly screaming "I have as much right to be here as you do!" and then jumping into the "fast" lane and sitting there, instead of riding in your dedicated "slow" lane, is extraordinarily rude. You have no business being on the road with that attitude.

Does anyone even learn the basics of courtesy on the road anymore? I remember when we'd be traveling on the twisty mountain roads in California, if someone came up behind you, you generally pulled over to let them go by, when it was safe to do so. Sometimes you'd wait for 2 or 3 cars to stack up, depending on the speed limit and the road conditions, but it was a major focus to get the hell out of the way and let the faster drivers travel at the speed they wanted.

Many of the bicyclists in our two threads seem completely incapable of courtesy; I can easily see them sitting in the lane for mile after mile after mile, holding back dozens of cars, because "it's my right to be here!"

Well, it was our right to be there too, when we were driving cars, and we got the fuck out of the way.

It has nothing to do with bikes versus cars and everything to do with simple courtesy. Your needs are no more important than the needs of others, and if the choice is an inconvenience for you, and an equal inconvenience for five other people, you eat the inconvenience yourself.

We are really falling apart as a society. I can't believe I actually have to explicitly say that.
posted by Malor at 7:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If there isn't, stay the hell out of the way and let the motorized vehicles pass. Forcing cars to travel at your speed just because you feel like it is extraordinarily selfish, and you shouldn't be surprised when people throw things at you. It's not because you're on a bike, it's because you're slow.

You know, Malor, I think people should be surprised when people throw things at cyclists, swerve at them, etc. because I don't think people should try to harm/kill other people they perceive as selfish.

Some guy yelled something at me today while I was biking. Yes I was going slower than him. Yes, he probably had to wait a few seconds to pass me. Yes, after he passed me he had to slow down because of the other traffic in front of him. So because I cost this guy a few seconds, maybe, I shouldn't be surprised if he threw something at me, causing potential injury/death?
posted by mikepop at 7:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


But apparently not slow enough for a dumb fuck in a car to be able to judge the speed of the bike well enough to make a right hand turn without cutting the bicyclist off.

it's generally a bad idea to pass on the right - and if a car's making a right hand turn in front of you and you're attempting to go by him, that's precisely what you're doing
posted by pyramid termite at 7:58 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming the bike lane you're driving along is a painted line (no height difference, no barriers or other separation).

You assume completely wrong. There is a height difference, there is a physical separation, there is grass between the road and the bike path. Not only that, the road is a parkway, there are absolutely no usable exits for bikes anywhere (only two highway onramps, and the start and end of the road have intersections, and that's where the bike path starts and begins). There is no need at all, none, for the bikes to be on the road.

1. The nice bike path could contain sewer grates and other such hazards that any experienced rider int he area knows means having to weave in to traffic to avoid which is potentially more dangerous than just riding on the road.

No. It is a dedicated bike path, there are no grates, it is not part of the road in any way, and there is no weaving involved other than weaving around other cyclists, which is the same as any road.

2. Bicyclists in that area have experienced motorists using bike lanes to pass of the right, park, whatever enough times that, again, it is safer to ride on the road.

No. The bike path is not connected to the road in any way. A car could not swerve onto the path without going over an embankment and a strip of grass.

3. Bike path next to sidewalk perhaps, where joggers, pedestrians and stroller moms drift in and out?

No. There is no sidewalk on this road, as it is a parkway and meant for car traffic only.

physically separated bike paths (from car and foot traffic) are good design

Yes. Now if only all the cyclists actually agreed and didn't insist on slowing down cars, blocking traffic, making the road more dangerous for everyone on it, then the urban design you're talking about would actually matter. As it is, you can design the bestest bike-friendly city, some assholes would still insist on riding in the middle of the road, because, as killdevil says, "Bicyclists are 100% as entitled to use the road", and fuck everyone and their safety, because, hell, they're entitled to put everyone's safety at risk by deciding not to use your well designed and safe bike paths.

I have no problem with bikes on the road if the road is designed for it. They have their lane, but at least we have some give (a second lane, wider lanes, whatever) to avoid them if they encroach on the road. But when you're on a road for cars only and there is a separate, dedicated, well-maintained bike path that takes you from start to end, you have no reason to use the road at all, and the road is one narrow lane each way at high speed with no extra space anywhere, for fuck's sake don't insist on using the road. As long as you have people like that, you'll have drivers angry at bikers. It's not even about the inconvenience, it's about safety, for both drivers and bikers.
posted by splice at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2009


Blah, blah, blah. All this continued bickering says to me is that bike lanes, as they are "built" (read painted) in the US, do very little to calm traffic and keep cyclists safe. We would all be better off with more dedicated bike routes and pedestrian areas.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2009


I would be pleased if more bicycle and car users, both, were educated as to proper traffic law. I cannot easily count the number of times I've seen 1) bicycles riding down the wrong side of the street, facing into traffic, 2) bicyclists choosing random times to alternate riding on the sidewalk and then the street, as if both belonged to them, 3) bicyclists doing a left turn from the far right bicycle lane, 4) cars parking in bike lanes, as if that stretch of road were actually marked off and kept free for that purpose 5) cars attempting a right turn in front of a bicyclist going straight ahead, 6) car drivers so freaked out by a bicyclist making a proper left turn (from the right-hand edge of the left-turn lane) that they nearly cause other motorists to hit both them and the cyclist...

Seriously, sharing the road is the way to go, but unless there is some kind of active educational process in place which helps all concerned understand what that means, it's going to continue to be a real mess.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good urban design is impossible from the outset. Even if you could define what it would look like--I don't think you can--the cities already exist and are already designed the way they are.

What is needed is a bunch of small beneficial changes to the cities as they already exist. Toronto is full of the opposite. Transportation Services constantly adjusts in small and stupid ways. Installing traffic lights, stop signs, and traffic calming where things are going just fine already while ignoring really beneficial improvements.

What works, as far as I can tell, is a curb lane that is wide enough to acomodate car plus cyclist, but not wide enough to acomodate two cars. As soon as you call that extra width a bike lane, people start parking in it, so best not to. It is okay to paint a white line, keeping drivers over to the left of lane where they should be, but not really that important. Also really helpful is a wide, painted only, centre median strip. It doesn't have to be wide enough for a turn lane, just wide enough to give cars a little relief space when too many road users are abreast at the same time.
posted by Chuckles at 8:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


@Naberius - Ugh

No fucking Twitterisms on Metafilter, goddamit.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Now, keep in mind that on those twisty roads, we'd be a little annoyed at how stupidly fast the other drivers wanted to travel, but we got out of the way anyway. In exchange, those idiot drivers who didn't want to travel as fast as WE did also got out of OUR way. Everyone thought everyone else was an idiot, but everyone got to drive more or less the speed they wanted. You held whatever opinion you held, and you got out of the way anyway.

This confrontational approach totally isn't going to work. All this talk of breaking headlights and eating thrown bottles is a real sign of sickness and selfishness. We need to be driving with the idea of balancing inconveniences. If there are five bikers, and you're in a solo car, they are five times as important as you are. If there are five cars, and one biker, the cars are five times as important.

It's just simple courtesy, understanding that what you do impacts other people, and weighing their inconvenience as high, or higher, than your own.

Hold whatever opinion you want of other drivers, and get out of the way.
posted by Malor at 8:04 AM on September 3, 2009


From the NYT article: Some workers in the area wondered whether people would flock to dine and relax so close to a busy route’s speeding taxis, noisy trucks and exhaust fumes. “They’ll have carbon monoxide in their tuna fish,” said Corey Baker, 31

I find carbon monoxide goes nicely with my mercury-laced dinner.

Yeah, that argument really stops people from eating in places like, say, Le Champs Elysees.
posted by jontyjago at 8:07 AM on September 3, 2009


We would all be better off with more dedicated bike routes and pedestrian areas.

I can't see how that can possibly work in general. Dedicated routes are great along rivers and lake shores, where crossings are already grade separated or non existent. Everywhere else, they have to cross roads frequently. Do you put a traffic light at every crossing? 4 way stop? Or do you elect to make the cyclists stop and wait for a gap at every block?
posted by Chuckles at 8:07 AM on September 3, 2009


I really, really hate the fighty framing of this post in the first sentence. It might have stood on its own as a post about urban design, but the way you wrote it up was pretty much guaranteed to carry over the worst aspects of the Toronto thread.

That, and how dare you call me "normally well-balanced?" I tip over all the time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2009


I cycle, but not a lot. I only occasionally use a car. I am fortunate to live where public transit is fabulous. None of that has anything to do with my comments about cars.

My comment was based purely on the notion that cities should still be planned to accommodate cars. This is nonsense. You want to continue with the whole suburban thing, fine, build your suburbs to accommodate cars, and pay for it with suburban taxes. Oh, you work in the city? Then you have a choice: live in it, or park your car and hop on the transit. If you don't like it, tough, you don't live there, you don't get a vote.

Most of us have been raised to carry on the traditional love affair with the automobile. They are "cool", "fun", "pretty", and all kinds of things. They advertise status, and make up for the diminished size of the suburban phallus. They even attract sexual opportunity (gender neutrality really sucks the flavor out of language, at times).

I actually appreciate all that. It's part of my life, seeing as how I'm originally from Michigan. But I've been a lot of places, lived in a lot of places. And I've learned that cars really detract from city life in a huge way. Apart from the extremely serious issues of resources and the environment. More than you would usually realize, under ordinary circumstances.

You have to be in the right place at the right time, to see what I'm talking about. I was, living within reach of Manhattan via underground subway, when nature threw a lovely blizzard that way. Auto traffic was almost non-existent. You really have to see what that's like and pay attention, to understand what I'm talking about.

Oil and pollution are just handy things to point out with this other thing, this 'idea', that city life would be better without all the cars. I think it is mostly the noise, but I could be mistaken. People are different, when the cars are gone. Happier, actually. I'd even bet that most folks enjoyed a drop in blood pressure.

Normally, the traffic is just so much a part of daily life, you hardly think about it. The noise is a constant backdrop, you forget it's there. But you might notice when it's gone. Especially notice when you suddenly realize you can hear someone laughing, a block away.

Don't try to argue electric cars, most of the noise is tires on pavement, not engines. Electric cars are still a way to move around a rediculous amount of equipment in order to move a small amount of cargo (1 person, too often).

Besides, really, here's the awesome part of this silly idea of mine: No car payments! No auto insurance! Surely there are better things to do with your hard-earned money, then buy a ridiculous hunk of machinery in which to risk your life.
posted by Goofyy at 8:17 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


But apparently not slow enough for a dumb fuck in a car to be able to judge the speed of the bike well enough to make a right hand turn without cutting the bicyclist off.

and

it's generally a bad idea to pass on the right - and if a car's making a right hand turn in front of you and you're attempting to go by him, that's precisely what you're doing

i was going to stay out of this, really.
But HUH? Have you never been on a bike? You ride to the right, and some jerkward who can't wait 1 second has to fly past you then turn right, right in front of you so you smack them, or at least have to pound your brakes. That isn't a cyclist passing on the right. This is bad auto driving skill. In car terms, what would you think of a car to your left suddenly passing you, then turning right in front of you.
posted by cccorlew at 8:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I really, really hate the fighty framing of this post in the first sentence.

It's my first post - thought the context would help, not continue a shouting match. Lesson learned.

Would still love to know people's thoughts on the 8/80 rule and the changes in Bogata.
posted by nometa at 8:18 AM on September 3, 2009


And furthermore, let me point out:

Asshole bicyclists = car waits a few seconds, catches up to red light a moment later than planned.
Asshole drivers = Cyclist gets seriously injured or killed.

Drivers grievances are relativity petty and mostly me-first ego related. (Oh no! I had to wait 15 seconds for a lycra glad dork.)

Cyclists grievances are mostly about not being put in serious danger.
(Jeez, it hurts when multi-ton vehicles run into me.)

On top of it, I'd bet that motorists estimates of how long they were delayed is wildly inaccurate, erring on the improbable high side.
posted by cccorlew at 8:26 AM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


bikers complaining about the very existence of cars, which is kind of like complaining about the existence of, I dunno, squirrels or something. Carbon monoxide pooping squirrels.

Please don't underestimate our powers of irritation! Let me quote from the 1947 Toronto Municipal Handbook's section on the Humane Society:
The Society is organized and operates for the prevention of cruelty. Healthy squirrels are not under its care and cannot be. It does try to help citizens who are annoyed by squirrels. The Society has a number of humane squirrel traps which may be rented by citizens who may wish to rid themselves of the nuisance of squirrels. It charges a deposit on each trap, half of which is rebated when the trap is returned.
So not kidding. I love old books. :)
posted by heatherann at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2009


But HUH? Have you never been on a bike? You ride to the right, and some jerkward who can't wait 1 second has to fly past you then turn right, right in front of you so you smack them, or at least have to pound your brakes.

you should be slowing down when you approach an intersection and above all remembering that if you're behind him, it's YOUR responsibility to avoid the collision because you can see the situation better than he does

in the situation you describe, he'd have to fly by you and THEN jam on his brakes to do all that in 1 second - no, he went by you and then was stopped or slowed at an intersection and you came up, in his blind spot, not slowing down, not anticipating that someone in a right hand lane might turn right, and attempted to go by him

that's not safe behavior
posted by pyramid termite at 8:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Drivers grievances are relativity petty and mostly me-first ego related. (Oh no! I had to wait 15 seconds for a lycra glad dork.)

Cyclists grievances are mostly about not being put in serious danger.
(Jeez, it hurts when multi-ton vehicles run into me.)


Cherrypicking and strawman in one, how to you plan to hit the trifecta?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]



you should be slowing down when you approach an intersection and above all remembering that if you're behind him, it's YOUR responsibility to avoid the collision because you can see the situation better than he does

in the situation you describe, he'd have to fly by you and THEN jam on his brakes to do all that in 1 second ...


You're just flat-out wrong. This is so common it has a name--the "right hook". You'll be ten feet from an intersection when a car revs up to get past you, then pulls a hard right across your path. I am an extremely defensive and deferential rider and still routinely have to grab a massive handful of brake to avoid T-boning cars this way.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:42 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


(I should add, the passing and the turn are often one continuous manoeuver, as pulling wide left to go around you allows them to make a sharper right)
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:43 AM on September 3, 2009


But HUH? Have you never been on a bike? You ride to the right, and some jerkward who can't wait 1 second has to fly past you then turn right, right in front of you so you smack them, or at least have to pound your brakes. That isn't a cyclist passing on the right. This is bad auto driving skill. In car terms, what would you think of a car to your left suddenly passing you, then turning right in front of you.

So the guy in the car, by obeying the law, is the fucking jerkwad? The vehicle (car or bike) is ahead of you. That vehicle has the right of way to turn right. Vehicles behind have to wait for the vehicle in front to turn right, just as the vehicle in front has to wait before turning right for walking pedestrians to be clear of the path. Just because you or I are on a bike (I use both types of vehicles as well as trains, buses, streetcars, and planes) behind the car doesn't give us the right to suddenly turn into a non-vehicle user and go up the inside of the car in front. That would be the jerkwad in question.

I wait when I'm on a bike and now, when I'm in a car, I wait for the asshat cyclists to ignore my rights and come speeding down the inside even though they can see my signal. When I'm on a bike I check back and then I go to the left of the turning vehicle. I'm always pleased when cyclists do this when I'm operating a car. It shows sense.

If the bike is beside you as you slow and signal the turn that is different and the driver would be a jerkwad but more often than not in my experience it's the cyclists behind who barrel down the inside and ignore your signal. It's quite possible that some are talking about two different situations here.
posted by juiceCake at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009


You're just flat-out wrong. This is so common it has a name--the "right hook". You'll be ten feet from an intersection when a car revs up to get past you, then pulls a hard right across your path.

I don't understand where pyramid termite comes up with that "you should slow down" thing, is that how cars drive through green lights? But anyway, sudden right turns are only a big problem at intersections. Much worse is when cars right hook into parking lots. Am I supposed to slow down at every curb cut?!?!

Perhaps he believes that all cars come to a full stop before executing a right turn? Heh...
posted by Chuckles at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009


Would still love to know people's thoughts on the 8/80 rule

The repetition of the numeral 8 makes for a cute slogan, but content-wise, it doesn't say much other than we want to protect the vulnerable among us. In NYC, 8-year-olds aren't considered safe unwatched outside the home and it has little to do with urban design but with culture.

But HUH? Have you never been on a bike? You ride to the right, and some jerkward who can't wait 1 second has to fly past you then turn right, right in front of you so you smack them, or at least have to pound your brakes.

responded to by:

you should be slowing down when you approach an intersection and above all remembering that if you're behind him, it's YOUR responsibility to avoid the collision because you can see the situation better than he does


This volley from the cars vs. bikes war is typical of the lack of mutual respect and understanding of each side for the other. Take that lack of respect out on the road and you get we have now. Urban design isn't going to fix it. Nor would attempting such design be politically feasible in the middle of a war.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2009


Occasionally I realize that a thread I am about to comment in is actually going to be better if I don't comment in it. This is one of those times.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:53 AM on September 3, 2009


That should have been: Perhaps he believes that all cars signal and come to a full stop before executing a right turn.

I guess we all forget to signal sometimes :)
posted by Chuckles at 8:53 AM on September 3, 2009


The vehicle (car or bike) is ahead of you. That vehicle has the right of way to turn right

Why is this so hard to comprehend? The car is not ahead of you. The car is passing and turning at the same time. It's not legal; it's not safe. And there's nothing you can do about it except rely your "this person's about to do something stupid" instincts.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:55 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


My comment was based purely on the notion that cities should still be planned to accommodate cars. This is nonsense.

No it isn't. Public transit is often on roads as well and there is an emergence of electric based vehicles.

You want to continue with the whole suburban thing, fine, build your suburbs to accommodate cars, and pay for it with suburban taxes. Oh, you work in the city? Then you have a choice: live in it, or park your car and hop on the transit. If you don't like it, tough, you don't live there, you don't get a vote.

Nonsense. If your city has a decent transit system then yes. Unfortunately, in North America, this is the exception rather than rule. In Toronto for example, getting to many places off of our pathetic subway system and the limited Spadina and St. Clair dedicated street lines means hours, quite literally, on public transportation. We'd all love to take it, but the city cannot tighten control over cars until they commit to making public transit a viable alternative. It's happening, slowly. For now, a car saves you buckets of time until it does happen. A chicken and egg situation? Sure, but those who suggest reducing car access without providing for a viable alternative are being entirely unreasonable. Not to mention our brutal winters really reduce the use of safe cycling.

Most of us have been raised to carry on the traditional love affair with the automobile. They are "cool", "fun", "pretty", and all kinds of things. They advertise status, and make up for the diminished size of the suburban phallus. They even attract sexual opportunity (gender neutrality really sucks the flavor out of language, at times).


Thankfully many of us don't care about that past our teens.

You have to be in the right place at the right time, to see what I'm talking about. I was, living within reach of Manhattan via underground subway, when nature threw a lovely blizzard that way. Auto traffic was almost non-existent. You really have to see what that's like and pay attention, to understand what I'm talking about.

That's wonderful. In Toronto, we don't have that luxury and housing along the subway lines cannot accommodate the current population.
posted by juiceCake at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2009


What, no hate for us pedestrians? We impede BOTH the cyclists trying to switch randomly between the road and sidewalk AND the drivers trying to get through the first few seconds of that red light.
posted by ecurtz at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why is this so hard to comprehend? The car is not ahead of you. The car is passing and turning at the same time. It's not legal; it's not safe. And there's nothing you can do about it except rely your "this person's about to do something stupid" instincts.

It's not hard to comprehend at all. When I'm on my bike and there's a car ahead of me. This means he's in front of me.

When he puts his signal on in front of me I have two options. Stop and wait for him to turn, or go to his left. I do not have the option to expect him to wait for me to go to his right and hold off his turn. I try not to be an asshole when using cars or bikes.
posted by juiceCake at 9:01 AM on September 3, 2009


It's my first post - thought the context would help, not continue a shouting match. Lesson learned.

Heh, seriously, welcome to Metafilter. We really don't need extra fodder around here as you see -- we're perfectly capable of manufacturing controversy from whole cloth. It's a house specialty. Stick around!
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:04 AM on September 3, 2009


The rhetoric on both sides ensures that nothing will get done, particularly as the next election approaches.

In the eastern end of Toronto, allowing the Idaho stop would make the side routes much more appealing than competing on the Danforth. Cyclists get a better route, drivers have longer stretches with fewer cyclists. Win-win

And many bike lanes might be unnecessary if the three-foot laws were passed, enforced, and accepted by drivers. Win-win.

Cyclists on sidewalks downtown? Charge the bastards. Cyclists on the usually empty sidewalks at Warden and Eglinton? As long as they're not endangering the two or three pedestrians there, let them alone, they're safer there than in the traffic. Win-win.

Why can't people understand this?
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I'm on my bike and there's a car ahead of me. This means he's in front of me

The care is not ahead of you. The car is behind you, and passes you and turns all in one motion (like a hook). Christ on a cracker, this isn't difficult.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I completely understand the logic behind the 8/80 rule. A cycling or pedestrian infrastructure designed to be safe for those two age groups will automatically be safe for everyone?
In my experience, 8 year olds and 80 year olds are much more likely to follow the rules and laws put in place for their safety than, say, 20 or 30 year olds, so the logic kind of falls apart. The root of the problem is that convenience and speed have become more important than courtesy and safety (for themselves and others) for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.
posted by rocket88 at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009


This volley from the cars vs. bikes war is typical of the lack of mutual respect and understanding of each side for the other.

volley? lack of mutual respect?

such is the reward of civility these days ...

bye
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 AM on September 3, 2009


pyramid termite,

What you describe happens all the time. People pass bikes (often in a bike lane) at speed in order to catch a light and make their turn. They then pull into the bike lane to turn without checking the bikes position relative to their own. Often the bike will be in their blind spot. Failure to check one's blind spot and ensure that the way is clear before turning is reckless driving. Of the two times I've been struck by cars this year, one was this exact situation. The driver of the shiny blue Mercedes S-class continued on after forcing me off the road (oblivious to the nice long scratch my brake lever left on his door). Luckily this was at relatively low speed.

On my way back from the memorial ride for Allen Shepherd yesterday, I was thinking about the altercation. Yes, this was more a question of two people acting very badly in a dangerous situation. However, nearly everyone I know who cycles in Toronto has been hit by a car. Many have been in situations very similar to the events of August 31, where the driver of a car becomes aggressive because they feel a bicycle is blocking their way. This is especially common at intersections where the driver wishes to make a right turn and the cyclist is ahead of them. I have gotten the rear wheel bump and responded with anger. I think many people saw this situation and thought "this could have been me." This may be where a lot of the passion around this particular event is coming from. I think there is a feeling that "an attack on one is an attack on all," regardless of the specifics of the incident.

Also, as I mentioned in the previous thread, that stretch of Bloor street is extremely dangerous, and the city has taken steps that actually make it less safe for cyclists.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:11 AM on September 3, 2009


Also, if I see a car ahead of me that is signaling to turn at an intersection, I don't try to pass. Not everyone does this, but it should be common sense.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:15 AM on September 3, 2009


The care is not ahead of you. The car is behind you, and passes you and turns all in one motion (like a hook). Christ on a cracker, this isn't difficult.

Of course the car is in the wrong. As I acknowledged, I was talking about something different than you, which the original statement did not spell out. I understand your scenario. I presented a different one also related to right turns. One where the car is ahead of you. Chirst on a fucking cracker indeed, this isn't difficult.
posted by juiceCake at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2009


In my experience, 8 year olds and 80 year olds are much more likely to follow the rules.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Hope is restored.

Part of the logic is that building this kind of infrastructure makes it easier for people to follow the rules, regardless of age. Make it easier for people to stay in their own space, and they'll tend to do so.

But you make a good point: the fatal flaw may be assuming everyone is either courteous or zombified: all things being equal, they'll do the polite thing or the easy thing.

Maybe there are more asshats out there than friendly people willing to share the sandbox. I hope not, but...
posted by nometa at 9:19 AM on September 3, 2009


If you're turning right in a car, you need to check your right for bikes just as you do for pedestrians before executing a turn. Bike lanes are on the right and bikes are expected to ride on the right. Bikes going straight through an intersection have the right of way before automobiles turning right (at least in Canada) and if you run over one, you are getting sued. If you have a problem with that, well, don't complain when bikes take up a lane of traffic, I suppose.

As it is, you can design the bestest bike-friendly city, some assholes would still insist on riding in the middle of the road, because, as killdevil says, "Bicyclists are 100% as entitled to use the road", and fuck everyone and their safety, because, hell, they're entitled to put everyone's safety at risk by deciding not to use your well designed and safe bike paths.

This is a strange work of fiction that you have constructed wholly in your head. As far as I know, bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen are not beset by these hordes of entitled cyclist assholes. This attitude is not useful in this thread.
posted by mek at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2009


Bikes are vehicles. They're allowed on any non-freeway road that a car is, the existence of a bike path has nothing to do with that fact.

Pretty much sums it up, although as a pedestrian in New York, to paraphrase a Delmore Schwartz title,

"In vehicles bring responsibilities."

Most of the snark has been cars vs. bikes. Only a few, mention pedestrians even though the original poster mentioned pedestrian vs. car vs. bike.

I must say, at least in New York, the attitude of bikers to pedestrians parallels that of SUV owners to bikes. That is sad - and wrong. During rush hour this morning I saw about 7 bikers, only two of whom looked like bike messengers blow through red lights. Now at mid town at 9:00 AM you can imagine how crowded the crosswalks were with pedestrians. Some of those bikers almost hit people.

There is a reason that people are starting to call bikes two-wheeled SUVs.

I don't know if this attitude is just in New York, I don't know if it is part and parcel of "urban biker - critical mass" culture. I do know it is understandable when talking about bikes and cars, but in very very crowded New York where streets and sidewalks are crowded with people walking, a bike is basically a slow moving motorcycle.

To a pedestrian (I walk to work) I am *more* worried about bikes clipping me than cars or trucks. I have to worry about then riding the wrong way down a one-way street, plowing through red lights, or worse, if a truck is stopped at the light, plowing through just at the point when I am crossing since I am not in their line of vision. A work colleague got plowed into in just that scenario and broke her wrist. The cyclist who rand a red light yelled at her like it was her fault, spat on her and rode away. If a cyclist can't blow through a red light, I have to worry about him stopping in the middle of the crosswalk forcing me into the street.

Sorry don't want to add to the rantfest, but as a pedestrian, to me it isn't cars vs. bikes, but cars & bikes vs. peds. It should'nt be that way. Pedestrians and cyclists should be natural allies.

The only solution is, alas, one that will never happen, re-engineer cities to be dense, tolls for idiot cars who still have drive to the dense core, allow bikes free reign on the streets, but also that means that a biker can get a moving violation for running a red light - including points on his drivers license (since people will still have to drive).
posted by xetere at 9:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I'm on my bike and there's a car ahead of me. This means he's in front of me.

At some point he was not. This isn't about coming up behind a car. It's about a car coming up from behind and trying to beat you to a spot—and misjudging.

If it has never happened to you that's great. It's happened to me. It seems the biggest danger to me.
posted by asusu at 9:26 AM on September 3, 2009


I presented a different one also related to right turns

Ahh, I see. I thought you were replying to the ongoing topic, not throwing non-sequitors in. My mistake.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:27 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you're turning right in a car, you need to check your right for bikes just as you do for pedestrians before executing a turn.

Of course you do. And if the bike or pedestrian is behind you, and not in your path. You turn. If turn and the bike behind you continues on and drives right into your path the cyclist is the asshat.

Bike lanes are on the right and bikes are expected to ride on the right. Bikes going straight through an intersection have the right of way before automobiles turning right (at least in Canada) and if you run over one, you are getting sued. If you have a problem with that, well, don't complain when bikes take up a lane of traffic, I suppose.

Which is why I wait until all the cyclists come through the intersection that are down the road behind my car because I know they will likely entirely ignore my signal and barrel down the inside. Not giving a rat's ass for the fact that 5 seconds ago they weren't in my path.

Let's crack down on cyclists not stopping at stop signs, failing to signal, and riding on sidewalks as well as drivers driving into those in their path.
posted by juiceCake at 9:29 AM on September 3, 2009


juiceCake,

I agree, let's crack down on those things. Let's also crack down on speeding in residential areas, changing lanes without signaling, double parking and the belief that hazard lights are a magical "park anywhere" signal. What's your point?

You might yield to cyclists on the right, but most people don't.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:34 AM on September 3, 2009


If I see a car is signalling, I get behind it. If it isn't signalling, when I'm coming up, how am I to guess that they're going to either peel out as soon as the light changes? Add me to the list of cyclists hit by drivers who can't be bothered to stretch out their pinkie finger until the light turns green.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 9:36 AM on September 3, 2009


Honestly, if you're in a car getting ready to make a right turn, and there is a cyclist close enough to the intersection that they might be impeded during your right turn, then chances are, you approached them from the rear and made that turn all within a few seconds of passing them. This is a simple matter of "being aware of what is on the road", which any and all drivers should be doing at all times. It's not that difficult to realize, while driving a car, whether or not your turn in front of that cyclist you JUST PASSED not 5 yards behind you is going to be impeded by your turn.

If you aren't paying close enough attention to the details to notice someone that obviously near you in an intersection, then you are just as likely to run over a pedestrian or hit another car than you are the cyclist you just cut off with your thoughtless maneuver. It's poor, selfish driving choices that lead to these kinds of accidents.

And just to not let cyclists off the hook, you all need to stop riding the wrong way down one-way streets, running red lights, and should be as courteous to the automobiles on the road as you hope the automobiles will be for you. Who has the shorter stopping distance? Not saying that because it's the bicycle that you should always default to taking the short stick, but just because you don't have a motor doesn't mean you aren't a vehicle.
posted by hippybear at 9:40 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cars are dinosaurs

No, no: cars are powered by exploding dinosaurs. This is why I think they are silly and cannot take drivers seriously.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:00 AM on September 3, 2009


juicecake: Of course you do. And if the bike or pedestrian is behind you, and not in your path. You turn. If turn and the bike behind you continues on and drives right into your path the cyclist is the asshat.

Cyclists who try to sneak past a car on the right when it's stopped in the right lane and is signalling right at a corner are asshats. Cyclists who had been travelling in a bike lane or near the curb of the right lane, and that the driver passed just a second ago, are at risk of becoming pancakes if the car gives them the right hook and they aren't able to brake in time.

Here's the deal. As a driver, you think of the right lane as, well, the right lane. You have the right of way to turn right when there is no traffic ahead of you in that lane. But when there's a bike lane, or cyclists use that same right land lane -- not a dedicated right turn lane -- to proceed forward, you are, in effect, driving in the center lane with special privileges. The law allows you to turn right, but if you choose to accelerate past a cyclist and make a quick turn, this is very much like overtaking a car in the right lane and making a quick right turn from the center lane. Or it's like quickly changing from the center lane to the right lane to make your turn, immediately ahead of a car that previously been ahead of you in the right lane.

There's been a lot of complaints in this thread from drivers about cyclists who take the lane in any and all circumstances, even when there are safer alternatives and they are moving slower than traffic. It's perfectly legal, but many people say it's just not right. Same thing with overtaking a cyclist and rushing to make a right turn. If a traffic cop doesn't consider it overtaking or dangerous driving, it may still be legal, but it's also selfish and reckless.
posted by maudlin at 10:01 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


The very worst thing we ever said to bicyclists is that a bike is a "vehicle" with all the rights and responsibilities as something with an engine or motor.

Bikes don't have lights, signals, mirrors, visible license plates, driver's training, mandatory test-based licensing, mandatory skill-based licensing, mandatory medical-based licensing, mandatory insurance, etc.

Roller skates are more like bikes than bikes are like cars, yet no one would ever think a set of roller skates is suitable for busy traffic.

We keep saying bikes and cars are the same, but we sure as hell don't treat them that way.

Saying they're just the same as cars, that everyone must share the road, is utterly ludicrous. I'm for demolishing every roadway bike path in America, replacing them with something else that allows people to ride where they want/need to, and fully separating the roadways from the pathways for human-powered devices like bikes and skateboards. You guys over here, you guys over there. Tickets and jail time for people that cross the line.

I realize this the end result of much well-settled and established laws ... but it's a set of laws that is just fucking stupid on so, so many levels. And this thread proves it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell,

Bikes were here before cars. Why not create a system of tunnels for all cars to travel in, so that they will no longer be a threat to those using the surface?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2009


Bikes don't have lights, signals, mirrors, visible license plates, driver's training, mandatory test-based licensing, mandatory skill-based licensing, mandatory medical-based licensing, mandatory insurance, etc.

i'm going to duck back in to say i agree with this - if bicyclists want a share of the road, they can have a share of the licensing and insurance costs, too
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU: It's funny, but when I came into this thread I thought the "war" was silly and I didn't have a side, I was just wondering why we all can't get along. But if you examine this thread so far, you'll find that the bike-lovers hate cars (which are objects) based on facts (like pollution and energy) while the car-lovers hate people (who are people) based on perceived local behavior (anecdata).

This. I generally find this to summarize the whole thing pretty well. I can't tell you how many times I've had some guy in an SUV talking on his cellphone honk at me on my bike trying to get me out of his lane. Or people yell things at me like "cars are faster than bikes! hahahah!" as the speed past me (only to meet me at the next red light, and no shit sherlock cars are faster than bikes).

That said, this attitude exists in a relatively small number of car drivers. I've found that most drivers don't hate bikers, they just don't know how to deal with them on the road. Large percentages of the population bike commuting is relatively new, and most drivers just don't know how they are supposed to deal. Is it safer to pass? When should they pass? What do those hand signals mean? etc. etc. A lot of these issues will fix themselves over time, as more people ditch their gas guzzlers.

And that said, urban planning is a large part of the issue. As a Portlander, streets designated as 'bike routes' as well as bike lanes and the 'green boxes' make a huge difference. The cars can have Burnside. We'll take Ankeny. Everyone is happy.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2009


We should also tell the Amish to take their damn buggys and ride in the buggy lane too, amirite?
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2009


Bikes don't have lights, signals, mirrors, visible license plates, driver's training, mandatory test-based licensing, mandatory skill-based licensing, mandatory medical-based licensing, mandatory insurance, etc.

i'm going to duck back in to say i agree with this - if bicyclists want a share of the road, they can have a share of the licensing and insurance costs, too


I'm not going to go through this whole thread and point out every stupid comment. But come on. Bikes have lights. It's the law. Don't be a moron. Cyclists use hand signals. It's also the law. Lots of bikes/helmets have mirrors.

Bikes don't have licensing and insurance costs because BIKES DON'T KILL PEOPLE AND DESTROY PROPERTY.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:17 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


During rush hour this morning I saw about 7 bikers, only two of whom looked like bike messengers blow through red lights. Now at mid town at 9:00 AM you can imagine how crowded the crosswalks were with pedestrians. Some of those bikers almost hit people.xetere

So you saw 7 cyclists not hit pedestrians? Who can I call about this not-hitting-pedestrians outrage! I tried 311 but they laughed at me.
posted by nicwolff at 10:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Insurance and taxes pay for damage to the road and to other people, which cyclists by and large can't cause. They're already trivially cheap on motorcycles, for the same reason.

It doesn't come up as often because the barrier to entry is higher, but drivers break out all the same tired nonsense for motorcyclists, even as they're killed left and right around the country. But...but...but...that one guy with the loud pipes!

I'm willing to believe that 90% of motorists both motorists and cyclists are decent, but clueless, and about 5% are just outright jerks. The problem is that the clueless motorists can be deadly to cyclists, and the jerks are lethal. Good urban design protects the cyclists from that 95%, and it leads to more people riding, which decreases traffic for everybody.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bikes don't have licensing and insurance costs because BIKES DON'T KILL PEOPLE AND DESTROY PROPERTY.

translation - "i want rights, but i don't want responsiblities or accountabilty"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:26 AM on September 3, 2009


This is a strange work of fiction that you have constructed wholly in your head.

Listen, this isn't a work of fiction, it's a simple fact. I drive where there are perfectly serviceable bike paths completely separate from the road, and a number of cyclists disdain the safer option to ride in narrow car lanes, slowing down traffic and endangering everyone including themselves. Whether this happens in Copenhagen or not doesn't matter the least bit to me. It happens here, it happens now, and unless you have some magical way of disappearing every cyclist and replace them with the wonderful cyclists from Copenhagen, the reality will remain the same.

Get it? Not fiction, actual fact, actual experience, actual situation actually happening today and yesterday and every day before and every day after. Not made up. Fact. Straight-up truth. Pretending that what I say is imaginary won't in any way affect the reality of it.

So you saw 7 cyclists not hit pedestrians? Who can I call about this not-hitting-pedestrians outrage!

Wow. How fucking weak. I'm sure you'd have the exact same opinion if cars ran a red light and almost hit cyclists. Yeah, whatever.

Bikes don't have licensing and insurance costs because BIKES DON'T KILL PEOPLE AND DESTROY PROPERTY.
and
Insurance and taxes pay for damage to the road and to other people, which cyclists by and large can't cause.

Yeah, how about a tall glass of shut the fuck up? Cyclists can and do kill people, and get off easy too.
posted by splice at 10:30 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh please. The money is to pay extra back (preemptively, in the case of insurance) for the damage you do. If you don't do damage, you don't have to pay extra. You've already paid your share in the form of taxes. I suppose you want pedestrians charged to use the sidewalk, too?
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:33 AM on September 3, 2009


The very worst thing we ever said to bicyclists is that a bike is a "vehicle" with all the rights and responsibilities as something with an engine or motor.

Bikes don't have lights, signals, mirrors, visible license plates, driver's training, mandatory test-based licensing, mandatory skill-based licensing, mandatory medical-based licensing, mandatory insurance, etc.


In my municipality, bikes are required to have a front light and a rear reflector at night (pending legislation, which I agree with, calls for a rear light as well). It's also a law to use hand signals when turning while in a roadway.

The reason that bicycles don't require licensing, insurance and training, is that the likelihood of someone getting seriously injured (other than the cyclist) in an accident caused by negligence on the part of the cyclist is near zero. The same cannot be said of any motor vehicle that is approved for use on the road.

Just because you think the laws are stupid does not make it so.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2009


What part of "by and large" didn't you understand? Wombats kill people. Falling fish kill people. Drivers kill 40,000 people a year in the US alone, and most of those are "accidents" for which nobody is charged (rightly or wrongly). It's a matter of scale, obviously.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


A painted bike lane is better than nothing, but it's the bottom rung of ideal.

Personally, if my choice was between a painted bike lane, and having an extra-wide right lane, I'd take the latter. My reasoning is this: If it is marked as a bike lane, cars will rarely, if ever, drive in that area, but the debris for cars will pile up in the bike lane. If it is just an addition to the traffic lane, there will be enough car traffic near the right edge of the lane to push debris even further off the road, clearing the area for bike traffic.
posted by Doohickie at 10:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason that bicycles don't require licensing, insurance and training, is that the likelihood of someone getting seriously injured (other than the cyclist) in an accident caused by negligence on the part of the cyclist is near zero.

Really...? Have you been a pedestrian in a city where the cyclists assume the roads, pavements and crosswalks are all cycleways and switch between them without checking for things like people...?
posted by twine42 at 10:44 AM on September 3, 2009


splice,

Automotive fatalities in the US in 2008: nearly 40,000

Bicycle fatalities in the US in 2008: nearly 800

Source: National Safety Council
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2009


Well this is boring. Let's talk about the stupid bus bulbs on lower Broadway instead. When a bus is stopped at one, there's only one lane of moving traffic available for cars and bikes. WTF MIKE?
posted by nicwolff at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2009


Don't slow down cars unless you have to. If there's a real need, do it. If there isn't, stay the hell out of the way and let the motorized vehicles pass. Forcing cars to travel at your speed just because you feel like it is extraordinarily selfish, and you shouldn't be surprised when people throw things at you. It's not because you're on a bike, it's because you're slow.

Why? Is the 20 second delay (which is typically the max delay from a car-bike interaction) really going to ruin your day? Chill, dude. Maybe you didn't know this, but the reason that people began to pave roads was to accommodate bicycle traffic in the late 19th century. The network of roads already there due to bicycles is what enabled Detroit to become Motown. Before that, they were Biketown.
posted by Doohickie at 11:02 AM on September 3, 2009


Most cars I see are only carrying one person. Most bikes I see are only carrying one person. Each pedestrian is one person. Each of those persons has equal expectation of being able to do what they need to do safely. Whenever those who are invested in driving start ranting about licenses and insurance they're claiming special importance due to the costs of maintaining an automobile. The never ending expense of keeping a car is part of the sickness, not a sign that automobile drivers have reached a maturity that those on bikes, or using transit, or walking the sidewalks have not. I own a car, and have to pay all those fees too. It's convenient sometimes, but every time I take the car out - usually with myself as its only occupant - I feel I'm adding to the problem, and I regret having to write all those cheques every year to keep something around that often sits in the driveway because I much prefer to get around by simpler, more economical methods. Automobiles will always be here, they're part of the mix even in the densest urban areas, but changing cities so that they're not such a dominant force is the right way for the future. One person wrapping themselves in metal, a license, $150 a month insurance payments, and the ability to go 120km an hour is still only one person, same as that guy walking to work.
posted by TimTypeZed at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


translation - "i want rights, but i don't want responsiblities or accountabilty"

What? Seriously, what!? Cars, when damaged, cost a lot to repair. Compared to cars, bikes... do not. Cars, when they hit a building or pole, can cause a lot of damage; bikes... get wrecked. Cars regularly travel at many, many multiples of walking speed; most bikes I see on the road are doing no more than 15mph. Okay, fine, let's institute similar insurance for bikes as cars, because a bike can hit a pedestrian - though it's downright comical to imply the potential damage is anywhere near similar. I bet my bike insurance would run me under $50 a year.

Rights come automatically, regardless of responsibilities or accountability; that's why they're called rights. When they're conditional, we call them privileges. Cars are multi-ton machines that can easily cause thousands of dollars in damages, and kill or maim people. To imply that bicycles pose a comparable danger is absurd.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bikes don't have licensing and insurance costs because BIKES DON'T KILL PEOPLE AND DESTROY PROPERTY.

translation - "i want rights, but i don't want responsiblities or accountabilty"


I tell you what, find me an account of a bicycle totaling a car and killing those inside, and I'll be the first to sign up.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:08 AM on September 3, 2009


So you saw 7 cyclists not hit pedestrians? Who can I call about this not-hitting-pedestrians outrage!
Wow. How fucking weak. I'm sure you'd have the exact same opinion if cars ran a red light and almost hit cyclists. Yeah, whatever.


Why thank you splice. And I am sorry, nicwolff, but that typifies the typical attitude of bikers (in New York, at least) to pedestrians. Actually, it typifies the typical me-first attitude so prevalent in modern life.
posted by xetere at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2009


DU: you'll find that the bike-lovers hate cars (which are objects) based on facts (like pollution and energy) while the car-lovers hate people (who are people) based on perceived local behavior (anecdata).

Some angry fuck: Don't slow down cars unless you have to. If there's a real need, do it. If there isn't, stay the hell out of the way and let the motorized vehicles pass. Forcing cars to travel at your speed just because you feel like it is extraordinarily selfish, and you shouldn't be surprised when people throw things at you. It's not because you're on a bike, it's because you're slow.

DU's point proven.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:12 AM on September 3, 2009


The reason that bicycles don't require licensing, insurance and training, is that the likelihood of someone getting seriously injured (other than the cyclist) in an accident caused by negligence on the part of the cyclist is near zero.

More bicyclists are injured all by themselves, just by falling off their bikes and/or running into non-moving objects, than are injured by cars*. If you don't grasp that fact, I can't help you.

Society pays for these injuries, in one way or another, either through direct medical help or by lost productivity. This is why cars have mandatory liability insurance -- because uninsured motorists represent a financial threat to society in general. If bikes are vehicles, and people get injured, it's logical to arrive at the point where you think bicyclists should have either liability insurance or personal medical coverage.

Of course, this isn't reasonable. But a somewhat reasonable step would be to separate the motorized vehicles from the human-powered devices, as I suggest above.

* granted, the severity of car vs. bike injuries is astronomically higher, but that's not what's being argued here, and besides, cars already have mandatory liability insurance to account for the societal injurious impact of operating a car.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2009


But come on. Bikes have lights. It's the law. Don't be a moron.

Bikes have reflectors, moron. Lights ... you know, the things that project light where there is none ... are optional.

Did they not teach you that in the official bike school you attended before you took your official bike rider test?

Oh wait, there is no such thing as bike school or bike rider tests.

Right, I forgot. Any fool of any age and any physical capacity can buy any foot-powered, wheeled "vehicle" and immediately ride into traffic, with all the rights and responsibilities required to safely interact with 10,000-pound vehicles moving at high speeds. And we think that's just ducky. Got it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2009


Bikes were here before cars. Why not create a system of tunnels for all cars to travel in, so that they will no longer be a threat to those using the surface?

Except for the carbon monoxide poisoning, I'd actually vote for that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2009


in the situation you describe, he'd have to fly by you and THEN jam on his brakes to do all that in 1 second - no, he went by you and then was stopped or slowed at an intersection and you came up, in his blind spot, not slowing down, not anticipating that someone in a right hand lane might turn right, and attempted to go by him

that's not safe behavior

Of course it's not safe, but it happens all the time. The "right hook" is one of the most common bike-car crashes. A driver does not adequately gage the speed of a bike, gets caught alongside just before a turn, and rather than tucking in behind, instead guns the engine, jams on the brakes and turns directly in front of the cyclist. I've seen it several times.

How can a cyclist avoid this? when approaching an intersection, move over to the left and take the lane. If it's a right-turn only lane and the cyclist is going straight, move into the next traffic lane (which, in all likelihood is not wide enough to accommodate safe passing by cars, so.... take that lane- ride right in the middle of it).

The thing about riding a bike in traffic is this: When cyclists try to be nice and stay out of the way of cars, they have a much higher probability of getting hit, believe it or not. If you're in an 11-foot wide lane and a car tries to pass you in that lane, there is very little room for error. But because the cyclist is all the way to the right, the driver interprets that as an invitation to pass. The cyclist is perceived as not being an obstacle or threat and is at most a background thought to the driver.

When the cyclist takes the lane, it is clearly an obstacle and getting around that obstacle becomes the primary focus of the driver. The driver has to completely change lanes to pass the bike, leaving much, much more room for the cyclist. The cyclist is much safer.

I've been riding to work for about a year and a half now. At first I was a sidewalk slut, then a gutter bunny. Riding to work was a harrowing experience. Since I've started to take the lane, I am paradoxically much safer because the other traffic sees me as another vehicle, not just something on the edge of their vision that they may or may not even notice.

I'm sorry if I had a handful of seconds to your motor-powered trip, but really, it's much safer for both of us this way.
posted by Doohickie at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Bikes have reflectors, moron. Lights ... you know, the things that project light where there is none ... are optional.

Sorry, in my municipality, lights are not at all optional. If you're riding a bike at night sans a front and back light, you'll get a ticket.

And far as your argument re society paying the direct medical costs if you hurt yourself riding your bike?

Not in America. Society will no more pay for your busted head from flipping your bike then they will if you are unemployed and get cancer.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:24 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bikes have reflectors, moron. Lights ... you know, the things that project light where there is none ... are optional.

Depends on the state. In Texas if I ride my bike after dusk, I am required to have a headlight and a rear reflector (or alternately a tail light). In actual practice I run a headlight and tail light day and night (during the day, in blink mode).
posted by Doohickie at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2009


Say what you will about the cronyism, poor quality, and massive cost, but the Big Dig has actually improved the traffic situation in Boston considerably.

For the record: most jurisdiction require lights, not just reflectors, when riding at night. Not that it's enforced.

But I don't think you understand how liability insurance works, or are pretending not to. It's not for when you hurt yourself; society doesn't get charged for that because of our terrible health care system; you just go into debt. It's for paying back the people you hurt through your actions. Since cyclists don't normally cause much damage, there's no point to it.

As I mentioned above, liability on my motorcycle was something like $3 a month, for the very same reason. And that was many hundred pounds and capable of going 80 mph. Say what you will about the insurance industry, but they wouldn't be charging so little if motorcycles were causing much damage. How on earth could bicycles be worth even 2 cents a month to insure?
posted by Dr.Enormous at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nthing pretty much everything Dr.Enormous has said. I'd say it all again, but Splice, Cool Papa Bell et al have gone they way of the dining room table.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2009


Doohickie is right. Despite the fact that it might slow down cars, if you ride in a non-passive manner (not aggressive, just not passive) and ride in the middle of a lane, rather than way off to the right, cars give you a much wider berth. It really is safer for all involved.
posted by nushustu at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always thought that the requirement was cyclists had to wear all black, and weren't allowed to have lights or reflectors. Now you're telling me different?
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2009


Rights come automatically, regardless of responsibilities or accountability; that's why they're called rights. When they're conditional, we call them privileges

i see no reason why riding a bicycle on a public road should not be a privilege, just as driving a car is - and i see no reason why bicyclists shouldn't be regulated as drivers are, and taxed, especially when they want their own lanes to ride in

you want something, take responsibility and help pay for it
posted by pyramid termite at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2009


If I see a car is signalling, I get behind it. If it isn't signalling, when I'm coming up, how am I to guess that they're going to either peel out as soon as the light changes?

You don't have to guess. When you come up to cars in an intersection, you pull up behind them and wait in line, like every other vehicle. Don't split the lanes; that's when the trouble starts. If you pull up behind the car, when the light turns green, it simply doesn't matter whether he's turning or going straight. If he's going straight, you simply follow (and he will likely pull away from you, since all us cyclists are so slow, right? ;-) If he's turning, you follow until he turns, then continue straight.

If you see a potential threat, it's best to navigate such that you can avoid it altogether.
posted by Doohickie at 11:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


you want something, take responsibility and help pay for it

I do. That's what my taxes pay for. I just don't pay extra for all the damage I'm not causing, just like pedestrians don't pay extra to use the sidewalk.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


the likelihood of someone getting seriously injured (other than the cyclist) in an accident caused by negligence on the part of the cyclist is near zero

Last month I was walking across a crosswalk, with the light, when a bicyclist ran the red light at full speed in front of me and missed me by about six inches. I was almost all the way across the street, and I still had the walk signal. I could feel the breeze from him passing. I'm pretty sure I would've been seriously injured if he'd hit me.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2009


kikaracha - you're missing the point of this debate. We're (or at least I am) discussing lawful cycling, which that cyclist was not engaged in when running the red light "at full speed in front of you."

The fact remains, you WEREN'T injured.

My original point stands.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2009


Geez pyramid. Bicycle riding IS ALREADY REGULATED. That's why anywhere in this country, you have to have front, rear, wheel, and pedal reflectors on all bikes. In many places, you have to have lights if you ride at night.

If you want people to have to get a license to drive a bicycle, that seems to create a whole lot of bureaucratic mess and taxation considering the amount that bicycles cost the city/state/nation. So as long as we're going to create humongous new costs, let's do it with a much better result:

If we're really going to regulate this shit, the let's REALLY regulate this shit: let's make it so that no vehicle on the road can go over 35 mph, because it's been shown that the chance of an accident being fatal spikes when one or more vehicles are going over 35. And let's make sure that no vehicle gets less than 70 mpg. We could do that easily if no car ever has to go over 35 mph.

Hey look, I just spent shit-tons of money, but the end result is thousands of lives saved every year, thousands of dollars of property damage saved every year.

Or, you know, we could just expect that auto drivers, seeing as how there are so many more of them and they are driving multi-ton vehicles, could maybe just have to be a little more responsible than the guys riding 10-pound vehicles. I know: it's NOT COMPLETELY EXACTLY fair. I can sleep at night anyway.
posted by nushustu at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2009


is/are, etc.
posted by nushustu at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2009


When the cyclist takes the lane, it is clearly an obstacle and getting around that obstacle becomes the primary focus of the driver. The driver has to completely change lanes to pass the bike, leaving much, much more room for the cyclist. The cyclist is much safer.

Yes! Hugging the curb in dense traffic is an invitation to be hit. In fact, this is exactly what I was doing a few years back when a 78-year-old man in a big Buick hit me from behind at 40mph. These days I will readily occupy the middle of a lane if I feel threatened by passing traffic, as I prefer drivers perceiving me as a shithead to their not perceiving me at all.
posted by killdevil at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2009


One can't discuss lawful cycling. There are too many cyclists who are too cool to even follow common sense, let alone the actual traffic rules. As the only bike commuter in my office of 50 people, I spend a lot of time listening to people complaining about cyclists who are apparently oblivious of everything around them, and who don't appreciate me suggesting that they should do anything other than run them down.*

* exaggerated, but not by that much
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 12:19 PM on September 3, 2009


I agree, let's crack down on those things. Let's also crack down on speeding in residential areas, changing lanes without signaling, double parking and the belief that hazard lights are a magical "park anywhere" signal. What's your point?

The point is there are laws and regulations and then there is reality. Relying on someone up ahead of you, making a right turn, to always see you barreling up the right is ridiculous, regardless of the rules.

You might yield to cyclists on the right, but most people don't.


I yield to anyone, cyclist or not, in my path. That is incredibly obvious. You don't turn into someone in your path. I find it utter bullshit that I have to yield to a cyclist down the road behind me because he won't respect that I'm turning right. He or she, if they had any sense, should yield to me. They are a vehicle on the road, and they have no right to disrespect common courtesy.
posted by juiceCake at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2009


juiceCake,

Did you not read the rest of my comment? Or anyone else's? Not turning into someone's path is not obvious to many drivers. I'm not talking about cyclists coming up behind, I'm talking about drivers passing and then suddenly turning. The driver of the Benz that hit me did not check his blind spot, or even look out his side window. That's why my brake lever left a scratch on his front door. This happens all the time. Yes, cyclists who ride in a dangerous manner are likely to hurt themselves and possibly other people. Drivers who drive in a careless manner frequently injure or kill other people. Not paying attention in a car is extremely dangerous and very common.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2009


Did you not read the rest of my comment? Or anyone else's? Not turning into someone's path is not obvious to many drivers.

Yes, I realize that and have said that turning into someone is wrong, multiple times. Yes, I read what you posted. Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

I'm not talking about cyclists coming up behind.


I know that. As I said, turning into someone in your path isn't good. I'm also talking about cyclists that are coming up behind. You're not. I respect that. Tell us again if you like.

I'm talking about drivers passing and then suddenly turning.

I know you are and again, I acknowledged that that is wrong and bad thing. I'll acknowledge it again if you like. I am in complete agreement.

The driver of the Benz that hit me did not check his blind spot, or even look out his side window. That's why my brake lever left a scratch on his front door. This happens all the time.


I believe you. You know what else happens all the time. Cyclists not yielding to vehicles in front of them.

Yes, cyclists who ride in a dangerous manner are likely to hurt themselves and possibly other people. Drivers who drive in a careless manner frequently injure or kill other people. Not paying attention in a car is extremely dangerous and very common.

It sure is. As is it on a bike too.
posted by juiceCake at 12:36 PM on September 3, 2009


Selfishly screaming "I have as much right to be here as you do!" and then jumping into the "fast" lane and sitting there, instead of riding in your dedicated "slow" lane, is extraordinarily rude. You have no business being on the road with that attitude.

That's got to be strawman of the month.

Anyhow, thanks for the attempt, nometa. It's a potentially fascinating subject, but not for these parts.
posted by normy at 12:44 PM on September 3, 2009


thanks for the attempt

I can only blame myself. (sigh)
posted by nometa at 1:08 PM on September 3, 2009


I have yet to see a solution for taking my two kids out to the grocery store in a Winnipeg winter at -40 degrees that invovles bikes.

If you think cars are magically going to go away and bikes will rule the cities, wake the fuck up.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2009


Would still love to know people's thoughts on the 8/80 rule and the changes in Bogata.
posted by nometa at 11:18 AM


Ha ha ha.
posted by marxchivist at 1:36 PM on September 3, 2009


Anyhow, thanks for the attempt, nometa. It's a potentially fascinating subject, but not for these parts.

Not for any parts. It is impossible to talk about cars and bikes anywhere (not just on the internet) without it devolving into this exact conversation unless you have purely cyclists or purely car drivers.

I only briefly scanned the thread, but 2 seconds in knew I shouldn't have.
posted by markr at 1:42 PM on September 3, 2009


If you think cars are magically going to go away and bikes will rule the cities, wake the fuck up.

I don't think that's what most of us are going at here. It's more "How can we make roads less bike-hostile," not "how can we use pixie dust to eradicate all automobiles in all cities in all climates." Please don't beat up the poor strawmen, they get enough abuse.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:42 PM on September 3, 2009


Not in America. Society will no more pay for your busted head from flipping your bike then they will if you are unemployed and get cancer.

Well, you're wrong, and you're also missing the point. No hospital can turn away someone in need of emergency medical care, and there are tax-funded programs for the indigent (here's the one from my hometown and here's the state program). Moreover, if you flip your bike and become truly disabled, here's the long-term federal program, and here's the California state short-term disability program.

None of these programs are happy-happy-joy-joy. But your notions that bicycle riders are free and innocent, and that society doesn't pay when its citizens have accidents, is based on myth, and you have no coherent argument.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:51 PM on September 3, 2009


I hope gas goes up to $20 a gallon and you have to walk to work, you fucking motorists. Go die.
posted by Electrius at 2:06 PM on September 3, 2009


Go die.

You know, there are devoted, hardcore cyclists who also drive. Maybe you should rethink your position on this one.

Cordially,

Someone who rides his bike to work all the year around
posted by everichon at 2:15 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not able to spend enough time here tonight to come over as anything but a troll I'm afraid, but I'll pop my head out from under my bridgeduvet for a second and spew my own opinions all over the thread. I'd call for a clean up crew but it looks like the rest of you have already covered most surfaces with bile...

The following is based on being a cyclist/pedestrian/driver in Leicester and Cambridge, and a pedestrian/driver in many other UK cities. The following are all bad driving, but they're all a major risk to other road users too, either through direct collision or collision avoidance.

Driving without lights. Just as dangerous to oneself and 3rd parties. Motorists get a 'producer' (a demand to show documentation to police within 7 days) as a minimum, points if you're unlucky. Cyclists - fuck all.

Running red lights. Dangerous to all other users. Motorists get a fine, points, increased insurance costs. Cyclists - fuck all.

Driving on pavements. Motorists get a fine and/or a bollocking. Cyclists - fuck all.

Driving whilst pissed as arseholes. Motorists face jail time, fines, points, massively increased insurance costs. Cyclists can expect a slap on the wrist at most.

Crossing a railway crossing while the barriers are down. Motorists can expect a fine and points. Cyclists... well, in theory they could get a £1000 fine if there's a BTP guy nearby and can get them to stop. Which is unlikely seeing as BTP jurisdiction ends at the edge of railway property.

Speeding. Motorists can get points, fines, all the other stuff. Cyclists, apparently, can't be prosecuted for speeding.

Motorists are more likely to get caught because they have registration plates which the police, public and enforcement cameras can all use to identify the operator. Cyclists don't have this responsibility.

Add to this the constant stream of blatant bollocks that every road user thinks they cause no risk to others because they're more observant and better than anyone else, and cyclists become unlawful with the knowledge that they will never be held responsible for their actions.
posted by twine42 at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2009


City Planning for the Benefit of Cyclists
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 2:39 PM on September 3, 2009


I HAVE A HATE LIST ALSO:

1. Cyclists who go the wrong way in a bike lane.
2. Cyclists who travel at night with no lights.
3. Cyclists who ignore traffic signals.
4. Cyclists who own a cooler bike than I do.
5. Cyclists who are over the age of 12 on the sidewalk. On their bikes.
6. Cyclists with their bar-ends pointing straight up.
7. Cyclists with bar-ends on their god-damned bar-ends.
8. Motorists who wait for me but then get impatient when I wait myself because no other motorists are waiting for me.
9. People who scream at me inchorerently out of car windows as they pass. Can you not at least scream an insult?
10. People on fully suspended mountain bikes who somehow pass me when I'm on my itty-bitty road bike, without apparent exertion.
posted by everichon at 2:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many of the bicyclists in our two threads seem completely incapable of courtesy; I can easily see them sitting in the lane for mile after mile after mile, holding back dozens of cars, because "it's my right to be here!" Malor

"Seem". So, so many of the comments in these threads are focusing on what "I can easily see". Everyone is just playing out elaborate fictions of their own visions of the puffed up monstrous Other, with tangential anecdotes to bolster every perceived slight. I don't think anyone in this thread is actually advocating outright assholery or obstructionism, we're all just reacting from inherently defensive positions. However, we must acknowledge the disparity of defensiveness, ie. cars are worried about minor delays and cyclists really don't want to be killed just getting from A to B. Case in point that despite the vitriol we all share the same interets, Malor, who I thought was coming off as an unsympathetic prick, continues

This confrontational approach totally isn't going to work. All this talk of breaking headlights and eating thrown bottles is a real sign of sickness and selfishness. We need to be driving with the idea of balancing inconveniences.


Well that's for damn sure! Except that no one is actually talking about breaking headlights (ok to be fair in the previous thread I had made a defense of damaging cars, but that was only rationalizing inflicting minor damage to an object when confronted with a direct physical threat to one's person), and those talking of being assaulted while biking on the road are reporting actual attacks. I'm going to make a leap of faith and presume that none of us here do or would act with deliberate malice on the roads, and that IRL, everyone shares the same interests of wanting to commute safely in their sub/urban environment of choice. But by all means, let's not interrupt this two minute/day hate. Let the grievances go on! Let the show trial continue! String up the strawman, burn the witch!
posted by kaspen at 2:54 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is getting a lot like (and is, really) smokers vs. non-smokers.
posted by pracowity at 3:00 PM on September 3, 2009


So we have a lovely post about how to make cities safer for cyclists, but all the comments are about whether cyclists, drivers, or both suck. Improving safety, traffic conditions, and civic health? Irrelevant noise.

The only conclusion I can draw is that for some people, vehicles have become totems. The cycle clan eat babies. The car tribe killed your father. Only honour the spirit of the bicycle to keep our ancestors happy. The cyclists are notorious buggers who deserve death. Let us raid the car encampment and steal their cattle.

Thanks for the links, nometa. I found them very interesting.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:03 PM on September 3, 2009


Regarding the right hook there are two issues here:

1) bicyclists passing on the right, and ignoring turn signals - yes this happens, too often, and it is illegal, and will lead, in a severe case, to a bicyclist bouncing off the side of a car or pushed into a curb.
2) bicyclists getting cut off or merged into by inattentive drivers making right turns. THIS IS THE #1 CAUSE OF BICYCLE FATALITIES. This is extremely dangerous, way too common, and something that many motorists seem to be ignorant of.

I hope cyclists can be forgiven for having our buttons pushed by this issue. I have never talked to a bicyclist about this who has not been pushed off the road, or hit, or nearly hit, on multiple occasions. This is the reason that bike lanes are a safety hazard to bicyclists - they contribute to the main cause of bicyclist fatality (I have my lane, I am cruising along, then suddenly a motorist merges across my lane to make a high speed right turn, he was not watching me because I was not in the road).

Every automobile driver should know what the right hook is, why it happens, and how to help prevent it. Bicyclists who don't know what it is figure out pretty fast, the hard way.
posted by idiopath at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]



The fact remains, you WEREN'T injured.

My original point stands.


brand-gnu, it's a long snarky thread, so you might have missed my post about my work colleague who had her wrist broken and was out of work for two weeks. or the other thread linking to people who were killed by bicycles.

It might be less likely for a bike to kill a ped, but bikes can and do injure peds all the time, and if we do not instill a sense of fair play and respect in motorists, and also instill that same sense of respect in cyclists then the more bike commuters there are, the more accidents there will be between cyclists and pedestrians, and yeah, the more injuries there will be. Even now the likelihood of serious injury is far from zero.

Whatever we do to re-engineer cities, unless we begin a massive mandatory civics curriculum in schools, well I am afraid we'll have selfish drivers and cyclists with incredible sense of entitlement.

BTW I walk to work, and I am not excusing pedestrians. I've seen some batshit insane jaywalkers. Pedestrians have to respect signals as well.
posted by xetere at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2009


Question about the right hook.

1. Is it that cars move into the right lane and don't realize bikes are there and slam into the bike?

2. Is it because cars are making a right turn and don't realize that there is a bike lane to the right of them?

3. is it because bikes are in the same lane but to the right because they are intimidated by cars?


If 1, well clearly the driver's fault and the full weight of the law should be rained ho drivers ass

If 2, then likely the driver's fault but this could be a case of human factors in engineering. It could be that there should be a separate red/green light for bikes and cars. Just like there is a special left turn and right signal for busy intersections, then perhaps green means everyone can go straight and the bike lane can turn right being the right most lane, but the CAR right turn lane (which is not the rightmost lane anymore) is red - with no right on red allowed. Full stop. Then when it is green for the right turn CAR lane, it is RED for the bike lane. Bikes must stop, and they can't turn right. - and if a biker blows through that well then it is his own damned fault.

If 3, well the suggestion of bikers taking up the whole lane, and educating drivers to how that is allowed should solve the problem. Again, not excusing drivers, but to a driver, he is in the right lane, he isn't expecting anything to the right of him, nor should he really. (See two for staggered greens for bike lanes when they are to the right of the right-hand driving lane, this scenario is for when there are no on-street bike lanes)
posted by xetere at 3:31 PM on September 3, 2009


So we have a lovely post about how to make cities safer for cyclists, but all the comments are about whether cyclists, drivers, or both suck. Improving safety, traffic conditions, and civic health? Irrelevant noise.

This. I am starting to think that there should be permanent MeTa threads for certain topics that Metafilter does not do well.

I also enjoyed these links; thanks nometa.
posted by lalex at 3:52 PM on September 3, 2009


This is getting a lot like (and is, really) smokers vs. non-smokers.

It does seem like a very polarizing topic, doesn't it. But the funny thing is, most cyclists are also drivers, while most drivers are not cyclists. So if one has to lay blame for the polarization, it's more likely to be down to the ignorance about cyclists from drivers than the ignorance about driving from cyclists.

We've certainly seen quite a bit of the former in this thread. I was quite surprised to see that the discussion on this subject over at The Truth About Cars was quite a bit less divided than here - until I realized that this is because the TTAC community thinks that most drivers are idiots too. I mean, have you seen the cars they buy?
posted by pascal at 3:52 PM on September 3, 2009


xetere: between the two of us we seem to have cataloged four common causes for this kind of accident.

The way it is dealt with here in Portland is to put up warning signs and make the bike lane dotted and put in right turn lanes that are to the right of the bike lane (where there is a right turn only lane and a bike lane), or create a bright green painted box in the bike lane in which the bicycle has 100% legal right of way no matter who is passing whom (when there is no right turn lane).

When there is no bicycle lane, I personally make a habit of moving to the middle of the lane as I approach the intersection, in order to prevent cars from cutting me off while making a right turn. As soon as I am out of the path of the (potential or actual) right turning vehicles, I move to the right, all the way to the edge of the crosswalk, while still in the intersection, so vehicles can immediately overtake me while we both have maximum space.

Almost every close call or collision I have had with a car has been a situation of someone taking a right turn into me (sometimes because I was in a bike lane moving faster than vehicles to my left and did not see a turn signal, more often because a car did not check their blind spot before turning, immediately after passing me).
posted by idiopath at 4:08 PM on September 3, 2009


Toronto doesn't need to look as far as Bogata to find ways to improve their bike infrastructure. Montreal has dedicated lanes, protected from traffic by curbs or bollards or poles. Their network is extensive and well-connected. In some spots they also have dedicated signals for cyclists (although some irresponsible cyclists continue to ignore them). Their bike network appears to be useful for both commuters and recreational riders. Toronto has ravine pathways and waterfront trails, which can be pleasant rides but don't always work well for getting from place A to place B. On the streets it has painted lines, which abruptly end without connection to other pathways. These sometimes appear on streets where they have limited usefulness for cyclists (mostly due to the lack of a coherent network) but great effectiveness in pissing drivers off. Incorporating some of the initiatives of Montreal (or the similar projects that seem to be happening in New York) onto a couple Toronto streets where they'd be well-used by a more diverse (8 to 80) group of riders might help cool the War on Cars debate. Fewer but safer bike lanes. The way the city is approaching it now certainly isn't working.
posted by TimTypeZed at 4:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Like many, I drive a car. I also commute by bicycle.
While in my car I've never had a cyclist endanger me, throw things at me, or scream at me.
I wish I could say the same about motorists I encounter when I'm on a bike.

I'll bet I'm not close to being alone in my experiences.
posted by cccorlew at 4:27 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd like the option of a few wide, fast, separated bike lanes through the Toronto downtown core, at least, but dealing with all the points where cars and bikes would intersect would still be a safety challenge, and we'd still need to find a way to make cars, buses and bikes share the roads in the rest of the city. Signals might work, but I've heard that the new signals here in Toronto near Ontario Place aren't well understood by motorists. Of course, if everyone can get used to the Yonge-Dundas scramble crossing, maybe we can learn how to use separate car and bike signals.

Spacing.ca had a post this week about turning some wide one way streets like Adelaide and Richmond into 2 lanes for cars, 1 lane for parking, then a separated lane for bikes.

More discussion from Spacing Montreal about their lanes and other cities' experiences here.

A video of the Manhattan 9th Ave. separated bike lane.

posted by maudlin at 4:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here in Portland they recently took Broadway and added a "cycle track". The cars, instead of parking on the side of the street, now park in a ways and the bike lane is separated from traffic by the parked cars. There's a LOT of space, including a dead zone so doors don't swing open into the bike lane.

Saw it in person yesterday. Only thing interesting I noticed: nobody can parallel park when there's no curb. Big mess of cars.
posted by floam at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2009


I'll bet I'm not close to being alone in my experiences.

Of course. I'll bet I'm not close to being alone in my experiences of being cut off, driven into, yelled at, cursed at, by drivers of cars and riders of bikes. Sometimes deserved, sometimes not.

Was at a four way stop before the cyclist to the left was even at his stop. I proceeded through, it was my turn, he didn't stop at all. I get yelled at for almost hitting him. Actually, I was the one who had to brake to prevent him from hitting me. Jackhole. I always get a laugh at how shocked drivers are when I stop my bike at a stop sign. I guess I have to assume that cyclists will not stop and I'm bad for assuming the best rather than the worst.

Drive on the 400 series and be exposed to the joy of other drivers darting into merging lanes and run-off areas to bud in front of you because making everyone else wait by forcing them to slow down is just grand. Drivers taking mergers onto highways at 20km hour endangering everyone, drivers drifting into you and not realizing it, etc.

Drive in the city and get u-turned on by the car in the right lane a car length ahead of you. Get pulled over by a cop because you dared to pass him and sit there for 10 minutes while he cries with outrage and then suddenly agrees that yes, figuring out which lane to select when navigating the airport can and does make for more than usual lane changes. Get pulled over by a cop at night while on a bike equipped with a light, front and back, active, a bell, and wearing your helmet and get a lecture on safety nonetheless. Walk down a main street and have to deal with cyclists also riding on the sidewalk and having to get out of their way. Typical city experiences with traffic, no matter by car, cycle, or foot.

When I did the 75km at the Ride for Heart it was pretty safe, except for the stealthy recumbent bikes that would rip past you without warning (and you can barely hear them). Of course, have 3 lanes and run off worth for a bunch of bikes was more than enough space. Space with cars and bikes does indeed get squeezed.

I rarely get angry however. Usually people are just making mistakes and usually they're realized in time or just lucky and everyone proceeds. I'm not mistake free, and don't expect it from anyone else. I once did get so sick of people taking the run off area just to slow all of us down by budding up front that I took the run off area and stopped with a "problem" that I "fixed" in 30 seconds. The outrage was hilarious. We pull off here to get out of the way of cars, that's what it's for, problems, and they get angry at you. They can delay you but you cannot delay them. I lost a lot of faith in humanity during my commuting days. Freelancing and being close to the pathetic excuse of a subway line here in Toronto has thankfully ended them, and threads like this, which some feel, to my surprise, is a disaster. I don't see it like that all, but perception differs of course.
posted by juiceCake at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2009


Question about the right hook.

1. Is it that cars move into the right lane and don't realize bikes are there and slam into the bike?

2. Is it because cars are making a right turn and don't realize that there is a bike lane to the right of them?

3. is it because bikes are in the same lane but to the right because they are intimidated by cars?


xetere: In my personal experience, it was this:

. I think the car driver perceived me, a cyclist, as a stationary object (well not stationary exactly, but very slow moving, like a pedestrian is).

. He passed me, then turned right directly in front of me. I missed hitting him by about 6 inches, only because I heard him accelerate to pass me and was alerted that something might happen.

In my case, it was a street with very wide lanes, one going in each direction. Each lane was nearly two lanes wide, and I was probably 6 feet from the shoulder. He was a high school kid turning into the school parking lot (early, before most of the students arrived). I think he very simply misjudged the ~15 mph I was doing; because his car was capable of speeds so much faster than my bicycle, he gaged me as essentially stationary. The problem is that because he had to slow down to make his turn, suddenly my 15 mph was much faster than his speed. So, he perceived that he had already passed me, then turned into my path when I was literally alongside him.

I think this is typical. The driver sees the cyclist, but does such a poor job judging the cyclist's speed, he or she has no idea the cyclist is keeping up as the car slows down to turn; I think they honestly (but incorrectly) figure that they have safely passed the cyclist and don't realize the cyclist is still right there beside them. The driver maneuvers in such a way that he or she puts the cyclist squarely in the blind spot, then cuts the cyclist off.

In my case, I followed the driver to his parking spot and let him know how close he came to almost killing me and almost having a terrible wreck on his conscience. He was truly contrite and said, "I never saw you!" to which I answered, "Then why did you accelerate to get past me?" The point is, in his mind he had already passed me but in reality I was still beside him, in his blind spot.

And that's the point: Drivers aren't trying to take out cyclists on purpose. But many, perhaps most, drivers have very little experience in interacting with cyclists. I was a "courteous" cyclist at that point, always trying to stay out of the way of cars, and even chastised other cyclists who took the lane. After that incident and a few others, I realized that my passive, "courteous" cycling technique actually was contributing to my close calls.

I've started riding more assertively and I now know that cars see me; I'm right in front of them (and as visible as I can make myself) and they can't kid themselves that they can slide by without hitting me. They might get a little frustrated, but eventually they change lanes and get around me. I really am sorry that I have to slow them up, but honestly, if the trade off is a few seconds of delay versus my safety, I'm going to do what I need to do to protect my safety.

As for whether I should be out in the lane versus on the sidewalk, the law in my state is clear that I have the right to be in the road, and if the lane is too narrow for a car to pass me within the lane, that I have the right to take the whole lane to maintain my safety.

I've had the whole argument about being courteous and pulling aside when a line of cars is stuck behind with another rider I know. He said that in almost all cases, drivers passed him within 20 seconds. And you know what? Since I've started riding in that more assertive lane position, I've found that he's right. The only time cars stack up behind me is when they are preparing to make a right turn, and the fact that they are behind me instead of trying to pass me and turn in front of me ensures that they aren't going to right hook me.
posted by Doohickie at 8:17 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


When you come up to cars in an intersection, you pull up behind them and wait in line, like every other vehicle. Don't split the lanes; that's when the trouble starts

I've heard this concern from many motorists. The suggestion seems to be that a cyclist, when approaching a line of cars stopped at a red light (like at every intersection downtown), should wait in line, like a car. Then, when the light turns green, the cyclist should ride as close to the curb as possible so that cars can pass.

To the car advocates in this thread, do you agree?
posted by anthill at 8:22 PM on September 3, 2009


"and a bike path used by pedestrians can be frustrating."

A sidewalk used by bikes is more than frustrating, it's dangerous for us pedestrians. I put about 3-4 miles on sidewalks a day. I really respect cyclists that don't ride on the sidewalk. I hate those that do, because I've been hit twice and almost hit countless times.


I wasn't going to add my rant, but the quoted comment set me off.
posted by e40 at 8:32 PM on September 3, 2009


anthill: On multilane roads, I often stay out in the lane and let cars pass by changing lanes. If the right lane is pretty wide or there is a bike lane, I'll go over to the right. But if it is just, say, three lanes each way bounded by curbs, I ride out in the lane.
posted by Doohickie at 8:45 PM on September 3, 2009


You know what would help bike safety* most on the roads? More bikes.

The more bikes there are on the roads, the more drivers will keep their eyes out for cyclists, and get used to gauging how quickly a cyclist is moving. The more drivers ed programs will teach how to share the road with cyclists. And the more used to driver's are to cyclists, the more they will treat driving with cyclists as the norm, and fewer things will be thrown at cyclists. And the more cyclists see the way that other cyclists ride, the more they'll (hopefully) learn by seeing how much of an asshat you can be to other cyclists.

I don't think Copenhagen is blessed with especially amazing bikers or drivers, I think they're just more used to sharing the roads with each other.

*per cyclist

Anyway, awesome links, sorry about the derail.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:34 PM on September 3, 2009


I think the car driver perceived me, a cyclist, as a stationary object (well not stationary exactly, but very slow moving, like a pedestrian is).

I commuted by bicycle for many years, and now drive more than I bicycle. Because of all that time on a bicycle, and almost getting hit so many times, I'm hyperaware of bicycles when I drive.

Even so, however, as a driver I often find bicyclists really hard to predict, compared to cars and pedestrians. They wobble left and right, and their speed can be really erratic -- jumping very quickly from slow to fast to slow. This makes right turns really tricky. The bicycle is going slow, so do I accelerate around and then slow for my turn? But what if the bicycle speeds up? Or wobbles out into my lane? Because so few bicycles have mirrors, I have to assume that the bicyclist isn't aware that my car is behind with a turn signal on -- but what if they are aware? Add all that together, and even a bicycle-friendly driver like me can end up having some uncomfortable car/bike interactions. There are some really tricky perception issues involved, and I think that better street design could help minimize those conflicts.

My personal pet peeve as a driver is the sport cyclists (not commuters) out for training rides on country roads riding two or three abreast. On narrow roads with 55mph speed limits and no shoulders, taking that much of the road is not just rude but dangerous. At least one a year gets nailed. And worse, when you are chatting with your training buddy about cadences or whatever, it's that much harder to notice that cars are stacking up behind you waiting for a safe place to pass.

(My pet peeves as a cyclist have been adequately covered already, though I'd add the door-openers and the biting dogs to the list of menaces facing the bicycle commuter.)
posted by Forktine at 9:41 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


A video of the Manhattan 9th Ave. separated bike lane.

Note that, even with more width than a normal car lane taken up, she never was able to pass that pathetically slow guy in front of her. She had to turn onto another road instead.

Ideas about messing with Richmond/Adelaid sound interesting at one level. But.. I think it falls prey to the same thinking that created expressways everywhere, and that turned out to be wrong headed on many levels in the end. If you are on an expressway, you only care about the start and the destination, but generally no stopping in between. This is bad for the local businesses, it is boring for the driver, etc. etc.
posted by Chuckles at 8:22 AM on September 4, 2009


The cars, instead of parking on the side of the street, now park in a ways and the bike lane is separated from traffic by the parked cars. There's a LOT of space, including a dead zone so doors don't swing open into the bike lane.

Ya.. As if we don't have enough Urban Sprawl already.. And, I suspect the dead zone for car doors isn't a good idea. What happens when a wheel chair van needs to load and unload? Or any other loading and unloading really.

I don't have any experience with on street separated bike lanes, so my perceptions might be way off, but they don't strike me as a particularly good solution at all. Just leave enough room in the curb lane, and make sure the pavement is maintained well.
posted by Chuckles at 8:31 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't see a bunch of separated lanes ever being put in, and I agree that we wouldn't want them to be widely used But I'm still tempted by the idea of a handful of bike expressways (let's assume we magically solve the intersection problem, OK?) that let me get somewhere faster north/south in the city core and east-west some place further north than the lake shore paths, which are badly interrupted anyway.

Yeah, this is probably partially a reaction to some terribly jammed and badly used bike lanes lately ...
posted by maudlin at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2009


Dedicated bike lanes are probably slower for many cyclists who are now confident travelling in street traffic. At some places sport cyclists and other strong riders will need to slow down. Eventually they will find the opportunity to pass, even if they need to wait for the intersection. Urban planning shouldn't be about creating optimum conditions for jocks on carbon fibre Cervelos anymore than it should be about creating optimum conditions for jocks in Ferraris. It's difficult to demand that drivers need to learn to deal with increased congestion and to share the road with different modes of transportation while labelling any configuration that asks a cyclist to pause cranking on the pedals a failure.

I've followed that debate about the Ontario Place path on the bikeTo forum. When I've biked along that path I've seen many cyclists who don't want to stop for the red lights. They certainly don't think they should coast cautiously into green lights. The designers of the paths have placed barriers in an attempt to force cyclists to approach the intersections at slow speeds, but apparently cyclists think they should blow past them, even if that means cutting up on to the grass. There are four intersections there that need to be negotiated, over at least a couple kilometres of travel. To me they don't seem that dangerous for anyone who is willing to slow down and look around and anticipate that drivers may do something stupid. I used the same approach when on the dedicated paths in Montreal. Yes, separating modes of traffic can make intersections even more tricky. So cyclists need to ride defensively. Should be doing that already anyway.

Everybody has to make some compromise to share the roads. Separated paths may encourage many who are now frightened by cars speeding past their shoulder to brave the roads. That will get more people out of cars and strengthen cyclists' demand for space and respect. The pro cyclists can still choose alternative routes if they find biking behind Canadian Tire bikes too frustrating.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eventually they will find the opportunity to pass, even if they need to wait for the intersection. Urban planning shouldn't be about creating optimum conditions for jocks on carbon fibre Cervelos anymore than it should be about creating optimum conditions for jocks in Ferraris.

The traveling speeds of cyclists vary far far more than the traveling speed of other street traffic. Hell, that is the rationale for separated bike lanes in the first place. To me, all these motions for separated lanes are advocated by the anti bike crowd more than by the cyclists. All a cyclist needs is a curb lane of the correct width, and well maintained pavement.

I haven't been down to see the Ontario Place signals yet, but do you know the underpass on Fort York Blvd where the bike lane swerves into a separated trail for about 20m? That thing is a major hazard! The road gets narrower there to make space for the bike thing. It is always covered in sand and gravel and the turn radius' to get in and out of the thing are too tight to safely navigate above 25km/h even if the surface wasn't covered in sand. The only reason it doesn't cause major trouble is lack of traffic on the road in general. Surely that will change when it gets punched through to Spadina in the next year or two.
posted by Chuckles at 12:27 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what would help bike safety* most on the roads? More bikes.

I kind of disagree with that. In the vast, vast majority of cases, local drivers (Fort Worth, Texas) see me as a cyclist and give me a very wide berth; almost too much space most of the time, when I'm on the roads. I think if there were more cyclists riding the roads, the attitude from drivers might change from ultra cautious to more adversarial than it currently is.

That's my hunch, though; I have no data to back that up.
posted by Doohickie at 4:30 PM on September 4, 2009


Doohickie: having ridden in cities with large numbers of cyclists, and cities with very few, the primary factors are whether the driver is looking out for cyclists, whether a driver knows how to asses a cyclists skill and speed, and whether they know how to courteously negotiate sharing the road. All of these things improve when there are more cyclists around, because the drivers are more experienced with cyclists, and therefore safer to bike around.
posted by idiopath at 4:37 PM on September 4, 2009


Posted too soon. I should have added that many accidents are caused by a driver's misjudgement and misplaced sense of how to accommodate a bike on the road. Road safety comes from mutual predictability, which is dangerously low when a situation is novel.
posted by idiopath at 4:43 PM on September 4, 2009


Yeah, I understand the concept, but if drivers around here had to share the rode with cyclists more frequently, I don't think they'd be very happy about it.
posted by Doohickie at 4:36 PM on September 5, 2009


An unhappy but predictable and skilled driver is much less deadly to a cyclist than an unskilled and skittish driver with a positive attitude. Unless you are talking about homicidal road rage, if that is the case I suggest moving somewhere where homocide is not so common.
posted by idiopath at 5:27 PM on September 5, 2009


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