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    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009 edited
     
    How about a thread to share and discuss ideas about how to be safe and comfortable in traffic?

    Here are some ideas that I've picked up, in no particular order...
    <ul>
    <li>Ride outside of door zones... <em>at least FIVE FEET from parked cars.</em>
    <li>Control lanes that are too narrow to be safely shared (any lane less than 14 feet wide).
    <li>When to the right of traffic, always keep your front wheel behind the rear bumper of any car, especially one that can and might turn right, including when it suddenly slows.
    <li>Always check for cross traffic before entering any intersection, even on green
    <li>Control lanes as you approach intersections, often even minor ones with driveways and alleys.
    <li>Assume full responsibility for your safety (to avoid crashes - assigning responsibility after a crash is another matter); don't put your safety in the hands of nitwit motorists!
    <li>Never more left or right without looking back first
    <li>Make sure you have the crucial ability to maintain course while looking back by practicing with a straight stripe in an empty lot.
    <li>Learn to create space by "negotiating" for it, remembering that you don't have right of way to move laterally in front of others unless it is yielded to you.
    <li>Use clear arm signals - with your arm straight out, hand open, straight fingers, palm forward.
    </ul>
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      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009 edited
     
    Great list, Serge - here are some more:

    • Treat motorists with the kind of respect that you would like them to treat you with.
    • If possible, establish eye contact with motorists who may be on a crossing course with you with the aim of establishing some kind of rapport.
    • Do not assume that a vehicle at the left side of the lane will turn left - it is just as likely to turn right -- or go straight. And vice versa!
    • Use pedals/shoes that you are comfortable with so you can accelerate quickly to get out of harm's way.
    • Mount a bell or horn -- and don't be shy to use it! Ditto lights. And reflectors.
    • Whenever you are not looking out for traffic, look out for pot holes and surface cracks and seams - especially when going fast.
    • Don't be shy to call out other bicyclists that engage in behaviors that endanger yourself, themselves or other road users.
    • Carry a cell phone for emergencies.
    • And finally, my pet peeve: Do not assume that a car without a turn signal is not going to turn. Or that one with a turn signal will in fact be turning: Turn signal codes are rarely, if ever, enforced by SDPD - heck, cruisers are rarely using signals themselves!

    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009
     
    Great additions to the list! I see you and raise you! <ul> <li>Learn to be good at predicting motorist behavior. Test yourself. The goal is to know that they'll be turning before they know it! <li>Don't let the false sense of security that bike lanes tend to install lull you into complacency - especially as you approach any intersection, driveway or alley crossing! <li>Personal experience alone is a reliable but inefficient way to learn traffic safety. The cumulative experience of others, as accumulated on sites like this, and in books, can get you the knowledge much faster, and is usually preferable to the often painful and even deadly path of learning through the school of hard knocks. Do you really need to get doored to learn that the door zone is basically over 4 feet wide, and five feet is really how far you need to track from parked cars, allowing for a small margin of error? Do you really want to get hit by a red light runner before you learn to make sure an intersection is clear before entering, even on green? <li>Read: <strong>Cyclecraft </strong>by John Franklin <li>Read: <strong>Effective Cycling</strong> by John Forester <li>Read: <strong>Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)</strong> by Tom Vanderbilt <li>Read: <strong>Bicycling Streetsmarts</strong> by John S. Allen. <a href="http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm">Free dowload!</a> </ul>
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      CommentAuthorHans
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009
     
    A little more...
    I mentally ride like I'm invisible (not invincible).
    Most accidents are due to not being seen. That hideous lime-yellow you see around is the most visible color to the eye, and doesn't blend in with ANYTHING. Sunburst-yellow is second place for visibility. Red and green are the first colors to go in colorblindness, and red turns almost black in low light conditions. Wear whatever color you want. Just ride accordingly. The best safety equipment is skill and defensive riding.
    Lights and moving reflectors are the best. Studies have shown that moving yellow reflectors are exponentially more attention grabbing than a stationary red reflector.

    (Yes, I know. I was the guy last night riding the "light" black bike with the generator powered tail lamp, while wearing the "light" chocolate brown tweed)
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Hans:</cite>A little more...
    I mentally ride like I'm invisible (not invincible).
    Most accidents are due to not being seen. That hideous lime-yellow you see around is the most visible color to the eye, and doesn't blend in with ANYTHING. Sunburst-yellow is second place for visibility. Red and green are the first colors to go in colorblindness, and red turns almost black in low light conditions. Wear whatever color you want. Just ride accordingly. The best safety equipment is skill and defensive riding.
    Lights and moving reflectors are the best. Studies have shown that moving yellow reflectors are exponentially more attention grabbing than a stationary red reflector.

    (Yes, I know. I was the guy last night riding the "light" black bike with the generator powered tail lamp, while wearing the "light" chocolate brown tweed)</blockquote>
    Great stuff... one nit though.

    I used to ride "like I was invisible", but that turns out to be debilitating except in light traffic. It's just impossible to "assume invisibility" in medium to heavy traffic... if you're in the road in traffic like that, you have to be seen, especially, if, for example, you're negotiating with traffic to achieve right-of-way for a left turn. So I'm not into that particular wording any more. That said, I do try to avoid being in a situation where my safety depends on being seen by some particular driver without first establishing that I've actually been noticed by him or her. I mean, if you're actually assuming you're invisible there would be no point in doing that.

    The other thing is that in the area of making yourself visible, bright clothing, lights and reflectors generally gets appropriate coverage, especially among the experienced, but the role of <strong>conspicuous lane positioning</strong> in getting yourself noticed seems to be underappreciated even by the guys with decades and thousands of miles of racing, touring and/or commuting experience. Time after time when I hear someone complain about being overlooked and I ask where they were riding, they'll say something like "in the bike lane" or "by the edge where I'm supposed to be"... Uhh... weren't you overlooked and almost hit at an intersection? No need to keep right there, and you're much better off further left. That's not to say that conspicuous lane positioning <em>guarantees</em> you'll be noticed (ask any motorcyclist), no way, you still have to verify you've been noticed before having your safety depend on being noticed, but it surely helps a great, great deal, I think much more than most people realize.

    I'll end with some quotes from Cyclecraft (pp 91-92):

    <blockquote>
    It has already been said that positioning is one of the most important traffic skills for a cyclist to acquire, yet it is precisely here that most cyclists perform badly. Many cyclists fail to position themselves properly because of their fear of traffic, yet ironically, it is this very fear that probably puts them most at risk.
    ...
    <strong>Good road positioning is <em>not </em>about keeping out you of the path of other traffic as much as possible.</strong>
    ...
    Of all cycling skills, road positioning is probably the most important, for it is through their position on the road that cyclists can exert the greatest influence on their safety in traffic.

    Children should learn to position in the same way as adults. The risks introduced by poor positioning are the same and so are the solutions.
    ...
    Motorists primarily give attention to that part of the highway where there is risk to themselves: they are not nearly so good at noticing anything outside their path. This zone of maximum surveillance is often very narrow, especially at higher speeds - it does not extend to much more than the line of traffic that the driver is following, plus the lines of traffic that are most likely to conflict with the driver's own movement. For you to be safest as a cyclist, you must normally ride within this zone of maximum surveillance, not outside it.
    </blockquote>
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      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    I disagree about arm signals. Most drivers, and most cyclist do NOT know arm signals. Frankly, they are confusing to most. And it is not efficient nor sane to expect to educate "1 driver at a time". I ride down town about 5pm ish, very, very often. Broadway, Market, side streets, what ever works flow wise for catching green lights. To move from lane to lane, I will lean back and look the closest driver where I want to be in the eye and point to the lane I'm moving too.

    I've asked a few, what I'd call, veteran drivers, taxi, bus, delivery folks about arm signals. Most of them agree that the arm signals as described are often a precursor to "F-you".

    This method works, and works well, through many miles down town. In fact my one, and only broadway accident was from a taxi driver who simply figured he had gunned it a head of me to make the right after Horton Plaza, not using the turn lane. Was almost a near miss, just slipped the tires on the ground marking or I would have stopped short.

    Want some real world tips?

    In a car, drive or ride your typical routes. Look for places you're invisible. Look for places a driver is distracted. Look for places that, as a car, you're likely to pick up speed with out realizing it. As a passenger, do what I call as "blink drills", in those spots. Look at your phone, your radio, the hot blond (or what ever your flavor is) on the other side of the street.

    I'm not going to apologize for drivers, and their mistakes. But I will know their week spots.

    Also, find places with a bike lane, and ride in those when it makes sense. A bike lane is a great place for beginners. Especially to get used to knowing the sounds, and intentions of cars next to you. It's not a promise of safety, but it does provide a margin of error.

    I do not, and will not ride behind the bumper of a car unless it's a left turn across. Especially on the right side. If I'm in a place that is optional right, I'll ensure the car next to me knows where I am. I'll take the left if i need to.

    Also, here's a good one:

    Learn to read people's minds (or rather, their in car actions). Signals, lane placement: cars will often do what they don't say they are going to do. Watch heads, arms, and hands on wheels when you can. Keep an eye in mirrors if you can.

    5 feet out from the door zone is ill advised on places such as university, market, imperial or other high speed streets. I prefer, often, to keep nearer, though I'm not one to move in and out of parking spots due to the "suprise, here's a guy on a bike" spot.

    While well intentioned, and heavily advocated, the "road position" idea is a poor learning objective for begginers. You put a new rider on a 35 MPH street and say "get out in front of a car" and they'll get wobbly legs and freak out. And not ride.

    My biggest "sin" for years was not checking when I took green lights. I used to LOVE flying out on the right when a light turned green, felt like a sling shot, got a head of the fight around parked cars, and simply help make up ground. Until I was nearly killed.

    Until one day near Euclid and Market when a young man in a Subaru ran the light with an older dodge behind him. I came out, he was there, but he hit the brakes for someone in the cross walk, I dove left, my only choice due to speed, was nearly hit from behind by the box truck who had lurched forward, and just after I squeezed past, the dodge, who had also run the light, rear ended the Subaru and both were hit by the box truck. A lady two cars or so back came running up to me in tears, she thought I had been in the middle of it.

    Me naturally, I walked away full of bravado "can't hurt me", until I could find the nearest bathroom to let loose my bladder, as I had scared the @#$# out of myself.
    • CommentAuthorProtorio
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    I like the safety wobble -when you hear a car coming close, fast, or loud, do a little wobble before they pass, giving the idea that you're less stable than you really are. The driver will likely give you more room.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    William:I disagree about arm signals. Frankly, they are confusing to most.
    Disagree on the the lack of usefulness of arm signals: Right arm - turn right; left arm - turn left (or change lane) -- what can conceivably be less confusing than that?

    I figure the worst thing that can happen from using hand signals is that 100% of motorists ignore you 100% of the time -- and the upside from that scenario is a whole better than the downside: Sticking my arm out in addition to taking all other precautions for safe riding represents no cost or risk to me with a minimum of effort.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> Njord Noatun:</cite>Disagree on the the lack of usefulness of arm signals: Right arm - turn right; left arm - turn left (or change lane) -- what can conceivably be less confusing than <strong>that</strong>?

    I figure the worst thing that can happen from using hand signals is that 100% of motorists ignore you 100% of the time -- and the upside from that scenario is a whole better than the downside: Sticking my arm out in addition to taking all other precautions for safe riding represents no cost or risk to me with a minimum of effort.</blockquote>

    I'm talking about the DMV hand out ones mentioned in most how to bike hand outs and instructions.

    Pointing to where you're going ~ essentially a hand signal. But the whole arm up, arm down, ect about telling a motorist, an unknown amongst many....and uneffective.

    Pointing, from my experience, works really well.
    • CommentAuthorthom
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    In my experience on mostly fairly low-traffic neighborhood streets, I've found that lane positioning works better than arm signals in terms of signaling intent, and frequently, if I'm in a situation that requires arm signals (i.e. ambiguity abounds regarding where everyone is going), I would often much rather have both hands firmly on the grips than one arm busy with signals. That said, in high traffic where traffic signals and lane markings aren't doing the work for me (turn lanes and arrows) I will use hand signals. It's also helpful for riding with groups to let everyone (cars included) know where the group is heading.

    In general terms, my two cents on being comfortable in traffic is simply to relax the little part of your brain that says "combat" and turn on the part that says "travel." The safety button is still on, the potential for explosive confrontation goes down, and you enjoy the journey more.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    One thing I have trouble with in many of the publications and many of peoples cut and paste of those is the <blockquote>at least FIVE FEET from parked cars.</blockquote>. It makes me shake my head and wonder, where do people ride that it's safe and acceptable to ride 5 feet out from parked cars? Scott and I tried this several times, in a variety of places. I was curious, and Scott was pretty sure this must be a good idea. 5 feet is a lot of ground, essentially putting you on the inside edge of a cars right tire. We did this from La Mesa to down town. Aside from the honks, which don't concern me so much; were the near death brushes, the sideswipes, the cars swerving left around us, brakes slammed on.... It was probably the most hair raising riding expereince I've ever done. And you're taking to a guy who once road down Diamond Back in Hawaii with his feet over the rear tire, laying prone like superman, on a fixie. It was horrible. I thought at times I would get hit. You're out there. I mean, on a 40 MPH road? On curves, lights... Just so not practical. At all. How far is 5 feet. In the photo below, I'm the uberbald guy in a bow tie. I'm standing about 6 inches from the cars. Not a good spot. A foot. Two feet. Good place to be. 5 feet, puts me smack dab in the middle of the lane. Creating a dangerous situation for all concerned. A little more acceptable on side streets due to calmer speeds. But just barely so. <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2579/4185084164_d881e9b43f_b.jpg" alt="" /> And, to say this is recommended for begginers? Horrible. They'll do it once, and then, 10 years from now, sell thier "ridden once" bike on craigslist. I'm not saying hug the right or ride in the curb. But 5 feet? Not healthy, in fact, dangerous. I will also say, going pendatic here, I'm not a fan of riding defensively. Or aggresively. But really, proactively. If you've got your eyes open, paying attention, and are aware of where you are, you'll do much better.
    • CommentAuthorthom
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    As I read Serge's original post, most of those tips amount to experience-based common sense. You ride in traffic a few times with your brain turned on and you're going to pick this stuff up. And William raises an excellent overall point about riding with common sense. I'm not a fan of getting doored, but I'm also not keen on unilaterally positioning myself in the path of larger, heavier, faster vehicles operated by people who may not believe I have a right to be there. Don't get me wrong, I believe in traveling like a vehicle, and I know I have a right to, and I do it every day; I'm in that lane like a champ, but I also don't travel with a five-foot long pole to measure my distance from parked cars. I ride in a way that feels safe to me given the different situations I'm in. Stay flexible in your traffic handling, safe in your movements and decisions, and aware of your surroundings seems like the most important advice.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite><blockquote><cite> Njord Noatun:</cite>Disagree on the the lack of usefulness of arm signals: Right arm - turn right; left arm - turn left (or change lane) -- what can conceivably be less confusing than <strong>that</strong>?

    I figure the worst thing that can happen from using hand signals is that 100% of motorists ignore you 100% of the time -- and the upside from that scenario is a whole better than the downside: Sticking my arm out in addition to taking all other precautions for safe riding represents no cost or risk to me with a minimum of effort.</blockquote>

    I'm talking about the DMV hand out ones mentioned in most how to bike hand outs and instructions.

    Pointing to where you're going ~ essentially a hand signal. But the whole arm up, arm down, ect about telling a motorist, an unknown amongst many....and uneffective.

    Pointing, from my experience, works really well.</blockquote>
    I agree that signaling right with the left arm is close to useless, but that's designed for automobile and truck drivers. Motorcyclists and bicyclists are allowed to use the right arm for right signals, and I do. I have found a CLEAR arm signal, and I mean the arm straight and parallel to the ground, palm open and facing forward, to be <strong>extremely effective</strong>, especially when coupled with a turn-the-head-around look-back. Whenever I do that, almost always the very first car slows for me and makes space, once in a while I have to wait for one or two cars, but never had to wait more than 3 or maybe 4 cars before someone let me in. Never. Not once. The difference in effectivity between a CLEAR and assertive arm signal and one that is even a tad bit lame (e.g., angled down), is really amazing. Someone once told me this and I just didn't believe what seemed to me to be a minor difference in how I signaled could actually matter, until I tried it myself.

    As to the slow/stop signal (with the left arm), I find that to be highly effective too, especially to get tailgaters to back off. Anytime I see someone in my mirror too close or approaching too fast, I pull out my left arm straight, and straight down with a 90 degree bend at the elbow, and I watch as they INSTANTLY react by backing off. I don't think that has ever failed to work.

    Serge
    •  
      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    William:I'm talking about the DMV hand out ones mentioned in most how to bike hand outs and instructions.
    CVC 21111 (Hand Signals) permits bike riders to use the right hand to signal a right turn - here is a link to the DMV CA web site:
    (b) Right turn-hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the vehicle, except that a bicyclist may extend the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

    Ultimately, my point here is : There is no cost or risk in using proper hand signals, and a minimum of effort required. So why not use hand signals for the eventuality that it might help others to make informed decisions in responding to your stated intentions?
    • CommentAuthorjay
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    5 feet, puts me smack dab in the middle of the lane. Creating a dangerous situation for all concerned.


    I think that -- whether or not being in the middle lane creates a dangerous situation -- the core question being debated in almost all the disagreement about how to ride in city streets, etc.

    Personally, I feel *way* safer being smack dab in the middle of the lane, compared to riding alongside parked cars or on the edge of a lane where drivers may try to squeeze by me or not see me. Even if I'm going 10mph and the speed limit is 40mph, if there's not ample room for a car and for me to ride safely alongside each other, I want to be right in the middle where the cars have to slow down n there is and wait for me. I know if I'm in the middle of the lane, no one is going to hit me by accident. They might hit me on purpose because they're frustrated at having to wait, but for whatever reason I'm not that afraid of being murdered like that -- I'm much more afraid of being killed by someone who is driving negligently or recklessly.

    However, I note that other cyclists feel really endangered or exposed being out in the lane like that, particularly when the aggro drivers come up and start honking or whatever, and I respect that those cyclists would rather take their chances with the doors of the parked cars, people coming out from between them, random right turns by inattentive motorists, etc., than with the anger and impatience of motorists who feel that cyclists do not belong in the middle of the lane.

    I do wonder if the impatience with cyclists in the lane is a more American thing -- we were riding in TJ a couple weeks ago on a busy multi-lane road on a Saturday nite, we took the whole right lane and every single car just changed lanes behind us and gave us plenty of room -- no anger, no honking, etc. We talked about how we never would have experienced that in San Diego, where on an empty road with 3 lanes in one direction, oftentimes a driver would rather pull up behind a cyclist and honk than change lanes to pass (I saw Beany comment about this in the last couple months, so I'm pretty sure it's not just me).

    In the end, though, I would disagree with the perspective that bicycling in the middle of the lane creates a dangerous situation. Because pretty much nothing you can do on a bicycle, other than riding fast through a crowd of pedestrians, creates a dangerous situation.

    There's only one dangerous thing happening on the asphalt, and that is people driving 2-ton boxes of steel at high speeds, when humans are not really well-adapted to that task. If there is a dangerous situation inherent in bicycling in the lane, that danger is created by drivers having the expectation that the roads will be completely free of anything that might impede them driving ever faster.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite> When to the right of traffic, always keep your front wheel behind the rear bumper of any car, especially one that can and might turn right, including when it suddenly slows. </blockquote> <blockquote><cite> William:</cite> I do not, and will not ride behind the bumper of a car unless it's a left turn across. Especially on the right side. If I'm in a place that is optional right, I'll ensure the car next to me knows where I am. I'll take the left if i need to. </blockquote> I want to clarify something about this. This is the situation I was thinking about. First, the setup. You're off to the right, perhaps in a bike lane, and a car on your left passes you. Happens all the time, right? At the instant that rear bumper passes you, you are behind (and to the right of) that bumper. I don't see how you can avoid that. It must happen countless times on every ride. That's the classic setup for a right hook, and it happens all the time. Now, after passing you, or perhaps before even completing the pass, the overtaking car on your left slows, to your speed or slower than you, such that your speed is now faster than its speed. That's when I say slow down to get your front wheel behind its bumper, especially if you're approaching a place where it can and might turn right. Make yourself do it a few times until it becomes an instinctive habit. I never pass on the right in that situation. What I do do is, once I'm far enough behind that car, I'll look back over my left shoulder and move behind it, often continuing into the next lane to pass it (and possibly others too, if a whole line of cars to my left is slowing). This is more or less what Andrew Woolley did when he got his ticket for violating 21202, and today, by the way, he was vindicated. Appellate response (news today):
    [[_linker_]]
    Whole Woolley story:
    [[_linker_]]
    Serge
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite> As to the slow/stop signal (with the left arm), I find that to be highly effective too, especially to get tailgaters to back off. Anytime I see someone in my mirror too close or approaching too fast, I pull out my left arm straight, and straight down with a 90 degree bend at the elbow, and I watch as they INSTANTLY react by backing off. I don't think that has ever failed to work. Serge</blockquote> This is the one I talked with a few people about after reading about it on line and in a few books. It sounds logical. The answer from asking people who drive, alot: I got: "WTF does that mean?", with a comical "you're gonna give me the finger?". Perhaps we ride in different areas, but frankly, hand signals, not effective or usefull in my singular experience. From engaged conversation, and my miles, simply pointing in traffic works really, really well. Others have tried it and it seems to work for many. It's quick, simple, and effective, with most drivers knowing what I mean and intend.. and it seems a bit dangerous to be doing an arm signal, and looking in a mirror while riding in city traffic, hueristically speaking. A quick back glance, know your space, know who's coming and look forward and generally, things are GTG. Anyway, perhaps we're splitting tomatoes with 5lbs sludge hammer. Jim Baross taught a neat trick at cycling 101 (a pretty good class for anyone who wants to sharpen thier skills), I used to be an over the shoulder look, but the under the arm if you're up out of the saddle works pretty good to. Takes a bit of getting used to. Like Thom said, using common sense is huge. Some places, "the law says" will get you a ticket or hit... Some places, taking the lane is not only desired, it's required to remain safe.
    image
    My 2nd biggest "danger" cycling is the 805 cross over on Imperial (west). It goes from 2 lanes to 3 lanes, but in a less than a block area. #3 begins, is of course, an optional right. Past the first light, #3 becomes a mandatory right. #2 lane is an optional right. Now, under the idea of taking the lane, a person should take this lane. But, as it's the optional right, it's also "I'm in a Mother @#$#@ hurry" lane for making a right to get on the freeway. At the light, if it's red, we typically ride out in front of stopped cars, ending in the cross walk, so we're seen. If traffis is moving, we'll actualy go all the way left, merging over with traffic at the back while we can either match or overtake. We started by riding on the right of the #2 (middle lane), but after being passed and right hooked onto the freeway on ramp twice.. we started to straddle the lane in a pair. Which is effective, but when you hear tires locking up, or can feel the heat out line of "ford" from the truck behind you..effective is questionable when you consider risk management. We take the #1, all the way on the left, and it works wonders. Have for years. This section is a down hill, and very dodgy lighting early in the morning. We hit 4 lights on this section. I was stopped once, once by the sheriff (I'm guessing's it still considered an unincoperated community here) on this section asking me why I was in the #1 lane. After I explained it to him, he left. Two days later he stopped me again and said that, aside from getting off the bike and using the cross walk, he couldn't see a better way to do it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    Since you're here Serge and pretty well versed in Vehicular cycling, let me ask you: My number one "un happy" cycling portion of one of my routes: University, going east, right at the Chollas Parkway cross over. (Or anyone, for that matter) There's an angled, yeiled (or stop) cross over from University going east to west. Of course, I've got the right of way. But, on the other side, there's a 2 lane merge Chollas Parkway into the 2 lane on University. A little while later, the 2 lanes of the formally Chollas becomes 1 lane. I've got to hit the merge, and cross over to the right. My speed at this point hits around 16-22 mph. Depends on how tired I am, how good a speed I pick up. Traffic speed limit is, I think 35, could be 40.
    image
    #1 problem, likely unavoidable is the head on. My opinion is the city should just shut that crap down. But, there's been a specific absence of any accidents, and I don't intend on becoming one to prove a point. The crossing two lanes of high speed traffic with traffic on my left, occasionaly some of which want to cross all the way right for some of the stores. Reality: things have gone pretty well over this stretch. I usually watch right as soon as I can, and if it's clear, I'll dive over really fast to get out of the way. Not to poke fun, but neither arm signals or pointing is going to do much, thier view is somewhat obstructed... What are your thoughts? (anyones)
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:Serge:</cite>
    This is the situation I was thinking about. First, the setup. You're off to the right, perhaps in a bike lane, and a car on your left passes you. Happens all the time, right? At the instant that rear bumper passes you, you are behind (and to the right of) that bumper. I don't see how you can avoid that. It must happen countless times on every ride. That's the classic setup for a right hook, and it happens all the time.Serge</blockquote>

    If they slow down for the turn, I get on thier left side and pass. :face-devil-grin:

    Legal and works. Unless they change thier mind.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    You can spare me the Wooley case. Andrew and I talk pretty often, he told me about it Saturday night.
    • CommentAuthorbilld
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    jay:
    5 feet, puts me smack dab in the middle of the lane. Creating a dangerous situation for all concerned.
    I think that -- whether or not being in the middle lane creates a dangerous situation -- the core question being debated in almost all the disagreement about how to ride in city streets, etc.

    Personally, I feel *way* safer being smack dab in the middle of the lane, compared to riding alongside parked cars or on the edge of a lane where drivers may try to squeeze by me or not see me.
    I also feel safer in the middle, or slightly left of middle in the lane. Lately I've been going more left of middle in narrow lanes. It does seem to cut down on the close passes.

    Staying to the far right when the lane is narrow almost always seems to result in a lot of close passes. I get a lot fewer by being in the middle, and so I feel safer. I do occasionally get the idiot who honks because he or she thinks that they are too important to have to change lanes to pass a bicycle. It amazes me that people have so much trouble and anger over having to change lanes. It really does. As near as I can tell, the anger is based in a belief that bicycles are not allowed to be in the middle of the lane and that we are somehow "getting away with something" that we aren't allowed to do. Of course, that's legally wrong, not to mention hypocritical since most of these people are full on road ragers who typically do all sorts of illegal driving.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite>
    I'm not going to apologize for drivers, and their mistakes. But I will know their week spots.
    </blockquote>

    Well said!

    One more point of clarification:

    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite>
    5 feet out from the door zone is ill advised on places such as university, market, imperial or other high speed streets. I prefer, often, to keep nearer, though I'm not one to move in and out of parking spots due to the "suprise, here's a guy on a bike" spot.
    </blockquote>
    This surprised me. So I double-checked... yep, I said <strong><i>at least</i></strong> 5 feet from parked cars.

    First, why five feet? Because many doors open as much as 3.5' from the car, and for your right side to be 3.5' from the left side of the parked car you need to track your wheel 4.5' from the car (you are about 2 feet wide, so the distance from you left side to bike center/wheeltrack is about a foot), and I add 6 inches for error margin because you're not out there with a ruler. Practice learning what five feet is and ride there, or further out in the street; otherwise you're in the door zone. And door zones are not only dangerous because someone might open a door into which you might crash. More dangerous is that you will instinctively swerve left to avoid the opening door, or the door edge might clip your handlebars causing you to swerve, possibly right into the path of an overtaking vehicle. Learning to NEVER ride in door zones is a great and unappreciated habit. Lately I've been climbing La Jolla Shores at well under 10 mph on my commute, and I still avoid the door zone. I'm all for making it more convenient for faster traffic to pass us, but now when it involves unreasonably compromising our safety, and that's what riding in door zones is. <strong>Just say no to riding in door zones!</strong>

    I agree <em>only </em>5 feet is often ill advised because that's far enough out in the traffic lane to avoid the door zone, but not far enough to control the lane, thus inviting overtaking motorists to try to squeeze into your lane unsafely next to you.

    As far as not teaching beginners to do that, that's how I teach my nine year old daughter to ride. Is that beginner enough? I will admit that she's not ready to ride on 35 mph streets yet, but she is ready to ride 25 mph streets, and I teach her to not ride in door zones there.

    I think it's a mistake to encourage beginners, or anyone, with bike lanes or otherwise, to ride on surface streets on which they don't have the experience, skills and good habitual practices to be able to ride comfortably and safely there, including riding in the traffic lane as appropriate, due to parked cars, intersections, obstructions, etc.

    Serge
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite><blockquote><cite> Serge:Serge:</cite>
    This is the situation I was thinking about. First, the setup. You're off to the right, perhaps in a bike lane, and a car on your left passes you. Happens all the time, right? At the instant that rear bumper passes you, you are behind (and to the right of) that bumper. I don't see how you can avoid that. It must happen countless times on every ride. That's the classic setup for a right hook, and it happens all the time.Serge</blockquote>

    If they slow down for the turn, I get on thier left side and pass. :face-devil-grin:

    Legal and works. Unless they change thier mind.</blockquote>
    That's exactly what I meant, which implies getting behind them (to get from the right side to the left side to pass), no?
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite>That's exactly what I meant, which implies getting behind them (to get from the right side to the left side to pass), no?</blockquote>

    Nope. I swap sides immediately. They go right, I go left, one for one. We're sharing the road, not getting ready to for greek.

    :face-devil-grin:
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite>Since you're here Serge and pretty well versed in Vehicular cycling, let me ask you: My number one "un happy" cycling portion of one of my routes: University, going east, right at the Chollas Parkway cross over. (Or anyone, for that matter) There's an angled, yeiled (or stop) cross over from University going east to west. Of course, I've got the right of way. But, on the other side, there's a 2 lane merge Chollas Parkway into the 2 lane on University. A little while later, the 2 lanes of the formally Chollas becomes 1 lane. I've got to hit the merge, and cross over to the right. My speed at this point hits around 16-22 mph. Depends on how tired I am, how good a speed I pick up. Traffic speed limit is, I think 35, could be 40.
    image
    #1 problem, likely unavoidable is the head on. My opinion is the city should just shut that crap down. But, there's been a specific absence of any accidents, and I don't intend on becoming one to prove a point. The crossing two lanes of high speed traffic with traffic on my left, occasionaly some of which want to cross all the way right for some of the stores. Reality: things have gone pretty well over this stretch. I usually watch right as soon as I can, and if it's clear, I'll dive over really fast to get out of the way. Not to poke fun, but neither arm signals or pointing is going to do much, thier view is somewhat obstructed... What are your thoughts? (anyones)</blockquote> Here's the view from Chollas: <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=university+ave+at+chollas+parkway,+san+diego,+ca&sll=32.74776,-117.074068&sspn=0.011857,0.024247&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=University+Ave+%26+Chollas+Pkwy,+San+Diego,+California&ll=32.747327,-117.07469&spn=0.012236,0.024247&z=16&layer=c&cbll=32.747548,-117.074385&panoid=Y4iePl3FJ41oOWYyy1ycaA&cbp=12,37.4,,0,7.23">maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=university+ave+at+chollas+parkway,+san+diego,+ca&sll=32.74776,-117.074068&sspn=0.011857,0.024247&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=University+Ave+%26+Chollas+Pkwy,+San+Diego,+California&ll=32.747327,-117.07469&spn=0.012236,0.024247&z=16&layer=c&cbll=32.747548,-117.074385&panoid=Y4iePl3FJ41oOWYyy1ycaA&cbp=12,37.4,,0,7.23 </a> I don't see any significant obstructions, the sight lines look great. Take this with a grain of salt because I have not ridden there and I might be missing something, but my initial take is that I would control the right lane of University as I approached the merge, and pretty much continue controlling as long as the stripe to my right was solid. Now, if I look back and see no traffic coming from Chollas, and there is traffic approaching from behind on University, yeah, I would probably cut across. But if there is traffic coming from Chollas they have the right of in that lane, and I have the right of way, so I'm staying put (laterally speaking, continuing to progress longitudinally, of course) until they pass me and there is room to move over. If I'm approaching the end of the solid stripe and there is still a stream of traffic coming in from Chollas on my right, then I know I need to create a gap to move over. That's when I use the CLEAR and obvious straight arm right signal, probably coupled with a look back over the right shoulder. They will let you in, and certainly will notice you. Here's a bicyclist looking to get over to the edge of the road - they get that. They'll let you through. After the merge on University the lane looks plenty wide for safe sharing, unless the curbside area is occupied with parked cars. If there are parked cars, then I would probably stay near the center of the rightmost slow lane. Those need to pass need to change lanes; sorry. The frequency of the driveways and intersection might cause me to control the lane even without the parked cars. Serge
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite>This surprised me. So I double-checked... yep, I said <strong><i>at least</i></strong> 5 feet from parked cars.

    First, why five feet? Because (snip snip) is that you will instinctively swerve left to avoid the opening door, or the door edge might clip your handlebars (snip snip) but now when it involves unreasonably compromising our safety, and that's what riding in door zones is. </blockquote>

    I'd like to thank you for that brilliant lesson on the size of car doors. Ahem, you missed the every so rare 1972 Cadillac El Dorado two door, however. It has a door span of about 3 city bus lengths. Like, whoa, those things are huge. I've seen smaller plane wings. Jokes aside.

    But Serge, we'll have to disagree. Here's my final input on this, and Serge, you and I have traded more than a few OPINIONS on this. I believe what you're suggesting, many times, is not safe compared to the alternative. And it engenders anger with cars that is avoidable with common sense.

    #1) I would venture to guess that more people are hit from behind than hit doors. Neither are thier fault, for the most part, but, chances are greater to be hit from behind.

    #2) If a rider is smart, and pays attention, they'll see people in cars. And slow/stop. Part of the whole being aware, vice being aloof.

    #3) The animal in the street philosophy that I teach EVERYONE IN A @#$# car. If an animal pulls out in front you. Hit the brakes. If a kid runs out in front of you. Hit the brakes. If a nun walks out in front of you. Hit the brakes. Don't swerve. Instinctively, I don't swerve. Why? Because I can slow/stop in time, if I'm paying attention.

    We can split the tomatoe with a hammer again. But, I believe, and by miles prove, that if you watch out, you're just as safe in the 2 foot zone as you are in 5. If not more so.

    Riding in the middle of the street. Bad idea. I'm sure you've got a pretty long winded response, but I feel enough of this has been taken up on this thread.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite><blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite>That's exactly what I meant, which implies getting behind them (to get from the right side to the left side to pass), no?</blockquote>

    Nope. I swap sides immediately. They go right, I go left, one for one. We're sharing the road, not getting ready to for greek.

    :face-devil-grin:</blockquote>
    I think we're trying to say the same thing.

    Once they pass you you are behind them, longitudinally. Laterally, you are, at least initially, also off to the side, but you're behind (and off to the right). Now during the swap, as you go left and they go right, you're behind them (they're not behind you), so, again, you're behind them.

    I guess you meant you would not get directly behind them (not off to the side) <em>and stay there</em>; that if you're going to move left, you're going all the way to their other side. Okay, I can see that. But sometimes I just stay behind, if nothing else because of other traffic passing is not possible at that point, and I want them to know I'm behind them so they don't wait for me to pass on the right (I hate when they do that, though I understand why they expect it since 98% of cyclists do it).

    Serge
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite>I don't see any significant obstructions, the sight lines look great.
    Take this with a grain of salt because I have not ridden there and I might be missing something, but my initial take is that I would control the right lane of University as I approached the merge, and pretty much continue controlling as long as the stripe to my right was solid. If I'm approaching the end of the solid stripe and there is still a stream of traffic coming in from Chollas on my right, then I know I need to create a gap to move over. That's when I use the CLEAR and obvious straight arm right signal, probably coupled with a look back over the right shoulder. They will let you in, and certainly will notice you. Serge</blockquote>

    My advice, based on that?

    <em>don't ever ride that street</em>
    •  
      CommentAuthoril Pirati
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    .

    In Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic:. . . he cites a study that showed drivers were more likely to misinterpret a cyclist's intentions, or react more slowly to those intentions, when a cyclist used hand signals rather than just looked over their shoulder/indicated with position where they intended to go. I'm not going to look up the passage now, but it's in there. This fact doesn't keep me from pointing where I intend to go, or holding my palm out to people when I want them to make room for me, but I'll offer it as food-for-thought. . .
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> William:</cite>Why? Because I can slow/stop in time, if I'm paying attention. </blockquote> Have you ever talked to anyone who has been doored? Some people can only learn to not touch a hot stove by touching a hot stove. I prefer to learn from those who have learned the hard way, like <a href="http://www.bikexprt.com/massfacil/cambridge/doorzone/laird1.htm">Dana Laird.</a> As to those people who get hit from behind, the last time I checked the stats, over half of all bikes hit from behind involved riding at night without lights and reflectors. Then there are side swipes, which are really the ultimate "close pass", which can be all but eliminated with appropriate lane positioning techniques as many here attest, and the inadvertent drift into the cyclist riding in a shoulder or bike lane, which is a whole separate topic, but is again not a cyclist riding in the traffic lane who gets hit from behind. But statistics aside, I was too skeptical at first (it's my nature). So I got a mirror and learned to use it effectively. I observed motorist behavior and the evidence is nothing short of dramatic. A bicyclist in the lane GRABS the attention of motorists (for better or worse), and they ordinarily act react safely and predictably, giving the attentive cyclist plenty of time and space to take necessary evasive action in the unlikely event it might be necessary.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> il Pirati:</cite>.

    In Tom Vanderbilt's <li>Traffic:. . .</li> he cites a study that showed drivers were more likely to misinterpret a cyclist's intentions, or react more slowly to those intentions, when a cyclist used hand signals rather than just looked over their shoulder/indicated with position where they intended to go. I'm not going to look up the passage now, but it's in there. This fact doesn't keep me from pointing where I intend to go, or holding my palm out to people when I want them to make room for me, but I'll offer it as food-for-thought. . .</blockquote>
    That's a good point, I often rely on just looking back to signal my intent to motorists - which alleviates the need to take one hand off the bars. If they yield the right of way to me, I have the right of way. Depending on how one interprets the statute requiring signalling, one might argue that a look back is all that is required (but don't cite me on that one!).

    This is another advantage of using a mirror - it prevents the "false signal" problem in which the cyclist looks back merely to check out the traffic condition for some reason, and a motorist assumes it's because he wants to move left <em>now</em>. With a mirror you can check back without turning your head and issuing a "false signal" - it's very useful for seeing if and when a gap is coming to decide if you're going to use an existing gap (if one gets to you at the right time), or whether you're going to have to negotiate to create one. But looking back alone sometimes just doesn't do the trick, and I have to add in an actual arm signal too. I do wonder about the quality of the arm signals used in the study that Vanderbilt cites. Again, the difference between a clear signal issued by a straight arm is amazingly more effective than one that is, well, even somewhat lame (for lack of a better term).

    But with a mirror it's also very important to never rely only the mirror. Before actually moving left (or right), I always double-check to make sure it's clear with an old-fashioned over-the-shoulder head turn look.
    •  
      CommentAuthorVelo Cult
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009
     
    great discussion everyone!
    • CommentAuthorburnsadam
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     
    if the traffic is moving at a slow-medium pace (maybe 10-25mph?), and you think you can ride as fast as the cars, ramp up your pace, go hard and take the lane as if you were a car/motorcycle. if you are moving with the flow, it seems much safer than riding on the shoulder, and cars can't help but see you. if a gap forms, close it up, or get back on the shoulder.

    don't space out. your life is literally in your hands. look out for danger: brake lights, doors, cracks, peds, dogs, soccer balls. if you are paying very close attention, you can stop a 20lb bike much faster than a driver can a 2000lb car.

    learn how to bunnyhop over shit. this can be very helpful/crucial.

    if you want to get through town on the quick, draft a bus. yeah.
  1.  
    This is a fun discussion everyone. I enjoy reading posts like this that give me some insight and teach me lessons others have learned the hard way, or the insanely studious way ("Car Doors and You" by Serge :) ) I like to have extra input and tips to pass along because I tend to ride with a couple of groups of friends. Some of my roadie friends will blow through stop signs and also bike unpredictably on our road rides. I have told one acquaintance to "Bike predictably or bike behind me" after his erratic biking style. I have also had the pleasure of "teaching" a few different girlfriends how to ride their bikes in traffic. This is sometimes difficult for me because I have been biking assertively in traffic for awhile now and don't get too phased by it. However I sometimes take for granted the sheer amount of tricks and instinctual biking habits I have that I try to convey to them so they may also ride safely and enjoy themselves when we bike around the city together. So thanks for posting all the good ideas, I'll try to include them on my next rolling peripatetic seminar on biking :)

    Additionally I wanted to add that it can sometimes be tricky being too assertive/aggressive/car-like in a lane when another driver makes a more cautious or prudent decision than we might be expecting. One morning as I was biking into work I was coming up pretty fast northbound on Convoy preparing to turn from the left-hand lane onto Clairemont Mesa blvd at a light that I know changes quickly from green to yellow. I was hustling along at about 25-30 mph when the Honda sedan in front of me that was heading for the light jammed on the brakes as the light turned yellow instead of prudently finishing her turn (she was in a reasonable position to do so and not run the red light at all). I slowed considerably, locking my back wheel, but still wound up smacking my helmet onto the back of some poor lady's car as I gracefully plopped up onto the rear of the car like a whale beaching itself. Lesson learned, at least at that particular light.

    And finally, I wonder if am I the only one who thinks the best angry hand gesture to wave at somebody who cuts you off or acts like a bonehead is the five-fingers brought to a point like an onion waving it about like an angry Italian paparazzi. It's an appropriate response to the gravity of the crime (nobody was hurt, but man they need to learn a sassy lesson!), not going to potentially enrage a driver like giving the finger might, and let's face it, exotic and kinda fun to do :)
    • CommentAuthorneal_d
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    Serge:
    William:Since you're here Serge and pretty well versed in Vehicular cycling, let me ask you: My number one "un happy" cycling portion of one of my routes: University, going east, right at the Chollas Parkway cross over. (Or anyone, for that matter)

    There's an angled, yeiled (or stop) cross over from University going east to west. Of course, I've got the right of way. But, on the other side, there's a 2 lane merge Chollas Parkway into the 2 lane on University. A little while later, the 2 lanes of the formally Chollas becomes 1 lane. I've got to hit the merge, and cross over to the right. My speed at this point hits around 16-22 mph. Depends on how tired I am, how good a speed I pick up. Traffic speed limit is, I think 35, could be 40.


    #1 problem, likely unavoidable is the head on. My opinion is the city should just shut that crap down. But, there's been a specific absence of any accidents, and I don't intend on becoming one to prove a point.

    The crossing two lanes of high speed traffic with traffic on my left, occasionaly some of which want to cross all the way right for some of the stores.

    Reality: things have gone pretty well over this stretch. I usually watch right as soon as I can, and if it's clear, I'll dive over really fast to get out of the way. Not to poke fun, but neither arm signals or pointing is going to do much, thier view is somewhat obstructed...

    What are your thoughts? (anyones)

    Here's the view from Chollas:

    maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=university+ave+at+chollas+parkway,+san+diego,+ca&sll=32.74776,-117.074068&sspn=0.011857,0.024247&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=University+Ave+%26+Chollas+Pkwy,+San+Diego,+California&ll=32.747327,-117.07469&spn=0.012236,0.024247&z=16&layer=c&cbll=32.747548,-117.074385&panoid=Y4iePl3FJ41oOWYyy1ycaA&cbp=12,37.4,,0,7.23


    I don't see any significant obstructions, the sight lines look great.

    Take this with a grain of salt because I have not ridden there and I might be missing something, but my initial take is that I would control the right lane of University as I approached the merge, and pretty much continue controlling as long as the stripe to my right was solid.

    Now, if I look back and see no traffic coming from Chollas, and there is traffic approaching from behind on University, yeah, I would probably cut across.

    But if there is traffic coming from Chollas they have the right of in that lane, and I have the right of way, so I'm staying put (laterally speaking, continuing to progress longitudinally, of course) until they pass me and there is room to move over.

    If I'm approaching the end of the solid stripe and there is still a stream of traffic coming in from Chollas on my right, then I know I need to create a gap to move over. That's when I use the CLEAR and obvious straight arm right signal, probably coupled with a look back over the right shoulder. They will let you in, and certainly will notice you. Here's a bicyclist looking to get over to the edge of the road - they get that. They'll let you through. After the merge on University the lane looks plenty wide for safe sharing, unless the curbside area is occupied with parked cars. If there are parked cars, then I would probably stay near the center of the rightmost slow lane. Those need to pass need to change lanes; sorry. The frequency of the driveways and intersection might cause me to control the lane even without the parked cars.

    Serge
    The 3 trees in the Google image and the shrubbery beneath them blocks some of the view of westbound drivers crossing over to Chollas. This is particularly sketchy at dusk when it's hard to see those cars when heading eastbound on University. I'm just extra careful there and prepare to yield, if necessary.

    I find it prudent to always have my flashing head and tail lights going even during the day because of the numerous shadows cast by tall buildings, trees and overpasses. It also doesn't hurt to have them aimed at parked cars' side mirrors.
    • CommentAuthorHillbilly
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    DutchBurrito:...And finally, I wonder if am I the only one who thinks the best angry hand gesture to wave at somebody who cuts you off or acts like a bonehead is the five-fingers brought to a point like an onion waving it about like an angry Italian paparazzi. It's an appropriate response to the gravity of the crime (nobody was hurt, but man they need to learn a sassy lesson!), not going to potentially enrage a driver like giving the finger might, and let's face it, exotic and kinda fun to do :)

    I like that one...I never give the finger but like to give a thumbs up along with a "nice one bonehead" look.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    Is it just me, or are bicyclists, particularly male bicyclists with some experience, especially resistant to bicycle traffic safety education?

    I mean, if I think about just about any other activity that has some risk involved in it -- piloting airplanes, driving cars, rock climbing, SCUBA, riding motorcycles, paragliding, backcountry backpacking, ice climbing, etc. -- it's pretty much accepted that there are some standard basics to be learned, and taking classes and/or reading books is how you do it. The vast majority of participants in these activities, it seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong), have at least taken some courses and/or read some books about how to engage in these activities safely.

    But have the vast majority of bicyclists taken classes or read books about how to ride bikes in traffic safely? Have you? If not, why the difference?

    I don't know about Australia or non-English speaking countries, but the UK, Canada and the U.S. all have bicycle traffic safety programs that teach the techniques and best practices of safe traffic cycling, and they all say pretty much the same thing, and what that is is basically very different from how most bicyclists, even most experienced bicyclists, ride.

    There seems to be a sense within the bicycle community that pretty much anything goes, that there is no one correct way to behave, and different techniques work for different people. Can you imagine a driving instructor saying something like that? Or a SCUBA or pilot instructor? How about the training chief at a nuclear reactor? I mean, sure, there is a some variance based on personal preference, there is on all of these activities. But I perceive a resistance to even the most basic notions and rules about bike traffic safety among bicyclists, like the importance of stopping at red lights, clearly indicating intent before moving laterally, avoiding door zones, controlling narrow lanes, riding visibly and predictably out in the lane when approaching intersections, etc. These are the kinds of things that ALL the courses and books in the field agree on, and yet to that there seems to be resistance. <em>A lot</em> of resistance.

    What is that about? Or am I off base?

    Thanks,
    Serge
    • CommentAuthorburnsadam
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    people don't like to follow rules. if you blow through a red light in a car or motorcycle, it's pretty heavy; you could easily kill a pedestrian or cause a large accident. not to mention the hefty fine if you are caught (i accidentally ran the photo enforced light on washington by normal st. and the ticket was $450...i'm just glad i didn't harm anyone). on a bike, people don't seem to take running reds very seriously, maybe because they think they are just a ped that is moving faster, or that they can weave in and out of cars easier? that was one of the reasons i got over going on the thursday night fixie ride. alot of people would just ride like straight assholes, running lots of red lights in sketchy situations, doing dumb skidzzz right in front of people/cars, going the wrong way down one-ways, and then yelling "fuck off" at any driver or ped that honked at them or called them out for it. this stuff makes people HATE cyclists. my gf and i were on a ride once and we stopped a 4way stop intersection that some guy was about to walk through, but suddenly braced himself and stepped back when he saw us. when we stopped, the guy looked at us all amazed and laughed, "wow, i'm used to you people never stopping at a stop sign." another hot tip: be nice to people out there. if some car slows down to let you by, smile and wave thank you. they'll appreciate it, and maybe if they're some bike-hater, they'll hate us a little less. karma, man. in my almost 2 years of riding on the road, i've had almost no road rage from motorists. maybe once or twice someone honked or tossed a middle finger, but that's about it.
    I don't want to generalize, but from my experience riding around town, it's almost always some fixie person that's doing some sketchy shit on their bike. i'm not trying to hate; i rode a track bike for like a year, and think they are really fun, but the whole attitude around that scene just sucks so bad. all the flipping off and hitting cars and blowing thru signs and lights because you are too rookie to stop fast is just lame. /rant
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> burnsadam:</cite>people don't like to follow rules. </blockquote>
    I think you're on to something. There is a difference between dumb pointless rules and rules that we follow for our own safety. People definitely don't like to follow dumb pointless rules.
    For some reason in bicycling many of the safety rules seem to be largely perceived as dumb pointless rules. And maybe some of them are in some contexts (coming to a complete stop at every mindnumbing stop sign comes to mind), but I think that excuse is used to ignore even the good ones. Is that because the rules are perceived to be designed for cars, and that they really shouldn't apply to bicyclists?
    Most of the basic traffic rules and principles were conceived before cars were invented. I wonder if there is a way to market the notion that following the traditions of traffic that predate cars is somehow cool and retro?
    • CommentAuthorburnsadam
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     

    coming to a complete stop at every mindnumbing stop sign comes to mind
    this. i will definately slow roll through a stop sign if there's nobody around and i'm absolutely sure that i'm not endangering/in danger by doing this, but if there's any action at all in the intersection, i'll stop. i know some don't agree with this.
    • CommentAuthorburnsadam
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    because the rules are perceived to be designed for cars, and that they really shouldn't apply to bicyclists?
    and this. many, many people think this way. yes, some of the rules may be bent reasonably, but the majority should be followed. if more people did that, there would be much more respect for cyclists, and it would be safer out there.
    •  
      CommentAuthorVelo Cult
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    Serge, ever thought of holding bike classes with the bike coalition? you can sit down 10-30 people at a time and teach them the ways of the road point by point.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    <blockquote><cite> Velo Cult:</cite>Serge, ever thought of holding bike classes with the bike coalition? you can sit down 10-30 people at a time and teach them the ways of the road point by point.</blockquote>
    The coalition offers classes that do exactly that. I'm certified to teach those classes, but am personally not active in teaching for various reasons (not the least of which is weekend time commitment).
    •  
      CommentAuthorWilliam
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> Serge:</cite>Is it just me, or are bicyclists, particularly male bicyclists with some experience, especially resistant to bicycle traffic safety education? Serge</blockquote>

    Serge. Typically, only males will argue the subject.

    I'll say it this way, and use it on the subject of the 5 foot rule. I'm not arguing, I'm attempting to put into place why I disagree.

    I have 9 years of San Diego expereince riding, have learned a lot of trial and error. I ride from downtown to east county, so there's a lot of different riding conditions. Bike lanes. City streets. Suburban nieghborhoods. "expresways".

    <em>Experience</em>
    When I heard the 5 foot rule, my experience says, 5 feet out is a bad spot to be. I've had very few "door" situations, none that really come to mind infact.
    <em>Online search</em>
    Google alerts for cycling accidents report most of the time, hit from behind, hit from the side. "dooring", pretty rare.
    <em>Fuzzy head math</em>
    If I hit a door, my speed is 15 mph, or there abouts. If hit from behind, hit by a typical speed of 40 MPH, minus 15 mph for my forward speed: impact speed 25 mph.
    <em>Test</em>
    Friend and I ride this way in several areas to try it. Because it's being explained as the safest way. Period. Some areas, it works. Many, not well. Others, not at all. Some, down right dangerous. And it ellicits a lot more bad behavoir from cars.

    <em>Result</em>
    My point of view, is that it doesn't work in many cases. By experience and well thought out research.

    So, here is how it rolls out, and why I think you should allay your dismay at the response. This isn't about doors only, but several other recommendations.

    <em>The conversation</em>
    Recommender "ride this way"
    Me "wow, that doesn't seem right"
    Recommender "we have research, we have books, you need to ride this way"
    Me "ok, I'll try it" ~ above expereince
    Me "that doesn't work"
    Recommender "fact, fact, fact, you're wrong"
    Me "I tried this, I've read this, and it doesn't add up"
    Recommender "you're against safe riding, and you want to endanger others"
    Me "no, that is not the case, I'm saying that"
    Recommender "This is the case, you are unsafe, you are wrong"

    The idea about Nuclear, rock climbing, scuba ~ in those communities there are many different ways they operate. There are plenty of books about the subjects, and disagreements about right/wrong ect. You can get different ways of doing things from anyone with in those groups. Ask free climbers about rope equipment, ect.

    The point I'm making is that what is touted as <em>education</em> is no more than a few peoples good intentions and experience bundled up into paper back. You can find different materails all over that talk about different ways of doing anything. The problem you've seen is not resistance to "education" or "safety", it, in my opinion; that the delivery is hugely flawed and those that present it are resistant to any other ideas that do not line up with their own.
    • CommentAuthorProtorio
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    I haven't been reading this thread - but it may be worth noting that when I saw it pop up - I promptly added the thread on Tips for Happy Riding, as I knew what might ensue...

    Esteban
    • CommentAuthorbilld
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    William:When I heard the 5 foot rule, my experience says, 5 feet out is a bad spot to be. I've had very few "door" situations, none that really come to mind infact.
    I've had many in the last 23 years (off and on) of riding the roads of San Diego. I had one this morning in fact. It was an old car with giant doors and the guy threw the door out fast. Fortunately for me, I was already 5 feet out because if I hadn't been, the timing was perfect for a door collision with zero time for braking. I would have hit it at full speed. It still startled me and freaked me out a little. The guy pushed the door out unusually fast.
    If I hit a door, my speed is 15 mph, or there abouts. If hit from behind, hit by a typical speed of 40 MPH, minus 15 mph for my forward speed: impact speed 25 mph.
    However, if you are out in the middle of the lane, drivers are more likely to change into the next lane to pass, making you less likely to be hit from behind than if you are over to the right with barely enough room for them to pass.

    It gets a little tricky as the lane widens slightly. It's not always immediately clear when it's safer to move back over to the right. Maybe that's why it gets confusing.
    • CommentAuthorSam
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    Serge:Is it just me, or are bicyclists, particularly male bicyclists with some experience, especially resistant to bicycle traffic safety education?


    I'm a big Tom Vanderbilt fan and I don't really buy the safety angle. I am not really sure Traffic Safety courses accomplish much. There are a lot of good things to be said for taking the lane, staying x feet away from y obstacle and so on, but I think there are equally good things to be said about being completely unpredictable on the road. Although annoying, I'm not convinced bike salmons are quite threat to everyone they're made out to be. I'm not in favor of people getting from point A to point B in the fastest possible way. I'm a bigger advocate for traffic calming measures. If a cyclists A is riding all wobbly ahead of you, I think that is a good thing. Speed kills and I think being too predictable on the road lulls roads users into a false sense of security.
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    For eight years my commute route included <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=La+Jolla+Village+Dr+%26+Lebon,+san+diego,+ca&sll=32.841574,-117.269247&sspn=0.011448,0.024247&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=La+Jolla+Village+Dr+%26+Lebon+Dr,+San+Diego,+California&ll=32.870342,-117.222469&spn=0.011444,0.024247&z=16&layer=c&cbll=32.87037,-117.222573&panoid=liOwNgVyACbDj7DgJ4Ccjw&cbp=12,109.83,,0,14.25">this stretch</a> of La Jolla Village Drive. Three lanes in each direction, posted 45 mph (actual speed 50-55+), and a door zone. Again, the "rule" is not "five feet from parked cars", but "<em>at least</em> five feet from parked cars". Big difference. Often times "<em>only </em>five feet from parked cars" is indeed a horrible place to ride, because, depending on the width of the lane, it can appear to be a lane sharing position, inviting motorists to squeeze into the lane with you. <em>Only </em>five feet from parked cars is certainly a horrible place to ride on this eastbound section of LJVD east of Lebon. When traffic is approaching at 50 mph from behind, I want them to know that they have to change lanes to pass while they still have plenty of time and space to make that change safely. If I'm riding only five feet from cars I'm not making it clear at all that they need to change lanes. Most still try to get by squeezing into my lane with me. If no one is in the adjacent lane, they'll use part of that lane, but if someone else is occupying the adjacent lane at the time, then their only choice is to slam on the brakes or buzz me with a close pass. Either way they're pissed. I experimented with various positioning options and quickly settled on clearly taking the lane well out in the center of the lane. In those eight years of bike commuting 3-5 times per week I can count on one hand how many times I had an uncomfortable situation with a driver (e.g., hard braking, close pass, middle finger, or getting honked at, etc.), and I'm pretty sure I can do that without using my thumb or pinkie. I was also often passed by SD's Finest on their way back to the station on Eastgate Mall without any incidents. Looking at raw hit-from-behind numbers and comparing them to raw dooring numbers to determine whether riding in or out of door zones is safer, especially if these numbers are coming from news reports, has to be highly misleading. First, there is no evidence that there is any positive correlation at all between controlling lanes and increasing the likelihood of being hit from behind. Almost nobody rides in the middle of the lane at least five feet from parked cars; most hit-from-behinds involve the exact opposite behavior: trying to ride out of the way (near the curb, in the door zone or in the bike lane), and thus encouraging lane sharing and close passing that can result in sideswipe or drift crashes, which count as hit-from-behinds and are likely to be serious enough to warrant a mention in a news article. Second, most dooring crashes are less serious and so there is likely to be no news or any kind of report, but such a crash can still ruin your week, month or year. It is my experience that riding outside of the door zone (and that means <em>well </em>outside of the door zone when <em>just </em>outside of the door zone does not work) not only eliminates the possibility of getting doored, but also reduces the likelihood of close passes and drifts (typical hit-from-behinds), and causes more drivers to treat you better than does trying to share a lane. <img src="http://bicycledriving.googlegroups.com/web/BMUFL-bw.jpg?gda=mDnHKD8AAACKenwrBniKqhH7rlglcwX4A0ZA063-hmWK3-o4JUiwVQbWgo5ogUov73PCkqAqYeOccyFKn-rNKC-d1pM_IdV0" alt="Bikes May Use Full Lane" />
    • CommentAuthorSerge
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite> beany:</cite> Although annoying, I'm not convinced bike salmons are quite threat to everyone they're made out to be. </blockquote> Salmons post a much bigger threat to themselves than to anyone else. <blockquote> A study in Washington State found that 11% cycling fatalities involved wrong-way riding. Subtracting out 11% of the nationwide deaths, we find that cyclists who don't ride against traffic are 3x to 10.2x more likely to get killed than motorists.</blockquote>
    [[_linker_]]
    That said, salmon cycling is probably a lot safer than how dangerous most cyclists seem to imagine controlling lanes is.
    • CommentAuthorModerator
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2009
     
    OK, lets try to refrain from arguing anymore about where in the lane ride for week. It's been hashed out plenty. Happy fun forum

    :face-angel: