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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    VC Extremists: Please Do Not Post In This Thread!

    Several members have been complaining that "VC extremists" are dominating this forum. Perhaps this is true.

    Personally, I'm not a dogmatist when it comes to bike safety. I'm eager to try any system that might be feasible and efficient, and I'm unlikely to strictly follow any system all the time. However, I have been waiting for a long time to read a coherent alternative to VC. In that sense, this is a challenge to the "anti-VC extremists." I am beginning to suspect that there is no such thing as a feasible alternative, but I hope that I'm wrong again.

    To find out how wrong I am, I would like everybody who has a non-VC system of safe bicycle riding to post it here. I am interested specifically in systems that would allow us to ride to all locations within a typical city or suburb. Or maybe you do not believe that bikes should be permitted in all parts of the city?

    Please let us know how you navigate around the city, and how well your system has worked for you. Also, do you know of books or websites that offer alternatives to VC?

    To keep it productive, I am requesting that people do not post VC ideas here, or start an argument about VC. This is a post for non-VC alternatives only. If you can stay out of bike lanes, you can stay out of this thread!

    I want to assure everybody of my sincerity. Like a lot of people on this forum, I am inclined to go with the safety theory that seems feasible, sensible and coherent. I am not currently dissatisfied with VC; it has served me well. However, if anybody has a better (or even different) idea, I would like to learn about it. I personally will not post any arguments or rebuttals to the ideas posted here.

    Again, I am not looking for an argument, I am looking for your alternatives to VC. I hope you will be generous enough to post them here. Thank you for your time.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  2. #2
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    If you can stay out of bike lanes, you can stay out of this thread
    Where is it possible to ride anywhere without on occasion getting out of a bike lane where on exists (for example to make a left turn)?

    Al

  3. #3
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    I'm a fairly VC rider, though I'm also a pragmatist. I don't think the people complaining about "VC extremists" are really complaining about VC itself; even as a VC rider, I find some of the regular posters here to be intolerably smug, and I think there's a very strong element of blame-the-victim in the VC community here. The smugness and the judgementalism (if such is a word) make it very difficult, I think, for new riders to get the point of VC. It's a problem not of content but of tactics.
    Falling down is not exercising.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sir Lunch-a-lot's Avatar
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    Uh... what is VC?
    Pythagorean Theorum: 24 words. Lord's Prayer: 66 words. 10 Commandments: 179 words. Gettysburg Address: 286 words. Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words. U.S. Government Regulations on the Sale of Cabbage: 26,911 words.

  5. #5
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot
    Uh... what is VC?
    Sorry. VC stands for Vehicular Cycling. This is the notion that bicycles should be operated as vehicles on the roads, ridden predictably while following highway laws and rules of right of way, etc. There are lots of threads here about it and a Google search will give you lots of hits.
    Last edited by Roody; 10-10-05 at 01:30 PM.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  6. #6
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Best...Troll...Evaaah.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
    Your rights end where another poster's feelings begin.

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krispistoferson
    Best...Troll...Evaaah.
    Thanks for the compliment, but I don't want this to be a troll. It's a challenge to both sides of the debate. I challenge the anti-VCers to describe a system that can be considered along with, or instead of, VC. I challenge the VCers to keep their big mouths shut for a change and let others speak in a "safe" environment. Let's see what happens before you pass judgment on my motives.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  8. #8
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    I'm an LCI...

    * I ride vehicularly in the streets

    * I ride on multi-use trails by our creeks... slowly & carefully... because they are so much more beautiful than butt-ugly Houston streets

    * I use dedicated bike lanes

    * I used to use a particular sidewalk to get to a former workplace, the sidewalk was bordering a large golf course which did not cross-cut the sidewalk with any driveways or anything... no places for potential collisions... and, being Houston, no peds either. I would then emerge bunny-hopping back into the road

    USE WHAT WORKS, KNOW WHERE THE PITFALLS ARE FOR EACH MODE, that's my philosophy
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

  9. #9
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Thanks for the compliment, but I don't want this to be a troll. It's a challenge to both sides of the debate. I challenge the anti-VCers to describe a system that can be considered along with, or instead of, VC. I challenge the VCers to keep their big mouths shut for a change and let others speak in a "safe" environment. Let's see what happens before you pass judgment on my motives.
    I was just kidding, but you know as soon as you posted this an alarm bell went off in Helmet Head's secret hideout. For me, I read a book called "The Art of Urban Cycling" that I really liked, a good, common sense approach that takes into account what VC fails to, namely, that you are NOT a car, and there are weird grey areas that require you to use your head and not fall back on dogma. I hardly ever come to A&S because that's how I ride, and hardly ever feel the need to argue about it. I catch enough **** from motorists who are late for their pizza buffets.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...58359?v=glance
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Ride on the sidewalks but have a bright colored flag pointing 15 feet in front of your bike and one behind. I call it FS cycling, (flag sidewalk). The flags eliminate the argument that drivers dont' see people on the sidewalk, to be truly FS though you would wear a pink tutu. Seriously though, I think 95% of riding (maybe more) is safer with VC, the other 5% I don't think can be quantified under a single system but is rather categorized as "anything else" in my opinion. This could include cutting down a sidewalk between baseball fields to cut a mile detour that cars are forced to use, to perhaps a short 100 yd jaunt up a sidewalk on a freeway frontage road to get to the underpass to avoid a 2 mile detour (again that cars would have to do). Anyway, Just my take.
    Sunrise saturday,
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  11. #11
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Does there need to be an alternative? This is a question I seriously ask.

    I ride vc when in traffic because it's the most sensible thing to do. I do not support VC as an ideology or any furtherance of it as a "concept". To ride vc just makes sense, but I've never thought it more than that and certainly never thought it to be an ideology.

    I simply want you to question why there needs to be an alternative. Why does there need to be an ideology for this? What is its ultimate purpose? If it's flawed, then to enforce such an ideology is ultimately counter-productive.

    There are all kinds of conditions and mentalities and skill levels that VC cannot accomodate (though some will try to stretch it to cover everything). I don't want to offer an alternative. No religion is perfect, and I'd rather my cycling world without one.
    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.

  12. #12
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    We have commuter MUP's here in Minneapolis. The major ones run East-West and go for miles. There are even car warning lights at some intersections. Almost every new suburb now has a network of MUP's.

  13. #13
    Senior Member royalflash's Avatar
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    On my commute I ride wherever I need in order to maximise my chances of reaching work/home in one piece in a reasonable time (I am usualy quicker than driving):

    I cycle on roads in (what I understand at least) to be a vehicular manner. I can´t say this is particularly fun as I am also relying on drivers (who have a lot less to lose than me) doing their part. The chances of an accident may be lower but if it happens it will probably be a big one.

    I also ride in bike lanes/paths. Can be a little better than riding on bare roads as at least I have a part of the road that is unquestionably mine and most motor vehicles stay out of it. Also if necessary I can ride out and claim the road (with some increased harassment from cagers as they think I should be using the bike lane). There are some dangers and increased delays at intersections but the dangers at least can be largely predicted. The chances of a collision at intersections are probably increased but at least I can probably survive going across a car hood.

    Some bike lanes/paths are however clearly unsafe to use at any reasonable speed and I, or course avoid these.

    Bike trails away from the roads: the best option. Complete absence of cars. Also more relaxing to ride on. Of course there are dangers and you need to pay attention but I would rather hit a rollerblader than a cement truck anyday.

    Sidewalks- useful for shortcuts with appropriate care and getting off the bike where necessary if there are lots of peds/police
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  14. #14
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus
    Does there need to be an alternative? This is a question I seriously ask.
    Also seriously asked: an alternative to what? The definition of "VC cycling" is all over the map and often depends on the ideological leanings or point to be "proven" of the posters who are not welcome on this thread. Conversly, definitions of non-VC cycling can be anything at all depending on the agenda of the definer.

    Bottom line there is no need to come up with a specific alternative to the vaguely defined concept of cycling technique (or "attitude") that has no specifically defined requirements.

  15. #15
    All ur bike r belong Enki james_swift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot
    Uh... what is VC?
    VC stands for "Vertical Cyclist". Vertical Cyclists are cyclists who ride with their stem height 3 inches or more above their saddle height.
    Last edited by james_swift; 10-11-05 at 08:20 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    Any "system" is bound to be DOGMATIC.

    Why not just ride and stop worrying about "it" ??

    I don't apply any system at all to my riding- and I really don't care what other people think about my cycling values- plenty of cars have clearly stated that I should be riding on the sidewalks anyway... I can't please everyone, so I don't even try.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus
    Does there need to be an alternative? This is a question I seriously ask.
    depends on if you mean an 'alternative concept' or just an 'alternative method of getting to where you're going in a specific set of conditions'. it would be pretty hard to quantify the concept, i think. but alternative specific methods for those specific situations where behaving exactly like a vehicle is either impossible or illegal or very dangerous for your skill level . . . sure, concrete non-vc alternative strategies are needed if you want to get where you're going by bike.

    there's a part of my commute where i cross a bridge which is defined as a class-1 highway (no bikes, farm machinery or vehicles incapable of (?) 60 kph allowed). there's a mup that runs with the bridge on both sides.

    if i were being strictly vehicular and obeying all traffic laws like a vehicle would, i'd be blocked from the git-go, even if i wanted to get out there with the long-distance container trucks. i'd still be unable to use the roadway on that highway since i'm not capable of 60 kph. i do what the sign directs me to do and use the mup. for the purposes of my city's laws at that point, i am DEFINED as not being a motorist while i'm on that bridge.

    once you're over the bridge, the rightmost lane of the highway peels off into a fairly steep 90-degree exit curve and merges instantly into a 6-lane (i think, could be 8) city street that flies over the highway you've just left behind and carries major rush-hour traffic right across that part of town. within about 300 feet (maybe less) of the merge point, there's an intersection and it's now a right-turn-only lane. the mup simply turns from a mup into a common-or-garden city sidewalk as soon as the road it parallels turns from a highway lane into a city lane.

    i turn left at that intersection. darned right i stay on the sidewalk for 300 feet and then just get off and act like a pedestrian to cross to the diagonal corner where i can get back on and be a bike again. there's no way in the world i would want to try and enter and then move across a 90-degree exit lane from an 80kph highway, merge with heavy traffic on a 50kph highway and then try to move across 2 or 3 more 50kph lanes in the space of 300 feet so as to be in 'vehicular' position to make a left-hand turn with the light.

    to roody's question though, i don't know what overall philosophical/ideological/systemic name i'd give that, other than 'staying alive while staying out of my car'.
    ain't no man can help being born average. but ain't no man got to be common - satchell paige

  18. #18
    Hacker Maximus
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    First i have no idea what VC is....

    but let me tell you a little about from i'm coming from.. maybe you will have a diferent perception of your situation after this little story...

    I use to live In Bogota Colombia for many years (1967 to 2005 and now i live in Berkeley for the last 10) my whole life down there I refuse to become a car driver, in fact i did not even use public transportation (because it sucks) anyway for a Long time I was even motorless, well except for a big motorize skateboard that I made when I was 18 (but even that was ban because was not a mass produce item,,,long story).
    anyway In Colombia like in many other III world countrys "Asustar" (scare & try to Kill the ones with out the car)A.K.A.pedestrians, Bicyclist, skaters whatever is a national sport and very dificult to find the gilty and get them to jail (in fact i was attach by a military vehicle one time and I spend about 6 days at the hospital and nithing ever happend to them)
    for all the years i live down there my OnlY choice was to be extremlly Skillful, have my vehicles well prepper and tune and be super aware and always on the defense, for example I like to go to the movies very much, specially Obsure, strange and old movies (I have normal theaters blocks away from my house) to find this films Iwill need to travel about 11 kilometers from & to my house,, in fact was not that bad because in the morning i will leave my house to go to my university about 7 Kilomters away, and then travel the rest to the movie theather zone, and then after the movie, ussually 11PM at night I will go back home,,i did this at least 3 times a week for about 7 years,,but here is the little Kick,, since Bogota WAS Totally unfriendlly to any form of human power transportation, to the point you were not even capable of finding a safe bike parking (I know of 3 at that time inside private universities and I made two of them) or anything like that plus the city was so violent will be to much of a risk to even travel at night on a bicycle because it will get stolen before you know it(you can get kill on the assault),, I did all this trips on my SkaTeboArD,,, yes Evelen kilometers of Mostlly flat at night with out much lights (early 80' before all the blinky lights) I just have some hand made collars of 3-M tape also some on my backpack and bright & colorful clothes..

    anyway many years later a great guy became used to the spotlight and fame his name is Antanas Mokus,, he was at first the dean of the biggest public university in the country (Universidad Nacional) with about 30,000 studends..
    Antanas is a extremlly serius bicycle advicate,,, and in a very "Funny Fellini kind of way" he use to ride his bike sorrunded by 4 Bulletproof toyota land cruisers and a bunch of his Body guards riding on bikes next to him armed with sub machine guns and headset radios on his way to work,to make the story short in about 96' he became the mayor of the City and start to implement a Integral Bicycle sistem,, I'm glad to say I was part of it* (I work with Him and other "Belivers" for about 3 years before he became mayor) that moves Hundred of thousends of people on destinated bicycle paths and routes in the same city that a Few years before was pretty much the most Inospitable bicycle (skate,wheelchair,whatever) anyway what I"m trying to say is you Need to do,, WHAT YOU NEED TO DO and learn how to become proficient (good bike equipment, skill,, street smartness) and deal with what the inviroment and the cultural conddicions bring you, as oppose to seat on a bench or "winne like a little cat" until the conddicions get better (I don't really beleive in fanatic advicates, but alternatives that "make sense" for everybody and get implemented becuase they are the best option and not do to the close mindedness and agendas being Car groups, buses driver unions ,or crazy manic bicycle advicates.... everything in measure makes sense if not will not be there from the start)..

    Bogota got lucky and a Change came, but for many other cityes this dream will never happend and you just need to be brave and DO IT....!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope this make sense, is a little complicated for me to express this type of ideas.

    * I have a master degree in "Human transportation and urbanist development"..
    Last edited by ricardo kuhn; 10-10-05 at 03:57 PM.
    Force is never as effective as Leverage.

  19. #19
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Any chance that Mokus would run for Mayor of Houston, or maybe Governor of Texas? Many Colombians here would vote for him, LOL

  20. #20
    Senior Member slagjumper's Avatar
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    Here are some alternative systems:

    1) You are invisable. No one sees you. This works when you can see every thing that might get you. But fails if you can't see some hidden danger-- like a car pulling out of a driveway while you are on the sidewalk both bike and car are hidden say by shrubs, noise, buildings.

    2) Other vehicles and pedestrians will always do the thing that puts you in harms way. This has the same problem as number 1.

    1 and 2 work best in quiet open places without much traffic or high speed.

    3) The gagistry system. This one has not come to be but might include a variety of electronic safty warnings and high tech devices. For example, tiny bike radar transmitter to set off car radar detectors. Warning sensors that tell if something is going to pop out unseen. Of course this isnt here yet but could be a great savior for cyclists. If cars had devces that you bike could talk to then there'd be less problems with say armored vehicles with poor line of site taking you out. A little warning would go off. I know a lawyer who got off of killing a biker in gainesville that this might have saved a life. As america ages I expect to see these devices.

    4) Know the danger and pay attention. This comes with experaince. Like you know that in a particular shopping district the trophey wives and dorks routinely pop open the car door without looking. Dahh its gonna happen. Look out. I once got doored by a car in traffic, person exiting the passenger side door. Lucky for me the guy was embarassed and his girlfriend was upset and only property damage. He paid on the spot. If I had been vc all my life i'd have been 650hours later and avoided this one accident.

    I do ride VC and am dogmatic about somethings (change you chain often) but more often I pick and choose the best alternatives. This doesnt work so well in unfamiliar areas.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Also seriously asked: an alternative to what? The definition of "VC cycling" is all over the map and often depends on the ideological leanings or point to be "proven" of the posters who are not welcome on this thread. Conversly, definitions of non-VC cycling can be anything at all depending on the agenda of the definer.

    Bottom line there is no need to come up with a specific alternative to the vaguely defined concept of cycling technique (or "attitude") that has no specifically defined requirements.
    This is a good point. Are we talking about the vehicular cycling technique? Or the ideology? Alternatives to the technique are to:

    1) ride as though invisible.
    2) ride like a bike messenger - get to where you want to go in the shortest time and distance, rules be damned.
    3) ride on the sidewalk as a ped.
    4) ride on MUP's.

    Most here probably agree that a combination of all the above: vehicular cycling techniques along with techniques unique to bicycles, is probably best - on a situational basis, of course.

    As for the ideology, there need be no "alternative" mentioned. If one is not a Christian, it doesn't necessarily mean that one need be part of any other type of religion.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  22. #22
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I ride on the sidewalk sometimes to avoid having to get into the left lane (not turn lane, just left lane) to make my left turn to get my coffee. It's just easier to ride a block on the sidewalk to the espresso joint.

    I ride way over to the right while going up Ortega Hill. Stronger people might take the lane to prevent motorists from passing them on this very narrow twisty road. I have tried it many ways and even though I run the risk of being passed closely and unsafely it is less unsafe than when they try to pass me while I'm taking the lane, which they always do. It's less stressful than when there's a huge line of cars behind me, too.

    A lot of people on these forums seem capable of riding quite fast. I do not think that 25mph is a safe speed for cyclists on residential streets or near intersections. I believe it's safer to go much slower. VCers might feel ok taking the lane because they are going the speed of traffic, but I think it's unsafe. I prefer to go slower and use the bike lane.

    I will stop at the side of the road and wait until traffic goes before merging into a left turn lane rather than stick my arm out and try to get an opening sometimes.
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  23. #23
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    I think it would be easier to define vehicular cycling in terms of what it is not than in terms of what it is. Most people agree that vehicular cycling isn't riding on sidewalks, and it isn't violating the rules of the road while operating on roadways.

    Beyond that, even the self-described vehicular cyclists, myself included, probably won't agree. Those who disparage vehicular cycling will probably try to define it in silly ways that make it seem impossible or dumb, like always taking the lane while cycling on a freeway. Meanwhile those who do consider themselves practitioners of vehicular cycling will likely point out that they see value in occassionally dismounting and crossing an intersection as a pedestrian. This is not a violation of vehicular rules, and so it might be viewed as an advantage of the bicycle over cars rather than a "violation" of VC.

    A lot of the people seem to argue about "taking the lane" as though this is required to be a vehicular cyclist. It's not, if vehicular cycling is defined in limited terms of vehicular traffic law. Taking the lane is merely *allowed* according to the vehicular cycling paradigm - provided that the local law does not discriminate against cyclists. "Taking the lane" can be very useful in places, and so advocates of vehicular cycling lobby hard to protect their right to do so, like other drivers enjoy. Unfortunately, cyclists who lobby to protect their right to take the lane where thy find it useful often find themselves in conflict with others who are either afraid to do this or don't understand why it is useful. The discussion often devolves into calling each other crazy and phobic, respectively. It's too bad, because nothing about protecting the right to operate in compliance with normal vehicular rules creates any additional problems with those who ride near the gutter or just stay home, and there is no reason for avid road cyclists to try to make traffic averse cyclists feel bad.

    Bigger problems happen when people suggest segregating traffic within the highway right of way according to vehicle type, and requiring different rules for the different groups. A limited available right of way generally means that segregating some space leaves the ordinary travel lanes narrower, and potentially creates greater friction for the cyclists in the ordinary travel lanes. Add to this the fact that the segregated space may not perform as well for cyclists, particularly the faster cyclists, due to obstructions, debris, parked cars, pedestrians, or whatever, and you have a recipe for political conflict between groups of cyclists depending on their views on the merits or disadvantages of segregation. Since it's hard to have integration and segregation at the same time in the same highway right of way, we have a zero sum game.

    So getting back to the question, what is a system that is not vehicular cycling? The opposite of vehicular cycling would be to ignore the normal rules of the road, and ride on sidewalks wherever one feels like it. Ride wherever there seems to be space to ride. This is the kind of anarchy some bicyclists seem to prefer. However, I don't know how to teach a friend or loved one to ride safely and confidently that way. Also, the police reports of crashes that I have surveyed show that cyclists operating in violation of vehicular rules or biking on the sidewalk are overrepresented in crashes. So, it doesn't seem a useful strategy for safer cycling, and when city planners try to promote "cycling safety" initiatives that will only encourage sidewalk cycling, I have to speak skeptically, even if I will be labeled as a "VC extremist".

    -Steve Goodridge

  24. #24
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    we're getting some interesting ideas, I think. Brian, filtersweep and others made the point that maybe no system is necessary, but I have a feeling that most riders do have a system that works for them, even if they never took the time to put it into words. Anyway, I was really just as interested in how non-VC cyclists actually ride as I was in a system per se.

    Ricardo, your story was fascinating. How would you describe your street riding techniques since you moved to Berkeley? A lot different? At least you don't need body guards!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  25. #25
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    A lot of people on these forums seem capable of riding quite fast. I do not think that 25mph is a safe speed for cyclists on residential streets or near intersections. I believe it's safer to go much slower. VCers might feel ok taking the lane because they are going the speed of traffic, but I think it's unsafe. I prefer to go slower and use the bike lane.

    I will stop at the side of the road and wait until traffic goes before merging into a left turn lane rather than stick my arm out and try to get an opening sometimes.
    This is an interesting point. To bike the way I do (vehicularly), I feel like I need to ride hard and fast to be safe. 25mph may be pushing it, but I do tend to approach intersections at full bore, to better mix with car traffic and get into the lane I need. I feel the lower the speed differential between me and the cars, the better it is for me. Not everybody does this, and not everybody is able. What of them?

    Bike lanes and MUP's seem to me to be the best facilities for slower folk. The errors of moterists around these facilities are lessened because cars can sweep by a slower cyclist faster. For instance, a slower cyclist will be less susceptable to a right hook because distance the cyclist has to be away from the intersection to be susceptable is less. A slower cyclist can also react and stop faster than a fast cyclist, mitigating the dangers of intersections.

    Perhaps there is a speed cutoff between when vehicular cycling is necessary and when a more segregated (to adopt Serge's term, but with less weighty implication) style is necessary. Below this speed, segregated facilities are desired. Above, less segregation is required. Since the high speed cyclists can make do with either, we should put in the cycling facilities to better include all different types of cyclists.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
    "If you’re new enough [to racing] that you would ask such question, then i would hazard a guess that if you just made up a workout that sounded hard to do, and did it, you’d probably get faster." --the tiniest sprinter

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