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Old 09-05-06, 10:10 AM   #1
Falkon
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Local Advocacy - nonexistant?

I'm subscribed to our newsgroup for local roadies. I'm seriously amazed how bike advocacy is nonexistent. I commute and have to go down some high traffic roads, yet I've never had anyone hit me, throw something at me, or even really yell at me. The local riders are pretty much saying that anyone who goes down a few certain roads is an idiot and is going to die. The roads they mention are four lane roads with turn lanes that are only really high traffic MAYBE three hours out of the day? I on the other hand advocate any road and safe riding. Am I wrong here? Should the only places for biking be long country roads in the middle of nowhere or the Greenway?

Here is a clip from the newsgroup:

Re: [sccc-roadies] Re: Huntsville Times - Shuttle bus bike racks

Another vote here for avoiding heavily-trafficked roads whenever possible. "Let them yell and scream all they want" is not a smart attitude, IMO. By slowing up traffic and making life tough for drivers, you're not helping the image of cyclists, and putting yourself at risk in the process. 99% of drivers that pass you may be careful and respectful of your rights, but that last 1% can cause you some serious harm. Do you seriously want to provoke a pissed-off stranger in a two-ton vehicle just to prove your right to the road?

Believe all cyclists need to consider "risk management" whenever we get out on the road. I live in the SE, and also avoid Weatherly and Bailey Cove most of the time due to the traffic and speeds. It's our legal right to ride in traffic of course, but prudent risk management tells me there is no need to ride on those roads when there are so many other good alternatives.

On the Sunday 1 pm "Recovery" ride, we do a mostly north/south loop in SE of about 30 miles, starting at Ken Johnston Park on Mtn Gap near Bailey Cove. Lots of quiet suburban streets with minimal traffic, plus the Greenway and "speedway loop" off Hobbs Island Rd for some backroad riding. Garth and Drake can be a little busy on Sunday; sometimes we avoid them for that reason. Suggest you come out and check out some south HSV roads with us.

Dan

Seriously, is this bike advocacy at ALL? That's basically saying that bikes should only be on greenways and light traveled country roads. Does everyone just drive their bikes 20 miles out of town to ride? Risk management - follow the laws, bike smart, don't run your mouth off to cagers? How does staying off the busy roads work for bike commuters?

Am I just crazy here? This is not the only reply like this that I've seen. It's just one of them. Could it be that everyone around here is scared of traffic?
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Old 09-05-06, 10:43 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Falkon
Seriously, is this bike advocacy at ALL? That's basically saying that bikes should only be on greenways and light traveled country roads. Does everyone just drive their bikes 20 miles out of town to ride? Risk management - follow the laws, bike smart, don't run your mouth off to cagers? How does staying off the busy roads work for bike commuters?

Am I just crazy here? This is not the only reply like this that I've seen. It's just one of them. Could it be that everyone around here is scared of traffic?
Not really cycling advocacy... but it could be just flat out reality. Motorists seem to be too distracted and too busy speeding to be responsible for what they are really doing... best to avoid some situations.

Of course a better solution would be to petition city hall to engage traffic calming and enforce the speed laws in the area. But since most folks are not cyclists... you will be fighting an uphill battle all the way. Is this right... no... but it is reality.
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Old 09-05-06, 10:46 AM   #3
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Nah, they're not helping anyone by sticking to roads-less-traveled. The best advocacy, IMO, is to ride every road available in a courteous, predictable manner. Don't zip out into traffic, don't run stop signs, don't filter through traffic.

There is not a single road in my city that I would not ride. If someone needs to slow down because of me, and gets angry about it, chances are they were going too fast anyway.
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Old 09-05-06, 11:25 AM   #4
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Cyclists who are comfortable riding in traffic and on all sorts of roads do seem to be in the minority, but they are not wrong, IMO. I'm one of them. I work near a mall, with no bike lanes, and people have told me that they know other cyclists and even bike store employees who will not ride where I do. But, I'm mostly VC and have had only one potential problem in 4 years, and that was within my first month of riding. If I rode like some of the people I see around here (on and off the sidewalk, wrong way in the road), I would probably also be averse to traffic, with good reason.

I think this really highlights a general difference between the commuting and recreational mindset. I'm out on the road every day for practical reasons, and in the process getting a great deal more practice with traffic than the weekend recreational rider. The rec rider is out mainly for enjoyment, doesn't care as much about the destination as the journey, and is not as used to traffic, so who can begrudge him or her wanting to avoid stressful traffic situations? I don't. As a commuter, however, I need to be at work at such and such a time, then I have a meeting downtown, then home to see the family a bit before bed. No flexibility as to destinations, and only a little more in how to get there. So I learn to deal with the traffic involved.

I don't quite want to say that the rec rider's point of view is not advocacy. Broad advocacy needs to encompass the needs and desires of all kinds of riders, including recreational and transportational as well as racers, mountain bikers, and children. However, the rec rider would certainly be in error to consider his point of view as representing all cyclists. He is speaking from the rec rider's point of view, but he doesn't speak for me. I can imagine it can sometimes be difficult for the professional advocate (such as a paid executive director of a cycling coalition) to reconcile these different points of view.
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Old 09-05-06, 11:44 AM   #5
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Another vote here for avoiding heavily-trafficked roads whenever possible. "Let them yell and scream all they want" is not a smart attitude, IMO. By slowing up traffic and making life tough for drivers, you're not helping the image of cyclists, and putting yourself at risk in the process. 99% of drivers that pass you may be careful and respectful of your rights, but that last 1% can cause you some serious harm. Do you seriously want to provoke a pissed-off stranger in a two-ton vehicle just to prove your right to the road?

Believe all cyclists need to consider "risk management" whenever we get out on the road. I live in the SE, and also avoid Weatherly and Bailey Cove most of the time due to the traffic and speeds. It's our legal right to ride in traffic of course, but prudent risk management tells me there is no need to ride on those roads when there are so many other good alternatives.
He's making the faulty assumption that the level of risk is directly proportional to traffic volume. If I had a way of comparing the level of risk per trafffic volume for rural versus urban riding, I bet it would be higher in rural areas.

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Old 09-05-06, 12:21 PM   #6
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Agreed. I think the level of risk is more directly proportional to traffic speed.
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Old 09-05-06, 12:33 PM   #7
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I think it's oversimplying to try to identify just one thing on which level of risk depends. Level of risk clearly has a lot of variables. Some of them, which IMO probably could show a direct relationship assuming all the others stay equal, include traffic volume, traffic speed, weather and road conditions, experience level of car driver, and experience level of bike driver.
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Old 09-05-06, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
He's making the faulty assumption that the level of risk is directly proportional to traffic volume. If I had a way of comparing the level of risk per trafffic volume for rural versus urban riding, I bet it would be higher in rural areas.
That is an interesting issue. I am just speculating here... so please jump in and feel free to offer your opinion.

Back in July, I biked and drove in Northern AZ and souther Utah. The speeds on these isolated roads were high, but the frequency of motorist was few and far between... however, nearly everyone moved well over to give me room... The ones that did not move, did not pose a threat as generally there was a wide shoulder.

But what I did not see was the same kind of aggressive driving I experience in the city. In the city, I see a lot of drivers doing quick scans at intersections (scans so fast that their heads snap from one position to the other) and a herd mentality (multiple drivers turning right on red after a lead motorist, multiple drivers making left turns without good checks.)

Now we know that rural night cycling tends to be very dangerous (highest percent of "overtaking" accidents) but what about general cycling in rural areas verses urban areas.

As a cyclist I prefer the following conditions in decending order:
  1. low volume, low speed traffic
  2. high volume, low speed traffic
  3. low volume, high speed traffic
  4. high volume, high speed traffic.

In rural areas I tend to find condition 3, in residential areas condition 1, but in urban areas I find condition 4, the least desirable condition.

Now of course there are a couple of situations that stand out in rural conditions... a cyclist is probably going to stand out as unusual... but then working against the cyclist is road "hypnosis" which can blind a motorist to anything on the road.

So perhaps by motorist volume alone, the rural cyclist is at greater risk, but per road mile traveled in either area (rural verses urban) the urban cyclist is at greater risk.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:21 PM   #9
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Agreed. I think the level of risk is more directly proportional to traffic speed.
Yup.
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Old 09-05-06, 08:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Falkon
Could it be that everyone around here is scared of traffic?
If it's like most places in the U.S., then most cyclists are irrationally scared of traffic.
In some places they have facilities that make the incompetent irrationally comfortable in traffic. In my opinion, that's even worse. But most so-called advocates prefer encouraging any kind of cycling, even dangerous incompetent cycling.
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Old 09-06-06, 06:57 AM   #11
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I would support a bike lane on the side of the road I commute down, because it's without turns for the most part. This wouldn't help with those who drift into the bike lane, but it would save me from the right hook. I'm not to worried about drifters. It makes no difference if the bike lane is there or not if they're gonna drift into me.

We have an ALDOT meeting tomorrow about the road I'm talking about [Old Madison Pike] and Ima let them know.

Here is a view of the worst part of Old Madison Pike. I call this part The Gauntlet, and the only way to ride it is as far right as possible as fast as possible.
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Old 09-06-06, 07:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falkon
I would support a bike lane on the side of the road I commute down, because it's without turns for the most part. This wouldn't help with those who drift into the bike lane, but it would save me from the right hook. I'm not to worried about drifters. It makes no difference if the bike lane is there or not if they're gonna drift into me.

We have an ALDOT meeting tomorrow about the road I'm talking about [Old Madison Pike] and Ima let them know.

Here is a view of the worst part of Old Madison Pike. I call this part The Gauntlet, and the only way to ride it is as far right as possible as fast as possible.
What does moving completely to the right in an unshareable lane do for your safety? How do bike lanes save you from right hooks?
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Old 09-06-06, 08:28 AM   #13
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First off a traffic delay is when incoming traffic piles up faster then outgoing traffic, cyclist very rarely cause such a delay. Traffic delays are caused by too many motorists, period.

I think the problem is we donít have good bumper sticker type slogans to convey that the SUVís (and whatever motor vehicle) are the problem and not cyclists. A couple of years ago we had a news commentator comment on how bad traffic congestion was around here and was because of all those darn rude cyclists not riding on bike paths like they are supposed too (ya, right, traffic delay on I-95 do to cyclists.) I think the problem seems to boil down to with the perceived frivolousness of the bike trip. Maybe we should contemplate laws that only allow practical utilitarian use of the roadways and ban driving to movies, driving to sporting events and the like. But wait those generate tax dollars and are useful for the states economy. Well I got news for you so do those frivolous bike trips, in MD recreational cycling contributes about $3 billion (gross) annually. Itís when people realize that cycling is a good wholesome and essential part of life that things will change.
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Old 09-06-06, 08:58 AM   #14
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You're right about the perception. Cycling in this country is invariably placed into one of five categories: recreational, racing, mountain biking, children's toys, or transportation of last resort for those who cannot drive (poor, disabled, or license-revoked). The first four are really all subcategories of recreational, and most people don't think much about the last one. About the only people who see bicycling as a real transportation choice are those of us who use it as such, and if we're lucky, some of our immediate family members.

This perception colors almost everything we say and do. People see us riding, and figure we're only doing it for fun. (It is fun, but the problem is the only.) If we're too poor to have a car, the answer is to help us buy one. Once it gets the least bit difficult, such as in lots of traffic, people don't understand why we do it. Why not build segregated bike paths to help us avoid traffic? After all, it's only recreation, right?
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Old 09-06-06, 09:36 AM   #15
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The roads I prefer are ones with wide lanes, and few intersections where I have to slow down. If I have these I dont worry about the speed or density of traffic.
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Old 09-06-06, 09:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falkon
I commute and have to go down some high traffic roads, yet I've never had anyone hit me, throw something at me, or even really yell at me. The local riders are pretty much saying that anyone who goes down a few certain roads is an idiot and is going to die.

Here is a clip from the newsgroup:

Re: [sccc-roadies] Re: Huntsville Times - Shuttle bus bike racks

Another vote here for avoiding heavily-trafficked roads whenever possible. "Let them yell and scream all they want" is not a smart attitude, IMO. By slowing up traffic and making life tough for drivers, you're not helping the image of cyclists, and putting yourself at risk in the process.
Maybe motorists find a lone commuter, such as you, not a problem to deal with, hence no "yelling and screaming?" Not that I approve of yelling... ...but perhaps these "roadies" clog up the road in groups?
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Old 09-06-06, 12:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
If it's like most places in the U.S., then most cyclists are irrationally scared of traffic.
In some places they have facilities that make the incompetent irrationally comfortable in traffic. In my opinion, that's even worse. But most so-called advocates prefer encouraging any kind of cycling, even dangerous incompetent cycling.
I agree that fear of traffic is irrational, but I disagree with so-called advocates who incompetently try to place barriers-to-entry for cycling by promoting elitest BS and opposing the will of the majority of cyclists. Folks have to walk before they can run and if that is accomplished by riding someplace other than the HH-VC-brand proscribed area, I'm good with it.
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Old 09-07-06, 07:22 AM   #18
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I agree that fear of traffic is irrational, but I disagree with so-called advocates who incompetently try to place barriers-to-entry for cycling by promoting elitest BS and opposing the will of the majority of cyclists. Folks have to walk before they can run and if that is accomplished by riding someplace other than the HH-VC-brand proscribed area, I'm good with it.
What is the will of the majority of cyclists?
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Old 09-07-06, 08:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Falkon
What is the will of the majority of cyclists?
Well take a look around. Those of us who regularly ride on the roadways are the tiny minority...everyone else seems to be in bike lanes, MUPs and on the sidewalk. So you tell me what the will of the majority is?

Bottom line, at least in the US, the perception of the majority of the population, including cyclists, is that cycling on the roadways is too dangerous. That perception isn't going to change overnight.
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Old 09-07-06, 10:29 AM   #20
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I guess that makes me a minority in this case. I don't really consider those in bike lanes part of the majority. After all, it is still on the road. A wide road is essentially the same as having a bike lane. If you can be passed safely within the lane [case of many roads around here] then what's the problem? Most don't trust traffic, which is why they wouldn't ride on road. I really have no choice. I guess I have to have faith that it doesn't require much intelligence to pass a cyclist. This must be the case, since I haven't been hit yet, right?
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