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Old 10-10-06, 04:41 PM   #1
Helmet Head
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What is it about traffic cycling that makes everyone an expert?

If you want to build a house, who do you learn from?
If you want to rock climb, do you ask someone with experience, or someone who has never done it?
If you want to learn SCUBA diving, do you take a course from a certified instructor, or do you plunge in and see how it goes?
If planners seek to improve conditions for driving, do they design the changes with an untrained driver in mind?

What is it about traffic cycling that makes everyone think they're an expert?

Why does a 40 year old guy driving his pickup home who has not ridden a bike since he was 10 think he knows where bikes "belong" on the road?

Why do traffic engineers seek to make riding on roads "comfortable" for untrained cyclists who don't know what they're doing?

What's wrong with designing "facilities" for those who are untrained? As an answer, I find the following George Orwell quote to be apropos. Though he's writing about languages, I think it's true in general:

"But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely." - George Orwell

http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/index.cgi/.../language.html

So untrained cyclist discomfort in traffic is a cause, and the effect is the creation and support of bike lanes. Few argue with that.

But, an effect can become a cause..., and, so bike lanes become a cause, reinforcing the original cause (untrained cyclist discomfort in traffic), and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.

Discomfort in traffic -> bike lanes -> more discomfort in traffic -> more bike lanes -> even more discomfort -> even more bike lanes -> yet more intensified discomfort ...

You end up with a nation of people who are disabled from riding in traffic by their own internal feelings. Is that the direction you want to go?
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Old 10-10-06, 04:56 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
If you want to build a house, who do you learn from?
If you want to rock climb, do you ask someone with experience, or someone who has never done it?
If you want to learn SCUBA diving, do you take a course from a certified instructor, or do you plunge in and see how it goes?
If planners seek to improve conditions for driving, do they design the changes with an untrained driver in mind?
Uh, I learned how to ride when my parents taught me how to ride. And I learned how to negotiate a vehicle through traffic in high school driver's ed. And I learned how to ride a bike in traffic by doing it, and by reading.

Do I need to take a course now?
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Old 10-10-06, 05:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
If planners seek to improve conditions for driving, do they design the changes with an untrained driver in mind?
I don't think they take the well trained driver in mind... honestly, I really do think that road designers want roads to "guide" motorists; through the use of islands, lane lines and signs. They are hardly appealing to well trained motorists.

Just heard a piece on NPR about states recognizing the shortcomings of their driver training programs... and how Mass. has decided to implement a new driver program similar to the system now in California... a more difficult test and a longer provisional period that prohibits non family members from riding with the provisional motorist. (Helps keep the unskilled from "teaching" the new driver some new bad habits). The NPR report went on to discuss several states are working to also "tighten up" their programs in an effort to create better motorists.

There was a statistic given... I thought I heard something like a 38% decrease in accidents through the use of better training, more difficult tests, and longer provisional driver period.

So there is some recognition that better drivers can be made.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by genec
Just heard a piece on NPR about states recognizing the shortcomings of their driver training programs... and how Mass. has decided to implement a new driver program similar to the system now in California... a more difficult test and a longer provisional period that prohibits non family members from riding with the provisional motorist. (Helps keep the unskilled from "teaching" the new driver some new bad habits). The NPR report went on to discuss several states are working to also "tighten up" their programs in an effort to create better motorists.

There was a statistic given... I thought I heard something like a 38% decrease in accidents through the use of better training, more difficult tests, and longer provisional driver period.

So there is some recognition that better drivers can be made.
Interesting...

1) A more difficult test is a good thing. It has worked well in Ontario where we have had a graduated license system in place for over 10 years. One of the best features of our program is a mandatory 0% BAC for anyone with a G1 or G2 license. I know that it can help entrench the idea that alcohol and driving do not mix. But how does the Mass. program deal with the poor driving habits being passed on from family members? I think it is a step in the right direction (removing "peer" presure and ensuring that people that drive with the novice in theory have an interest in the safely of the new driver) but I do not think that it is an assurance that poor habits will not be taught. But short of very good professional trainers being the only driver that a novice drives with, and ensuring that for 16years the novice had their eyes shut, what will work?

2) Better drivers definately can be made. For sure. Absolutely. All it takes is a willingness to learn and apply what is learned.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:14 PM   #5
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The fact that I taught myself how to code in several computer programming languages seems to me to indicate I'm smart enough to learn how to ride a bicycle without some so-called "expert" standing in front of me giving me a lecture.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
The fact that I taught myself how to code in several computer programming languages seems to me to indicate I'm smart enough to learn how to ride a bicycle without some so-called "expert" standing in front of me giving me a lecture.
The biggest benefit for experienced cyclists and drivers taking a class is that they might see something they missed through trial and error, and might see the use of a new approach to an old skill which might save them from some grief that they have fortunately not experienced (for example, in driving, being rear ended.)
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Old 10-10-06, 05:17 PM   #7
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I taught myself several programming languages and how to ride a bike effectively in traffic too.
But in each case the process in involved reading and learning from books.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:24 PM   #8
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Imagine the course the world-- or at least this forum-- would have taken if you had been more discriminating in your choice of reading materials...
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Old 10-10-06, 05:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtsmile
The biggest benefit for experienced cyclists and drivers taking a class is that they might see something they missed through trial and error, and might see the use of a new approach to an old skill which might save them from some grief that they have fortunately not experienced (for example, in driving, being rear ended.)
Well, in addition to hanging out here, I also subscribe to the bicycle coalition email list, attend their meetings once a quarter, get their newsletter, and ride with a local club. I think that is sufficient.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:33 PM   #10
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HH - this is an interesting question to ponder, but utterly in the realm of philosophy. When is experience sufficient, and when does society need to undertake training? That is the question. The statement: "But an effect can become a cause..." line of reasoning can be applied to anything, including cyclist training. In this case, the reinforcing loop is that the effect of cyclist training is that there are fewer cyclists, making cycling more difficult and more dangerous for those left, and so requiring more training to accomplish, and so on. Absent real data, there is no way of correlating the Orwell quote to reality. Applying philosophy to real life is called politics, and that's what we are all doing on this forum: politiking.

All you can ultimately do is try things and become experienced. Society becomes experienced through the many people trying many different things. If Portland didn't try bike lanes and other things it tries, then nobody would know the effects. If California and North Carolina didn't try the other route, there'd be no information about those paths.

It's the same for people. People try things, and they work or don't. Traffic cycling is not so dangerous that mistakes are immediately fatal. If they were, then all of us here would be dead by now, since we all make amateur mistakes on our way to being experienced. HH, you are thinking of writing a book. A book is a collection of words; if experience and trial and error didn't count, then you'd might as well drop the whole thing. But experience and trial and error do count, so the gross generalities found in books works to increase a cyclist's knowledge and skill.

I read the Wikipedia definition of trolling, as it came up recently. It occurs to me that we, on this forum, should admit that, as the OP suggests, none of us are experts at this subject. Since expert status is bequethed by peers, not self proclaimed, I think this is true by definition. Therefore, none of us here is able to monopolize the knowledge found in this forum. I'm worried that people who come here for advice get turned away from all the "point-counterpoint" roundabout arguments found in this forum. We tend not to argue in good faith around here; we call each other names, and use what turns out to be trolling tactics, to try to force someone to concede a point. In the end, what gets lost is clear advice from each member about how to ride. In the end, it doesn't matter that some advice is better than others; if you want that, you go find a real expert. Here, a person looking for advice should know that they will get a smorgasboard of information; pick and choose as you please and run with what works best. Keep and open mind and you might just learn something.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:35 PM   #11
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FWIW, there is only one member, who doesn't currently include the line in his signature, who labeled himself an "expert." Everyone else only claims to be experienced.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
If you want to build a house, who do you learn from?
If you want to rock climb, do you ask someone with experience, or someone who has never done it?
If you want to learn SCUBA diving, do you take a course from a certified instructor, or do you plunge in and see how it goes?
If I want to build a house I learn as I go. Some times doing it my way is half the fun.
If I want to learn to Scuba Dive I take a class. Sometimes Im a chicken.
If I want to climb a rock, I just climb it. If its to big, I find a smaller one.

I am not a expert traffic cyclist.
I am an expert at keeping my but alive.

We could teach people the basics of riding with classes.
Or they could learn in their own.
Some people need more help than others.

Quote:
You end up with a nation of people who are disabled from riding in traffic by their own internal feelings. Is that the direction you want to go?
No sarcasm here.
I dont get it, I dont see the conection.

Are sure it isnt
Discomfort in traffic -> bike lanes -> less discomfort in traffic -> more bike lanes -> even less discomfort -> even more bike lanes -> yet more intensified comfort ...
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Old 10-10-06, 05:49 PM   #13
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I figure that 40+ years riding, 30+ years commuting and having <Moderator removed to prevent Murphy from applying some smackdown> motor vehicle accidents is all the credentials one should need to match wits with self-proclaimed experts and their wacky theories. I only know of a few people who try to pass themselves off as experts...usually to bolster their political or business goals...the rest of us just ride bicycles, trade stories, tips and tricks, make fun of wacky theories and consider survival as the only credential we need to do so.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:50 PM   #14
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You want comfort? Get a recumbent.
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Old 10-10-06, 05:56 PM   #15
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You want comfort? Get a recumbent.
Imagine if HH was a recumbent rider. Every thread would take this direction...
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Old 10-10-06, 06:03 PM   #16
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Imagine if HH was a recumbent rider. Every thread would take this direction...
HH would fit a bent with hydraulics, so he could 'pop up' for visibility!
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Old 10-10-06, 06:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtsmile
The biggest benefit for experienced cyclists and drivers taking a class is that they might see something they missed through trial and error, and might see the use of a new approach to an old skill which might save them from some grief that they have fortunately not experienced (for example, in driving, being rear ended.)
Or they might hear a rash of poop from an expert like HH. Or some other Forester acolyte quoting the EC mantra of fabricated/manipulated safety statistics associated with wacko psychological mumbo jumbo about cyclists' motivations and evil conspiracies thwarting the desires of the Real Cyclists through insidious Evil Bike lanes.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 10-10-06 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 10-10-06, 06:17 PM   #18
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Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, drive through, please
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Old 10-10-06, 06:19 PM   #19
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HH would fit a bent with hydraulics, so he could 'pop up' for visibility!
Maybe we could rig it-- when he wasn't looking-- into an ejection seat.
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Old 10-10-06, 07:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Or they might hear a rash of poop from an expert like HH. Or some other Forester acolyte quoting the EC mantra of fabricated/manipulated safety statistics associated with wacko psychological mumbo jumbo about cyclists' motivations and evil conspiracies thwarting the desires of the Real Cyclists through insidious Evil Bike lanes.
Correct. But so what? Only a silly person or the truly gullible believes everything they hear. I would think that someone of some intelligence might take a class in something that interested them and maybe make up their own mind? Maybe I am naive in crediting people with having brains.
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Old 10-10-06, 07:17 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Well, in addition to hanging out here, I also subscribe to the bicycle coalition email list, attend their meetings once a quarter, get their newsletter, and ride with a local club. I think that is sufficient.
I never said you needed a course. I simply stated that they can be of benefit. Read my last post to ILTB.
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Old 10-10-06, 07:30 PM   #22
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We have LCIs in the bicycle coalition here and they advocate for better bike lanes and facilities just like everybody else. The warped view of what a cycling "expert" is around here is pretty amazing.
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Old 10-10-06, 08:04 PM   #23
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what makes YOU think you're an expert, head? you're always telling people to ride way too far to the left, and making them ride all swervy, and then move into a safe position, even when that lane position is safe already.
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Old 10-10-06, 08:31 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
...the effect of cyclist training is that there are fewer cyclists, ...
Huh?

Quote:
... making cycling more difficult and more dangerous for those left, and so requiring more training to accomplish, and so on.
How does training some people make something more difficult for others?

Quote:
If Portland didn't try bike lanes and other things it tries, then nobody would know the effects.
Like no one else hasn't tried bike lanes and other things?
Davis has been trying longer than anyone else in the country, since the late 1960s. They're the only ones rated a platinum BFC. Yet the number of cyclists per capita is down since the mid 1960s.

Are there records of per capita cycling in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and now in Portland?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 10-10-06 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 10-10-06, 08:35 PM   #25
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I did not read all the dribble from the OP simply put if you put in safe guards for the untrained almost no matter what some of the untrained will circumvent the system and be worse off. Or some one will screw over the untrained so bad that the untrained will never want to come back
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