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  1. #1
    eternalvoyage
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    Superior agility: cyclist or motorist? (Ken Kifer, VCers; selective scenarios)

    Some people have made the argument that bikes are lighter and more agile than cars -- more maneuverable, and able to avoid collisions by virtue of superior maneuverability.

    This seems like a real mistake to me.

    It may be true under certain conditions; but there are many other conditions in which it is not true at all.

    There is a fallacy in their reasoning -- this fallacy appears often, in various guises. It is the fallacy of selective scenarios.

    If certain scenarios are pictured or taken into consideration, then bikes look like the clear winners.

    However, other scenarios are conveniently ignored or left out of the picture.

  2. #2
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Smaller size and better handling have helped me out on several occasions. May not always get you completely clear, but it sure helps.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H.
    Some people have made the argument that bikes are lighter and more agile than cars -- more maneuverable, and [have the potential] to avoid collisions by virtue of superior maneuverability.
    Sounds true to me, with the change I have made above. And it isn't a selective thing. Bikes ARE lighter and more agile than cars. They however use the same human intelligence to run them. So their abilities are hampered by our reaction times.

    So yes on our bikes we have the potential to avoid collisions better. Of course in a collision we are also far less protected.


    -D

  4. #4
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    Bikes ARE lighter and more agile than cars.
    I respectfully submit that this is only functionally true and useful in some situations. In other situations, this sort of thinking can be dangerous.

    Yes, they are lighter. No, they are not always both lighter and more agile. They are certainly not more agile in all situations.

    There is more mass in cars, but their strength-to-weight ratio is usually higher or much higher.

    They can accelerate faster. The strongest cyclists in the world can't do zero to sixty in less than six seconds. They can't beat a VW across an intersection, much less the many cars with more horsepower -- 200, 300, 400.... http://www.autobytel.com/content/res...til/listtype/9

    I wouldn't call that more agile. The cars can get moving a lot faster, and that is one aspect of agility.

    Another aspect of agility is how fast they can move left or right. A car traveling at speed can move left or right much faster than a cyclist can.

    Especially when cycling at lower speeds (as when going up a hill), cyclists are slow -- and not particularly agile: slow to move forward or back, left or right. Again, not particularly agile, in the relevant senses of that word.

    An inattentive or impaired driver who suddenly swerves while going 50mph (or 70, or faster) is far more agile, in meaningful or applicable or relevant senses of the word, than a cyclist.

    However alert the cyclist may be, and however ready to act, there are situations in which things simply happen too fast and move too fast for his or her limited levels of agility.

  5. #5
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    You're all wet here, Niles. You seem to confuse power with agility and underestimate the distances required for a car to maneuver 'at speed'. You are also comparing apples to oranges, especially at slow speeds...consider 'comparable' slow speeds and the bike is still more agile. The only advantage a car has here is that it won't fall over.

    Perhaps if you provided some examples, rather than generalizations. For example, outline a situation that happens 'too fast' that one might better react to in a car.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    ...You are also comparing apples to oranges, especially at slow speeds...consider 'comparable' slow speeds and the bike is still more agile. The only advantage a car has here is that it won't fall over.

    Perhaps if you provided some examples, rather than generalizations. For example, outline a situation that happens 'too fast' that one might better react to in a car.
    I happen to be short on time for now, and will answer in more detail at another time.

    'Comparable speeds' are not the only relevant way to compare. Actual speeds are also quite relevant.

    Also, typically encountered speeds.

    Even average speeds.

    There are many valid comparisons that are relevant to the safety issues.

    ***
    Example of too fast: Read about Ken Kifer's death.

    A drunk or inattentive driver swerving at speed.

    Agility means, in part, the ability to cover a given (or, in these cases, a required) distance in time to avoid collision, or achieve safety.

    If you cannot move left or right as fast as the other guy, who is approaching rapidly -- if he can cover distances left or right faster than you can (and not entirely predictably) -- then what does it matter that he weighs six thousand pounds more than you do, and that you are (supposedly, or in theory) lighter and more agile?

  7. #7
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    Although this isnt a matter of agility, the smaller width of a bike often enables it to avoid a collision. The manoeuvrability of a bike depends a lot more on the skill of the rider. Many cyclists do not know how to countersteer in an emergency - they are the ones who hit the side of a car when they are right-hooked. Even fewer cyclists can bunny-hop sideways onto the curb when they get squeezed off the road.

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