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Old 08-15-07, 11:47 AM   #1
invisiblehand
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San Francisco PD bicycle video

Has this been shared before?

http://www.cyclelicio.us/2007/08/sfp...ing-video.html
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Old 08-15-07, 12:03 PM   #2
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Great video! It raised a question for me, though, down here in much less bike-friendly territory.

There's a stretch of Hwy. 101 in Leucadia(surfer town north of San Diego) that has two lanes and parking alongside the street. There is no bicycle lane at all, and the side of the road is often filled with parked cars. The lanes are big enough for two lanes of traffic, but not bikes too. Cars typically travel between 35 and 50 mph along this stretch, which lasts for about 3 or 4 miles.

If I followed the advice of this video, especially about keeping 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid dooring, I would be taking the lane. This would piss off a lot of motorists, but there's no doubt I would feel a whole lot safer. Am I doing the wrong thing by clinging to the right and hoping that no one doors me?
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Old 08-15-07, 12:40 PM   #3
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Great video! It raised a question for me, though, down here in much less bike-friendly territory.

There's a stretch of Hwy. 101 in Leucadia(surfer town north of San Diego) that has two lanes and parking alongside the street. There is no bicycle lane at all, and the side of the road is often filled with parked cars. The lanes are big enough for two lanes of traffic, but not bikes too. Cars typically travel between 35 and 50 mph along this stretch, which lasts for about 3 or 4 miles.

If I followed the advice of this video, especially about keeping 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid dooring, I would be taking the lane. This would piss off a lot of motorists, but there's no doubt I would feel a whole lot safer. Am I doing the wrong thing by clinging to the right and hoping that no one doors me?
I would recommend taking the lane and pulling over occasionally to let backed up traffic pass by, assuming they cannot pass using the other lane. You'll probably find that you rarely have to pull over unless the road is very busy with very few places to pass.

[edit]I may have misread. If the road has more than one same direction lane, by all means use the right lane and let people pass on the left. No pulling over required. Just make sure that if you are taking the right lane, you take the full lane. Be centered to leftish to make it clear that you are not looking to share it.[edit]

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Old 08-15-07, 01:21 PM   #4
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There's a stretch of Hwy. 101 in Leucadia(surfer town north of San Diego) that has two lanes and parking alongside the street. There is no bicycle lane at all, and the side of the road is often filled with parked cars. The lanes are big enough for two lanes of traffic, but not bikes too. Cars typically travel between 35 and 50 mph along this stretch, which lasts for about 3 or 4 miles.

If I followed the advice of this video, especially about keeping 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid dooring, I would be taking the lane. This would piss off a lot of motorists, but there's no doubt I would feel a whole lot safer. Am I doing the wrong thing by clinging to the right and hoping that no one doors me?
Well, I wouldn't say there's a clear-cut right or wrong thing to do...especially without seeing the situation first-hand. It's good that you know you're facing a tradeoff: you would be in less danger taking the lane, but you might inconvenience others. (A lot of riders seem to think that in that sort of situation, the safest thing to do is to keep as far right as possible...which is usually flat-out wrong.) I'm not trying to make that a sarcastic, "the-answer-is-obvious-once-you-phrase-it-that-way" point; often I will accept a slight additional danger if it makes someone else's travel significantly easier. The question is where you strike the balance.

From the way you describe that stretch of road, I would advise taking the lane, and letting motorists change lanes to pass. In heavier traffic, I would temporarily move right from time to time, to allow someone to pass when they can't easily get into the left lane. If ambient traffic really needed both lanes, and there would be a full-fledged traffic jam if I took the right lane, then I might stay in the door zone, and ride slowly enough to mitigate the danger of dooring somewhat...with the full understanding that I was doing this as a favor to other travelers, not for my own safety.

(And if you decide to stay out of the door zone, and traffic backs up as a result, you're not the cause of the jam. Lousy road design is the cause; you're just refusing to risk your own neck to mask the symptoms of that bad design. Unless, of course, you're the highway engineer that designed that road, in which case, try to do a better job next time.)

Last edited by divergence; 08-15-07 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 08-15-07, 02:45 PM   #5
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Great video? It's like a parody of a public-service video. Despite the valuable information it provides, it's a terrible video. People fret about the shadow that Critical Mass casts over "good cyclists." What about this dreck? "No, Officer. I was not hurt by the plastic beverage bottle thrown from the passing vehicle. I am a little bit shaken up, however."
Yeesh!
Who is supposed to watch this? Viewers in restraints, most likely.
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Old 08-15-07, 02:55 PM   #6
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"If I followed the advice of this video, especially about keeping 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid dooring, I would be taking the lane. This would piss off a lot of motorists, but there's no doubt I would feel a whole lot safer. Am I doing the wrong thing by clinging to the right and hoping that no one doors me?"

If there are two lanes in your direction of travel, you will be surprised how few cagers are inconvenienced by you taking a lane. It won't be a sudden realization at the last instant by the driver that there is a slow vehicle ahead of him. The moment you are seen by them, they will immediately begin negotiating a lane change.

There will always be the few who get angry if they are delayed, but then they would react the same way to any other slow vehicle: a street sweeper, garbage truck or school bus for example. Take the lane, you'll be glad you did!

Incidentally, you will also reap a safety benefit by being more visible to pedestrians stepping into the lane to gain access to their car, folks coming out of driveways, and getting right-hooked at intersections. The only hazard that you remain exposed to is inattentive driving, but you are exposed to it nearly to the same degree riding to the right.

For reference, I have traveled more than 5000 miles on my bicycle this year in the greater Dallas area, primarily urban and suburban roads, and I always take the lane. Almost all of those miles are solo as well. If they honk or yell at you, it means they see you!
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Old 08-15-07, 03:14 PM   #7
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Great video? It's like a parody of a public-service video. Despite the valuable information it provides, it's a terrible video. People fret about the shadow that Critical Mass casts over "good cyclists." What about this dreck? "No, Officer. I was not hurt by the plastic beverage bottle thrown from the passing vehicle. I am a little bit shaken up, however."
Yeesh!
Who is supposed to watch this? Viewers in restraints, most likely.
Oh please. Don't get caught up in the details. The video is well intended and for the most part it's valid information for most.

Yeah there's bad acting, yeah the subjects are a bit weak but what do you really expect from a Police video with only a few thousand dollar budget? This isn't a hollywood production.

Take the video for what its worth and considering some of the bikers I see out there on the sidewalks most should really watch this video and learn from it.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:31 PM   #8
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Yeah, the acting was awkward, and that flashing green font against a black background is a crime against nature...but their hearts are in the right place. It's good to see a police department that actually knows cycling law and tries to educate citizens about it.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:47 PM   #9
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I'm happy that the SFPD made an attempt, but no one on earth will see this video. The entire budget could have gone to a billboard campaign that said something like "BIKES BELONG IN THE STREET. IT'S THE LAW." Or something to that effect. It's like those lame antismoking ads that actually make smoking seem cool by comparison.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:55 PM   #10
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You know, when there are threads every day about things that are thrown at cyclists, and cops telling cyclists to get out of the road, and cities that have no support at all for cyclists -- I'll take a video like this with not much production quality. At least it's an effort to train the police force to protect cyclists and get them to educate drivers. It's a lot better than the alternative, which in a lot of communities is absolutely nothing in the way of education or enforcement.
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Old 08-15-07, 04:50 PM   #11
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Oh please. Don't get caught up in the details. The video is well intended and for the most part it's valid information for most.

Yeah there's bad acting, yeah the subjects are a bit weak but what do you really expect from a Police video with only a few thousand dollar budget? This isn't a hollywood production.

Take the video for what its worth and considering some of the bikers I see out there on the sidewalks most should really watch this video and learn from it.
Now if they could only take the message, and make a hollywood production out of it and share it with the rest of the driving public... to really get the message out there.
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Old 08-15-07, 04:52 PM   #12
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The entire budget could have gone to a billboard campaign that said something like "BIKES BELONG IN THE STREET. IT'S THE LAW."
San Francisco already has this -- street signs telling road users that cyclists are allowed full use of the lane CVC 21202.

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Old 08-15-07, 07:41 PM   #13
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Oh please. Don't get caught up in the details. The video is well intended and for the most part it's valid information for most.

Yeah there's bad acting, yeah the subjects are a bit weak but what do you really expect from a Police video with only a few thousand dollar budget? This isn't a hollywood production.

Take the video for what its worth and considering some of the bikers I see out there on the sidewalks most should really watch this video and learn from it.
+1. The production value is poor, but it's fine for a police training video. I would hope that the SFPD has better things to spend its money on than top-quality production value.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:44 PM   #14
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Glad to see that this is out there, hopefully more than just the SFPD will see this.
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Old 08-16-07, 10:17 AM   #15
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Great video! It raised a question for me, though, down here in much less bike-friendly territory.

There's a stretch of Hwy. 101 in Leucadia(surfer town north of San Diego) that has two lanes and parking alongside the street. There is no bicycle lane at all, and the side of the road is often filled with parked cars. The lanes are big enough for two lanes of traffic, but not bikes too. Cars typically travel between 35 and 50 mph along this stretch, which lasts for about 3 or 4 miles.

If I followed the advice of this video, especially about keeping 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid dooring, I would be taking the lane. This would piss off a lot of motorists, but there's no doubt I would feel a whole lot safer. Am I doing the wrong thing by clinging to the right and hoping that no one doors me?
I think I have ridden the stretch you are talking about. Two lanes of traffic, either way, parking for cars, no "bike lane?" Take the lane, ride strong and decisively. You have to take the lane and as others have pointed out, people will pass you. Also, if you do indeed take the lane, and take it by a definite margin, people will pass you with more room, more safely. If you hug the cars, not only do you risk dooring but people in your lane will try to squeeze by you, sometimes will millimeters to spare and if you are unlucky, you will get hit in the squeeze; not good.

And it is courteous for slower traffic to move over periodically to let faster traffic pass, no matter what vehicle you ride/drive.
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Old 08-16-07, 11:15 AM   #16
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I appreciate all the good advice I've received here. From now on, I definitely will take the lane, moving over periodically to let cars by if there's a line behind me and the next lane isn't free.

This also helped me resolve what to do about a nasty strip of road on 101 northbound between Carlsbad and Oceanside. There's one lane each way going over a small bridge and then it goes down a hill. The bike lane disappears, and on your right, there's a merging lane of traffic, where the car's coming in don't have to stop. I've been in a situation before where I've been going 30 mph and caught right in the middle of the two lanes because a car on my right was merging and wouldn't let me in. From now on, I'm going to take the whole lane coming down the hill, until I'm sure it's safe to move to the right.
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Old 08-16-07, 04:33 PM   #17
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It seem fairly common for odd things to come out of SF. It's nice to see a serious, meaningful piece.
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