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Old 04-23-10, 03:20 PM   #1
randya
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Why We Focus on Unsafe Cycling and Not Unsafe Driving

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Why We Focus on Unsafe Cycling and Not Unsafe Driving
by Sarah Goodyear on April 23, 2010

This morning on Sustainable Savannah, a post about double standards.

John Bennett writes that at two recent meetings in Savannah about improved bicycle facilities, the discussion turned to unsafe cycling practices, such as wrong-way riding, riding without lights, and riding on sidewalks. While Bennett is concerned about those things as well, he wonders why discussions of investment in bike infrastructure almost inevitably turn to the question of unsafe cycling:

Are similar suggestions about combating unsafe driving ever prompted by discussions of new roadways? I canít remember a single instance. All sorts of elected officials had all sorts of things to say at the groundbreaking for the fifth phase of the Truman Parkway last month, but did any mention the need to educate motorists about speeding or aggressive driving? Car crashes, too often resulting in fatalities, are a regular occurrences on the existing portions of the limited access freeway. Wouldnít a groundbreaking ceremony present an excellent opportunity to warn about the dangers of distracted or impaired driving and call for new programs to better educate motorists who use the Truman Parkway?


Again, I appreciate any concern expressed for the most vulnerable road users, but Iím curious about the requisite safety discussions that accompany our conversations about bicycling. Is there a subtle expectation that as cyclists we must earn, through good behavior, any new infrastructure made available to us, no matter how small? Is this expectation self-imposed? I must admit, Iíve caught myself thinking (and sometimes saying) things along these lines. Meanwhile, as motorists we enjoy colossal new facilities ($67.5 million in the case of Truman Parkway Phase Five), without being asked to consider how to ensure their safe and responsible use.

I think part of the concern about safe riding practices stems from the lack of consensus ó among people who ride and people who donít ó about just exactly what safe cycling is. Safe driving practices are far more standardized and codified, because driving is a mode of transport that every American is expected to use at some point in his or her life. People on bicycles are forced, because of a mishmash of infrastructure and regulations, to make things up as they go along. Which is why there is so much disagreement about the practice known as "salmoning." (Speaking of which, what do you think of "zebras"?)

It doesnít have to be like this, of course. In a country with extensive bike tradition and infrastructure, such as the Netherlands, citizens are educated from an early age about how to ride. This means that everyone knows what "safe cycling" means ó people on bikes, people on foot and people in cars. And thereís no need to fret about "cyclist safety" every time a new bike path is built.

As you head into the weekend, give some thought to slowing things down. Both Boston Biker and Letís Go Ride a Bike have posts today about the pleasures of riding at a more leisurely pace.
http://streetsblog.net/2010/04/23/wh...nsafe-driving/
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Old 04-23-10, 03:33 PM   #2
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Why do non-cyclists focus on percieved unsafe cycling? Because they don't understand cycling, are afraid they will hit and hurt/kill cyclists and because many just have an unexplainable dislike/hatred/ of cyclists which stems from their belief that cyclists shouldn't be on the road.
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Old 04-23-10, 04:38 PM   #3
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Washington has a law against using a cell phone ( with a dandy exception for bluetooth ) while driving. It's currently a "secondary offense" which means you can't be pulled over for it, but can be ticketed if you're pulled over for something else. There's been a lot of debate lately about a bill to make it a "primary offense" meaning "actually enforceable." On a call-in NPR program, it was interesting to hear some of the debate.

* "This is ridiculous namby-pamby nanny-state-ism. It's my car, I should be able to decide what I do in it." (The caller has a point. Why is it perfectly legal to drink vodka in your car, or murder a homeless person, but not use your telephone? Wait a minute, maybe we already do have some regulations about what you can do in your private vehicle on public roads?)

* "If this bill passes, you'll see the biggest increase in tinted windows in history." (Don't police preferentially pull over cars with tinted windows, with the assumption they're trying to hide something?)

* "Police don't care about cell phones." (This is probably true.)
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Old 04-23-10, 05:43 PM   #4
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The debate is over; the governor signed the bill making driving while holding a cellular or handheld device a primary offense and it becomes law mid june.

Why does america collectively focus on bicyclist lawbreaking instead of unsafe driving? Deeply entrenched car culture, sold a shoddy bill of goods insomuch as suburban living went, now on the verge of collapse in some parts of the country.

Yeah, maybe we'll come around. It will be interesting to see in how positive the changes will be as Boston and NYC and San Francisco start taking larger bites out of the dominance of car culture.

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Old 04-23-10, 06:02 PM   #5
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This:

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I think part of the concern about safe riding practices stems from the lack of consensus — among people who ride and people who don’t — about just exactly what safe cycling is. Safe driving practices are far more standardized and codified, because driving is a mode of transport that every American is expected to use at some point in his or her life. People on bicycles are forced, because of a mishmash of infrastructure and regulations, to make things up as they go along. Which is why there is so much disagreement about the practice known as "salmoning." (Speaking of which, what do you think of "zebras"?)
Nobody knows how to ride because they were never taught. The last bike safety class I took was in grade school, and I wouldn't guess that there were any more than fifteen kids there out of a couple hundred.

Then, since nobody knows how to ride, they all believe that their practices are valid and will throw in their two cents into any how-to-bike argument.
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Old 04-23-10, 06:12 PM   #6
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The focus should simply be on enforcing the traffic laws uniformly. Running a red light is runnig a red light. Nail everyone who does that and it will be safer.

But there are a subset of cylists out there who seem to think rules are for cars only. Their behavior is very visible and get's held up as ammunition against cyclists. And a lot of behavior is far worse than rolling a california stop.....ie Ninja fixies, sans lights, and common sense darting across heavy traffice in the dark.

So it it pretty simple, as a cyclist don't complain about a driver's behavior if you break he same law the driver did. and we as cyclists can control our behavior.....but we can't control drivers behavior.
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Old 04-23-10, 06:16 PM   #7
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But there are a subset of cylists out there who seem to think rules are for cars only.
But then again, are car laws as applicable to bikes as they are to cars? Is Idaho's famous stop-sign-as-yield bike-specific law totally irrelevant?

(see what I mean? Not even the law can agree on what we're supposed to do, and that's just in the USA...)
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Old 04-23-10, 06:41 PM   #8
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Washington has a law against using a cell phone ( with a dandy exception for bluetooth ) while driving. It's currently a "secondary offense" which means you can't be pulled over for it, but can be ticketed if you're pulled over for something else.
Anyone voice the opinion that they should have their vocal cords and hands surgically removed?
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Old 04-23-10, 08:02 PM   #9
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Drivers do this as an excuse to justify their hatred of having to share "their" roads with bikes. They feel all self-righteous when they say, "...these nuts will get themselves killed out there!" Uh, why? Because of YOU DRIVERS? Because they should be smart enough to not get close to a careless maniac handling 2500 lbs. of motorized steel? Oh, but THEY'RE stupid....

Tens of thousands of people die every year from car crashes, and it's considered 'the cost of doing business'. Less than one thousand cyclists die from car crashes per year, and it's an abomination that they should be allowed on the roads.

I'm not one for totalitarian 'utopias', but the carless society of the B-movie "The Last Chase", even though depicted as colorless, odorless, and lifeless, has its points. I wouldn't want to LIVE there, but a ride-through could be fun.
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Old 04-23-10, 08:27 PM   #10
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"People on bicycles are forced, because of a mishmash of infrastructure and regulations, to make things up as they go along. Which is why there is so much disagreement about the practice known as "salmoning." (Speaking of which, what do you think of "zebras"?) "

Oh come on now, we are at least all in agreement on the "salmoning question", aren't we?

Also the t zebras thing makes no sense in relation to "salmoning".
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Old 04-23-10, 08:32 PM   #11
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Honestly, It took me a few reads to really get the point of the streetsblog post, and I think its because each blogger saw the same situation, but went different directions with it. I read it at first assuming the Streets post was using the Savannah post as some sort of evidence, when in actuality its a reply on a bit of a tangent (in a discussion that mirrors A&S in a way).

While both agree that issues such as salmoning and sidewalk riding are dangerous, the Savannah post continues with another thought- basically, that cyclists are second-class citizens in the land of Cars. The Streets post focuses on just the first thought on wanders off on cycling safety and how great European cycling is. I'm not dissing the Streets post, as I feel that the attitude of its poster is relevant to cyclists in dense urban areas or places fortunate enough to have cycling infrastructure already in place; for those of us that don't even have bike lanes in our town, however, its a bit pie-in-the-sky and assumptive about our priorities.

On my commute, I don't really care much about the occasional bike salmon, or the use of 'on-your-left' (or lack thereof), or sidewalk cyclists. Its also not that the rules are confusing, as they aren't- its that following the rules to the letter has a good chance of getting me killed, Chipseal'd, or at very least, yelled at by rednecks. In the big picture, my safety has little to do with how I ride (beyond dodging potholes and stopping at lights), and more about the hundereds of drivers that pass me in cars every day not making a mistake.
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Old 04-23-10, 09:23 PM   #12
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Anyone voice the opinion that they should have their vocal cords and hands surgically removed?
That would be cruel.











Just sew their lips shut and leave a spot for a straw.
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Old 04-23-10, 09:41 PM   #13
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Oh come on now, we are at least all in agreement on the "salmoning question", aren't we?
Here on BF, yeah, although you're still gonna see them out there in real life. We've still had people post here that they think they're supposed to ride against traffic, though, too.
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Old 04-24-10, 03:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
Drivers do this as an excuse to justify their hatred of having to share "their" roads with bikes. They feel all self-righteous when they say, "...these nuts will get themselves killed out there!" Uh, why? Because of YOU DRIVERS? Because they should be smart enough to not get close to a careless maniac handling 2500 lbs. of motorized steel? Oh, but THEY'RE stupid....

Tens of thousands of people die every year from car crashes, and it's considered 'the cost of doing business'. Less than one thousand cyclists die from car crashes per year, and it's an abomination that they should be allowed on the roads.

I'm not one for totalitarian 'utopias', but the carless society of the B-movie "The Last Chase", even though depicted as colorless, odorless, and lifeless, has its points. I wouldn't want to LIVE there, but a ride-through could be fun.
Speaking of the movie, how about the way that Burgess Meredeth's character wanted to work with Lee's to keep their chase going so he could continue to fly? I loved that part.
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Old 04-24-10, 03:19 AM   #15
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"People on bicycles are forced, because of a mishmash of infrastructure and regulations, to make things up as they go along. Which is why there is so much disagreement about the practice known as "salmoning." (Speaking of which, what do you think of "zebras"?) "

Oh come on now, we are at least all in agreement on the "salmoning question", aren't we?

Also the t zebras thing makes no sense in relation to "salmoning".
Uh, what's a "zebra???"
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Old 04-24-10, 08:20 AM   #16
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Oh come on now, we are at least all in agreement on the "salmoning question", aren't we?
What is the "question" and who are the "we" asking it?

I suspect "we" are those Bicycling Nannys with the ready made One Right Answer, and are the only people asking the "salmoning question."
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Old 04-24-10, 05:08 PM   #17
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I suspect you need a life to fill all the extra time you seem to have on your hands.

After all, you seem to continue to pester and berate everyone else about leaving other bike riders alone -- why don't you practice what you preach...?
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Old 04-24-10, 08:06 PM   #18
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I suspect you need a life to fill all the extra time you seem to have on your hands.

After all, you seem to continue to pester and berate everyone else about leaving other bike riders alone -- why don't you practice what you preach...?
I don't consider the act of posting gibberish on the Internet about the only correct method of bike riding to be "bike riding." Perhaps you do.
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Old 04-25-10, 07:38 AM   #19
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The focus should simply be on enforcing the traffic laws uniformly. Running a red light is runnig a red light. Nail everyone who does that and it will be safer.
Even on a deserted four way with no traffic for miles? Context is context.

Quote:

But there are a subset of cylists out there who seem to think rules are for cars only. Their behavior is very visible and get's held up as ammunition against cyclists. And a lot of behavior is far worse than rolling a california stop.....ie Ninja fixies, sans lights, and common sense darting across heavy traffice in the dark.

So it it pretty simple, as a cyclist don't complain about a driver's behavior if you break he same law the driver did. and we as cyclists can control our behavior.....but we can't control drivers behavior.
I agree that control starts at home for cyclists, and there are some cyclists who pretty much ride like they own the road. But solely focusing on cyclist safety while ignoring driver education regarding bicycles is kinda like mindlessly repeating "wear a helmet" every time somebody asks about safety tips for bicycles.
I don't think the biggest problem is the focus on bicycle safety, however. The biggest problem, as some have alluded to, is the fact that every time we break out a new bicycle path it seems like everybody has to be re-educated about bicycle safety. Maybe if we made that a part of driver training for everybody in the first place we wouldn't have to roll over the same trodden path again and again and again.
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Old 04-25-10, 08:40 AM   #20
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I don't think the biggest problem is the focus on bicycle safety, however. The biggest problem, as some have alluded to, is the fact that every time we break out a new bicycle path it seems like everybody has to be re-educated about bicycle safety. Maybe if we made that a part of driver training for everybody in the first place we wouldn't have to roll over the same trodden path again and again and again.
My niece, who's been living in Germany for the past five years, has had to earn a license that allows her to ride her bike by herself.
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Old 04-25-10, 01:29 PM   #21
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On the running of red lights:

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Originally Posted by pueblonative View Post
Even on a deserted four way with no traffic for miles? Context is context.

.
Yep, context is context, and the context here is that there isn't a cop watching you to give you a ticket.
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