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Old 03-19-02, 05:03 PM   #1
Dutchy
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Are licensed drivers safer cyclists?

After reading the responses to my thread "Why don't cyclist's know the road rules!", it got me thinking that some cyclists may never have been taught the road rules. If they have never driven a car, it's fair to assume that they have a concept of the road rules but have not been taught them properly. Is this why we see so many cyclists doing dangerous things. It stands to reason that a cyclist who also drives would make a safer cyclist because they have had formal driver training.

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Old 03-19-02, 05:56 PM   #2
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Good point! I think that having some experience driving helps a cyclist to understand the motorists that they are sharing the road with. When I see a someone riding at night with no lights and wearing dark clothing I can only assume that they have no idea how difficult it is for a motorist to see them. When I see the same people riding against traffic I also assume that they don't realize that motorists turning onto the road won't be expecting them. If they had driven before they might have a better idea of how dangerous these behaviors are.

Probably a bigger factor is fear. People irrationally believe that they're safer riding opposing traffic because they can see the car before it hits them. Many others get themselves in trouble because they are afraid to assert their right to the road. These cyclists end up in the wrong lane trying to make a turn because they're afraid to mix with the traffic.
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Old 03-19-02, 08:38 PM   #3
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I have always felt that being a pedestrian, jogger, bicyclist, and motorist makes me safer, more alert, and more courteous in each of these modes. It is a real eye-opener to drive through an unfamiliar, complex intersection at night, realizing how much extra attention I have to devote to avoid hitting darkly-clad pedestrians or wrong-way, unlit cyclists.

Personally, I think an Effective Cycling course should be part of every able-bodied motorist's driver's education.
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Old 03-20-02, 04:13 AM   #4
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I don't have a driving license, but I did briefly start driving lessons when I was 18 so have very limited experience of driving, but I consider myself a fairly good practioner of safe cycling habits. Before starting cycling I read the Highway Code (it's not exactly long or difficult to understand) and also read 'Effective Cycling' (sorry I can't remember the author - it's the UK book but I know there's a similar US book).

I maintain that it's pretty much all common sense but there does seem to be a lot of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers who don't seem to have a grasp of what to do.

I think the Highway Code (or your equivalant) ought to be taught in primary school, with emphasis on pedestrian and cycling behaviour, and that as part of a driving test cyclist/pedestrian awareness should be mandatory.

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Old 03-20-02, 05:21 AM   #5
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I don't think licensed drivers are necessarily better cyclists. In fact, from my own experience I would say that they could be worse. After driving for six years, when I finally started commuting on a bike I was affraid to ride with the traffic in "congested" (Monterey traffic usually isn't that bad) areas. As a result, I rode on the sidewalk on one part of my journey. But of course that little cheat was what got me hit by a car.

As a driver, I knew the rules of the road, but I didn't quite realize that they applied to me as a vehicle, and not as a pedestrian. People here criticize bicyclist who switch between seeing themselves as pedestrians and as vehicles whenever it is convenient, and rightfully so. But in the United States, that kind of thinking prevails, and people won't think of bikes as vehicles unless someone shows them that they are.

I agree with Richard D that traffic law as it relates to cycling and walking should be taught in school. My vote would be in gym class.

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Old 03-20-02, 07:21 AM   #6
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I don't think that licensed motorists make better cyclists, but I'm sure cyclist make better motorist.

That is, as long as the cycling motorist can resist the temptation to sneek across a street when the light is red and there aren't any other cars around.

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Old 03-20-02, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard D
... also read 'Effective Cycling' (sorry I can't remember the author - it's the UK book but I know there's a similar US book).
You probably are referring to John Franklin's outstanding little book, "Cyclecraft." The U.S. books are John Forester's "Effective Cycling" tome and John S. Allen's "Street Smarts." I own, use, and recommend all three.
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Old 03-20-02, 10:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by mike
I don't think that licensed motorists make better cyclists, but I'm sure cyclist make better motorist.
Yes indeedy.

Quote:
Originally posted by mike
That is, as long as the cyclist can resist the temptation to sneek across a street when the light is red and there aren't any other cars around.
I used to do that in Brunei, but I was drunk at the time so my judgement was possibly impaired.
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Old 03-20-02, 11:08 PM   #9
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having a license DOES NOT mean you know the rules. sometimes driving instructors (testors) will pass people because they don't care/are tying to be nice/ bribed/ etc...

for one being in a motorvehicle is much more difficult then being on a bike, in a vehicle you go faster cannot see as much and have to be aware of everyone else.
(not to say that you don't do that on a bike...)

it's weird though, I always have found it easier and less stressful to ride a bike to get where I need then using a car, I guess because you can do so much damage with a vehicle then you can with a bike.

and one last thing, the drivers that tick me off the most are the ones yapping on thier cell phones, like they are in a phone booth!
I saw a guy run a 4 way stop once (and almost hit me in the process) because he was on his phone!!!

oh well
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Old 03-21-02, 05:56 AM   #10
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i definitely agree that cyclists make better drivers and that having experience as different types of users helps -- i too have been a driver, cyclist, runner, pedestrian, rollerblader, skooter user, etc...

but this isn't really something we can require of people - that they experience riding a bike - although maybe they should and it would be good for their health...

i grew up driving with my first car at 16 (i became a bike commuter at 27 and chose to become carfree at 30) - i became a cyclist in college at 18 and i knew all about driving, but i made many mistakes and my only 2 bike accidents in the city in my 12 years of riding 5000+ miles/yr were in my first 2 years --- both from riding at night w/o lights while wearing dark clothing... it just didn't seem to me to be a problem - as a driver you think being able to see is important, as a cyclist seeing is no problem in the city, but BEING SEEN is important...

i think some kind of training or awareness would be a good thing -- i think at least in Oregon they added a big section to the Auto licensing about watching for bicycles and in Europe it's standard - but yeah, i can see it really being a problem for others to know the rules - not only road rules, but also about lighting and visibility and stuff which is really important.

i guess in the school system would be appropriate if they enlarged it to cycling/pedestrian safety...
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Old 03-21-02, 08:17 PM   #11
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It is possible that they are because of specific groups who are not driving licensed--DUI suspension cases, children under 16, immigrants who can't understand road signs in English (I don't care if anybody thinks I'm a bigot--if you are on the road you'd bloody well better be able to read the instructions!!!!!!!!!!!) When evaluating road users it is prudent and reasonable to judge whole groups!
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