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Old 10-07-04, 08:58 PM   #1
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Taking the High Road, Riding the Shoulder

This was posted on a local e-mail list.
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Old 10-07-04, 09:18 PM   #2
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Interesting that it's dated the Oct 4 issue. It was posted here quite a while ago.
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Old 10-07-04, 09:25 PM   #3
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haven't always been so cynical about human nature. I have a fairly easy commute, approximately one and a half miles each way, and not too long ago biking was something I deeply enjoyed. Still, there is nothing like fighting rush-hour traffic to harden pleasure into asphalt. Depending on your speed and the direction of the wind, you suck a fair amount of exhaust as a cyclist, and it's not buffered by any kind of windshield. On a bike on any given workday, the aggression you feel from passing cars is immediate and powerful enough to shave you off the shoulder in an instant. In the college town where I work—where every student seems to own a car and the designated bike lanes have been claimed by motorists jumping lanes and jockeying for extra space—my effort to ride instead of drive seems ever more futile.

It's hard to argue for your share of the road from two wheels. If a car is about brute strength and momentum, then a bike can't really compete with its opposite powers of evasion and balance. As a cyclist, you either suck it up and get out of the way or else accept your fate as roadkill.
It's in these two paragraphs that we see the real impediment to getting more cyclists on the roads and so on. It seems we have someone here who never took the time to read anything about vehicular cycling and holding one's lane predictably. I'm guessing from the extract quoted above that swerving in and out of parked cars is just one example of things this person does "to stay out of the way of cars". It's also the sort of thinking that needs to be changed.

Much of my commute has no shoulder or bike lane, yet I am comfortable pretty much all of the time -- apart from odd moments where I do something stupid like yesterday, but those are usually my own fault, and easily preventable. At the end of the day we can write all the newspaper columns we like about how wonderful it would be to see motorists take up cycling and whatever else, that isn't going to happen overnight.

Has anybody else noticed that cycling advocates tend to talk about "education" for seemingly everyone except cyclists? Here's an idea, try this one on for size. Instead of campaigning relentlessly for bikelanes (that quickly become parking lanes) and bike paths (that quickly become nothing more than a clutter of dog walkers), what would be so wrong with educating our own brethren on how to deal with traffic effectively?

Granted, it might not suit everyone. However, I don't see what is so wrong with explaining to people that, while bike lanes and the like can be a useful option, they are not always the best option, and that contrary to popular belief -- riding on the road doesn't always mean that "I'll be killed!". Geez, if I can crash in "rush-hour" (and ironic name if ever I've heard one) and walk away with nothing more than road rash to show, how hard can it be for someone who's actually concentrating to simply ride through it?

Who knows? Maybe if some of the cyclists cowering in fear on the bike paths that go nowhere actually took the road occasionally, perhaps our presence might actually grow enough to change the attitudes that we're apparently so frightened of.
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Old 10-07-04, 09:42 PM   #4
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Spot-on, Chris.
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Old 10-08-04, 08:55 AM   #5
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I imagine what the world, or at least my town, would be like if everyone went gas-free. It's been years since all the places we need to get to have existed within walking or biking distance.
Unrealistic.
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Old 10-08-04, 09:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
[color=red]

It's in these two paragraphs that we see the real impediment to getting more cyclists on the roads and so on. It seems we have someone here who never took the time to read anything about vehicular cycling and holding one's lane predictably. I'm guessing from the extract quoted above that swerving in and out of parked cars is just one example of things this person does "to stay out of the way of cars". It's also the sort of thinking that needs to be changed.

color]
Why? If a person is not comfortable being bold in traffic, who are you to tell them how to ride?
Some people don't want to hold up a whole line of cars.
I know when I ride on the shoulder and two cars pass beside me that I'm in a safer zone.
Why be so trusting that someone will see you? Plenty end up dead, and more could if they follow your advice. Riding on the grass or shoulderdoesn't slow me down that much, I wonder how many people are killed riding the shoulder compared to being on asphalt? We know the answer don't we?


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Much of my commute has no shoulder or bike lane,
No shoulder? What's there, a vertical wall??
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Old 10-08-04, 09:19 AM   #7
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I agree with you mostly on this one. It takes cyclist education, and also the proper equipment, which I hardly see being used, IMHO:

1. rear-view mirror
2. bright flourescent clothing
3. rear lights

All it takes is someone trying to take the lane with zero awareness of what's going on behind, and being poorly visible to motorists (riding in the dark, no lights, dark clothing), if he survives he will be so frightened by the experience he won't do it again. But it would've been fine if he'd managed the mutual visibility properly.

Having said that, I sometimes use shoulders and bike lanes where they exist. Whatever is best for that exact time & place.


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Originally Posted by Chris L


what would be so wrong with educating our own brethren on how to deal with traffic effectively?

Granted, it might not suit everyone. However, I don't see what is so wrong with explaining to people that, while bike lanes and the like can be a useful option, they are not always the best option, and that contrary to popular belief -- riding on the road doesn't always mean that "I'll be killed!". Geez, if I can crash in "rush-hour" (and ironic name if ever I've heard one) and walk away with nothing more than road rash to show, how hard can it be for someone who's actually concentrating to simply ride through it?

Who knows? Maybe if some of the cyclists cowering in fear on the bike paths that go nowhere actually took the road occasionally, perhaps our presence might actually grow enough to change the attitudes that we're apparently so frightened of.
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Old 10-08-04, 09:37 AM   #8
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The article actually seems to be discouraging bicycling. But consider the source.
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Old 10-08-04, 11:07 AM   #9
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Well said Chris, but as others have pointed out, beyond "what would be so wrong with educating our own brethren on how to deal with traffic effectively," how about educating auto drivers as part of their normal training that they must "share the road."

Others have pointed out that newbie cyclists are often intimidated by autos... and perhaps rightly so when drivers are out there threating one another with their 2000# death machines, what is a new cyclist supposed to think.

We can train cyclists all day long on how to fit into the traffic situations, but as long as drivers threaten cyclists (as seen in so many other threads here) then those that are successful as cyclists will tend to only be "Road Warrior" types.

This has to be a two way street (ok, pun intended) and the early education for drivers MUST also contain training on the sharing of the road and respect of other road users.
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Old 10-08-04, 11:29 AM   #10
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Atlanta has been targeted a number of times as one of the most bicycle-unfriendly cities in the U.S.A. Yet I find my bicycling experience here most enjoyable.

It might be because I decided early on that if I really wanted to go places conveniently on my bike, I couldn't depend on a special path or lane to take me there, so I learned how to use the roads. The lack of convenient bike facilities nearby doesn't frustrate me like it might frustrate someone who depends heavily upon them.

I don't say this to appear superior. This is a transition I went through after using bike paths, sidewalks, etc., so I speak as someone who has posessed opposing mindsets at different times.
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Old 10-08-04, 03:14 PM   #11
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Atlanta has been targeted a number of times as one of the most bicycle-unfriendly cities in the U.S.A.
I never had the nerve to ride in Atl. Even now, I shudder at the thought of riding Ponce de Leon inside the Perimeter.
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Old 10-08-04, 03:43 PM   #12
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She sounds depressed. She doesn't look happy at all. Each way is 1.5 miles? Why doesn't she take the bus? She could walk in 20 to 30 minutes. Whiner!
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Old 10-08-04, 05:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by FXjohn
Why? If a person is not comfortable being bold in traffic, who are you to tell them how to ride? Some people don't want to hold up a whole line of cars.
Anyone who's ever dealt with even moderate urban traffic will realise that in terms of overall travelling time, the cars rarely get anywhere significantly faster than a bike. Often the bike is considerably quicker.

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Originally Posted by FXjohn
I know when I ride on the shoulder and two cars pass beside me that I'm in a safer zone.
Why be so trusting that someone will see you? Plenty end up dead, and more could if they follow your advice. Riding on the grass or shoulderdoesn't slow me down that much, I wonder how many people are killed riding the shoulder compared to being on asphalt? We know the answer don't we?
Actually, no we don't, because the statistics rarely tell you just how a particular fatality occurred. All they say is x-number of cyclists "killed on the road", which could mean the shoulder, the road-way, or even hitting a piece of debris on the shoulder and being knocked into the path of an on-coming vehicle. In fact, I'd suggest the greatest percentage of them would be from cyclists who were riding in a bike-lane or a bike path that ended abruptly in a dangerous position where they had a poor view of traffic.

I guess the problem with these debates seems to be the old fashioned "I've never tried vehicular cycling because I imagine it must be 'dangerous', but I'm going to assume that I know more about it than people who have been doing it for years anyway". You're assuming that wide shoulders and bike lanes are provided in all situations. I hate to break it to you, but there are many, many situations where they are not and never will be. The option is simply either ride with the traffic or don't ride at all.

Contrary to popular belief, riding in traffic isn't nearly as "dangerous" as the naysayers make out. I note that the people criticising it always seem to be the ones who "would never try it". Those who have actually done it enough times to get an idea of what it's really like. Therein lay the problem -- this assumption that "I will be killed" from people who simply have no experience of what they are talking about. Those of us who have been there and dealt with it know better.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FXjohn
No shoulder? What's there, a vertical wall??
It's called a gutter. Ever ridden in an area that was even moderately suburban? Sure, it might be nice to ride all day everyday on quite country roads and so on. Fact is, the vast majority of people do not live in an area where this will be an option if they actually intend to go anywhere.
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Old 10-08-04, 05:24 PM   #14
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One other thing I want to know while we're on the subject. Why is it that the media generally only publish cycling commuting stories from people who "tried it for a few weeks", found it not to their liking and gave up? Why does nobody ever publish the perspective of a commuter cyclist who has done it for years, and who actually knows something about it?

Most of the articles that crop up would serve as a reminder to most people of "what not to do". Don't any of these people ever think to do any research on the topic?
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Old 10-08-04, 05:44 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by genec
Well said Chris, but as others have pointed out, beyond "what would be so wrong with educating our own brethren on how to deal with traffic effectively," how about educating auto drivers as part of their normal training that they must "share the road."
Agreed, but for some reason cycling advocates have been a little quicker to pick up on that than they have on actually training cyclists to deal with traffic -- and that seems to be the difference here. We already have laws in place that tell people not to abuse others (physically or verbally) in public -- they just need to be enforced a little more often.
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Old 10-09-04, 07:12 PM   #16
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There is a general policy in my life, " alway's look back "
When you leave a room, car, restuarant booth... Alway's look back and ask what am I forgeting
or missing.
When on the bicycle and commuting in heavy traffic you must be alway's aware of who's coming
up from behind, and this requires looking in your mirror about one out of every three seconds, looking
ahead & planning for pot holes, glass, car doors possibly swinging out... and a contingency plan in
case this happens. In the city don't give them alot of room if you do not have a lot of room.
Of course if it comes down to bumping wheels as you size up the situation then your going to loose
the battle.
There are a few people out there who are a bit unstable, get over it!!!!!! Do what you have to do
but do not confront them, They're not worth your time. If you have a Cell phone, and they jeopardize
your life, then jot down they're license plate & description & place the call if your so inclined.
Right now here in C.R. Iowa the fall colors are perfect!!! Enjoy it while it lasts!!!
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