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  1. #1
    Senior Member Rancid's Avatar
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    Same Road, Different Rules, or transportation relativism

    I constantly hear the mantra of "same road same rules" from cyclists and it has always been a source of consternation for me.

    Doesn't this statement undercut the fundamental differences that should instead be emphasized? I don't want crappy roads, I want bike trails without cars. My behavior on a bike is directly related to a risk assessment that includes fatal injury or critical injury as a pretty normal result. The basic function and physics of my mode of transportation makes me radically different from a car on the road and yet advocacy often claims that we are to be treated alike.

    Can anybody from the advocacy angle rationalize this idea for me? Why do we want "same road same rules"? Why not advocate for "rules for cyclist, rules for cars" even on the same roads?

    I guess my other problem with this philosophy is that it has become so mainstream that advocating a different view on the cars/bikes/road interaction has no opportunity to enter the dialogue. Looking forward to some feedback!
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    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    One word - predictability. Order and safety on the roadways is somewhat dependent upon everybody working from the same set of rules and having the reasonable expectation that the other users of the road are operating by the same set of rules. If you want to ride on the roads you need to follow the same rules as everyone else, albeit with a few exceptions here and there based on the class of vehicle.

    How safe would the roads be if you or anyone else didn't have a reasonable expectation that others would necessarily be stopping, for example, when a signal or sign tells them to and you have the right-of-way? How about if everyone drove where ever they wanted, left side, right side, center, straddling lines, on the sidewalk, over your lawn, etc?

    If you don't like following essentially the same traffic rules that other vehicles do, enjoy your bike trails and stay off the public roadways.
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  3. #3
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid View Post
    Can anybody from the advocacy angle rationalize this idea for me? Why do we want "same road same rules"? Why not advocate for "rules for cyclist, rules for cars" even on the same roads?
    To differentiate starts down the slippery slope that one mode of transport is inferior to the other and has fewer rights.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    To differentiate starts down the slippery slope that one mode of transport is inferior to the other and has fewer rights.
    And that is perhaps the core of the stubborn denial of all the real and well documented advantages of bike infrastructure: Inferiority Complex.

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    While I support the concept behind the "Same Road, Same Rules" campaign I am less enthusiastic about the phrase.

    Like "Share the Road" it is easily interpreted to mean "My Road, My Rules" by automobile drivers- and those rules are: the biggest vehicle and the most aggressive driver is King of the Traffic Jungle.

    I prefer "Bikes Belong" or "Bikes Have Right to Full Use of Lane".

  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    where is this large difference in rules needed?

    do you mean, greater protections for vulnerable road users? Allowances to pass cars on the right?

    there's limited places in traffic code there needs to be different 'rules', but there are plenty of places on the ground in america that merits infrastructure enhancements to more equitably support bicycling as a mode of transportation.

    rules? can't structurally see much at issue, a few states have antiquated or what some in the cycling community consider 'restrictive' laws but that's far from a request for preference.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 10-24-11 at 09:15 AM.
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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Rancid I think it boils down to the fact that traffic rules have evolved over decades, and have been tested and refined - in short, they work. If we were designing bicycle traffic from scratch we might come up with something better, based on the different physical considerations as you say. But imagining just bicycles and golf carts, without larger motor vehicles on the roads, I think we'd see pretty much the same set of laws.

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    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    And that is perhaps the core of the stubborn denial of all the real and well documented advantages of bike infrastructure: Inferiority Complex.
    Agreed. But that's the argument.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid View Post
    I constantly hear the mantra of "same road same rules" from cyclists and it has always been a source of consternation for me.

    Doesn't this statement undercut the fundamental differences that should instead be emphasized? I don't want crappy roads, I want bike trails without cars. My behavior on a bike is directly related to a risk assessment that includes fatal injury or critical injury as a pretty normal result. The basic function and physics of my mode of transportation makes me radically different from a car on the road and yet advocacy often claims that we are to be treated alike.

    Can anybody from the advocacy angle rationalize this idea for me? Why do we want "same road same rules"? Why not advocate for "rules for cyclist, rules for cars" even on the same roads?

    I guess my other problem with this philosophy is that it has become so mainstream that advocating a different view on the cars/bikes/road interaction has no opportunity to enter the dialogue. Looking forward to some feedback!
    Just because you're uncomfortable with riding on the road and prefer to ride on the trail doesn't mean that everyone else wants to ride only on trails. As stop and think about it, in how many areas do the trails really go everywhere or even most of where where people want to go? As even using the trails one is still going to have to transition to and use the surface roads to get where they want to go.

    If we're all playing from the same playbook then everyone knows what to expect from each other. And the roads will be safer for everyone. When one group thinks that for whatever reason that the rules/laws don't apply to them that is when we have problems. Because others on the road won't know to expect from the other users.

    Why should cyclists be restricted to only riding on trails? Why shouldn't we be able to safely use the roads that our taxes are paying for? If you truly feel that certain laws don't or shouldn't pertain to bicycles then I suggest that you contact your local lawmakers to change those laws.

    But the bottom line is that when everyone plays by the same rules the roads are safer for everyone. It makes everyone predictable.

    Also the biggest problem with the roads (at least here in The States) is that most American's have bought into the song and dance that one "needs" to have a car to be successful, or productive member of society. And our cities designs reflect that. Look at how many cities are laid out where one "needs" to have a car to go from home to work, or from home to the store. Just look at the strangle hold that not only the automobile industry has had on the American culture but look at what the oil industry has done as well.

    It's bee said more then once that for decades that the oil industry has gone to great lengths to squash/kill research into alternative fuels. And now that it is clear that the worlds oil supply is running out. We are now scrambling to conduct research into alternative fuel sources.

    But sadly even with the renewed research into alternative fuels the gas powered engine still rules. Just look at the resistance to adopt to an alcohol based fuels. People are "crying" that to either introduce alcohol into the existing fuel supply, or burning straight alcohol will cut into the food supply.

    There is also a resistance to using bio-diesel fuels, i.e. fuels based on vegetable/cooking oil.
    Last edited by Digital_Cowboy; 10-24-11 at 09:44 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid View Post
    I don't want crappy roads, I want bike trails without cars.
    There are plenty of advocates for "same roads, same rights, same rules" who also support off-road paths. These paths can't support cars safely, due to their design, but are adequate for slower, lighter, narrower bikes, and that's great. Cyclists traveling on them should still endeavor to operate according to the basic "rules of the road," however, to avoid crashing into other bicyclists, and will have to use extra caution around pedestrians. The rules reduce crashes for cyclists on regardless of whether the other traffic is cars or bicycles or whether the facility is a wide road or a narrow path. It's best to treat narrow paths as miniature roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid View Post
    Why not advocate for "rules for cyclist, rules for cars" even on the same roads?
    As I said before, the basic rules of the road reduce crashes for drivers of all vehicle types. Changing them makes users less predictable and increases the likelihood of crashes. There are some restrictions on motor vehicles that are required for safety or to reduce damage to roads due directly to their weight, speed, or size; these restrictions don't have any reasonable applicability to bicycles. But the basic right of way rules, destination positioning, and so forth apply equally well for crash prevention for all drivers of vehicles because of the common elements of driver perception, cognition, reaction, and vehicle maneuverability constraints.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    There are plenty of advocates for "same roads, same rights, same rules" who also support off-road paths. These paths can't support cars safely, due to their design, but are adequate for slower, lighter, narrower bikes, and that's great. Cyclists traveling on them should still endeavor to operate according to the basic "rules of the road," however, to avoid crashing into other bicyclists, and will have to use extra caution around pedestrians. The rules reduce crashes for cyclists on regardless of whether the other traffic is cars or bicycles or whether the facility is a wide road or a narrow path. It's best to treat narrow paths as miniature roads.

    As I said before, the basic rules of the road reduce crashes for drivers of all vehicle types. Changing them makes users less predictable and increases the likelihood of crashes. There are some restrictions on motor vehicles that are required for safety or to reduce damage to roads due directly to their weight, speed, or size; these restrictions don't have any reasonable applicability to bicycles. But the basic right of way rules, destination positioning, and so forth apply equally well for crash prevention for all drivers of vehicles because of the common elements of driver perception, cognition, reaction, and vehicle maneuverability constraints.
    As you yourself touch upon, there have to be at least some of the rules that are specific to the "vehicle type". 40 years ago, left turn rules in Denmark were the same for cyclists and cars. This was changed in light of the many killed cyclists. In stead, cyclists must now continue to the other side of the crossing, and wait there for either a green light or, in lack of signals, free passage. Also, cyclists will allways have to keep to the right. No sharing the lane here. Many years of killed cyclists has effectively ruled that one out a long time ago. Of course, that could be seen as giving in to the car traffic, but on the other hand, and more to the point, it can be seen as recognizing how different bicycles and cars are in many respects. This, of course, applies in places without bike tracks. Bike tracks will in themselves lead cyclists in the direction that is least risky.

    All this does not make traffic less predictable. It just takes that we all know the rules. We do have one advantage there, though: almost every car driving Dane will at times be a cyclist, too, or has at least learned the basics in their youth.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    There are plenty of advocates for "same roads, same rights, same rules" who also support off-road paths. These paths can't support cars safely, due to their design, but are adequate for slower, lighter, narrower bikes, and that's great. Cyclists traveling on them should still endeavor to operate according to the basic "rules of the road," however, to avoid crashing into other bicyclists, and will have to use extra caution around pedestrians. The rules reduce crashes for cyclists on regardless of whether the other traffic is cars or bicycles or whether the facility is a wide road or a narrow path. It's best to treat narrow paths as miniature roads.



    As I said before, the basic rules of the road reduce crashes for drivers of all vehicle types. Changing them makes users less predictable and increases the likelihood of crashes. There are some restrictions on motor vehicles that are required for safety or to reduce damage to roads due directly to their weight, speed, or size; these restrictions don't have any reasonable applicability to bicycles. But the basic right of way rules, destination positioning, and so forth apply equally well for crash prevention for all drivers of vehicles because of the common elements of driver perception, cognition, reaction, and vehicle maneuverability constraints.
    +1,000

    Well said Steve, well said.
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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    ... How safe would the roads be if you or anyone else didn't have a reasonable expectation that others would necessarily be stopping, for example, when a signal or sign tells them to and you have the right-of-way? ...
    Not very, and unfortunately this applies to the do-gooders as well.

    Sometimes, drivers try to help cyclists by doing something unpredictable and the cyclist is hesitant to go because they don't understand that they are stopping for them. Sometimes, after "helping" the cyclist, the drivers see the cyclist not taking advantage of the "break" and decide to continue on, just when the cyclist decides to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Agreed. But that's the argument.
    I didn't get that one. As I see it, the OP asked why constantly hear the mantra of "same road same rules" from cyclists. My post suggests that an Inferiority Complex is what drives the anger and stubbornness on the side of the CV'ers, who in reality are the ones demanding "same road" etc. (lots of other cyclists realize the real dangers of that position, and will plead for bicycle infrastructure).

  15. #15
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    I didn't get that one. As I see it, the OP asked why constantly hear the mantra of "same road same rules" from cyclists. My post suggests that an Inferiority Complex is what drives the anger and stubbornness on the side of the CV'ers, who in reality are the ones demanding "same road" etc. (lots of other cyclists realize the real dangers of that position, and will plead for bicycle infrastructure).
    The only "real danger" of that position are the aggressive, distracted, and inattentive drivers on the roads. And they make the roads unsafe for EVERYONE, not just cyclists or pedestrians but EVERYONE.

    Which is why we have cities and states passing laws restricting the use of cell phones in cars. You do know, don't you that distracted driving is at least as if not more dangerous then drunk driving right? And look how long it took to change the opinion on drunk driving. Hopefully it doesn't take as long to change the opinion about distracted driving.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Why should cyclists be restricted to only riding on trails? Why shouldn't we be able to safely use the roads that our taxes are paying for? If you truly feel that certain laws don't or shouldn't pertain to bicycles then I suggest that you contact your local lawmakers to change those laws.

    But the bottom line is that when everyone plays by the same rules the roads are safer for everyone. It makes everyone predictable.

    Also the biggest problem with the roads (at least here in The States) is that most American's have bought into the song and dance that one "needs" to have a car to be successful, or productive member of society. And our cities designs reflect that. Look at how many cities are laid out where one "needs" to have a car to go from home to work, or from home to the store. Just look at the strangle hold that not only the automobile industry has had on the American culture but look at what the oil industry has done as well.

    It's bee said more then once that for decades that the oil industry has gone to great lengths to squash/kill research into alternative fuels. And now that it is clear that the worlds oil supply is running out. We are now scrambling to conduct research into alternative fuel sources.

    But sadly even with the renewed research into alternative fuels the gas powered engine still rules. Just look at the resistance to adopt to an alcohol based fuels. People are "crying" that to either introduce alcohol into the existing fuel supply, or burning straight alcohol will cut into the food supply.

    There is also a resistance to using bio-diesel fuels, i.e. fuels based on vegetable/cooking oil.
    I aggree with a lot here, just want to point out one thing (and I may have misunderstood you): By having some cyclists roaming amoong the cars, and others staying on the lanes or tracks, there will be wide-spread uncertaincy in the traffic as a whole.

  17. #17
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    As you yourself touch upon, there have to be at least some of the rules that are specific to the "vehicle type". 40 years ago, left turn rules in Denmark were the same for cyclists and cars. This was changed in light of the many killed cyclists. In stead, cyclists must now continue to the other side of the crossing, and wait there for either a green light or, in lack of signals, free passage. Also, cyclists will allways have to keep to the right. No sharing the lane here. Many years of killed cyclists has effectively ruled that one out a long time ago. Of course, that could be seen as giving in to the car traffic, but on the other hand, and more to the point, it can be seen as recognizing how different bicycles and cars are in many respects. This, of course, applies in places without bike tracks. Bike tracks will in themselves lead cyclists in the direction that is least risky.

    All this does not make traffic less predictable. It just takes that we all know the rules. We do have one advantage there, though: almost every car driving Dane will at times be a cyclist, too, or has at least learned the basics in their youth.
    The problem in this country is that way too many drivers, cyclists, peds, etc. don't even understand the rules for the vehicles they are operating themselves, let alone those of the other classes of vehicles...so adding new rules for other classes of vehicles tends to increase their ignorance and perception of unpredictability. To overcome this will not only require better education, but also by limiting how many exceptions and differences there are for different classes of vehicles to what is needed for safety and order. We Americans also have a tendency to create exceptions willy-nilly, just cuz we can.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    The only "real danger" of that position are the aggressive, distracted, and inattentive drivers on the roads. And they make the roads unsafe for EVERYONE, not just cyclists or pedestrians but EVERYONE.

    Which is why we have cities and states passing laws restricting the use of cell phones in cars. You do know, don't you that distracted driving is at least as if not more dangerous then drunk driving right? And look how long it took to change the opinion on drunk driving. Hopefully it doesn't take as long to change the opinion about distracted driving.
    But however many laws you make forbidding drunk driving or cellphone driving, you will still have lots of "white outs" (and the occasional aggresion) in traffic, as everywhere else in life. It's one of those plain facts of life. And here's the crucial part: these "white outs" on the part of the car drivers are a lot more dangerous for cyclists than for other car drivers if traffic is mixed. And that is why cars and cyclists should only mingle where car traffic is slowed down in one way or other. The limit is probably around 20-25 m/h.

    Edit: So, I can't see how this discussion has any effect on my original claim: that the stubborn VC'ing stems from an Inferiority Complex, perhaps even in combination with a legitimate feeling of having been deprived of rights one once had.
    Last edited by hagen2456; 10-24-11 at 10:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    The problem in this country is that way too many drivers, cyclists, peds, etc. don't even understand the rules for the vehicles they are operating themselves, let alone those of the other classes of vehicles...so adding new rules for other classes of vehicles tends to increase their ignorance and perception of unpredictability. To overcome this will not only require better education, but also by limiting how many exceptions and differences there are for different classes of vehicles to what is needed for safety and order. We Americans also have a tendency to create exceptions willy-nilly, just cuz we can.
    I hear you. But then, the rules for cyclists which I described above will hardly confuse car drivers. They only affect the cyclists.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    I agree with a lot here, just want to point out one thing (and I may have misunderstood you): By having some cyclists roaming among the cars, and others staying on the lanes or tracks, there will be wide-spread uncertainty in the traffic as a whole.
    That's where the "same roads, same rules, same rights" comes into play. If we're all playing by the same rules then everyone knows what to expect from everyone else. And motorists (and LEOs) need to learn that under certain circumstances that cyclists are allowed to use the whole lane for their/our safety. I presume that by "having some cyclists roaming among cars, and others staying on the lanes or tracks" that you are referring to those cyclists who insist on taking the lane when it is not warranted or are you talking about cyclists being in the road in general? As for riding in bike lanes or taking to the trails it should be up to the cyclist to determine when to ride in the bike lane or on a dedicated trail.

    But sadly down here in Florida and several other states. We do not have that choice unless it is too dangerous to do so (something that sadly LEOs don't seem to know or care about) we have to ride in a bike lane if there is one present. Which actually leads to confusion with drivers, as they'll see a white line (i.e. the fog line) on the side of the road and assume that any space to the right of that line is a bike lane. I had a run in just last month with just such a driver.
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  21. #21
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    I aggree with a lot here, just want to point out one thing (and I may have misunderstood you): By having some cyclists roaming amoong the cars, and others staying on the lanes or tracks, there will be wide-spread uncertaincy in the traffic as a whole.
    Which is where I have a BIG problem with separate infrastructure...because they tend to be followed by mandatory use laws that require us to use that infrastructure instead of the roadways...even when that infrastructure is less safe or less efficient. Until such time as bike-specific infrastructure can match the roadways in coverage, access, efficiency and safety, I will fight any attempt to restrict my use of those public roadways.
    "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

  22. #22
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    The problem in this country is that way too many drivers, cyclists, peds, etc. don't even understand the rules for the vehicles they are operating themselves, let alone those of the other classes of vehicles...so adding new rules for other classes of vehicles tends to increase their ignorance and perception of unpredictability. To overcome this will not only require better education, but also by limiting how many exceptions and differences there are for different classes of vehicles to what is needed for safety and order. We Americans also have a tendency to create exceptions willy-nilly, just cuz we can.
    Agreed, and sadly we've all seen how effective the current state of drivers education is. Unless it makes up a significant portion of their test how many drivers are really going to pay much attention to sections of their drivers handbooks that don't "pertain" to them?
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    But however many laws you make forbidding drunk driving or cellphone driving, you will still have lots of "white outs" (and the occasional aggression) in traffic, as everywhere else in life. It's one of those plain facts of life. And here's the crucial part: these "white outs" on the part of the car drivers are a lot more dangerous for cyclists than for other car drivers if traffic is mixed. And that is why cars and cyclists should only mingle where car traffic is slowed down in one way or other. The limit is probably around 20-25 m/h.
    Which is why as has been said before here in the past, that what we need is stricter enforcement of the existing laws, as well as better drivers education.

    If I only "mingled" with car traffic on roads that had a 20-25MPH speed limit I'd never be able to get anywhere. In a short while I'll be riding my bike down a road with a posted speed limit of 35MPH and then I'll be on another that is "slightly" slower 30MPH. Between where I live and my destination there are no route that I can take where I can avoid roads that are over 20 - 25MPH.

    And that is the sad truth for most cities here in the US. And as I've asked in other threads do we really need "highways" that crisscross our cities that have freeway like speeds on them? I would love to see all roads within city limits be restricted to 20 - 25MPH. And leave the interstates outside of the city limits with higher speeds on them.

    Is that likely to happen anytime soon? Ha, so we have to do the best that we can with what we have.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    I hear you. But then, the rules for cyclists which I described above will hardly confuse car drivers. They only affect the cyclists.
    You think so? What would the incentive be for motorists to learn the laws/rules that pertain to cyclists? Most people if it doesn't apply to them can't be bothered to learn something new. So we'll end up with one set of rules/laws for cars and another for cyclists and motorists won't be bothered to learn about the rules/laws for cyclists as they don't affect them.

    Which will only lead to more not less confusion on the roads.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
    Also, cyclists will allways have to keep to the right. No sharing the lane here. Many years of killed cyclists has effectively ruled that one out a long time ago.
    Same-direction traffic collisions due to lane sharing or lane-claiming by cyclists isn't a major cause of crashes on urban streets in the US, nor is this the leading cause of cyclist fatalities on urban streets. Junction conflicts, mid-block crossing while failing to yield, and riding at night without lights are the leading causes of cyclist fatalities on urban US streets. The leading causes of car-bike crashes in Raleigh, for example, involve cyclists failing to yield by riding out in front of traffic at junctions or mid-block when they don't have right of way, or riding on sidewalks where they are less visible to drivers.

    Same-direction fatalities are much more common on high-speed arterials and rural highways. Engineering changes may be practical for some of these high speed corridors and not others, but for slower, downtown streets, separated pathways won't address the most likely causes of injuries to cyclists, and can make them worse by making junction manuevers more complex, less predictable, and with added delay. Cyclists are even more likely to violate bicycle-specific traffic controls when they add delay, as waiting for a bicycle-only signal does.

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