Vehicular Cycling (VC) - Mythbusters on Highway 535

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View Full Version : Mythbusters on Highway 535

The Human Car
02-06-10, 07:32 AM
Well Keri is at it again:

http://vimeo.com/9232098

“Yer gonna get run over.” Says the average person (including many cyclists) in any discussion about riding in the lane on a high speed road.

In honor of our favorite jailbirds, Mighk and I decided to head out on a little myth-busting excursion yesterday. Instead of the usual cyclist-chasing-cyclist, we did some motorist-view video. I mounted a 110° lens on the seat post of Mighk’s mountain bike and a 70° lens on my Jetta’s rear view mirror.

Mighk went out ahead and I let a little bit of traffic go before me. Then I caught up and passed him. We did several passes of Highway 535 between Chase Rd. and Reams Rd. It’s a divided 4-lane highway with 12ft lanes and 8ft shoulders (sometimes with a few feet of grass incursion). The speed limit is 55mph. The 85th percentile is probably faster. In the video clip, Mighk was riding 17mph and I was approaching/passing at 55 mph. The 30 seconds between seeing him and passing him felt like an eternity. Mighk did the math for me:

55 mph minus 17 mph equals 38 mph equals 53 feet per second equals 1,600 feet at 30 seconds; that’s roughly 5 times the stopping sight distance.

Motorist behavior

In all of the video, when Mighk was driving in the right lane, motorists changed lanes. Only 2 didn’t make a complete lane change — they had their right wheels on the line as they passed. Considering Mighk was riding about 5 feet into a 12ft lane, that’s still a pretty good passing distance. A few times, the platoon behind him looked pretty thick, but they all managed to change lanes. I picked the most interesting continuous segment for this video, and added in 40 seconds of shoulder-riding. The difference is pretty obvious.

The cyclist experience vs the motorist experience

The most striking thing about watching all this video is the difference in experience. Passing a cyclist is a single momentary event for a motorist. The motorist is in a sealed cockpit, can see the cyclist from a great distance, has plenty of time to change lanes, then can go on without another thought. Being passed is a continuous reality for the cyclist. The cyclist is exposed to the environment, the wind, the noise, and intimately feels the proximity of passing vehicles.

The person who travels by bike every day knows what road position works best (or as Steve calls it, the “Line of Sweetness”) and should be given the freedom to do what works. Within the “narrow lane” exception to the FTR law, a cyclist does have the freedom to choose any position within a lane less than 14ft wide (but loses that freedom when in a lane of 14ft or more).

To accuse a cyclist of being militant, selfish or rude for riding in the lane is nothing more than car-centric bias assuming the bicycle driver is of lesser status than the motor vehicle driver — especially in context of how easy it is to see and safely pass a cyclist. Sadly, the people who I’ve most often seen making such an accusation are other cyclists.
...
http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2010/02/05/mythbusters-on-highway-535/

Bekologist
02-06-10, 08:08 AM
yes, taking the lane of a 55mph roadway when there is 8 feet of perfectly shareable highway to more smoothly use the right of way as a vehicle is playing fast and loose with 'practicable' and 'conservative vehicular roadway operation' by bicyclists.

it's 'forced, take the lane even if theres shareable road space' riding and a ludicrous attempt to raise the bar on bicyclist comfort desires while bicycling.

ludicrous.

Keri also totally ignores her base, the 95 percent of bicyclists or even more in vain, illusory hopes bikes in the lanes of highway speed roads ever becomes a 'transportational norm' for bicycle transportation planning.

Does keri think 55 mph roads only need narrow, multiple lanes?

Does keri and chipseal and other ardent vehikularists consider a high speed, narrow lane configuration an effective, sufficient strategy for planning for bikes in the transportation mix?

Did anyone see one of Keri's other recent video, where she AND A POLICEMAN RIDING WITH HER got harassed by a motorist? yes, the motorist felt it within the bounds of acceptability to honk and get into a argument with a policeman about their riding position.

keri's little mission down in florida is humorous but misses the mark entirely on how best plan for bikes in the transportation mix- Coping videos, bike cops getting harassed by motorists, and videos of arrogant vehikular riding style is NOT a real strong endorsement on how to best plan for bikes, in florida or anywhere else.

Keri might be approaching bike safety the wrong way down in florida. Make those seniors take the highway speed lanes on their trike bikes on the way to the early bird dinner, eh?

That video also looks like it was done on a sunday at 630 AM from the utter lack of traffic. get that road up to max ADT and then lets take a look at the conditions.

forced lane riding on highways. cops on bikes harassed by motorists. nice ones.

genec
02-06-10, 08:27 AM
Gee, nothing like picking the perfect quiet hiway to show how well it works... now try the same thing on a fast dense so Cal arterial road during rush hour when there is little room for motorists to move over and they are still moving at speed! In other words, try a real commuting situation, rather than a touring type situation**. (there are plenty of 55 MPH arterial roads on which to try this... Try Palomar Airport road... or Miramar road west bound in San Diego, or Jamboree Road in Newport Beach. (no bike lanes exist on this latter road)

It helps too that the motorist is aware and is looking for the cyclist. Put a few motorists on cell phones or texting and let's see what happens.

** this type of traffic is exactly what I experienced when I did tours of several western states... and no I never had a problem... but this is NOT what traffic looks like when I commute to work on 50MPH arterial roads. Try near bumper to bumper moving at 55MPH with adjacent lanes full.

I-Like-To-Bike
02-06-10, 05:24 PM
ludicrous...
That video also looks like it was done on a sunday at 630 AM from the utter lack of traffic. get that road up to max ADT and then lets take a look at the conditions.

Gee, nothing like picking the perfect quiet hiway to show how well it works... now try the same thing on a fast dense so Cal arterial road during rush hour when there is little room for motorists to move over and they are still moving at speed! In other words, try a real commuting situation, rather than a touring type situation

Exactly. Exactly.

Even better use a night vision equipped camera and film her ode to the mind bending power of vehicular cycling on a crowded 55mph road during hours of darkness. I doubt that she would have to go to Southern California to find one.

Bekologist
02-07-10, 08:53 AM
MYTHBUSTERS:

riding a nearly deserted 4 lane divided state highway is not difficult for those willing and able to ride in highway speed roadway lanes.

Seniors on Trikes- TAKING THE LANE!

Maybe keri is actually a proponent for strict liability laws and Tempo 30 zones statewide in Flordia.

CommuterRun
02-07-10, 10:02 AM
Does keri think 55 mph roads only need narrow, multiple lanes?
I hope so, because that is all that is needed. Signage and sharrows could be used to compliment this, but are not particularly a requirement.

Does keri and chipseal and other ardent vehikularists consider a high speed, narrow lane configuration an effective, sufficient strategy for planning for bikes in the transportation mix?
I do. I have found the bike lane, or worse, paved shoulder, to be the less safe road position, and do very little to nothing in mitigating harassment.

Did anyone see one of Keri's other recent video, where she AND A POLICEMAN RIDING WITH HER got harassed by a motorist? yes, the motorist felt it within the bounds of acceptability to honk and get into a argument with a policeman about their riding position.
I did. Bike lanes do nothing to shield cyclists from single-digit I.Q. cagers like that fool.

keri's little mission down in florida is humorous but misses the mark entirely on how best plan for bikes in the transportation mix- Coping videos, bike cops getting harassed by motorists, and videos of arrogant vehikular riding style is NOT a real strong endorsement on how to best plan for bikes, in florida or anywhere else.
The best way to ride other than this is to use the car to get to a nice, quiet, car-free trail.

Bekologist
02-07-10, 10:04 AM
yes, I'm sure there's no difference in road behavior by motorists towards a bicyclist towing a canoe on a state highway riding along in an ample shoulder,

versus in the travel lane next to an ample shoulder. :rolleyes:

but an interesting take on road bicycling though, i will give you that, commuter run.

IF you honestly consider high speed, narrow lane configuration an effective, sufficient strategy for planning for bikes in the transportation mix, you are significantly underselling the potential for bicycle transportation by endorsing road designs that present a significant barrier to bicycling participation in your state.

Is that where the children should ride too?

CommuterRun
02-07-10, 10:16 AM
And I maintain that this video and write-up are excellent at showing how the average driver typically interacts with cyclists. Using a bike lane or paved shoulder does invite higher speed and closer passing.

Bekologist
02-07-10, 10:26 AM
And I maintain if you think high speed, narrow lane configurations are an effective, sufficient strategy for planning for bikes in the transportation mix, you are significantly underselling the potential for bicycle transportation in florida.

Seniors on trikes TAKING THE LANE on 55mph state highways, whee!

CommuterRun
02-07-10, 10:36 AM
And I maintain that when motorists have another same-direction lane in which to pass the only problems are invented by people who want there to be a problem.

genec
02-07-10, 11:17 AM
And I maintain that this video and write-up are excellent at showing how the average driver typically interacts with cyclists. Using a bike lane or paved shoulder does invite higher speed and closer passing.

Certainly, when the average driver is attentive (not distracted by cell phone or lack of sleep), and the roadway has plenty of sight line, and there is no other traffic that might require negotiation by the driver of a vehicle wishing to change lanes, or following traffic that might suddenly become aware of slow traffic in front of them when a lead car pulls away. Indeed under the conditions given, drivers do act that way... however, said conditions are rare in the urban environment.... thus this is NOT a realistic portrayal of how motorists may react to the typical commuting cyclist... unless you happen to live on a farm and are commuting to the local feedstore.

genec
02-07-10, 11:23 AM
And I maintain that when motorists have another same-direction lane in which to pass the only problems are invented by people who want there to be a problem.

So just wondering where Wakulla Co. FL is... oh, I see, in the upper western part of Florida. Near Tallahassee, and on the edge of the Apalachicola Forest... Not exactly one of the bigger population centers of the US.

CommuterRun
02-07-10, 05:58 PM
So just wondering where Wakulla Co. FL is... oh, I see, in the upper western part of Florida. Near Tallahassee, and on the edge of the Apalachicola Forest... Not exactly one of the bigger population centers of the US.
That is true. Think I've never been anywhere else? Was stationed at Camp Pendleton for over three years at a time. Why do you think I didn't choose SoCal when I retired? And no, it wasn't the traffic density. That's quite a high horse you've set yourself up on.

CommuterRun
02-07-10, 06:00 PM
yes, I'm sure there's no difference in road behavior by motorists towards a bicyclist towing a canoe on a state highway riding along in an ample shoulder,

versus in the travel lane next to an ample shoulder. :rolleyes:
An action in which the performance of only proves Keri right.

Bekologist
02-07-10, 07:56 PM
....you must mean all the drivers that pulled partially into the other lane to pass the bicyclist while the bicyclist was operating on the shoulder as a vehicular cyclist. oh, there was that one truck....that was next to the semi at the time, still passing safely.

-i do wonder how he would have dealt with a canoe in his lane :roflmao: when that road actually gets busy?

MYTHBUSTERS: It's remarkably easy (for those cyclists willing and able) to take the lane of a virtually deserted highway speed 4 lane road.

wow.

Bekologist
02-07-10, 07:58 PM
'the only problems are invented by those that want there to be a problem.'

is that what all the Florida bicycling advocacy groups are telling the kids and the seniors about riding in the general travel lanes on highway speed, divided highways?

'it's not a problem unless YOU MAKE IT A PROBLEM"

:rolleyes:

Strict liability and Tempo 30 zones statewide maybe. until then, seniors on trikes taking the lane on highway 535 remains largely an impossible dream of the Vehikular Cyklist Contingent.

Forced highway speed road riding is not the accommodation model Americans should be dealt. We collectively deserve better from our road engineering standards. The latest MUTCD is quite good, actually. but always striving for better!

genec
02-08-10, 09:14 AM
That is true. Think I've never been anywhere else? Was stationed at Camp Pendleton for over three years at a time. Why do you think I didn't choose SoCal when I retired? And no, it wasn't the traffic density. That's quite a high horse you've set yourself up on.

Oh I don't think it is a high horse at all... as I have bike toured in quite a variety of places were indeed such cycling techniques are the only way to travel. But at the same time I also regularly commute in places where such technique is folly.

And I maintain that when motorists have another same-direction lane in which to pass the only problems are invented by people who want there to be a problem.

And for someone to maintain such a view is foolhardy in the face of real dense and fast traffic. One may be able to pull it off on occasion, but daily, one is liable to find poor odds.

njkayaker
02-08-10, 10:11 AM
Interesting. I think one has to be careful not to read more into what this demonstration "proves".

============

Note that it's a two lane road with very long sight lines and with little "distracting" stuff at the side. There also is very little traffic.

It isn't surprising that the passing distance is less with riding in the shoulder. (It's also not at all clear that that smaller passing distance is not sufficient.)

Anyway, drivers are conditioned to move completely into the second lane. It should not really be surprising that they do what they normally do when passing anything by moving into the other lane.

============

It seems that the demonstation supports that most motorists (on such a road) manage to see cyclists riding in the left lane of traffic very well. It also supports the fact that drivers on a two lane road move into the other lane when passing (something that is really not very suprising). It also supports the fact that the passing distance happens to be larger IF the cyclist is riding in the middle of the lane. (Note that it is possible that the passing distance will be much less if the cyclist rides on the left side of the lane.)

The demonstration does not really support the notion that it is statistically safer to ride in the middle of a lane.

It supports the notion that it isn't as unsafe as many people (eg, drivers) think (which looks like the only clear intent of the demonstration).

genec
02-08-10, 10:32 AM
Interesting. I think one has to be careful not to read more into what this demonstration "proves".

============

Note that it's a two lane road with very long sight lines and with little "distracting" stuff at the side. There also is very little traffic.

It isn't surprising that the passing distance is less with riding in the shoulder. (It's also not at all clear that that smaller passing distance is not sufficient.)

Anyway, drivers are conditioned to move completely into the second lane. It should not really be surprising that they do what they normally do when passing anything by moving into the other lane.

============

It seems that the demonstation supports that most motorists (on such a road) manage to see cyclists riding in the left lane of traffic very well. It also supports the fact that drivers on a two lane road move into the other lane when passing (something that is really not very suprising). It also supports the fact that the passing distance happens to be larger IF the cyclist is riding in the middle of the lane. (Note that it is possible that the passing distance will be much less if the cyclist rides on the left side of the lane.)

The demonstration does not really support the notion that it is statistically safer to ride in the middle of a lane.

It supports the notion that it isn't as unsafe as many people (eg, drivers) think (which looks like the only clear intent of the demonstration).

Yup, sounds about right to me... It basically says that in similar conditions, riding in the manner shown probably works for the most part. That is about it.

Now this is where we should put our hands up to see how many of us have such similar conditions that we face daily?

I know I have ridden in (and enjoyed) similar conditions... when touring. But these conditions are nothing like what I face when commuting.

So really... how many here regularly ride in conditions shown in the OP video?

dynodonn
02-08-10, 10:54 AM
Taking the lane on some of our local highways with those speed differences would be a recipe for disaster. Traveling road crews, who have worked in far denser traffic areas of our state, are totally dismayed by the lack of attentiveness shown by our local drivers, and by the number of deaths, crashes our local motorists caused amongst themselves while operating in the road crew's construction zone, even with all their signage, warning lights, and barriers.

Bekologist
02-09-10, 08:29 AM
...Digging a little bit deeper into Keri's motives, one thing is clear:

She is desperately trying to change the culture of the american roads so bicyclists regain the respect we deserve as road users.

Her tactics, impressive.

However, bicyclists should NOT have to carry a torch of civil rights protest everytime we take to the roads and ride in a more or less lawful manner.

And despite which, bicyclists in highway speed road lanes will NEVER become commonplace.

This part of the pipe dream, the subtext of keri's videos, is where the tactics fail and fall flat in the face of demographics and speed. Additionally, her socio-babble about 'lesser status' bicyclist perceptions is the same, tired, misleading tactics of the vc 'take the lane and that's all there is to it' advocacy platform. :rolleyes:

Again, laws holding motorists to strict liability in accidents with vulnerable road users and citywide TEMPO 30 zones would be an effective strategy to change the public perception of bicycling in this country. but this would still not get seniors on trikes into taking the lane on 4 lane highways. states and municipalities can plan better for bike traffic.

maybe florida could maintain that roadway, remove the few feet of encroaching grass, and sweep the shoulder monthly?

better road conditions for bicycling can very well often be found on the shoulders of highway speed roads versus in the lane, if the road is maintained for bicycle traffic. and sometimes even if its not...Here's some 4 lane, state highway pictures from a bicycling trip i did. Would a bicyclist be 'safer' operating in the lane (which i did for this picture) 136689

in these visibility conditions, or would a cyclist be 'safer' on the 8 foot shoulder?136690

I used to live in the panhandle of florida. it rains there. and it gets dark at night. Plan for bike traffic. clean the shoulder of highway 535.

gcottay
02-16-10, 09:27 AM
Good example. I'm on the shoulder here rain or shine even with the debris.

If it were a frequently used local route, I might be getting tired of tire repair and fishing around for other riders who might join in some volunteer sweeping.

http://www.bikeforums.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=136690&d=1161131331&thumb=1

chipcom
02-16-10, 10:03 AM
Yep, you busted the myth that being in the lane on a higher speed multi-lane road is suicide.

Now fill those lanes up with impatient drivers trying to get to/from work/home during rush hour and taking the lane when there is a perfectly good paved shoulder or bike lane isn't going to do anyone's blood pressure any good.