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  1. #1
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Evidence that VC is safer

    Sorry for the delay. We have been quite busy here--house shopping--and one computer died. Given that the boss is surfing for homes all of the time it leaves little time for Bike Forums.

    The theme for this post is the evidence that vehicular cycling is safer than alternative theories/paradigms/strategies. More specifically, what is the scientific evidence that supports vehicular cycling as
    (1) an effective accident reduction strategy
    (2) a strategy that is better than the alternatives?

    So notice that (1) is different from (2). Question (1) asks, "How do we scientifically know that this is an effective strategy relative to just riding and learning?" Question (2) asks, "Given the other well-defined strategies, What is the evidence that implementing VC is the best option?" Feel free to address either. Note that this is not about J. Forester.

    Seriously, wouldn't we rather talk about safer cycling than some guy?

    Anecdotal evidence, while helpful to describe a characteristic observed in empirical data, is generally not considered scientific. So please use it sparingly. A theoretical discussion of cycling theory is interesting, but since we are searching for empirical backing for those theories, we should only introduce it in the context of empirical evidence.

    The motivation was a recent thread on J. Forester where there was a discussion of the evidence used to support vehicular cycling as an effective accident reduction tool and there was a disagreement on the value of the evidence presented. Long story short, it turns out that Effective Cycling (6th Edition, ~pages 257-278) doesn't really provide enough details for me to evaluate.

    The argument in Effective Cycling as I understand it, goes roughly like this ...

    (1) we can show that experience matters
    (2a) we have information on numbers of accidents by their characteristics
    (2b) we have an understanding how to avoid certain classes of these accidents
    (3) effective cycling instruction speeds up the learning process of traffic-safe cycling

    Presumably J. Forester is talking about vehicular cycling when he writes the effective cycling program.

    I recall explicitly reading some research that I-Like-To-bike referenced, but I did not find it in the expected section. It is probably on his website someplace. I did notice ILTB link an article at the end of the aforementioned thread, perhaps it leads to the online source.

    Since the "good book" did not have the details, I will follow ILTB's link. If that doesn't get the article, I'll surf for it.

  2. #2
    pj7
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    I don't understand the purpose of this thread exactly.
    Are you going to provide evidence that VC is the safest way to cycle?
    Or are you making a blanket statement that VS *is* the safest way to cycle and you are expecting other to provide evidence of this?
    *confused*

  3. #3
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Sorry for the delay. We have been quite busy here--house shopping--and one computer died. Given that the boss is surfing for homes all of the time it leaves little time for Bike Forums.

    The theme for this post is the evidence that vehicular cycling is safer than alternative theories/paradigms/strategies. More specifically, what is the scientific evidence that supports vehicular cycling as
    (1) an effective accident reduction strategy
    (2) a strategy that is better than the alternatives?

    So notice that (1) is different from (2). Question (1) asks, "How do we scientifically know that this is an effective strategy relative to just riding and learning?" Question (2) asks, "Given the other well-defined strategies, What is the evidence that implementing VC is the best option?" Feel free to address either. Note that this is not about J. Forester.

    Seriously, wouldn't we rather talk about safer cycling than some guy?

    Anecdotal evidence, while helpful to describe a characteristic observed in empirical data, is generally not considered scientific. So please use it sparingly. A theoretical discussion of cycling theory is interesting, but since we are searching for empirical backing for those theories, we should only introduce it in the context of empirical evidence.

    The motivation was a recent thread on J. Forester where there was a discussion of the evidence used to support vehicular cycling as an effective accident reduction tool and there was a disagreement on the value of the evidence presented. Long story short, it turns out that Effective Cycling (6th Edition, ~pages 257-278) doesn't really provide enough details for me to evaluate.

    The argument in Effective Cycling as I understand it, goes roughly like this ...

    (1) we can show that experience matters
    (2a) we have information on numbers of accidents by their characteristics
    (2b) we have an understanding how to avoid certain classes of these accidents
    (3) effective cycling instruction speeds up the learning process of traffic-safe cycling

    Presumably J. Forester is talking about vehicular cycling when he writes the effective cycling program.

    I recall explicitly reading some research that I-Like-To-bike referenced, but I did not find it in the expected section. It is probably on his website someplace. I did notice ILTB link an article at the end of the aforementioned thread, perhaps it leads to the online source.

    Since the "good book" did not have the details, I will follow ILTB's link. If that doesn't get the article, I'll surf for it.
    Forester apparently removed from his website the more detailed description of his idiotic comparison of wildly different cyclist populations and concluded that differences in "accident rates" could be attributed to unnamed Vehicular Cycling techniques that are either learned from 20 years of experience or taking his proprietary classes. The essence of that "comparison" can be found at http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Social/aaas94.htm go to the section heading "Studies of the safety and convenience of cycling transportation" . This is where Forester compares vaguely defined and undefined "accident rates" of various groups. Perhaps some Forester devotee can tell us the appropriate Chapter and Verse of Effective Cycling that tells all of how Forester determined that Vehicular Cycling training will lead to 80% reduction in "accident rates."

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I think statistics regards accident rates in Portland would indicate adding facilities helps bring down accidents per miles travelled by bicyclists. Facilties both increase cyclists numbers and decrease per trip accident rates.

    If you looked at cities like Copenhagen, Denmark, with 40 percent of trips by bicycle, i have an unfounded idea that facilties there help to both increase ridership and keep riders safer than unaccomodated road networks

    And Bogota, Columbia....


    NOW, I am not trying to indicate that vehicular cycling isn't valid or valuable; it is. but what helps keep riders, en masse safer? a notion about riding technique, shared by a few select percent of all cyclists, or on the ground engineering to benefit bicycles? seems pretty basic, actually.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7
    I don't understand the purpose of this thread exactly.
    Are you going to provide evidence that VC is the safest way to cycle?
    Or are you making a blanket statement that VS *is* the safest way to cycle and you are expecting other to provide evidence of this?
    *confused*
    Heck, if anyone has a reference to quantitative evidence of any kind of safety record for an identified group of vehicular cyclists vis--vis non vehicular cyclists - Please post it here. Be sure that the reference indicates how the distinction was made between the population of cyclists who are vehicular and those who were not.

  6. #6
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    You want evidence that VC is safer? Safer than what? Are you trying to suggest that you cannot employ vehicular cycling and still use on-street or off-street cycling facilities? That they are somehow opposed to each other?

    I don't find the dichotomy VC vs bike lane or VC vs bike path to be a valid dichotomy.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  7. #7
    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Heck, if anyone has a reference to quantitative evidence of any kind of safety record for an identified group of vehicular cyclists vis-`a-vis non vehicular cyclists - Please post it here. Be sure that the reference indicates how the distinction was made between the population of cyclists who are vehicular and those who were not.
    ummm... big words... big words...ooh, I recognize that one... big words...
    remember man, I'm just a hillbilly
    but I see your point, and quite possibly share it

    however, I still don't see the point of this thread other than to start another pissing match

  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    You want evidence that VC is safer? Safer than what? Are you trying to suggest that you cannot employ vehicular cycling and still use on-street or off-street cycling facilities? That they are somehow opposed to each other?

    I don't find the dichotomy VC vs bike lane or VC vs bike path to be a valid dichotomy.
    Excellent points, Diane. Vehicular cycling and roadway cycling networks are NOT mutually exclusive.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  9. #9
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7
    ummm... big words... big words...ooh, I recognize that one... big words...
    remember man, I'm just a hillbilly
    but I see your point, and quite possibly share it

    however, I still don't see the point of this thread other than to start another pissing match
    If you don't see the point of this thread, maybe this thread is not for you.

  10. #10
    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    If you don't see the point of this thread, maybe this thread is not for you.
    I think you're right
    /me heads back to Foo

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Check out the following URL for more preposterous unsubstantiated Forester safety claims for his proprietary Effective Cycling "VC" Course. This Forester's manual for the Instructors of his miracle course.
    http://www.johnforester.com/BTEO/ECIM5.pdf

    See
    Paragraph 4.2, Accident prevention

    Forester, without a shred of evidence that his course has ever altered the behavior of a single student over any extended period, estimates Effective Cycling Courses would eliminate over 50% of all bicycling fatalities and reduce injuries by over 100,000.

  12. #12
    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Check out the following URL for more preposterous unsubstantiated Forester safety claims for his proprietary Effective Cycling "VC" Course. This Forester's manual for the Instructors of his miracle course.
    http://www.johnforester.com/BTEO/ECIM5.pdf

    See
    Paragraph 4.2, Accident prevention

    Forester, without a shred of evidence that his course has ever altered the behavior of a single student over any extended period, estimates Effective Cycling Courses would eliminate over 50% of all bicycling fatalities and reduce injuries by over 100,000.
    Yet more statistics from "The department of I Just Pulled This Out Of My Arse".
    I just don't see VC as being the safest thing to do in most circumstances. It's like the whole idea of it is to give you one option and one option only and if it fails, then it's your fault, because the "system" can not fail.
    I think this guy just wanted to make some money so he started his own cult, like L. Ron hubbard or that J. Christ guy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7
    ummm... big words... big words...ooh, I recognize that one... big words...
    remember man, I'm just a hillbilly
    but I see your point, and quite possibly share it

    however, I still don't see the point of this thread other than to start another pissing match
    Yeah I don't get it either. "VC is safer"? I would imagine following vehicle traffic laws would be safer then not . I think for safety you should emphasis teaching handling skills and technique since there is some anecdotal and real evidence that taking those types of skill based classes will make you a better and safer like driving school. Several accidents that I actually saw was based on poor handling skills on rough road... they did repave that section after 3 (edit: that I actually saw happen so was probally more. ) accidents in 2 years but it was clear the cyclist had poor handling skills.

  14. #14
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7
    Yet more statistics from "The department of I Just Pulled This Out Of My Arse".
    I just don't see VC as being the safest thing to do in most circumstances. It's like the whole idea of it is to give you one option and one option only and if it fails, then it's your fault, because the "system" can not fail.
    I think this guy just wanted to make some money so he started his own cult, like L. Ron hubbard or that J. Christ guy.
    Welcome back from FooLand; your journey was brief. You do get it. VC may (or may not) be the safest method. Only neither Forester, nor his minions have ever produced any evidence of any Vehicular Cyclists' safety record from which to make an evaluation.

    Just Horse Arse products that we incompetents are to take at face value as safety gospel.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    The theme for this post is the evidence that vehicular cycling is safer than alternative theories/paradigms/strategies. More specifically, what is the scientific evidence that supports vehicular cycling as ...
    In order to explore this, we would have to be clear about what you mean by vehicular cycling. I don't see such a definition in this thread, explicit or implied.

    Quote Originally Posted by pj7
    I just don't see VC as being the safest thing to do in most circumstances. It's like the whole idea of it is to give you one option and one option only and if it fails, then it's your fault, because the "system" can not fail.
    For example, what is the definition of VC to which pj7 refers above? What interpretation of VC "gives you one option and one option only"?

  16. #16
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remsav
    Yeah I don't get it either...but it was clear the cyclist had poor handling skills.
    And what makes you think cyclists' handling skills improved after being certified as trained vehicular cyclists?

    It is only a product of John Forester's egotistical boasting that all his graduated students permanently alter their assumed pre-training "incompetent behavior" to cycling standards that match his training objectives.
    Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 03-04-07 at 08:42 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Take a look at the work that Dr. Ian Walker, Department of Psychology, University of Bath in Great Britian has published. It's at this website:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-wah091106.php

    At the bottom of this webpage, there is link to this page:

    http://www.drianwalker.com/overtaking/

    and a downloadable PDF on the "overview of the main results." This is the most scientifically valid study that I have yet seen. I cannot spend time discussing it yet (supper time), but after you have looked it over, I think it deserves some attention.

    John
    John Ratliff

  18. #18
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    In order to explore this, we would have to be clear about what you mean by vehicular cycling. I don't see such a definition in this thread, explicit or implied.
    Good point. Nor does Forester or any of his minions identify any characteristic that makes a cyclist "vehicular" when their claims are made about an alleged superior safety record for the mystery population of vehicular cyclists. The closest working definition for the proselytizers establishing a "safety record" appears to be that everybody is a "vehicular cyclist" until they have an accident, then they are not.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Good point. Nor does Forester or any of his minions identify any characteristic that makes a cyclist "vehicular" when their claims are made about an alleged superior safety record for the mystery population of vehicular cyclists. The closest working definition for the proselytizers establishing a "safety record" appears to be that everybody is a "vehicular cyclist" until they have an accident, then they are not.
    To the OP. The reference for the comparison of wildly mismatched populations of cyclists with scanty to non existent risk factors can be found in the other Forester tome, Bicycle Transportation, 2nd Edition published by MIT Press in 1994. Chapter 5 I believe.

  20. #20
    pj7
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    From what I gather, VC means riding your bike as though it were any other vehicle, obeying ALL traffic laws and wot-not, this also means to me "getting stuck in the same traffic messes".
    So if I'm riding along the road and there is an accident up ahead, blocking all lanes and traffic is backed up for a mile, I should sit there and wait like every other vehicle instead of hopping the curb and riding on the sidewalk, because afterall, other vehicles aren't allowed on the sidewalk so why should I?
    That's just one example.
    In my mind though, I can't figure out why this guy whould have gone thru all of this if there hadn't been a monitary gain or fame out of it for him. And we all know that the human race would sell their own mother for a chance to become wealthier and have their name associated with various organizations.

  21. #21
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Forester apparently removed from his website the more detailed description of his idiotic comparison of wildly different cyclist populations and concluded that differences in "accident rates" could be attributed to unnamed Vehicular Cycling techniques that are either learned from 20 years of experience or taking his proprietary classes. The essence of that "comparison" can be found at http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Social/aaas94.htm go to the section heading "Studies of the safety and convenience of cycling transportation" . This is where Forester compares vaguely defined and undefined "accident rates" of various groups. Perhaps some Forester devotee can tell us the appropriate Chapter and Verse of Effective Cycling that tells all of how Forester determined that Vehicular Cycling training will lead to 80% reduction in "accident rates."
    Forester probably calculated the 80% figure from either the Kaplan survey of LAB members or from one of the Cross studies (since those seem to be the main sources, besides Forester, that he references).

    It can be hard to find things on Forester's website. Forester discusses his study of the traffic behavior of four groups of cyclists (3 "college town" cyclists compared to one group of club cyclists, with JF doing the evaluation). That discussion is on a page under the "Lost League" heading, not the "Social" section.

    http://www.johnforester.com/LAW/Bike...ontroversy.htm

    Look down near the bottom of the page for a section entitled "The Evidence from Cyclist Behavior".
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    And what makes you think cyclists' handling skills improved after being certified as trained vehicular cyclists.

    It is only a product of John Forester's egotistical boasting that all his graduated students permanently alter their assumed pre-training "incompetent behavior" to cycling standards that match his training objectives.
    Any skill based training course would by definition increase your skill in that endevour. There must be some statistical evidence for insurance companies to lower premium based on a driver taking a driving course. Who knows maybe its just coincidence but I would imagine skill has a some factor evidenced by every winter when 1st snow fall you have 300% increase in traffic accidents till people get used to it.

    I get the arguments in ski technique thread about which teaching method is better or worse and they argue endless there too but here I'm not even sure what you guys are arguing about when you argue over VC most of the time.

  23. #23
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remsav
    Yeah I don't get it either. "VC is safer"? I would imagine following vehicle traffic laws would be safer then not .
    Perhaps not... as a vc cyclist one is expected to ride in the street and obey traffic laws... but while riding in the street one is exposed to not only intersection traffic, but traffic from behind and traffic from the side in the form of motorists leaving parking positions.

    Riding as a sidewalk rider, one only is exposed to traffic at intersections... the very same intersections where a vc cyclist also has to be on the defensive, however the sidewalk cyclist is not exposed to traffic from behind, nor motorists suddenly leaving parking spaces.

    Just by sheer exposure alone, the sidewalk cyclist encounters fewer situations of potential danger.

    This alone explains the preponderance of sidewalk cyclists I see in the area near my home... it is easier for those cyclists to simply act like fast pedestrians, especially considering the rarity of actual pedestrians on those same local sidewalks.

    Now of course the sidewalk cyclists still have to obey all the pedestrian laws... but again sheer exposure to automotive traffic simply reduces their potential for automotive accidents.

    Now I know that the response to this will be to offer that greater numbers of pedestrians are killed annually then cyclists. Could this possibly be that there are more pedestrians than cyclists, on any particular day using sidewalks and crossing streets? And how many of those ped deaths are due to alcohol?

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remsav
    Any skill based training course would by definition increase your skill in that endevour. There must be some statistical evidence for insurance companies to lower premium based on a driver taking a driving course...I'm not even sure what you guys are arguing about when you argue over VC most of the time.
    Obviously. Here's a hint, we are not discussing driving an automobile. And here's another hint, better look up the definition of results and note that it is not the same as training objectives. Lots of people are taught the Golden Rule or how to lead the "Good Life". In case you haven't noticed it doesn't necessarily increase the student's skill in those endeavors.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    It can be hard to find things on Forester's website. Forester discusses his study of the traffic behavior of four groups of cyclists (3 "college town" cyclists compared to one group of club cyclists, with JF doing the evaluation). That discussion is on a page under the "Lost League" heading, not the "Social" section.

    http://www.johnforester.com/LAW/Bike...ontroversy.htm

    Look down near the bottom of the page for a section entitled "The Evidence from Cyclist Behavior".
    Oh these are the studies alright but he used to give the details. Like how he "tested" random unaware cyclists for compliance with his own secret test, and compared the results of the cyclists who had no idea they were taking a test with his students who were being specifically tested on what Forester had just taught them to do and had to pass the test to get the certificate. And better yet, Forester jumps to the conclusion that these results had some sort of statistical significance beyond showing what a statistical charlatan Forester is.

    Apparently he has removed from his site the details of these comparisons but our Forester scholars should be able to cite chapter and verse from the hardback tomes.

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