I've seen vehicular cycling (VC) being defined as encompassing all forms of legal cycling, up to and including cycling on sidepaths and sidewalks, and I've seen it being defined narrowly to include only those techniques which put the cyclist in the relm of car traffic. Every description of VC has the "To me..." qualifier attached to it, either implicitly or explicitly.
I am not really interested in a definition of vehicular cycling which basically includes all forms of legal cycling. Not because I am against the definition per se, but because such a definition is not useful. It's like an entomologist who insists on doing his research by calling everything with three legs and three body segments a "bug".
Let me put this out: Vehicular cycling is a group of techniques surrounding the adoption by a cyclist of destination positioning utilizing the full width of the roadway. This is not an ideological definition; the ideologues can define whatever they want, to their heart's content. This is a working definition.
Examples of what is not within the working definition of vehicular cycling:
1) riding to the right hand side of the road and sharing the lane.
A cyclist traveling in vehicular mode will not share lanes in any way, shape, or sense of the word.
2) sidewalk or bike path/MUP riding.
3) two step left turns.
4) simply following the local laws that are contrary to destination positioning utilizing the whole roadway.
For example, if the local law tells cyclists to use the sidepath, using the sidepath is still not cycling vehicularly. If the local law demands lane sharing; this is still not cycling vehicularly to remain in compliance with this law.
5) the equipment for traffic cycling
6) the head flicks, hand flicks, winks, nods, pedal cadence, steely eyed alpha dog stares (), etc. utilized to gain a motorist's attention.
These will vary according to environment, cyclist, cyclist's mood, etc.
7) riding to the right in a WOL and sharing this lane with car traffic.
This is a working definition, and for reasons of consistency, I have to exclude this from the working definition. WOLs are a special case where lane sharing is explicitly encouraged. This is not a vehicular practice. This is not to say that WOLs are somehow inferior cycling facilities. It is just to say that lane sharing while using WOLs is not an example of vehicular cycling.
8) the basics of cycling, such as riding on the right side of the road and stopping at stop signs
. This is to keep the definition precise.
What are within the working definition of vehicular cycling:
1) destination positioning at intersections
2) vehicular left turns
3) taking the lane. i.e. not sharing a lane with another vehicule.
4) riding in the bike lane. This is vehicular because a bike lane, as defined as a traffic lane dedicated to bicycle use (this definition doesn't include those "bike lanes in name only" lanes that DOTs sometimes force on us) meets the requirements of non-lane sharing, and to leave a bike lane means to go through all the procedures used to change lanes in traffic. One cannot, by design move arbitrarily from the bike lane to the adjacent traffic lane because the cyclist does not have right of way to do this. As with the WOL lane sharing designation, this is not to imply that bike lanes are somehow "better" than WOLs.
What I am trying to do is break the working definition of "vehicular cycling" away from the notion of safety. Safety will always be relative to the specific environment and transient. To evaluate whether "vehicular cycling" is "safer" than an alternative, one cannot have a definition of "vehicular cycling" which is linked to safety.
I am also trying to separate the working definition of "vehicular cycling" from the specific notion of "cycling facilities." For instance, one aspect of this working definition of vehicular cycling is that lane sharing is not allowed. Certain facilities, i.e. bike lanes, follow this principle provided that the bike lanes are true lanes and not "bike lanes in name only", which in practice, basically results in bike lanes which are 5-6' wide, flow into intersections logically and vehicularly (either the RTOL merges into the bike lane, which sometimes results in a "bike lane to the left of the right turn only lane", or the bike lane merges into the next adjacent traffic lane at the intersection), are swept regularly and signed "for bikes only".
Other facilities, i.e. WOLs, are certainly useful for traffic cycling, but encourage lane sharing and thus if used as such, do not fall under the working definition of vehicular cycling. Again, this is not for ideological reasons. It is for reasons of consistency in the definition. Consistency means that there are no exceptions to the rule. WOLs certainly can be ridden vehicularly, but this involves a lane position which does not allow for lane sharing.
I want a critique of this definition, but not a critique coming from how "right" it is (this is a working definition of my own design, so that we have a language for which to talk on this forum about vehicular cycling), but I want critiques regarding how self-consistent this definition is. This means no ideological battles on this thread, and most importantly this has nothing to do with bike lanes or any other cycling facility.
Some of you are going to be agitating to use Helmet Head's Wiki link as a definition instead. Realize that I don't really care; it's okay to have two different definitions of the same word, as long as we realize there are two different definitions, and we differentiate between the two. The problem I see with the wiki link is that it defines the term too broadly. The definition given in wiki is kind of like using "bug" to describe all insects. This is my opinion only though. Just differentiate by appending the "wiki definition", or "Brian's working definition" somewhere when posting. Or use "broad" or "narrow" to describe the way you are using the term. The point is: I am not trying to make an ideological point here. I am trying to define a well used but ill defined term in more specific language so we don't keep going 'round in circles and misunderstanding each other.
I'm kind of preening here for a sticky so we don't get all these newbies coming in asking, in the midst of a thread, what "VC" is.