Brian's "working definition" thread has helped me come up with a slightly different presentation of what vehicular cycling means to me. I'm open to comments, questions and suggestions...
The vehicular rules of the road, or the vrotr, are the rules of the road according to which drivers operate their vehicles on roadways, as opposed to the pedestrian rules of the road, which pedestrians follow. These rules encompass the rules of the road that govern drivers of slow moving vehicles as well, when applicable. They also include the lane positioning rules that apply to motorcyclists, which are typically taught in motorcycle safety courses, as well as the rules of defensive driving.
Vehicular Cycling (VC) is primarily a set of practices, techniques and skills used to ride a bicycle on roadways in accordance to the vehicular rules of the road. VC is distinguished from traffic cycling practices that are blatantly in conflict with the vrotr.
VC and Vehicular Cycling in some contexts refer to VC advocacy or the VC philosophy (see below).
The Road Margin is roadway space near the edge of the roadway, often demarcated by a shoulder, bike lane, or fog line stripe, normally not used by through vehicular traffic. Road Margin space is often used by cyclists to allow faster traffic to pass. Many VC advocates believe that, in general, cyclists riding in the road margin are less likely to be noticed than are cyclists riding in space normally used by traffic, because drivers generally pay more attention to space normally used by traffic.
FSDT stands for "Faster Same Direction Traffic". The concept is used in traffic laws that define rules specific to drivers of slow moving vehicles, including some that are specific to cyclists. For example, laws restricting drivers of slow moving vehicles to keep right often only apply in the presence of FSDT. The presence or absence of FSDT (or approaching-from-behind FSDT) is an important lane positioning factor for many vehicular cyclists. In particular, in the absence of FSDT there is no reason for a vehicular cyclist to ride in the road margin.
Basic VC (BVC) is the collection of VC techniques, skills and practices most experienced cyclists already use, but most novices need to learn, such as:
Advanced VC (AVC) is the collection of VC techniques, skills and practices few experienced cyclists already utilize, at least not consistently, and almost all novices have not learned, such as:
- Ride on the right half of the road, with vehicular traffic.
- Obey traffic control.
- Use hand signals before turning.
- Use lights/reflectors at night.
- Use speed positioning between intersections, including riding in the road margins, especially when FSDT is present or approaching and it is safe and reasonable to do so (yes, this means vehicular cyclists do sometimes ride in bike lanes).
- Use destination positioning at intersections and their approaches.
- Turn left by waiting for a gap before merging left.
- Recognize that door zones should be avoided.
Strict VC is strict adherence to VC while riding a bicycle. It means never riding on sidewalks, never doing a 2-step left turn, always taking the lane, never taking a short cut through a parking lot, never mountain biking, never rolling a stop (a.k.a California Stop), never riding on bike paths, etc. There are no known adherents or proponents of Strict VC, though some VC contrarians have been known to mischaracterize VC advocates as such.
- Thinking of yourself, inwardly, as being a driver with the same rights and responsibilites as drivers of vehicles.
- Using negotiation to create gaps.
- Merging left one lane at a time.
- Signaling using look backs.
- Being able to look back for more than a fraction of a second without riding off course.
- Using assertive "centerish" lane positioning to discourage lane sharing/squeezing when the lane is too narrow to be safely shared.
- Using assertive "centerish" lane positioning to improve sight lines and conspicuity when safe and reasonable to do so.
- Recognizing when traffic behind needs a hint about what to do, and providing it appropriately and effectively.
- Recognizing when and where bike lanes are okay to use, and when they should be avoided (learning to ignore the bike lane stripe when deciding where to ride).
- Avoiding door zones by habitually riding at least five feet from the edge of parked vehicles.
Sometimes VC refers to the VC philosophy which is based on the vehicular-cycling principle coined by John Forester: Cyclists fare best when they act and treated as drivers of vehicles. A central tenet of the philosophy is that about half of bike-car crashes are caused by blatant cyclist error (not adhering to even Basic VC rules), and that most others could have been avoided had the cyclist also been utilizing the more advanced skills. In other words, it's basically defensive driving for cyclists. (to be continued)
VC may also refer to the Art of VC, which, like any art, requires knowing the rules, what the purpose of each rule is, when to apply each one, when not to, and understanding why. (to be continued)
VC advocacy is the advocacy of VC philosophy: the right of cyclists to use surface street roadways (where drivers of slow moving vehicles are not prohibited) in accordance with the vehicular rules of the road, and advocacy for the general acceptance of this right within society. This can include opposing the creation of facilities that are based on the notion that cyclists do not have this right. Sometimes the term VC is used to mean VC Advocacy.
A Zealous VC advocate is someone who advocates Vehicular Cycling with eagerness and ardent interest. Given the absence of actual advocates of Strict VC, the term zealous VC advocate rarely if ever is used to refer to an actual advocate of Strict VC, though certain VC contrarians have been known to try to use this term to imply that certain VC advocates are advocates of Strict VC.
A VC contrarian is one who opposes VC for no apparent rational reason. Tactics typically used by VC contrarians to oppose the advocacy, philosophy and sometimes even the practices of VC include:
- Portraying a practioner or advocate of VC as a practioner or advocate of Strict VC.
- Misrepresenting the smooth and orderly lateral movements of VC as swerving.
- Mischaracterizing VC as relying entirely on obeying the rules and ignoring the importance of paying attention, being vigilant and knowing the rules in order to be able to consistently follow the rules, and more efficiently recognize when others are not and pose potential danger.
- Exaggerating the position of a VC advocate in order to ridicule him because he can't address the substance of what the advocate is saying (this tactic is sometimes defended as satire).
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?