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  1. #1
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Some VC definitions

    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[1]. 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:
    • 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.
    • Etc.
    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:
    • 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.
    • Etc.
    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.

    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:
    1. Portraying a practioner or advocate of VC as a practioner or advocate of Strict VC.
    2. Misrepresenting the smooth and orderly lateral movements of VC as swerving.
    3. 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.
    4. 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?
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 05-09-07 at 04:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    too much open to interpretation in this "definition"

    ONE COMMENT:

    THIS IS HELMET HEAD DEFINING HIS OWN ADAPTIVE CYCLING TECHNIQUES and political platform regarding riding bicycles,

    and does not reflect vehicular cycling as a style of riding. all vehicular cyclists choose to ride adaptively sometimes as well, so this semantics exercise is strictly attempts to define cycling for helmet heads terms.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-21-07 at 11:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    ... a ... presentation of what vehicular cycling means to me...
    The vehicular rules of the road, ... according to which drivers actually operate should not be confused with the documented legal vehicle code ...
    Redefining (or finding redefinitions of) formally defined names or labels creates a kind of informal and personal Newspeak language. That's deceptively confusing for those of us who use conventional English (which in George Orwell's Newspeak was termed Oldspeak). If someone wants to describe a new or different concept, they should use a new name or label (rather than modifying or overriding one that's already formally defined).

    For example: in the USA, the applicable state laws already formally define the Rules of the Road. Three instances:
    1. From the California Vehicle Code: Division 11 - Rules of the Road (BTW, the Vehicle Code isn't just the RotR)
    2. From Chapter 20 of the NC General Statues: Part 10. Operation of Vehicles and Rules of the Road
    3. From the New York Vehicle & Traffic laws: TITLE VII RULES OF THE ROAD
    I'd like to suggest that we just say no to personal languages.
    Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 03-08-07 at 12:58 AM. Reason: Add a third RotR example & tweak writing

  4. #4
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Rosar
    Redefining established words, phrases, labels, etc., effectively creates a personal Newspeak language. That's deceptively confusing for those of us who use conventional English (which in George Orwell's Newspeak was termed Oldspeak). If someone wants to describe a new concept, they should use a new name or label (rather than attempting to modify or override an established one).

    For example: in US law (i.e., case law, statutes and other legal authority), the applicable state law already defines the Rules of the Road. Two instances:
    1. From the California Vehicle Code: Division 11 - Rules of the Road (there's much more in the CVC than just the RotR)
    2. From Chapter 20 of the NC General Statues: Part 10. Operation of Vehicles and Rules of the Road
    I'd like to suggest that we just say no to personal languages.
    No one is redefining anything.
    Do people drive according to the "rules of the road" or not? I say yes, and those "rules of the road" cannot have much to do with the sources you cite since the vast majority of drivers have never even glance at them. So, then, what does "rules of the road" refer to when we talk about the "rules of the road" that drivers actually use? Again, I'm not defining or redefining anything... I'm asking what do people mean when they use the term "rules of the road" with respect to what drivers follow?

    Yes, the vehicle code is a specific type of manifestation of "rules of the road", but it's not the only kind.

    For example, here is an informal summary of the "Rules of the Road" courtesy of state of NY:

    http://www.nysgtsc.state.ny.us/roadrule.htm

    But the rules of the road by which drivers actually operate are far more informal than that, because most have no knowledge of these formal and semi-formal manifestations. That is, drivers may be aware of their existence, but most have little to no direct/specific knowledge of their content. Only vague personal interpretations. Those are the "rules of the road" by which most drivers actually operate, for better or for worse. Such is life.

    Nothing personal about it. I didn't invent that definition, that's the reality, whether you like it or not.

    The good news is because of this, the "rules of the road" that cyclists need to know are already known by anyone who is a driver. Note that specific knowledge about the "rules of the road" that are in the vehicle code is NOT required.

    Edit: Also, remember that the main reason drivers follow the "rules of the road" is to get from A to B without crashing into anyone else. Avoiding tickets is a secondary priority, and any knowledge of the technical/legal/documented "rules of the road" is only needed for this second priority, and it's mostly not even needed for that.
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-08-07 at 12:23 AM.

  5. #5
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    how does all this jive with

    a) following the laws in your local jurisdiction?
    b) using lanes classed for specific types of traffic?
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-17-07 at 11:10 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I like Brian's attempt to define vehicular cycling as a strict definition, versus spelling out broad, generalized concepts of safe cycling practices.

    too much open to interpretation in this "definition"
    Except that Brian's definition was much too narrow to be accurate.

  7. #7
    N_C
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    HH,

    I don't know if you posted this because I asked there be a clear definition of what a VC thread os or not. But if you did I asked for a clear definition of a VC thread, NOT for a definition of what VC is. There is a differance. And you said yourself this is what is means to you in the OP. The questions I asked are directed ato the admin./mods, us regular members should not be answering them. We don't make the rules or policy here, they do. And if they want us to follow them they need to be spelled out for us.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    HH,

    I don't know if you posted this because I asked there be a clear definition of what a VC thread os or not. But if you did I asked for a clear definition of a VC thread, NOT for a definition of what VC is. There is a differance. And you said yourself this is what is means to you in the OP. The questions I asked are directed ato the admin./mods, us regular members should not be answering them. We don't make the rules or policy here, they do. And if they want us to follow them they need to be spelled out for us.
    I have no idea what you're talking about. Note that this thread was started two weeks ago, if that helps.

  9. #9
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The undocumented vrotr according to which drivers actually operate should not be confused with the documented legal vehicle code to which drivers must technically adhere in order to avoid getting a citation. There is a lot of overlap, of course, but they are not one and the same.

    That renders this definition worthless. does a vehicular cyclist follow the laws? or do they adaptively ride according to the laws THEY think they should follow, and ignore the others?

    this is a loose grouping, not a definition.

    And, what about lanes classed for specific types of locomotion? I was riding on a road a couple of weeks ago that had a lane ONLY for right turning traffic, buses, and bikes. I was riding straight ahead.

    Was I being vehicular? only right turning traffic was allowed.

  10. #10
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    these 'advanced' definitions seem to be a bit loose and contrary to the basic rules.

    * Using negotiation to create gaps. okay.

    * Merging left one lane at a time.okay.

    * Signaling using look backs. VERY QUESTIONABLE. it works because it creates a vision of cyclist uncertainity, NOT A clear signal. a clear signal is the "POINT AND SHOOT" or the "I'm going THERE" finger.

    * Being able to look back for more than a fraction of a second without riding off course. questionable. that's a definition????

    * Using assertive "centerish" lane positioning to discourage lane sharing/squeezing when the lane is too narrow to be safely shared.agreed- technique.

    * Using assertive "centerish" lane positioning to improve sight lines and conspicuity when safe and reasonable to do so. DISAGREE. an advanced vehicular cyclist only needs to use a centerish position when necessaary, and it is NOT the default position. contrary to 'rotr.'

    * Recognizing when traffic behind needs a hint about what to do, and providing it appropriately and effectively. technique.

    * Recognizing when and where bike lanes are okay to use, and when they should be avoided.agree.

    * Etc. that's loose.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-18-07 at 05:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The undocumented vrotr according to which drivers actually operate should not be confused with the documented legal vehicle code to which drivers must technically adhere in order to avoid getting a citation. There is a lot of overlap, of course, but they are not one and the same........
    For the record, this where our paths part.
    If a cyclist is not following the law, he or she is not riding using vehicular cycling techniques. Call it Adaptive Cycling or whatever the latest buzz word du'jour is, because it's not VC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    For the record, this where our paths part.
    If a cyclist is not following the law, he or she is not riding using vehicular cycling techniques. Call it Adaptive Cycling or whatever the latest buzz word du'jour is, because it's not VC.
    Disclaimer: The statement above, that I agree with 100%, was not coerced by Chipcom Man telepathy, threats of bodily harm, kidnapping of family members, offers of free pie or sexual favors by me or any other member.
    "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

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    I like free pie and sexual favors.

    Last edited by randya; 03-18-07 at 02:39 PM.

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    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The undocumented vrotr according to which drivers actually operate should not be confused with the documented legal vehicle code...
    I don't think this is useful, HH.

    Effective communication depends upon shared understandings of the meanings of the terms we use. Especially when those meanings are formally and/or legally defined, I think it makes sense to adhere to them. That is the case with the ROTR.

    Perhaps it would make more sense to talk about "typical" or "usual" behavior. Or something like that...

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    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    this thread should be titled;

    "Some of helmet head's adaptive cycling techniques" it's NOT a compendium of VC definitions.

    Maybe the mods would be better off deleting this thread entirely.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-18-07 at 07:48 PM.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalliergo
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The undocumented vrotr according to which drivers actually operate should not be confused with the documented legal vehicle code...
    I don't think this is useful, HH.
    Whether you think it's useful or not, do you agree it's true that the rules drivers actually drive by are not the same as the documented legal vehicle code?

    Effective communication depends upon shared understandings of the meanings of the terms we use. Especially when those meanings are formally and/or legally defined, I think it makes sense to adhere to them. That is the case with the ROTR.
    The vast majority of drivers have never looked at the vehicle code. As far as shared understandings of the meanings of terms, the vehicle code refers to residential streets as highways; the vast majority of drivers do not.

    Perhaps it would make more sense to talk about "typical" or "usual" behavior. Or something like that...
    Perhaps. The point is, what it is that they follow, it ain't the letter of the vehicle code. It can't be, because they only have a vague idea of what the vehicle code says.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    HH,

    ... because I asked there be a clear definition of what a VC thread os ...
    How can the answer to this question be anything other than "a VC thread is a thread that pertains to VC." That pretty much has to be true regardless of what "VC" represents. If you want somethign better isn't it necessary to state what VC is?

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    I like free pie and sexual favors.

    If this is what VC is all about, I'm all for it! Are we doin' in in the road?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    this thread should be titled;

    "Some of helmet head's adaptive cycling techniques" it's NOT a compodium of VC definitions.

    Maybe the mods would be better off deleting this thread entirely.
    +1.

    I see it more as HH attempting to frame the debate to suit his purposes (something that many of his posts and "polls" attempt to do).
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Whether you think it's useful or not, do you agree it's true that the rules drivers actually drive by are not the same as the documented legal vehicle code?
    Why wouldn't they be the same rules? The fact that people ignore or break rules does not mean they are making/following new ones, it just means that they are chosing to not follow the current ones. What a silly thing... do you really believe that people have their own "rules" when driving??

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The vast majority of drivers have never looked at the vehicle code. As far as shared understandings of the meanings of terms, the vehicle code refers to residential streets as highways; the vast majority of drivers do not.
    I'm sure they have, a vast majority that is. It is a prerequisite of obtaining an operators permit in most states, thus "vast majority". Maybe they do not look in depthly as some others, especially those of us (those of you) who chose to use these rules as a shield when it suits and chose to ignore them when it suits as well, but they have looked at them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Perhaps. The point is, what it is that they follow, it ain't the letter of the vehicle code. It can't be, because they only have a vague idea of what the vehicle code says.
    And I doubt that any cyclist follows the letter of the law when riding a bike as well. I know that I for one do not have a bell on my bike, which is required by law, and sometimes I break the 15mph speed limit on the MUP. Do you think I am the only one? Do you expect us to believe that you follow the letter of the law. Barney Fife??? Is that you?? And if you did not have easy access to "the letter of the code" via internet, could you tell us "word for word" what each and every law is? I don't think so Mr. Fife.

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    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Whether you think it's useful or not, do you agree it's true that the rules drivers actually drive by are not the same as the documented legal vehicle code?
    I think I understand your point, but I would say it somewhat differently. For the sake of clarity, I think it is better to speak of variations in understanding of, and compliance with, the ROTR, rather than attempt to define an alternative ROTR to describe actual behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    The vast majority of drivers have never looked at the vehicle code. As far as shared understandings of the meanings of terms, the vehicle code refers to residential streets as highways; the vast majority of drivers do not.

    Perhaps. The point is, what it is that they follow, it ain't the letter of the vehicle code. It can't be, because they only have a vague idea of what the vehicle code says.
    Generally, they have read interpretations and distillations of the provisions of the vehicle code(s) that appear in manuals and booklets provided by DMV, driver education courses, etc. They also learn about it through public service advertising, contact with law enforcement, media stories, discussion with family members and others in our society and, importantly, observing the actions of other road users. It's not that they are following an alternate version of the ROTR, it's that their understanding(s) of the ROTR are indirect, imperfect, filtered, etc.

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    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalliergo
    It's not that they are following an alternate version of the ROTR, it's that their understanding(s) of the ROTR are indirect, imperfect, filtered, etc.
    On the one hand, the closer a road user's behavior is to that called out for in the ROTR, the better their behavior can be predicted by other road users.

    On the other hand, some of the ROTR (which vary by jurisdiction) are so flawed and/or unfair that a road user who behaves differently can be better off while not increasing the danger.

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    Wasn't there a Seinfeld episode where it was determined that sex is an act between two people, not between a man and a sandwich? I think pie would be included in this observation.
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    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Rosar
    On the one hand, the closer a road user's behavior is to that called out for in the ROTR, the better their behavior can be predicted by other road users.

    On the other hand, some of the ROTR (which vary by jurisdiction) are so flawed and/or unfair that a road user who behaves differently can be better off while not increasing the danger.

    Agreed.

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    does that mean NOT riding according to the rules of the road? how can ROTR be flawed and unfair? don't the ROTR codify rules of the road? do you mean like not exceeding speed limits, stopping at stop signs,

    or is this more poppycock about how bikes are discriminated against by 'slow vehicles as far right as practicable except exclusions' language?

    ADAPTIVE cycling technique?

    Agreed.

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