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View Poll Results: Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic?

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  • Yes, I accept full responsibility for my safety.

    32 35.16%
  • No, I accept the brunt of the responsibilty, but motorists are responsible for my safety too.

    51 56.04%
  • No, motorists are more responsible for my safety than I am.

    1 1.10%
  • Other

    7 7.69%
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  1. #76
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remsav
    yeah it is. unless the cyclist also broke the law.
    What influcences me. It is darn ware that I break a law while on the bike. I abide by the same laws as I do within a car. Yet, the number of times a motorists crossed the confines of my bike lane , when I was doing nothing but riding in my designated lane have been many . A couple of times with obvious intent but to threaten/hassle me just for being a cyclist. Not much we can do about that, when the cager displays malicious intent.

  2. #77
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    What complete context? The complete statement, quoted and cited in the OP (since post #12), is:


    The paragraph right before it, I quoted in post #31, but I can repeat it here if you like:


    Does that extra context help you understand what Hurst meant? The four paragraphs prior to that are all in the OP. Do you need to see it all together? No problem (the more times you or anybody else reads, the better the chance that you'll finally understand what it means):

    (stuff in red is my emphasis - the statement in question - everything else is the context Chip is asking for.)
    Again, I don't think he could be any clearer.

    Context: some bastard breaks every law in the book and runs you over in the process
    Hurst says: it will be your fault and nobody else's.

    Capiche?
    It's spelled capice - dolt.
    You are twisting the meaning of Robert's words, as I have already outlined - but I guess we'll just have to wait for Robert's input...but of course then you'll go on to tell HIM what HE meant'tif he doesn't agree with your own twisted interpretation.
    "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

  3. #78
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    No matter how you slice it, Gene, I have the same response.

    Your posts, including this one, do not exude the attitude of one who hoards responsibility from those around you. To the contrary, you seem all too eager to leave your fate in the hands of drivers. That's why the arrogant stupid aggressive driving of drivers who choose to abuse your rights simply because they see you on a bicycle upsets you so much, and causes you so much angst. If you refused to leave your fate in their hands, their behavior would not concern you - beyond the point of simply being aware of it and what you must do as a result to be safe.

    Hurst's point, if I understand him correctly, is that it is of no use to the urban cyclist to contemplate the possibility of being confronted with a situation which is "totally out of control of the cyclist." Perhaps he did not address this directly, but it follows from his "blame is dangerous" thinking that "couldn't do nothin' about it" thinking is also dangerous, by the same reasoning.


    I, like Hurst, believe that's it important for cyclists to believe that they can control their own destiny, even if they can't in absolutely all cases (which of course they can't). The more confidence the cyclist has in his ability to handle anything that comes his way, the more likely he is to handle anything that comes his way. In a given situation, no one knows for sure that there is nothing the cyclist can do about it. The cyclist who denies the possibility of being in a situation that he cannot avoid has a much better chance of figuring out how to avoid it than does the cyclist who believes even if he does his best, there are many potential threats that might still get him. Of course, this attitude needs to be tempered with my favorite paraphrase of Dirty Harry: "A cyclist's gotta know his limits (and ride within them)".

    That's no excuse to not do your best to be ready for it. That's Robert's point, as I understand it.

    By the way, in your 30+ years of cycling, how many times has anyone thrown a brick at you, or intentionally rammed you from behind? Why are we even talking about such events that are much more rare than people dying while getting out of bed?
    I like the Dirty Harry comment and tend to agree with it. Now regarding the frequency of the types of events I have mentioned...

    First the Murphy type incident... or meteor falling. The odds of that happening are so rare as to be simply dismissed. This type of event is on par with winning the lottery. Forget it. While it does happen... the odds of it happeing to a cyclist in a long lifetime make it so rare that it doesn't matter. However due to those long odds, there is no way to train for it either.

    Second, "the motorist acts out of the ordinary in some manner as to violate your rights and risk their own safety" event. That too is a rare event... Examples include intentional ramming, throwing objects, sudden movements to threaten a cyclist, and sudden movements not meant to theaten a cyclist, but to evade, and putting a cyclist in jeopardy none the less. These events, while rare, are all done simply because a motorist sighted a cyclist and carries out some unusual action due to that sighting. How often might these occur? Well in the long life of a cyclist, one that puts in many miles on the road, solo, I would have to say that these types of events occur several times in that life time but are so unpredictable and relatively rare as to also defy any training.

    Now the last catagory is normal traffic, including events of motorist making mistakes, being agressive, arrogant, or stupid, simply because those types of motorists are in the normal mix. Cyclists should look for and expect these types of events and be prepared for them as much as possible... these situations are after all "normal." Now being prepared for them as much as possible does not mean that a cyclist can evade all such situations... after all, we are just as human as the motorists we encounter.
    Last edited by genec; 03-12-07 at 08:51 AM.

  4. #79
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    When someone intentionally kills someone else, regardless of the circumtances, that's different. That's murder. Of course in this very rare case it was not the cyclist's fault.

    Of the 800 or so cyclists who are killed per year in the U.S., about how many do you think are killed intentionally like this?
    Two comments...

    How many of those deaths are accompanied with the phrase "I didn't see the cyclist?"

    A cyclist does not have to die to have experienced such an event. So assuming death statistics are an indicator of such activity is false.

  5. #80
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    If harassment from drivers is a problem worth whining so much about, then why is there no mention of it in Hurst's book?

    Did I miss that chapter? Or is just a section? A paragraph? Sentence? Does he even devote a single word to the horrific issue of "driver harassment"?
    You assume that everying I am talking about is harrasment. Drivers also do strange things not for harrasement, but simply because they spot a cyclist and have the notion that should not be behind or around the cyclist for any reason. Such "strange things" can include activities that are totally counter to the motorists' (and cyclists) safety, and goals, and make no sense what so ever... but were not done for means of harrasement.

  6. #81
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    How many of the 800 were killed intentionally? At least one. Couple of weeks ago in the LA Times they had an article about a widow who went to the prison to talk with the man who ran over her cyclist husband with his car. In the article the driver admitted that he had killed the man intentionally. He was drunk, angry, had an opportunity to commit this act of violence and took it. I have a feeling that this is not uncommon.

    A lot of this personal responsibility stuff I agree with. I agree we need to do what we can to avoid accidents. But HH takes it to an extreme that is not unlike telling women they are to blame if they get raped. We should be able to ride our bikes in the manner that the law prescribes and not be to blame for every accident.

    The answer isn't to push an unproven method designed to promote a political statement on us as a cure. His methods have the potential to escalate the violence out there. The answer is to push for safer conditions for everyone, drivers included. And if that means they have to put their precious cell phones away, or drive slower or build safer streets then so be it.
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  7. #82
    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    It's spelled capice - dolt.
    Ummm... actually, it is spelled "capisce."

    I'll refrain from insulting your intelligence, Chip (but you sure make it tempting).

  8. #83
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    Two comments...

    How many of those deaths are accompanied with the phrase "I didn't see the cyclist?"

    A cyclist does not have to die to have experienced such an event. So assuming death statistics are an indicator of such activity is false.
    HH just opened up the slippery slope. How is murder different from negligent homocide, manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc, etc, etc? I think from here, the best approach is to require HH to define instances where something is NOT the cyclist's fault, since he seems to think it is in the vast majority of cases, so let's let him try to define what those 'rare' exceptions are.
    "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

  9. #84
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalliergo
    Ummm... actually, it is spelled "capisce."

    I'll refrain from insulting your intelligence, Chip (but you sure make it tempting).
    Thanks for taking the bait before HH and ruining all my fun...but I guess some people just have to take these little simple responses to otheres in an attempt to show their own intelligence...especially when they STILL have not addressed other responses that were actually addressed to them. If you want to insult me at all, you best try a bit harder, so far I'm not impressed.
    "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

  10. #85
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    First, this thread has nothing to do with VC or any VC theory that I know of. Certainly not directly. I happen to believe that it is an unstated premise in EC, but I have not confirmed that with Forester. Frankly, I don't know if he would even agree with Hurst on this point. Anyway, no one I know of associated with "VC" advocacy has articulated the importance of the cyclist taking full responsibliity for his safety the way Robert Hurst has.
    Oh puhleeeeease. Don't quote from the bible then deny you're preaching, that's just too obtuse even by your standards.
    "Quote from the bible"? What are you talking about? Quoting from Robert Hurst's book?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    You are confusing practical responsibility with legal responsibility.
    Oh, I must have totally misunderstood you when you said...
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Since I did not originally specify what I meant by responsibiilty, intentionally allowing each person to use whatever definition works for them
    No, you did not misunderstand. You're just switching contexts. The "I did not originally specify what I meant by responsibiilty" referred to the original poll. By the time you made your comments, I had provided a much more specific explanation.

    The cyclist can, and should, blame himself for being distracted and unprepared - that much (and ONLY that much) I agree with. The rest is a load of VC zealotry B.S.
    Calling the point I'm making in this thread "VC zealotry" is hilarious. Again, this particular explicit take on responsibility is really pure Hurst, and has nothing to with anything Forester or any other "VC zealot" has ever written, so far as I know.

    The only way I know to avoid being involved in a crash with the above is to not be on the road as them. The problem is that they are there, being killed by them is a consequence of the problem (a symptom) not the problem itself. If you truly beleive what you're saying then you would deal with the problem rather than just one of the symptoms. So how does Hurst suggest we address the problem? Oh yeah, that's right, just repeat after me "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa" is there enough room in the VC sandpit to stick my head in as well?
    You're not even trying to understand.

  11. #86
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    When someone intentionally kills someone else, regardless of the circumtances, that's different. That's murder. Of course in this very rare case it was not the cyclist's fault.
    This is a totally different position to the "it's always the cyclist's responsibility" b.s.
    Can you see how a child for whom a parent does not share any responsibility with anyone else can still die (e.g., from cancer, from a stray shot during a convenience store robbery, whatever), and that does not mean the parent was not fully responsible for that child's safety?

    Being fully responsible for the safety of something or someone, including yourself, does not necessarily mean you are responsible if that something or someone is not kept safe. But what it means is that no one else is responsible for the safety of that something or someone.

    How many is totally irrelevant, just one is one too many.
    How many is relevant to probabilities of others falling victim to something. Probabilities are relevant to the reasonability of taking precautions, and to what extent, in case that something manifests itself.

    I seriously doubt that the family of the one cyclist that it happens to will find no solace in any statistics. In terms of 'intent' I've had more than one conversation about this with people that weren't aware of my bike commuting just to gauge their attitudes and the vast majority believe that its OK to accidentally kill a cyclist even if its their (the driver's) fault just because they (the cyclist) chose to ride rather than drive. And that's not crackheads or drunken teens that's so-called responsible adults with families that depend on them.... so if Hurst's theory of the cyclist being absolutely responsible for everything then the first responsible decision for the cyclist to make would be to drive a car rather than ride a bike.
    What is the poll question again?

    You seem to think it is something like: Is the cyclist absolutely responsible for everything?

    That's not the poll question.

  12. #87
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    It's spelled capice - dolt.
    You are twisting the meaning of Robert's words, as I have already outlined - but I guess we'll just have to wait for Robert's input...but of course then you'll go on to tell HIM what HE meant'tif he doesn't agree with your own twisted interpretation.
    I am quoting him verbatim, paragraph after paragraph! How can that be twisting?
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-12-07 at 09:27 AM.

  13. #88
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    Thanks for taking the bait before HH and ruining all my fun...
    Pullin' the old "I was just kidding" cord again, Chip?

    I guess you don't care whether you're taken seriously or seen as a goof.

  14. #89
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I am quoting him verbatim, paragraph after paragraph! How can that be twisting?
    Twisting as in applying a meaning that was not intended.

    I believe Robert's intent was to highlight that a cyclist should not depend upon others to be responsible or to have the cyclist's best interest at heart, therefore the cyclist should assume the worst and ride accordingly, not worrying about blame and not expecting drivers to care about them one bit. He used the statement you so rabidly quote to drive to the point home, not to indicate that THE CYCLIST IS ALWAYS WRONG, as you are attempting to do.
    "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

  15. #90
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Pullin' the old "I was just kidding" cord again, Chip?

    I guess you don't care whether you're taken seriously or seen as a goof.

    Yes, HH, I don't have to prove anything to anyone and can be as goofy or serious as I choose - someday you may get to the point in your life where you are that comfortable and secure with yourself. How long has it been now since you started trying to be taken seriously here? Any progress?

    Back on the subject - how about posting your exceptions to where the cyclist isn't wrong, or responsible, when something bad happens. You already mentioned murder...any others?
    "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

  16. #91
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Okay, if we're gonna play the "I Quoted Robert Hurst Game", read my sig:
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

  17. #92
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flipped4bikes
    Okay, if we're gonna play the "I Quoted Robert Hurst Game", read my sig:


    All communication usually has two meanings: what the author/speaker/etc. meant to say and what the audience understands him to have said. In A&S we ALWAYS have a third meaning - HH's, which of course is the only 'right' interpretation.
    "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

  18. #93
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    There are three answers to this question as I see 3 levels of "responsibility":

    1. I am responsible for my own safety while riding a bike (riding in such a way as to not create or at least diminish my risk of getting hurt--most of the time this means following the rules of the road)

    2. Motorists are responsible for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety or the safety of anyone else using the road.

    3. Local government is responsibile for enforcing the traffic regulations and punishing those who endanger the safety of others on the road and for providing roads upon which it is safe for cyclists to travel.

  19. #94
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flipped4bikes
    Okay, if we're gonna play the "I Quoted Robert Hurst Game", read my sig:
    The interesting thing about the statement in your sig...
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.
    is the word "let."

    What happens if we don't "let," and yet a motorist "takes" a position through means that put the cyclist and the motorist into potential peril?

  20. #95
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skanking biker
    There are three answers to this question as I see 3 levels of "responsibility":

    1. I am responsible for my own safety while riding a bike (riding in such a way as to not create or at least diminish my risk of getting hurt--most of the time this means following the rules of the road)

    2. Motorists are responsible for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety or the safety of anyone else using the road.

    3. Local government is responsibile for enforcing the traffic regulations and punishing those who endanger the safety of others on the road and for providing roads upon which it is safe for cyclists to travel.
    Exactly!

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    Twisting as in applying a meaning that was not intended.
    Okay, Chip, spell it out for me like I'm a 4 year old. What meaning do you think I'm applying to his words that he did not intend?

    I believe Robert's intent was to highlight that a cyclist should not depend upon others to be responsible or to have the cyclist's best interest at heart, therefore the cyclist should assume the worst and ride accordingly, not worrying about blame and not expecting drivers to care about them one bit.
    I agree. And that's exactly what I've always meant. Go back and look at any of the hundreds if not thousands of posts I have made on cyclist responsibility and you will note that this meaning is exactly what I intended, guaranteed.

    He used the statement you so rabidly quote to drive to the point home, not to indicate that THE CYCLIST IS ALWAYS WRONG, as you are attempting to do.
    I have never thought or written that THE CYCLIST IS ALWAYS WRONG, or anything close to that, nor have I attempted to indicate that this is what Hurst is saying. That's your twist on my meaning.

    Which post (which number?) of mine do you think reflects my attempt to indicate that Hurst is saying that THE CYCLIST IS ALWAYS WRONG, and which specific words in that post do you think do this?

  22. #97
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    The interesting thing about the statement in your sig... is the word "let."

    What happens if we don't "let," and yet a motorist "takes" a position through means that put the cyclist and the motorist into potential peril?
    My usual response to that motorist was usually lots of yelling and cursing. And if I was upset enough, I would post my negative experience for all to see and blame the motorist. But of course, that means by behaving in that way, I would be shirking my responsibility of my destiny, or something like that.

    This is assuming that I didn't have that "Doh!" moment, when I took full responsibility for the incident because I did not stricly apply the rules of VC. Or something like that.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skanking biker
    There are three answers to this question as I see 3 levels of "responsibility":

    1. I am responsible for my own safety while riding a bike (riding in such a way as to not create or at least diminish my risk of getting hurt--most of the time this means following the rules of the road)

    2. Motorists are responsible for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety or the safety of anyone else using the road.

    3. Local government is responsibile for enforcing the traffic regulations and punishing those who endanger the safety of others on the road and for providing roads upon which it is safe for cyclists to travel.
    I agree with your 3 answers, but they are 3 answers to a different, more general, question.

    The question I asked was very specific: Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic? That's covered by your #1.

    Your #2, that motorists are responsible for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety, is wishful thinking, since you have no way to know whether they have taken on that responsibility or not. That motorists should be responsible "for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety or the safety of anyone else using the road" is a separate matter (of course I believe they should be responsible, but I also think it's irresponsible to expect that they are). The fact that many of them are not responsible only makes the burden in #1 that much more.

    Your #3, which I agree with, is again an answer to some other question.

    "The urban cyclist's best chance is to gather all the responsibilty that can be gathered. Hoard it from those around you. Have faith that you will do a better job with it than they will, and make it so. Don't trust your fate to the police, the planners, the pedestrians, or the paramedics. Don't leave your fate to the stars, or to luck. Definitely don't leave your fate to the drivers."--Robert Hurst

  24. #99
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    genec. said motorist harassment to cyclists to be a rare event. Well, not every day. Rare, not quite. I'd say I felt the presence of motorist harassment at least once a month in California. I'd say i am a very law abiding person who practices respect for the law and the rights of motorists; even tho often I don't like them very much.
    Harassment ranged from objects being thrown at us to actually trying to force me out of my designated bike lane by swerving into my lane and scaring the hell out of me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I agree with your 3 answers, but they are 3 answers to a different, more general, question.

    The question I asked was very specific: Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic? That's covered by your #1.

    Your #2, that motorists are responsible for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety, is wishful thinking, since you have no way to know whether they have taken on that responsibility or not. That motorists should be responsible "for driving in accordance with the laws and not endangering my safety or the safety of anyone else using the road" is a separate matter (of course I believe they should be responsible, but I also think it's irresponsible to expect that they are). The fact that many of them are not responsible only makes the burden in #1 that much more.
    The title of the thread is "who is responsible for your safety." All three answers are seperate components of the question. I agree with the distinction you made w/ regard to my 2nd answer. I would phrase the distinction differently, however. Motorists have that responsibility under the law. Whether they act responsibly is a different question. I never assume motorists will "act responsibly." Indeed, my entire outlook on life is hope for the best but assume the worst.

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