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Vehicular Cycling (VC) No other subject has polarized the A&S members like VC has. Here's a place to share, debate, and educate.

View Poll Results: Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic?
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%
Voters: 91. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-12-07, 06:20 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by chipcom
we have no control.
Just tell me this, when you say "we have no control", do you mean "We don't have any control", "we don't have total control", or something else? I have been assuming you meant the former, but now I think you mean the latter. But I don't want to assume and get it wrong...
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Old 03-12-07, 06:21 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
Well said, you've clearly articulated my very exact experience with the VC zealots as well!
I wish I could be as insightful and eloquent as zeytoun usually is, even when he's tearing ME apart.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:22 PM   #178
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Everything you don't understand becomes a false dichotomy. I'll say it again, since you seem to be the one with a reading comprehension problem. We can and should seek to control what we can in our environment, but that control is an illusion because in the end, we have no control.

You think the things that are beyond our control are rare, I contend otherwise. The tiniest variable that may seem insignificant to you is indeed outside of your observation can set in motion events that culiminate in you having a bad day. That, my friend, is the norm, not the exception. You think you can see black-and-white well defined reasons for an accident for example, but you don't know all of the factors involved that created the situation in the first place. You think you know what happened and easily accept what seems logical based upon what you know. But you really don't - indeed it's rare that anyone really does without the kind of investigation that is simply not worth it from a cost-benefit standpoint. When I attribute this to your lack of experience I am not slamming you, just stating a fact. You have not been exposed to experiences where you see how little control we really have, I hope you never have to. But just because you haven't experienced them, doesn't mean they are not any more real.

What does all that mean in relation to the OP? Let's use this example:



This leaves out two all too common options:

e. I assume the car is going to blow the red light and I am cautious when I approach the interesection AND the car does blow the light-------and I die or am seriously injured by that car, despite my preparations.

f. I assume the car is going to blow the red light and I am cautious when I approach the interesection AND the car does blow the light-------and I die or am seriously injured by something other than the threat I was prepared for.

If you think I am crazy or overly cynical, fine, that does not mean that what I am saying is not valid or even some wild new concept - it's not. Do some research on chaos theory, sensitive dependence or the currently popular term; butterfly effect.

I take the text you quoted from Robert as a warning that you cannot depend upon other's to look out for your interests and that blame, after the fact, is pointless. But, unlike you, and perhaps Robert too, I understand that all too often our best laid plans are not enough and nobody is to blame.
You left out several, even more common options...

g. I assume the driver is going to stop for the red, the driver blows the light, ET in my basket levitates me safely over the red light blower.

h. I assume the driver is going to blow the red light, I notice its a cute blonde behind the wheel, I pretend to be a red light.

Happens all the time!
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Old 03-12-07, 06:25 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by chipcom

I take the text you quoted from Robert as a warning that you cannot depend upon other's to look out for your interests and that blame, after the fact, is pointless. But, unlike you, and perhaps Robert too, I understand that all too often our best laid plans are not enough and nobody is to blame.

Again I agree with that statement. I never meant to iterate that we can control ALL the risks in our lives. But the recognition that some things are out of our control does not necessitate a conclusion that we have control over nothing!----The amount of sophistry here is amazing!!!!!!!!

The fact that some things are out of our control does not mean I shouldn't take what steps I CAN take to reduce the risk of "bad things."

I have been very clear on that throughout the course of this thread and do not appreciate my posts being misconstrued any more than I appreciate someone asking a question and then criticizing others for not using a definition that is supplied after the question is answered.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:29 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by zeytoun
Thanks for skewing my poll choice to fit your needs.
Are you surprised? I'm not, see my oh so easy prediction on the outcome of this poll at msg #9 Who is responsible for your safety?.

Anyone who expects different from HH and his polls must be an A & S novice, or a silly-willyTrue Believer.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:33 PM   #181
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Apparrently there is no room in this forum for reasoned discussion, a middle ground, or reasonable disagreement. It seems apparent to me that unless someone joins one of the "camps" here through and through, one will be attacked on both flanks.

The silly thing is-half the time i think you guys are saying the same damn thing and you spend pages arguing over nothing other than your dislike of someone else. You people remind me of the "Peoples Front" group in the movie "Life of Brian."


I am going to return to the S & F forum where at least people can agree that drinking beer is fun.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:35 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by chipcom
I take the text you quoted from Robert as a warning that you cannot depend upon other's to look out for your interests and that blame, after the fact, is pointless.
That's how I take it too. And that's the meaning I've always meant to convey whenever i wrote about responsibility, blame and fault.

Quote:
But, unlike you, and perhaps Robert too, I understand that all too often our best laid plans are not enough and nobody is to blame.
What makes you think I and even maybe Robert don't understand that?

More importantly, do you understand the potential harm in believing that to be true, even if it is true (which, again, of course it is)?

Let's try this, when Hurst says, "Blame is dangerous", what do you think he means by that?
Why is blame dangerous?

I believe the reason blame is dangerous is because blame - which essentially is blaming others for not being responsible -- is the opposite of hoarding responsibility (to use Hurst's language again). That "thinking in terms of blame while out on the road is a perfect example of self-fulling prophecy. " That "the urban cyclist's best chance is to gather all the responsibilty that can be gathered. Hoard it from those around you. " Blame is the opposite of that.

Now consider your point: "best laid plans are not enough and nobody is to blame."

Do you see how it follows to say that thinking in terms of "best laid plans are sometimes not enough and nobody is to blame" while out on the road is a perfect example of self-fulfilling prophecy?
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Old 03-12-07, 06:42 PM   #183
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I agree with e & f as "possibilities" to my scenario and I am well aware of chaos theory. However, E & F were not listed by me because they are risks that cannot be accounted for by the choices available to me. Game theory invovles the comparative risks we face based on behaviors we choose and recognizes that we can minimize those risks. I completely agree with you that some things are out of our control.


But given that nothing I can do can prevent E & F, these "possibilities" should not figure into my risk/benefit calculation as the risk of E & F is the same no matter what course I choose.


The risk table is simply a tool to demonstrate that more times than not, we are better served by acting in accordance with the worst possible outcome. Now of course, this changes when one applies certain frequency values to the result. To be 100% methodologically proper, the we would have to assign percentages to the risk of the different outcomes based on our behavior. Thus, the result in A might be 80% and B might be 5% or whatever. Given that it is impossible for me to quantify the liklihood of the end results, I did not include percentages in my illustration, which, again, was merely used as a tool to demonstrate a cost/benefit analysis---it was not meant to represent the full spectrum of ALL possibilities.

I agree that we can't prevent E and it does not enter into our planning process, but if one is supposed to be 'totally responsible' , then F IS something that must be considered - which is just about impossible and thus renders the 'total responsibility' theory moot. When it's nut cutting time, you don't have time to apply a nice risk analysis methodology, you make snap decisions, act and react. You cannot focus on that car you think is going to run the light and miss the guy behind you who has no idea of what is happening and plows into you from the rear, yet you simply cannot process and prioritize all of the potential threats in any orderly, logical fashion. If you are 'totally responsible' you should have seen that guy behind you and dealt with him too, as well as the little girl on the sidewalk fixing to use the crosswalk, the dog darting out from between some parked cars, the lady in the other lane yapping on her cell phone and not paying attention, etc, etc. Any one of those variables can be the one that ultimately leads to something bad happening, even if they don't seem like the obvious threat or are even observed at all. All you can do is take responsibility for your own actions, you cannot be 'totally responsible for your own safety' because too many variables are outside of your control. That is why I think this entire poll is silly. It could have easily been written 'do you take responsibility for your own actions regarding your safety' and all of this nonsensical debate could have been avoided, but as I mentioned before, there is another purpose to this poll, it is not just an innocent attempt at enlightenment.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:49 PM   #184
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I agree that we can't prevent E and it does not enter into our planning process, but if one is supposed to be 'totally responsible' , then F IS something that must be considered - which is just about impossible and thus renders the 'total responsibility' theory moot. When it's nut cutting time, you don't have time to apply a nice risk analysis methodology, you make snap decisions, act and react. You cannot focus on that car you think is going to run the light and miss the guy behind you who has no idea of what is happening and plows into you from the rear, yet you simply cannot process and prioritize all of the potential threats in any orderly, logical fashion. If you are 'totally responsible' you should have seen that guy behind you and dealt with him too, as well as the little girl on the sidewalk fixing to use the crosswalk, the dog darting out from between some parked cars, the lady in the other lane yapping on her cell phone and not paying attention, etc, etc. Any one of those variables can be the one that ultimately leads to something bad happening, even if they don't seem like the obvious threat or are even observed at all. All you can do is take responsibility for your own actions, you cannot be 'totally responsible for your own safety' because too many variables are outside of your control. That is why I think this entire poll is silly. It could have easily been written 'do you take responsibility for your own actions regarding your safety' and all of this nonsensical debate could have been avoided, but as I mentioned before, there is another purpose to this poll, it is not just an innocent attempt at enlightenment.
This is where I disagree with you:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipcom
If you are 'totally responsible' you should have seen that guy behind you and dealt with him too, as well as the little girl on the sidewalk fixing to use the crosswalk, the dog darting out from between some parked cars, the lady in the other lane yapping on her cell phone and not paying attention, etc, etc.
You seem to interchange the meaning of 'totally responsible' with 'having total control'. In other words, I do agree the following is true:

Quote:
If you 'have total control' you should have seen that guy behind you and dealt with him too, as well as the little girl on the sidewalk fixing to use the crosswalk, the dog darting out from between some parked cars, the lady in the other lane yapping on her cell phone and not paying attention, etc, etc.
But being 'totally responsible' does not mean having total control and being capable of handling anything that may happen. But what 'totally responsible' does mean is that you can't count on anyone else to do it for you, if you can't.

In other words, taking total responsibility for your safety while cycling in traffic means you are not counting on anyone else to be responsible for your safety. But taking total responsibility for your own safety does not at all preclude the possibility that your safety may still be compromised.
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Old 03-12-07, 06:52 PM   #185
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there is another purpose to this poll, it is not just an innocent attempt at enlightenment.
Oh, please. What on earth could possibly be the purpose of this poll if not an innocent attempt at enlightenment?

Seriously, I'm just trying to bring attention to the concept of responsibility as conveyed in Robert's book.

What do you think the purpose is?
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Old 03-12-07, 06:52 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by skanking biker
Apparrently there is no room in this forum for reasoned discussion, a middle ground, or reasonable disagreement. It seems apparent to me that unless someone joins one of the "camps" here through and through, one will be attacked on both flanks.

The silly thing is-half the time i think you guys are saying the same damn thing and you spend pages arguing over nothing other than your dislike of someone else. You people remind me of the "Peoples Front" group in the movie "Life of Brian."


I am going to return to the S & F forum where at least people can agree that drinking beer is fun.
Thank you for your analysis. I'm sure you will find the "reasoned discussion" you are looking for amongst your pals on the S & F forum. By-Bye!
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Old 03-12-07, 07:18 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
That's good. You're looking at an incident that was negative to you from the perspective of how your behavior contributed to it happening.

One (arguably extreme) point to be observed is that your choice to ride in the street was such a contributory factor - if you had chosen to ride on the bike path, or not ride at all, then that certainly would have prevented it.

But, if I understand Robert's meaning, he wants you to look at your specific behavior at that place, and for, say, the minute prior to it. Is there anything you could have done to prevent it?

Could you have been better aware of your situation? Could you have been observing behind and seen that bus coming long before it reached you? Could you have noted the path it was on, and its conflict to you, while you still had a chance to do something about it? Could you have looked back over your shoulder, signalled left, and moved left a few feet while the bus was still far enough back to be able to safely slow down to your speed and/or change lanes to pass, making it clear in no uncertain terms that you had no intention to share the lane with him?

Just asking...
so i guess your answer to perfect personal responsibility is to get off the streets where we might endanger ourselves?
as far as i'm concerned, robert hurst can get bent, forrester can get inserted, and HH can clean up after them.
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Old 03-12-07, 07:38 PM   #188
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as far as i'm concerned, robert hurst can get bent, forrester can get inserted, and HH can clean up after them.
HH, if you ever want to know what impact your 'advocacy' has had on the vast majority of cyclists that have endured your threads all you have to do is re-read the above quote.

Congratulations
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Old 03-12-07, 07:42 PM   #189
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.. 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.
True. If you take absolute responsibility for staying out of trouble on the bike, the only decision to make would be to stay off the bike entirely. What if you really want to ride though?

It is my opinion that, despite the strong language in the passage quoted by HH, Hurst's theory on responsibility is a bit more realistic than it is made out to be in this rather bizarro thread.

If we cyclists don't place any trust in drivers, never give away any of the power over own own fates to strangers, we could never get anywhere. We could never ride anywhere but a velodrome closed for our private use. In particular, every time we are passed by a car there is something going on which is out of the cyclist's control; responsibility for our safety is given over, at least partially, to complete strangers on a frequent basis. It's an unfortunate reality of sharing space with other users. As we ride from the city centers to the suburbs and beyond, the percentage of responsibility that we can hoard for ourselves is less and less.

You have to trust, but I think you also have to recognize when you're doing it and what the stakes are. In traffic, trusting strangers without realizing it is a bad thing. Perhaps minimizing the amount of trust placed in drivers is the best policy.

Robert
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Old 03-12-07, 07:55 PM   #190
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst
True. If you take absolute responsibility for staying out of trouble on the bike, the only decision to make would be to stay off the bike entirely. What if you really want to ride though?

It is my opinion that, despite the strong language in the passage quoted by HH, Hurst's theory on responsibility is a bit more realistic than it is made out to be in this rather bizarro thread.

If we cyclists don't place any trust in drivers, never give away any of the power over own own fates to strangers, we could never get anywhere. We could never ride anywhere but a velodrome closed for our private use. In particular, every time we are passed by a car there is something going on which is out of the cyclist's control; responsibility for our safety is given over, at least partially, to complete strangers on a frequent basis. It's an unfortunate reality of sharing space with other users. As we ride from the city centers to the suburbs and beyond, the percentage of responsibility that we can hoard for ourselves is less and less.

You have to trust, but I think you also have to recognize when you're doing it and what the stakes are. In traffic, trusting strangers without realizing it is a bad thing. Perhaps minimizing the amount of trust placed in drivers is the best policy.

Robert
Thank you for finally weighing in. I wish you could have done so sooner and we could have avoided all the strange tangents this thread took. It's nice to have the actual author around sometimes to clarify their work.
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Old 03-12-07, 07:58 PM   #191
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I am going to return to the S & F forum where at least people can agree that drinking beer is fun.
I prefer to drink wine.

This thread really is very silly. We all pretty much agree that we're responsible for our safety. The only place we seem to disagree is that some of us believe that motorists are responsible for driving safely and not putting us in danger to begin with, some of us accept that they'll never be responsible so you may as well try to deal with it as well as you can--no guarantees, and some of us believe that if you act now, you can obtain the secrets of bicycle salvation.

Operators are standing by.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:31 PM   #192
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The fact that some things are out of our control does not mean I shouldn't take what steps I CAN take to reduce the risk of "bad things."
That's pretty much what it comes down to.

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"Only a few prefer liberty -- the majority seek nothing more than fair masters" --Sallust, Histories
Spoken like a true slave owner, eh?

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Old 03-12-07, 09:05 PM   #193
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I wish I could be as insightful and eloquent as zeytoun usually is, even when he's tearing ME apart.
Good thing you said "usually", cause I was getting embarrassed.

----

Helmet Head, either you realize what is going on or you don't. You start a poll with two painfully similar choices, the meanings of which change subtly every few posts (the only authoritative interpretation belonging of course to you). The thread may have always meant one thing to you, but if it was clearly presented to everyone, why is there so much debate about it? Is everyone incorrect, except you? And I am pretty sure you can win any argument sheerly by quoting and splitting hairs until everyone gives up. That makes you stubborn, not right. Between that, and expressing your "mind over matter" belief (which smacks of Social Darwinism - don't get me wrong, I am sure we have a lot more control over our destiny then we realize, but the day that I judge a victim of violence as being responsible because he didn't "take responsibility" for another person's evil act, may someone please hit me really hard), I am having a hard time wondering whether you are insane, or merely a passive-aggressive cyborg.

I don't think you're misunderstood. I think the problem is that other people understand you better then you understand yourself. That must be frustrating.

You aren't by any chance a Virgo with Taurus rising are you?
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Old 03-12-07, 10:04 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst
True. If you take absolute responsibility for staying out of trouble on the bike, the only decision to make would be to stay off the bike entirely. What if you really want to ride though?

It is my opinion that, despite the strong language in the passage quoted by HH, Hurst's theory on responsibility is a bit more realistic than it is made out to be in this rather bizarro thread.

If we cyclists don't place any trust in drivers, never give away any of the power over own own fates to strangers, we could never get anywhere. We could never ride anywhere but a velodrome closed for our private use. In particular, every time we are passed by a car there is something going on which is out of the cyclist's control; responsibility for our safety is given over, at least partially, to complete strangers on a frequent basis. It's an unfortunate reality of sharing space with other users. As we ride from the city centers to the suburbs and beyond, the percentage of responsibility that we can hoard for ourselves is less and less.

You have to trust, but I think you also have to recognize when you're doing it and what the stakes are. In traffic, trusting strangers without realizing it is a bad thing. Perhaps minimizing the amount of trust placed in drivers is the best policy.

Robert


That last paragraph is exactly what I mean to stress with "trust, but verify".
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Old 03-12-07, 10:09 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by zeytoun
Good thing you said "usually", cause I was getting embarrassed.

----

Helmet Head, either you realize what is going on or you don't. You start a poll with two painfully similar choices, the meanings of which change subtly every few posts (the only authoritative interpretation belonging of course to you). The thread may have always meant one thing to you, but if it was clearly presented to everyone, why is there so much debate about it? Is everyone incorrect, except you?
Of course not. There is no correct answer.

Quote:
And I am pretty sure you can win any argument sheerly by quoting and splitting hairs until everyone gives up. That makes you stubborn, not right.
I don't even know how I could win an argument in this thread. I don't even know what the argument would be in this thread.

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Between that, and expressing your "mind over matter" belief (which smacks of Social Darwinism - don't get me wrong, I am sure we have a lot more control over our destiny then we realize, but the day that I judge a victim of violence as being responsible because he didn't "take responsibility" for another person's evil act, may someone please hit me really hard), I am having a hard time wondering whether you are insane, or merely a passive-aggressive cyborg.
What I should have said was "positive thinking". And also the "ownership" factor - if you feel you "own" something, including the total responsibilty for your safety, you're more likely to take better care of it than if it is "co-owned". That's closer to what I was thinking.

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I don't think you're misunderstood. I think the problem is that other people understand you better then you understand yourself. That must be frustrating.
It is. Especially since they are unable to explain it.

Whatever. I intended to bring attention to the "Hurst theory of responsibility". I accomplished that.

Unfortunately, somehow I also managed to p!$$ off some more people in the process, for reasons I still cannot understand. Can't win 'em all. Stay tuned for the vigilance thread!

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You aren't by any chance a Virgo with Taurus rising are you?
No.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:49 PM   #196
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The guy that sold me the bike is responsible.

OK, I picked number 2. As others have mentioned, you can be the safest rider living, and it won't help you if a cement truck makes a sudden turn into you.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:55 PM   #197
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mr. head, you ARE NOT the sole arbitrater of our collective riding techiques in this forum. You are NOT the judge, nor the educator, or the seer.

you are another rider, just like the rest of us. maybe you don't ride as much as a lot of the dedicated transportationalists that post here, but hey, that's neither here nor there.

Please, for the sake of the forum, give your soapbox a rest and realize, you are a rider, just like the rest of us that post here.

Please, mr. head, YOU are NOT responsible for OUR safety.

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Old 03-12-07, 11:24 PM   #198
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I chose "yes, I accept full responsibility for my safety," but only because there's really no other choice in this poll, or on the road for that matter. Yes, I fully expect motorists to act like responsible adults, and they almost always do, but the simple fact is, I have no control whatsoever over what another individual decides to do, and to pretend otherwise is simply stupid. I only have control over my own actions; if some idiot in a SUV does something that endangers my safety, the only rational thing to do is to respond decisively. Insisting that the angry young wanna-be gansta in the Escalade be concerned about my well-being is simply a waste of time. Ultimately, whether you like it or not, the only person who's going to insure your safety is, well, you.
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Old 03-12-07, 11:27 PM   #199
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First of all I admit that this thread confuses me in many ways. I find it highly disorienting.

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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
It means you're responsible to know who at any given time is in a position to cause you harm, and to make sure that that does not happen.

You're responsible to know what the risks are, taking into account that all drivers are inattentive some of the time, that some drivers are extraordinarly incompetent, and that there are some drivers out there who actually might want to harm you, and to make your choices accordingly. You're responsible for what happens as a result of those choices.
Yes. with the understanding that cycling in traffic will necessarily involve some elements out of our control, for practicality's sake. (The uncomfortable fact is that there will always be some Russian Roulette out there. It doesn't do us much good to dwell on it -- worry about what you can do something about, which is often much more than we realize.) Now, how is that different from Chipcom's 'plan for Murphy'? Seems like one and the same to me: we try to recognize all the possible scenarios in hopes of staying one step ahead of the worst-case (within reason) should it come to pass. How are we going to stay one step ahead if we don't have the situational awareness to understand/recognize what might go down at any given time. Isn't this the same as Chipcom Cycling® (CC)? Do we have a language problem? Can't we all just get along? Can I have an extra side of bacon with my Super Slam breakfast?

And I'm really confused by another thing -- how does your endorsement of this notion of gathering up all the responsibility that can be gathered jibe with the idea that you were promoting in another thread of VC as a 'safety net' for cyclists on 'autopilot'? I think what you are saying here would very much disapprove of what you were saying there.

Robert
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Old 03-13-07, 03:51 AM   #200
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Unfortunately, somehow I also managed to p!$$ off some more people in the process, for reasons I still cannot understand. Can't win 'em all. Stay tuned for the vigilance thread!
And those who are on your winning team? Quite the clique of advocates, eh?
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