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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 03-10-07, 11:03 PM   #1
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Who is responsible for your safety?

Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic, or do you hold others at least partially responsible?

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
This poll assumes a very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility.
Since I did not originally specify what I meant by responsibiilty, intentionally allowing each person to use whatever definition works for them, I don't see how Pat can assert this (in post #4).

For what it's worth, the meaning I personally have in mind is that used by Robert Hurst in The Art of Urban Cycling, pp 64-67. The key excerpts from that brilliant section follow:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hurst
Blame Versus
Responsibility
The word "blame" came to the English language by way of the Latin word blasphemare, meaning "to blaspheme". The Old English version of the verb "to blame" has a very negative connotation. It implied dishonesty. Blame had roughly the same meaning as malign or libel. Somewhere along the line, the definition of blame got all twisted up. Blame ceased to be a very bad thing and became quite respectable -- not a proud or useful moment in human history.

Today's Americans spray blame around in great shotgun blasts to see what they can hit and where it might stick. They aim it everywhere except where it might actually do some good. We would be better off reverting to the original meaning of the word.

The proliferation of blame is rather useless for urban cycling. Blame is what happens when it's already too late. Obsession with blame is good for insurance purposes but not so good for safety purposes. The urban cyclist should cast the twin concepts of blame and legal liability on the scrap heap and forget about them. Thinking in terms of blame while out on the road is a perfect example of self-fulling prophecy. Blame is dangerous.

The most effective way for a cyclist to stay out of trouble on city streets is to forget entirely about the possibility of blaming others, and to take on full responsibility for his or her own safety. This attitude will be fundamentally different from the prima donna mind-set displayed by many humans, drivers and cyclists among them, who put their safety in the hands of others, count on everything working out just right, and have a royal freak-out at the first sign of trouble. The successful urban cyclist counts on nothing but chaos and stupidity.

...

From now on -- if some bastard breaks every law in the book and runs you over in the process, it will be your fault and nobody else's. That is the meaning of true freedom. That is how we will keep such disasters from happening in the first place.

...

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.
Perhaps Robert's concept reflects a "very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility", but I, for one, find it to be extraordinarily practical with respect to cycling in traffic.

Robert is not mincing words, his meaning should be crystal clear to anyone. Read it again and again, until you really get it, take it to heart, and make it so.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-11-07 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 03-10-07, 11:18 PM   #2
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i remember a public service campaign on TV when i was young -- "watch out for the other guy", telling motorists that prudence and due caution on the road would save not only their own lives, but someone else's. after all the years of driving, in all the different parts of the country and abroad, i came to the conclusion that this was one of the wisest points EVER issued to the public, ANYWHERE.

having said that, i am unable to be 100% responsible for my own safety on the road -- i can be as safe as a double condom, but one idiot on a cell phone or some other multitask can render all my efforts vain. we ALL have a reasonable expectation from our fellow road users to conduct their affairs with due caution. just because that idea is eroding under contemporary mores' does not mean it is invalid.
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Old 03-10-07, 11:59 PM   #3
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Luckily, my belief in the good book of EC will keep me safe. That, or the clowns in the weekend peloton riding cover will help keep some of us safe...
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Old 03-11-07, 12:13 AM   #4
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This poll assumes a very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility.
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Old 03-11-07, 04:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
This poll assumes a very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility.
Is there any other?
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Old 03-11-07, 06:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
This poll assumes a very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility.
That's a problem with polls not necessarily the design of this one. The only position left off of this poll would be the extreme opposite of "I accept full responsibility for my safety". Something like "Everyone else is responsible for keeping my cranium from splattering off of their bumper."

It only take a few moments observing traffic in eastern Mediterranean countries to see what it means to relinquish all responsibility for everyone elses safety.

How would you have done it?
Best regards,
James
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Old 03-11-07, 06:09 AM   #7
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I accept full responsibity, yet so do we all. Someone cuts us off and causes us to crash, that's none of our faults. It's the fault of the lawbreaker. Just as if we were within the confines of a car.
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Old 03-11-07, 06:19 AM   #8
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We share the road. We share the rights. We share the responsibilities.
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Old 03-11-07, 07:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic, or do you hold others at least partially responsible?
You left out the choice for "No, I'm completely irresponsible and ignore all rules, regulations and never even pay attention to where I'm going or what anyone else is doing. La-De-Dah"

Oh wait, the other two listed negative responses can substitute for the unavailable response in the HH analysis of the results.

As you were, please continue with the quest for truth.
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Old 03-11-07, 09:02 AM   #10
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Old 03-11-07, 09:14 AM   #11
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I think helmet head also left out HIS most common safety scenario

" I rely on a cadre of club riders to provide safety for my riding, because riding en masse is certainely safer than solo traffic cycling. Ride in traffic daily? what are you, nuts?"
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Old 03-11-07, 09:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
This poll assumes a very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility.
The poll assumes nothing about the concept of responsibility (polls don't assume, people do). You can speak for yourself, however, and obviously you have.

What I intended, however, has since been clarified in the OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Luckily, my belief in the good book of EC will keep me safe. That, or the clowns in the weekend peloton riding cover will help keep some of us safe...
What does this have to do with EC?

As for weekend pelotons, the same attitude applies. Many newer club riders do not take full responsibility for their safety when riding in groups. They are easiest to identify as the ones who are usually involved in pileups. Those who take responsibility for their safety apply Robert's dictum to their group riding; that accept that "if some bastard breaks every [rule] in the book and [causes you to lose balance and fall] over in the process, it will be your fault and nobody else's." And they ride accordingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
We share the road. We share the rights. We share the responsibilities.
Got a mouse in your pocket? Who is this "We" that you think and speak for?

"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 starts, or to luck. Definitely don't leave your fate to the drivers." --Robert Hurst (see OP).

Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Oh wait, the other two listed negative responses can substitute for the unavailable response in the HH analysis of the results.
Granted the third one is arguably bogus. But the second choice is a genuine attempt to reflect the views expressed by many on this forum, and the numbers who have selected it seems to indicate it is effective as such.

Edit: I didn't expect anyone to ever pick "No, motorists are more responsible for my safety than I am.". But I think it's presence is still useful, just to add clarity to the meaning on of the other two choices. This poll is really about the first 2 choices, and the voting is close.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-11-07 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 03-11-07, 09:50 AM   #13
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Not to worry. My belief in the teachings of The Great One (John Forester) will protect me. I have read the Good Book; I know everything and I am invincible.

If I don't have an accident, the VC cultists will claim I was a vehicular cyclist. If I do have an accident, they'll say it was my own fault. That's their idea of scientific evidence that VC is safer.

I take responsibility for whatever I do. I do that, in part, by not putting too much faith in what I might read in a book or what some nutjob on an internet message board thinks.
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Old 03-11-07, 09:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
What I intended, however, has since been clarified in the OP.
Way to go, dude. Change the original post, why don't ya.

You crack me up.
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Old 03-11-07, 10:03 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
I accept full responsibity, yet so do we all. Someone cuts us off and causes us to crash, that's none of our faults. It's the fault of the lawbreaker. Just as if we were within the confines of a car.
"Blame is dangerous" -- Robert Hurst (see the OP)
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Old 03-11-07, 10:04 AM   #16
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I have slowed down in recent years. I am 40+ years old, and I no longer do "sprints", or try to do the speed limit of 30MPH.
When I look back throught the years, I recall that many times when I tried to go as fast as the traffic, motorists did not apreciate the effort I was making.
Funny, I no longer hear anyone shouting that I'm going too slow. I guess it's the perspective of the motorist. If I was going 27MPH, for example, I was in the center of the lane, blocking cars from behind. The motorist doesn't care that the speed limit is 30MPH, and maybe he can't do the math, but he should only be gaining on me at the 3 miles per hour difference.(30-27=3).
Okay, that was example 1, twenty years ago and I was a hundred pounds lighter.
Today I ride that same stretch of road at 18MPH. I can ride closer to the right edge of the road. I am going slower, but the motorist doesn't yell at me that I'm going too slow, because I'm not blocking the whole lane.

When a driver has a contention with a cyclist, It always seems to be a white male behind the wheel. I've noticed a change in the past twenty years, however. Today it always seems as if he's a teenager, whereas back then there were more "old farts" honking at bicycles. (Maybe the "old farts" who didn't believe in bicycling, died of heart attacks?)

Speed cycling is a paradox; If you pedal fast, you take up the same line as a motorcycle would, and you block cars from passing. The drivers have short tempers and they let you know it. If you pedal slow, you're at the rightmost usable part of the road, so they can pass.
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Old 03-11-07, 10:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRA
Way to go, dude. Change the original post, why don't ya.

You crack me up.
I didn't change a single word of the original post. I simply added a few words of clarification, mostly a quote from Robert Hurst.

That use of responsibility, by the way, is consistent with everything else I've ever posted on this forum with respect to the topic taking responsibility for your safety.
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Old 03-11-07, 10:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I didn't change a single word of the original post. I simply added a few words of clarification, mostly a quote from Robert Hurst.

That use of responsibility, by the way, is consistent with everything else I've ever posted on this forum with respect to the topic taking responsibility for your safety.
Whatever. Adding a bunch of stuff in an attempt to give something validity is not changing it.

You crack me up.
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Old 03-11-07, 10:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRA
Whatever. Adding a bunch of stuff in an attempt to give something validity is not changing it.

You crack me up.
Are you saying the issue raised by this poll does not have validity?
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Old 03-11-07, 10:27 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Do you take total responsibility for your safety when cycling in traffic, or do you hold others at least partially responsible?

EDIT:
Since I did not originally specify what I meant by responsibiilty, intentionally allowing each person to use whatever definition works for them, I don't see how Pat can assert this (in post #4).

For what it's worth, the meaning I personally have in mind is that used by Robert Hurst in The Art of Urban Cycling, pp 64-67. The key excerpts from that brilliant section follow:

Perhaps Robert's concept reflects a "very simplistic and naive concept of responsibility", but I, for one, find it to be extraordinarily practical with respect to cycling in traffic.

Robert is not mincing words, his meaning should be crystal clear to anyone. Read it again and again, until you really get it, take it to heart, and make it so.

I have no qualms with Hurst's definition and intention. What I do have a problem with is others that go out of their way to be a nuisance to me. Motorists that exhibit behaviour above and beyond the ordinary, simply because they encounter me, a cyclist. Those people ARE responsible for their actions and how their actions effect me.

Consider a chain reaction sequence of events... I am riding along, being perfectly legal... a motorist does something extraordinary in some manner to "bypass" me, I react to their extraordinary actions with an escape move, they then react to that move... I attempt a counter reaction; at some point the events spiral down to causing me harm. (mass verses mass). Motorists acting "ordinary" do not require this sort of parry and thrust.

Responsibility of reaction was held by me, but responsibility of normal action in the first place, was held by the motorist. Violation of that latter responsibilty is the problem about which I tend to rant. Motorists not acting in an ordinary manner. Be it power moves leading to potential right hooks, to objects thrown from windows, to threating and bumping. These are extraordinary actions that have no place on the roadway.
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Old 03-11-07, 10:35 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
I have no qualms with Hurst's definition and intention. What I do have a problem with is others that go out of their way to be a nuisance to me. Motorists that exhibit behaviour above and beyond the ordinary, simply because they encounter me, a cyclist. Those people ARE responsible for their actions and how their actions effect me.

Consider a chain reaction sequence of events... I am riding along, being perfectly legal... a motorist does something extraordinary in some manner to "bypass" me, I react to their extraordinary actions with an escape move, they then react to that move... I attempt a counter reaction; at some point the events spiral down to causing me harm. (mass verses mass). Motorists acting "ordinary" do not require this sort of parry and thrust.

Responsibility of reaction was held by me, but responsibility of normal action in the first place, was held by the motorist. Violation of that latter responsibilty is the problem about which I tend to rant. Motorists not acting in an ordinary manner. Be it power moves leading to potential right hooks, to objects thrown from windows, to threating and bumping. These are extraordinary actions that have no place on the roadway.
Read it again.

"From now on -- if some bastard breaks every law in the book and runs you over in the process, it will be your fault and nobody else's. That is the meaning of true freedom. That is how we will keep such disasters from happening in the first place." --Robert Hurst

"Blame is dangerous." --Robert Hurst

Think about it. Read Robert's words again. Read your words again. Do you see the conflict?
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Old 03-11-07, 10:52 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
Those people ARE responsible for their actions and how their actions effect me.
"Those people" are clearly NOT responsible for their actions. You really need to understand that, and accept it.

And regardless of whether they are responsible for their actions or not, YOU are responsible for how they affect you and your safety.

"Hoard [responsibility] 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

Edit: With all due respect, Gene, your posts, including the one above, 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 their poor driving 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.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-11-07 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 03-11-07, 11:20 AM   #23
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This has got to be the silliest poll yet. A person is only responsible for his/her own actions within the realm of what is within their own control. They are NOT responsible for the actions of things that are not within their control.

Hurst is attempting to make the point that a cyclist cannot expect others to act responsibly, especially in the context of YOUR best interests, so we must assume that they will not if we wish to minimize our risk. Planning for Murphy. You are taking his words, some totally out of context, in an effort to support your pet theory that the cyclist is always wrong and that motorists are not responsible for their own actions, which is why you've presented yet another rigged poll.

I hope Robert weighs in, because I believe that he will also take issue with how you are using his words.
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Old 03-11-07, 11:36 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Read it again.

"From now on -- if some bastard breaks every law in the book and runs you over in the process, it will be your fault and nobody else's. That is the meaning of true freedom. That is how we will keep such disasters from happening in the first place." --Robert Hurst

"Blame is dangerous." --Robert Hurst

Think about it. Read Robert's words again. Read your words again. Do you see the conflict?
Can't buy it. If someone came gunning for you and you did everything humanly possible to avoid a bullet and it hit you none the less, those pursuing you ARE responsible.

Hurst's point is to do everything you can, but it is a two way street out there, and those that go above and beyond the ordinary in attempts to violate my rights are responsible for their own actions.

Or to put it another way... according to you, Ken Kifer is responsible for the incident where a drunk driver took Ken's life.
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Old 03-11-07, 11:39 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Edit: With all due respect, Gene, your posts, including the one above, 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 their poor driving 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.
Poor driving is one thing... arrogant stupid aggressive driving is another.

Poor drivers I can easily avoid, drivers that do anything and everything in violation of not only my safety, but theirs' are another thing altogether.
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