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Old 04-26-07, 04:08 AM   #1
The other Inane
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Is it VC to ride on a footpath?

On my commute I sometimes (50:50 based on conditions) leave the road and use a 40m section of footpath before re-entering the roadway. This is mainly for convenience but allows me to avoid a slightly nasty section of road if traffic is heavy.

Bicycles are allowed on the footpath where I live so I am obeying the "vehicular rules of the road" as they apply to bicycles. I also give way to any traffic when re-entering the road.

Is this VC? and can I still get my VC(TM) merit badge
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Old 04-26-07, 06:35 AM   #2
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Vehicular cycling principles represent to me the ability to use the same facilities as automobiles in a similar fashion to all vehicular traffic. But it does not limit my other options, like cutting through at the end of a cul-de-sac while rolling slowly on the sidewalk past cafe dwellers and seemingly indifferent pigeons, in order to get to another street.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:13 AM   #3
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Who cares? As long as it doesn't scare the horses, is legal, then whatever....
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Old 04-26-07, 07:50 AM   #4
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If the footpath is part of a highway right of way, then vehicular cycling means operating on the roadway rather than the walkway, in order to generally allow destination positioning and speed positioning among other vehicular traffic, and to operate at a safer distance from pedestrians as the corridor allows.

If the footpath is a greenway in its own right-of-way, i.e. it's own route, then it is possible to borrow vehicular cycling concepts when cycling on it by treating it like a miniature road - i.e. staying right except to pass, looking back before moving laterally, etc.

Some cyclists who prefer to use the roadway section and prefer to observe vehicular cycling principles will occasionally use a short section of sidewalk if it saves them time and effort, is reasonably safe, is legal, and is not impolite. I usually walk my bike on the sidewalk when I encounter these situations because they are very short distances, and because the situations where I do it most often involve contra-flow travel where I need to consider my visibility and ability to react to turning and crossing traffic. Other places, it's usually easier to just use the roadway according to the normal rules.

I suggest that vehicular cycling is not a moral or philisophical concept, but a model with which to compare cycling by vehicular rules to other approaches such as pedestrian-style cycling, so one can make objective comparisons of their operational advantages and disadvantages in either general or specific situations.

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Old 04-26-07, 07:52 AM   #5
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Unless you're thumping the Forester bible and bludgeoning others with your self-proclaimed holier than thou VC status, nothing you do is VC.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
If the footpath is part of a highway right of way, then vehicular cycling means operating on the roadway rather than the walkway, in order to generally allow destination positioning and speed positioning among other vehicular traffic, and to operate at a safer distance from pedestrians as the corridor allows.

If the footpath is a greenway in its own right-of-way, i.e. it's own route, then it is possible to borrow vehicular cycling concepts when cycling on it by treating it like a miniature road - i.e. staying right except to pass, looking back before moving laterally, etc.

Some cyclists who prefer to use the roadway section and prefer to observe vehicular cycling principles will occasionally use a short section of sidewalk if it saves them time and effort, is reasonably safe, is legal, and is not impolite. I usually walk my bike on the sidewalk when I encounter these situations because they are very short distances, and because the situations where I do it most often involve contra-flow travel where I need to consider my visibility and ability to react to turning and crossing traffic. Other places, it's usually easier to just use the roadway according to the normal rules.

I suggest that vehicular cycling is not a moral or philisophical concept, but a model with which to compare cycling by vehicular rules to other approaches such as pedestrian-style cycling, so one can make objective comparisons of their operational advantages and disadvantages in either general or specific situations.
Steve, once again, your writing is very lucid. I won't call you a genius, because that's a sure-fire way to open the doors to ignorance. You tread a proper balance between simplicity and covering everything important.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
Unless you're thumping the Forester bible and bludgeoning others with your self-proclaimed holier than thou VC status, nothing you do is VC.
What do you think of our "alternate text" here in North Carolina?:

http://www.ncdot.org/transit/bicycle...e_cycling.html

Does this text adequately describe vehicular cycling?
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Old 04-26-07, 09:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
I suggest that vehicular cycling is not a moral or philisophical concept, but a model with which to compare cycling by vehicular rules to other approaches such as pedestrian-style cycling, so one can make objective comparisons of their operational advantages and disadvantages in either general or specific situations.
You realize that this above statement is quite at odds with the likes of John Forester and Helmet Head, right? To them, most, if not all, of Vehicular Cycling is about morality and philosophy. The actual vehicular cycling techniques are almost secondary.
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Old 04-26-07, 09:44 AM   #9
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Depends on what you mean by VC.

See the following for the need of badges ...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040897/

EDIT: For the lazy ... Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!
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Old 04-26-07, 09:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
You realize that this above statement is quite at odds with the likes of John Forester and Helmet Head, right? To them, most, if not all, of Vehicular Cycling is about morality and philosophy. The actual vehicular cycling techniques are almost secondary.
You realize that this above statement is quite at odds with the likes of John Forester and Helmet Head, right? To us, most of Vehicular Cycling is about the actual vehicular cycling techniques and practices. Secondary, though necessary to practice the techniques consistently, habitually and instintively, is adoption of the philosophy: believing deep down that cyclists have an equal right to the road, subject to the same rules and responsibilities, as do drivers of vehicles. Morality has nothing to do with it.
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Old 04-26-07, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The other Inane
On my commute I sometimes (50:50 based on conditions) leave the road and use a 40m section of footpath before re-entering the roadway. This is mainly for convenience but allows me to avoid a slightly nasty section of road if traffic is heavy.

Bicycles are allowed on the footpath where I live so I am obeying the "vehicular rules of the road" as they apply to bicycles. I also give way to any traffic when re-entering the road.

Is this VC? and can I still get my VC(TM) merit badge
No, it's not VC when you're riding on a footpath. Vehicular cycling techniques only apply on roadways where drivers are subject to the rules of the road.
A vehicular cyclist is one who practices vehicular cycling when on roadways.
But there is nothing to keep a vehicular cyclist from using non-roadway facilities. That has nothing to do with vehicular cycling.

It's like asking if a butterfly specialist is doing the butterfly when he's swimming in a freestyle event. Of course not.
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Old 04-26-07, 10:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HH
Morality has nothing to do with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dictionary.com
mo·ral·i·ty /məˈrælɪti, mɔ-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[muh-ral-i-tee, maw-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -ties for 4–6.
1. conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HH
subject to the same rules and responsibilities
Quote:
Originally Posted by HH
believing deep down that cyclists have an equal right
I think that Brian's use of "morality" was reasonably consistent with the ideas that you have posted.
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Old 04-26-07, 10:37 AM   #13
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as mossy john has clarified recently in this forum,

vehicular cyclists can and do use bike paths. they can use them safely. they can use them competantly.

vehicular cyclists can take advantage of bike specific engineering controls. vehicular cyclists can ride on bike paths.

and not as 'rolling pedestrians', as bicyclists on a path!

the disarming, misappropriated negativity surrounding bike infrastructure or use of bike specific infrastructure is sooooo misleading.

OF COURSE a vehicualr cyklist can ride on a side path!
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Old 04-26-07, 11:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
You realize that this above statement is quite at odds with the likes of John Forester and Helmet Head, right? To them, most, if not all, of Vehicular Cycling is about morality and philosophy. The actual vehicular cycling techniques are almost secondary.
I don't read enough of Helmet Head's writing to comment on his beliefs.

John's writing seems clear to me, that vehicular cycling is a model, one that provides for the best operational tradeoffs of safety and convenience for cyclists when cyclists and the rest of society act compatibly with it. He appears to reserve his moral judgements not for those cyclists who choose to occasionally operate their own bicycles contrary to that model, but for those who attempt to require others to operate contrary to that model. This is straightforward: if vehicular cycling is, in general, the best model for the cyclist, then requiring or encouraging cyclists to operate contrary to that model would be unethical.

Of course, in special situations where the model is overly simplistic, and practical caveats arise, such as how to accommodate cycling on freeways (not in the travel lanes) or on very large bridges (a shared bike/ped sidepath can be much more affordable to construct that extra roadway space in WOLs/Bike lanes and can work reasonably well) then there is not ethical issue with departing from the vehicular cycling model. I have seen John Forester write about such situations and he seems very reasonable about them when they are clearly defined.

Last edited by sggoodri; 04-26-07 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:57 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sggoodri
I don't read enough of Helmet Head's writing to comment on his beliefs.

John's writing seems clear to me, that vehicular cycling is a model, one that provides for the best operational tradeoffs of safety and convenience for cyclists when cyclists and the rest of society act compatibly with it. He appears to reserve his moral judgements not for those cyclists who choose to occasionally operate their own bicycles contrary to that model, but for those who attempt to require others to operate contrary to that model. This is straightforward: if vehicular cycling is, in general, the best model for the cyclist, then requiring or encouraging cyclists to operate contrary to that model would be unethical.
Herein lies the question though. A model is, by necessity a simplification of the world. When the actual environment falls within the model's bounds, then the model will provide a good solution. But this model cannot be perfect because the system is extremely complex. What works in suburban environments such as most of California and Pheonix (perhaps NC as well, I don't know, never been there), might not work very well in urban Porland or Seattle or New York.

The VC model seems to have been generated in the suburban environment. The WOL platform seems to have been generated in a "super suburban" environment which assumes 4 lane (both directions) roads with fast traffic. Certain parts of VC are useful in all environments. The concept of lane positioning is useful everywhere, but its strict adherance is a product of the suburban environment. The lane positioning which is suitable for a 4 lane arterial is not possible on a 2 lane, narrow, no shoulder rural highway.

This model generation is all about tradeoffs. The model can be extremely complex, and will cover most environments. The model can be simplified and cover limited environments. This is why experience is key. Humans have an innate ability to pick out localized patterns from extremely complex data. Experience is basically the use of the human senses to gather data and pick out patterns in that data. This is why, in extremely complex systems, experience is the most useful tool to generate a working model of a system. For this reason, I have my suspicions about people who claim to have generated a simplistic model which covers every environment. This is why I have suspicions about Vehicular Cycling (I am referring to the way Vehicular Cyclists apply the vehicular cycling techniques, not the techniques themselves). The foundation is simple, yet claimed to be universally applicable to an extremely complex system.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
The VC model seems to have been generated in the suburban environment. The WOL platform seems to have been generated in a "super suburban" environment which assumes 4 lane (both directions) roads with fast traffic. Certain parts of VC are useful in all environments. The concept of lane positioning is useful everywhere, but its strict adherance is a product of the suburban environment. The lane positioning which is suitable for a 4 lane arterial is not possible on a 2 lane, narrow, no shoulder rural highway.
I believe that the vehicular cycling model fits best in urban environments with a high density of intersections, narrow lanes/door zones, and slower speeds.

As motor vehicle speeds get very high and intersection counts get very low, especially when the intersections become free-flowing exchanges, and the availability of space for segregated bikeways increases, that's where I think the model starts to show shortcomings.

WOLs may be easier to build in the suburbs, but they operate fine in urban areas too. I prefer a WOL in an urban area over a sidewalk bike path or a striped bike lane through the same high-intersection count, moderate-speed environment. On freeway-like roads in the suburbs, that's where I start to think a well-swept, wide bike lane or wide paved shoulder could have advantages over a WOL.

The neighborhood street in front of my house is two lanes, 16' per lane, 25mph speed limit. Kids and their parents ride near the edge of the lane and drivers pass with plenty of space. I ride in the center of the lane if I am going fast. A driver can park on the side of the road if he wants to, but there aren't very many. A perfect WOL example.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Herein lies the question though. A model is, by necessity a simplification of the world. When the actual environment falls within the model's bounds, then the model will provide a good solution. But this model cannot be perfect because the system is extremely complex. What works in suburban environments such as most of California and Pheonix (perhaps NC as well, I don't know, never been there), might not work very well in urban Porland or Seattle or New York.

The VC model seems to have been generated in the suburban environment. The WOL platform seems to have been generated in a "super suburban" environment which assumes 4 lane (both directions) roads with fast traffic. Certain parts of VC are useful in all environments. The concept of lane positioning is useful everywhere, but its strict adherance is a product of the suburban environment. The lane positioning which is suitable for a 4 lane arterial is not possible on a 2 lane, narrow, no shoulder rural highway.

This model generation is all about tradeoffs. The model can be extremely complex, and will cover most environments. The model can be simplified and cover limited environments. This is why experience is key. Humans have an innate ability to pick out localized patterns from extremely complex data. Experience is basically the use of the human senses to gather data and pick out patterns in that data. This is why, in extremely complex systems, experience is the most useful tool to generate a working model of a system. For this reason, I have my suspicions about people who claim to have generated a simplistic model which covers every environment. This is why I have suspicions about Vehicular Cycling (I am referring to the way Vehicular Cyclists apply the vehicular cycling techniques, not the techniques themselves). The foundation is simple, yet claimed to be universally applicable to an extremely complex system.
Purely theoretical considerations based on the theory of model design. And supported by unwarranted assumptions.

Vehicular cycling did not arise in any suburban environment. It arose in the mix of center cities, suburbs, and rural areas, all of them. You say that: "The WOL platform seems to have been generated in a "super suburban" environment which assumes 4 lane (both directions) roads with fast traffic." More nearly, it arose, as a formal concept, through discussions that concerned two-lane city streets with 15,000 cars a day, as much as anything, though probably not applicable to such streets. Strange discussions get going about cycling affairs, don't they.

However, to apply some reason to Brian Ratliff's argument, wide outside lanes can be applied to all the situations in which bike lanes can be applied, and to a few more besides. All this talk about things being different in New York than in Phoenix, while having some point, is absolutely foolish when discussing bike lanes. And the bike lanes in New York have had numerous troubles, too, more, apparently, than elsewhere.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
The VC model seems to have been generated in the suburban environment. The WOL platform seems to have been generated in a "super suburban" environment which assumes 4 lane (both directions) roads with fast traffic. Certain parts of VC are useful in all environments. The concept of lane positioning is useful everywhere, but its strict adherance is a product of the suburban environment. The lane positioning which is suitable for a 4 lane arterial is not possible on a 2 lane, narrow, no shoulder rural highway.
I believe that the vehicular cycling model fits best in urban environments with a high density of intersections, narrow lanes/door zones, and slower speeds.

As motor vehicle speeds get very high and intersection counts get very low, especially when the intersections become free-flowing exchanges, and the availability of space for segregated bikeways increases, that's where I think the model starts to show shortcomings.

WOLs may be easier to build in the suburbs, but they operate fine in urban areas too. I prefer a WOL in an urban area over a sidewalk bike path or a striped bike lane through the same high-intersection count, moderate-speed environment. On freeway-like roads in the suburbs, that's where I start to think a well-swept, wide bike lane or wide paved shoulder could have advantages over a WOL.

The neighborhood street in front of my house is two lanes, 16' per lane, 25mph speed limit. Kids and their parents ride near the edge of the lane and drivers pass with plenty of space. I ride in the center of the lane if I am going fast. A driver can park on the side of the road if he wants to, but there aren't very many. A perfect WOL example.
I agree with Steve that there is no way that the "VC model" is somehow less effective in urban environments than in suburban environments. If anything, since the relative speeds between cyclists and motorists are lower, and the intersections more frequent, VC works better in urban than in suburban environments. I've heard Brian make this argument before, and I just can't understand it. It's seems totally backwards. I wonder if he has any rebuttal, if he will concede, or if we will continue grasping to his position despite an inability to respond to Steve's points with reason.

Having said that, I can't imagine how VC could work any better in the suburban environment either. The only areas that I can think of where particular challenges are presented are left turns on high speed arterials, and high speed merges and diverges, such as those encountered at arterial/freeway interchanges. But even these are effectively and easily managed by advanced VC techniques. And bike lanes, not even "well designed" ones, don't help with those challenges either; if anything, they make them more difficult for the cyclist uninitiated in vehicular cycling practices.

By the way, all that leaves is the rural environment, where speeds might be high, but in general the traffic volumes and lane counts are relatively low, so VC works great.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 04-26-07 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
I believe that the vehicular cycling model fits best in urban environments with a high density of intersections, narrow lanes/door zones, and slower speeds.

As motor vehicle speeds get very high and intersection counts get very low, especially when the intersections become free-flowing exchanges, and the availability of space for segregated bikeways increases, that's where I think the model starts to show shortcomings.

WOLs may be easier to build in the suburbs, but they operate fine in urban areas too. I prefer a WOL in an urban area over a sidewalk bike path or a striped bike lane through the same high-intersection count, moderate-speed environment. On freeway-like roads in the suburbs, that's where I start to think a well-swept, wide bike lane or wide paved shoulder could have advantages over a WOL.

The neighborhood street in front of my house is two lanes, 16' per lane, 25mph speed limit. Kids and their parents ride near the edge of the lane and drivers pass with plenty of space. I ride in the center of the lane if I am going fast. A driver can park on the side of the road if he wants to, but there aren't very many. A perfect WOL example.
I actually agree with this, for the most part. Except for the inner city urban part; I don't actually think accomodation is needed at all, just speed control over the flow of traffic. Downtown Portland is a good example of this. Speed limit not-withstanding, the light timing limits the average speed of all traffic to 15 mph. Very easy to bicycle in this environment with no space demarcated specifically for bicyclists, WOL or BL, once the cyclist knows that they aren't restricted from the road. Portland does a good job of this too; because of the number of cyclists, the word that we are not restricted from the road gets out to newbies quickly.

Residential neighborhood streets don't need lane markings at all. My parents live in a subdivision in Beaverton, and there are no lane markings on those roads. This seems good. Bike lanes can be helpful on two lane, slow, residential arterials because maneuvering room for cars are usually restricted by the single lane in each direction, so designating lanes for bicycles and for cars decreases friction in passing to a minimum. As long as cyclists know that they have the full lane available, and know how to make a vehicular left turn, the bike lane works quite well in this environment.

Where a bike lane might not do so well is in a built up area around a 4 lane arterial, where there is need for midblock left turns and where speeds are around 45 mph. Then a WOL will help an experienced cyclist make a vehicular left turn, since he is already within the "adjacent" lane, it cuts down on the burden of negotiating lane changes. On roads faster than this where there are fewer intersections, the a wide bike lane works best because it keeps traffic streams moving at different speeds separate. There is a disadvantage regarding debris, but this is of minor concern, in my experience.

On rural highways, a full bike lane is not needed in my opinion (and not to mention it is unlikely to be built). These roads are mostly two lanes and have extremely few intersections. A 3 foot shoulder is sufficient here, as long as it is relatively smooth. A WOL though is not good, as traffic stream separation is very advantageous from both the cyclist's point of view and the driver's point of view.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Forester
Vehicular cycling did not arise in any suburban environment. It arose in the mix of center cities, suburbs, and rural areas, all of them.
Brian seems to picture Palo Alto as the birth of of the VC concept or something, and, therefore, attempts to argue that it applies only to suburban environments.

Of course, the concept has been around long before, and, as you say, "arose in the mix of center cities, suburbs, and rural areas". You just gave it a name and wrote a book about it.

By the way, can you tell us a little bit about how it is that you came up with the term "vehicular cycling". Where were you, and how did that come about? Had you heard it before and adopted it (I note that you chose to call your book "Effective Cycling", not "Vehicular Cycling"), or did you invent it (the term I'm talking about, not the concept of course)?
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Old 04-26-07, 12:42 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by The other Inane
On my commute I sometimes (50:50 based on conditions) leave the road and use a 40m section of footpath before re-entering the roadway. This is mainly for convenience but allows me to avoid a slightly nasty section of road if traffic is heavy.

Bicycles are allowed on the footpath where I live so I am obeying the "vehicular rules of the road" as they apply to bicycles. I also give way to any traffic when re-entering the road.

Is this VC? and can I still get my VC(TM) merit badge
As long as the entrance and exit of the foot path don't require any serious two-stepping with cars on the roadway, then I don't see a problem with using any footpath when it is available. Times when I eschew an available foot/bike path are usually when the entrance and/or exit to the path puts me in conflict.

For instance, near the University of Washington campus, there is a bridge (I think it's the University Bridge, for those local). Going off on recreational rides around Mercer Island, I'd have to cross this bridge and take an immediate left turn. The bridge is steel grated, but has a walkway to the side of it. Here, many times if is dry (I don't ride on steel grates when it is wet, bad idea), I will take the lane going across the bridge instead of using the foot path, because using the foot path would make it difficult to make the proceeding left turn at the end of the bridge. When I do use it, I have to cross two lanes in the space of 50 feet (or so).

Now, the alternative is to do a two part left turn. I saw lots of cyclists doing this and it is a perfectly valid way of turning left, as opposed to the vehicular left turn I described. However, I'm sometimes an impatient guy, and the two part left turn takes too long to get me through the intersection if I have an alternative.

So the point is, if the beginning or end of the path doesn't present any major problems, then go ahead, take the path. It's only, what, 40 meters? Nobody's going to demerit you.
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Old 04-26-07, 03:52 PM   #22
I-Like-To-Bike
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Originally Posted by The other Inane
Is this VC? and can I still get my VC(TM) merit badge
If you send me $10 (for S&H) I will mail you a VC(TM) merit badge. It will look exactly like a quarter and be worth as much.
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Old 04-26-07, 03:54 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
By the way, can you tell us a little bit about how it is that you came up with the term "vehicular cycling". Where were you, and how did that come about? Had you heard it before and adopted it (I note that you chose to call your book "Effective Cycling", not "Vehicular Cycling"), or did you invent it (the term I'm talking about, not the concept of course)?
And then how 'bout a bedtime story for little HH?
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Old 04-26-07, 04:38 PM   #24
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And then how 'bout a bedtime story for little HH?
Not until they are done with their pillow fight

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Old 04-26-07, 04:57 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by sggoodri
I suggest that vehicular cycling is not a moral or philisophical concept, but a model with which to compare cycling by vehicular rules to other approaches such as pedestrian-style cycling, so one can make objective comparisons of their operational advantages and disadvantages in either general or specific situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
You realize that this above statement is quite at odds with the likes of John Forester and Helmet Head, right? To them, most, if not all, of Vehicular Cycling is about morality and philosophy. The actual vehicular cycling techniques are almost secondary.
As a practical matter for details, Steve is quite correct. However, because our society and our governments, under the control of the unlikely alliance of motorists and bicycle advocates, have imposed the cyclist-inferiority, bikeway-building system as our road system. If we did not have to fight that imposition, there would be much less that had to be discussed.
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