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Old 04-27-07, 10:56 AM   #1
jbarros
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The where and why of VC?

Hi,

So, I'm reentering cycling for the first time since I was old enough to drive. When I first heard about VC, I admit (not trying to flame anyone, please read further before you jump on my case for this) that I thought it was the most assanine thing I'd ever heard. trying to take a whole lane with a bicycle sounded no only rude and uppity, but downright dangerous and a good way to cause an accident and/or get shot.

Now I think I get it.

Let me give you the backstory of WHY.

I currently live in a suburban hellhole outside of LA. lanes are wide, and average traffic on the street is 50+ mph. In these conditions and having only ridden in these conditions, I could not see why someone wouldn't just stick to the side of the road. In those conditions, taking a lane, on an (even with lights) hard to see bicycle is a recipie for having someone come up on you REALLY quick and not notice you till it's too late. This is an issue I've had on my motorcycle, which is signifantly more visible than my bicycle, but luckily can out accelerate soccer moms in essuvees who are too busy reading their romance novels and changing their rug rats to pay attention to the person they're about to rear end at 60 in a 45.

Anyway, on my way home from work (Hollywood, via redline to metrolink train) I had to run an errand in Downtown LA, so I took my bike with me, got off the subway at Pershing Square. There just isn't room for a car and a bike in those lanes, yet there are 4 lanes on almost every street. The traffic is maybe 30 mph most of the time, and I've got no problem sprinting to keep up with the flow. I took my place in traffic, held it, and at no point did I feel like I was holding anyone up, or really in any danger of someone coming up on me before they could see me. It was as if my bicycle was actually (wait for it,.... wait for it... ) a legitimate "vehicle" (I know, you're shocked, but really, it was )

So, anyway, I just wanted to hop on and say you guys have another convert, at least for urban riding.

I'm still a fan of just kinda adapting to whatever is around me, despite the precident it does or does not set in drivers minds, but I can now see the point of VC in the right conditions, so that's a start nei?

-- James
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Old 04-27-07, 01:45 PM   #2
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It's really exciting to discover how many streets are rideable on a bike. Before you know it, you're planning trips all over the place and scouting out new routes on the map. Have fun!
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Old 04-27-07, 02:34 PM   #3
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slow speed urban riding is no problemo for VC... it's the high speed suburban arterials where it can get dicey. cars here do 30-40 on neighborhood streets if they can get away with it, and on the multi-lanes 50-60 is common.
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Last edited by rando; 04-27-07 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 04-27-07, 02:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros
Hi,

So, I'm reentering cycling for the first time since I was old enough to drive. When I first heard about VC, I admit (not trying to flame anyone, please read further before you jump on my case for this) that I thought it was the most assanine thing I'd ever heard. trying to take a whole lane with a bicycle sounded no only rude and uppity, but downright dangerous and a good way to cause an accident and/or get shot.

Now I think I get it.

Let me give you the backstory of WHY.

I currently live in a suburban hellhole outside of LA. lanes are wide, and average traffic on the street is 50+ mph. In these conditions and having only ridden in these conditions, I could not see why someone wouldn't just stick to the side of the road. In those conditions, taking a lane, on an (even with lights) hard to see bicycle is a recipie for having someone come up on you REALLY quick and not notice you till it's too late. This is an issue I've had on my motorcycle, which is signifantly more visible than my bicycle, but luckily can out accelerate soccer moms in essuvees who are too busy reading their romance novels and changing their rug rats to pay attention to the person they're about to rear end at 60 in a 45.

Anyway, on my way home from work (Hollywood, via redline to metrolink train) I had to run an errand in Downtown LA, so I took my bike with me, got off the subway at Pershing Square. There just isn't room for a car and a bike in those lanes, yet there are 4 lanes on almost every street. The traffic is maybe 30 mph most of the time, and I've got no problem sprinting to keep up with the flow. I took my place in traffic, held it, and at no point did I feel like I was holding anyone up, or really in any danger of someone coming up on me before they could see me. It was as if my bicycle was actually (wait for it,.... wait for it... ) a legitimate "vehicle" (I know, you're shocked, but really, it was )

So, anyway, I just wanted to hop on and say you guys have another convert, at least for urban riding.

I'm still a fan of just kinda adapting to whatever is around me, despite the precident it does or does not set in drivers minds, but I can now see the point of VC in the right conditions, so that's a start nei?

-- James
It's a good start.

But don't make the mistake of thinking riding off to the right in a wide lane is not VC. A very important part of VC is recognizing "speed positioning" rules between intersections, which means drivers of slower vehicles keep right when faster same direction traffic is present and it's safe and reasonable to do so. You can keep right when faster same direction is not present too, but there is no rule about that. Personally, I like to keep left in those situations because it puts me in a more advantageous and conspicuous position, but, again, there is no specific rule about that.

But it really doesn't make sense to talk about "using" VC on some streets, but not on others, unless you're talking about following the rules of the road on one street, but not on another.

So variances in lane and street widths, and speeds and volumes of traffic, don't determine whether one uses VC so much as they determine how VC is used based on the current factors and conditions of the situation.
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Old 04-27-07, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rando
slow speed urban riding is no problemo for VC... it's the high speed suburban arterials where it can get dicey. cars here do 30-40 on neighborhood streets if they can get away with it, and on the multi-lanes 50-60 is common.
I don't understand what VC means to you based on how you're using it here.

I mean, certainly "slow speed urban riding is no problemo for VC", of course I agree with that. But how does VC "get dicey" on high speed suburban arterials? Are you suggesting sidewalk cycling or wrong-way cycling is less "dicey" there?
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Old 04-27-07, 03:16 PM   #6
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How's that VC working for you on your suburban hellhole esuvee streets? Have you tried that yet?
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Old 04-27-07, 03:41 PM   #7
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How's that VC working for you on your suburban hellhole esuvee streets? Have you tried that yet?
It works great for me.
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Old 04-27-07, 03:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I don't understand what VC means to you based on how you're using it here.

I mean, certainly "slow speed urban riding is no problemo for VC", of course I agree with that. But how does VC "get dicey" on high speed suburban arterials? Are you suggesting sidewalk cycling or wrong-way cycling is less "dicey" there?
what I mean is it is easy to be VC in slow traffic that is going the same speed as you are. it's another thing altogether to take the lane in traffic that is 3x faster than you could possibly go. which is why I avoid the arterials and practice VC on the side streets.
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Old 04-27-07, 04:08 PM   #9
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I say "screw the ideology" and use common sense. Some suburban areas are nightmares- with four lane roads, curbs with no shoulders, and 50 mph traffic. My guess is for every road like that, there is a safer alternative route that might involve riding a bit out of the way. To me, it just isn't that important to exercise my "right" to the road, when issues of health, safety, and practicality are at stake.

The issue seems to be misconceptions about VC. If you look at Wikipedia, you see:

Quote:
A vehicular cyclist is a cyclist who generally travels within the roadway in accordance with the basic vehicular rules of the road that are shared by all drivers, and the most effective cycling practices. Primarily, this means:

* Traveling on the same side of the road as other traffic traveling in the same direction.
* Staying outside of the door zone; when passing a motor vehicle that is parked parallel to the road, no closer than the length of the door.
* Respecting traffic controls such as yield signs, stop signs and traffic lights.
* Between intersections and other junctions, choosing the appropriate lane or lateral position according to those rules of the road that are shared by all drivers
* While preparing to turn or turning, choosing the appropriate lane or lateral position according to destination positioning.
* Ignoring designated bicycle lane stripes when choosing where to travel on the pavement.
* Changing lanes or lateral (left/right) position in response to, and in anticipation of, factors such as changing traffic conditions.
* Using the full lane unless overtaking traffic is likely to be delayed and the marked traffic lane is wide enough to share.
* When making a turn toward the inside of a road when multiple traffic lanes are marked, merging into the traffic in each lane while using negotiation with other drivers as required.
* Generally feeling and acting like a vehicle driver, albeit the driver of a narrow and relatively low-powered vehicle.

Some non-"VC" actions commonly taken by cyclists include:

* Cycling on the opposite side of the road compared to other traffic traveling in the same direction.
* Cycling in the door zone.
* Cycling along sidewalks or crosswalks.
* Running red lights.
* Blatantly running stop signs (certain stop signs, particularly those in quiet neighborhoods, are routinely treated cautiously as yield signs by most vehicle drivers, including vehicular cyclists, though technically doing so is against the letter of the law). There are exceptions to this is some places. In Idaho, human powered vehicles are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs[1].
* Going straight across at an intersection while positioned laterally for a turn.
* Darting inward across the roadway from the outer edge of the road, instead of merging across one marked lane at a time.
* Moving laterally without looking back and yielding to overtaking traffic that has the right of way.
* Splitting marked lanes instead of taking a more predictable position within a lane.
* While a traffic light is red, moving to the front of the traffic queue instead of taking one's place in line according to the first come, first served principle. (however a special privilege allows this in some places such as New South Wales, Australia)
* Passing slow or stopped traffic on the out side.
* Not merging out of a curbside bicycle lane when approaching a junction or intersection when the cyclist is going straight.
* Traveling along the edge of a marked traffic lane that is too narrow to share side-by-side with a wider vehicle, thus encouraging drivers of overtaking wider vehicles to believe that the lane is wide enough to share.
These are generally quite sound and common sense practices. It is not about riding a bike like it is a motorized vehicle.
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Old 04-27-07, 04:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rando
what I mean is it is easy to be VC in slow traffic that is going the same speed as you are. it's another thing altogether to take the lane in traffic that is 3x faster than you could possibly go. which is why I avoid the arterials and practice VC on the side streets.
Why take the lane when traffic is 3x faster than you? Is the lane not wide enough to share?
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Old 04-27-07, 04:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by filtersweep
The issue seems to be misconceptions about VC. If you look at Wikipedia, you see: ...
"I love it when a plan comes together!" -Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith
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Old 04-27-07, 04:24 PM   #12
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hrm, ok, I guess I was confusing VC with "taking the lane" Thanks for the clarification. I mean, I think I'm more confused now than I was before, but at least I'm not unconfused because I incorrectly thought something was correct.... ok, I'm just going to stop typing now. This is why I need to remember to take my meds on schedule. :\

-- James
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Old 04-27-07, 04:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Why take the lane when traffic is 3x faster than you? Is the lane not wide enough to share?
not for me!
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Old 04-27-07, 04:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jbarros
hrm, ok, I guess I was confusing VC with "taking the lane" Thanks for the clarification.
No worries. A common misconception.
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Old 04-27-07, 04:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros
hrm, ok, I guess I was confusing VC with "taking the lane" Thanks for the clarification. I mean, I think I'm more confused now than I was before, but at least I'm not unconfused because I incorrectly thought something was correct.... ok, I'm just going to stop typing now. This is why I need to remember to take my meds on schedule. :\

-- James
You'll never be unconfused as long as Mr. Head is lurking about.

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Old 04-27-07, 05:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
"I love it when a plan comes together!" -Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith
Wow, a pop culture reference and in another post recently you said you laughed out loud. Easy HH, people might start to think you are a real person.
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Old 04-27-07, 06:25 PM   #17
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Wow, a pop culture reference and in another post recently you said you laughed out loud. Easy HH, people might start to think you are a real person.
Naw, we all know he is just a bunch of Lisp code that got mixed with the grain alcahol during an MIT kegger.
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Old 04-27-07, 07:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros
hrm, ok, I guess I was confusing VC with "taking the lane" Thanks for the clarification. I mean, I think I'm more confused now than I was before, but at least I'm not unconfused because I incorrectly thought something was correct.... ok, I'm just going to stop typing now. This is why I need to remember to take my meds on schedule. :\

-- James
Don't worry too much about it. What you did was find another tool for your cycling tool box. That's the most important thing!
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Old 04-27-07, 07:41 PM   #19
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Naw, we all know he is just a bunch of Lisp code that got mixed with the grain alcahol during an MIT kegger.
(CONS (quote I) (quote represent) (quote that) (quote remark))
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Old 04-27-07, 08:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros
hrm, ok, I guess I was confusing VC with "taking the lane" Thanks for the clarification. I mean, I think I'm more confused now than I was before, but at least I'm not unconfused because I incorrectly thought something was correct.... ok, I'm just going to stop typing now. This is why I need to remember to take my meds on schedule. :\

-- James
James,

Sorry you've landed in the middle of a politcal debate. Read all you can, and don't stress over it.

Have fun! I do.
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Old 05-01-07, 12:34 AM   #21
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tell me about it. Lisp sucks, and while we're at it VIM forever, Emacs takes more memory than MS Word!

er, wait, you meant bicycle politics.

/me goes back to his non-compiling hacks of web browsers.
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