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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.

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Old 05-18-07, 08:41 AM   #1
sbhikes
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Why hasn't VC caught on?

I'm here visiting San Diego, home of one of the most well-known VC advocates in the state of California. The way people cycle here looks the same as anywhere else I've been.

One thing that's different that I've seen is where two busy streets merge together and some hapless cyclist gets stuck in the middle of the merge. I've seen this 3 times in just two days! He's stopped at the point where the merge comes together and is waiting for a break in order to get to the new right lane, two or three lanes away.

So why don't cyclists here ride more like the smooth-sounding VC I've heard so much about? Why aren't they taking the lane so they can smoothly merge through those converging streets? I haven't seen anyone take the lane. Maybe I saw one guy, but it was hard to be sure from my vantage point. Maybe a little "think globally act locally" is needed here in the land of Helmet Head, because VC doesn't seem to be catching on.
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Old 05-18-07, 08:49 AM   #2
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Here in Cary, lots of people ride vehicularly. Many also use the defensive driving practice of taking the lane. I just taught a Road 1 class to a group of women who remarked that taking the lane made them feel much better than hugging the edge.

Busy high-speed merges and diverges can be unpleasant or difficult. Somebody might ride vehicularly 99% of the time and still not feel comfortable with high-speed merges and diverges. This would seem to indicate that these types of street designs should be minimized where bicycle traffic is likely, in order for cyclists to feel more comfortable when operating in the vehicular manner. This would be far better than attempting to change the way cyclists should operate on the other 99% of roadway miles.
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Old 05-18-07, 10:11 AM   #3
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...remember, Steve, you can ride in a vehicular manner using a bike lane.


Why hasn't VC caught on, Diane? Because riders, as a group, don't want to ride in high speed traffic. cities with better planning for bicycling via infrastructure have more cyclists on the roads.
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Old 05-18-07, 11:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
...remember, Steve, you can ride in a vehicular manner using a bike lane.

Why hasn't VC caught on, Diane? Because riders, as a group, don't want to ride in high speed traffic. cities with better planning for bicycling via infrastructure have more cyclists on the roads.
Remember, Bek, you can also ride in a vehicular manner on pleasant low-speed streets.

Bike lane stripes aren't going to help with tricky merges, diverges, unions and separations on high-speed roads and heavy traffic. If cyclists don't feel comfortable with such road designs in traffic, then the alternatives are to improve their ability to utilize alternate routes, or to minimize the use of high-speed junction design on roads that are important for bicycle transportation.

Communities with well-connected networks of local streets have higher volumes of bicycle transportation than those with only relatively unpleasant (for the traffic-averse) high-speed arterials available for useful trips between land uses. The best way to navigate these local streets by bike is in the vehicular manner. Arterials can be made more pleasant for cycling by having adequate roadway width for motorists to pass bicyclists at comfortable distance, conveniently.

Vehicular cycling is the basis for the legal classification of bicycle operators in every US state; it seems to me to have "caught on" a long time ago.
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Old 05-18-07, 11:29 AM   #5
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yes, steve. 'ride in a vehicular manner on pleasant, low speed streets' wow. how amazing. most seven year olds would likely agree with you on that as well, i'd bet....are there any cities consisting entirely of 'pleasant, low speed' streets?


Steve, you seem to consistently omit any mention of bike lanes, despite the aeigis of the realm of vehicular cycling to ride in a bike lane in a vehicular manner.

I disagree with your analysis of the purported lack of utility of bike specific infrastructure.

Placing bike lanes to the left of right turn only lanes, striping left turn bike boxes, etc, and development of 'merge' directional sharrows can and will do a lot for cycling enhancements on high speed roadways.

demanding VC style from riders on high speed roads or leaving only a wide outside lane for rider safety will continue to leave roads largely the domain of automobiles, leave riders hugging the curbs and riding on sidewalks.

designing public rights of way with bicyclists in mind as road users, placing bike lane stripes integrated on the roadway, engineering plans for intersections WILL increase road use by bicyclists.

Last edited by Bekologist; 05-18-07 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 05-18-07, 11:32 AM   #6
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why hasn't VC 'caught on', diane? because bicyclists, as a group, have little interest in taking the lane on high speed arterials. some of us will do it, but will always remain in the vast minority of bicyclists.

better communities for bicycling integrate bicycling infrastructure like bike lanes on public rights of way and MUP paths, etc, into their public space. This is clear and apparant in cities around America.

look at Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Chicago, Santa Barbara. compare to Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta.

Which cities have more transportational cycling? the cities with more bike infrastructure.
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Old 05-18-07, 11:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
I'm here visiting San Diego, home of one of the most well-known VC advocates in the state of California. The way people cycle here looks the same as anywhere else I've been.

One thing that's different that I've seen is where two busy streets merge together and some hapless cyclist gets stuck in the middle of the merge. I've seen this 3 times in just two days! He's stopped at the point where the merge comes together and is waiting for a break in order to get to the new right lane, two or three lanes away.

So why don't cyclists here ride more like the smooth-sounding VC I've heard so much about? Why aren't they taking the lane so they can smoothly merge through those converging streets? I haven't seen anyone take the lane. Maybe I saw one guy, but it was hard to be sure from my vantage point. Maybe a little "think globally act locally" is needed here in the land of Helmet Head, because VC doesn't seem to be catching on.
Who you riding with? I rode as VC as I could today... But in reality I am an adaptive cyclist... doing whatever works best... meaning at rare times I might even ride a sidewalk. I did in fact control a freeway offramp lane this morning... all the way through a RR crossing, where it only makes sense to get into a particular left lane all the way from the off ramp to the left turn I make. Most of the rest of the time however I was in a bike lane moving along at my stately 13MPH while auto traffic flew by at 45+MPH.

I'd say for the most part I was pretty vehicular during my commute.
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Old 05-18-07, 12:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
yes, steve. but you seem to conveinently omit bike lanes, despite the aeigis of the realm of vehicular cycling to ride in a bike lane in a vehicular manner.

I disagree with your analysis of the purported lack utility of bike specific infrastructure.

Placing bike lanes to the left of right turn only lanes, striping left turn bike boxes, etc, and development of 'merge' directional sharrows can and will do a lot for cycling enhancements on high speed roadways.

demanding VC style from riders on high speed roads or leaving only a wide outside lane for rider safety will continue to leave roads largely the domain of automobiles, leave riders hugging the curbs and riding on sidewalks.

designing public rights of way with bicyclists in mind as road users, placing bike lane stripes integrated on the roadway, engineering plans for intersections WILL increase road use by bicyclists.
Placing a bike lane left of a right-turn-only lane is one of the few places where bike lane design may routinely make busy intersections work better for cyclists.

Elsewhere, the typical routing (in my community) of bike lanes to the right of other traffic all the way up to the stop line of intersections only exacerbates right-hook and drive-out hazards if there is substantial traffic.

Wide outside through lanes are another way to provide improved conditions for through cyclists operating left of right-turn only lanes, or anywhere else on an arterial, but without the baggage of striping bike lanes along the rest of the road, e.g. where there might be door zones or other right turn locations without right turn only lanes. Sharrows can be used to encourage cycling a safe distance outside the door zone. This is all good bicyclist-friendly engineering, just not the user-class-separation that you're a fan of.
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Old 05-18-07, 12:06 PM   #9
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steve, wide lanes alone place the majority of cyclists still hugging the curb or riding on the sidewalks.

using a bike lane stripe, buffered as need be, places riders in a more visible road position and away from the curb.

Why hasn't VC 'caught on? because the anti-accomdationalists think of their riding style as the model everyone needs to emulate. wide outside lanes leave the 'average' cyclists hugging the curbs, steve. Didn't you know that?
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Old 05-18-07, 12:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
Busy high-speed merges and diverges can be unpleasant or difficult.
Great answer.

I can't think of any means to handle this problem that would remove the necessity of merging across several lanes of traffic. So if you don't have a tool in your toolbag to solve this problem, you're out of luck.
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Old 05-18-07, 12:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
steve, wide lanes alone place the majority of cyclists still hugging the curb or riding on the sidewalks.

using a bike lane stripe, buffered as need be, places riders in a more visible road position and away from the curb.
Most of the cyclists I see in my community are riding more than five feet from the gutter on pleasant residential streets. Adding bike lane striping to these roads would place the cyclists closer to the gutter in a less visible location if they were to stay completely inside the bike lane.

Cars are sometimes parked curbside on these streets. Incorporating bike lanes would require prohibiting the residents from parking on street - a prohibition the residents strongly oppose, including those who bike a lot - or require widening the road to create door zone bike lanes, or require widening the road even more to create beyond-the-door-zone bike lanes - the latter two options being bad for pedestrians by making the road significantly wider and faster.

The natural choice is to leave the nice streets as they are and educate motorists and cyclists about proper roadway sharing.

The older thoroughfares that feature lots of destinations for cyclists have heavy turning and entering traffic for street intersections and commercial driveway intersections. At these intersections, through cyclists should operate well away from the curb to avoid right hooks and drive-out hazards. There isn't room to add right-turn-only lanes on most of these roads, so if stripes for standard 4' bike lanes were added, cyclists riding in the middle of the bike lanes would end up riding closer to the curb than recommended, and end up facing increased right hook hazards. A better strategy would be for cyclists to stay farther from the curb in these areas.

On the newer thoroughfares, including those with fewer access points and thus longer distances between junctions, 14' wide outside lanes (not including a wide gutter pan) are being provided. A lot of cyclists use these thoroughfare roadways. Some also use the sidewalks, which is legal. Perhaps striping the roadways with bike lane stripes between junctions (and at junctions with right-turn-only-lanes) might lure some of them off the sidewalk into the roadway. I support this sentiment. Unfortunately, the few state maintained thoroughfares that have striped bike lanes in Wake County have serious debris problems. This is why most of the cyclist currently using thoroughfare roadways in my community prefer that they stay as wide outside lanes that get automatically swept by motor traffic. I really can't see luring cyclists off of sidewalks into a bike lane full of debris, where the only way to ensure a flat-free trip is to ride on the stripe, resulting in closer passes than with a WOL. If I could see a practical way for wide bike lanes to be installed between junctions and with equal surface quality to normal lanes I would be fine with that, but I can't see that happining here, not after watching how road design and maintenance processes really function here over the last decade or so.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:02 PM   #12
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Excuse me, gentlemen, but I don't know why we're discussing bike lanes, here.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:10 PM   #13
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because that's where ALL these threads end up, my injun friend.

my opinion: because people prefer not to take the lane in high-speed traffic on arterials. they don't like to merge in traffic with hulking SUVs all around them. they hate to be yelled at by clueless motorists, riding in traffic can be a highly unpleasant experience, one that most people wish to avoid.

so that part of VC doesn't work for most when it comes to high speed traffic. and the VCers saying people should and can ride in high speed traffic just sounds totally nuts. (to most people)

Last edited by rando; 05-18-07 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Excuse me, gentlemen, but I don't know why we're discussing bike lanes, here.
I didn't bring it up. I suggested a viable solution that made no mention of bike lanes, and I was immediately accused of not supporting bike lanes.

The claim was that people won't ride vehicularly, or at all, unless striping for user class separation is provided. That's clearly not the case, and in many of the places where they currently ride in the normal vehicular manner, striping for user class separation would make things worse, not better.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:31 PM   #15
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Excuse me, gentlemen, but I don't know why we're discussing bike lanes, here.
Because the Bike lane vs no bike lane argument is part and parcel of the VC debate, I suspect.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:35 PM   #16
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because that's where ALL these threads end up, my injun friend.
Then maybe we should start a new Bike Lane Discussion forum.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
better communities for bicycling integrate bicycling infrastructure like bike lanes on public rights of way and MUP paths, etc, into their public space. This is clear and apparant in cities around America.

look at Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Chicago, Santa Barbara. compare to Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta.
I found this thread because I was searching for Santa Barbara. What exactly is "Vehicular Cycling" and do you feel that Santa Barbara is a good or bad example of a well integrated cycling infrastructure?
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Old 05-18-07, 01:47 PM   #18
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now if only the drivers wouldn't freak out when they see a bike in the middle of the lane.
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Old 05-18-07, 01:49 PM   #19
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Then maybe we should start a new Bike Lane Discussion forum.
It wouldn't matter! every thread eventually devolves into a facilities debate at some point. it's one of the natural laws of A&S. like gravity, death and taxes..
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Old 05-18-07, 01:52 PM   #20
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bah to facilities..... pavement is what I need
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Old 05-18-07, 01:58 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
I'm here visiting San Diego, home of one of the most well-known VC advocates in the state of California. The way people cycle here looks the same as anywhere else I've been.

One thing that's different that I've seen is where two busy streets merge together and some hapless cyclist gets stuck in the middle of the merge. I've seen this 3 times in just two days! He's stopped at the point where the merge comes together and is waiting for a break in order to get to the new right lane, two or three lanes away.

So why don't cyclists here ride more like the smooth-sounding VC I've heard so much about? Why aren't they taking the lane so they can smoothly merge through those converging streets? I haven't seen anyone take the lane. Maybe I saw one guy, but it was hard to be sure from my vantage point. Maybe a little "think globally act locally" is needed here in the land of Helmet Head, because VC doesn't seem to be catching on.
What's your point, Diane? What you have observed is the incompetent cycling that is typical all over America. You should be proud, because that is the type of cycling that has been advocated by people with your opinions ever since the bikeway controversy began, and which before that was advocated by the motoring establishment that invented and designed the bikeway system.

The fact that three or so of us in this discussion group are vehicular cyclists does not mean that we absorbed this from the locals; we know that we are untypical in that we oppose American society's opinion about bicycle transportation.
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Old 05-18-07, 02:08 PM   #22
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we know that we are untypical in that we oppose American society's opinion about bicycle transportation.
And therefore you are are the correct ones? Your "logic" has passed me by on that one I'm afraid
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Old 05-18-07, 02:30 PM   #23
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VC won't catch on because CHARLIE DON'T SURF!!!
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Old 05-18-07, 03:29 PM   #24
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And therefore you are are the correct ones? Your "logic" has passed me by on that one I'm afraid
The validity of engineering judgments does not depend on the popular vote.
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Old 05-18-07, 03:31 PM   #25
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The validity of engineering judgments does not depend on the popular vote.
People are not science - they choose to ride where they feel most comfortable, not where an engineer says they should ride
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