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Old 06-01-07, 01:27 PM   #1
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When VC doesn't work

The Vehicular-cycling principle is: cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. Of course, the scope of this principle's applicability is essentially limited to when riding a bicycle on roads shared with motor vehicles (whether there are bike lanes or not). It doesn't apply bombing down a single-track at a ski resort, for example, and has limited application on multi-use paths where other users are unlikely to be following any rules whatsoever.

In another thread, Rando has suggested a modified version: cyclists fare best when they act safely and cooperatively as drivers of vehicles, using the same roads under the same rules, recognizing that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and being flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.

The part that I find curious is this: recognizing that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and being flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.

I mean, sure, a sidewalk shortcut that avoids a U-Turn with likely delays or going around the block might be useful here and there (Forester cites such examples in his book, by the way), but, overall, it's a pretty rare exception, and I'm not sure I would characterize going around the block vehicularly as "not the best practice".

Are there any specific examples any of you can think of that you feel are characterized by "times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and being flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants"? Such as, what? Please be specific and explain why "acting vehicular is not the best practice" in that situation.
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Old 06-01-07, 01:33 PM   #2
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Very windy 2-lane highways (1 lane in each direction). At a leftward curve, if you are in the middle of the lane, a car will see you later, and have less room to react.
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Old 06-01-07, 01:34 PM   #3
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in my mind this means anything from avoiding a hazard to doing what feels right to me personally. for example, I ride on a sidewalk during my commute. alongside a very wide well-paved street that I could easily cycle on... not very vehicular, but it is more pleasant to me than the street as it is shaded and planted with flowers and has lots of trees and grass and birds, etc on either side. rarely have I encountered peds here. most people are in the offices, working.
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Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me
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Old 06-01-07, 01:35 PM   #4
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Many bridges. Example: Brooklyn Bridge.
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Old 06-01-07, 01:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeytoun
Very windy 2-lane highways (1 lane in each direction). At a leftward curve, if you are in the middle of the lane, a car will see you later, and have less room to react.
And so what do you believe is the vehicular behavior in that case, and what is the specific alternative behavior you're advocating, and how is that behavior not vehicular?
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Old 06-01-07, 01:45 PM   #6
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And so what do you believe is the vehicular behavior in that case
Well, according to the Wikipedia article on VC, one of the principles is
Quote:
Using the full lane unless overtaking traffic is likely to be delayed and the marked traffic lane is wide enough to share.
Quote:
what is the specific alternative behavior you're advocating
The rules of the road don't require bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, but if there is a suitable shoulder, I would advocate using it in this circumstance.

Edit: Here's a HH quote (from when he was defining VC):
Quote:
In particular, in the absence of FSDT there is no reason for a vehicular cyclist to ride in the road margin.

Last edited by zeytoun; 06-01-07 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 06-01-07, 01:48 PM   #7
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http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=304192
Also, for this guy, VC on his commute doesn't seem to be working for avoiding dangerous treatment from drivers. Unless you have some VC advice for him that will solve his problem.
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Old 06-01-07, 02:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rando
in my mind this means anything from avoiding a hazard to doing what feels right to me personally. for example, I ride on a sidewalk during my commute. alongside a very wide well-paved street that I could easily cycle on... not very vehicular, but it is more pleasant to me than the street as it is shaded and planted with flowers and has lots of trees and grass and birds, etc on either side. rarely have I encountered peds here. most people are in the offices, working.
I agree with this. On my commute there is a main heavily travelled arterial (2 lanes each direction) with a sidewalk next to it. Posted speed is 35 but everyone does 45-50 and it is the main road from the burbs into the city. I tried riding vehicularly a few times and multiple cars that came up behind me and had to slow down to pass me in the next lane honked, swerved at me, and drivers yelled insults. I now ride on the sidewalk for this stretch of the road. My state and local law makes it legal to ride on the sidewalk. I know I also have the right to use the main arterial; but I would prefer not to encounter the aforesaid behavior every morning on my way in.
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Old 06-01-07, 02:27 PM   #9
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Also, Monsieur Casque-Tete, would you please define "best practice"?

Does this mean best for the longevity of the cyclist?
Best for getting all traffic to their destinations the most efficiently possible?
What?
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Old 06-01-07, 02:38 PM   #10
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VC doesn't work when it is boiled down to taking a center-ish lane position by default all the time and hating bike lanes. Otherwise, what the heck are you even talking about? VC is a bunch of things, any of which can work at one time or another, or not.
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Old 06-01-07, 03:02 PM   #11
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My old work commute involved riding up a 4 lane (each direction) interstate exchange followed by a major road on/off section that expanded to 6 lanes at the off/on ramp section - 2 lanes were exit only. This was a 55mph posted road and was a good looong section of busy rush hour cars. I had proper lights and vest, etc. but I had to ride it at 5am and several times in blinding rain/wind storms. I chose to ride as a vehicle (before I heard of VC, so don't get all self congratulatory now), sticking in the third land (2 on my right, 3 on my left, 55-65 mph traffic whizzing by. I only got hit once (an ever so light knuckle tap by a side mirror), I did have some other close calls - I of course took my lane like you wouldn't believe it, but after I quit that job and no longer had to ride that route - I'll tell you what, taking the wide sidewalk and waiting for exit traffic would be muuuch safer over the long run. Not that I chose to do that due to waiting for the cars, but I'm a fairly strong commuter, able to maintain high speeds in short bursts. No one else I have ever met will even consider that road in the daytime, let alone pitch black morning with rush hour.

Sure, VC (behaving like a car) worked, but it sure as hell wasn't safe in that situation, which to me means it really didn't work

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Old 06-01-07, 03:12 PM   #12
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Southbound PCH as it crosses Barnett Avenue in San Diego.

If one stays on PCH, then one will be routed under a tunnel and then find themselves going uphill, while 2 lanes of 45mph traffic join them on the right....it's much safer for non-advanced cyclists to go right from PCH onto Barnett and pull a pedestrian U-turn.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1008854
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Old 06-01-07, 03:28 PM   #13
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high speed two lane exit ramp from Barbur Blvd. northbound to Ross Island Bridge eastbound in heavy traffic
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Old 06-01-07, 08:45 PM   #14
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Too many examples there HH? You seem kind of quiet on this one....
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Old 06-01-07, 09:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natelutkjohn
Too many examples there HH? You seem kind of quiet on this one....
Have mercy. The lad is shell shocked.
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Old 06-01-07, 11:11 PM   #16
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This will probably lose something in the left-right translation but ....

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&...,0.004147&z=18

We drive on the left and there are two lanes each way.

My daily commute requires going south to north on this road, to turn left at the next intersection. There are traffic lights at the intersection, and being on the less busy road, I have to wait at these almost every time. The road goes up hill so my acceleration and speed after the lights are fairly slow. If there are a lot of cars behind me and I take the lane the typical behavior will be for motorists to accelerate rapidly to overtake me as soon as a gap is available. A large percentage of the time this is fine but occasionally a motorist in the right lane will attempt to turn (illegally) into the commercial plaza in the top right.

This can create a very dangerous situation where I have a car accelerating heavily and overtaking into a lane with a car who is decelerating and trying to turn. With the choice of hitting the car in front or changing lanes (into me) which do you think they will do?

As a result, depending on conditions, I will take the footpath about 50% of the time. This is an adaptive and pragmatic choice base on the conditions at this particular intersection at the time I am there. I believe that if I followed a rigid VC approach and claim my rights to the road every time, that I would increase my likelihood of having an accident on this particular stretch.
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Old 06-02-07, 02:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
I agree with this. On my commute there is a main heavily travelled arterial (2 lanes each direction) with a sidewalk next to it. Posted speed is 35 but everyone does 45-50 and it is the main road from the burbs into the city. I tried riding vehicularly a few times and multiple cars that came up behind me and had to slow down to pass me in the next lane honked, swerved at me, and drivers yelled insults. I now ride on the sidewalk for this stretch of the road. My state and local law makes it legal to ride on the sidewalk. I know I also have the right to use the main arterial; but I would prefer not to encounter the aforesaid behavior every morning on my way in.
I think this post is the perfect example of why we should get together and advocate for new LAWS that protect us instead of trying to just fit in with the laws already here that weren't EVER meant for us.

Riding VC is fine, if in a perfect world, everyone looks for bikes, drives the speed limit, isn't late for anything, always had a good night's sleep or a good day at work.
But like THAT happens!

Times have changed. There are more bikes on the road than there ever have been (don't know that for a fact, but my eyes tell me that there are more out there). The laws haven't changed though. New roads are built all the time, more roads are widened (sp?) every year to catch up with the traffic they have to serve. Why not the laws?
We want more people to bike with us, yes? How many people in a week do any of us talk to who think we are the definition of insane? I talk to hundreds of people each week and they shake their heads at me and ask me what I want on my tombstone and they ain't talkin 'bout pizza. Many would join us but they've seen and heard what we deal with. Some of you are better able to let it roll off your back, others (me) are not. I tend to think about my 5 kids growing up without me or with me in a wheelchair.
The LAWS need to catch up with us. We shouldn't have to be fitted in with a bunch of maniacs who would even think of pretending to swerve at us.
By not making new and enforsing current laws, we are allowing those in charge to tell us that our lives are not worth the time. Not worth effort to make things better.
Just think about what could happen in 10 years. No bike lanes, just lanes that we have a right to, fully. More cyclists, less obese people on the planet, less crap piped into our atmosphere for us to breathe while we are biking. It's a WIN/WIN!!

I understand VC, I really do. For some times and places it works well. But it will do nothing to get others to join us.

Done, off the soapbox. . .Sorry to hijack the thread.
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Old 06-03-07, 07:46 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Have mercy. The lad is shell shocked.
haha, old SI doesn't deserve any breaks as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 06-04-07, 10:27 AM   #19
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Most cases of VC not working are when the cyclist has not tried it and instead stays in their comfort zone. Trying a new way is not always easy as one does not have the experience with the situation.

I have yet to find a need for a non VC way of riding where I live. In this region I think perhaps the most difficult vehicular maneuver is merging across several lanes of fast traffic for a left turn. One can still (and I do on occasion) make a right turn, a u-turn and then thru the intersection instead - a maneuver that is vehicular and even done by motorists sometimes in heavy traffic.

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Old 06-04-07, 10:49 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeytoun
Southbound PCH as it crosses Barnett Avenue in San Diego.

If one stays on PCH, then one will be routed under a tunnel and then find themselves going uphill, while 2 lanes of 45mph traffic join them on the right....it's much safer for non-advanced cyclists to go right from PCH onto Barnett and pull a pedestrian U-turn.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1008854
I've ridden through there countless times and always do a normal slow vehicular merge with negotiation as required.

None of the examples in this thread so far illustrate a situation where VC does not work.

Al nailed it: "Most cases of VC not working are when the cyclist has not tried it and instead stays in their comfort zone."
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Old 06-04-07, 11:01 AM   #21
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blind curves, narrow lanes, highway speed roads, approaching bridgeways. versus using an accomodating walk/bikeway on bridge approach and crossing.
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Old 06-04-07, 11:02 AM   #22
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wait a second! since it's vehicular for bicyclists to ride on the accomodating shoulders of high speed roads, and vehicular to use a bike lane, then a lot of this 'vc doesn't work' talk is hype and artifice.
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Old 06-04-07, 11:04 AM   #23
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allowed road travel in bicyclists' travel direction ends, transportational bike path on floating bridge provides alternative to 20 mile road commute around lake.
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Old 06-04-07, 11:10 AM   #24
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Quote:
None of the examples in this thread so far illustrate a situation where VC does not work.
That is not the point at all. The original point was not whether there are situations where VC "does not work".

The original point, in your words, was whether or not there are situations where VC is "not the best practice".

Nice try.

Now, in the thread that spawned this one, I asked you how you were defining "best" in this context, and you replied "most effective". Most effective at what? is the question.

There are several examples here of situations in which VC is not necessarily the best in terms of safest.

There are countless others in which VC is not necessarily the best in terms of exediency.
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Old 06-04-07, 11:30 AM   #25
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The first thing I do on my morning commute is cruise several blocks of deserted sidewalk against traffic along a busy one-way arterial. This simple act of non-vehicularity chops a great deal of time off my morning commute. When trying to cross this road in my car at that time of day, I find myself waiting for five minutes or longer at the stopsign. I don't agree with the notion that use of sidewalk and other ped facilities provides only 'rare exceptions' to faring best VC-style. In densely populated areas, opportunities to use sidewalks in a safe and efficient manner arise all the time. The cyclist's freedom to exploit ped as well as other facilities is probably the main reason for the bicycle's superiority as a transportation device.

Also, on narrow residential streets lined with parked cars, I might ride a bit on the left side of center if I am cruising fast and feel the need to maximize space between myself and certain right-side hazards. (Taking into account left-side hazards and oncoming traffic, of course.)

In messenger mode, I pretty much jettison the VC model to increase efficiency and get things done. Any messenger who attempted to ride VC all the time would be basically useless. But that is a special case that applies only to a very small percentage of bicyclists.

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