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  1. #1
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    "Rules of the Road" a reality for bicycles?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    Vehicular cycling is not a religion, nor a superstition, nor a political ideology. Vehicular cycling has two premises. The first is that roadway traffic operates according to the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. The second is that those rules of the road have been worked over for decades to suit the characteristics of vehicles and drivers. If you want to do, or to propose, something that contradicts the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles you better have some outstanding and relevant facts to back it up. Bike lane advocates have presented no such facts and reason.
    This quote comes from another thread, but I think it deserves its own discussion. I went to the Oregon DOT driver's manual, and found these entries:

    Quote Originally Posted by ODOT Driver's Manual
    ODOT Driver’s Manual, page 31:
    Slow Drivers
    When you drive slower than the normal speed of traffic, you must use
    the right lane or drive as closely as possible to the right curb or edge of
    the road, unless you are getting ready to make a left turn.
    Watch for congestion behind you if you drive slower than the
    designated speed. Pull off the road at the first area safe to turn out and
    let the traffic behind you pass. The overtaking driver must obey the
    speed law.


    When the driver behind you
    wants to pass. Slow down to
    allow room in front of your
    vehicle for the passing
    vehicle to complete the pass
    sooner and more safely.

    When following bicycles or
    motorcycles. You need
    extra room in case the rider
    loses control of the bicycle or
    motorcycle.

    Keeping Right
    Drive on the right half of the road except when:
    • Passing another vehicle going in the same direction as you.
    • Driving to the left of center to pass an obstruction.
    • A road is marked for one-way traffic.
    • A road has 3 marked lanes and the center lane is a passing lane.
    • You are turning left.

    Passing on the Right
    You may pass on the right only when:
    • There is room ahead on the road;
    • Your lane or pavement is wide enough for two lanes of traffic going
    the same direction; and,
    • The driver you are passing is making or has signaled for a left turn.
    You may not pass on the right if any part of your vehicle will be off
    the paved part of the highway or into a bike lane. A vehicle may not drive
    in the bicycle lane to pass on the right. Use extra care when you pass on
    the right. Other drivers do not expect to be passed on the right.
    My reading of this is that "taking the lane," such as is advocated by many VC riders on these pages, would be prohibited if the cyclist acted strictly like a motor vehicle.

    Quote Originally Posted by ODOT Driver's Manual
    Slow Moving Vehicle
    Vehicles that travel at speeds of 25 miles per hour or
    less—such as farm equipment or low-speed vehicles—must
    display this SLOW MOVING VEHICLE emblem when
    using a public highway. Be prepared to adjust your speed
    or position when you see this sign.

    If it is built for use at speeds of less than 25 miles per hour, a vehicle
    must have this sign mounted on the rear. The sign must be a standard
    type recognized nationwide. It has a red reflectorized border and a
    fluorescent orange-red center.

    Farming and construction machinery and equipment must display this
    sign except when guarded by a flagger or warning sign.
    The sign must also be on the rear of mopeds or golf cart type vehicles
    driven by disabled persons. These vehicles may only travel on streets
    with a top designated speed of 25 miles per hour.

    Do not use this sign in any other way except on these vehicles
    and machinery.
    I wonder how many of the VC proponents can maintain an average speed above 25 mph? If we went strictly by the "rules of the road" for drivers, then my reading here is that we would need a slow moving vehicle sign on our bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon DOT Driver's Manual
    External Passengers
    Oregon law prohibits anyone under 18 years old to ride on the hood, fender,
    running board, or other external part of a vehicle, including a pickup bed.
    Adults should not ride in a pickup bed. If you are in an accident, adults
    in the pickup bed who are not restrained are likely to be thrown from the
    vehicle, causing serious injury or even death.

    You cannot carry a dog on an external part of a vehicle, including a
    pickup bed, unless it is protected by framework, carrier, or other device
    to keep it from falling from the vehicle. A dog should ride in the back
    seat in a secured carrier or animal safety belt. Do not hold an animal in
    your lap or arms when driving.
    Now, looking at this, car seats on bikes would be out and, who knows, trailers with kids?

    None of these are enforced on bicyclists now, and I don't think we would want that to happen. But a strict reading of what John Forester wrote above, about the evolved rules of the road, leads me to think that this is where we would be right now if VC riding had taken hold in the 1970s, and was the "rule of the road" now. The way the Oregon DOT Driver's manual is written, there is a complete section on bicycle and cars, and how the two should interact. There is also a separate publication called the Oregon Bicyclist Manual 2006, which details bicyclist responsibilities:

    http://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKE..._manual_06.pdf

    As it states:

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon Bicyclist Manual, page 2
    This booklet was prepared to help adult bicyclists and parents of
    younger bicyclists understand how to ride safely and legally on
    the streets, roads and highways of Oregon. This manual condenses
    and paraphrases language in the Oregon Revised Statutes. It also
    provides safety advice not included in the law. This manual is not a
    proper legal authority to cite and should not be relied upon in a court
    of law. Traffic regulations in cities, towns and counties may go beyond
    state laws, as long as they do not conflict with state law.
    For a complete copy of the statutes relating to bicycling, please consult
    the Oregon Vehicle Code, available at your local library, or by going to
    the following Internet link: http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/. Most of the
    statutes relating to bicycling are found in Chapter 814 of the Oregon
    Revised Statutes.
    So let's think about what we really want. Do we want to be treated as equal drivers on the roadway, as John Forester envisions, or do we want something in between, which takes advantage of the unique differences between bikes and autos, and allows us the freedom to use the best approach possible.

    John
    Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 06-01-07 at 10:33 PM.
    John Ratliff

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'm going to have to get a red one.....and start pulling over ALL THE TIME.

    bummer.
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    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    My reading of this is that "taking the lane," such as is advocated by many VC riders on these pages, would be prohibited if the cyclist acted strictly like a motor vehicle.
    Note that it says "you must use the right lane OR drive as closely as possible to the right curb or edge of the road". "Taking the lane" fits the first clause, because it doesn't impose any requirements regarding where in the right lane you need to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    I wonder how many of the VC proponents can maintain an average speed above 25 mph? If we went strictly by the "rules of the road" for drivers, then my reading here is that we would need a slow moving vehicle sign on our bikes.
    Those laws only apply to vehicles "built for use at speeds of less than 25 miles per hour". There's nothing about the design of a bicycle that prevents it from being used over 25 miles per hour - it's only limit is due to the human engine and terrain. After all, these same rules wouldn't apply to an automobile that is driven slower than 25 mph.

    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    Now, looking at this, car seats on bikes would be out and, who knows, trailers with kids?
    JF was talking about operating rules, not equipment rules. Otherwise, we'd need huge halogen headlights and airbags too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    Now, looking at this, car seats on bikes would be out and, who knows, trailers with kids?
    I was actually thinking about child seats on bikes, not car seats. Oh well...

    Actually, in Korea I saw bikes with huge loads, including what would be the equivalent of car seats.

    John
    John Ratliff

  5. #5
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    But since the bike lane is indeed a lane, would you not be required to use it if you were required to use the right-most lane?
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  6. #6
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    But since the bike lane is indeed a lane, would you not be required to use it if you were required to use the right-most lane?
    Yes, at this point. But what I'm looking at is when VC was established (1970s). If we had gone that route, there would be no bike lanes.

    John
    John Ratliff

  7. #7
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    And how is that a problem?
    Do you only ride on streets with bike lanes?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    Yes, at this point. But what I'm looking at is when VC was established (1970s). If we had gone that route, there would be no bike lanes.

    John
    Not really correct. While vehicular cycling had been practiced for decades before being formalized, it was formalized only after the creation of the bike-lane program. Bike-lane law, in its modern form, 1974. Bike lane designs, 1974-1976. I was intimately involved in these two. Effective Cycling first edition, 1976, and, naturally, it included thoughts based on what I then knew.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    oh please, those laws aren't for safety, they are for getting slower vehicles out of the way of motorists and you should know that those aren't the rules advocated by Forrester either... (see Effective Cycling...)

  10. #10
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    But since the bike lane is indeed a lane, would you not be required to use it if you were required to use the right-most lane?
    This is why so many cyclists don't like bike lane stripes, compared to wide outside lanes, which don't imply that the cyclist needs to hug the curb or ride in the door zone/debris zone with less visibility to crossing and entering traffic, and putting him at greater risk of right hooks.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    Not really correct. While vehicular cycling had been practiced for decades before being formalized, it was formalized only after the creation of the bike-lane program. Bike-lane law, in its modern form, 1974. Bike lane designs, 1974-1976. I was intimately involved in these two. Effective Cycling first edition, 1976, and, naturally, it included thoughts based on what I then knew.

    So in essence, vehicular cycling presuposses the existence of some "natural law" concept of rules of the road that co-exists with the traffic law promulgated by our respective legilatures?????

  12. #12
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    This is why so many cyclists don't like bike lane stripes, compared to wide outside lanes, which don't imply that the cyclist needs to hug the curb or ride in the door zone/debris zone with less visibility to crossing and entering traffic, and putting him at greater risk of right hooks.
    So bike lanes cause cyclists to ride closer to the curb?
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  13. #13
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun
    So bike lanes cause cyclists to ride closer to the curb?
    Bike lane stripes stigmatize cyclists who ride a safer distance from the curb. What the cyclist, police, and JAMs do about that stigma depends on the individuals involved, and what they understand about best operational practices when cycling.

  14. #14
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    Bike lane stripes stigmatize cyclists who ride a safer distance from the curb. What the cyclist, police, and JAMs do about that stigma depends on the individuals involved, and what they understand about best operational practices when cycling.
    Thanks, but I asked whether or not bike lanes encourage cyclists to ride closer to the curb.
    EDIT: I'm not trying to pick a fight. Your first post implied (at least to me) that bike lanes encourage cyclists to hug the curb. I wondered if you felt that this is really so. Clearly, you didn't mean this. You meant that cyclists like yourself who exit the bike lane might be harrassed.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I think Zey and Steve are using different conceptions of "hug the curb".

    I believe Steve is talking about the general concept of "riding as far right as practicable", not differentiating between those who ride too close and those who ride a respectable distance from the curb, while Zey is talking about riding too closely to the curb.

  16. #16
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skanking biker
    So in essence, vehicular cycling presuposses the existence of some "natural law" concept of rules of the road that co-exists with the traffic law promulgated by our respective legilatures?????
    The traffic law written in the various states reflects the observations of drivers about what works well. The wording is different in each state, but the general principles with which the laws are compatible, or prescribe outright, are very similar. They are similar because so many smart drivers in different states observed the same operational scenarios, vehicle limitations, and social interactions when driving.

    John Forester wrote the clearest description of the generalized rules of the road that I have ever seen. It appears throughout the LAB Bike Ed materials and his own literature.

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    Bike lane stripes stigmatize cyclists who ride a safer distance from the curb. What the cyclist, police, and JAMs do about that stigma depends on the individuals involved, and what they understand about best operational practices when cycling.
    Just this AM I was honked at by a city bus driver. I was riding with tire about 6" inside (curb side) of 4' wide BL.
    I was well aware of bus approaching, in fact I was waiting for it to pass so I could merge left in preparation for a left turn. I never turned head, only saw in mirror and gave no hand signals and held a very straight steady line. I am quite sure I gave no clues I was planning on doing anything but going forward, after all I wanted them to pass quickly.
    Anway I can only assume (and I could be wrong) that the driver wanted me even further right centered in BL, inappropriate given road surface and my speed (~22mph)
    Normaly city bus drivers are the most courteous of all drivers - I've never been honked at by one and they pass usually with >6' distance even though I don't 'ask' for more than 3'-'4

    It puzzled me. The only alternate reason they maybe honked is they recognized me from past times and knew I wanted to turn left and wanted me to merge (?)

    In fact how I responded (as they slowed too) was to signal my left turn merged and looked back and merged in front of them (all their slowing instead of cleanly passing made it such that I needed to merge by that point)

    Al

  18. #18
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun
    Thanks, but I asked whether or not bike lanes encourage cyclists to ride closer to the curb.
    EDIT: I'm not trying to pick a fight. Your first post implied (at least to me) that bike lanes encourage cyclists to hug the curb. I wondered if you felt that this is really so. Clearly, you didn't mean this. You meant that cyclists like yourself who exit the bike lane might be harrassed.
    Avoiding right hooks, door zones, and poor visibility situations (to name a few) may dictate operating outside the bike lane.

    If people interpret the law as requiring cyclists to use the bike lane, then cyclists who use basic defensive driving techniques will be considered to be operating unlawfully.

    Some cyclists may be less likely to drive defensively in order to avoid the stigma and related harassment by motorists/ticketing by police.

    Others will ignore the stripe and deal with the consequences.

    In either case, it makes it harder to promote public understanding of defensive driving on a bicycle.
    Last edited by sggoodri; 06-07-07 at 08:40 AM.

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