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  1. #1
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Does VC rest on a false dichotomy?

    Commenting on the VC principle:
    "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." - John Forester
    Zeytoun raised the following objection in another thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun

    Part of my problem with it is that I think it implies a false dichotomy.

    you could add on the end: as opposed to acting and being treated as a pedestrian.

    One of the core foundations of VC seems to me that there are only two choices for road using cyclists: to be vehicles, or to be pedestrians.

    Now, if you give me the choice of acting and being treated as a vehicle, or acting and being treated as a pedestrian, I will of course choose the former.

    Somehow I feel that the choice, though, is forced.
    I thought this was such an important issue -- whether VC rests on a false dichotomy -- that it deserved a separate thread. So here we are.

    This idea implies the "third mode" theory - that cyclists comprise a third mode of travel in addition to the vehicular and pedestrian modes.

    The short answer is that there are two sets of rules: those for vehicle drivers and those for pedestrians. They are separate sets which do not overlap (that is, the two sets do not share any rules in common).

    There is no such separate set of rules for bicyclists. The most you can argue is that the rules for bicyclists are comprised of a slight modification to the rules for vehicle drivers combined with a slight modification to the rules for pedestrians (in particular, bicyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians on pedestrian facilities, such as MUPs and sidewalks). But if you start going down that path at all it gets very messy very quickly. By "messy" I mean ROW is unclear, which diminishes safety.

    The VC paradigm is that the cyclist can choose to abide by either set, but should be cognizant and clear about which he is doing when, and be particularly careful whenever transitioning from one to the other.

  2. #2
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    where's the HeadPoll?

  3. #3
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    But there are distinctions between the rules that apply to motorists, motorcyclists, equestrians, bicyclists, and stand-up-motorized-scooterists. Not to mention airplanes, boats, trains, dogsleds etc.

    Trains have very different rules of operation. Trains are "vehicles". You would be silly to try to argue that train traffic should follow "vehicular" rules because they don't fit the pedestrian mold.

    Boats and airplaines have even more different rules, since they operate in 3 dimensions. It would be even sillier to try to force them into "vehicular" rules simply because they don't fit the pedestrian mold.

    It really misses the point.

    The point is smooth and safe access for everyone. That's the goal.
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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Simple substitution provides the answer:

    Wheelchairs fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

    Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of wheelchairs.

    Horses fare best when they act and are treated as bears.

    Advocates fare best when they act and are treated as purveyors of religion.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Rider in the Storm
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    Simple substitution provides the answer:

    Wheelchairs fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

    Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of wheelchairs.

    Horses fare best when they act and are treated as bears.

    Advocates fare best when they act and are treated as purveyors of religion.
    You are such an idiot! Horses fare best when they act and are treated as tigers, dumbass! [insert wink thing here]

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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun
    But there are distinctions between the rules that apply to motorists, motorcyclists, equestrians, bicyclists, and stand-up-motorized-scooterists. Not to mention airplanes, boats, trains, dogsleds etc.

    Trains have very different rules of operation. Trains are "vehicles". You would be silly to try to argue that train traffic should follow "vehicular" rules because they don't fit the pedestrian mold.

    Boats and airplaines have even more different rules, since they operate in 3 dimensions. It would be even sillier to try to force them into "vehicular" rules simply because they don't fit the pedestrian mold.

    It really misses the point.

    The point is smooth and safe access for everyone. That's the goal.
    Insofar as road traffic is concerned, the traffic laws address two great classes of person, pedestrians and drivers of vehicles. The specific laws that refer to cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers of heavy trucks, drivers of passenger buses, drivers of animals, all are small items within the large class of drivers of vehicles.

    Any reference to yachts, planes, trains is completely irrelevant because these are not roadway vehicles.

  7. #7
    Rider in the Storm
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    Insofar as road traffic is concerned, the traffic laws address two great classes of person, pedestrians and drivers of vehicles. The specific laws that refer to cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers of heavy trucks, drivers of passenger buses, drivers of animals, all are small items within the large class of drivers of vehicles.

    Any reference to yachts, planes, trains is completely irrelevant because these are not roadway vehicles.
    Hmmmm, one might even say subclasses...to which different rules may apply.

  8. #8
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Commenting on the VC principle:
    "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." - John Forester

    This idea implies the "third mode" theory - that cyclists comprise a third mode of travel in addition to the vehicular and pedestrian modes.
    How about a subset of "vehicles" -- the word is too generic, as others have pointed out.

    It needs a modifier.

    We're on the level of genus with that word, when we should be on the level of species (while still recognizing membership in the genus).

    We need a clear and appropriate category, not such a fuzzy, wide, and ambiguous category.

    We need a clearly communicated category -- one that says something meaningful that is clear to people.

    ***
    Bikes may be just as much "vehicles" as cars and other vehicles; but there are clear and unclear ways of saying that. And they are also different in some ways, and the differences can be recognized without compromising the status of bikes, and their status on the road.

    The word just just isn't saying (to most people) what it could be saying, and what you want it to be saying.

  9. #9
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    cyclists comprise a third mode of travel in addition to the vehicular and pedestrian modes.

    HOLY CRAP!!!!!
    A breakthrough I tell you, a break through!

    Seriously though, did you just finally open your mind to that?!

    Oh wait, yours was rhetorical, you would never concede to that statement...since you don't break vehicles into the categories of motorized and non-motorized.... you machine you

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    There is no such separate set of rules for bicyclists.
    Sure there are. Almost every state has a completely seperate section of their traffic code devoted to rules governing the operation of bicycles.


    In my view, the fundamental flaw/false dichotemy underlying VC (as propounded on these forums) is that VCrs conflate the following propositions:

    1. Cyclists should act as vehciles when using the roadways;
    2. Cyclists should be treated as equals to other vehicles by other
    users of the roadways;
    3. Cyclists are equal to other vehciles on the roadway

    I have no problem with the first proposition in most cases. I wholeheartedly believe the second proposition. [Although I dispute that 1. ipso facto leads to 2.] However, I simply cannot agree with the third proposition.

    Advocating for equal RIGHTS for two classes of people does not necessarily mean having to accept that those two classes are in fact equal in all respects.

    This is a major source of disagreement here. The "adapting cycling folks" while desiring equal rights to the roadway recognize that physically cars and bikes are not "equal." The VCrs want equal rights to the roadway but also seem to assume that a catrike is the equivilent of an H3.

    Once one accepts the fact that there are real differences between the two classes, one must also accept that proposition 1. is not an inviolate rule. That is, sometimes it is better to NOT ride like other vehciles due to the safety issues created by the physical differences between cycles and automobiles.

    This is where the facilities disagreement arises. Some people (like me), who are cognizant of the real physical differences between bikes and cars (not the least of which is relative speed) realize that on some roads it is not safe for cylists to ride as other vehciles and it doesn't make sense from a transportational efficiency standpoint to expect them to do so. On these roads, cycling specific facilities are appropriate both to ensure cyclists safety and to ensure the transportational efficiency of all road users. In other words, while riding vehicularly on a 30 mph two lane road with plenty of extra lane width is fine, it does not make sense to do so on a 50 mph road with narrow lanes.

    VC folks on the other hand conflate the concept of equal rights for cyclists with the physical reality of being equal. Hence, they oppose facilities and do not accept any concerns over safety due to disparagent vehicle size and speed. This, in turn leads them to present the false dichotemy: If you don't ride vehicularly in all circumstances you are incompetent and/or a "anti-cyclist" in sheep's clothing.

    As Aristotle said: Justice is treating people equally to the extent they are equal and treating people unequally to the extent they are unequal.

  11. #11
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skanking biker
    Sure there are. Almost every state has a completely seperate section of their traffic code devoted to rules governing the operation of bicycles.
    Thou shalt not confuse the mythical, unpublished 'Rules of the road' with mere laws that are only applicable when convenient.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    JRA
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    VC-ism rests on at least one false dichotomy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    This idea implies the "third mode" theory...
    There are the rules of the road for vehicles and there are the rules of the sidewalk for pedestrians.

    There are other modes. To name just one, there is the (as yet poorly defined) mode for multi-users of multi-use paths (some VC-ists fantasize that the rules of the road can be applied to MUPs but that's nonsense as evidenced by John Forester's infamous self-test ).

    VC-ism is all about dichotomies, black and white, with no shades of grey (or gray, for that matter).

    It's great propaganda for VC-ists to imply that the only alternative to riding according to the rules of the road as they existed in England in the 1930s (what at least one VC-ist fanatic has called the "traditional rules of the road") is riding as a POW (pedestrian on wheels). But propaganda is all it is. It's bull - just another of the many loads of horse hockey the Foresterites have been dumping on the cycling community for so long that some VC-ists appear to have begun believing their own propaganda.

    VC-ism is founded on the quicksand of John Forester's wacky psychological and social theories -- his conspiracy theories and, as much as anything, false dichotomies, sloganing and propagandizing.

    "real cyclists" vs. the incompetent unwashed masses
    vehicular cyclists vs. POWs
    anti-motorists vs. the followers of The Great One

    As a life-long vehicular cyclist, it's my considered opinion that VC-ism is mostly one gigantic load of horse manure founded on some truly nutcase theories presented by John Forester.

    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    where's the HeadPoll?
    wait for it
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

  13. #13
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    Any reference to yachts, planes, trains is completely irrelevant because these are not roadway vehicles.
    How about light rail, and ovehead electric powered busses?
    I am a mutated sig Virus. Please put me in your sig so that I can continue to replicate and mutate, blah!.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Pedestrian - a person who travels by foot.

    I'm only a pedestrian when I WALK my bicycle. Otherwise my bicycle and I are vehicles of the road. It is that simple.

    Therefore as a vehicle of the road, I must follow the local traffic laws, whatever they may be.

    I don't see why anyone has a problem with that concept. It is not hard to understand.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Commenting on the VC principle:
    "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." - John Forester
    Zeytoun raised the following objection in another thread:

    I thought this was such an important issue -- whether VC rests on a false dichotomy -- that it deserved a separate thread. So here we are.

    This idea implies the "third mode" theory - that cyclists comprise a third mode of travel in addition to the vehicular and pedestrian modes.

    The short answer is that there are two sets of rules: those for vehicle drivers and those for pedestrians. They are separate sets which do not overlap (that is, the two sets do not share any rules in common).

    There is no such separate set of rules for bicyclists. The most you can argue is that the rules for bicyclists are comprised of a slight modification to the rules for vehicle drivers combined with a slight modification to the rules for pedestrians (in particular, bicyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians on pedestrian facilities, such as MUPs and sidewalks). But if you start going down that path at all it gets very messy very quickly. By "messy" I mean ROW is unclear, which diminishes safety.

    The VC paradigm is that the cyclist can choose to abide by either set, but should be cognizant and clear about which he is doing when, and be particularly careful whenever transitioning from one to the other.
    I don't believe that the issue is forced at all. Bikes are relatively fast moving vehicles. They are quite dangerous to pedestrians if they are on the same path and moving at speeds which make them useful as transportation in modern American cities. The roadways are well suited to accommodate vehicles of a number of sorts. What's the dichotomy? What's the problem?

    Larry

  16. #16
    Senior Member The other Inane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    Insofar as road traffic is concerned, the traffic laws address two great classes of person, pedestrians and drivers of vehicles. The specific laws that refer to cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers of heavy trucks, drivers of passenger buses, drivers of animals, all are small items within the large class of drivers of vehicles.
    The rules where I am are slightly different

    16 Who is a driver
    (1) A driver is the person who is driving a vehicle (except a
    motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle).
    (2) However, a driver does not include a person pushing a
    motorised wheelchair.

    17 Who is a rider
    (1) A rider is the person who is riding a motorbike, bicycle,
    powered wheeled recreational device, animal or
    animal-drawn vehicle.
    (2) A rider does not include—
    (a) a passenger; or
    (b) a person walking beside and pushing a bicycle.

    18 Who is a pedestrian
    A pedestrian includes—
    (a) a person driving a motorised wheelchair than can not
    travel at over 10km/h (on level ground); and
    (b) a person in a non-motorised wheelchair; and
    (c) a person pushing a motorised or non-motorised
    wheelchair; and
    (d) a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or
    wheeled toy.

    A class all of our own (well shared with the motorcyclists).

    "A cyclist fares best when he acts and is treated as the rider of a bicycle" looks about right to me
    Fight Club - "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."

  17. #17
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by larryfeltonj
    I don't believe that the issue is forced at all. Bikes are relatively fast moving vehicles. They are quite dangerous to pedestrians if they are on the same path and moving at speeds which make them useful as transportation in modern American cities...
    Oh, bull! A large percentage of bicyclists who use their bicycles for transportaion every day ride on the sidewalk. And most of them aren't a great threat to pedestrians.

    But that wasn't the question at all. The question was whether there are other alternatives and whether VC-ism is based on a false dichotomy.

    Yes, there are other alternatives and yes, VC-ism is based on at least one false dichotomy.

    Sidewalk cycling is a red herring that VC-ist propaganists use to build a strawman argument against those with the audacity to disagree with their anti-bike lane fanaticism.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

  18. #18
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Fagerlin
    So someone rollerblading or skateboard is a driver of a vehicle then?

    After all, many jurisdiction lump those devices in with bicycles.

    I wonder if there is some forum out there with a couple of nutjobs pontificating about incompetent skateboarders who don't practice Vehicular Skakeboarding.


    Actually, Portland has some officially designated 'skate routes', although their skatepark development is woefully inadequate...

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    But that wasn't the question at all. The question was whether there are other alternatives and whether VC-ism is based on a false dichotomy.
    The question was pretty easy to understand, and my answer of course was no. Now that I've clarified that for the polemically challenged, let's talk about whether the alternatives are realistic or wise. There are always alternatives, and in this case we could propose anything from sidewalk riding to sidepaths to a massive system of habitrails suspended over the streets. Sidewalk riding is slow and dangerous, bike lanes have a variety of problems, the primary in my estimate being conflicts at intersections, and the habitrails, while a very nifty idea would be a bit expensive to build and maintain.

    My point is really that we have a very good existing road system, which goes where I want to go on a day-by-day basis.

  20. #20
    genec genec's Avatar
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    The only dichotomy I experience is the lack of "...and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

    Motorists should have no more problems passing me than they would a slow cement truck. In fact, fewer problems... I am narrow and easy to see around. Waiting for a safe moment to pass me with plenty of clearance should be no problem.

    On any given day, when I am on a narrow road, I can guarantee some motorist will have "issues" passing me.

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I thought the false dichotomy was that VC disciples believe you cannot ride vehicularly and support bike lanes. This is a false dichotomy.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  22. #22
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I thought the false dichotomy was that VC disciples believe you cannot ride vehicularly and support bike lanes. This is a false dichotomy.
    Why should I support BLs that at nearly all intersection approaches do not meet the destination I am gong that vast majority of the time, or otherwise suggest a roadway position that is more dangerous than if I was not in that BL.
    Al

  23. #23
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    ..boy al, they don't do that, dude. a grid system of roads like your city would be able to, likely does have, bike lanes that serve destination positioning for thru travel. for turning travel on bike laned roads, leave the bike lane to move into destination position.

    you vehicular cycle, and you don't understand destination positioning on roads with lanes striped for thru travel?

    yes, Diane has it right- Vcist insistance you cannot ride vehicularily and support bike infrastructure like bike lanes IS a false dichotomy-

    vehicular cycling and bike lanes ARE NOT mutually exclusive. the insistence in such by some of the VCists is evidence of one of the falsehoods of the VC political platform.

    I think the other inane states it well when he stated above "A cyclist fares best when he acts and is treated as the rider of a bicycle looks about right to me "
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  24. #24
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    ..boy al, they don't do that, dude. a grid system of roads like your city would be able to, likely does have, bike lanes that serve destination positioning for thru travel. for turning travel on bike laned roads, leave the bike lane to move into destination position.
    No, in my city most bike lanes at intersections, small and large, controlled and not, are to the right of the thru lane. I find I go straight thru intersections far more than I turn (which makes sense for a city built on a grid system - for example travel 9 blocks north, 5 blocks east, far more thru travel than right/left turns)

    Sure some intersections have RTOLs, but only the largest - which covers perhaps 10% of intersections.

    So the bike lanes at intersections (with exception of those with RTOL) only at best serve right turning cyclists, which on average is the least common destination for all cyclists.

    Al

  25. #25
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    The only dichotomy I experience is the lack of "...and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

    Motorists should have no more problems passing me than they would a slow cement truck. In fact, fewer problems... I am narrow and easy to see around. Waiting for a safe moment to pass me with plenty of clearance should be no problem.

    On any given day, when I am on a narrow road, I can guarantee some motorist will have "issues" passing me.
    +1. At least for me, clearly explains why though I'd like to ride my bike as a vehicle, it is not acceptable to some motorists. Being VC is a great pipe dream, but not if ALL the other "vehicles" aren't smoking it.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

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