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Old 10-17-07, 12:38 PM   #1
Brian Ratliff
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Revisiting "vehicular" in "vehicular cycling"

Amongst many of the ideas we are lacking in terms of discussing vehicular cycling topics, is the total lack of a specific definition of "vehicular". We've attempted to come to one before, but it always got muddled up in the need for certain people to expand the definition to fit the world so that they can be purist in their description of their cycling, regardless of their actual maneuvers on the road.

What brought this up was noisebeam's use of the term "vehicular" to describe avoiding an intersection by cutting across a corner parking lot in the "VC vs. Hurst's 'Urban Cycling'" thread.

What is the spirit of the term "vehicular cycling"? This is my question I'd like to discuss.

I view it as cycling with the flow of traffic. "Flow" here being used in the expansive definition, rather than the mere description of riding on the right hand side of the road (left if in "left of the road" nation states).

This is a blatent attempt to negate posturing on both sides of this "debate" (we'll see to the debate after we are done discussing the terminology), and a blatent attempt to inject "lingo" so that we can more precisely talk about traffic cycling and vehicular cycling ideas.

Language can be used as a weapon, or it can be used for communication. Too often, when talking about vehicular cycling, language is conscripted into the former role. This happens on both sides. Not just with the insults and the ad hominem attacks, but in the way we try to force people to admit a retorical point by using language in a nondescriptive way. I'm guilty of this, so is basically all the "regulars" on this particular forum. I was guilty when, in the last attempt to talk about "vehicular", I introduced a version which was tailored to negate some common vehicular cycling practices as "non-vehicular". Helmet Head was guilty when he tried to expand the term "vehicular" to cover many non-vehicular, though common practices, such as explicitly giving up right of way for the "greater good" of keeping traffic flowing steadily, or making two step left turns. I reduced vehicular cycling to "destination lane positioning" and HH expanded it to "everything you do on a public road".

I don't want to expand on the view I offered above. I offer it merely as my opinion. I want to ask the question above in bold: What is the spirit of the term "vehicular cycling"? Problems in engineering and philosophy are considered in stepwise fashion. In school, this cumulates in the saying "first, you must define the problem". The purpose of this thread is NOT to define the term "vehicular" in "vehicular cycling". It is to consider the spirit of this term.

Once we have done that, and only once we have done that, can we arrive at a working definition and strip the retoric from this discussion. That is the end goal.
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Old 10-17-07, 01:27 PM   #2
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Is there a difference between 'cycling vehicularly' 'Vehicular Cycling' and describing some manuever as 'vehicular' in nature?

I think there is, but I will admit my head is spinning a bit too much trying to come to reasonable grasps with the differences or if they really matter.

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Old 10-17-07, 01:33 PM   #3
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From the discussions here, they do seem to matter. If only because a common slur here is to describe someone's riding style as being "not vehicular".

If it truely doesn't matter, why did you gather it to be important to contest my description of corner cutting as non-vehicular, describing it instead as being vehicular but not legal?
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Old 10-17-07, 01:44 PM   #4
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Sorry, I should have said "matter to me"

I do hope that it is OK to have an opinion of something that doesn't really matter to me. For example someone may wonder if a shirt is blue or purple. It may not matter to me, but I can still say what I think, especially if to me is is clearly one or the other.

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Old 10-17-07, 01:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Is there a difference between 'cycling vehicularly' 'Vehicular Cycling' and describing some manuever as 'vehicular' in nature?

I think there is, but I will admit my head is spinning a bit too much trying to come to reasonable grasps with the differences or if they really matter.

Al
Frankly around here "Vehicular Cycling" tends to leave bad taste in peoples' minds due to the association with some of stranger ideals of HH and Forester. Vehicular Cycling in of itself is not so much a "demon" as some might make it out to be.
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Old 10-17-07, 01:54 PM   #6
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Frankly around here "Vehicular Cycling" tends to leave bad taste in peoples' minds due to the association with some of stranger ideals of HH and Forester. Vehicular Cycling in of itself is not so much a "demon" as some might make it out to be.
That is perhaps part of the difference between 'cycling vehicularly' vs. VC. Especially if one is talking about the sprit of meanings. I haven't read EC so I can't give a strict definition of VC, so I tend to say I am vehicular in describing my cycling 'style' - that for me means the describing the actual practice without the extra baggage (good or bad) of the theory that may come along with VC.

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Old 10-17-07, 04:20 PM   #7
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As with many terms, the meaning depends on the context. So it is with "vehicular".

In the context of "vehicular cycling", "vehicular" simply means riding on roadways "in accordance with the vehicular rules of the road", which are the rules based on the five basic principles underlying the rules governing driver behavior in roadway traffic.

Vehicular cycling is so named to differentiate this style of cycling on roadways from cycling...
  1. according to the pedestrian rules of the road
  2. in accordance with some other rules, or
  3. not in accordance with any rules.

No need to make it any more complicated than that.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 10-17-07 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 10-17-07, 05:08 PM   #8
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Helmet Head was guilty when he tried to expand the term "vehicular" to cover many non-vehicular, though common practices, such as explicitly giving up right of way for the "greater good" of keeping traffic flowing steadily, or making two step left turns.
What you refer to as " giving up right of way for the 'greater good' of keeping traffic flowing steadily" is simply being consistent with one of the five basic principles:
  • Between intersections, position yourself according to your speed relative to other traffic; slower traffic is nearer the curb and faster traffic is nearer the centerline (Forester, 1993, p. 246).
As far as the 2-step turn, fine, technically speaking, that's switching to pedestrian rules momentarily (while changing direction after crossing to the other side) and is not "strict" VC.

John Eldon may use a 2-step turn at some intersections where I make a vehicular left turns. Who fares better? What's the point?

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Old 10-17-07, 05:16 PM   #9
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From the discussions here, they do seem to matter. If only because a common slur here is to describe someone's riding style as being "not vehicular".

If it truely doesn't matter, why did you gather it to be important to contest my description of corner cutting as non-vehicular, describing it instead as being vehicular but not legal?
I find it curious that you have come to believe that "not vehicular" is a common slur around here.
I don't have that impression.

Examples?

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Old 10-17-07, 06:23 PM   #10
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[B]What is the spirit of the term "vehicular cycling"?
It means using the road as if I'm supposed to be there. I don't have to emulate what motor traffic does to ride 'vehicularly'. That's trying to be something I'm not in a misguided attempt to be considered 'equal' - like a feminist that makes herself more masculine trying to compete with men.
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Old 10-17-07, 10:33 PM   #11
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I repeatedly bring up the fact that vehicular bicycling can be done both on the shoulders of roads and in bike lanes. john forester agrees with that statement. yet he repeatedly attempts to negate my assertion with a 'so what' dismissal.

according to the vc camp, 'vehicular' in vehicular cycling includes both shoulders and bike lanes.
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Old 10-17-07, 10:39 PM   #12
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Also, I've seen it mentioned here a few times by various people that 'VC' only works in certain situations, or up to certain traffic speed. I think that's a fallacy. To be riding 'vehicularly' in my mind, is to be riding safely, predictably and legally. I can't imagine any situation where that wouldn't apply. The specific techniques eg. riding 'default centreish' obviously can't be applied in all situations, even Serge acknowledges that, but they are all just tools in the toolbox that is riding vehicularly.
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Old 10-18-07, 05:27 AM   #13
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From what I've seen, in all honesty, you are all arguing about "how many angels can dance on a head of a pin", with viewpoints that are closer than you realize and are mainly about getting YOUR particular wording of the issues, with the same relative meanings. There aren't any parties more guilty of this than another, by the way. I think it's a great idea to refine your definitions and come to an accord on what exactly you are saying
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Old 10-19-07, 02:05 PM   #14
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Let's start with our common understanding of what a vehicle is, and consider its implications.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle

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Vehicles are non-living means of transport. They are most often man-made (e.g. bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, and aircraft), although some other means of transport which are not made by man can also be called vehicles; examples include icebergs and floating tree trunks.

Vehicles may be propelled by animals, for instance, a chariot or an ox-cart. However, animals on their own, though used as a means of transport, are not called vehicles. This includes humans carrying another human, for example a child or a disabled person.

Vehicles that do not travel on land are often called crafts, such as watercraft, sailcraft, aircraft, hovercraft and spacecraft

Most land vehicles have wheels.

Movement without the help of a vehicle or an animal is called locomotion. The word vehicle itself comes from the Latin vehiculum.
Inherent in our understanding of a land "vehicle" is that it is a carrying device that uses something other than legs to support the passenger or payload. Since tracks are usually too damaging to be allowed on public ways, the normal support is wheels.

Although it is possible to build a land vehicle that can pivot all of its wheels to allow travel in any direction, this is usually impractical; nearly all vehicles have at least one wheel that does not pivot. This gives nearly all vehicles a turning radius longer than their length, and makes it possible to move only in the direction perpendicular to the fixed axle. This is a serious kinematic limitation compared to that of legged animals, e.g. pedestrians.

Many vehicles commonly achieve momentum in travel that, due to dynamic effects, requires a much larger turning radius than predicted by kinematic analysis alone, and requires significant time and distance for starting and stopping.

Lastly, for both kinematic and dynamic reasons, wheeled vehicles have difficulty negotiating discontinuities in height in the traveled way.

One can consider these kinematic and dynamic constraints as significantly reduced maneuverability compared to legged travel. This cost is often worthwhile for the benefit of greater speed capability, reduced power requirements at a given speed, and greater payload capacity compared to legged travel. However, the reduced maneuverability has important implications for how one should negotiate the traveled way, particularly in regards to other vehicle traffic.

So, vehicular cycling starts with an understanding that bicycles have maneuverability constraints similar to those of other vehicles; those traffic negotiation rules that were developed with the consequences of limited vehicle maneuverability in mind are likely to have some significant importance to bicycle travel in traffic. Similarly, the design of public ways for bicycle travel should incorporate consideration of these maneuverability constraints.

-Steve Goodridge

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Old 10-19-07, 02:09 PM   #15
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'manuverability constraints' are of significant importance in design of public space for bicycle travel in traffic?

big jump in logic after that last semicolon, steve.

I think more significant importance in regards to bicycle travel in traffic are the SPEED DIFFERENTIALS between motorized vehicles versus human powered vehicles.

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Old 10-19-07, 02:28 PM   #16
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To me, VC means to take the lane when you are riding alone.
I'm not able to do that all the time, but usually do at night on
the right of three lanes with reduced traffic and my tail lights on.
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Old 10-19-07, 02:34 PM   #17
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vehicular- slower traffic keep right.

vehicular- use of well-accomodating shoulder or bike lane when destination positioning doesn't preclude their use.
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Old 10-19-07, 03:55 PM   #18
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'manuverability constraints' are of significant importance in design of public space for bicycle travel in traffic?

big jump in logic after that last semicolon, steve.

I think more significant importance in regards to bicycle travel in traffic are the SPEED DIFFERENTIALS between motorized vehicles versus human powered vehicles.
You are misquoting me by mixing two different sentences, but your misquote is correct nonetheless. So I will defend all three points.

Maneuverability constraints are certainly of significant importance when deciding how to negotiate all types of traffic by bicycle; for instance one must consider one's stopping distance at junctions and limited sight lines, as well as the greater ability of pedestrians to make sudden extreme direction changes compared to vehicle operators.

Maneuverability constraints are of significant importance when deciding how to design a facility for bicycle travel, for instance appropriate sight distances, turn radii, width, and continuity of surface height must be chosen for the desired level of convenience and safety.

Lastly, as you inferred, maneuverability constraints of bicycles are of significant importance when deciding how to design traffic control devices for bicycles; for instance a bicyclists' inability to stop instantly or translate sideways to escape a right-turning truck makes it deadly to direct straight-traveling bicyclists to the right side of right-turning motor traffic, while by comparison, legged pedestians on sidewalks don't fare so badly.

These maneuverability issues, combined with the perceptual, cognitive and reactive limitations of human drivers, provide the basis for the discovery of effective traffic laws and control devices. Great harm is caused when they are neglected when considering bicycle traffic. Your obsession with speed differential is disproportionate to the percentage of collisions that may be attributed to it, but in any case, speed differential may be considered as a factor within a framework of vehicle operation rather than adopting a conflicting paradigm that ignores the maneuverability issues facing cyclists.
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Old 10-19-07, 05:29 PM   #19
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steve- I'm not obsessed with speed differentials. far from it.

It seems you are obsessed with public space design, and equating motorized travel and nonmotorized travel. your obsession betrays objective discussion.

you also seem obsessed that bicycling and driving a car are both different than walking. interesting.

is that some kind of boilerplate you're developing? you're introducing engineering controls and mixing them in with a discussion of bicycling in a vehicular manner- two seperate topics. Redesign of public space, and vehicular bicycling, are not synonomous, yet you persistently muddle the two.

anyway, I'd like to reiterate, in the interest of the thread, that:

vehicular in vehicular cycling includes the use of a well-accomodating shoulder or bike lane when destination positioning doesn't preclude their use.

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Old 10-21-07, 09:57 PM   #20
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you also seem obsessed that bicycling and driving a car are both different than walking. interesting.
The OP asked what the spirit of vehicular cycling is, for the purpose of accomplishing a common understanding that wouldn't require a war of semantics.

So, I propose that vehicular cycling is named so to differentiate it from walking, and to emphasize the similarities with driving other vehicles, one type of which does happen to be a car.

For the purpose of this thread, the degree to which one believes cycling ought to be done more like driving than like walking, or whether shoulders are to be cycled upon, is irrelevant. The point of my post is to determine if using the maneuverability differences between walking and vehicle operation as explanation for different rules for legged versus tandem-wheeled travel is consistent with everyones' understanding of the spirit of the vehicular cycling paradigm, like it or hate it.

We have all seen cycling done by people attempting to act according to pedestrian rules, e.g. against traffic, on sidewalks, without using destination positioning, etc. We have all also seen cyclists operate according to the rules for drivers (and for many of us that is the default mode.) I propose that this is why the term vehicular cycling exists: to draw attention to the different actions taken when acting according to the rules for drivers compared to the rules for pedestrians. So regardless of arguments about taking the lane or supporting preferred use lanes, my definition for the "spirit" of vehicular cycling covers the most universally understood case: wherever the applicable traffic rule for the driver of a vehicle is different from the rule for a pedestrian, vehicular cycling is choosing to follow the rule for drivers.

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Old 10-21-07, 10:29 PM   #21
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so, biking is different from walking? wow, I'm amazed. very interesting. I will concede, steve, that 'vehicular' bicycling is not walking.

I disagree that whether shoulders should be cycled upon is 'irrelevant' to a discussion of 'vehicular cycling.'

vehicular cycling can and does make use of accomodating shoulders as well as preffered class lanes; use of an accomodating shoulder on a high speed road or an accomodating bike lane can be considered a 'vehicular' way to bicycle.

whether you personally support the installation of preffered class lanes is irrelevant. agreed.

However, in the spirit of vehicular cycling, both shoulders and bike lanes can be used for vehicular cycling. This point is NOT irrelevant to a discussion of the spirit of 'vehicular cycling' at all, steve.

can you 'vehicular' thru a parking lot? yes.
can you 'vehicular' on a shoulder? yes.
Can you 'vehicular' in a bike lane? yes.
can you 'vehicular' on a sidewalk? probably not.

"vehicular"- slower traffic keep right.

"vehicular"- use of well-accomodating shoulder or bike lane when destination positioning doesn't preclude their use.

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Old 10-22-07, 12:46 PM   #22
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so, biking is different from walking? wow, I'm amazed. very interesting. I will concede, steve, that 'vehicular' bicycling is not walking.

I disagree that whether shoulders should be cycled upon is 'irrelevant' to a discussion of 'vehicular cycling.'

vehicular cycling can and does make use of accomodating shoulders as well as preffered class lanes; use of an accomodating shoulder on a high speed road or an accomodating bike lane can be considered a 'vehicular' way to bicycle.

whether you personally support the installation of preffered class lanes is irrelevant. agreed.

However, in the spirit of vehicular cycling, both shoulders and bike lanes can be used for vehicular cycling. This point is NOT irrelevant to a discussion of the spirit of 'vehicular cycling' at all, steve.

can you 'vehicular' thru a parking lot? yes.
can you 'vehicular' on a shoulder? yes.
Can you 'vehicular' in a bike lane? yes.
can you 'vehicular' on a sidewalk? probably not.

"vehicular"- slower traffic keep right.

"vehicular"- use of well-accomodating shoulder or bike lane when destination positioning doesn't preclude their use.
You're dragging up your old favorite argument subjects in a thread that the OP intended to be about finding consensus on what vehicular cycling means. In respect to the OP, I have little to say about them.

All I ask is whether or not there is consensus on the idea that vehicular cycling means choosing the vehicle driving rule/technique when the vehicle driving rule is different from the pedestrian rule, and whether this choice is motivated primarily by the maneuverability characteristics of the travel modes.

In this context, cycling on the shoulder between junctions is not vehicular cycling if it is done on the left side of the road in the USA - the side required by law for US pedestrians walking on a shoulder but disallowed for drivers. On the right side, shoulder cycling between junctions would be considered a compatible with the definition of vehicular cycling in the USA (although riding in the right through lane instead would also be considered vehicular cycling).

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Old 10-23-07, 10:24 PM   #23
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steve, so what you're saying is that

a) riding 'vehicularily' is different than riding like a pedestrian; and

b)vehicular bicycling can take place in a bike lane or shoulder of a road if in the correct direction of travel and 'between junctions- (which i would expand a bit, but that's perhaps the subject of another thread)

my how you dodge the reality that a bike lane can be vehicular, steve.
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Old 10-24-07, 03:07 PM   #24
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steve, so what you're saying is that

a) riding 'vehicularily' is different than riding like a pedestrian; and

b)vehicular bicycling can take place in a bike lane or shoulder of a road if in the correct direction of travel and 'between junctions- (which i would expand a bit, but that's perhaps the subject of another thread)
Yes, I agree with what you have written above, as a starting point for agreeing on what the spirit of vehicular cycling means.

Your statement does not imply that using the travel lane between junctions instead of the bike lane or shoulder is wrong, nor does it imply that the shoulder or bike lane is always usable or always desirable for use between junctions. But I don't think those issues are really relevant to the spirit of the definition of vehicular cycling.
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
my how you dodge the reality that a bike lane can be vehicular, steve.

I've never been concerned about your argument to that effect one way or another. I don't bring up discussion of bike lane stripes because they have little relevance to cycling safety and cycling technique except when they are improperly designed or collect debris. When I teach Road I in downtown Cary, none of the roads we use even have bike lane stripes; the only time we discuss bike lanes in the class is to make cyclists aware of when to avoid them by recognizing common hazards. Bike lane use is about as important to understanding the spirit of vehicular cycling as one's choice of chain lube.
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Old 10-24-07, 04:13 PM   #25
Allister
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Bike lane use is about as important to understanding the spirit of vehicular cycling as one's choice of chain lube.
LOL. Amen, brother.

I prefer wax lube. All you wetlubers don't know a goddamn thing about cycling!
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