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  1. #1
    genec genec's Avatar
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    So Vehicular Cyclists... what else should you know?

    If a person is a licensed experienced driver... what else should they know, to ride a bike in typical traffic?

    If John Forester's premise is correct... that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles," then beyond the basic skills of riding a bike, and the skills acquired as an experienced and licensed driver... what other skills really should a typical adult cyclist need to acquire, and why?

    How does "driving a bike" differ from "driving a car..." other than the obvious speed differences of course?

    The "why" is really the area I want to explore. Begin the discussion.

  2. #2
    Conservative Hippie
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    I think on a bike a person has to be more assertive; not aggressive, there's a difference.

    I also think that when on a bike a person has to make more of an effort to communicate their intentions.

    The reason why I think these two things are important is that in America drivers encounter so few cyclists, and even fewer who ride, or understand why they should ride, according to the applicable traffic laws, that the average motorist really doesn't know what to expect. If Ed normally sees bikes going the wrong way down the sidewalk, then he's not quite sure what to make of the cyclist who is setting up to be destination oriented at an intersection.

  3. #3
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    what else do bicyclists need to learn to cycle effectively?

    awareness, adeptness, avoidance, abuse acceptance, amusement.

    attempts to force human nature's collective reluctance to mix among high speed differential, high ADT motor vehicle traffic on bicycles is crude bully pulpit tactics.

    Delusions of enlightened bicyclists with dogmatic allegiance to strict vehicular operating rules mixing equitably in uncomfortable roadway scenarios is the heights of folly.

    Expecting a significant amount of bicycling participation on the US road system as built into american urbania in the last century simply because "traffic flows this way" is a simpleton's paradise.

    How does driving a bike differ from driving a car?

    well, for starters, you're on a bike surrounded by a whole bunch of automobiles piloted by individuals in various states of distraction...
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-04-09 at 12:56 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    How does "driving a bike" differ from "driving a car..." other than the obvious speed differences of course?...
    I think this question gets to the gist of some of the flaws in what I will call a "strict vehicularist" interpretation of how to ride a bike. I use that term because many of us who post in here ride vehicularly on a regular basis but also ride in a variety of ways suitable to the myriad of conditions we may be exposed to on our bikes.

    While there is a fairly long list of differences between "driving a bike" and "driving a car". (mass, velocity, acceleration capacity etc.) one that probably defines the "difference" best is that we are talking about 4 wheeled transport as opposed to 2 wheeled transport. This may seem like a small difference but, in fact, it represents a substantial shift in the way both vehicles travel. Anyone who mountain bikes, as I do, in an area where some of the trails are shared by 4 wheeled ATV's can attest to the difference in the footprint and environmental impact that 4 wheels have over two. They turn a small foot path into a road with only a few passes. 4 wheels require a road two require an earth space only as wide as one tire and the air space above only as wide as the a** or the shoulders of the rider.

    It comes down to aspects of geometry and how 4 wheels track in space as opposed to 2. 4 creates a more linear space while 2 offers more circular options. Not as many as a unicycle, which can reverse directions in an instant but again BMX'ers and mountain bikers can easily demonstrate how quickly a 2 wheeled vehicle can become a one wheeled vehicle.

    But how does this versatility, so easily demonstrated in an urban parking lot or on a mountain trail, translate when this same vehicle is on the road? For one thing roads, even pre-auto, have been designed for 4 wheeled vehicles since Roman times. 4 wheeled vehicles (or 2 wheeled side by side) want to go straight and have large turning radii. Strict vehicularists suggest that bicycles should ride "predictably", "in a straight line", "as a vehicle" basically mimicking the behavior of the automobile- something a bicycle is more than capable of and, IMO, is a worthwhile strategy to employ in many situations. However, we have so much more potential and there are many times when it should be realized and can often be a life saver.

    Thinking in too linear a mindset limits the cyclist and may result in an inability to adapt to unexpected or unpredictable occurrences. The strict vehicularist (again IMO) treats the bicycle in a restricted manner. It would be like someone limiting what kind of music can be played on a piano ie. only classically scored in 4/4 time and ignoring, in fact, out and out denying, that the same instrument can play an improvisational jazz riff in 5/4 time that jumps to 5/8 in the next instant.

    So what else should vehicular cyclists know? You're on 2 wheels not 4- feel free to improvise once in a while.

  5. #5
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I concur with Buzzman's point regarding two wheels versus four wheels (or more). Although I think that the difference is more subtle than I read in his text.

    I think that the big difference is your risk profile. That is, what is in all likelihood a fender bender in a car has a much higher probability of being catastrophic on a bicycle. Given a person's preferences, one's optimal choices in identical situations could certainly be different.

    A side note ...

    A big issue that we tend to gloss over in these conversations, however, is what is being optimized? Are we focused on speed, convenience, or safety? Most likely it is some combination of the three. What risks is the cyclist or driver least comfortable with? These considerations will all affect a person's optimal choice. Since these things vary from person to person or even from day to day within the same person, meaningful conversations regarding the "right/wrong" or "best/worst" way to cycle are difficult to conduct without a good deal of flexibility in interpretation by the reader.

  6. #6
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Folks I brought this up due to the periodic statements made by some that one should take a LAB class to learn how to bike in traffic. Also from time to time we hear of a "need to have a bike license."

    If one is already a skilled driver, then I really wonder... what other new skills a cyclist should have to have that are different from those of a skilled auto driver, and why?

  7. #7
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Well ... I assume that we are not talking about the skill to ride and manuever a bike. That is obvious. But instead, I think we are talking about decision making skills and what differences between cycling and driving would lead to different strategies in otherwise identical situations ... no?

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Well ... I assume that we are not talking about the skill to ride and manuever a bike. That is obvious. But instead, I think we are talking about decision making skills and what differences between cycling and driving would lead to different strategies in otherwise identical situations ... no?
    Exactly. I assume one that wants to ride a bike regularly already knows how to physically ride the bike.

    My question stems from the issue of "bike licensing" and some other comments made by some posters here from time to time. Frankly, if you have a driver's license... I see absolutely no reason to have to get a bike license.

    Further if you are an experienced driver, you certainly understand the "rules of the road."

    So really... should a licensed driver have to know anything more... and if so, what and why?

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    My only comment would be that licensing to operate a motorcar needs to be more difficult to obtain throughout the United States. Giving the keys to a motorcar to a 16 year old is idiotic. Put more kids on bicycles, take away the privilege to operate a motorcar from some rather large percentage of the population (not only the young and elderly, but the clearly poor operators), and drop the speed limits on city streets (down from the usual 45 and 35 to at least 25 MPH, preferably 15 MPH), and not only will you see somewhat safer streets now, but especially safer when the teenagers that would be riding bicycles eventually become motorcar operators (in the mid to late 20's).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Exactly. I assume one that wants to ride a bike regularly already knows how to physically ride the bike.

    My question stems from the issue of "bike licensing" and some other comments made by some posters here from time to time. Frankly, if you have a driver's license... I see absolutely no reason to have to get a bike license.

    Further if you are an experienced driver, you certainly understand the "rules of the road."

    So really... should a licensed driver have to know anything more... and if so, what and why?
    Why is a motorcycle license required (even if you have a driver's license)?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Fantasminha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
    II also think that when on a bike a person has to make more of an effort to communicate their intentions.
    +1

    I also think that a cyclist needs to understand what they need to do to be seen. My experience is that motorists are not looking for cyclists--they are looking for other cars. If you timidly ride as far to the right as possible, you are likely to have close encounters one after another at the very least, bad accidents at worst.

    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Further if you are an experienced driver, you certainly understand the "rules of the road."
    I am not so sure about that. I almost got t-boned the other day by a "student driver" car with the instructor behind the wheel...

    What needs to happen first is that drivers ed students (and educators) need to completely understand what to do in the presence of a cyclist.

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Why is a motorcycle license required (even if you have a driver's license)?
    I think that they test you on some issues that you have on a motorcycle that you don't have in a car, like crossing railroad tracks without getting your tires caught.
    Last edited by Fantasminha; 03-11-09 at 05:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasminha View Post
    I think that they test you on some issues that you have on a motorcycle that you don't have in a car, like crossing railroad tracks without getting your tires caught.
    Replace "motorcycle" with "bicycle" and it would still make sense!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasminha View Post
    Jeez... i really need to learn to reply with multiple quotes. Sorry all.
    You can click on "Reply with quote" and select and copy the message and then click on cancel. You can either use some other editor to assemble stuff or edit your message and paste the additional quotes into it. Keep in mind that the stuff is just plain-old text.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasminha View Post
    What needs to happen first is that drivers ed students (and educators) need to completely understand what to do in the presence of a cyclist.
    Class room work/instruction is not enough. People also need experience to be good drivers.

    One problem is that dealing with cyclists is a rare occurance for many drivers (in the US). Perceptually, bicycles and motorcycles are often near invisible.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 03-11-09 at 05:57 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Fantasminha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    You can click on "Reply with quote" and select and copy the message and then click on cancel. You can either use some other editor to assemble stuff or edit your message and paste the additional quotes into it. Keep in mind that the stuff is just plain-old text.
    Thanks I think I got it now
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  14. #14
    just a commuter
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    One major difference between 4-wheel and 2-wheel vehicles is their width. Anyone who knows only automobile driving is unaware of the importance of positioning within the lane, for vision and conspicuity, for selecting a preferred path (e.g. avoiding debris or diverting falls), and for preparation to reach one's destination. This training is similar for bicyclists and motorcyclists.
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  15. #15
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    Understand and accept one's differences from motor traffic.

    Anticipation: (always needed when one is on the roads)

    Motor traffic will do odd things to get around you, and won't always do this in a safe way.

    They won't always see you, and I think this genuinely comes down to a pattern recognition issue - motorists are looking for other large vehicles (etc.) in the centre of a lane, because that is what they expect to see. A good example is traffic which is allowed to make right turn with a merging lane. Driver casts a quick glance over the left shoulder and does not see cyclist... Happened to me several times, but anticipation won the day.

    In my experience, you need to give time and space to manouvers in traffic, and think further ahead. This is partly a speed issue, if faster moving traffic has to let you change lanes, e.g. to reach a left turn lane.

    It is harder (or requiring of an extra degree of nerve) to assert and maintain ones position in traffic when necessary - the vehicle doesn't do this for you automatically by virtue of it's size, so your actions have to count large.

    Ed
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  16. #16
    Member subverita's Avatar
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    Cool

    You need to know how to make an emergency right turn to avoid or minimize a collision with a crappy automobile driver. You need to know which part of the door to hit when someone opens their car door and you forgot to stay 4 feet away from all those parked cars. You need to know how to read the road in a way someone driving a car does not. You need to understand how that pothole, or squirrel could significantly alter the rest of your life. You need to know that having the right of way is no guarantee that you can exert it. You need to remember that every beer swilling, cell-phone talking yahoo out there would get no more than a slap on the wrist for killing you.

    These are some of the differences. If you don't know what those differences are you are not going to learn them here.
    Ride to live...Live to ride

  17. #17
    Senior Member IbikezLA's Avatar
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    It's important to learn to anticipate drivers' actions. When passing cars I always look ahead and keep their wheels in sight so I dont get surprised by someone popping a turn or lane merger right in front of me.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    So really... should a licensed driver have to know anything more... and if so, what and why?
    Well, you're going to have to learn to deal with a massive variety of bizarre bike lane and path designs which enforce norms and conditions entirely different to your experience as a car driver.

    Further you'll encounter extra hostility and aggression from cops, pedestrians and other drivers who would normally cower obsequiously before your SUV.

    You'll need to deal with a vast amount of propaganda which tells you that your life is in danger at every moment that you're on the street in your bicycle.

  19. #19
    Faster than yesterday
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    you'll need to learn that having to brake very quickly and unexpectedly will probably put you on the pavement. Once you learn that, you'll be expecting to brake quickly, and may be able to stay upright. or you can slow down. If I were smarter I would.

  20. #20
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    The following should pretty much cover all operators of vehicles:

    1. you must know the general rules of the road
    2. you must know the specific laws that apply to your class of vehicle
    3. you should know the specific laws that apply to each other class of vehicle
    4. you must know the performance & handling characteristics/limitations of your vehicle
    5. you should know the performance & handling characteristics/limitations of each other class of vehicle
    6. you must be competent in the physical operation of your vehicle
    "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

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