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Old 07-06-09, 02:46 PM   #1
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Is Vehicular Cycling "natural"?

My non-riding wife thinks so.

We were riding down a busy road, three fairly congested lanes in each direction. There was a gutter bunny riding with traffic; he was just ambling along on his mountain bike. Cars were squeezing by him in the right lane, coming pretty close. He just kinda took it in stride.

I was in the second lane over, and as we came up to him, I slowed to let a car change lanes and get in front of me to give the rider more room.

My wife, who hasn't ridden since she broke a kneecap in a bike fall in grammar school, looked over at the rider and asked me, "Wouldn't he be safer if he just took up the whole lane and made cars change lanes to pass him?"

I answered, "Yes, dear."
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Old 07-06-09, 03:01 PM   #2
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I think taking the lane is a self confidence issue. If you don't have the confidence to hold your space in the lane then you will feel pressured to ride on the far right.
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Old 07-06-09, 03:01 PM   #3
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I answered, "Yes, dear."
What other answer is there?
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Old 07-06-09, 03:10 PM   #4
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Yes, generally it is very natural... however, drivers in this country, and by extension, many would be cyclists, have been taught by example that "cars rule" and everyone else best get outta the way.

This is highly exemplified by the design of very high speed shared surface streets; and in your part of the country, by the 70MPH "farm roads" that run out to places such as Waco from Granbury and the like. (ya gotta git off the 35 and on to those roads with the small signs) Now on those farm roads, you may be the only vehicle for some long period of time, but along comes some citified dude, driving his pickup down the road... you think they are going to take kindly to your bike taking up the only lane and moving at 18MPH?

Course it depends on the driver... some even remember the old Texas slogan of "Drive Friendly."

Others however, figure they pay gas taxes and you don't... that is where the power plays become interesting. Remember, some of those good old boys may not quite get that they don't exactly "own the road..."
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Old 07-06-09, 06:21 PM   #5
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So much for the theory that only Alfa-dog, 20 something, males, who ride at 30 mph; can ride VC.
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Old 07-06-09, 10:22 PM   #6
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Not sure what you mean by "natural", but I'm fairly sure it's not human nature to put oneself in the way of multi-thousand pound, fast moving things.
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Old 07-07-09, 03:17 AM   #7
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My wife, who hasn't ridden since she broke a kneecap in a bike fall in grammar school, looked over at the rider and asked me, "Wouldn't he be safer if he just took up the whole lane and made cars change lanes to pass him?"
She is absolutely correct.
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Old 07-07-09, 06:56 AM   #8
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My wife, who hasn't ridden since she broke a kneecap in a bike fall in grammar school, looked over at the rider and asked me, "Wouldn't he be safer if he just took up the whole lane and made cars change lanes to pass him?"
That's the part that is hard to do... "make" any driver do anything...
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Old 07-07-09, 08:21 AM   #9
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parroting the husband, good wife.

i bet she buzzes cyclists when her hubby isn't in the car
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Old 07-07-09, 08:35 AM   #10
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I'm not sure that "natural" is the best term to describe over-fed primates using two ton carriages to transport their wide behinds from point A to point B. But I learned a long time ago that integrating with the traffic flow and following the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles is the best way for me to safely and efficiently get around on a bicycle. Predictability, communication, visibililty, vigilance, and common courtesy all seem to help make this work. I don't see how being an "alpha dog" has anything to do with it.
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Old 07-15-09, 02:52 PM   #11
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Vehicular Cycling is definitely an UNnatural act.
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Old 07-16-09, 11:23 AM   #12
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Vehicular Cycling is definitely an UNnatural act.
Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

So following traffic rules on a bicycle cannot be intuitive? We expect any sixteen year-old to be able to grasp how to operate in traffic, but you seem to imply these notions cannot be grasped when on a bicycle?
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Old 07-16-09, 05:22 PM   #13
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It was a Joke!!!
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Old 07-16-09, 05:27 PM   #14
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Unnatural act
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Unnatural act is the term, once common in legal parlance, for certain sex acts, including anal sex, oral sex, other non-procreative sexual practices, incest, or procreative sexual acts in the wrong position or without procreative intent.

It should be noted that the usage of the term "unnatural" in this context doesn't carry the same meaning as "the opposite of natural", and says nothing about whether an act actually is or is not a product of nature (though that may be what's implied in a pejorative sense).

Unnatural acts in this sense are related to the concept of sodomy but also includes "crimes against nature" like bestiality and necrophilia.

carry on.
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Old 07-16-09, 05:29 PM   #15
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heh.
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Old 07-16-09, 05:31 PM   #16
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I answered, "Yes, dear."
Though irrelevant to the quality of your reply, your wife has it right.
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Old 07-17-09, 11:15 AM   #17
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Yes, generally it is very natural... however, drivers in this country, and by extension, many would be cyclists, have been taught by example that "cars rule" and everyone else best get outta the way.
Bingo. As children, we're taught to stay out of the road and stay on the sidewalk. It felt unnatural for me to ride on the road at first, almost like my conscience was tugging at me for breaking the rules that had been outlined for me while growing up. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't breaking the law, especially when I first started crossing traffic for a left turn. It started feeling much more natural to me after doing it for a couple of months.

An unchecked survival instinct also tells us to stay away from several ton metal machines moving 3-6x faster than our 120lbs of flesh and blood. This makes the sidewalk much more attractive and safe feeling.

Also, for many it feels better to ride against traffic; they want to see the cars coming at them rather than getting smacked behind them. It's a normal part of our survival instinct to want to see a threat coming, so in that sense riding against traffic is a natural thing to do (when one doesn't take into account the factors that make it more dangerous).

So, it is quite unnatural in those respects.
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Old 07-22-09, 02:02 AM   #18
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If someone was taught as a child to ride a certain way, then that way seems natural to them.

But, really, it's just the way the person was taught.

Riding a bicycle is itself unnatural, counter-intuitive. To someone who hasn't done it, it's absurd, impossible. Yet once a person learns to do it, they never forget (or so it is said).

I'm not sure exactly what "vehicular cycling" is (besides a poor choice of a name) but I seriously doubt there's gene for it.

Vehicular cycling is not natural and neither is riding in the gutter.
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Old 07-31-09, 09:16 AM   #19
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I'm glad I found this thread.

It is natural, and I will tell everyone why.

I have been casually cycling for many years now, on and off, and I distinctly remember, even as a kid, I aggressively held my own on the road. I would take the lane when necessary and do all these things that fall under the 'VC' umbrella...MANY YEARS before I even came across the concept of 'VC' on wikipedia just the other day.

So, it is natural because I've always ridden my bike that way, without prior knowledge of 'VC', and my recent discovery only goes to solidify my VC style.
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Old 08-17-09, 04:38 PM   #20
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I'm glad I found this thread.

It is natural, and I will tell everyone why.

I have been casually cycling for many years now, on and off, and I distinctly remember, even as a kid, I aggressively held my own on the road. I would take the lane when necessary and do all these things that fall under the 'VC' umbrella...MANY YEARS before I even came across the concept of 'VC' on wikipedia just the other day.

So, it is natural because I've always ridden my bike that way, without prior knowledge of 'VC', and my recent discovery only goes to solidify my VC style.
This is precisely my experience. Besides riding around a college campus as a kid, if we wanted to go anywhere beyond the neighborhood, that meant riding the streets.

In grad school in L.A. 30 years ago as a commuter, VC came naturally. All it took was knowledge of the law, a little courage and a little aggression. No problems there in 3 years of daily cycling.
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Old 08-18-09, 07:00 AM   #21
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My experience as well. Growing up in So Cal during the 1950s and 60s, long before kids were over-protected like they are now, one's feet and one's bike were the means of mobility. Through trial and error and continuous improvement, I adapted a set of my own best practices that worked best for my own safety and efficiency, decades before terms like "VC" and "bike lanes" were part of the English language. As near as I can tell, these practices closely match what is now labeled as VC, though to me it just seems like common sense.
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Old 06-26-10, 07:53 PM   #22
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Taking a lane unnecessarily is inviting inevitable road rage and possible death. It's not just that drivers need to be educated, though they do, but many humans will always take what they can by force, if they think they can--even a stupid lane of traffic. How many hit and runs still happen? Are motorcycles safe? It's not just a bicycle thing.
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Old 08-15-10, 10:32 PM   #23
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I think it's natural, yes. After all, is it unnatural to walk down the centre of a sidewalk? Is it more natural to cling to one side or the other for fear of mothers hitting you with strollers or bigger people bumping into you? In a store, do we walk down one side of a grocery aisle for fear of someone with a cart coming up behind us and knocking us over? Of course not. In all these cases we 'take the lane' until it makes sense to share it.

When I was first cycling as an adult I hadn't read any books on cycling safety and had never heard any terms like vehicular or integrated cycling, but as I gained confidence I took the lane more frequently until I was most comfortable riding further into the middle of the lane. That way the cars tended to give me more room and I had more room to manoeuvre if they came too close. At some point I realized that, in order to keep myself safe at intersections, I had to position myself in certain places in the lane. This is simply a matter of best tactics to achieve the goals of safety and getting where I want to be. For me this philosophy didn't have a name - other than simply 'cycling'.

Of course, for those who live in fear of cars, the fear overwhelms their natural inclination to cycle as a vehicle, so for them, VC does not seem natural at all, so they seek out ways to avoid interactions with motorized traffic, either by riding in the gutter, on the sidewalk, against traffic, by riding defensively or illegally, or by seeking out and favouring bike paths and bikeways rather than using the most direct road. The more they avoid traffic, the more natural it seems to do so, until they convince themselves that VC is not only unnatural, but insane.

Interestingly, the fear is very succinctly summed up in a post here, in which Genec writes: "That's the part that is hard to do... "make" any driver do anything..." - as if drivers are crazed maniacs who will stop at nothing in order to do what they want to do.

Personally, I've always found it very easy to get motor vehicle drivers to do what I want them to do (as long as they see me), because the simple fact is THEY are afraid of US. Some are afraid of injuring or killing us, some are afraid of the consequences of injuring or killing us. You can see this fear whenever a driver refuses to take his turn at a 4-way stop sign, or when they allow me to change lanes when, if I were in a car, they would speed up to prevent me from moving over. But the main thing that makes me know they're afraid of us is that some of them yell at me while they're passing me. Yelling while avoiding a person is not a sign of aggression - it's a sign of fear. Fear can turn into aggression, but fear itself is passive. They want me to get out of their way - because they fear what might happen if I don't.

Some here have argued that it's not natural to want to put oneself in the way of fast moving heavy vehicles, but the thing is, if that's the overriding concern, crossing the street as a pedestrian would be unnatural too. Heck, if we're going to be that fearful we're only a short step away from staying in bed all day. The fact is, we have to travel, and if we like cycling, we're going to get on a cycle and roads are the only legal option in most areas. If we accept that cycling involves road travel, then the most natural thing to do is to make sure the journey is as safe as possible, and there's nothing safer than VC. Other methods make some of us feel safer, but the reality is that they have been shown time after time to be less safe.

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Old 08-15-10, 11:08 PM   #24
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Taking a lane unnecessarily is inviting inevitable road rage and possible death...
An interesting variation on the "She was asking to be raped by dressing that way" argument.
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Old 08-15-10, 11:14 PM   #25
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I think taking the lane is a self confidence issue. If you don't have the confidence to hold your space in the lane then you will feel pressured to ride on the far right.
+1! It can be easily to feel pressured back to the side again.
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