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Old 04-20-10, 08:07 AM   #1
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Active & Cooperative Vehicular Cycling

I think I've put my finger on my complaint with the VC disciple crowd. You hear a lot of talk about having rights and protecting rights and the whole thing becomes a fierce competition between cyclist and motorist. It's almost like one of those nature shows where the cyclists are the hyenas trying to get their share of a kill when a pride of lions is around. If the lions don't want the hyenas there, it's gonna be ugly.

I agree that Chipseal has right to ride in the lane and I think and hope that his recent tickets for doing so will be dismissed. Since the first of the year, my commute now includes about a mile of country two-lane with no shoulder, so I've been thinking about navigating such roads with a more vested interest.

My first method was to "Chipseal" it: Stubbornly ride in the lane such that a car simply cannot pass without pulling into the oncoming lane. After all, I have a right to use it. While this is commonly viewed as the way to get the most passing distance, on this particular two-lane, the drivers seem to take it personally when I ride like that and try to passive-aggressively move me into my place on the side of the road by passing close to me, typically with two wheels to the right of the center dividing line, forcing me over to the right.

I refuse to try to squeeze over onto a non-existent shoulder. This will give me absolutely no room for error and invite cars to pass without any lane change at all. I've considered alternative routes, but they all involve very busy roads with lots of fast-food places with people suddenly giving in to cravings and making abrupt maneuvers. It's the route I take when I drive to work and it seems hazardous to me even in a car. So the two-lane is the only feasible route.

What I've come up with is this: First of all, when on this stretch I make it a point to know when traffic is approaching from behind by using a mirror. I pay lip-service to AFRAP by riding in the right tire track (or maybe just to the left of it). This gives me a safety factor to my right that I can use as if a car passes me too closely. It also allows me to use that space to help comunicate to the car behind that I know he's there, I know he wants to pass, and whether or not it's safe to do so.

If a car approaches from behind and there is no oncoming traffic, I move from that center-right position to a right position. If I'm riding the left edge of the right tire track, I'll shift over to the right edge of the tire track and hold my position very carefully. This tells the car that, yes, I know you're there, I know you want to pass, and I'm trying to accommodate you, but I still maintain a little bit of a safety margin by not moving all the way to the fog line. When cars pass under these conditions, an amazing thing happens: They move all the way over into the oncoming lane, and I have a boatload of clearance. It's almost like they show their appreciation for my minimal accommodation of their desire to pass by giving me extra space.

If a car comes up behind me and there is oncoming traffic, I either maintain my lane position or move a few inches to the left. I put my left arm out and down, palm facing back, fingers outstretched. If I feel emphasis is needed, I pump the arm up and down a little. I think that even if a driver is frustrated by having to slow down, most appreciate that I am actively taking control of the situation and communicating with them. They just kind of give in to my will As soon as the oncoming traffic is past, I shift right and (if I'm in a passing zone) I wave the car around me. If there is a double yellow line, I still move to the right a little, but don't wave. Most drivers ignore the double yellow and pass me anyway, but I don't want to be construed as telling them to do something illegal; that's their decision. Either way, again, they usually give me ample space when they pass.

I used to get steamed when they passed me on the double yellow but I realize they're going to do it anyway, so I just try to make them do it as safely as possible.

All of this communication seems to foster at least a minimum level of cooperation between cyclists and drivers, and seems to result in fewer frazzled nerves and lower blood pressure. I think it also brings all parties to a single level- we're all just trying to get through this; we're all just trying to get along. Kumbaya.

Do I have the right to the lane? Yes. Should I simply throw away my mirror and trust drivers to do the right thing? In my case, the answer is not unless I want to get hit. Is ceding a little lane position to communicate to the car behind me a surrender of my sacred rights? Frankly, I don't care if it makes everyone get through the encounter happily.

I think the hard-headedness that I perceive in the VC crowd is self-defeating. They seem to insist on that hard-headed, strict version of their rights. But if drivers could care less about cyclist rights, the vehicular cyclist is both right and defeated. Maybe drivers would better accomodate cyclists if there was a little more non-confrontational communication and little more kumbaya.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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Old 04-20-10, 08:27 AM   #2
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yes, the dynamic lane do-si-do of the avid vehicular cyclist with a mirror is probably the most enlightened method of sharing the road safely with faster traffic.

you can even use "the hand" and lane position to (usually) stop vehicles from passing if conditions are unsafe.

Of course, enlightened riding style is no excuse for failing to design roads to better accommodate bikes in the transportation mix. your rural road, when resurfaced, should be widened to include ample shoulders or other plans for bike traffic.

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Old 04-20-10, 09:10 AM   #3
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It's a back road; it won't be repaved in my lifetime.

There's a big bicycling push where I work (probably some corporate incentive to be green) and I've requested they work with the city to put up Share the Road signs up on that particular road. It comes out less than a mile from the building I work in.

I'm personally not a big fan of bike lanes. I'd rather see just a much wider (16 feet or wider) traffic lane in each direction- kind of a boulevard setup. Several of the roads in town are like that; they are some of the best for cycling.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-20-10, 09:24 AM   #4
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wide lanes increase right hook dangers at intersections and can lead to poorly positioned bicyclists relative to intermittent parked cars, etc.

there's a whole host of measures and interventions that communities can do to encourage bicycling as transportation; a reworking of on the ground infrastructure to better accommodate bicyclists is an engineering certainty. some bike specificity may be warranted.

but yes, riding with a mirror and doing the do-si-do, riding on shoulders when safe, in the bike lane vehicularily when appropriate and prudent, is the enlightened form of vehicular cycling ideologic vc riders dogmatically fail at.

these dogmatically addled riders are in the minority amongst all the more common, garden variety, fairly sharing bicyclists that ride in what can rightfully be described as a 'vehicular' fashion.

however, much of the vc antagonism is not from riding style but in the insistence in ideology over infrastructure as the best method to plan for bicyclists in the transportation mix.

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Old 04-20-10, 09:51 AM   #5
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wide lanes increase right hook dangers at intersections and can lead to poorly positioned bicyclists relative to intermittent parked cars, etc.
There is the right hook danger whether or not a bike lane is marked, especially for driveways. But I find dealing with intersections and intermittent parked cars are much easier to deal with wide lane/no bike lane infrastructure. It is, to me, kind of like the town in Germany where they took all the signs down and stuff. Here's the road; you work it out; and people do. When there are intermittent cars parked in a bike lane, cars in the main traffic lane still seem to expect bikes to stay in the bike lane and resent it if a cyclist pulls out. It just seems more natural to do if there are no bike lane markings.

But to each his own. I can only speak to local conditions and what I'm comfortable with.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-20-10, 12:03 PM   #6
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Great post, Doohickie. You, my friend, get it.

Vehicular Cycling: Operating a human-powered vehicle on the same roads, with the same rights, and in accordance with the same rules as all other vehicle operators.

There's nothing in that definition that requires a vehicular cyclist to be uncooperative; to hog more road than is needed for safety; to be "dogmatically addled"; to have an opinion one way or another about "bicycle infrastructure", as long as it does not interfere with the same roads/same rights/same rules principle; or in general to be an arrogant and selfish sob to other road users.

What you have described is vehicular cycling at its best.

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Old 04-20-10, 02:16 PM   #7
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I thought most all vehicular cyclists use the lane pretty much exactly as you stated. I know I do. Gliding a little right is a great way to facilitate a pass when you want it to happen. Plain waving (instead of waving them through) and sometimes even coasting at the same time also works in situations where you don't want to be liable for actually "waving them on".
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Old 04-20-10, 02:35 PM   #8
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Yes. Coasting. I should have mentioned that. Especially if I've been egg-beatering while the oncoming traffic was preventing a pass. To move right and stop pedaling is a pretty clear signal.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-20-10, 04:01 PM   #9
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Great post, Doohickie. You, my friend, get it.

Vehicular Cycling: Operating a human-powered vehicle on the same roads, with the same rights, and in accordance with the same rules as all other vehicle operators.

There's nothing in that definition that requires a vehicular cyclist to be uncooperative; to hog more road than is needed for safety; to be "dogmatically addled"; to have an opinion one way or another about "bicycle infrastructure", as long as it does not interfere with the same roads/same rights/same rules principle; or in general to be an arrogant and selfish sob to other road users.

What you have described is vehicular cycling at its best.
I have to agree... that sort of cycling worked for me for many thousands of miles of touring.

So what's with the folks that are playing the "chipseal" game? Why don't they get a clue?
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Old 04-20-10, 04:31 PM   #10
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I thought most all vehicular cyclists use the lane pretty much exactly as you stated.
Yes, pretty-much as Doohickie describes. (Some people like to invent "great satans" to rail against.)

(As it happens, Chipseal is rather dogmatic. He thinks riding on wide shoulders kills cyclists.)
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Old 04-20-10, 04:40 PM   #11
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.

Of course, enlightened riding style is no excuse for failing to design roads to better accommodate bikes in the transportation mix. your rural road, when resurfaced, should be widened to include ample shoulders or other plans for bike traffic.
Bek, it just ain't going to happen for 99.9999% of the roads in North america there simply isn't the money or political power to do so. You will see more structure in larger cities, and more populated areas but once you are much beyond there......forget it.
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Old 04-20-10, 09:01 PM   #12
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are you really that cynical? cities large and small, rural counties and entire states, are working to improve the transportation infrastructure to better facilitate roadway bicycling. and USDOT is moving towards a more wholistic approach towards active transportation.

the whole sedentary/obesity/public health/environment/pollution/greenhouse gas/quality of life/transportation modality ball of wax. A Wholistic approach.

You think changes will be happening to only a millionth of the roads worth improving? I beg to differ, dude.
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Old 04-20-10, 09:43 PM   #13
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There are simply too many miles of rural roads in Texas to do anything like you envision. I first moved here in 1987 and there are roads out in the country that haven't been paved once in that time, and they won't be for years to come.

Don't be too hard on Chipseal. He is doing what he thinks is right, and he has the right to do so. Or at least he should. I've met him; he's a good guy, a man of principle and yes, rather stubborn. At this point, he's gonna have to be.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-20-10, 11:06 PM   #14
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hmm, i wonder how those roads chipseals been riding got those 8 foot shoulders? they've been improved.

you wonder why the dogmatic are the ones taking the heat for riding uncompromisingly in the travel lanes?

.the public has a dim view of bicyclists even when we do fairly share the roads. like you mention, theres a lot of narrow laned roads that will not see much improvement in rural texas. ANY lane position is 'in the way' of the motorists, its entirely up to the perspective of the moronists how that cyclist is viewed.

. there's a general anti-cyclist backlash regardless of a very few uncompromising vehicular cyclists always riding in the lane. certainly the more prevalent arguments seem to be 'running red lights" or "not paying taxes for the roads" or "no license plates" in addition to "slowing down traffic"

Active and cooperative vehicular cycling is the way most vehicular cyclists ride, fairly sharing the road with faster traffic. vehicular cyclists can be in favor of bicyclist specific infrastructure and ride vehicularily in bikelanes and on the shoulders of roads to fairly share the roads with faster traffic.


all this posturing talk about 'same roads same rules' and thats' what we stand for is odious in its obstructionism of better community planning for roadway bicycling that includes bike specific infrastructure enhancements.

Obstructionist-minded vehicular cyclists are much more damaging to the quality of the riding experience than a few chipseals going all dogma in the travel lanes!

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Old 04-21-10, 07:51 AM   #15
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(As it happens, Chipseal is rather dogmatic. He thinks riding on wide shoulders kills cyclists.)
Given the ability of drivers to miss flashing blue lights and to drive into vehicles stopped on the shoulder for traffic stops, I can't blame him for thinking that.
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Old 04-21-10, 08:57 AM   #16
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Given the ability of drivers to miss flashing blue lights and to drive into vehicles stopped on the shoulder for traffic stops, I can't blame him for thinking that.
Since drivers can also plow into the back of stopped giant trash trucks, what magic is Chipseal depending on to make his narrow bicycle profile (as seen from behind) stunningly more visible? From behind a cyclist can appear as narrow as a telephone pole, and if there is glare, that cyclist can be invisible. Since a cyclist has neither flashing blue lights nor the width of most vehicles on the road, there is a very good chance that a cyclist is even easier to overlook, especially when drivers may assume that a cyclist is not likely to even be on some roads...
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Old 04-21-10, 09:24 AM   #17
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It isn't whether a cyclist is seen, it's whether he is noticed and actively avoided. The reasoning goes like this, genec:

. Objects on the shoulder are not a problem for the motorist because they are not in his traffic lane.
. The motorist doesn't have to pay attention to them.
. During a moment's inattention, though, motorists occasionally veer onto the shoulder.

On the other side,

. Objects in the traffic lane are a problem for the motorist.
. Therefore, the motorist must pay attention to a cyclist in the traffic lane.
. Because a cyclist in the lane requires the driver's primary attention, a cyclist in the lane will more seldom be hit by an inattentive motorist.

...or something like that.

To summarize, objects on the shoulder are ignored and objects in the lane are noticed and actively avoided.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-21-10, 05:07 PM   #18
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Doohickie,
You're right; if you show a motorist that you know how much space you need on both sides of you and that you know he is behind you and wants to pass - then a competent motorist will respect you and execute his pass correctly. I don't use a mirror (I can turn my head and see them just fine) and I never initiate a confrontation. Still, there will always ALWAYS be some nutjob out there who wants your place in line or who gets mad when you pass him to the front of the line at a red light. I almost never respond to the few honks and yells I do get because that's what they want - a response. If they don't get one, they don't keep trying.

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Of course, enlightened riding style is no excuse for failing to design roads to better accommodate bikes in the transportation mix. your rural road, when resurfaced, should be widened to include ample shoulders or other plans for bike traffic.
Why? Why should I get that sort of special treatment?

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Originally Posted by Doohickie
I'm personally not a big fan of bike lanes. I'd rather see just a much wider (16 feet or wider) traffic lane in each direction- kind of a boulevard setup. Several of the roads in town are like that; they are some of the best for cycling.


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wide lanes increase right hook dangers at intersections and can lead to poorly positioned bicyclists relative to intermittent parked cars, etc.
Not for me. In those areas, motorists often wander across much of the wide lane and clear the trash (that would otherwise accumulate in a bike lane) further to the right, out of my way too. When I do ride there, a motorist who sees me from behind passes me in only the portion of the wide lane that he needs. To prevent the right hook that you describe, I take a line just to that motorist's right, even if there is more space on my right. Eventually you get a feel for how far from the left edge of the wide lane to ride, even when nobody's trying to get around you. So I occupy any wide outside through lane about 9 to 10 feet to the right of the lane's left edge. If there's a parked car ahead and it's door zone intrudes into my line, then I slowly move further left only as far as necessary to clear the door zone, and I start to move left a good 10 seconds before I reach the parked car.

Motorists respect you if you show them you know what you are doing.

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Old 04-21-10, 05:46 PM   #19
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(part of bek's post snipped) Of course, enlightened riding style is no excuse for failing to design roads to better accommodate bikes in the transportation mix. your rural road, when resurfaced, should be widened to include ample shoulders or other plans for bike traffic.
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Bek, it just ain't going to happen for 99.9999% of the roads in North america there simply isn't the money or political power to do so. You will see more structure in larger cities, and more populated areas but once you are much beyond there......forget it.
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are you really that cynical? cities large and small, rural counties and entire states, are working to improve the transportation infrastructure to better facilitate roadway bicycling. and USDOT is moving towards a more wholistic approach towards active transportation.

the whole sedentary/obesity/public health/environment/pollution/greenhouse gas/quality of life/transportation modality ball of wax. A Wholistic approach.

You think changes will be happening to only a millionth of the roads worth improving? I beg to differ, dude.
Bek, I prefer realistic to cynical.

Most rural roads are lucky to get any maintenance, let alone bicycle specific modifications. That is not to say that areas are not active in improving bikablity.....but most of these programs are in much more densely populated areas. San jose has an active program with what is considered an ambitious goal of 5% bike commuting. How long funding will last for that while they are proposing cutting significant cuts in number of Police and Fire personnel is anybody's guess.

Overall while I don't disagree with benefits of some bike infrastructure (shared MUP's are of questionable benefit to any practical cycling..but i digress), I disagree with your position that infrastructure is the Holy grail to increasing the numbers of cyclists.

I believe that benefit to the individual cylist has to be there, to increase ridersihip. We here on the forum don't count, because we are believers, even if we don't agree much. I think your wholistic list might be might be the benefit for some, but is more of an outcome, than a driver overall.

The key benefits that will drive people are economic and convenience. Once it is cheaper and less hassle to do errands on a bike than using a car, then more people will bike. Once more people bike, there is a bigger political base tp support more bicycle focused activity.


and to the OP..... Dohickie has got it......... comonsense and courtesy.....always a win.
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Old 04-21-10, 07:11 PM   #20
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The funny thing about two lane rural roads in Texas with 8-foot wide shoulders is that motorists commonly use the shoulders at speed, to pull over and let faster traffic pass them on their left. It's just part of the Texas driving experience.

So Chipseal has a valid concern for his safety cycling on those shoulders. OTOH, he's probably inviting some redneck in an F-150 to pass him on the right using the shoulder if he insists on taking the lane all the time.
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Old 04-22-10, 11:34 AM   #21
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Given the ability of drivers to miss flashing blue lights and to drive into vehicles stopped on the shoulder for traffic stops, I can't blame him for thinking that.
It's silly. If they miss flashing blue lights on the shoulder, what magic causes them not to miss them in the middle of the road where they are usually (99.99%) driving?

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Since drivers can also plow into the back of stopped giant trash trucks, what magic is Chipseal depending on to make his narrow bicycle profile (as seen from behind) stunningly more visible? From behind a cyclist can appear as narrow as a telephone pole, and if there is glare, that cyclist can be invisible. Since a cyclist has neither flashing blue lights nor the width of most vehicles on the road, there is a very good chance that a cyclist is even easier to overlook, especially when drivers may assume that a cyclist is not likely to even be on some roads...
I hear an echo!

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The funny thing about two lane rural roads in Texas with 8-foot wide shoulders is that motorists commonly use the shoulders at speed, to pull over and let faster traffic pass them on their left. It's just part of the Texas driving experience.

So Chipseal has a valid concern for his safety cycling on those shoulders. OTOH, he's probably inviting some redneck in an F-150 to pass him on the right using the shoulder if he insists on taking the lane all the time.
The defect is the assumption that it is always more or less safe one way or another. There isn't any data to be able to tell.

============================

While I'm not advocating one thing or another (I'll let the particular cyclist make the choice they feel is appropriate for themselves), this thread is embarrassingly "agenda driven" and an unattractive misuse of a tragedy.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...der&highlight=

(I do think that chipseal is being charged contrary to the law.)

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Old 04-22-10, 01:29 PM   #22
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The defect is the assumption that it is always more or less safe one way or another. There isn't any data to be able to tell.
You've never actually driven in Texas, have you? BTW, I was supporting Chipseal with my comments.
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Old 04-22-10, 02:04 PM   #23
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You've never actually driven in Texas, have you? BTW, I was supporting Chipseal with my comments.
Whatever you say people do in Texas (I'm not disagreeing with that), you (or anybody) don't really know if it is actually safer. It doesn't seem too risky for me to say that you (or anybody) has the data to prove anything.
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Old 04-22-10, 02:36 PM   #24
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what I said is that on two lane rural roads with 8 foot wide shoulders in Texas, you are likely to encounter motorists driving 55 MPH on the shoulder. You got that, didn't you?
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Old 04-22-10, 03:11 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya View Post
what I said is that on two lane rural roads with 8 foot wide shoulders in Texas, you are likely to encounter motorists driving 55 MPH on the shoulder. You got that, didn't you?
You are much more likely to "encounter" motorists in the lane driving at 55 (or more) mph. People keep missing that .

There is a risk. Is the risk more or less? I don't think anybody (even people in TX) know.

(Not relevant, but that isn't legal in most states.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 04-22-10 at 03:22 PM.
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