So in other words, a cyclist should always succumb to insolent motorists'?
Originally Posted by Vital_Signs
Something I figured out as a motorcyclist:You can have the right of way and still get squished. Right of way won't protect you.Respect is what protects the bicyclist, and that is a two way street. Not everyone is respectful, so try not to get squished.
My experience as a car driver - limited, admittedly - is that what makes me angry at pedestrians and cyclists taking chances (or just acting stupidly) in traffic is that I may end up hitting one of them. I, like most drivers, HATE that thought. It has nothing to do with envy.
Originally Posted by wphamilton
THIS is the only post in this thread that gives ANY support to the OP's misguided point of view, while still being correct. The rest make valid opposing points.
Originally Posted by moochems
Vital Signs, seriously -- I'm not slamming you here, I'm calling it as I see it -- you present yourself as someone with the mindset of a first-time commuter, fearful of the "big bad cars on the road", and try to cement your claim of validity by saying that you DO indeed ride your bike. I'll grant you the truth that many FL drivers are willfully and dangerously stupid (one year in that state was enough for me), but you're being extreme and hyperbolic in your assertions. It does not really matter that many drivers don't know the law about bikes, or the nuances about it; they DO know that running over another person can easily land them in jail. NOBODY but an unrepentant thug wants the police sniffing around their activities, no matter how law-abiding they consider themselves to be (the thug doesn't care). You can say all you want that drivers are just, "GET OUTTA MY WAY, I'M DRIVING HERE!", but generally, they won't just PLOW somebody...GENERALLY.
Final point: your assumption that cyclists who ride anywhere but on/over the fog line on the edge of the road are oblivious is an obvious error; just because their heads aren't on a swivel does NOT mean they're unaware -- personally, even with Army artillery-induced hearing loss, I can hear a Prius approaching me from behind, and can judge pretty handily if they're SPEEDING towards me, or just going faster. There are such things as HEARING, PERIPHERAL VISION, SPATIAL AWARENESS, and the predisposition to "be ready for stupidity" -- MANY cyclists have these in their "defense arsenal".
You took the words right out of my mouth (or keyboard).
You're the only reason I wander into A&S, I thank you for your dry wit and humor.
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
As for the OP, welcome, worst area of the forum for a first post but you're brave. I can see where the other posters are coming from, and I can also see what you are saying. But when I am riding down the street, I have to assume the person driving past me in a bone shattering 2 ton brick will be as respectful of my well-being and safety as I would if the roles were reversed. But if you have limited experience at it, I would suggest doing it to have a more informed opinion. I know I was rather put off by riding on the road with cars, now I do it willingly just because it is easier and at times more fun.
Floridian here. Lived in Gainesville and Pensacola and occasionally bike in Ocala. Even in Pensacola generally I was fine with taking the lane. The only times I ever was hit/almost hit? When I road on the sidewalk or gave to much of the lane up.
I take the lane or else ride very slow (>5 mph) on the sidewalk.
I have ridden on sidewalks in FL myself, specifically Old Scenic 98 along the coast at Mirarmar Beach. The "sidewalk" is more like a MUP alongside the road, used by lots of joggers and folks riding slowly on rented bikes. But for me that sidewalk was the WORST PLACE EVER to ride! Every hundred yards you had driveways with cars turning in or pulling out, and invariably they were looking at the road and NOT looking at what was coming from either direction on the sidewalk. Very, very dangerous. The driveways and street crossings USED to have painted crosswalks, but those have been removed and the painted STOP line is now placed AFTER the sidewalk, up at the edge of the main road. Absolutely ludicrous.
My problem with most of the OP's posts is that he incorrectly ASSumes that all road cyclists are paying no attention whatsoever to their surroundings. He ASSumes that because a cyclist is taking the lane that he MUST be oblivious. Simply not the case. I take the lane most of the time on multi-lane roads, and usually ride in the right tire track on 2-lane roads. But I use a helmet mirror, and never use earbuds, and also use very bright lights, high-vis, and reflective gear. I make myself as conspicuous and visible as possible, and am always aware of what's happening around me at all times.
THAT is how you stay safe on the roads, NOT by cowering off to the side.
I'll be honest. Ever since I started cycling two months ago, your comment is the reason why I still haven't rode on streets / roads. I've been riding on MUPs. It's not I don't trust my handling skills. It's just I don't trust the ONE moron driver who can't pay attention to the road due to the distractions you mentioned. It takes that one moron to sideswipe and critically injure you or worst, kill you. As a cyclist without medical insurance I'm not willing to take that risk. I have too much at stake, at the moment, to not able to walk or suffer through the healing process of scraps, bruises, and / or broken bones. I live in Florida and look up "states with the worst drivers" and you'll find the Sunshine State in top 10.
Originally Posted by Vital_Signs
After having read over the thread, I have a few thoughts.
First off, defensive driving/riding does NOT mean succumbing/allowing other motorists or cyclists to push you around on the road. It means making sure you always have a way out, and being in control of your own destiny. Be aware of people in the cars around you. What are they doing? Is she doing her makeup? Is he texting? Is he tying his tie? etc. When one of these idiots invariably makes an erroneous move, you should be able to predict and react in plenty of time. It's never a surprise to me when someone blows past me so they can make a right hand turn .2 seconds faster. Intersections and merging are where the majority of danger lies for cyclists, so you have to take charge of the situation. Look. Signal. Look. Take the lane.
Once through the intersection, get back over (Into the bike lane). If the road is wide enough for safe passing, ride so cars can pass. If not, max out your speed until it is safe for cars to pass you. Don't be a dick and ride in the car lane if it is unnecessary.
Some things I do to take charge and assert my presence on the road:
Be Hi-vis. Wear bright colors, reflectors, and lights if possible.
Be assertive with hand signals and eye contact with the drivers. Taking the lane IS safer that slowly trying to "merge." Make sure they know what you are going to do before you do it.
Sprint through dangerous intersections.
When someone is courteous to you, thank them. Smile, wave, thumbs up, what have you. When someone encroaches your lane/space or makes a dangerous movement express your discontent in a non-combative way (if possible). But if you were riding defensively, you should still have your way out.
As far as sidewalks go: Here in San Diego it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk, unsafe for pedestrians AND cyclists. Trees often have low hanging branches, and it's slow.
I work at the beach in the summer time doing kayaking tours. Kayaks are pretty much the bicycles of the ocean, and in the eyes of the law, there is no difference between a kayak and a fishing boat, and a ski-boat. They are all 'vessels' and abide by the same rules. In the same way, bikes, motorcycles, cars and trucks are all vehicles. Same road, same rules.
My experience has taught me that taking the lane is far and away the safest option if you're in town. If there are more than two lanes I don't even think twice: riding far to the right is an invitation to bad behavior so far's I've seen. Most of the road rage I've heard about/been privy to has actually been on the part of cyclists who feel they were recklessly endangered (yours truly included).
It's a two-way street, though, and a post above kind of covered it, that if cyclists behave like cars sometimes, then they must behave like cars all the time, if only for predictability's sake. There are only two times I can see cyclists in the wrong, and that is when they either ride on the sidewalk (although I'm not sure how I feel about BMX bikes in this situation), or when they ride with entitlement. Having blown through my share of stop signs, I share in this latter category. But riding like a car only when it's convenient is a) glaringly inconsistent and therefore dangerous because motorists have no idea what you're doing/about to do; b) the kind of other-disregarding behavior that really sticks in people's craw. People don't get aggressive readily when they feel like something completely mundane and un-noteworthy is happening; or, they're being respected.
Yeah, I wear Lycra (and lots of it!), but I do (now) stop at all stop signs: it's a trade-off of responsibilities and privileges. And for what it's worth, I'm only ever harassed by teenagers in Audis and they're only barely human, so yeah...