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  1. #1
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    Vehicular Cycling showdown in Vermont

    Here is the article:
    Video raises bike law questions

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    Have you been able to find any follow up, or results of the meeting he had scheduled with the State Police?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
    Have you been able to find any follow up, or results of the meeting he had scheduled with the State Police?
    If this is the right person, I emailed them to ask about the case.

    ETA: According to this and this, the video has led to the driver being ticketed for harassment, but the failure to keep right ticket is still in effect.
    Last edited by benjdm; 08-31-14 at 09:39 AM.

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    Thanks for the new links.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Here is the bottom line... the cyclist is in his rights... but stark reality trumps rights.

    "I'm not sure I agree that it's a safer practice to ride down the middle of an unlit 50 mile per hour road in the dark, than the right side of the road."
    Even the side of the road in this case is likely questionable. The road apparently has a rather poor shoulder, but "taking the lane" on an unlit single lane high speed road at night is just asking to be plowed into by the next cell phone distracted motorist...

    Rights don't trump physics...

    I support the cyclist, but I am also practical in nature, and understand that such a location is far from from ideal. Motorists are notorious for driving distracted... and no amount of blinkies will save this cyclists life under those circumstances.

    The ticket is unwarranted, but the reality is taking an unlit narrow fast road at night is just asking for trouble... cycling statistics emphasize this over and over again.

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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Here is the bottom line... the cyclist is in his rights... but stark reality trumps rights.
    ...
    Rights don't trump physics...
    ...
    I understand what you mean, and I agree that putting yourself and others in danger just because you have the right is irresponsible.

    But if I can use this to step on my soap-box, it's not really true. "Physics trumps rights" is an argument offered more often to rationalize lawless behavior than as you mean it, as a caution.

    When they say "physics" they really mean "force". Literally, "my application of force trumps your rights." But isn't it the intent of practically all of our laws to protect some right from its abrogation by force? Physical force or other coercive force, but certainly including and most fundamentally the physical. Rights do trump physics, whenever the "physics" is under someone's control, unless we're to abandon the rule of law altogether. Just let's not get killed or maimed for it.

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    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    The cyclist is an idiot if he was riding in the middle of a lane in the dark. Maybe he doesn't have any good choices to get from point a to point b but still that is a bad line to take. The driver was wrong about a lot of things he said but he was right that he could have easily killed the cyclist in a moment's distraction doing 50 mph in the dark and overtaking a cyclist.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    I understand what you mean, and I agree that putting yourself and others in danger just because you have the right is irresponsible.

    But if I can use this to step on my soap-box, it's not really true. "Physics trumps rights" is an argument offered more often to rationalize lawless behavior than as you mean it, as a caution.

    When they say "physics" they really mean "force". Literally, "my application of force trumps your rights." But isn't it the intent of practically all of our laws to protect some right from its abrogation by force? Physical force or other coercive force, but certainly including and most fundamentally the physical. Rights do trump physics, whenever the "physics" is under someone's control, unless we're to abandon the rule of law altogether. Just let's not get killed or maimed for it.
    I hear what you are saying and fundamentally agree... but that argument doesn't mean squat when a distracted motorist plows into you on a fast dark road, while you "exercise your rights."

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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    I hear what you are saying and fundamentally agree... but that argument doesn't mean squat when a distracted motorist plows into you on a fast dark road, while you "exercise your rights."

    That's a bad situation all around. The flip side is that "laws of physics" won't mean much when the driver is facing the consequences.

    I'm not going to deliberately ride in a time and place where it's likely that a negligent driver will hit me. I strive to make it easier to miss me, whenever possible. I view that as dependent on circumstances, and not involving the question of laws of physics opposing my rights. I'm not calling you out on it, but I just wish that the false equation would just fade into oblivion.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    That's a bad situation all around. The flip side is that "laws of physics" won't mean much when the driver is facing the consequences.
    You and I both know that drivers rarely "face the consequences" with regard to injuries of other road users... the exception being when alcohol is involved... otherwise, motorists face few consequences... Bike forums is littered with examples of motorists getting nothing more than a scolding and guilty conscious in such circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    I'm not going to deliberately ride in a time and place where it's likely that a negligent driver will hit me. I strive to make it easier to miss me, whenever possible. I view that as dependent on circumstances, and not involving the question of laws of physics opposing my rights. I'm not calling you out on it, but I just wish that the false equation would just fade into oblivion.
    Did you view the video... a cyclist riding on a narrow, single lane, poorly lit, high speed road, at night... statistically the worst possible situation for a cyclist... and taking the lane... thus it is indeed highly likely that a negligent driver will hit you... of course, if you are avoiding such roads, then you are actually agreeing with me.

    My point is that I agree with the right of the cyclist to be there, but the statistics of riding on such a road tell me that it is a darn dumb thing to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    The cyclist is an idiot if he was riding in the middle of a lane in the dark. Maybe he doesn't have any good choices to get from point a to point b but still that is a bad line to take.
    No, it isn't. I get some of my best passing distances from motorists when I'm riding (with plenty of reflectors and lights) in the middle of a lane in the dark. (To get anywhere from my house I have to ride on a 40 mph speed limit road with almost no shoulder. People drive 45-50 mph on it.)

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benjdm View Post
    No, it isn't. I get some of my best passing distances from motorists when I'm riding (with plenty of reflectors and lights) in the middle of a lane in the dark. (To get anywhere from my house I have to ride on a 40 mph speed limit road with almost no shoulder. People drive 45-50 mph on it.)
    How fast do you suppose motorists drive on a road posted 50MPH?

    Did you look at the video and see the traffic density of this situation?

    And how many lanes are on that road you ride... I find I get pretty good passing on multilane roads... but single lanes either way... not so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    How fast do you suppose motorists drive on a road posted 50MPH?

    Did you look at the video and see the traffic density of this situation?

    And how many lanes are on that road you ride... I find I get pretty good passing on multilane roads... but single lanes either way... not so much.
    One lane each way.

    ETA: I re-watched the video. My traffic density is probably 2/3 or 3/4 of that.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benjdm View Post
    One lane each way.

    ETA: I re-watched the video. My traffic density is probably 2/3 or 3/4 of that.
    It makes a difference... at a certain point the motorists refuse to cross the double yellow and the cyclist becomes "an issue."

    I have few problems being lit up like the alien mother ship and taking the lane on a double lane road... one lane either way with light traffic can be a bit harrowing; one lane either way with fast frequent traffic... becomes a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    How fast do you suppose motorists drive on a road posted 50MPH?

    Did you look at the video and see the traffic density of this situation?

    And how many lanes are on that road you ride... I find I get pretty good passing on multilane roads... but single lanes either way... not so much.
    I have driven on this section of road hundreds of times. The road is a rural road, but it is a state highway and is one of very few major links from east to west. Speed varies, but I would say that 95% of motorists go between 45 mph and 65 mph. There are many curves that limit visibility. The state has removed some of those curves over the years, but they still exist. Lighting is minimal. Vast sections have no lighting at all.

    Whether it is right or wrong, 99.99% of motorists would have absolutely no expectation that a bicyclist would be occupying the center of the lane - especially at that hour of the night. Based on actual use, that expectation is extremely reasonable. (Again, this is not intended to open up a debate about how the expectation needs to change. It is only offered to illustrate what reality is - not what reality should be.)

    There is absolutely no doubt that this cyclist put his life at extreme risk. Even if you agree that drivers need to be educated, this "lesson" came at extreme risk to this bicyclist's life. No rational person who is familiar with this road and how motor vehicles operate upon it could conclude otherwise. Frankly, if he were seriously injured, he would have set back the state of bicycle advocacy. If you know this road, you cannot deny that the general public would conclude that he was extremely reckless. If the public perceives bicyclists as being reckless, they will feel justified in wanting to contain bicyclists. People need to stop thinking myopically about these issues from the perspective of a bicyclist. They need to get inside the mind of the non-bicyclists they wish to educate. Inasmuch as this person tried to educate, his lesson plan was deeply flawed. A good teacher is keenly aware of the need to know their students and to adapt their teaching methods to be the most effective in light of those characteristics.

    Advocacy needs to be smart. We, as bicyclists, need to assess whether or not our strategies are effective. For whatever reason, too many people believe that it is taboo to engage in this sort of critical thought. That's a real shame to our cause.
    Last edited by VTBike; 09-11-14 at 08:01 AM.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTBike View Post
    I have driven on this section of road hundreds of times. The road is a rural road, but it is a state highway and is one of very few major links from east to west. Speed varies, but I would say that 95% of motorists go between 45 mph and 65 mph. There are many curves that limit visibility. The state has removed some of those curves over the years, but they still exist. Lighting is minimal. Vast sections have no lighting at all.

    Whether it is right or wrong, 99.99% of motorists would have absolutely no expectation that a bicyclist would be occupying the center of the lane - especially at that hour of the night. Based on actual use, that expectation is extremely reasonable. (Again, this is not intended to open up a debate about how the expectation needs to change. It is only offered to illustrate what reality is - not what reality should be.)

    There is absolutely no doubt that this cyclist put his life at extreme risk. Even if you agree that drivers need to be educated, this "lesson" came at extreme risk to this bicyclist's life. No rational person who is familiar with this road and how motor vehicles operate upon it could conclude otherwise. Frankly, if he were seriously injured, he would have set back the state of bicycle advocacy. If you know this road, you cannot deny that the general public would conclude that he was extremely reckless. If the public perceives bicyclists as being reckless, they will feel justified in wanting to contain bicyclists. People need to stop thinking myopically about these issues from the perspective of a bicyclist. They need to get inside the mind of the non-bicyclists they wish to educate. Inasmuch as this person tried to educate, his lesson plan was deeply flawed. A good teacher is keenly aware of the need to know their students and to adapt their teaching methods to be the most effective in light of those characteristics.

    Advocacy needs to be smart. We, as bicyclists, need to assess whether or not our strategies are effective. For whatever reason, too many people believe that it is taboo to engage in this sort of critical thought. That's a real shame to our cause.
    You and I are in total agreement. And cyclists insisting on their "rights" in situations as this are just asking for trouble. I support the cyclist, but I also understand motorists enough to know that taking the lane on a busy, high speed, narrow, 2 lane road in an unlit area is just poor personal judgement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    I also understand motorists enough to know that taking the lane on a busy, high speed, narrow, 2 lane road in an unlit area is just poor personal judgement.
    I was also saying that it was not just poor judgment (as to one's safety), but it was poor advocacy.

    Think about it this way: We don't need to convert bicyclists. We need to convert the attitude of non-bicyclists. Ask yourself if, to a non-bicyclist, this stunt increased or decreased acceptance of bicyclists.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTBike View Post
    I was also saying that it was not just poor judgment (as to one's safety), but it was poor advocacy.

    Think about it this way: We don't need to convert bicyclists. We need to convert the attitude of non-bicyclists. Ask yourself if, to a non-bicyclist, this stunt increased or decreased acceptance of bicyclists.
    Very true... stunts like this that become high profile on the internet do nothing to promote advocacy of cycling and serve only to promote cycling as something done by elites or crazy people. Compound this with high profile people that already have a public voice complaining about cycling and we as cyclists are only moved backward in the eye of the public.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Very true... stunts like this that become high profile on the internet do nothing to promote advocacy of cycling and serve only to promote cycling as something done by elites or crazy people. Compound this with high profile people that already have a public voice complaining about cycling and we as cyclists are only moved backward in the eye of the public.
    Genec is arguing (see his previous posts in this thread), though he doesn't admit it, that this road has adequate width for motorists to overtake cyclists in the same lane. It doesn't. Given that, the cyclist's lateral position makes no difference to the motorist's probability of being able to make a lawful and safe overtaking movement.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    Genec is arguing (see his previous posts in this thread), though he doesn't admit it, that this road has adequate width for motorists to overtake cyclists in the same lane. It doesn't. Given that, the cyclist's lateral position makes no difference to the motorist's probability of being able to make a lawful and safe overtaking movement.
    Welcome back John.

    No, I never made that argument... and would not... this is a narrow road.

    In my first post I made this statement: "Even the side of the road in this case is likely questionable. The road apparently has a rather poor shoulder, but "taking the lane" on an unlit single lane high speed road at night is just asking to be plowed into by the next cell phone distracted motorist."

    I also go on to say: "I support the cyclist, but I am also practical in nature, and understand that such a location is far from from ideal. Motorists are notorious for driving distracted... and no amount of blinkies will save this cyclists life under those circumstances."

    Sorry John... this is just a bad road to be riding at night (the circumstances presented), and cycling statistics indicate that such a road is a bad place for cyclists.

    There is no ideal solution. I support the cyclist for taking the lane, really the only safe place on the road... but this is simply the kind of road situation that leads to bad statistics for cyclists. "A cyclist riding on a narrow, single lane, poorly lit, high speed road, at night... statistically the worst possible situation for a cyclist... and taking the lane... thus it is indeed highly likely that a negligent driver may hit the cyclist."

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    So most everyone agrees that the cyclist had a legal right to be on that road, and that it was probably a bad idea, legal or not. Question is, what alternatives does he have? Maybe the next available road is thirty miles out of his way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
    So most everyone agrees that the cyclist had a legal right to be on that road, and that it was probably a bad idea, legal or not. Question is, what alternatives does he have? Maybe the next available road is thirty miles out of his way?
    The alternative was to ride farther to the right. There are also lots of back roads in that area that will generally get you to where you want to go. The one catch is that they are generally dirt roads. The advantage is that they are pretty much devoid of any traffic at that hour.

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    I couldn't watch the video for some reason, but I personally would not take the lane on a 50 MPH road. I would gladly take the lane on a 40 MPH or lower road, but anything above that is a bit extreme.

    I often ride on a road that's a single lane each way that has a speed limit of 65 MPH. Sometimes the shoulder gets quite small, but drivers have no problem going around me or slowing a bit to go around me when safe. I don't usually ride that road at night however.

    I don't know what the alternatives were for this particular rider, but if I were in his situation, I would have ridden to the right side of the road, barring any blind turns or blind hills.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTBike View Post
    Advocacy needs to be smart. We, as bicyclists, need to assess whether or not our strategies are effective. For whatever reason, too many people believe that it is taboo to engage in this sort of critical thought. That's a real shame to our cause.
    This, 1000x this.

    Effective Advocacy is not a blind argument about who has the rights, but is a smart discourse on how to improve the situation for everyone involved. Jumping on here and calling someone an idiot for taking an serious risk that they had the 'right' to do just doesn't qualify as Smart Discourse.

    FWIW, I struggle with the very issue here. My commute to work this time of year makes the use of 2 miles of MUP an iffy situation at best, but the road options are either VERY narrow with poor visibility, or wide enough (single lanes each direction, with 12-24 inch shoulders), but with a 55mph speed limit. Right now, it is dark on the way to the office in the morning, in a week, it will be dark on the way home. Either way, I have to make these same choices.

    Part of me worries about those drivers, and I am lit up like a xmas tree ( I generally run with two 300 lumen rear facing red lights, and a single forward facing white at 750 lumens and significant reflective surface on my gear, complete with safety yellow reflective vest ). I see other cyclists on these roads with nothing but factor supplied reflectors riding at dawn and dusk all the time, but here is the thing. As a cyclist, I see them *because I am looking for them*. I do not think most non-cyclists actually process what they are seeing, and are then startled when they get close to a cyclist. Startled turns into anger, and we get cyclist hate.

    As an advocate, part of my job is to help those drivers learn to process what they see sooner and safer. At the same time, I need to educate those other cyclists on mitigating the risks. Yes you have the right to that road. Yes, you have the right to that lane. Yes, in a car vs bike crash it probably won't be much comfort that you had those rights. So part of advocacy is not education, but prudently using your rights for education, while still protecting yourself when the situation warrants it.

    And finally, I want every advocate to consider the following. In the US, we have given up massive civil liberties over the last 20 years in the name of protecting people from Drunk Drivers on behalf of a relatively small group of 'Concerned Citizens'. Why is that? because of an extremely effective, directed and SMART advocacy program that was spearheaded by MADD. They didn't bring change by getting out on the roads near bars and letting drunk drivers hit them. They put grisly pictures of children killed by drunk drivers in front of a huge number of people. They got up on every stage they could and beat their chests about how dangerous these menaces to our children were. They wrote, proposed and lobbied with every politician that they could to get laws enacted to put the fear of the law into the drivers.

    IT took years, but they did it. A DUI can be a career killer. It can costs 10's of thousands of dollars. It acts as instant escalator in judging the severity of an accident. IT carries a social stigma that far outweighs other serious offenses.

    Right or wrong, if you want to get serious about bicycle advocacy, there is your model.

  25. #25
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I am glad the driver was cited for harassment.

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