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Enforcement - How to deal with harassment from people driving cars?

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Enforcement - How to deal with harassment from people driving cars?

Old 12-03-19, 11:24 AM
  #1  
Hypno Toad
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Enforcement - How to deal with harassment from people driving cars?

I'm interested in this topic from a community advocacy angle. I'm heading up a bike/walk advocacy group in my town and I'm interested to see if there is any success stories about dealing with hostile behavior from people in cars.

This is a fairly constant issue - to have drivers intimidate people on bike and on foot. For example, yesterday afternoon, I'm biking along Main Street, I'm moving at basically the same speed as traffic (~20 mph), I'm taking the lane to making a left turn. The kid behind me makes a point of blasting his horn while passing on my right. This kind of behavior from people driving cars is hostile and intended to get bikes off the road. (for my part, I gave a friendly wave and big smile ... cause anger never makes it better). When I was bike-commuting, I'd experience some kind of harassment at least once a week, and I'm sure that anybody that rides on roads has a long list of stories like this, and much worse.

Local PD attended our last advocacy group meeting to talk about enforcement issues. The office shared the exact same behaviors from people driving cars while he was involved in a police bike training course. Honestly, honking at a group of people in police uniforms because the are biking on the road? Wow! Besides talking about aggressive drivers, we didn't talk about any direct action that the PD could offer to help with this issue.

Our town is growing because it is one of a very small number of places that is exceptionally bike/walk friendly. I want to make sure that the intimidating actions of a small number of people driving doesn't make our town a scary place to get around on foot or by bike.
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Old 12-03-19, 12:53 PM
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Find a way to expose them. Publicize acceptable and unacceptable behavior on the road.

Videos, public shaming, access channels. I don't know, that's a tough one. You have to somehow build consensus in your community that these things are ok and these things are not (norms). Once it becomes the norm everyone pretty much falls in line

How did we get people to stop smoking or not start. How are we combating domestic violence, public littering, racism, and cruelty to animals?

Maybe start with a community group that shares your concerns
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Old 12-03-19, 01:08 PM
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Good point, our 'culture of rage' is a tough nut to crack; and it's much larger than this niche subject of accepting a person riding a bike on the road. Hell, driving a car these days, I often get other drivers make threatening maneuvers ... but in my car, I have a seat belt, air bag, crumple zones, etc.

In a related note, we are not jerks to every person on the road that isn't in a car - over the Thanksgiving weekend we had a series of snow systems drop more than a foot of snow. The city was having a hard time keeping up with the snow and had little time to get back to some of the sidewalk ramps. We saw a person using a mobility scooter force to use the road because the sidewalk ramp wasn't cleared. All the drivers gave this person lots of room.
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Old 12-03-19, 01:12 PM
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We wait. ~25 years and gasoline will be too expensive to waste on mouth-breathing cager commuters. The Military will sequester it all. Electric Vehicles will not be developed to any great degree because no one wanted them. We will own the streets. Woo hoo!
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Old 12-03-19, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
We saw a person using a mobility scooter force to use the road because the sidewalk ramp wasn't cleared. All the drivers gave this person lots of room.
That is a mighty low bar! I think most cagers have enough humanity to spare the disabled the worst of their aggression and cluelessness. I notice they give parents towing child trailers similar amnesty.
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Old 12-03-19, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
That is a mighty low bar! I think most cagers have enough humanity to spare the disabled the worst of their aggression and cluelessness. I notice they give parents towing child trailers similar amnesty.
Agreed. And funny enough, I find less issues with aggressive drivers when pulling my BOB trailer ... it doesn't look like a kid trailer at all, but I guess it idea that it might be a kid trailer [/shrug]
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Old 12-03-19, 02:02 PM
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Sad if your local police will not be helpful. I have used local PD to get a couple of drivers convicted in a court. It is a 50/50 chance depending what cop gets the initial dispatch.

Maybe try your state police. Colorado State Patrol has a web page to report drivers. About 3 reports and the driver gets a talking from CSP. Have a video and some drivers get ticketed and others arrested.

Mount a camera on your wrist. When someone is approaching close, hold the camera out so the driver can see it. Often gets a quick lane change or hard braking before they reach you.

Check public records information. I can go on a judiciary web page for my state and look up traffic infractions associated with a license plate. Any tickets to that plate # gives the name of the driver and a link to other infractions from that driver. Go to https://www.familytreenow.com/ and you can often get an address and phone #. I have called a couple of drivers letting them know that I have video and any further harassment or endangerment leads to a police report or civil action.

Some drivers live in my area and I can often cycle by their house. That lets them know I am a nearby neighbor and that I know where they live.

Post bad driver videos on facebook and youtube and include the town name for searches. Pass videos of the worst drivers and facebook/youtube links to your local news. They may run a story for a really good video on a slow news night to fill air time.
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Old 12-03-19, 05:17 PM
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I don't know what to do about harassment but there are some good suggestion from CB HI. I was just e-mailing a good friend about a birthday party I attended in my home town just a few days ago. It was for my brother-in-law who had turned 80 y.o. and was attended by about 75 people, many who I've know since I was 6 or 7 y.o. That was a largely agricultural community where we had the same milkman and postman for all the years of my adolescence. The 3rd and 4th grade teachers were neighbors as was the man who drove the school bus who we bought eggs from. There was a sense of community which is lacking in many places today so there is little connection to others. The frenetic pace of our society leaves little time or inclination to build those connections and the situation seems to be getting worst.

Several years ago I read an article in which psychologists or ethnologists created situations for experimental animals where they were put under pressure of over-crowding and or limited food supply. What they found was that pressure produced aggression and fighting in those animals with and mistreatment of their own young. Human animals react in just the same way. We can find, weekly, news reports where a parent has killed their own child so these are not isolated incidents. We can find, almost daily, reports a pointless mass shootings. The aggression we may experience as cyclists is a further expression of that pressure.I live in a small town where there are still many common links so I don't experience harassment. I have in the past lived in a very busy area where I liked the work but not the environment in that part of the world. My solution was to move to a small town.
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Old 12-03-19, 08:29 PM
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I try to ignore people yelling, whatever. And, for the most part, it is a vast minority of drivers.

A horn is hard to interpret.

There is a point of slowing down and "Sharing the Road" (meaning everyone, bikes share with cars, cars share with bikes, and everyone acknowledges the constraints of the others). Unfortunately that concept is lost on many drivers.

I do need to start recording video. But, fear that nobody will care if an accident isn't involved.
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Old 12-04-19, 05:52 AM
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It's not often that folks give me a hard time on the road, but the last time it happened was memorable because a person in the vehicle shouted "GET A LAWYER!".
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Old 12-04-19, 07:00 AM
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Enforcement - How to deal with harassment from people driving cars?
Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I'm interested in this topic from a community advocacy angle. I'm heading up a bike/walk advocacy group in my town and I'm interested to see if there is any success stories about dealing with hostile behavior from people in cars….

Our town is growing because it is one of a very small number of places that is exceptionally bike/walk friendly. I want to make sure that the intimidating actions of a small number of people driving doesn't make our town a scary place to get around on foot or by bike.
FYA, see also this similar thread from August:“How Do You Deal With Harassment?”
Originally Posted by berner View Post
Where I live and ride motorists are courteous and share the road. I don't know why the cycling environment here is different than other areas.

I've given this some thought to this but have no clear conclusion. One possibility is that the local bike club, Narragansett Bay Wheelmen has been around for over 100 years and has been advocating for cyclists for most of that time. The club has a very good relationship with local law enforcement as well as state highway departments in Rhode Island and nearby southern Massachusetts…
and @berner posted to this current thread:
Originally Posted by berner View Post
don't know what to do about harassment but there are some good suggestion from CB HI…

There was a sense of community which is lacking in many places today so there is little connection to others. The frenetic pace of our society leaves little time or inclination to build those connections and the situation seems to be getting worst.

Several years ago I read an article in which psychologists or ethnologists created situations for experimental animals where they were put under pressure of over-crowding and or limited food supply. What they found was that pressure produced aggression and fighting in those animals with and mistreatment of their own young.


Human animals react in just the same way. We can find, weekly, news reports where a parent has killed their own child so these are not isolated incidents. We can find, almost daily, reports a pointless mass shootings. The aggression we may experience as cyclists is a further expression of that pressure.

I live in a small town where there are still many common links so I don't experience harassment. I have in the past lived in a very busy area where I liked the work but not the environment in that part of the world. My solution was to move to a small town.
As another explanation for the stresses that motorists endure:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Besides sitting in front of TV sets and computers, an ultimate sedentary activity is sitting restrained in a car.

I once attended a lecture by a noted psychiatrist that in animal studies, the most potent stressor is restraint. For humans, being in a car is probably the most common occurrence of restraint, not just by a seatbelt, but because you cannot leave a car while moving, particularly on a freeway.

While driving itself may not be that stressful, it’s easy to see that the stress of driving in hazardous conditions may be amplified, because there is no escape.

Furthermore in my experience, the most uncomfortable time on the road is being stuck in traffic, where there is no danger, but unrelenting immobilization. So if stress (specifically distress) is inimical to good health, driving is an added risk exposure, as if we didn’t know that
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Considering that the confinement of car and couch are pretty recent developments in human evolution, it's easy to see how anything that keeps you active and healthy is also going to keep you happy as well.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
The difference though is that the car is immobilizing whereas the couch promotes inactivity and one is free to move away, especially facilitated by recording devices freeing up the restraint of waiting for the commercials.

Of course, the true Couch Potato only leaves to answer the “call of nature,” or seek out sustenance from the four food groups (sugar, salt, grease, and alcohol).
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Old 12-04-19, 07:50 AM
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Jim from Boston - Lots of good stuff, thank you!

This is very relatable:

Furthermore in my experience, the most uncomfortable time on the road is being stuck in traffic, where there is no danger, but unrelenting immobilization. So if stress (specifically distress) is inimical to good health, driving is an added risk exposure, as if we didn’t know that
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Old 12-04-19, 08:45 AM
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Enforcement - How to deal with harassment from people driving cars
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
We wait. ~25 years and gasoline will be too expensive to waste on mouth-breathing cager commuters. The Military will sequester it all. Electric Vehicles will not be developed to any great degree because no one wanted them.

We will own the streets. Woo hoo!
Originally Posted by berner View Post
....I live in a small town where there are still many common links so I don't experience harassment. I have in the past lived in a very busy area where I liked the work but not the environment in that part of the world.

My solution was to move to a small town.
FYA, from this recent thread on the Living Car Free Forum thread, "The Breakdown of Nations"
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
This variation of "Small is Beautiful" sounds like the feudal system of the Middle Ages, that arose during the Dark Ages after the Fall of the big, bad Roman Empire...maybe a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" scenario.
Originally Posted by prairiepedaler View Post
I think what the author is suggesting is keeping cities at a "human scale".

Duplication of cities so there are more of them rather than continually expanding megacities with endless suburbs; making city streets for bike and pedestrian traffic rather than for the automobile. Not a return to the hovels of the dark ages.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Unlikely to anticipate the breakup of cities, without some kind of catastrophe.
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Reading Kohr it is clear he prefers to be called an anarchist so society means little in general. Saying he believes City states like early Greece would be peaceful because they didn't have power ignores that they were not all that peaceful as are tribe like communities in Africa or Afghanistan.

What is human scale to 8 billion people? How about 10 Billion? Yes it might be nice if we lived in a world where we could be almost hunter gatherers or maybe Hobbits?

Still I don't see how dissolving central governments will benefit anyone any where advocating a car free or car light lifestyle. Maybe I should have just let it slide but the whole OP sounded like a Political science class. Just My opinion
Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
We're facing a future catastrophe right now, unless we change our ways. Thus far, we're still just making the problem worse.

The business-as-usual scenarios are genuine, science-fiction-bad catastrophes, over a span of decades. We have to change some things, either by our own choice or because the physical world imposes it on us. Will it cause cities to break up? Some of them, maybe?
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Perhaps as an example of a slow-moving catastrophe is my Hometown of Detroit, MI which has been de-populating over the past few years, leaving a less-traveled infrastructure in the City Proper, though most of the outer suburbs have the typical sprawl, in contrast to the more pedestrian-oriented cities of the Northeast.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
If you are willing to travel Detroit Proper has been touted as having a good cycling infrastructure, wide roads with diminished traffic. See this thread, “Riding through Detroit.”
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...Several years ago, the architectural critic of the Boston Globe, Robert Campbell, was visiting Southfield, Michigan, a town I know well, and described it as the City of Towers and Cars (including “busy highways and vast parking lots" [and tall office buildings, and sprawling office and retail parks]).

In his article, he contrasted that to the City of Outdoor Rooms (Boston) which is visited as one would visit a person’s home, passing through the various portals, from room to room, admiring the furnishings within.

That’s the motif I use on my tours as we start in the Back Bay, and pass through the Public Garden, Boston Common, Washington St and Quincy Market, the North End, Beacon Hill and back to Back Bay.

The walk becomes the destination.
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Old 12-04-19, 11:44 PM
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I really don't know, having been riding in my city for the past ten years, what the right approach to the unpleasant motorist is. My father was a wise man and I was driving with him one day long ago. Someone cut us off and I expressed my displeasure with the other driver, who then flipped me off and sped away. My dad waited for me to calm down and then he said: "BPC, you really ought not do that. You have no idea what kind of state that other person may be in. They may just have been fired or their wife and kids may have just booted them out of the house or they may have just received a cancer diagnosis. You have no idea what kind of situation that person is in. They could have a gun.They might be panicked and desperate and you adding to that stress could push them over the edge and ultimately end up very, very badly for you."

I thought about that and I decided that, as usual, my father was on the money. And I have not responded to another driver angrily since, as far as I can recall. I may shake my head, as I did the other day when someone ran a light, almost hit me, then yelled at me, then took off. Take a couple deep breaths. Thank my maker. Then, clip in and move on. I just do not believe that direct confrontation at the moment of the incident (or shortly thereafter) is a good idea. These people are not in a place to be receptive to outside feedback at that time. Maybe later, but definitely not then.

I don't favor the GoPro approach of filming every second of my life. That seems a bit paranoid to me. So, that one, I won't personally be doing. My approach now is to do what I can to encourage good behavior. So, whenever a motorist stops to let me go through an intersection in which she/he has the right of way, which happens all the time here, I always cheerfully acknowledge the gesture. Go out of my way to show them a cyclist obeying the laws and behaving well. I bet I have 8-10 good interactions with vehicles to every one bad one. My hope is that the more drivers see us as a group as conscientious and well-comported, the more likely those drivers are likely over time to adopt a friendly attitude toward us.

So, for me, that's it. Reward good behavior. Now, if I see a drunk driver or someone just blowing through red lights and I can get their plate, I will definitely dial 911. But usually, I am too focused on not dying to turn my attention to writing plate numbers down. I guess a camera would help here, but I am just not going to live an Orwellian life. Besides all that, my city is short somewhere between 100 and 200 officers right now and traffic is taking a serious backseat to homicides and other things. I'm almost positive that, unless it was an impaired driver report, they would likely not even send a car.
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Old 12-05-19, 04:00 AM
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Choose routes that have less traffic, and/or choose a better time to ride.

I'll often take longer less traveled routes, just to avoid hostile motorists.

Motorists often take the most congested routes, because GPS told them to, one block over, its crickets.

You can't fix careless motorists, so its best to avoid them if possible.
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Old 12-08-19, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Choose routes that have less traffic, and/or choose a better time to ride.

I'll often take longer less traveled routes, just to avoid hostile motorists.

Motorists often take the most congested routes, because GPS told them to, one block over, its crickets.

You can't fix careless motorists, so its best to avoid them if possible.

​​​​​​In some places, there are no other routes/roads.

This is a very common situation out west, where there may not be a "grid," or the "only other road" is an interstate freeway.
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Old 12-09-19, 02:41 AM
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Not everyone can or wants to do so, but I start my usual ride at 0430 every day. I usually get back home at around 6ish. There is not very much traffic, even though this particular ride is all with the city. It is nuts any time after about 0620ish or so.
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Old 12-09-19, 04:57 AM
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How to deal with harassment from people driving cars?
Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Choose routes that have less traffic, and/or choose a better time to ride.

I'll often take longer less traveled routes, just to avoid hostile motorists.

Motorists often take the most congested routes, because GPS told them to, one block over, its crickets.

You can't fix careless motorists, so its best to avoid them if possible
Originally Posted by genec View Post
In some places, there are no other routes/roads.

This is a very common situation out west, where there may not be a "grid," or the "only other road" is an interstate freeway.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
All my cycling as a decades-long, year-round commuter and occasional centurian in Metro Boston ranges from dense urban, to suburban, to exurban, but no rural.

I'm goal-oriented, be it miles or destinations, so I take the Road as it comes, to satisfy my Goal. Over the years, I have described roads, so for this post I compiled my descriptions in order of cycling pleasure (paved roads only):​​​​​​...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Welcome to Boston and environs

Even though I've lived here for over 30 years, I always get lost on a new ride. Streets are laid out in a haphazard fashion; many streets, particularly the one you are riding on are not marked; they surreptiously change names; and in rotary intersections it's easy to lose your sense of direction
Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Not everyone can or wants to do so, but I start my usual ride at 0430 every day. I usually get back home at around 6ish.

There is not very much traffic, even though this particular ride is all with the city. It is nuts any time after about 0620ish or so.
+10 to above, especially to t@bpcyclist. I have posted, in particular about urban cycling,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I like early morning riding between 4 to 6 AM. I think the drunks and crazies are mostly off the road by that time (since the bars here close at 2:00 AM), and the ones driving at those hours are pretty responsible people. I think of them as the ones entrusted to get the world started for the rest of us.

Also the overnight shift changes usually occur at 7:00 AM, so those possibly sleep-impaired commuters are also off the road.
Indeed at about 6AM there is a noticeable increase in traffic. I fortunately travel in the reverse commuter direction. outbound from Downtown to a suburb, but that holds true on my side of the road.

I estimate that on Saturdays, the uptick starts at about 7 AM. and on Sundays about 8 AM. On a long weekend ride I can be out in exurbia by that time. but I will encounter the traffic homeward bound.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...One can be in scenic countryside within about one hour from downtown, while passing through an interesting, compact urban and suburban scene.

Furthermore you can extend your range with a convenient Commuter Rail that allows fully-assembled bikes during off-peak hours [all weekend].

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 12-09-19 at 08:58 AM. Reason: added quotes by SHBR and genec
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Old 12-09-19, 08:24 AM
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To try to herd cats ... I know how to avoid conflict, and now that I work from a home office, I ride at times and routes that avoid being harassed. But (to repeat) that's not always an option and not the point of this thread.

When I was a bike commuter, the last mile into/out of my office was a nightmare ever.single.time. We will never build a bike lane for the last mile to every single destination.

We need to advocate ways to co-exist on the existing infrastructure. That is the point of this thread, finding ways to work with city staff and PD to create a community where using a bike on the road isn't an invite to have a person driving an SUV to punish pass, honk, yell, and generally intimidate people biking. When people that ride bikes 'hide' from the conflict, the harassers have won.

Couple ideas I will work with:

I will create a group ride with local PD to ride some of the common routes, talk about the conflict we experience will riding, and brainstorm with them about ways they can help educate people driving cars.

I have already and will continue to push for updated signs in our town:



Reference: https://road.cc/content/news/203414-...full-lane-ones
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Old 12-09-19, 09:07 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
To try to herd cats ... I know how to avoid conflict, and now that I work from a home office, I ride at times and routes that avoid being harassed. But (to repeat) that's not always an option and not the point of this thread.

When I was a bike commuter, the last mile into/out of my office was a nightmare ever.single.time. We will never build a bike lane for the last mile to every single destination.

We need to advocate ways to co-exist on the existing infrastructure. That is the point of this thread, finding ways to work with city staff and PD to create a community where using a bike on the road isn't an invite to have a person driving an SUV to punish pass, honk, yell, and generally intimidate people biking. When people that ride bikes 'hide' from the conflict, the harassers have won.

Couple ideas I will work with:

I will create a group ride with local PD to ride some of the common routes, talk about the conflict we experience will riding, and brainstorm with them about ways they can help educate people driving cars.

I have already and will continue to push for updated signs in our town:



Reference: https://road.cc/content/news/203414-...full-lane-ones

Two comments... in somewhat reverse order. That "Cyclists may use full lane" sign should be much larger... maybe even flashing... with a horn.

Regarding bike lanes in and around tech complexes/campuses/adjacent shopping areas...

the irony of these vast paved areas is that they have the potential to be well protected and well connected bike paths... When I worked in the Sorrento Valley area of San Diego, it was well known that one could easily walk from one business to another by simply walking at the back of various parking lots, crossing curbs and narrow garden strips. I did this with my MTB bike too. I was well out of the main traffic flow, and had easy access to numerous businesses. I did have to jump curbs.

However, a forward thinking city could annex tiny strips of land and make a complete MUP/bike path at these same locations. This is what the bicycle network in Davis is like... in some areas, and is, at a much higher quality, what Oulo, Finland is like.

Cars enter these vast commercial areas from one side, and park in that area. Cyclists enter from a different side, don't interact with cars, and have their own parking and entrance.

We almost have that in our vastly paved commercial areas now... it just takes tying it all together, and removing the minor obstacles... and a commitment to cycling as transportation and supporting the infrastructure to make it work.

The pavement and space are there... the policy is not.

Last edited by genec; 12-09-19 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 12-09-19, 09:56 PM
  #21  
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I'm at a loss, and have given up trying to "educate" malicious drivers, its a lost cause in my opinion.

Call it a defeatist attitude, I remain convinced that you can't fix stupid, some people will NEVER change their ways, and good luck fixing that.
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Old 12-09-19, 09:59 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
​​​​​​In some places, there are no other routes/roads.

This is a very common situation out west, where there may not be a "grid," or the "only other road" is an interstate freeway.
I'd move, or pack up my bike and ride elsewhere.

How much is your life worth?
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