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Had a conversation with a guy about riding on the road and safety.

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Old 05-12-14, 09:54 AM
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MRT2
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Had a conversation with a guy about riding on the road and safety.

Actually met this guy and another last week for a road ride.

The person in question is 75 years old, and has can't see out of his right eye. So he wants to ride mostly bike path, but he also rides a stretch on the sidewalk.

So I say to him, cyclists over 12 shouldn't ride on the sidewalk. He says he can see the cars pulling out of driveways but can't see the cars coming behind him. I say, you are blind in the right eye, so unless you have your head on a swivel, you can't see cars coming out of driveways. Meanwhile the other guy tells me to be quiet, that if he made it to 75 riding on sidewalks, he must know a thing or two. I think he was just lucky, and it is only a matter of time.

Sorry for the rant, but it shocks me when people who have been biking for decades still get safety wrong.

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Old 05-12-14, 10:11 AM
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It's only wrong to you.
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Old 05-12-14, 10:25 AM
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The guy's got a handicap no matter where he rides. He has to adapt to that in whatever way he thinks works for him. Maybe riding on the sidewalk isn't actually the best solution for him, but telling him "cyclists over 12 shouldn't ride on the sidewalk" sure sounds like it would come off as insulting and disrespectful to most people (and it seems to me that older people are often sensitive to this), not to mention rigid and dogmatic. From there you pretty much lost any chance to get through to him, and he reacted predictably, by being defensive. If you want to actually help people see a situation differently you have to show empathy for what they think. For instance, "I can see why you ride on the sidewalk. It can be nerve-wracking to have cars behind you on the road with two good eyes, never mind one. But here's why I would still ride in the road if I couldn't see out of my right eye..."


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Old 05-12-14, 10:27 AM
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Think of it like this:

You are operating with the current "best practices" safety knowledge. The way we operate on the roads is based on practice and research in risk management. We are increasing our odds of reaching our destinations safely. However, nothing is guaranteed. Do everything right and stuff can still go wrong.

This gentleman is operating with his experience of operating his vehicle over many decades. His reasoning might not match ours and it might even seem illogical. But, just like best practices, nothing is guaranteed. Do everything wrong and many folks still reach their golden years without issue. This has occurred for centuries (somehow, doctors didn't understand germ theory and the human race stumbled through and survived).

My takeaway from your encounter is that cycling is far safer than we tend to think it is. Even when a bicycle is used in what appears to be a haphazard fashion, it is usually not deadly.
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Old 05-12-14, 10:36 AM
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I don't understand your problem.

Is he riding on YOUR sidewalk? Did you have a near collision when he didn't see you coming? Are you a cop, responsible for enforcing the no riding on the sidewalk rule?

Please explain what exactly this 75 year old man did that gave you the right to lecture him?
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Old 05-12-14, 10:38 AM
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To add to the above, it also depends on where you are. Not all sidewalks are the same and not all streets are the same. There are times when riding on a sidewalk is safer AND legal. Where I live it's usually neither. This site has a tendency to throw out "rules" as if they were the same for everyone, everywhere. It doesn't work that way.
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Old 05-12-14, 12:32 PM
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As someone with visual issues myself, I know one thing: when it comes to vision(especially when any impairment is involved), one size **DOES NOT** fit all. If he "can't see out of his right eye"(what ever that means), then he just might be using what little peripheral vision his left gives him to see(or do his best) to see the cars coming out of driveways, etc on his right. At the age of 30, my field of vision is too limited to drive a car safely, but I can ride a bike in the road fine. I cannot, however, use a mirror(whether it be handlebar or glasses mounted). At 75, there are a whole bunch of conditions(age related, and/or other issues he's dealt with for a long time) that can enter the picture as well. The question is, how would you know that just by looking?
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Old 05-12-14, 12:36 PM
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I have a feeling that this cyclist is not much more than a rolling pedestrian and is doing quite well for his age...
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Old 05-12-14, 01:33 PM
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It's a strawman argument to say riding on the sidewalk is dangerous because one can't see cars pulling out of driveways. It's only dangerous if one is riding faster than appropriate for a sidewalk.

To chastise an elderly, disabled person for riding on the sidewalk is disrespectful and irresponsible unless they are actually endangering others.
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Old 05-12-14, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
It's a strawman argument to say riding on the sidewalk is dangerous because one can't see cars pulling out of driveways. It's only dangerous if one is riding faster than appropriate for a sidewalk.
Exactly. The problem isn't riding on the sidewalk per se, it's riding on the sidewalk at speeds faster than the expected speeds.

To chastise an elderly, disabled person for riding on the sidewalk is disrespectful and irresponsible unless they are actually endangering others.
/thread

Well, it won't be...
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Old 05-12-14, 05:47 PM
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Live and let live, let him ride in peace , I ride on the road, others don't. Fine
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Old 05-12-14, 05:55 PM
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Have bicycled over 300,000 miles.
Over a hundred centuries; 6 double centuries; multiple week long tours; and, yes, ride on he roads including Interstates where not prohibited.
Pedal 100+ miles a week and am 81 years old.
Any advice for me, sonny?
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Old 05-12-14, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have bicycled over 300,000 miles.
Over a hundred centuries; 6 double centuries; multiple week long tours; and, yes, ride on he roads including Interstates where not prohibited.
Pedal 100+ miles a week and am 81 years old.
Any advice for me, sonny?
Yeah. Why's it taking you so long to learn how to ride a bike?
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Old 05-12-14, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have bicycled over 300,000 miles.
Over a hundred centuries; 6 double centuries; multiple week long tours; and, yes, ride on he roads including Interstates where not prohibited.
Pedal 100+ miles a week and am 81 years old.
Any advice for me, sonny?
stay off the sidewalk.
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Old 05-12-14, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
So I say to him, cyclists over 12 shouldn't ride on the sidewalk.
Say that to a 102 year old who could still manage to ride a bike.
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Old 05-12-14, 09:26 PM
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So...in TV news style, this is 'controversial' and 'opinions vary,' right?

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Old 05-12-14, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have bicycled over 300,000 miles.
Over a hundred centuries; 6 double centuries; multiple week long tours; and, yes, ride on he roads including Interstates where not prohibited.
Pedal 100+ miles a week and am 81 years old.
Any advice for me, sonny?
Get off my lawn...........
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Old 05-13-14, 12:33 AM
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I wonder if the guy you picked an argument with - and it sounds like you being argumentative, not him - told you to mind your own business? Or did he take the high road and stay polite?
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Old 05-13-14, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
You are operating with the current "best practices" safety knowledge. The way we operate on the roads is based on practice and research in risk management.
Funny definition of best practices. Where I come from best practice is that which achieves the best results. We have achieved a bicycle mode share of about 1%, Amsterdam 28%. Riding a bicycle on U.S. roads results in about 7 times as many fatalities per km ridden as riding on Amsterdam's segregated paths.
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Old 05-13-14, 07:41 AM
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OK, the guy is actually someone I know pretty well from the health club and from a sports betting group, and I agreed to meet him for a ride. He is not a random stranger, as some of you seem to think. So if that was the impression I gave, I apologize.

And I am not a wet behind the ears kid, as I am 49 years old and have been riding for more than a few years myself.

To the person who asked what I meant by can't see out of his right eye, I mean, he is blind because he doesn't have a right eye. He told me that once. Amazed as I am that a person with one eye feels comfortable riding a road bike, I still believe that an adult cycling on the sidewalk of a close in suburb with driveways in front of every house with landscaping obstructing the view isn't safe, especially for a person who is blind out of his right eye.

Finally, while I appreciate the sentiment that I should mind my own business, but I detect a patronizing tone in some of the responses directed at the guy, as if senior citizens and disabled people should be treated like children. But this is no child riding a tricycle at walking speeds. This is a 150 lb adult riding a carbon fiber road bike traveling at slow speeds for a bike, but at least 4 times as fast as any driver backing out of his driveway expects a pedestrian to be traveling. Yes, it is on him if a car hits him, but that really isn't the point.
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Old 05-13-14, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Funny definition of best practices. Where I come from best practice is that which achieves the best results. We have achieved a bicycle mode share of about 1%, Amsterdam 28%. Riding a bicycle on U.S. roads results in about 7 times as many fatalities per km ridden as riding on Amsterdam's segregated paths.
It would be great if we had the sort of infrastructure of Amsterdam, but Milwaukee isn't Amsterdam. So we have to do the best we can with the infrastructure we have.
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Old 05-13-14, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
It would be great if we had the sort of infrastructure of Amsterdam, but Milwaukee isn't Amsterdam. So we have to do the best we can with the infrastructure we have.
Cop out. If an employee gave me some lame excuse like that they'd be out on the street in a heart beat.

Best practice is best practice and here seems to be good and safe Dutch style infrastructure (if your goal is fewer crashes and fatalities and/or more people riding).
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Old 05-13-14, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Cop out. If an employee gave me some lame excuse like that they'd be out on the street in a heart beat.

Best practice is best practice and here seems to be good and safe Dutch style infrastructure (if your goal is fewer crashes and fatalities and/or more people riding).
We don't have Dutch style infrastructure. Not understanding your point about best practices. If we had Dutch style infrastructure, I would be all in favor of using it.
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Old 05-13-14, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Funny definition of best practices. Where I come from best practice is that which achieves the best results. We have achieved a bicycle mode share of about 1%, Amsterdam 28%. Riding a bicycle on U.S. roads results in about 7 times as many fatalities per km ridden as riding on Amsterdam's segregated paths.
U.S. sidewalks are not equivalent to Dutch segregated bicycle paths. Do you have a better definition of best practices? Please share how you feel is the safest way to travel by bicycle in the U.S.
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Old 05-13-14, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
We don't have Dutch style infrastructure. Not understanding your point about best practices. If we had Dutch style infrastructure, I would be all in favor of using it.
Riding on the roads, vehicular cycling, is not best practice, it is a suboptimal workaround to a bad situation, lack of safe bicycling infrastructure.

If at work we have a project to accomplish, then I expect employees to usually come up with a plan for the best way to accomplish our goals. In many cases that will be to utilize 'best practices' because these have often been shown to be the best and proven route to achieving these goals. If we do not have the tools necessary for best practice (analogous to bicycle infrastructure) then I expect that we will either acquire the tools or someone will make a case for either a better alternative that will still accomplish the goals without the expense or propose a suboptimal workaround that is 'good enough' and avoids the tools expense. In this latter, best practice has not changed, we've chosen not to use it.
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