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The dangers of obeying the law

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The dangers of obeying the law

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Old 02-07-12, 11:30 AM
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lawrencehare
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The dangers of obeying the law

I grew up in the UK and moved to the US in 1974 - ouch - a few years ago that! But I follow UK cycling news as well as the forums, the FIRST URL below popped up recently. The SECOND URL below is in response to the first and is also worth reading. One point that the second report made really grabbed my attention, this:

---
... according to Thomas Konig and Mark Wilson, two trauma surgeons who volunteer on London's air ambulance service, 86 per cent of cyclist deaths are women, despite there being three times as many male cyclists as female ones. A 2007 Transport for London survey gave the reason: "Women may be over-represented in (collisions with goods vehicles) because they are less likely than men to disobey red lights."

And this leads to a counterintuitive point. As The Times says today, "jumping a red light can actually be a safer option than lining up alongside HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicle - I think) at the lights like a racetrack starting grid." An apparent recklessness, or more accurately an assertiveness, is far safer for cyclists on busy roads than trundling along slowly, meekly hiding by the kerb.
---

And this gives one furiously to think! I know as a cyclist that I have a very pronounced and wide view of the conditions that surround me at any given point, very - but VERY - much more than that of folks in cars and trucks. I am also far more nimble on my bike. I can react very quickly to a "perceived" threat and thereby avoid it - even if this means breaking the law. As both a cyclist and a car driver I know this to be true, but the car driver who never rides or walks has a completely different perception of reality.

Anyway - not sure where this is leading, but there are some interesting facts and so I thought Id pass them along.

Thoughts?

Lawrence

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public...cle3306502.ece

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/to...eople-cycling/
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Old 02-07-12, 11:38 AM
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Hmmm...Unfortunately, I can see both sides!! I often jump lights when I can get started ahead of potential right-turning vehicles. I do look before jumping!! I have no idea why the study with the women went to red lights as an issue -- it would probably be just as valid to look at possible timidity being part of the problem -- or not. Studies nearly always leave people going "WTF"???
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Old 02-07-12, 11:43 AM
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When you realize you are virtually invisible to cars and trucks and behave accordingly, you will be a much safer rider. Even motorcycles, scooters and pedestrians often fail to take notice of you on a bike. Bell, horns, lights and yelling help in many circumstances, but not always. The best strategy is to avoid getting in situations where vehicles can hit you.
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Old 02-07-12, 11:45 AM
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There was a cyclist killed here a few years ago that matches the described scenario pretty well. She was in a bike lane next to a large construction truck. When the light turned green she went straight and the truck turned right and crushed her beneath its rear wheels. I suppose it's possible that "jumping the light" would have saved her, but I wouldn't imagine that it's a good bet percentage-wise because of the additional dangers it introduces. Maybe cars running yellow/red lights is less common in the U.K.

I certainly don't think that jumping the light should be the accepted solution. In Portland, they've been installing bike boxes, which I think solve the problem in a much better way. Having cyclist-specific traffic signals is another good option.

Above all, I think it is crucial for cyclists to learn to determine when vehicles will be turning based on clues other than turn signals and when you are unable to determine to assume that the vehicle is going to attempt to hit you. I generally make it a rule not to enter an intersection next to a vehicle that hasn't been behind me while I was moving. I never assume a vehicle has seen me in a mirror or out their side window.
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Old 02-07-12, 11:49 AM
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Keep one thing in your mind when driving with or near large motor vehicles... they have HUGE blind spots and even an experienced driver can find him/herself coming close to other vehicles which he/she just couldn't see from the cab, even more so if the other vehicle is a bicycle.

When I find myself in a situation where I might be broadsided by such vehicles, I prefer to CAREFULLY run the red light by either crossing at the pedestrian x-ing or if I have EXCELLENT visibility with an empty road to just cross to where I'm going.
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Old 02-07-12, 12:00 PM
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I remember seeing a video (I forget where) where a cyclist and a truck driver changed places on a closed track so each could see road situations from the perspective of the other. The cyclist was amazed at just how many blind spots there are in the cab of a truck and how all the truckers he'd assumed were morons genuinely didn't even know he was there. At the same time the trucker realised how the natural thing to want to do is get to the front, and just how many places there might be a "hidden cyclist" and to be more aware.

That said one thing I love about being on a bike is that I can put my own safety first regardless of what the law says and know that I can't be usefully "caught" by a traffic camera in the process.
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Old 02-07-12, 12:04 PM
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The larger the vehicle, the more likely I'm going to stay behind it due to the very large blind spots, but in view of the driver side mirror if at all possible. Most people don't realize just how large blind spots are on large commercial vehicles.
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Old 02-07-12, 12:04 PM
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My priorities are safety, efficiency, predictability, and then somewhere far down the list, following the strict letter of the law.
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Old 02-07-12, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
In Portland, they've been installing bike boxes, which I think solve the problem in a much better way. Having cyclist-specific traffic signals is another good option.
+1.

I'd love to see these in more places, but I'm not counting on that happening any time soon. If I approach a light and there's a big truck at the front, I'll either try to get in the crosswalk in front of it, so I can first when the light changes (moving back to the bike lane or wherever I was riding when the coast is clear), or I just suck it up and sit behind it. Not fun, and it can feel like wasting time, but I try to remember the worst case scenario...
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Old 02-07-12, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by lawrencehare View Post
As The Times says today, "jumping a red light can actually be a safer option than lining up alongside HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicle - I think) at the lights like a racetrack starting grid."
This is exactly the point that our (infamous) JoeyBike has made here in the past.
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Old 02-07-12, 02:20 PM
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Looking at the driver helps, if you can. Because then they either 1) see you, and recognize that you're there, or 2) don't see you, and you can play more defensively than you normally would. I tend to wait to see if the car next to me is going straight or turning, and if they're going straight I try to keep up with them so any cars behind them that want to turn can't hit me.
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Old 02-07-12, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by lawrencehare View Post
"Women may be over-represented in (collisions with goods vehicles) because they are less likely than men to disobey red lights."
Is there any evidence to the assertion that women are less likely to obey red lights? The way I see it is this: Men are more likely to ride assertively and take the lane, while women are more likely to try to stay out of the way and hug the gutter. Unfortunately, gutter riding is VERY dangerous. Gutter bunnies are often unseen, and ride in zones that are violated by turning traffic without either party realizing the threat of collision. Out in the lane a cyclist is very clearly something a driver has to contend with and avoid. In the gutter a cyclist is ignored... or worse.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-07-12, 05:02 PM
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This thread needs HannahMontana.
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Old 02-07-12, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by erg79 View Post
...or I just suck it up and sit behind it. Not fun, and it can feel like wasting time, but I try to remember the worst case scenario...
Sometimes I'll just stay behind the truck or bus. There's no point passing them at the light if they'll have to pass me again half a block later.

Still, I can't see how jumping a red light would be safer. I typically take the lane when riding so if the light turns red I'm lined up with the cars. That means I'm often not the first vehicle at the stop line.

The cyclists I do see jump the lights are also the ones that filter between the lanes or along the curb. I really doubt they're doing that for safety but more likely to save time.
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Old 02-07-12, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by DJ Shaun View Post
Sometimes I'll just stay behind the truck or bus. There's no point passing them at the light if they'll have to pass me again half a block later.
Obviously you're not riding hard enough HTFU j/k
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Old 02-07-12, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
Obviously you're not riding hard enough HTFU j/k
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Old 02-07-12, 06:38 PM
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Safety in numbers. Here in Bangkok two wheels own the roads. There are so many slow moving motorcycles here in Bangkok that I feel very safe riding around larger vehicles. Granted, there are very few large trucks on the streets of Bangkok, but if a vehicle is going to hit me it has to go through about six motorcycles before it gets to me.

And as a driver in Bangkok one has to assume that there is a motorcycle in your blind spot because if there isn't one there now, there will be in three seconds.
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Old 02-07-12, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by DJ Shaun View Post
The cyclists I do see jump the lights are also the ones that filter between the lanes or along the curb. I really doubt they're doing that for safety but more likely to save time.
At a stop light I will lane spit in order to get to the front of the que where all the motorcycles gather to get the drop on the cars. I find this is a safer way to go for both motorcycles and bicycles.
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Old 02-07-12, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Ndw76 View Post
At a stop light I will lane spit in order to get to the front of the que where all the motorcycles gather to get the drop on the cars. I find this is a safer way to go for both motorcycles and bicycles.
Like you stated in your previous post: "safety in numbers". Plus there's so many around that drivers are probably accustomed to it.

I think local driving habits plays a part too. In my town I'd consider splitting lanes and jumping a red light to be quite risky as plenty of motorists run red lights and/or fail to signal lane changes and turns. On the other hand rolling through stop signs is becoming almost expected. I don't know how many times cars basically waited for me to roll through a stop sign and then be surprised I actually stop since they had the right of way.
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Old 02-08-12, 02:13 AM
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A better solution than running lights is to not pull up alongside on the inside of a truck in the first place... Unless traffic is clearly stopped and I can get well in front of the vehicle, I'm sticking behind.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:13 AM
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Not sure what any of this has to do with obeying the law or not. Avoiding blind sposts is recommended practice regardless of what you're driving. I guess it could also be argued that women are used to being noticed and being given preferential treatment which no longer works when no-one can see you.

My real issue with this whole thing are the stats: "As a point of comparison: since 2001, 576 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq; 1,275 cyclists died on British streets." which not only apply to cyclists, but to automobile deaths as well. But somehow there's too much of a willingness to write all these deaths off as 'just an accident'.
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Old 02-11-12, 12:44 PM
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I really get a kick out of the "Vehicular Cyclists;" they'd probably ticket themselves if they ran a traffic light. For my experience as a 56 yo bike commuter, and in DC no less (the worst traffic imaginable with the greatest percentage of third world cab drivers), the only way to travel is aggressively forgoing any immediate 'legal' consideration. My position is that we are not Motor Vehicles, we have no relationship to motor vehicles, and are simply pedestrians on bicycles. I don't scare people in intersections, I don't threaten car fenders with collisions: I'm as wide as my shoulders, can stop and maneuver far better than cars, can see 360 degrees with a little bending, and am higher up and can see far better that drivers.

A 15-30 ish pound mechanical contrivance does not make us motorized, nor does being in roadway make us have to adhere to motor vehicle standards.

Back to VC's; they might be out there stopped behind and in front of cars in a left turn lane (saw that today) waiting for the light to turn with no approaching or perpendicular traffic. If there was traffic, I really doubt that the same drivers that are always and everywhere around think to themselves "Hey, there's a vehicular cyclist out in the middle of the road, I'm not going to run him over with my 2000 lb motor motor vehicle!!" No, your static presence is actually more of a threat to yourself. Get out ahead of the traffic and get visible and moving, stay moving, take the sidewalk when you want. Gauge how many other less mobile pedestrians are on the sidewalk ahead, get back into to street, no traffic, safe?, blast through that red light... There are so many times when I just could tell that frustrated drivers were looking in real appreciation of now seeing a way to beat traffic: few are threatened by our ability to 'make progress.' Maybe that'll ironically get more people to get out on these contrivances and appreciate us as PEDestrians !!! Is in coincidence that Pedal and Pedestrian are the same root: we're not motor vehicles!!

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Old 02-11-12, 02:36 PM
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The trauma surgeons say 86% of the deaths are women, despite the fact that more men ride bikes than women. From that statistic they conclude we should jump red lights.

What percent of riders who avoid any accident at all are women?

Suppose men get into lots and lots of minor accidents and women either have fatal accidents or no accident at all.

I believe the statistics are too incomplete to draw any conclusions about safe riding behaviors.
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Old 02-11-12, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by daibutsu View Post
I really get a kick out of the "Vehicular Cyclists;" they'd probably ticket themselves if they ran a traffic light. For my experience as a 56 yo bike commuter, and in DC no less (the worst traffic imaginable with the greatest percentage of third world cab drivers), the only way to travel is aggressively forgoing any immediate 'legal' consideration. My position is that we are not Motor Vehicles, we have no relationship to motor vehicles, and are simply pedestrians on bicycles. I don't scare people in intersections, I don't threaten car fenders with collisions: I'm as wide as my shoulders, can stop and maneuver far better than cars, can see 360 degrees with a little bending, and am higher up and can see far better that drivers.

A 15-30 ish pound mechanical contrivance does not make us motorized, nor does being in roadway make us have to adhere to motor vehicle standards.

Back to VC's; they might be out there stopped behind and in front of cars in a left turn lane (saw that today) waiting for the light to turn with no approaching or perpendicular traffic. If there was traffic, I really doubt that the same drivers that are always and everywhere around think to themselves "Hey, there's a vehicular cyclist out in the middle of the road, I'm not going to run him over with my 2000 lb motor motor vehicle!!" No, your static presence is actually more of a threat to yourself. Get out ahead of the traffic and get visible and moving, stay moving, take the sidewalk when you want. Gauge how many other less mobile pedestrians are on the sidewalk ahead, get back into to street, no traffic, safe?, blast through that red light... There are so many times when I just could tell that frustrated drivers were looking in real appreciation of now seeing a way to beat traffic: few are threatened by our ability to 'make progress.' Maybe that'll ironically get more people to get out on these contrivances and appreciate us as PEDestrians !!! Is in coincidence that Pedal and Pedestrian are the same root: we're not motor vehicles!!
I guess you can THINK whatever you want and SAY whatever you feel like in forums like this one. Over 2,000 tickets were issued to cyclists that BEHAVED as per your recommendations here in Montreal last year. Here a moving violation on a bicycle also results in points being taken off your automoble license as well as a fine.
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Old 02-11-12, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
A better solution than running lights is to not pull up alongside on the inside of a truck in the first place... Unless traffic is clearly stopped and I can get well in front of the vehicle, I'm sticking behind.
I go one further. I don't pull up alongside any vehicles. Instead, I take centre lane, and queue with the vehicles. Then drop back to the curb once I've cleared the intersection. Works well (as in no one ever complains) in the UK (outside London anyway), but YMMV elsewhere. It's by far the safest option imo.
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