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40 Cent 08-01-13 10:02 AM


Originally Posted by NVanHiker (Post 15911587)
Where I live, only about half of cyclists are using a bike for transportation. A huge number view cycling as a counter-culture activity, and there is also a significant group who are bums on presumably stolen bikes riding erratically and unpredictably.

Good point. How we're viewed depends so much on location. I've ridden in various states and towns outside NYC and gotten honked and yelled at by drivers who I assume are thinking, "Get your elitist toy outta my way, I'm tryin' get to work." In New York, on the other hand, I've seen cyclists yelling at drivers to stop holding up traffic.

Last time I was in Montreal a couple summers ago, it looked like they had it worked out pretty well. Thousands of cyclists that clearly took advantage of their right to the road, yet didn't appear to be abusing it. And drivers that were behaving like sane individuals. How'd they do that?

Thrasymachus 08-07-13 12:09 PM

This thread is a good example of why I don't feel any bonds or empathy to most fellow cyclists. How can you bs that is the behavior of cyclists why cycling is not popular and facing a backlash? What country do you live in? What planet do you think you live on?

The fact is that in transportation in this country the car is the king and everyone else, pedestrians and cyclists are second class citizens. Thus we must pretend in this country that cyclists can and should share the roads with cars. But the fastest cyclists can only can average 32+ mph over an hour and those are the ones selected down by vicious competition, they take designer performance enhancers, being fast on a bicycle is their full time vocation, they have whole teams of massage therapists, trainers, sport nutritionists, they have the best equipment, and while they compete with each other they also co-operate alot by drafting off each other, etc. So even the best amongst us cannot compete with the automobile in terms of speed, and in terms of mass, there is no contest either. I have done almost everything you have complained about: sometimes I ride opposing traffic. At certain major roadways where the speed limit is 45-50 mph, there is only a shoulder on one side, in addition to an incline. So instead of being a jackass and pretending that crawling uphill at 10 mph or less, and assuming that I can compete with cars driving past at 50-65 mph by taking a lane, I actually like to increase my chances of living the next day by riding the shoulder on the opposite lane. Now if you are dilettante ride to nowhere, spandex clad cyclist it is very easy to condemn this behavior because you have the luxury of avoiding the route since you are going nowhere instead of getting things done on a bicycle, thus it is no loss to such cyclists to avoid useful routes by "playing by the rules". But since the car is the king in this country, you will run into actual situations like this where doing what you are technically supposed to will cause traffic, cars swerving away from you or increasing greatly your chances of being struck by a motor vehicle. That said I live in the suburbs of Northern NJ and am not sure if I would do the same in NYC where the police are very anti-cycling and where there is lots more that could go wrong by doing that.


Originally Posted by 40 Cent (Post 15900659)
All 3 transportation modes -- driving, cycling, walking -- try to ignore the laws when they think it will a) save them some time, and b) won't really hurt anybody. For cars, it's the speed limit, for cyclists, it's red lights, and for pedestrians, it's jaywalking. And just from observation, I'd say the scofflaws make up the majority of each group.

There is no equivalence between these transportation modes. Driving is a total menace to society: it creates huge traffic as to drive safely you need a buffer of at least a car length or 10 feet for every 10 mph in speed you are traveling, it wastes huge funds hidden as taxpayer subsidies for roads, highways, tunnels and bridges. This society will literally collapse in the future under the weight of the health problems that the car centered culture creates. A recent study showed that Americans are living longer, but the number of years they are disabled or in ill health is increasing. It is widely known that caretakers often die sooner than those they medically caretake. In the USA half of Americans will be diabetic or prediabetic as early as 2020. I found an article in a NYC newspaper that stated that in 2020 or 2030 1/3rd of New York City residents are projected to be diabetic(cannot find it online). People are eating highly concentrated calories in our society in the form of copious meat and fat, yet they also don't have to physically work much to obtain this huge calorie bonanza.

You cannot establish equivalence between other modes of travel and the motor vehicle, which is a fiscal, health disaster(to the driver) and a huge public safety menace. According to the latest figures in 2009 there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009[PDF], resulting in 35,900 deaths.

I recommend reading the excellent A View from the Cycle Path blog, if you read about what that British ex-pat writes about cycling in Netherlands, some of you won't be able to write the same ignorant canards you have wrote above. There is no equivalence or parity between cycling or driving, the worst cyclist who breaks all the rules will have great difficulty actually murdering or killing someone with their bicycle(unless it involves a motor vehicle swerving or veering off course). The real problem is that the Anglosphere is especially car-centric, making the costliest way to move around, the most deadly way to move people, the most costly way to move people, actually unfairly promoted and lionized when it should actually be penalized and demoted in favor of public transport, walking and cycling. Instead the pedestrian who moves at only 2-3 mph is penalized by only being allowed to legally cross streets at crosswalks or curbs, and the cyclist has to pretend he can compete for roadspace with vehicles weighing well over a ton that can easily go 100 mph. It is madness and I cannot believe the posters above see nothing wrong with it, and think it is a matter of convincing lazy drivers by being some mythical cycling ambassadors.

Ferdinand NYC 08-07-13 01:27 PM

I don't know why you think that your point (that cars are hegemonic and dangerous) contradicts my point (that we bicyclists have the power to influence our own perception).

You are absolutely right in what you state about driving. Driving is inherently a filthy and dangerous practice; and there's nothing that laws can do to change this basic fact. A driver following all the laws is far more dangerous than the worst scofflaw bicylist.

Furthermore, you are right to note that driving is costly, being subsidised by taxes; and that it promotes health problems related to sendentary lifestyles. (And you didn't even mention the pollution that driving creates!) For all these reasons, you are correct to indicate that it is disgusting how entrenched driving has become in American society.

But realise that your observation that bicyclists are second-class citizens actually supports my contention that each individual bicyclist has the responsibility to do everything in his/her power to present a good image to the ignorant majority who get their worldview from the idiot media.

I am complaining about bicyclists who routinely blow red lights, and who think nothing of riding on the wrong side of a two-way street or going the wrong way down a one-way street, when there is no safety-related reason to do so. I see these morons every day on my commute, and on weekends during my pleasure rides; and it's indisputable that they are creating ill will towards bicyclists and exacerbating that ill will which already exists in a society in which the destructive car-centric ideology is the norm.

Of course, I realise that the desire that bicyclists behave well is a quixotic quest. We'll never reach most of these people who are causing the most harm. My original post was a lament, about the impending end of the golden age of bicycling, and about the wasted opportunity to build on the first (and almost surely last) bike-friendly mayoral administration in the City's history.

But, if you can deny that we are all judged by the worst of us, and that these bad bicyclists are spurring a backlash which will erase much of what we have gained, then it is I who have to ask you what planet you are living on.

Lacumo 08-07-13 07:38 PM

I'm from NYC but I emigrated to upstate decades ago. I've been back many times, bicycled down there periodically and did the Tour de Bronx century around 10 years ago. NYC may be a lot more bicycle-friendly than when I was there but as bicycling quality and safety levels go, it's still a dangerous if not nearly suicidal environment. I can't imagine being a serious mileage-logging NYC bicyclist without fairly frequent collisions and injuries. I sympathize with you riding in that place. Try to stay safe.

Tony D Ten Avg 08-08-13 03:28 PM

I disagree that we are seeing the "end of the golden age of cycling", first, too much money has been spent already, esp. in NYC secondly in my mind cycling is inextricably tied to the price of gas & that isn't going down...I believe we will live to see US urban cycling validated as it is in London, Montreal as another poster mentioned etcetera. Years ago in Bicycling there was a letter to the editor enquiring what it would be like if roads for cars were like bike paths i.e. just fizzling out in the middle of nowhere and while amusing at the time it grows less relevant each year as old trolley lines for example are re-purposed to make excellent cycle routes. My concern more stems from the sad lack of overall unity among ourselves as for instance any motorcycle rider no matter what cc will invariably acknowledge another. Cyclists? Not so much! As another poster said: people aren't yet ready to use a bike to "get things done" & if gasoline going to $6 a gallon fostered that through economic necessity or even backlash against Big Oil it'd be win win all around. I'll step off the soapbox now, lol:)
Tony D

Ferdinand NYC 08-09-13 10:59 AM

I wish I could say that I thought you were right about the golden age not being about to end. Unfortunately, the improvements to the streets can be removed just as easily and quickly as they were put in; there will be no "sunk costs" rationale to keep them. Our bike lanes will live or die solely on the inclination of the next mayor; indeed, we need to remember that we have them thanks exclusively to the inclination of the current mayer.

Anyway, I am entirely in favour of high gas prices; this spurs only positive changes associated with discouraging driving, such as bike-riding, use of mass transit, and the arresting of sprawl. Furthermore, high gas prices provide an economic benefit to the entire region: the more expensive gasoline is, the greater the premium is on food shipped from afar; and so the greater the advantage to local growers. With high enough gas prices, New Jersey eggs, tomatoes, and milk would become the automatic first choice for the entire tri-state area, the most densely-populated place in the country. So you are right when you suggest that gas at $6 a gallon would be a wonderful thing for us.

You're right also when you point out how sad it is that there is no unity amongst bicyclists that is similar to that amongst motorcyclists. However, the way I see it, the people who have destroyed that unity are the bicyclists who behave in ways that hurt us. I cannot feel camaraderie with people who are publicly campagning against our interests.

Thrasymachus 08-09-13 04:30 PM


Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC (Post 15935880)
But, if you can deny that we are all judged by the worst of us, and that these bad bicyclists are spurring a backlash which will erase much of what we have gained, then it is I who have to ask you what planet you are living on.

People operate in social structures. You think instead somehow that the average powerless consumer/worker is in control of the society, and thus it is cyclists as ambassadors who by their allegedly bad behavior make cycling an activity doomed to have a small modal share of total transportation. The maverick social critic Ivan Illich observed in his writings that every institution that made a claim, like teachers who teach, actually produced the opposite of their openly stated(or propagandized) claim. He did the same with the motor vehicle:


Originally Posted by Ivan Illich

The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society's time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.

excerpts from Energy and Equity
also collected in Toward a History of Needs

Thus as long as we give perverse incentives and subsidies to make the most deadliest, costly, space-consuming, polluting and time consuming mode of transport, the private automobile, prolific, it will continue to be artificially widespread and dominant. There is nothing cyclists by their behavior whether good or bad can do to change this.

Frankly I have little sympathy for the cyclists who like to pretend that it is just and right that we should act like motor vehicles on the road, when it is impossible for us to do so. The fact is that a bicycle is something in between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle. Thus for example, I stop at red lights and behave like motor vehicle at them for the most part. However, when I used to commute to a job at 4-5 am which in suburban Northern NJ meant the roads were dead, I would mostly stop or sometimes just slow down and run the red lights. Should I feel bad for this? I am not a motor vehicle, so I don't, I actually feel I should deserve perks by doing the right thing for society and the planet by cycling for useful life related purposes. Infact I am convinced cyclists deserve perks instead of disincentives, and one of the biggest deterrents is pretending we can follow motor vehicle laws while being at a huge speed, volume and weight disparity.

Again read A View from the Cycle Path blog from a British bicycle advocate and ex-pat who moved to the Netherlands, the only developed nation that gets anything right in terms of cycling and transportation. One of the only reasons cycling is popular there is because they don't pretend a bicycle can or should compete with cars and obey their traffic laws. On the contrary in most residential or shopping locales, pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way. In our backwards social structure, however it is the opposite. This whole cycle ambassador canard that pretends we can convince drivers pampered by subsidies, wasteful tax-funded infrastructure and legal preferences similar to Jim Crowe is laughable.

@Tony D Ten Avg:
You are very correct. Heck it is August and the temperature is abnormally low, currently in the mid to high 70's most days. A few weeks ago we had unprecedented heat waves in the high 90's or low 100's and then a sudden drop to the 60's! We are entering chaos theory in terms of weather.

They used to think that the oil in nearby Pennsylvania would have lasted over a thousand years, but that was at the then current consumption mostly for lanterns for lighting. Now we are reduced to extracting expensive oil from the deep-sea off the Gulf Coast or trying to exploit costly, expensive and highly polluting shale tar sands. Gas is never gonna get cheaper, and if we lived in a respectable country, the government would tax it much more(so that they those who drive the most can fund the roads they use the most) and try to help wean people off of the automobile by rolling back some of the wrong-headed policies that made the car the king of transportation. Until the policies are changed or gas prices become a sufficient deterrent, the percentage of people that actually cycle to do anything will always be weighted heavily toward those that cannot afford anything else like the recent Latino immigrants. It is not a matter for or comprised by "cycling ambassadors".

jcg878 08-09-13 05:23 PM

The average person I see on a bicycle in Philadelphia is riding respectably with traffic. But I see so many morons riding against traffic while helmetless on one-way two-lane roads while talking on cell phones that it is hard to remember that the average cyclist doesn't fit that profile. We're clearly judged by the worst of us, and unfortunately that's both pretty bad and pretty common.

vol 08-10-13 07:35 PM

Today I saw a salmon coming toward me. I stayed to the rightmost of the street, expecting him to pass on my left. I was surprised when he didn't, and instead was coming right at me, all the while looking at me! :twitchy: I persisted on my course.:notamused: The next moment I knew why: a car was behind me and going to pass me on my left, and there seems to be no room for him to pass through between me and the car (and against me and the car)! He should have stopped long ago, but he kept going until when we are right in front of each other, about 2-3' apart. Luckily the driver had slowed down to give either of us bicyclists room to pass. The salmon got off his bike and said "sorry" (which was the only thing I appreciated), then left. He must have expected me to shield him from the car.:rolleyes:

vol 09-10-13 03:58 PM

Early afternoon today on 5th Avenue at 42nd street, light just turned green on 5th ave., with huge crowds of pedestrians and dense vehicles crossing the 42nd street (just imagine, at this time and this location), me and 2 other cyclists could barely make it through between pedestrians and cars (and the three of us were almost touching one another, front/back or by the side). There came a SALMON heading straight toward us (=northward on 5th Ave. at 42nd st.) and literally inserted himself between the three of us, causing me to instantly dismount, perhaps the other two and the Salmon himself also dismounted--don't remember or didn't pay attention. The Salmon actually smiled at me when I got off with an "Oh!".

anthonybkny 09-13-13 07:57 PM

Unfortunately there are way too many ******bags riding bikes around here. Anyone see the bike rider that ran over Nicole Kidman in the news yesterday?

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