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Vehicular Cycling

Old 02-23-22, 08:26 AM
  #1  
Drewhigh
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Vehicular Cycling

Could someone please help me explain this?
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Old 02-23-22, 09:30 AM
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Seriously? There was a whole sub thread on this.

It boils down to acting and being treated as a vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle.

To a cyclist it simply means you are a "slow motorcycle." Take a similar position on the road as a slow motorcycle.
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Old 02-25-22, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Seriously? There was a whole sub thread on this.

It boils down to acting and being treated as a vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle.

To a cyclist it simply means you are a "slow motorcycle." Take a similar position on the road as a slow motorcycle.

And pretend that there's a lot of other people doing that, and get indignant when anyone notices there aren't.
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Old 02-25-22, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
And pretend that there's a lot of other people doing that, and get indignant when anyone notices there aren't.
Nevermind that it's exactly what most aware cyclists are doing in the many situations where it makes sense.

"Vehicular Cycling" (and even moreso its progenitor) gets a lot of hate as a philosophy, but the reality is that the majority of its actual concepts are widely recognized and practiced when thought of as isolated basics - ordinary, everyday things, like taking a lane position which prevents bad passes rather than hiding at the extreme right, and understanding that much of the danger comes at intersections rather than from cars overtaking the cyclist.

Perhaps one could argue that few cyclists today are "pure" vehicular cyclists, though the reality is that the system isn't remotely as dogmatic as many falsely believe. Generally when experienced, informed cyclists do things contrary to vehicular cycling principles, they do them with the awareness of the risk entailed, and caution appropriate to that.

The fundamental tenant of vehicular cycling is following the ordinary rules of the road - so in that sense it opposes both sorts of bicycle exceptionalism - not just laws that uniquely restrict cyclists (such as must-use bike lanes, FRAP type laws that were in some of the early years absurdly strict, or even in the really dark days a few "must use sidewalk" ordinances), but also the belief by some cyclists that the rules of the road like traffic lights shouldn't apply to them.

It's also been quite often true that vehicular cycling opponents carelessly (or at times seemingly purposefully) misunderstand what they claim to be arguing against. For example, here's streetsblog twisting facts to falsehood even while claiming they're being fair:

Originally Posted by streetsblog
In fairness, vehicular cycling, which typically involves riding in the middle of the travel lane at the speed of motor vehicle traffic, is a valid approach — if you’re a fit, relatively fearless person who can maintain a consistent speed of 15 mph or so.
Nope. Nothing about vehicular cycling says you have to ride at the speed of motor vehicle traffic - in fact the actual interview they link to while grossly misrepresenting includes the specific quote "The fact that they ride slowly makes no difference. The rules of the road don’t require you to ride as fast as the car ahead."

The whole point is that the mid-lane position is safest for interaction with other vehicles when the lane is too narrow to safely share it. When the cars are doing 35 or 40 or more, it really doesn't matter if you're doing 10, 15, or 20 mph yourself. What does matter is that you're visible, and you aren't getting squeeze passed. Worse, the false implication that there's a "minimum speed" requirement for road riding is exactly an example of what vehicular cycling terms the "cyclist inferiority complex" - so in effect, streetsblog, a supposedly anti-car cyclist advocacy publication, is just rehashing the very "bikes need to get out of driver's way!" falsehood pushed by the automakers to create the car age.

And in terms of speed, what actually does matter is that once you're going more than about 4-5 mph, you're really not safe on the pedestrian-like design of how dedicated bike infrastructure interacts with turning traffic - vehicular cycling recognized that if you're using such pedestrian-like infrastructure then to remain safe you have to interact with every cross street and driveway in a pedestrian-like manner, something most of the advocates for dedicated infrastructure tend to try to ignore, even as the rapid rise of e-bikes makes 15+ mph bicycle operation an increasingly widespread activity.

Oh, about that streetsblog link - they then selective edit the interview they include, cutting a response off after the first sentence. Follow the link to the full untrimmed version, it's informative and actually includes a degree of agreement between the "sides".

Last edited by UniChris; 02-27-22 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 02-28-22, 12:21 PM
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Oh, and I forgot to add, try to convince you that any time you take the lane for any purpose, you are engaged in vehicular cycling and are therefore a vehicular cyclist. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of cyclists in the US are riding FRAP at any given time.

The VC "movement" was a dogmatic approach to cycling that identified some techniques that were useful in some situations and just plain absurd in others. It also was vehemently against any segregation of bike from motor vehicle traffic to the point of being anti-bike path, which was downright nuts. That movement died because of the insistence that the mode of riding right in the traffic lane was THE default mode for all riding. If somebody wants to airbrush that bit of insanity out of the picture to pretend that VC didn't die because people do sometimes take the lane to turn left or avoid blind spots at intersections, OK I guess, but you'll notice that this subforum gets absolutely no attention other than people arguing whether or not it actually exists.
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Old 02-28-22, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Oh, and I forgot to add, try to convince you that any time you take the lane for any purpose, you are engaged in vehicular cycling and are therefore a vehicular cyclist. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of cyclists in the US are riding FRAP at any given time.
As we've extensively agreed in the past, FRAP and taking the lane aren't actually exclusive. One takes the lane when there isn't room to be passed in it, which FRAP specifically allows. As we've both posted in the past, when things are too narrow, a position well into the lane is as far right as practicable.

Vehicular cycling doesn't mean you have to hang out in the lane when there's other actually safe space - though it does raise a variety of safety considerations that the naive might have overlooked when choosing where it's actually safe to ride. JF's own post history here discusses both moving aside to let collected traffic pass, and the use of available roadway space, with the position of the fog line considered entirely irrelevant.

The VC "movement" was a dogmatic approach to cycling
Only to detractors who couldn't be bothered to understand it, and substituted their own mistaken assumptions for the actual ideas.

Most classically, detractors invented the myth that you had to be able to ride fast, which is not part of it at all.

that identified some techniques that were useful in some situations
Those would be the standard techniques of safe riding that everyone with a clue is using when interacting with cars. That's not a claim of invention - rather this was a body of knowledge a lot had discovered for themselves.

The body of practices is not at all controversial, it's just the collected name which is a lighting rod for ignorant criticism of the sort you're repeating here.

and just plain absurd in others.
No - the absurdity comes from the people who never actually understood what the idea was, and much more importantly, what it wasn't.

Vehicular cycling is not actually "impersonating a car" as so many falsely claim - rather it's actually about obeying the traffic laws and being visible.

It also was vehemently against any segregation of bike from motor vehicle traffic to the point of being anti-bike path
Wrong again. It was opposed to badly designed bike paths (those that hide the real sources of danger and/or impede cyclists progress), but instead wanted design standards that would create good ones : "we hoped that bike paths would be like miniature highways in both design and operation. After all, the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles provide for reasonably safe and reasonably efficient operation" And if bad bike paths were going to be created anyway opposed to making their use mandatory. Sometimes what was being made mandatory wasn't even a bike path but use of the sidewalk.

Your distorted dismissals are pretty funny seeing as you've often posted your own matching criticisms of these very same bike path design issues and sorts of bicyclist-restrictive laws such as NYC's must-use bike lanes ;-)

Last edited by UniChris; 03-01-22 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 02-28-22, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Drewhigh View Post
Could someone please help me explain this?
???

Are you trying to explain "this" or understand it?

https://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/

Don't let people make it more complicated than it is.

Last edited by njkayaker; 02-28-22 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 03-01-22, 08:54 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
???

Are you trying to explain "this" or understand it?

https://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/

Don't let people make it more complicated than it is.
explaining VC is like explaining juggling .................. you only get it if you TRY it but you don't start out juggling sharp knives
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Old 03-01-22, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jack pot View Post
you don't start out juggling sharp knives
So-called advocates insist that knife juggling is made safest when practiced by a large segment of the population, and so demand that kitchen layouts be renovated to include a "safety circle" under the idea that this "use segregation" will allow adults and children alike to comfortably engage in incompetent knife juggling as an everyday part of domestic life. Because they suffer from a deep-seated sharpness phobia invented by the food processor industry in order to justify the the federal government's Rural Electrification Program, they are unable to recognize the importance of learning to maintain and juggle knives in accordance with the Rules of the Kitchen for Chefs, and instead continue in irrational denial of the scientific fact that while sharp knives may be implicated in a majority of knife fatalities, the rates of drastically more common non-fatal injuries are highest when knives are allowed to become dull or "rough edged"
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Old 03-01-22, 05:40 PM
  #10  
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This subforum is dead.
See this thread.
q.e.d.

-mr. bill
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Old 03-02-22, 07:48 AM
  #11  
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To me VC is a pragmatic approach in the United States where cycling infrastructure typically ranges from absent to piss poor. It doesn't mean it has to be the standard in all situations, but it is very useful in many. When I'm riding on a city street with lots of parked cars, I will ride out of the door zone every time. If that places me in the center of the lane, so be it. Conversely, if I'm on a quieter road with a wide enough and clean enough shoulder, I'll use that (and MO law makes shoulders optional). It would be awesome to have cycling infrastructure akin to what we see in many parts of Europe, but that requires money and people willing to spend it. For the time being I think it's simpler and more cost effective to promote VC.
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Old 03-02-22, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
This subforum is dead.
See this thread.
q.e.d.

-mr. bill

Is it just my browser or is there now nothing left in this subforum but one sticky thread that hasn't been posted in since 2015, and two normal threads, both of which are debating whether there's anything left of VC?
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Old 03-02-22, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Is it just my browser or is there now nothing left in this subforum but one sticky thread that hasn't been posted in since 2015, and two normal threads, both of which are debating whether there's anything left of VC?
In Display Options in the forum directory, the defaults are:
Sorted By: Last Post Time
Sort Order: Descending
From The: Last Year

Change “Last Year” to “Beginning” to display the history of this forsaken place. You may or may not choose to read it.

-mr. bill
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Old 03-02-22, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
In Display Options in the forum directory, the defaults are:
Sorted By: Last Post Time
Sort Order: Descending
From The: Last Year

Change “Last Year” to “Beginning” to display the history of this forsaken place. You may or may not choose to read it.

-mr. bill

Thanks! I never noticed the 'From The" option and apparently it changed defaults on me. Looks like there was a smattering of activity in 2020 then basically a trickle of nothing but argument about whether VC exists.

Should we sit shiva?
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Old 03-02-22, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
So-called advocates insist that knife juggling is made safest when practiced by a large segment of the population, and so demand that kitchen layouts be renovated to include a "safety circle" under the idea that this "use segregation" will allow adults and children alike to comfortably engage in incompetent knife juggling as an everyday part of domestic life. Because they suffer from a deep-seated sharpness phobia invented by the food processor industry in order to justify the the federal government's Rural Electrification Program, they are unable to recognize the importance of learning to maintain and juggle knives in accordance with the Rules of the Kitchen for Chefs, and instead continue in irrational denial of the scientific fact that while sharp knives may be implicated in a majority of knife fatalities, the rates of drastically more common non-fatal injuries are highest when knives are allowed to become dull or "rough edged"
you pointedly and obviously represent the views of the Ginsu Knife juggling association. An organization that received the Good Housekeeping seal of disapproval and condemnation from the center for the control of sad0masochistic recreational activities. "Use Segregation" , has long been discredited by the American schutzhund society and their influence in these troubled times cannot be discounted. Rather than beat on the woes of the silent majority of [SHARP] knife jugglers i(we) ask only that you appreciate the postulate that man need not live by five fingers and the spin rate of a three finger curve ball exceeds the max rpm of the fastest F1 cars ......................................................................... you should be nominated for the A&S post of the year for your effort in bringing attention to the plight of car free knife jugglers everywhere. many many KUDOS
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Old 03-02-22, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
To me VC is a pragmatic approach in the United States where cycling infrastructure typically ranges from absent to piss poor. It doesn't mean it has to be the standard in all situations, but it is very useful in many. When I'm riding on a city street with lots of parked cars, I will ride out of the door zone every time. If that places me in the center of the lane, so be it. Conversely, if I'm on a quieter road with a wide enough and clean enough shoulder, I'll use that (and MO law makes shoulders optional).
I largely agree as both (as I think you're saying) are uses of VC appropriate to those conditions. Of course, as you're probably also aware there's more, especially destination positioning and awareness of other's intentions for safety at intersections. I mention these only as background for where I'm going.

It would be awesome to have cycling infrastructure akin to what we see in many parts of Europe, but that requires money and people willing to spend it.
Ironically the money and the will now probably exceed the viability.

The big criticism of a lot of what can be and is being retrofitted to the US built environment, is that the minute one looks at it from the perspective of the safety principles that are VC, much of it is terrible infrastructure. This is especially true because the way a lot of current building happens is mandatory bike inclusion whenever a road is rebuilt - it's not guided by cycling needs, but by a tie-in to having touched the road. And that means that the bike route has to be built right there along the road, rather than perhaps finding a better way to provide equivalent bike connectivity.

The utility of something like a rail trail or riverside greenway that covers useful distance between intersections is recognized (even if the intersections themselves are often very bad in forcing effectively pedestrian behavior). And of course these routes can become pedestrian crowded, so it's key that they not be the only possible cycling route.

But build along a road network, and you end up with a high density intersections that are either very inefficient if used safely or deceptively dangerous if used naively. Designate a route for cyclists without the skills to safely ride on the road, and many (even those who could be safe there if they had their independent thinking cap on) will let the fact of the route designation override their caution - "That's my lane! Nobody can intrude in it" is such an easy thought pattern, but one that completely denies reality at intersections. To my way of thinking, the actual dangers of a route should be evident, not hidden. This is, I believe where the school of discontinuing the bike lane markings in the intersection comes from - there isn't and can't be a reserved route, so none is marked - but many cyclists just see that as designer laziness rather than understanding the critical message. When a bike facility tries to parallel a main road with countless sidestreets, those primary dangers are far more frequent than the protection from overtaking traffic in between the intersections leads users to believe.

I do see a role for "family friendly" physically protected routes that try to come from the good infrastructure like rail trails into the more challenging built environment. But they have to be done in a way the recognizes that they're going to be slow and inefficient as a result - these are where traffic realities mean you get things like a stop sign on the bike path rather than the road, or making people use pedestrian push buttons (ugh!). Most critically, their designers and host communities need to recognize that except in occasional situations where they dodge something really bad, most adult cyclists (especially anyone habitually displacing car trips) will continue to use the road rather than these awkward routes, so that they must not be built at the expense of the roadway width that was already making the road usable for commuter and utility cyclists, or those trying to escape the density to where their enjoyable ride begins.

I feel like the parking protected lane is kind of the worst of all worlds - it has all the intersection dangers and inflexibility of something that's not a part of the road's traffic flow, but it deceptively feels like it is. About the one actual virtue I can see is that they're harder to park in. Though people definitely still manage, and when they do, they're much harder to go around. Also pedestrians love to take them over, because they feel like a sheltered, safe space. And when you get the absurdity of food trucks legally operating in the parking, and their line of customers having to cross the bike lane...

In terms of painted infrastructure on roads, old posts from JF capture my feeling pretty well - essentially, he'd ride in the proper place on the road's available surface, regardless of where that fell compared to any bike lane stripe or fog line. It's been pointed out that shoulder stripes introduce some legal ambiguity. In an ideal world, bike lane stripes could educate (especially when they're routed with destination positioning relative to right turn lanes) and they help prevent parking intrusion, but they also often setup false expectations in both drivers and cyclists (not to mention police), such as that they mark the only acceptable place to ride (or in cases, that the place they mark is viable at all).

For the time being I think it's simpler and more cost effective to promote VC.
My gut feeling overall is that in the US our most practical option is a mix of three types of things, complementing rather than excluding each other.
  • isolated non-road routes like winter-maintained rail trails
  • low efficiency "family" routes through the built environment designed in a way that stresses rather than hides intersection dangers
  • sharing behavior and usable space on ordinary roads - however we ultimately decide to best mark that (if at all).
And worth noting, that none of these are actually in conflict with the point of VC. VC doesn't deny that it's nice to have the option to be far from cars, or that there are people unprepared to ride with traffic who may prefer to take a more pedestrian-like approach to road interactions. Rather it objects to misleading them into believing that they're safe in situations where they're in actual danger, and to making such pedestrian-like infrastructure the only cycling option legally or socially permitted.

Last edited by UniChris; 03-04-22 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 03-02-22, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jack pot View Post
you pointedly and obviously represent the views of the Ginsu Knife juggling association. An organization that received the Good Housekeeping seal of disapproval and condemnation from the center for the control of sad0masochistic recreational activities. "Use Segregation" , has long been discredited by the American schutzhund society and their influence in these troubled times cannot be discounted. Rather than beat on the woes of the silent majority of [SHARP] knife jugglers i(we) ask only that you appreciate the postulate that man need not live by five fingers and the spin rate of a three finger curve ball exceeds the max rpm of the fastest F1 cars ......................................................................... you should be nominated for the A&S post of the year for your effort in bringing attention to the plight of car free knife jugglers everywhere. many many KUDOS

All this needs right now is a discussion of which circus act works best in which road lane, keeping in mind that when the little car full of clowns is on the road, all lanes are within the door/exiting clown zone.
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Old 03-02-22, 03:36 PM
  #18  
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Until all drivers learn to recognize cyclists as legitimate road users and treat cyclists properly as such, VC will always be a clusterF of poor negotiations, loud horns, pissed drivers and endangered cyclists... with the latter trying to do things in as legal a manner as possible, while the former believes that "roads were built for cars and might makes right."

Any cyclist with experience on the road quickly realizes the advantages and shortcomings of our "car first" culture and having to deal with that mentality.

No amount of "cyclist superiority thinking" will protect you from errant, distracted, poorly trained motorists blindly rushing to get home after a long day.

And yes, that "car culture" mentality has meant that any infrastructure built for cyclists is built for "kiddos, and their toys" with nary a thought toward the actual safety of serious transportation cyclists. Paint never stopped a poorly driven car... and bad intersections are bad intersections, made worse by bad patchwork design.

The thinking that cars and bikes can easily intermingle on the roads comes from minds that grew up in an age when there was far less motor traffic and it generally moved at lower speeds. 50MPH+ boulevards and arterial roads with narrow lanes are terrible places to test the rules of physics and mass.

Now that all said... sometimes, there is, "no other way." And certainly other countries have done a much better job of encouraging cycling for all.

And frankly, all of this has been said... over and over and over again. Nothing new here.
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Old 03-02-22, 03:42 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Is it just my browser or is there now nothing left in this subforum but one sticky thread that hasn't been posted in since 2015, and two normal threads, both of which are debating whether there's anything left of VC?
There are 8 pages of threads here dealing with VC. So either your settings are a bit off or you didn't scroll down. John Forester (one of the biggest proponents of VC) used to be a regular contributor here... he has since moved on and passed on.

Debate it all you want.
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Old 03-02-22, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Until all drivers learn to recognize cyclists as legitimate road users and treat cyclists properly as such, VC will always be a clusterF of poor negotiations, loud horns, pissed drivers and endangered cyclists... with the latter trying to do things in as legal a manner as possible, while the former believes that "roads were built for cars and might makes right."

Any cyclist with experience on the road quickly realizes the advantages and shortcomings of our "car first" culture and having to deal with that mentality.

No amount of "cyclist superiority thinking" will protect you from errant, distracted, poorly trained motorists blindly rushing to get home after a long day.

And yes, that "car culture" mentality has meant that any infrastructure built for cyclists is built for "kiddos, and their toys" with nary a thought toward the actual safety of serious transportation cyclists. Paint never stopped a poorly driven car... and bad intersections are bad intersections, made worse by bad patchwork design.

The thinking that cars and bikes can easily intermingle on the roads comes from minds that grew up in an age when there was far less motor traffic and it generally moved at lower speeds. 50MPH+ boulevards and arterial roads with narrow lanes are terrible places to test the rules of physics and mass.

Now that all said... sometimes, there is, "no other way." And certainly other countries have done a much better job of encouraging cycling for all.

And frankly, all of this has been said... over and over and over again..
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Old 03-02-22, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Oh, and I forgot to add, try to convince you that any time you take the lane for any purpose, you are engaged in vehicular cycling and are therefore a vehicular cyclist. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of cyclists in the US are riding FRAP at any given time..
You've got research to back that assertion up? You've seen the "vast majority of cyclists in the US" and know how they are riding "at any given time"?

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Old 03-03-22, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
You've got research to back that assertion up? You've seen the "vast majority of cyclists in the US" and know how they are riding "at any given time"?

BB

I have eyes and I ride and drive in cities all over the US. You have any data to indicate that most people aren't riding FRAP? It is, y'know, the law in 49 states. The vast majority routinely violating that law would be an extraordinary claim, and the burden of proof would be on someone claiming that.

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Old 03-03-22, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
There are 8 pages of threads here dealing with VC. So either your settings are a bit off or you didn't scroll down. John Forester (one of the biggest proponents of VC) used to be a regular contributor here... he has since moved on and passed on.

Debate it all you want.
Right, and I was surprised all that history disappeared on my browser. mr_bill walked me through which setting got screwed up.
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Old 03-03-22, 08:09 AM
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The "father" of VC, and author of "Effective Cycling" in one last interview:

https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a3...er-dies-at-90/
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Old 03-03-22, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I have eyes and I ride and drive in cities all over the US. You have any data to indicate that most people aren't riding FRAP? It is, y'know, the law in 49 states. The vast majority routinely violating that law would be an extraordinary claim, and the burden of proof would be on someone claiming that.
That is so weird. I, too have eyes, and both ride and drive around the US, so I replicated your study and came to the opposite conclusion. It's almost as if anecdotes aren't data, or something. But I'll look into proving the null hypothesis and get back to you.
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