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Cyclists Battle Over Bike Lanes

Aired 3/6/12 on KPBS News.

As American cities like New York and Portland race to build more bike lanes, San Diego’s bike-lane activists face some interesting opposition: fellow cyclists.

A bike lane on Aero Drive.
Enlarge this image

Above: A bike lane on Aero Drive.

During morning rush hour, La Jolla Village Drive near I-5 is a noisy snarl of speeding cars, trucks and busses. There are eight lanes of traffic and no bike lanes, but that didn’t stop Serge Issakov from riding his bicycle to work on this street for the better part of a decade.

“This is where everybody thinks I’m crazy, but if you ride clearly in the lane, it works,” said Issakov, who serves on the board of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC), the region’s largest bicycle advocacy group. Issakov subscribes to a philosophy called vehicular cycling, which maintains that bicyclists are safest when they act like drivers. That often means mixing with cars in traffic lanes on high-speed roads like La Jolla Village Drive.

“It’s totally non-intuitive, but once you do it a few times its like, ‘Wow, why don’t I do this all the time?’” he said of the vehicular approach. “Thinking like a driver completely changes your experience out on the road.”

Issakov doesn’t think La Jolla Village Drive needs a bike lane—that with the right training, anyone can ride here comfortably like he does. In fact, some in the vehicular cycling movement, which has followers all over the world, are vehemently against bike lanes.

“They were designed to shove cyclists off the side of the road,” said John Forester, the Lemon Grove man who literally wrote the book on vehicular cycling. “I oppose bike lanes not for the physical harm they do so much as for the political and behavioral harm that they create.”

As a former president of the League of American Bicyclists and a still-prominent voice in advocacy circles, Forester has fought for decades to preserve bicyclists’ legal right to use public roads, and he thinks bike lanes send the wrong message about where bicycles belong. According to the California vehicle code, bicycles are allowed to go anywhere cars can go (except, in most cases, on the freeway), regardless of whether or not there’s a bike lane. But Forester and Issakov worry that if we build separate facilities like bike lanes, those rights could be lost.

The question of where bicycles belong inspires endless debate among bike geeks—not to mention some gentle ribbing from the comedy show Portlandia. In San Diego, an argument always seems to be simmering between vehicular cyclists like Issakov and his fellow SDCBC board member Samantha Ollinger, who lives in San Diego car-free and blogs about bike issues.

“Many of my friends are afraid of riding in high-speed traffic,” she told me at a coffee shop on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park as trucks and vans roared past. “I don’t like the fact that that is the only option.”

Without a striped bike lane, El Cajon Boulevard is the kind of fast-moving, busy street that poses no problem for a vehicular cyclist like Issakov, but can intimidate a less experienced rider. Where Issakov stresses training over infrastructure, Ollinger think the city should do more to make streets appealing to bicyclists.

“I’d love to see a bike lane, I’d love to see a cycle track. I’d love to see something that everybody feels comfortable riding on,” Ollinger said. “You need to have a certain level of nerve to ride on a street like this.”

Some of the bicyclists on El Cajon were riding on the sidewalk, which can be not only dangerous but is actually illegal in some parts of town.

“People ride on a sidewalk because they’re responding to an environment,” Ollinger said. “They may feel more comfortable separated from traffic. I think the city needs to look at that as something that’s deficient in the street, because that’s how people are responding to it.”

In a city like San Diego, with relatively few bike lanes and paths, people who ride a bike for transportation often have no choice but to mingle with traffic at some point on their commute, and vehicular cycling offers some useful techniques for doing so safely. But as an advocacy strategy, the movement has its critics.

“I equate this with the young men who run with the bulls in Pamplona in Spain,” said Denmark-based mobility consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen, who also runs the popular site Copenhagenize.com. “It’s a big kick and they’re rushing down the street with the bulls after them, but this is really nothing that appeals to the 99% of the population.”

Colville-Andersen travels the world advising cities on how to promote bicycling for transportation, not just recreation. That’s important in San Diego, where planners hope to triple the number of people who commute by bike in order to meet California’s new limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Separated infrastructure sends the message that bicycles belong, that bicycles are a feasible, accepted and respected form of transport,” he said.

What do you think? Should bicyclists continue to adapt, as Issakov has, to the existing conditions in their city? Or should cities change to accommodate their cyclists and attract even more? Ollinger, for one, knows what she’d like to see.

“My grand big picture is that everybody in San Diego who wants to ride has the ability to ride,” she said. “It should not be just something that only the very brave do. It should be something grandma can do.”

Comments

Avatar for user 'ENDelt260'

ENDelt260 | March 6, 2012 at 6:50 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Does thinking like a driver include stopping at stop signs?

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Avatar for user 'blalb'

blalb | March 6, 2012 at 7:08 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Regardless of the law, bicycles in traffic are a hazard to all and just plain stupid. I no longer have much pity when a bicycle rider gets hit by a car while out in traffic. Too many of them think the law of California is stronger than laws of physics.

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Avatar for user 'MisterM'

MisterM | March 6, 2012 at 7:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ENDelt260 - Yes, I do stop at stop signs. I have for more than 15 years of commuting by bicycle. I have run down other riders who blow through stop signs and red lights, and shamed them as hard as I can. Riders have the responsibility to lead by example, and that can only be done when we mix with vehicles. This is my argument against completely separate Bicycle Paths.

@blalb - Bike Lanes up-hill and not down might be a good compromise. Do think of the Physics of cycling in combination with the massive kinetic energy of a big fat automobile, and put Bicycle Lanes in where it makes good sense to do so. Use Bike Routes (wider outside lane spacing) whenever possible, and increase the frequency of "Share the Road" and "Look for Cycles" advisory signs.

Having to put up with drivers that believe that bicycles belong on the sidewalk, and get vocal about it, is not uncommon and part of the territory. Bicycles on sidewalks in business districts are not permitted in the city of San Diego. CVC Section 21200 is for real, and after years of negotiating with vehicles on a daily basis, I've learned to shout "Twenty-One Two Hundred: Read IT!" after a good blast from my air horn to get their undivided attention.

'nuff said - time to Ride!

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Avatar for user 'Louisa'

Louisa | March 6, 2012 at 8:01 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Shall ride as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical– not on the sidewalk.
Are legally allowed to ride in the center of the lane when moving at the same speed as other traffic.
May move left to pass a parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, animal, or avoid debris or other hazards.
May choose to ride near the left curb or edge of a one-way street.
Should ride single file on a busy or narrow street.

That's part of what the vehicle code requires of bicyclists. Bikes belong on the right side of the road as close to the curb as possible unless they are going the same speed as other traffic (faster than most bikes actually go). They should be single file. Single file, not blocking entire lanes so they can chat.

Riding in the middle of lanes when going slower than regular traffic poses a hazard and causes fear based anger. Some drivers hate bicyclists who drive in the middle of lanes because they are afraid they are going to end up in a terrible accident, not because of being late or being inconvenienced in a minor way. I am sometimes absolutely terrified I'm going to clip one or get rear-ended for slowing down for one or get creamed by faster traffic when I try to move to the left of a slow one who refuses to stay to the right of the road.

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Avatar for user 'ENDelt260'

ENDelt260 | March 6, 2012 at 8:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@MisterM: glad to hear it regarding stop signs. I saw a guy on a bike stop at a sign once and I wanted to jump out of my car and shake his hand.

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Avatar for user 'Cisco'

Cisco | March 6, 2012 at 8:16 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Commuting cyclists are not the problem, they understand the flow of traffic and how to obey traffic laws. It's the weekend warriors that ride four wide up the coast and ignore stop signs and signals. For these people there should be a bike lane. A lot of people have the attitude "well it's their fault if they get hit because they're riding like that". I can say for sure that I don't ever want to have the experience of hitting a cyclist, or anyone for that matter, no matter whose fault it is.

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Avatar for user 'darkhelmet'

darkhelmet | March 6, 2012 at 8:17 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

V C Section 21202 Operation on Roadway

Operation on Roadway

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.

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Avatar for user 'tommyj'

tommyj | March 6, 2012 at 8:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I like how everyone is fine with pointing a finger at someone else, when there isn't a single person on the roads that obeys more laws then they have to. Cyclists or motorists. What bothers me is the assumption that when cyclists break the law, it is because they are careless. Rolling through a stop sign or a traffic light after looking for opposing traffic is much safer. Look to European designs of bike lanes where cyclists have dedicated traffic lights that allow them to cross first. It is much safer to be ahead of traffic where they can see you, then behind it where they aren't paying attention. This is a fact. Let's also not forget that the number of vehicular homicide cases involving cars is much higher than those involving cyclists.
But, all I really wanted to say is that bike lanes do save lives. And, I would prefer if my kid rode in one.

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 6, 2012 at 8:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Louisa, as Darkhelmet quoted, the law provides many reasons why a bicyclist may legally ride in the center of the lane.

In the absence of tailgaters, it's perfectly safe (and legal) to drive well below the speed limit whenever necessary for safe operation of your motor vehicle, so don't worry about being rear ended. Don't let your fears force you to drive dangerously.

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | March 6, 2012 at 8:34 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@blalb: You probably weren't paying attention in driver's education the day that the explained that bicyclists have a right to the road and that it's your responsibility as a driver to drive safely around them. Now you find out that bicyclists have a right to the road and now you're trying to make excuses for why you shouldn't have to share the road with them. Grow up. Sharing the road with bicyclists is easy. Bicyclists are not a hazard in the road. Are buses a hazard? What is so difficult about changing lanes to pass a bicyclist?

@Louisa: The law says "practicable" not "practical" and the difference is important. Practicable includes the safe. If you haven't studied bicycle safety, then you don't know what's safe. On a narrow road, riding single file to the far right is actually unsafe. You're telling bicyclists to ride unsafely. You are clearly not an expert on bicycle safety. Why are you pretending to be an expert by telling people how they should ride?

Then you go on to claim that bicyclists riding in the middle of the lane will get rear ended. You have no evidence to support that. Your assertion the opposite of what is taught by all bicycle safety experts and it's the opposite of my experience. I used to have frequent close calls when I rode far right. Now I almost never have close calls. Do buses get rear ended frequently? According to your theory they should but in reality it's quite rare. That's because people see the bus in the middle of the lane in front of them and react accordingly. It works the same for bicycles in the middle of the lane. When bicyclists keep far right in a narrow lane, some drivers try too hard to stay in the lane and end up passing VERY close and a couple of my friends have been clipped this way. It's far more dangerous to share a lane side by side when it's too narrow for a bicycle and a car to safely share side by side. Read 21202(a)(3). It exempts bicyclists from keeping far right in narrow lanes for very good reason.

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Avatar for user 'tommyj'

tommyj | March 6, 2012 at 8:44 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

This "battle", from the motorists' perspective is about having to slow to below the speed limit and safely pass someone, losing several seconds of their day. From the cyclists perspective, it's about not getting killed by an irrational motorist who thinks intimidating people with a deadly weapon (car) is an acceptable way to commute. Bike lanes lessen the chances of those encounters. So why are they a bad thing?

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Avatar for user 'ENDelt260'

ENDelt260 | March 6, 2012 at 9:04 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@tommyj: you wanna run a stop sign when no one's around, have at it. You run a stop sign right in front of me such that my options are slam on my brake or kill you, I'm a bit more irritated.

If cyclists were only running stop signs when traffic was clear, I'd have never noticed it to be bothered.

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Avatar for user 'alien9'

alien9 | March 6, 2012 at 9:05 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@MisterM, acting like a bike policeman does not exempt you of being prejudicial to riders and bicycle adoption.
I explain. Those of you who advocate cycle paths ban are indeed coping with a very bad situation where not everyone is allowed to ride - I don't want to imagin my 10yr old having to "share the road" with some 4000lbs SUV. The more I read VC's point of view, the more I see a bunch of fellow pumped up warriors engaged in 1) preserve cycling as a sport for the brave 2) avoid at maximum to dispute the sacred space granted to cars in the cities.
Bike lanes SHOULD replace the car lanes, and NEVER the pedestrian ones.
You, Sir, should be ashamed of your performance regarding adoption of cycling to everyone including grandma. You, Sir, are at service of automobile society. You do really worst than any red light dweller.

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | March 6, 2012 at 9:08 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@tommyj: From my experience, bike lanes increase my risk of a driver turning right in front of me.

Many bike lanes force bicyclists to ride close to parallel parked cars which creates a significant risk of crashing into a suddenly opened door. It is not possible to reliably see motorists inside cars/SUV's/vans while approaching them from behind. It is illegal to open a door into traffic without making sure it's clear first but the bicyclist is still the one who gets hurt.

Many bike lanes are too narrow to be safe. Bike lanes which include a gutter are required by state law to be at least 5 feet wide and have at least 3 feet to the left of the gutter joint. Bike lanes which do not include a gutter are required by state law to be at least 4 feet wide. I know of a lot of bike lanes that do not meet these standards and while state law does not actually require bicyclists to use a bike lane which does not meet minimum standards, many cops don't know this and even a lot of traffic court judges don't know it (See CVC 21208, CVC 21207, California Streets and Highways Code 891 and Caltrans Highway Design Manual 1003.2(c)).

Many bike lanes have very bad surface damage due to cable/phone/electrical ditches being dug in them and then being patched badly. Many have earthquake damage. Many have not been resurfaced in many decades; sometimes even while the traffic lanes next to them have been. Many have hazardous debris in them, especially broken glass and gravel pushed there by motorists.

Bike lanes don't make me feel safer. Quite often they make me feel less safe.

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Avatar for user 'ENDelt260'

ENDelt260 | March 6, 2012 at 9:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Heh heh.. I just noticed the URL: battling-bikers-need-better-headline

Let's get them bikers a better headline!

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 6, 2012 at 9:17 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@alien9, how do you teach your 10 year old to avoid running into the side of a right-turning vehicle? The only sure way is to signal and merge into the center of the traffic lane, or ride on the sidewalk and dismount at ALL intersections, including driveways.

There is no safe third choice.

So which of the two possible choices do you do?

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Avatar for user 'Hans'

Hans | March 6, 2012 at 9:18 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I am a strong proponent of "sharrows". The pavement markings don't change any existing laws, but remind cars that bicycles commonly use these routes. I try not to unnecessarily impede traffic, and will ride in the middle of the lane only when there is another lane to pass me without driving into oncoming traffic, or the right side of my lane has enough debris to render it unsafe. Bike lanes are nice, when properly laid out. Although my main mode of transportation is a bicycle, I rarely have any confrontation with cars around San Diego. I think the major problem is the lack of education on the part of both drivers and bicyclists alike.

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Avatar for user 'LagunaStreets'

LagunaStreets | March 6, 2012 at 9:20 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

In modern countries where a balanced transportation plan works effectively, road users identify one another with courtesy and respect whether they be pedestrians, cyclists, transit users or car drivers. Out here in the Wild West we road users are born with car keys in our diapers and approach driving with a sense of personal entitlement. Learning to share the road is a challenge to our cultural behavior as much as a technical one to re-design the streets for multi-use mobility.

Road cyclists that share John Forester's view forget they represent a small portion of the cycling public. The average Joe who rides 5 times a year will find riding with local traffic on busy streets far too intimidating, and they don't have the skills to take-a-lane confidently. If the price of fuel leads to slower posted road speeds ( as a conservation measure ) and Joe cyclist increases level of riding skill, then sharing the same lane with auto traffic makes more sense. To make this work safely, a public campaign for balanced mobility is essential to make car drivers aware of road sharing with pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | March 6, 2012 at 9:46 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

John Forester opposing bike lanes is like a taekwondo world champion who argues that we don't need police, we just need to teach people self-defense.

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Avatar for user 'ksalzberg'

ksalzberg | March 6, 2012 at 9:48 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ENDelt260 Until I see more car drivers using their turn signals at every turn, driving the speed limit, and not talking on their cell phones (to cite just three unlawful actions that actually put me at risk), I have very little sympathy with the "bikers must stop at all stop signs" arguments. The question should not be "are they conforming with the letter of each and every traffic law?" but "are they biking safely?". Sometimes not stopping at a stop sign is very unsafe, and to be condemned; sometimes it is quite safe, and to be ignored.

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Avatar for user 'nealhe'

nealhe | March 6, 2012 at 10:38 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Hello All,

Perhaps it would be instructive to look at what is being done by reasonalble people in other cities that seem to have great success with bicycle infrastructure - lanes - sidepaths - bikeways - signals - bicycle parking - and other useful bicycle friendly facilities.

'Bicycling' compiled a list of bike friendly cities in the United States:

http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/bicyclings-top-50

1 Minneapolis
2 Portland, OR
3 Boulder, CO
4 Seattle
5 Eugene, OR
6 San Francisco
7 Madison, WI
8 New York City
9 Tucson, AZ
.
.
.
.(go to the URL referenced above to see all the cites - except San Diego of course .. which did not make the list)

To prepare this list, we referenced the Bicycling and Walking in the United States 2010 Benchmarking Report, prepared by the Alliance for Biking and Walking; the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly America project; data from Mediamark Research, Inc., Dun & Bradstreet and The Nielsen Company; and interviews with national and local advocates, bike shops and other experts.

========================

Note: In the top 50 ... yes 50 cities ..... San Diego ... with our great weather .... is NOT mentioned .... at all.

We are not judged to be a bike friendly city.

What is wrong with this picture?

Has the status of San Diego bicycling been improved by the Vehicular Cycling advocates - ie. .. taking the lane advocates?

Or do we here in San Diego need to take note of the bicycle infrastructure (and civic attitude) that is working in other American ciities?

Ride safe

Cheers,

Neal

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 6, 2012 at 10:53 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@Nealhe, San Diego is not judged to be a bicycle friendly city because we don't focus as much on creating a perception of bicycle safety as other cities do. Please read the following critique about the serious problems with the way the "bicycle friendly cities" report is created: http://www.labreform.org/BFC.html

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Avatar for user 'SergeIssakov'

SergeIssakov | March 6, 2012 at 10:58 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

ENDelt260 - yes, thinking like a driver includes stopping at stop signs... as much as motorists "stop" at stop signs anyway...

MisterM - yes, few understand CVC 21200 which essentially states: A person riding a bicycle ... has all the rights and is subject to all the [behavioral responsibilities of a vehicle driver]. http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21200.htm

Louisa - CVC 21202 has so many exceptions that it rarely applies. The substandard lane width exception alone means it doesn't apply on most roads, since most roads don't have lanes wide enough "for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane". If you do the math, it comes out to mean the lane has to be at least 14 feet wide. In fact, states that use a specific number, like Texas, actually specify 14 feet. Since most lanes are 10-12 feet wide, this means 21202 does not apply on most roads. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_out...

Cisco - I agree running stop signs and signals is a problem, but why is riding four wide in a lane a problem when you'd have to change lanes to pass even if they were single file? See my previous point about lane width.

Tommyj - why do you believe that bike lanes save lives? Bicyclists hit by motorists who are trying to intimidate or intentionally hit make up a tiny fraction of all bike crashes and fatalities. It happens, but much more common are "mundane" crashes caused by a motorist turning into, across or in front of an unnoticed bicyclist. The likelihood of these types of crashes is increased by riding near the edge of the road where motorists don't look for traffic, and that's exactly what bike lane encourage. Anyway, everyone I know all over the country who has adopted more assertive lane positioning reports improved treatment from motorists, especially if they also use mirrors (which allows for subtlety in interaction which is conducive to cooperation). If I'm not clear what I'm talking about, here's a video about it. http://www.youtube.com/user/CyclistLorax/featured

Hans - Yes! Sharrows rock! I note that San Francisco has many more sharrows than we do, and also seems to have much higher incidence and acceptance of cyclists riding in the traffic lanes, not bending over backwards to be out of the way.

LagunaStreets and jstech, - it's not true that you have to be some kind of daredevil or Ninja expert to ride a bicycle in an assertive manner. Cycling Savvy out of Orlando is doing some excellent work on this, mostly with women. Here's an example of one result: http://cyclingsavvy.org/2011/05/i-am-no-road-warrior/

Nealhe and Derek - I'm with Derek on this. Much of LAB's "bicycle friendly" criteria is heavily biased in favor of miles of painted stripes.

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Avatar for user 'JohnForester'

JohnForester | March 6, 2012 at 11:50 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

The comments by typical members of the public display the prevalent superstitions about cycling in traffic. The first is that the great danger to cyclists comes from same-direction motor traffic. The second is that bike lanes or side paths make cycling much safer, particularly for children or the elderly. The third is that cycling by obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles is difficult, dangerous, and requires great strength.

These had all been proved false more than thirty years ago.

The great traffic danger to cyclists comes from crossing and turning movements by either party, these causing about 95% of car-bike collisions.

Bike lanes or side paths protect only against the less than 5% of car-bike collisions caused by straight-moving motorists overtaking straight-moving cyclists. They cannot reduce car-bike collisions by more than that, and since they produce more traffic conflicts bike lanes probably, and side paths certainly, produce more car-bike collisions.

Obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles is easy; those rules fit the characteristics of both wheeled vehicles and human drivers. Any child who can play a reasonable game of soccer has the perception and mental abilities to cycle by obeying those rules.

Once you understand these facts, cycling by obey the rules of the road is easy and enjoyable. Americans won't understand these facts because of the long history of treating cyclists as childish road nuisances. The problems are not traffic engineering, but social and political beliefs whose superstitions are sustained by motorists, who think they make motoring more convenient, and by anti-motoring environmentalists who think that the bikeways produced by these superstitions will produce a great switch from motor to bicycle trips. Doing what the public superstitions indicate simply reinforces those superstitions and increases the harm to cyclists.

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Avatar for user 'citydweller'

citydweller | March 6, 2012 at 1:02 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

The State has provided penalties (and the insurance industry enhances them) for motorists who violate the Vehicle Code. Bicyclists are exempt from the penalties, and too many act as if they are exempt from the laws.

The complication is that we all (or most of us, anyway) want our children free to ride bikes. My bicycle was my freedom growing up in the suburbs in the 1950s, and I want today's children to have an equal shot.

I propose that the vehicle code be amended to require adult bicyclists to be licensed and that traffic officers be empowered to enforce compliance with the Vehicle Code.

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Avatar for user 'SergeIssakov'

SergeIssakov | March 6, 2012 at 1:48 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

citydweller - where do you get the idea that bicyclists are exempt from penalties for violating the vehicle code?

Bicyclists who have had to pay the penalties would beg to differ.

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Avatar for user 'AviationMetalSmith'

AviationMetalSmith | March 6, 2012 at 1:53 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I kind of agree with John Forester. I don't believe in Bike Lanes, except maybe on state roads where the speed limit is more than 45 per.
Each Cyclist , as an individual, should assess his or her own situation in regards to safety. Maybe Cyclists should Drive their Bikes, and Drive them like a "Defensive Driver"? There are lots of times when there may be question as to who has the Blessed "Right-of-Way". Why not Yield and let the other guy go first? Are you in a Race? I've come to realise that Driving my Bike slower makes it easier for me to pull to the right edge of the road, to let traffic go by.
Anyhow, I have a partial list of items which are made for Bicycle Safety, which are available now, but we didn't have them when we were kids:
1) Helmets
2) Bar-End Rear view Mirror, with Convex, wide angle lens.
3) LED Lights
4) Disk Brakes
5) Shock Absorbers
6) Index Shifting
7) Increase in Number of Gears
8) Digital Video Cameras
9) Online Maps-with Street View and Satellite View
10) Cell Phone/ Smart Phone
11) Reflective Tape and Reflective Vests
12) Kevlar Belted Tires

There may be more things to keep Cyclists safe. But all thses are new, and they weren't available 35 years ago. Maybe a Rear-View Mirror should be Mandatory for any Bicycle, but it is NOT, and I don't see any sign of a campaign to create Legislation which would make Rear-View Mirros mandatory. Mirrors are more important than Helmets- You see a car, you get out of the way, you don't get hit.

I have my Bikes loaded with Safety Gadgets, buit I see that most other people on bicycles are pretty cheap, no safety gear at all usually.

I don't race anymore. I started a new Bicycle Club, and as the Senior Member, I patrol the local Bike Routes. Sometimes I patrol with a Digital Camera, to photograph the Hazards, and sometimes I carry Landscaping Equipment in my Panniers, like Lopping Shears, ansd a Saw, to clear the low hanging branches from the Roadside, which improves Visibility. I can see cars in my rear-view mirror better after I clear the Vegetation from the Roadside.

As for running red lights, you must realise that at a stop, a Bicycle is a Sitting-Duck. A moving Bicycle is hard for a motorist to hit, because it's a moving target. Also, when a Cyclist stops, he or she has to put at least one foot down on the road , which makes it hard to get going again. A Ladies Bicycle is safer in such instances.

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Avatar for user 'AndyH'

AndyH | March 6, 2012 at 1:54 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

As usual, those of us who want a safe experience in the public right of way are fighting over the crumbs traffic engineers have left us. If we truly intend to expand bicycling options for people, all comfort levels must be accommodated, and this won't happen if we insist riding in the lane with vehicles is safe. (I don't do that, but this discussion has made me reconsider.) Since it isn't OBVIOUS that it's safe, no amount of pleading about the statistics will get most people to try it.

SANDAG's recently adopted Regional Bike Plan has some very interesting features, including Bicyle Boulevards (look it up) and Cycle Tracks (designated cycling space between parked vehicles and the curb). Even tiny kids are seen on these facilities in NYC and other cities. Stop debating between inferior options and advocate for the best facilities we know how to build. They're in the plan!

BTW, I am founder and president of WalkSanDiego.org and bicycle regularly, and my assessment is we are just getting started, have a long way to go, but SANDAG is planning to put serious money behind bike and ped improvements. Yelling really loudly to the right people would help alot. Thanks for the enlightening discussion, everyone.

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Avatar for user 'JohnForester'

JohnForester | March 6, 2012 at 2:18 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Because of the superstitions I described earlier, doing what makes cyclists comfortable frequently ends up exposing them to greater danger. Mentioning in the same sentence Bicycle Boulevards and Cycle Tracks as improvements for cycling exposes those superstitions. Bicycle Boulevards work because they provide an environment in which cyclists can obey the rules of the road while being largely protected from the crossing and turning traffic that causes such a large proportion of car-bike collisions. Cycle Tracks, which the public loves in the belief that they provide the best protection against car-bike collisions, hence that feeling of comfort, are exceedingly dangerous because they contradict standard traffic movements, creating movements that drive cars and bikes into collisions. Cycle Tracks can be safe only if there are traffic signals at every intersection that have additional phases set to prevent simultaneous movement of bicycles and cars. This is both expensive and produces greater delay for all road users.

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Avatar for user 'RoryFinneren'

RoryFinneren | March 6, 2012 at 2:45 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with JohnForester's first premise: The great traffic danger to cyclists comes from crossing and turning movements by either party, these causing about 95% of car-bike collisions.

I don't think this is true, and it certainly isn't true when only looking at collisions resulting in serious injury or death.

Vehicular Cycling assumes that every driver is 100% coherent and paying attention to the roadway ahead of them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many (most?) deadly car/bike collisions involve a driver striking a moving cyclist from behind. In almost every case, the driver claims to have "not seen" the cyclist. These collisions often occur on straight, flat roads in broad daylight. It only takes one sleeping/distracted/drunk/drugged driver to end the life of a helmeted, law-abiding cyclist in the roadway.

I don't think painted bike lanes are the solution either, except perhaps on roads with a 30mph or lower speed limit. I have seen many lanes across the country today that are on high-speed (45mph+), curvy roads. I don't think that these painted lanes do anything to improve cyclist safety. In fact, they might make things worse. There needs to be a curb or physical barrier to prevent a drifting motorist from entering the lane and killing a cyclist.

In my view, we need physically separated cycle tracks, as they have adopted with great success in Northern Europe, combined with lower speed limits and traffic calming measures. More roads closed completely to car traffic on weekends, etc. is a necessary step too because it gives cycling enthusiasts a place to train without having to intermingle with cars at all.

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 6, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@RoryFinneren, only 3.9% of all bicycle-motor vehicle crashes involve a driver striking a moving cyclist from behind. Here's proof: http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

To reduce these collisions, it helps to avoid sharing the lane when it's too narrow for a car and bicycle side by side, and to be as visible as possible. Both are achieved by riding in the center of the lane, not off to the side where the bicyclist is easily ignored.

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Avatar for user 'JohnForester'

JohnForester | March 6, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Finneren's opinion about types and frequencies of car-bike collisions is contradicted by the facts, going right back to Cross's 1976 study for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Vehicular cycling does not assume that every driver always operates properly; Just as in motoring, operating by the rules gives everyone the best chance of reaching home safely and quickly, and it trains the cyclist to quickly detect when something is not being done correctly. Assuming that others will not obey the rules puts the cyclist under intense mental strain and prevents him from traveling at normal speed.

The cycle tracks that Finneren advocates as being successful in Northern Europe have been shown, by the latest studies in Copenhagen, to increase car-bike collisions at intersections more than they reduce them between intersections.

The suggestion that typical American cities that developed as automotive cities can be Copenhagenized is unjustified wishful dreaming. The European cities with large bicycle mode share all developed as walking cities; all their arrangements suit the walking life style, and cycling is chosen because it is faster than walking. Trying to Copenhagenize typical American cities would be enormously costly and would then destroy the flexibility that gives them such an economic and social advantage.

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Avatar for user 'SergeIssakov'

SergeIssakov | March 6, 2012 at 5:14 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

RoryFinneren wrote: "Vehicular Cycling assumes that every driver is 100% coherent and paying attention to the roadway ahead of them."

JohnForester responded: "Vehicular cycling does not assume that every driver always operates properly."

Here's how I think about it in general. Whether safely operating a car, plane, boat, motorcycle, or bike, or just walking, the assumption is that others with whom we interact are behaving coherently and attentively most of the time, but not always. This is why we adopt practices with margins of error in all of these activities

But I gather Rory is specifically thinking about riding in the middle of a traffic lane, which he presumes requires relying that everyone approaching from behind is "100% coherent and paying attention to the roadway ahead of them" so that they will know to slow or change lanes (otherwise they would hit the cyclist). When we hear of an inattentive 80 mph driver who slams into the back of 15 mph truck right in front of her that she didn't notice due to texting while driving (as was covered on the Today show the other morning), it's easy to jump to the conclusion that such reliance is crazy, and not a reasonable option for a bicyclist. But I note the following.

1) Rear-enders like that are very rare. That's why they get the attention of the Today show when they do happen.
2) Most rear-enders involve the person in front unexpectedly and suddenly slowing or stopping.
3) My personal observation is that drivers naturally give more space and attention to bicyclists in front of them in the lane than they do for vehicles.
4) Inattentiveness like that is much more common on a long/straight boring rural highway than in the type of busy urban/suburban traffic in which we do most of our riding.
5) It's not unreasonable to presume the extremely unlikely is not going to happen. Life would be practically impossible if we protected ourselves against every conceivable threat, no matter how unlikely. We wouldn't be able to get into a car or into an airplane, for one thing. That would be unreasonable.
6) The primary advantage of using a mirror for a cyclist who regularly rides in traffic lanes is to keep oneself apprised of how things are going behind them, specifically to know whether someone behind needs to slow down, so the cyclist knows when to consider temporarily moving aside to let them pass if it's safe and reasonable to do so. But a side benefit of having a mirror is the ability, in the extremely unlikely case that someone approaching from behind doesn't notice the cyclist, for the cyclist to notice this while still having plenty of time and space to do something to either get their attention, or move out of the way. So for someone unwilling to assume that being hit from behind is so unlikely it's reasonable to just ignore the possibility, there is always the option of getting a mirror.

All these reasons is why I don't worry about it.

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Avatar for user 'MisterM'

MisterM | March 6, 2012 at 8:12 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I am impressed with the detail and vigor of the discussion. In 15 years, and well over 20,000 miles of street riding, one might imagine that I have had close calls and physical contact with motor vehicles. I am surprised that nobody asked.

From my own experience, the only trouble I have experienced from behind as been the rare heckler. Everything else has been "in the direction of travel" and from "the side." This is direct data.

Twice, I have been "doored." Once after turning a corner just as a pickup truck had parked. The other when a passenger door flung open to execute a driver change due to intoxication of the driver. I take more lane space to avoid this, and am double cautious after a corner. Good lessons learned.

While in a protected turn bay, over 100 yards long, I was cut off by a car, about three back from the stop line in the adjacent lane (#2). Travelling slightly downhill at approximately 18 miles per hour, the right pedal clipped the left front corner of the car's front bumper as I failed to squeeze between the encroaching vehicle and the center island. Their insurance paid for minor injuries.

The latest was side-by-side contact with a vehicle who merged early, across a solid white double-wide white line. Several blasts from the air horn got the driver's attention. My left pedal put several circular scrapes in the passenger door, and I rode home to contact the authorities. All turned out well, and recently, warning pylons have been installed at that merge, improving things greatly.

Headlights (yes, plural) are blinking day and night, as is a flashing tail light. Dual red reflectors to the rear, white reflectors on the wheels and one in the front, with reflective sidewall stripes on the tires. I highly recommend the air-horn, but only when needed, as it is loud enough to cause damage to the rider's hearing.

Ears are your best friend, so don't put music in them. They can warn you of a vehicle, like an idling motorcycle that is splitting lanes between the same lanes that you are about to zag-into. This is very helpful, especially when you realize that the first rule of two-wheels is that you are invisible. The second rule is that you are the front bumper.

I would never, under any circumstance, let a 10 year old attempt to ride as a vehicle. To imagine such is folly. My parents forbade me to ride down a marked bicycle lane, two miles down a 4-lane wide, 35MPH boulevard at the age of 12. I was only allowed on side-streets. This changed once I had a California Class-4 learner's permit.

Should you happen to see a cyclist, perhaps equipped as described, I ask you a favor: Please refrain from signaling "Hello!" with your horn. There is nothing friendly about a warning device. A car horn directly behind, while moving, may have a rider ditching their cycle off the road to avoid an imminent collision from behind.

Invisible Front Bumpers: Right Safe - Ride Right - Ride: Light!

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | March 6, 2012 at 9:46 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

There is nothing friendly about a warning device.

Motorists are legally prohibited from using their horns for any purpose other to ensure safe operation or as part of a theft alarm system (subject to other restrictions). It's CVC 27001(b). Harassing bicyclists (or anyone else) with a horn is illegal.

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Avatar for user 'pacneil'

pacneil | March 6, 2012 at 10:36 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I have been riding the roads of San Diego County for 30+ years. Long before I knew who John Forrester is, I was riding to the left of the fog line, to avoid obstacles and glass in the "bike lane". Riding with a mirror is imperitive. In 30 years I have never had an accident involving a motor vehicle. I ride in traffic nearly every time I ride, and often in heavy traffic through Mission Valley. If you are in the lane, because there are parked cars and a less than 14 foot lane, it's hard for cars to miss seeing you. I see them move to the left lane as they pass. The other advantage to riding in the lane is that it slows traffic. Should an accident occur, a collision at less than 35mph is usually survivable. One at 50+ mph is usually deadly. Forcing traffic to slow reduces the risk I will be killed if I do get hit.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 12:52 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

The High Temple of Vehicular Cycling has left bicycling with a mode share of 0.8% in San Diego according to 2009 U.S. Census figures.

The Superstitions of Copenhagen and Amsterdam have resulted in 32% and 40% mode share for bicycles, respectively.

Amen.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 1:04 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

"1) Helmets 2) Bar-End Rear view Mirror, with Convex, wide angle lens. 3) LED Lights 4) Disk Brakes 5) Shock Absorbers 6) Index Shifting 7) Increase in Number of Gears 8) Digital Video Cameras 9) Online Maps-with Street View and Satellite View 10) Cell Phone/ Smart Phone 11) Reflective Tape and Reflective Vests 12) Kevlar Belted Tires"

As Major T.J. "King" Kong said in Dr. Stangelove, "Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff. "

And these are totally unnecessary in Superstitious Copenhagen:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16nine/sets/72157594400316816/with/2616006221/

Oh, perhaps an umbrella if it rains...as it does more often in Copenhagen than in San Diego.

Peace.

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Avatar for user 'SergeIssakov'

SergeIssakov | March 7, 2012 at 1:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Erik, causation or correlation?

Copenhagen and Amsterdam had mode shares that were comparable if they didn't exceed today's mode shares before they had any separated facilities. That goes for Davis too, by the way.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 1:39 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Forrester wrote: "The suggestion that typical American cities that developed as automotive cities can be Copenhagenized is unjustified wishful dreaming. The European cities with large bicycle mode share all developed as walking cities; all their arrangements suit the walking life style,"

Utter Poppycock.

Amsterdam and Copenhagen were not open British Cities like London, where no attack or invasion, save for the Blitz, has come since 1066. You should know that London had its gates removed after Cromwell was deposed.

Amsterdam and Copenhagen however were moated and walled cities with strict prohibitions on development outside their boundaries until well after California was admitted to the Union. It was in 1852 that anyone could live beyond the lakes that today see 30000 daily bicycles stream past enroute to various parts of Copenhagen on segregated infrastructure

These are bicyclists the majority of whom are riding to and from parts of Copenhagen that are younger even than the Santa Fe Depot and Balboa Park.

Amsterdam until World War Two was well contained within the Stadthouderskade/Nassauskade. And yet we will see tremendous amounts of segregated bicycle infrastructure in the area outside the pre-WWII construction.

Both cities are modern and initially chose to adapt to the automobile with the same vigor that San Diego did, but then moved towards what is present today in the USA

The walking areas you see in old central parts of Amsterdam and Copenhagen were very much given over unto the alter of Detroit and Stuttgart until the late 1950's, or the same time that San Diego built its Free- and Park-way system.

Oh, but wait. these are Superstitions!

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Avatar for user 'BryanGigs'

BryanGigs | March 7, 2012 at 8:11 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

JF said this "The cycle tracks that Finneren advocates as being successful in Northern Europe have been shown, by the latest studies in Copenhagen, to increase car-bike collisions at intersections more than they reduce them between intersections."

I think there are two major deficiencies in this arguement John Forrester is using to justify reducing infrastructure. First, the age of the general statistics, but we have what we have.

Second, everyone is completely ignoring FAULT. What are the differences with infrastructure vs education in reducing accidents that are no fault of cyclist? Reducing accidents that were the drivers fault should be the end game of infrastructure, since the car is what is two tons and devastating. With all due respect, you can't treat direct hit from behind accidents as negligible, when they are the only type that are 100% the fault of the driver who isn't operating safely (awareness + safe speed and distance). That's basically saying "take the statistical chance and tangle with those two ton idiots". How have the bike lanes numbers affected accidents based on fault of each party?

If intersection accidents increased due to bike lanes, but the increase is mainly attributed to accidents from cyclists being at fault, but they saved innocent cyclists from hits from behind, then fine by me, but it means we need to do a better job educating everyone on how the intersections work and awareness. But bike lanes work if they keep ANY number of cyclists from being hit from behind while they were doing everything "right".

Ignoring fault in your bike lane effect numbers means you're skipping over what matters: the personal responsibility you hold dear.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 8:24 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

"Both cities are modern and initially chose to adapt to the automobile with the same vigor that San Diego did, but then moved towards what is present today in the USA"

I intended to write "then moved *away from* what is present today in the USA".

We must look at the development in each city since 1850. Because in both the case of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the city that existed then was about the size of the Qualcomm Field plus its Parking lots. But go to these countries to day and you find segregated bicycle infrastructure nationwide.

But the high priests of Vehicular Cycling have made it not only impossible to build this in the USA, but also actively worked to keep it illegal. And so bicycling stays at the less-than-one-percent mode share in a city with some of the nicest and most temperate weather in the world.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 9:18 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Issakov wrote: "...causation or correlation? Copenhagen and Amsterdam had mode shares that were comparable if they didn't exceed today's mode shares before they had any separated facilities."

Preservation. Car ownership in these two countries was near zero at the end of WWII. It grew astronomically in both lands, far faster than in the USA which had seen car ownership begun to surpass the 50 cars per 1000 persons levels in the 1910's This barrier was not broken until the early 1960's in Holland. Mode share of bicycles dropped dramatically as both Denmark and Netherlands adopted the "superior" American way of life (Maddison (2003)). In fact, while carownersip began to plateau in the mid 1960's in the USA, it has and continues to climb in both Denmark and Holland, just ask anyone from the conservative (and auto-industry-funded, you?) think tanks.

Those that did stay on their bikes began to witness the levels of slaughter that the USA does and most certainly would if parents in the USA were actually gullible enough to accept the prime directive of Vehicular Cycling and allow children ages 8 and above to ride alone "in the way" mixed with all traffic. It was the outcry over these deaths that got the segregated facilities built and allowed bicycling to grow to the level it has in these countries despite the substantial investment in automobiles, buses, metros and trains (i.e. alternatives) in both Denmark and Holland since 1900 and especially since 1945. Segregated infrastructure allows and encourages anyone from 8 to 80 to use a bicycle, not just, as the BBC recently termed them, "MAMIL"s (Middle Age Men In Lycra) who would argue the laws of the state over the laws of physics with an 18-wheeler on Friars Road during rush-hour.

Davis? Lovely place, but a 10 square mile college town with 60,000 people is not worth comparing with the multi-industry, multi-faceted conurbations that the Randstad and the Øresund Region are today. And those cities are thriving. Can you honestly say the same about all of San Diego?

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 9:29 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

"The cycle tracks that Finneren advocates as being successful in Northern Europe have been shown, by the latest studies in Copenhagen, to increase car-bike collisions at intersections more than they reduce them between intersections."

I can slow for, or manage and avoid a collision at an intersection, even if there is any potential for one (i.e. a car is crossing my path at the same time)

I cannot prevent or even see (without a silly mirror attached to my head) being rear ended or side-swiped by a 2-10 ton vehicles that are constantly passing me less than a foot from my left hip at potentially 5 times my speed.

All the Traffic Engineers (not the same as Industrial Engineers by the way) and planners then have to do in Holland and Denmark is reduce the number of intersections when laying out roads and blocks.

But wait, I am being "Superstitious".

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 9:34 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Before and after pictures showing streets where buses replaced streetcars in Copenhagen. But do notice what has also been added to these streets since the 1960's:
http://www.larsbudtz.dk/tramksforognuth.htm

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 7, 2012 at 10:08 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@EricGriswold "I cannot prevent or even see (without a silly mirror attached to my head) being rear ended or side-swiped by a 2-10 ton vehicles that are constantly passing me less than a foot from my left hip at potentially 5 times my speed."

This is why it's important to ride visibly and predictably in the center of the lane when it's too narrow to share with a motor vehicle.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 10:37 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, Derek, because I have "the right" to the whole lane.

But what happens when the driver of the 18 wheeler gets impatient and goes around me?

What god will defend me?

How many people have died thanks to this cult?

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 7, 2012 at 10:42 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ErikGriswold "But what happens when the driver of the 18 wheeler gets impatient and goes around me?"

He'll turn his left blinker on, wait for a break in traffic, then change lanes.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 10:53 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

"He'll turn his left blinker on, wait for a break in traffic, then change lanes."

Trusting your life to faith?

I'd rather have infrastructure between me and him.

Thanks.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 11:04 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Ever seen this many bicyclists in San Diego, ever?

http://www.streetfilms.org/from-the-netherlands-to-america-translating-the-worlds-best-bikeway-designs/

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Avatar for user 'AviationMetalSmith'

AviationMetalSmith | March 7, 2012 at 11:05 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

The 40% figure for Amsterdam is just the daily use of Bicycles. 91% of people in Amsterdam ride at least once a week, and 97% of the residents own a Bicycle.

But they have Bicycle Lanes, Protected from intrusion of Motor Vehicles.

My list of equipment: "1) Helmets 2) Bar-End Rear view Mirror, with Convex, wide angle lens. 3) LED Lights 4) Disk Brakes 5) Shock Absorbers 6) Index Shifting 7) Increase in Number of Gears 8) Digital Video Cameras 9) Online Maps-with Street View and Satellite View 10) Cell Phone/ Smart Phone 11) Reflective Tape and Reflective Vests 12) Kevlar Belted Tires"

is all new stuff, they didn't have these things in WWII. Add in 13) Sealed Bearings.
I suppose troops may have been riding with Army helmets on their heads, but the Bicycle Helmet was unknown in the US until 1975 or thereabouts.
The Bar End Mirror, with convex lens did not arrive until 1990, and even then, all the shipments went to midtown Manhattan, where they sold out, and I couldn't get one here in Nassau, Long Island.
LED Lights are simply more reliable than incandescent lights, and the battery life is many times longer, weeks , not hours, of continuous use.

Disk Brakes, I don't use on account the biggest hills on Long Island are only 300 feet high, but they are a safety improvement, which was not available back in the good old days.

6) Index Shifting- I'm beginning to wonder about Index Shifting. In the 1970's, if you didn't know how to shift, you either rode a one-speed, or kept the (rusted) deraileur in one gear. Today, anyone can shift, so maybe we have dumber people riding multi-speed bikes? Comments?

Digital Video cams can create mobile, random , Video Surviellance,[sp] which may get drunks off the road, or otherwise aid the Cyclist in a Court of Law.

Google Maps, with street view and satellite view are far superior to old fashioned paper road maps. Paper maps do NOT show speed limits, hills, number of lanes, existence of sidewalks, paved shoulders etc. And I hate to tell you this, but there are Potholes that are big enough to be seen from SPACE!

Ask me about Darwinism, and I'll tell you that Bicycles are evolving like Life on Galapagos Island.

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Avatar for user 'SergeIssakov'

SergeIssakov | March 7, 2012 at 11:14 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Erik asks, how many people have died thanks to this cult?

I don't know. But I know two 6-year-olds who have died so far this year in Copenhagen due to the cult of separation. http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Indland/2012/02/28/234204.htm

There is no perfect answer. Complete physical separation, because of intersections, is either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Therefore it can never be achieved. Therefore as long as personal motoring exists, we will continue to have to share the roads at least some of the time, and therefore must know how to do it safely and comfortably, or we won't ride. So we must learn to do it. But once we learn to do it, we don't need the separation, since we're safe and comfortable without it.

The best answer, I think, is to paint sharrows down the center of the right lane on every major surface street (like Pacific Highway, El Cajon Blvd, La Jolla Village Drive, etc., etc.) in San Diego, coupled with Bikes May Use Full Lane signs (the few freeway-like roads that don't have at-grade intersections, like Kearny Mesa Blvd south of Miramar can keep their bike lanes). This is economically and practically achievable in the short term. San Francisco has gone much further in this direction than we have, and they've been much more successful at not only getting more people on bikes, but getting motorists and law enforcement as well as bicyclists to accept bicyclists in the traffic lanes. It's practically the norm there, and I think their use of sharrows and signage is largely responsible for that.

Who is with me?

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 7, 2012 at 11:29 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ErikGriswold: "Trusting your life to faith?"

Not completely. I use a mirror and ride defensively, just like when I drive.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 11:47 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr Issakov writes:

"I don't know. But I know two 6-year-olds who have died so far this year in Copenhagen due to the cult of separation. http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Indland/2012/02/28/234204.htm";

Let's see an English translation not done by an algorithm:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/03/trucker-union-its-cyclists-fault.html

This happened in Naksov, a good 100 miles from Copenhagen. Yes, a little port town 100 miles from Copenhagen has segregated bicycle infrastructure. Because it can. Because that "tool in the toolbox" is given to their traffic engineers and has not been removed by one particular Industrial Engineer.

But then ask yourselves, "When was the last time I saw a 6-year-old riding a bicycle in San Diego?" This boy was riding together with his 12-year-old sister. Ever seen that in all of California?

No, and you won't as long as parents remain fearful of "The best answer" that these Lamas of lane-sharing (with 2 ton cars) give us which is "paint sharrows down the center of the right lane on every major surface street" and add tiny "Bikes May Use Full Lane signs".

Paint (which wears away frightfully quickly)? "Bikes May Use Full Lane signs"?

That's "The best answer"?

When billions can be spent on extending HOV lanes 10 miles in one direction only in the State of California, "Complete physical separation, because of intersections, is"

NOT

"either impossible or prohibitively expensive" and will be a pittance of what the state will pay out to care for the obese, diabetic and infirmed adults now being created on the sofas and TV rooms right this minute?

Not to mention a costly foreign and defense policy that presumes that 5% of the world's population (The USA) will continue to be able to access 42% of the world's oil supply.

We went with Vehicular Cycling for 40 years. We got 0.8% mode share. Time to change course.

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Avatar for user 'ErikGriswold'

ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 11:55 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Erik asks, how many people have died thanks to this cult?

I'll answer my on question, at least as far as Southern California; here's a pretty good list:

http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/tag/bicycling-fatality/

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | March 7, 2012 at 12:04 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ErikGriswold: "We went with Vehicular Cycling for 40 years. We got 0.8% mode share."

Or maybe it's the 40 years of poorly designed roads, subsidies for driving, and urban policies that favor driving above other ways of getting around, that's responsible for the low bicycling mode share.

"here's a pretty good list:"

The first article doesn't explain how the collision occurred, or whether it could have been avoided with a protected bicycle path.

The second article is about a bicyclist who ran a red light and was hit by cross traffic. A protected bicycle path would not have prevented that collision.

I'm not going to waste my time by reading more from your link. It clearly doesn't say what you think it does.

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Avatar for user 'Commenter0118'

Commenter0118 | March 7, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

In the early '80s my mother took great care to make sure we knew hand signals for turning and stopping, slowing. We were told that if we wanted to be on the sidewalk, we were pedestrians. If we wanted to ride, we were vehicles and had to behave as such and use the road. If we weren't comfortable turning left in a turn lane and wanted to use cross walks, we again were pedestrians and had to get off and walk our bike. Even as kids we were relatively comfortable interacting safely with cars on roads with speeds ranging from 25-45mph. And we knew we had alternatives if we were uncomfortable.

That said, there is always a need for balance - some folks will never be comfortable without a designated bike lane (maybe the same folks who will make four right turns in their car before turning left without a designated left turn light) and others will be strong in their confidence and ability to interact safely with motor vehicles. At the end of the day, this topic is clearly ripe for the exposure and discourse allowed here - education and communication are primary keys to making improvements for all.

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SergeIssakov | March 7, 2012 at 2:37 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

ErikGriswold - you cite http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/tag/bicycling-fatality/ as an answer to your question about how many people are killed because of Vehicular Cycling. Well, the first case cited there is the Feb 29 death of Ernest Klein on Bolsa Ave east of Able Lane in Huntington Beach. Have you looked it up? That's right... it has a (drum roll....) bike lane (no surprise).

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=bolsa+avenue+at+Able+Lane,+huntington+beach,+ca&hl=en&ll=33.744513,-118.029213&spn=0.007191,0.013036&sll=32.842087,-117.269241&sspn=0.014531,0.026071&hnear=Bolsa+Ave+%26+Able+Ln,+Huntington+Beach,+Orange,+California&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=33.744515,-118.028983&panoid=BroLE12aFOijiwzwBgU6qg&cbp=12,283.63,,0,13.11&source=gplus-ogsb

Sounds like yet another classic drift into an unnoticed cyclist in the bike lane to me. But you count this against Vehicular Cycling? 11AM is not exactly peak traffic time, so inattentiveness should be likely and changing lanes to pass should be no problem, especially given that there are three traffic lanes in each direction. Why ride inconspicuously in the bike lane where you are likely to be unnoticed and possibly drifted into when you can ride conspicuously in the slow traffic lane? Places to turn right seem frequent enough on this street to use 21208(a)(4) as a legal excuse to stay out of the bike lane, which is probably filled with debris anyway, in which case 21208(a)(3) would work too.

The second one is about a cyclist who was hit and killed after running a red light. It looks like that's the case in the third one down too.

These, like any randomly selected collection of bike crashes, are great examples of exactly the kinds of crashes that are prevented, not caused, by cyclists behaving as drivers.

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Peking_Duck_SD | March 7, 2012 at 6:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Instead of looking at this as a debate of motorists vs cyclists, why not look at it as a debate between people who respect one another and those who don't?

The fact is there are motorists and cyclists who obey the law and respect one another, and there are, unfortunately motorists and cyclists out there who think they own the road and can do whatever they want.

Over-generalizing against one group or the other dosn't solve anything.

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billdsd | March 7, 2012 at 8:28 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@ErikGriswold: "Erik asks, how many people have died thanks to this cult?

I'll answer my on question, at least as far as Southern California; here's a pretty good list:

http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/tag/bicycling-fatality/";

This yet another fine example of not understanding the difference between correlation and causation. Worse, it's not even a good example of correlation.

You are attempting to assert that these collisions were caused by vehicular cycling. I can't find one of those that sounds like a bicyclist operating in a vehicular manner. In some, it's not clear how the bicyclist was riding. In the rest, it's pretty clear that they were not riding in a vehicular manner. That breaks your attempt at correlation.

It is possible for a bicyclist carefully and diligently adhering to the practices taught by vehicular cycling classes and books and still get hit by a driver who is either out of control (drunk, distracted, whatever) or intentionally assaults the bicyclist (extremely rare). That would still not be evidence that the collision was caused by vehicular cycling. That would be in spite of vehicular cycling. Nothing is 100%. I can guarantee that I won't be hit by a meteor but the chances are so low that it's not worth worrying about.

You will probably try to argue that it's caused by bicycles and cars sharing the road at all, but that covers more than vehicular cycling and most bicyclists are not properly trained in vehicular cycling and so don't understand the techniques.

Even in your fantasy world of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, cycle tracks don't go everywhere. Even there, bicyclists ride in the road in a lot of places and yet they still have amazingly low rates of collision. That's because the Dutch and the Danes attack the issue of road safety on all fronts. They have better education than we do both for driving and for bicycling. They have better traffic enforcement than we do. They have harsher penalties and strict liability for motorists. Yes they have more bicycle facilities. That does not account for the dramatic discrepancy in overall road safety between them and us. It doesn't even account for the discrepancy in ride share. You also seem to think that their high ride share is due to their facilities but I've seen films from the 1940's and 50's in Copenhagen and they had a lot of bikes on the road even back then when they had very few bicycle facilities.

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billdsd | March 7, 2012 at 8:28 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

(continued)

Southern California is far more spread out and far hillier than Amsterdam or Copenhagen. We will not see the kind of ride share that they have in this century no matter how many facilities we build. Too many people live too far from where they work or go to school. This is a major urban planning problem that will not be solved quickly or easily or cheaply.

In any case, even if we do build facilities here, it will take decades to get them to go most places and bicyclists still have to get places in the mean time. We can do education quickly and easily and at relatively little cost. The only problem is the will to do so.

My experience has been that people who say that vehicular cycling doesn't work are people who haven't been properly trained in vehicular cycling. Have you taken an Effective Cycling, Traffic Skills 101 or Cycling Savvy class? Have you read Effective Cycling or Cyclecraft? Have you at least read Bicycling Street Smarts?

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billdsd | March 7, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I meant to type "I can't guarantee that I won't be hit by a meteor".

I had message boards that won't let you fix typos.

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billdsd | March 7, 2012 at 8:31 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

*hate*

grrrr.

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ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 9:52 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Actually Mr Issakov, the greatest preventer of bicycle crashes in the USA is the low level of actual bicycle use that you and Mr Forrester have managed to impose on an until-now uninformed public and their decision makers.

If less than one-percent of the public bicycles, the fatality counts are going to be small

I used the BikinginLA blog as a source because I can't think of anyone else who covers and keeps a tally of bicycle fatalities south of the Grapevine and north of Tijuana, can you? Of course not every fatality listed there is due to your forcing us to VC;

But how many of them are directly related?

You cite a fatality that occurred in a bicycle lane on Bolsa in Huntington Beach. A lane that is located on the road just where a Vehicular Cyclist would position him or herself, bike lane or no bike lane, unless he or she was actively trying to anger or annoy drivers.

But it is the crap "infrastructure" of paint we are left with because you and the rest of the medieval alchemists have held such undeserved sway over the then-xenophobic, then-NIH traffic engineering community, who really didn't care for you because their insular mission, in case you never noticed, was to move more cars (and you made it easier for them to move more funding to moving those cars; paint being as cheap as it is).

But the old guard are retiring or dying off now.

That silly use of paint on Bolsa would not ever exist in Holland or Denmark except on a narrow city street and then only combined with other traffic calming measures, that would bring the 85th percentile speed to maybe 20 mph, well below the 55 to 60 mph that drivers on that straight, three-lane arterial with an average of 1/2 mile between traffic signals do.

Of course Bolsa's signed for 45:

http://g.co/maps/dxmte

And you really suggested above that it shouldn't even have the painted bike lane? No wonder nobody bikes here.

With the passing of peak oil, the increasing costs of owning and maintaining and insuring a car, the ability for most people now to buy almost everything via the internet with free delivery if actually necessary, combined with the social connections the 'net allows and the understanding of what joy it is to bicycle outside of the Anglo-American world, communities all over America are starting to see past your catastrophic insanity.

Fortunately, Air travel is still affordable, and as you saw in the Streetsfilm I posted above, some of the future decision makers have been to Utrecht and Amsterdam and Groningen...and even Rotterdam, a city that was flattened by German Bombers and has been completely built in the era of the car. And yet, Rotterdam still has 100 times the bicycle facilities San Diego has!

So what happens when they get home and realize what a lie they've been sold and start to take over planning and engineering departments from your old dinosaur friends?

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ErikGriswold | March 7, 2012 at 9:55 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Let's compare and contrast the numbers of bicycle deaths in the Netherlands so far this year to that of just Los Angeles and Oange and San Diego County combined, since each (NL vs. the 3 SoCal counties) has a total population of around 16 million. Then adjust those numbers for total bicycle usage.

And no, the CVC will not help you except afterwards when your estate attempts to collect in court so stop citing it. Concrete and curbing will however do something to stop a 30-pound bicycle from having a conflict with a two-ton motor vehicle; more than some legislative gobbily-gook

We can't now build segregated bicycle lanes if we wanted to thanks to the lobbying and "expert testimony" of John Forester. Long Beach had to ask for all kinds of exemptions and label their cycletracks as "trails" thanks to you lot.

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billdsd | March 7, 2012 at 11 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

ErikGriswold, you are trying to over simplify a complex problem.

Separated cycle tracks typically don't stay separated. They still have intersections and that is where most of the problems are.

Have you ridden the 56 bike path? The path crosses Camino del Sur and drivers turning right from North bound Camino del Sur onto the 56 on ramp don't stop for the cross walk even when they have a red light. Most of them also don't bother to look for bicyclists crossing in the crosswalk. Likewise, drivers exiting east bound 56 turning south onto Camino del Sur don't look for bicyclists travelling east. It's a scary spot.

Again I ask, have you had the training?

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SergeIssakov | March 8, 2012 at 4:19 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago


Speaking of correlation and causation, there is very little correlation, much less causation, between facilities and percentage of bike mode usage.

Just like Amsterdam and Copenhagen had high bike mode usage before it had facilities, Davis had a high (over 20%) modal use in the early 1960s, before a single facility had been created there. Today is no higher than that. Yet these cities are often used as examples of how facilities increase bike usage.

What does increase bike usage is high cost and low convenience of motoring. Most buildings (including apartments and offices) in Copenhagen and Amsterdam don't even have any car parking. So just to own a car you have to pay for an expensive garage space somewhere some significant distance from your home and typical destination. And of course there is the gas tax and sales tax over there, which doubles the cost of each. Davis achieved high bike modal usage when UCD banned car use on campus and didn't allow undergrads to have parking permits.

Cars are used instead of bikes when it's relatively cheap and convenient to use cars. Bikes are used instead of cars when it's relatively expensive and inconvenient to use cars. That's true without regard to the availability of facilities. Relative to the cost and convenience of motoring, the effect of facilities on bike usage is at the margins.

What's not at the margins is the effect improved cyclist behavior has on improving cyclist safety. Why don't we focus on something like that where we can make a big difference?

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CordClayton | March 9, 2012 at 10:01 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I find it helpful to think about this issue in terms of a negotiation. The question isn’t whether it is better to have fabulous bike facilities, or none at all. Surely, many cyclists would love to have fabulous bike facilities. I imagine I would. The real question is, what facilities can American cyclists reasonably hope to obtain as minority road users?

From what I have seen, what American cyclists get when we push for fabulous facilities are usually door-zone bike lanes. These lead to: (1) conflicts with turning vehicles, (2) insufficient space for the cyclist’s safe passage, and (3) harassment by motorists when the cyclists leave the bike lane (to avoid the first two problems). Later on, they lead to laws (e.g., Florida and New York) which codify the prevailing view among motorists that cyclists should stay in bike lanes.

The (realistic) choice then becomes whether it is better to maintain the status quo – in which cyclists are expected to use the road but had better do so competently – or to trade what we have for ill-designed bike lanes. For my own cycling, I would generally rather negotiate my own path down an un-striped road than deal with a bike-lane stripe that often makes what I think is a bad choice, combined with motorists who are now confused about how to handle the stream of cyclists and angry when those cyclists leave the bike lane.

Viewed in that light, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Forester’s view that we are better off with the status quo than its likely alternative – deficient bike lanes that make cycling less safe and enjoyable.

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SergeIssakov | March 9, 2012 at 12:58 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Well said, CordClayton.

I'll add that even if we do get a few fabulous bike facilities, unless the political will and or economic reality develops to make motoring much more expensive and much less convenient, bike modal use will not change much, and the requirement to ride in the road much of the time will remain.

Therefore learning the practices and skills that enable one to ride safely and comfortably in all types of traffic situations on the existing road network will remain extremely useful no matter what, and that's why that's where my interest and passions lie.

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JonIsaacs | March 10, 2012 at 10:37 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

My thinking:

Education. Knowing how to ride safely as part of the traffic community. Bicyclists belong... The average Joe and Jane have no idea how to cycle in traffic and are rightfully afraid, they don't have the appropriate skills.

People who can't swim are afraid of the water and rightfully so. But the key to losing that fear is not changing the water but rather learning how to swim. John Forester, Serge Issakov, they teach people how to swim. They taught me. I think I had about 75,000 miles of saddle time, I knew the basics of vehicular cycling by then, life teaches us if we are willing to learn. But I from them, I really learned and understood.

Somehow there seems to be this notion that anyone should be able to just get on a bicycle and ride safely. No need to be trained, no need to understand how to ride safely, how to position yourself at a stop light, stop sign, make a left turn in traffic. The fact is, you can't swim without being trained, you can't ride in the safest possible manner without training.

Understanding is a wonderful thing, it is only through understanding that fears can be addressed.

So there I am, it's the 5:30pm rush southbound on Genesee from Governor drive. There's a triple thread just ahead, traffic is at speed. First comes southbound traffic merging onto the the west bound 52 on ramp. If I am in the bike lane, cars are crossing in front of me at speed. I am vulnerable to a right hook. Next comes the Northbound traffic crossing on to the 52 on ramp. In the bike lane, I am up against the curb, trapped. If they cut in front of me, I am a goner. And finally, the merging traffic to Genesee south from 52 west... I am again vulnerable in the bike lane, In the bike lane, I am in the blind spot of merging drivers and there is precious little time to cross the merge.

The solution is simple, ride like I was driving my car... get in the lane and magically each one of these awkward and potentially dangerous situations disappears... I am part of traffic, I am part of the traffic flow, I belong.

There is really no substitute for education, for learning to cycle effectively in traffic...

Do we take on the impossible task of building infrastructure so that untrained, unskilled cyclists can feel safe without being safe? Or do we simply recognize that teaching people to cycle safely is synergistic, competent cyclists are competent drivers who understand that cyclists belong?

Aware and alert...

Jon Isaacs


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ErikGriswold | March 10, 2012 at 3:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

8 mills versus 50 cents

Serge Issakov being afraid to let his 12 year old ride a bike versus 85% of all the kids in Utrecht riding bikes to and from school.

Thank YOU Vehicular Cyclists!

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ErikGriswold | March 10, 2012 at 4:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

"Most buildings (including apartments and offices) in Copenhagen and Amsterdam don't even have any car parking."

Simply nonsense!

Here are the parking totals available in the City of Copenhagen:

Where the green is on-street parking and purple is garage or courtyard parking.

http://www.kk.dk/Borger/ByOgTrafik/Parkering/Parkeringsstrategi/~/media/29A605B05AD54A38AC4149BCC279206A.ashx

No, you are right, it is not the City of L.A. with its monstrous amounts of required parking, but neither is San Diego. Copenhagen has few, if any, buildings that could be described as Skyscrapers. Add to this the extensive transit options which are used and supported by all strata of the economic scale. And I assure you the areas of Greater Copenhagen outside this map are just as auto-friendly as most of Southern California, with generous free parking, but ALSO HAVE SEGREGATED BICYCLE FACILITIES.

You might also want to read this:
http://kk.sites.itera.dk/apps/kk_publikationer/pdf/682_x8IQDnzcpQ.pdf

"And of course there is the gas tax and sales tax over there, which doubles the cost of each."

Yes of course, because neither Denmark nor Holland have had any domestic automobile production for many years now, thus every car purchased involves capital leaving the country and never coming back. America might consider doing the same for cars not produced in the USA.

And Gasoline is taxed to capture all costs of its use. Of course, much of the external costs spent out of the general fund to ensure low Gasoline costs in San Diego benefit San Diego's economy, do you are indeed "correct", politically, there.

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ErikGriswold | March 12, 2012 at 11:10 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Serge Issakov, have you been to the Netherlands? Because according to this John Forrester hasn't since World War 2:
http://examinedspoke.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/forty-years-later/

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brickster3072 | March 12, 2012 at 12:38 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I love this comment from Bike Snob NYC
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2012/03/right-of-way-take-my-lane-please.html

===
This is not to say the vehicular cycling concept is not without merit. Indeed, if you're a cyclist in America odds are you have already been cycling "vehicularly" your entire life, since that's what you're forced to do. I know that's more or less how I was riding here in New York before all these bike lanes started appearing, and I know it's how I still ride a good portion of the time. But like most cycling Americans I'm a freak and an obsessive and would still ride a bike even if the government declared open season on cyclists and people shot at us from their windows like we were deer. So I just rode the way you have to ride on streets that are designed entirely for cars. However, try telling a normal, sane American who's interested in using a bike for transportation that all they have to do is "take the lane" and "think like a driver." They'll just come to the conclusion that if they need to think like a driver that they might as well just be a driver and reply with the old, "F*ck it, I'm leasing a Hyundai."

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