Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Swanson tragedy almost repeated

A big truck almost killed another bicyclist at almost the exact same spot where Alice Swanson was recently killed. Here's a dispatch from reader Matt:


By richardmasoner on Flickr.
This morning, around 11:15, I was on my way to the pharmacy on my bike. I was southbound on Connecticut, stopped at the light at R Street NW. I turned my head to the left to watch the ped countdown timers and saw, to my horror, a Sysco tractor trailer pass a cyclist (the biker was in the bike lane), and before the rear of the trailer had even passed her, the truck swung right onto Connecticut. Had the biker not slammed on the brakes, we would be having another memorial service tonight. This happened right in front of Alice's ghost bike.
Who knows how many times a day this happens? Taking the lane is a good way for cyclists to increase safety in busy spots. Don't be afraid to do it. Too bad MPD thus far seems uninterested in enforcing laws against dangerous driving.
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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David means take a lane in the road where all the cars are, not a bike lane. This sounded counter-intuitive to me until I tried it. It really is safter to take up more space rather than less. Thank goodness this rider was paying attention or had enough experience to not trust the motorist he was "sharing the road" with. Would it help if a sign like in your photo illustration were placed there to warn cyclists that many motorists are not trustworthy?

by Bianchi on Sep 5, 2008 5:50 pm • linkreport

i'm sure this happens a lot all over the U.S. It almost happened to me today, but the driver stopped and waited for me, and I waited for him, until he let me go. A bit unfortunate, but we were safe. It'd be nice to figure something out for all right-hand turns (I vote to get rid of cars).

This spot, though, seems especially dangerous. We should figure out how we want to handle the situation and then fix it. To me, asking for cops to sit at that location 24x7 could potentially stop more deaths there - as long as we're willing to pay for a cop to sit there 24x7.

San Francisco had a similar problem street (Octavia) where bicyclists were getting slaughtered by illegally-turning cars and trucks, and it still took a long time to get the anti-bicycle Gavin Newsom to do anything about it. Now the right turn is very difficult, and is signed, etc.

Imagine heading Northeast on Market, and cars and truck try to make an illegal right turn to get onto the highway. That's where bicyclists used to get mowed down.

http://tinyurl.com/6sypek

From the pic you can see at least one sign, which is not much, but they also installed the vertical, 3-foot high, rubber/plastic bumpers every couple of feet to give motorists another signal that they weren't support to turn there. And if they did, they'd have to do it pretty slowly, almost passing the intersection before being allowed to turn their wheels - unless they rode over the plastic bumpers. I actually have no idea if it worked so far or not.

SFBC has more pics, info, and video:

http://www.sfbike.org/?octavia

I'd say act now, or else live with a guilty conscience.

I kinda like the forced merge idea, with a green-painted bicycle lane merging into the main traffic lane and some gargantuan signs warning motorists not to kill anyone. Or better, just close off the right-turning traffic lane to autos with a big, physical barrier - force the cars to merge into the left lane before the intersection.

by Peter on Sep 5, 2008 8:59 pm • linkreport

We need bike boxes yesterday...

by Justin on Sep 5, 2008 9:30 pm • linkreport

Stories like these lead me to believe that John Forester is right: bike lanes exacerbate the dangers of cycling, in part because they increase the chances of collisions during turns. Anyone seriously interested in bicycle safety ought to at least read the parts of Effective Cycling that deal with the vehicular theory of cycling.

by thm on Sep 5, 2008 9:41 pm • linkreport

http://bicyclesafe.com/

This is my favorite introduction to bicycling in traffic. Everyone I introduce to cycling as transportation, I point them at this webpage.

I believe the "right hook" is #4 on the list of common bicycle accidents.

by Michael P on Sep 5, 2008 9:49 pm • linkreport

It is possible to increase awareness of cyclists in the roadways. I have become much more tuned in to the issue since I started reading this blog. For the other 99.7% of the city's residents and area residents, the only thing I can think of in terms of a campaign is a weeklong series of ads in the Washington Post and CityPaper. They would have to be funded of course.

by Jazzy on Sep 5, 2008 10:25 pm • linkreport

Bike boxes are only helpful at red lights as bikes and cars gather at the stop line. The situation described here was a free-flowing green and a bike box wouldn't have been a factor.

Cyclists must take the lane. Get out of the bike lane.

R/20th/Connecticut is one of the worst intersections in the city. The bike lane contributes to the problem. The fact that westbound R is ten blocks of stop and go torture for cars and trucks, means they have pent up eagerness at Connecticut to finally haul ass. All the more reason to get out of the bike lane and be seen.

Drivers don't understand that a bike going straight (15 mph) is going faster than a car/truck making a 90 degree turn (10 mph at best). They just can't get their head around that concept, that's why they're always right hooking bikes. It's also why a bike is safest going through an intersection when it unambiguously takes the whole lane.

by Brendan on Sep 6, 2008 9:24 am • linkreport

So, are we all finally in agreement that in an urban context like downtown DC bike lanes do more harm than good? That where a bicyclist can keep up with posted speed limits, it is best that they be able to "take the lane" when necessary and only move "to the right" when it is safe to do so?

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 9:37 am • linkreport

One thing though. Since we had these discussions a couple months ago, I've been observing bicyclists on our streets. Now, you might recall that I believed that bicyclists should be cut some slack in regards to many rules including coming to a full stop at a stop sign ... since the nature of a bike is that it is safer if it is in movement (i.e., it's harder to make a manoeuver from a complete stop than from a roll.) However, observing bicyclists over the last couple months, I'm shocked at the arrogance and ignorance exhibited by a "substantial few". I say "few" because it's definitely not most riders, but I say substantial because while not 1 out of every 2 riders, we're maybe talking about 1 out of 3. These guys don't even bother to look or yield when approaching an intersection and pull out in front of cars doing twice their speed without even looking. The other day I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted a rider maybe doing 20 mph in the left lane of the rush hour limited access highway which Rock Creek becomes in hornings (and afternoons.) He had a separate bike lane to use which was completely off the limited access highway ... and had no excuse for being on a limited access highway to begin with. Yet, he rode there with the arrogance and ignorance only someone with a deathwish could exhibit.

Sharing the road goes both ways. And, more importantly, good common sense needs to take precedence over arrogance. A car will always weigh many tons more than a bicyclist and his/her bicycle. Cycling as if all the other traffic (and pedestrians) around must accomodate their manoeuvers, is not only arrogant but stupid. We need far more enforcement aimed at that substantial few of bicyclists who can't bicycle with common sense. They're dangerous to themselves ... and to the rest of us!

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 9:56 am • linkreport

I disagree with Lance. The separate bike lane that parallels Rock Creek is inadequate. If you've ever tried to ride on that path, you'll notice inadequate width, inadequate surface condition, blind corners and lack of clearance from trees, shrubs and other junk. If the cyclist is capable of doing 20 mph, the trail will be completely inadequate as a bikeway. I assume Rock Creek is two lanes or more in the travel direction. Get into the other lane and pass the cyclist.

by Michael P on Sep 6, 2008 10:13 am • linkreport

The bike trail in RCP isn't contiguous in all areas. And sometimes one's destination is on the side of Beach Dr. opposite the bike path, or s/he entered in a place that did not have direct access to the trail and one must ride on the raod until there is an access point. There are many logical and understandable reasons a biker would be on a road next to bike lane. Motorists needs more education about what it's like to cycle.

by Bianchi on Sep 6, 2008 10:45 am • linkreport

Just to make clear ... I am referring to the morning rush hour when Rock Creek Parkway is 4 lanes in one direction and going at about 50 mph. A bicyclist never has a right to be on a highspeed limited highway.

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 11:32 am • linkreport

Lance, a motorist driving 50 mph has no right to be on Rock Creek Parkway. A bicyclist has every right to be on a road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

by tt on Sep 6, 2008 11:45 am • linkreport

... and the cyclist was in the far lefthand (i.e., fastest) of the lanes of this highspeed roadway. I've ridden the bikepath there. Actually, I used to ride it a lot before it was widened and flattened. It was sufficient then for anyone not looking to set speed records. It's much better now. Anyone choosing to forego that bikepath in favor of riding at 20 (or 15?) mph in the far left lane of a highspeed highway going 50 mph (or more) was doing it either out of pure ignorance or sheer arrogance. After I swerved to avoid him as I came around a curve, I kept an eye out in my rear-view mirror ... wondering if other cars encountering this unpleasant surprise would be so lucky as me as to have an empty lane one over (i.e., 3rd lane from the right) to swerve into as I did ... Or whether they'd be faced with smashing into a car on their right ... or running over that stupid (or arrogant) bicyclist.

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 11:50 am • linkreport

The first priority of the motorist re-education program will be to alter this attitude, "A bicyclist never has a right to be on [a road in RCP]". I-495 which is a "highspeed limited access expressway" with signs posted that say "motoized vehicles only", Yes. Bikes stay off. RCP? No. Bikes allowed, by right.

by Bianchi on Sep 6, 2008 11:53 am • linkreport

FYI: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm

Rock Creek Park Laws & Policies Superintendent's Compendium

Bicycle Use Areas/Routes:

Bicycle use is restricted to paved roads and the paved multi-use trails extending from Wise Road to Joyce Road and from Broad Branch Road to Virginia Ave. Operating a bicycle abreast of another bicycle is prohibited except on sections of roads closed for recreational use.

by Bianchi on Sep 6, 2008 12:02 pm • linkreport

and this: SPEED LIMITS

(b) The following speed limits are established for the routes/roads indicated:

Speed limit is 25 mph on all park roads unless otherwise posted

the rest of the biking regs:

BICYCLES

(a) Bicycle use is permitted on park roads, parking areas, and on the following designated paved routes:

Multi-use paved recreational trails

Sections of park roads closed to motor vehicle traffic on weekends and federal holidays.

(b) The following routes are closed to bicycle use:

All unpaved trails.

Off-trail or off road areas.

(c) Riding a bicycle abreast of another rider is permitted on the following routes, under the conditions noted:

Paved park roads and parking areas.

Bicycles may not be ridden abreast of another rider on multi-use paved recreational trails.

Bicycles must be operated at speeds reasonable for existing conditions. Speed should not exceed 15 mph on paved multi-user trails or 25 mph on paved roadways.

by Bianchi on Sep 6, 2008 12:12 pm • linkreport

Lance, you sound like a horrible and dangerous driver. 50 mph on Rock Creek Park? Where that's not impossible , it's extremely dangerous, and always a doubling of the speed limit. And you swerved around the cyclist rather than apply your brakes and stay in your lane? That's terrible driving. All in all, I'm pretty sure you have no concept of speed and it's just as likely that the cyclist was going 25 mph on a road with a speed limit of 25 mph. I was going to end politely, but you know what? Cram it.

by Brendan on Sep 6, 2008 5:12 pm • linkreport

"And you swerved around the cyclist rather than apply your brakes and stay in your lane?"

The cyclist was in the middle of the leftmost lane going at about 1/4 the speed of the traffic on the road. It sounds like you have never driven a car ... If you think a car can decrease 3/4 of its speed in a second or two. Sorry, try all you want to justify his being there, but there is no justification for a cyclist using the fast lane of a limited access highway. Actually there is no justification for a cyclist using any lane of a limited access highway. That cyclist belonged on the bike path. Period. Would you suggest a bicyclist use the roadway of the George Washington Parkway? During rush hours, the roadway of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway is no different from the GW Parkway. Again, any cyclist trying to "share" a limited access highspeed road is either totally ignorant or arrogant with a death wish.

But getting back to the original point. We need lots more enforcement against that substantial minority of cyclists who aren't sharing the road ... and are instead dependent on others "clearing the way" for their arrogant and selfish cycling behavior.

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 5:46 pm • linkreport

Brendan ... btw, I just want to make clear we're discussing the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway which runs along the Potomac River and up to Calvert Street/Mass Ave. and not Beach Drive which runs through Rock Creak Park further uptown.

by Lance on Sep 6, 2008 6:33 pm • linkreport

So you were driving 50 in a 25 zone and were not able to stop for an object in your lane that was traveling at 20 mph.

The law calls that "too fast for conditions". Try 35 in that 25 zone next time. Your closing speed will be 15 mph, and your stopping distance will be cut from 150 feet to 80 feet, not counting reaction time.

"Limited access highway"? That's like the beltway or the Interstate. Sure, no cyclists there. But the RCP is not a limited access highway, and the rules cited above explicitly state cyclists are allowed, and that there is a 25 mph speed limit.

by Michael P on Sep 6, 2008 6:36 pm • linkreport

While I have read handful of studies linking bike lanes with increased fatalities, avoiding them is throwing out the baby with the bath water. I don't see much of a reasonable alternative to them on arterials. Moreover, one thing bike lanes do seem to do is make biking seem like a reasonable choice.

Nonetheless, the right hook is a serious problem and a solution needs to be found. One interesting one I've seen is merge the turn lane with the bike lane, allowing bikers and drivers to negotiate like vehicles. You can even paint in a screaming color to make it clear. Don't know if it will work, but it seems like a good solution.

by The King of Spain on Sep 6, 2008 7:51 pm • linkreport

This is the problem with years of NPS "improving" roads in the parks. Rock Creek Parkway is supposed to be a recreational park drive at 25 mph. But it gets a lot of cars going fast, so NPS adds ramps to make traffic flow better, and straightens curves to make it safer, and before you know it we have something that feels like an Interstate freeway but is still supposed to be more a park access road.

The GW Parkway has this problem even more, as the Post wrote in July.

by David Alpert on Sep 6, 2008 11:57 pm • linkreport

@David Actually, both the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and the George Washington Parkway were conceived and designed as "parkways" ... i.e., the first iteration of limited access highways (for automobiles) in the U.S. The Rock Creek and Potomac Highway actually carries a historical designation to this effect. (The GW may too, but I haven't checked into it.) And btw the speed limit on the parkway isn't 25 mph. Those rules cited above apply to Rock Creek Park's roads (e.g. Beach Drive) and not to the parkway.

The multi-purpose trails were added to the side of the parkway roadway as a way of expanding its use to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Irrespsective of what is legal or isn't. It's still pretty ignorant and arrogant for a bicyclist to plunk themselves in the middle of the fast lane of 4 lanes of traffic averaging 50 mph. Don't you agree?

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 10:51 am • linkreport

The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway is part of Rock Creek Park- all the laws of RCP apply to it:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/rocr/VisitorCenter/faq.htm

http://www.nps.gov/carto/PDF/ROCRmap1.pdf

36 CFR §4.10 - TRAVEL ON PARK ROADS AND ROUTES

(a) Park roads, open for travel by motor vehicle are those indicated in the following publication: Rock Creek Park brochure.

36 CFR §4.21 - SPEED LIMITS

(b) The following speed limits are established for the routes/roads indicated:

Speed limit is 25 mph on all park roads unless otherwise posted

by Bianchi on Sep 7, 2008 10:57 am • linkreport

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Creek_and_Potomac_Parkway

"The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, often known simply as the Rock Creek Parkway, is a parkway maintained by the National Park Service as part of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. It runs next to the Potomac River and Rock Creek in a generally north-south direction, carrying four lanes of traffic from the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Memorial Bridge north to a junction with Beach Drive near Connecticut Avenue at Calvert Street, N.W., just south of the National Zoological Park.

The Parkway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 2005. Built from 1923 to 1936, it is "one of the best-preserved examples of the earliest stage of motor parkway development"."

Also note that Rock Creek Park was extended to incorporate the Parkway (i.e., the southernmost point of Rock Creek Park used to be the Zoo.) The area where the parkway sits was reclaimed "to enable the reclamation and conservation of the polluted Rock Creek, which had served as a dumping

ground for nearby industries and tenement dwellers." (http://crm.cr.nps.gov/archive/16-3/16-3-3.pdf)

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 11:10 am • linkreport

@Bianchi, I notice you haven't commented on whether you agree that it was ignorant and/or arrogant for a cyclist to plunk themselves into the fast lane of 4 lanes of rush hour parkway traffic travelling at speeds he couldn't expect to meet? And btw, the speed limit there is "as otherwise posted". (I.e., it's not 25 mph.)

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 11:15 am • linkreport

The history does not negate the current laws. See links above.

by Bianchi on Sep 7, 2008 11:18 am • linkreport

I am 100% certain the posted speed limit is not 50mph.

"arrogance-One entry found.

: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions."

For instance assuming one is entitled to break the law and that one is entitled to exclusive use of a road by willfully ignoring (root word "ignorant") the law that gives other types of users a right to access as well.

I can not be in the mind of the biker so I can not comment on why s/he was there. I gave some reasonable scenarios as to why a biker might be there in an effort to engage the imagination and sense of understanding of someone who doesn't regularly bike. However, the biker had right to be there-no explanation needed. Driving 50mph was a gross violation of law.

by Bianchi on Sep 7, 2008 11:33 am • linkreport

@Bianchi Apparently, you believe a bicyclist has the right to be on a roadway where a separate bike path has been constructed to handle bike traffic. Tell me, do you also believe that a bicyclist has a right to be in the regular lane of a city street where a bike lane has been similarly established? If so, please explain then the rationale for building separate bike paths and bike lanes.

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 11:53 am • linkreport

Lance, there is no question that the cyclist has the right to be in the roadway or the regular lane of a city street. No question at all.

RCP is not a limited access freeway.

by Alex B. on Sep 7, 2008 3:39 pm • linkreport

Apparently, you believe a bicyclist has the right to be on a roadway where a separate bike path has been constructed to handle bike traffic.

Yes. This has been another edition of 'Simple Answers to Simple Questions'. :)

At least in California, bikes have the right to most roads - whether a separated bike path exists or not.

by Peter on Sep 7, 2008 3:48 pm • linkreport

Alex, if that is the case, then what is the rationale for having bike lanes and bike paths?

It sounds like you want your cake and to eat it too. Either bike traffic is separated from regular traffic or it is not. I.e., You can't both have a bike lane that is reserved for bicyclists and then make a case for bicyclists to have the right to enter the lane that has been reserved for vehicular traffic lane.

IMHO where bicyclists can keep up with vehicular traffic, they are far better off not being segregated from the vehicular traffic. By being a part of one shared area, they can better interact with and be a part of the traffic. (Bike lanes are dangerous because they not only cut off this interaction on what is really and truly still a single roadway despite the painted lines, but they also instill a false sense of security in the bicyclist ... i.e., makes him/her think that those painted lines protect him/her.) Where bicyclists can't keep up with the vehicular traffic (and as such not really be a part of the traffic ... other than being an impediment to it), then bicyclists need their own separate paths ... or need to be barred altogether from the area. (E.g., the Beltway.)

And yes, I fully expect Bianchi to come back with "the law gives me the right to blah blah blah". I'd much more be interested in hearing him discuss common sense than some imaginary real world rights he thinks the law gives him. Actually, I'd luv to see him try to excercise his "rights" on the fast lane of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway during rush hour ... or better yet, do so on the GW Parkway. I bet he'd get a citation for doing so faster than he could say "But officer, I read on the Internet that I COULD bicycle here!"

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 3:59 pm • linkreport

Lance, there are also HOV lanes, which in theory allow people driving with more than one person in the vehicle to have an easier route through traffic, as a way of improving flow by incentivizing carpooling. Similarly bike lanes are a special kind of lane that allows riders to travel in relative ease while keeping drivers from feeling held up. It doesn't mean you can't use the road, just that the city wants to promote that kind of transit without making riders suffer.

You say bike lanes separate you from the road and give you a false sense of security. No more, perhaps than actually staying in your lane while driving. But what if you don't want to bike with traffic speeds, 25 mph is not great to maintain for long trips, and 35 is nearly impossible to maintain at all, so staying with the "real world" situation is completely unreasonable. Bikes should be allowed to go at different speeds than cars, but if people are willing to forgo the accommodation, they should, and do, have the right. But they shouldn't be stupid and try to go 50. Your example is an outlier and a distraction from the policy debate as it affects most people.

by The King of Spain on Sep 7, 2008 5:28 pm • linkreport

@Spain, This was but one example of the many many stupid moves made by a "substantial few" of riders around here ... with "substantial few" being maybe as high as 1 in 3 riders in DC. Neither you, nor David, nor anyone has addressed this very real problem we have with that "substantial few" who either have no common sense or are arrogant to the point of being willing to gamble with their lives to prove "their rights". As I've mentioned before, I believe the nature of biking makes it better that a bike keep rolling and not come to a complete stop at stop signs, or wait it's turn at a traffic light (i.e., stop behind the last car stopped at the light), etc. However, I don't think this "letting it slide" can or should extend to the point where riders brazenly cut off traffic, speed through an intersection without even bothering to see who actually has the right of way (or if there even happens to be a pedestrian God forbid daring to cross their path), etc. You've seen this too I am sure ... if you are bothering to look ... And THIS is not an outlier or a distriction. I'd say that before cyclcists can complain about drivers or pedestrians or anyone else for that matter, they sorely need to put their own house in order. They're just I guess fortunate that the MPD isn't ticketing much, else this "substantial few" would definitely be in line for the most tickets with their brazen and frequent transgressions!

by Lance on Sep 7, 2008 7:24 pm • linkreport

Lance, you're not addressing anyone else's claims and you're ranting about a perceived menace, throwing out side attacks. I was responding strictly to your point that either the bikers can be with the traffic as these "substantial few" are, or they can "have" bike lanes. I think the more reasonable solution is that people moving at motorized speeds should stay in traffic and those who wish to move at a gentler pace stay in bike lanes.

The core riders now are cocky and aggressive behind the handlebars, and I suspect they'd be cocky and aggressive behind steering wheels too. If we can foster a broader bike culture, that substantial few people who do keep up with automotive traffic speeds will be a tiny fraction. And the only way we'll do that it by giving ordinary people who want to ride at a comfortable speed a place to do that without being yelled at and honked at for being in the road.

by The King of Spain on Sep 7, 2008 9:48 pm • linkreport

"Lance, you're not addressing anyone else's claims and you're ranting about a perceived menace, throwing out side attacks. I was responding strictly to your point that either the bikers can be with the traffic as these "substantial few" are, or they can "have" bike lanes."

You're making the assumption that the "substantial few" = "those who are out in the traffic lanes instead of the bike lanes"; making it sound like that is what I was talking about, and then basing your entire argument on that "given". Sorry, nope, that's not the "given", nor the problem. The problem is simply put the totally bad behavior of way too many bicyclists. Last night I was crossing the road at a crossing (on foot) when a bicyclist pedalled right past me ... going the wrong way on a one way street. THAT is the kind of behavior I'm saying that bicyclists need "to put their own house in order" with before expecting any enforcement against the very rare times that the situation is reversed and the cyclist is not given their right of way. I think the problem is that we have that "substantial few" who think they ALWAYS have the right of way. And that is what I mean by an incredible arrogance being shown by a substantial percentage of regular bike riders. Definitely not all bike riders ... but enough to give bicyclists a bad rep.

by Lance on Sep 8, 2008 8:50 am • linkreport

King,

David posted a study a couple links above which lists the following in its conclusions. THIS is what I was referring to. Just FYI so that you know where I am coming from, I've been cycling since I could walk ... And I learned my cycling from my grandfather whose own father established one of the oldest European cycling clubs. I'm not anti-cyclist. Quite the opposite. I'm anti the bad behavior that I see that "substantial few" exhibit so often. I.e., those who give cycling a bad name.

ONE OF THE STUDY's CONCLUSIONS:

"For me, the single most encouraging aspect of Dutch cycling was the attitude of cyclists toward traffic regulations. In overwhelming numbers, they obey the array of special signals, signs and stripings for bicyclists.

I was dumbfounded the first time I watched an intersection and saw every cyclist pull up to the red light and stop. I wondered if other American bike programmers would be similarly speechless—on one level, I never believed cyclists were “trainable.”

by Lance on Sep 8, 2008 11:32 am • linkreport

Oh Lance. You left off the rest of the quote!

"In general, I found that the Dutch motorists knew how to react properly to cyclists. While cycling in Holland, I was rarely cut off at intersections, and motorists typically slowed down behind cyclists on roadways and waited for a proper space to pass.

I noted very little impatient behavior and never felt resented as part of the traffic mix. (One English visitor, not knowing I was a cyclist, said he didn’t like driving his car through Holland because he and everyone else had to keep stopping for cyclists.)

Such experience weakened another of my almost unconscious attitudes—that motorists as a group could never learn to be considerate and accepting of cyclists (pp. 11-12)."

The whole thing is not as simple as you seem to think it is. It's complex and dangerous out there. The danger for everyone on the road includes motorists regularly driving too fast (say 50 in a 30 zone?).

This is worth repeating: "While cycling in Holland, I was rarely cut off at intersections, and motorists typically slowed down behind cyclists on roadways and waited for a proper space to pass."

by Bianchi on Sep 8, 2008 2:07 pm • linkreport

Last night I was crossing the road at a crossing (on foot) when a bicyclist pedalled right past me ... going the wrong way on a one way street.

Pedestrians regularly break almost every law on the book - jaywalking, etc. - endangering bicyclists the world over. Market St. in San Francisco is a great example, and tourists join in the fun, and we've all done it overseas, etc. But would I ever suggest that pedestrians 'need to put their own house in order'? No. Pedestrians and bicyclists try to survive out there. Sometimes they even do.

Cars are killers and need to be treated as such. It's possible that one day their utility value could catch up to their incredible destructiveness to society - after, say, we get rid of 99% of them - but probably not. They'll remain the third worst invention of all time, behind only the atom bomb and standing armies.

by Peter on Sep 8, 2008 2:41 pm • linkreport

Peter's right. No one has suggested pedestrians "need to get their house in order". That peds or bikers could control or even influence one another to a substantial degree is an unhelpful suggestion. On the other hand I regularly influence the behavior of drivers when I go the speed limit, slow down for bikers, stop to let peds cross, etc. I get honked at a lot :-) Cars kill. They kill people in other cars, they kill people walking, they kill people on bikes, they kill wildlife and they kill lost pets. Sure you can find examples of bike-ped collisions where biker or ped was killed. But overwhelming, cars are the killers on the road. Not bikes and peds. Slow down. That's me your're behind honking at. I'm going the speed limit and trying to preserve life.

by Bianchi on Sep 8, 2008 3:01 pm • linkreport

>> "Cars are killers and need to be treated as such. (Cars) remain the third worst invention of all time, behind only the atom bomb and standing armies."

That's completely ridiculous hyperbole and just undermines legitimate pro-bicycling and pro-ped arguments. How do you that food you buy from Whole Foods was supplied to the store? Certainly not by bicycle... Vehicles are not a bad invention. How we've planned sprawling communities has been bad but vehicles do enable many invaluable things in our society.

by Cascades on Sep 8, 2008 3:13 pm • linkreport

"Cars are killers and need to be treated as such. ... They'll remain the third worst invention of all time, behind only the atom bomb and standing armies."

I gather the concept of "peace through strength" is not one you accept?

by Lance on Sep 8, 2008 3:16 pm • linkreport

I'd included a "smile" in brackets at the end of my last comment. I'd forgotten that the html code here wouldn't read it ...

by Lance on Sep 8, 2008 3:18 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi, Sorry ... but American motorists have to be among the most accommodating of all motorists anywhere towards cyclists. They have to be with the many disorderly cyclists we have on our roads here who never bother to learn the rules of the road ... never mind their attempting to adhear to them.

For example, you wouldn't find a cyclist trying to impede traffic in Europe as I witnessed on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway the other day. It's just not done. Riding a bike there is taken as seriously as driving a car. Rules and traffic laws are followed, and there is no need for a motorist to make allowances for "rogue" bicyclists as is way too often the case here where we don't hold bicyclists accountable like we do drivers.

by Lance on Sep 8, 2008 3:28 pm • linkreport

Lance, what do you think the author of the quote was referring to? What are you trying to say?

by Bianchi on Sep 8, 2008 3:35 pm • linkreport

That's completely ridiculous hyperbole

That's what I was shooting for, but thinking about it a bit more, it seems, unfortunately, not so ridiculous. :(

How do you that food you buy from Whole Foods was supplied to the store?

Many proponents of slavery used the same argument. Just because something is done a certain way right now is not an argument that it should stay the same forever.

And plenty of areas of the world seem to get by just fine without cars to transport food. The Slow Food movement is helping us bikers to bring that concept back to America.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food

And I don't have a problem with vehicles, just motor vehicles, with the way corporations have managed to force them upon us and tear down the most important aspects of society - the ones that provide meaning and possibly even keep us from being completely miserable.

I gather the concept of "peace through strength" is not one you accept?

Not any more than I accept the concept of "Ignorance is strength". :)

So, uh, back to what's important - what are we gonna do about this intersection? I'm still pretty new to this stuff, and don't have a good answer, but I'm willing to work to figure something out. It'd probably be broadly applicable.

p.s. I'm using the <em> tags to 'emphasize' quoted text.

by Peter on Sep 8, 2008 3:43 pm • linkreport

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