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Offline UnmzldOx

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Share the Road
« on: April 18, 2019, 11:30:28 PM »
Alright, to divert continued threadjacks, can we pick up the [bi]cyclist topic in this new thread?
We all have cyclist friends, and many on this forum are cyclists, so I find myself being careful to criticize road cycling only sparingly. Perhaps I'll be more sympathetic if I understand their rationale. This is not to start a fight, so I'm not getting the popcorn.

My evening commute includes a 10 mile stretch of country, 55 mph, two-lane road that is a favorite for local cyclists. There are a few blind curves and no shoulders. This road is our access to a ferry crossing, so every 20 minutes, a platoon of thirty pickup trucks and cars offload from the ferry and then compete for passing opportunities; many trying pass the inevitable one or two slow drivers. Into this scene, the cyclists insert themselves. They are slow moving obstacles in the lane of travel. Some drivers slow and pass leaving the required 3 ft gap. Others slow completely and follow the cyclist until a full passing lane becomes available. Some cyclists are comfortable keeping 1 ft inside the white line while cars pass. Others pair up and ride side-by-side to block cars until a full pass is possible. Meeting a cyclist in one of the curves ensures a traffic slow down since the driver can't see to pass. In the short straight sections, passing a cyclist might involve crossing a solid middle line which is technically not legal, even if acceptable. 

Recently I passed two vehicles in a straight section. As I committed to the second pass, I noticed a cyclist coming in the opposite direction. He had no front light and not enough hi-viz area to detect at a distance. He held his position 1 ft off his white line and I held my line close to the middle. I was able to complete my pass before he reached me, but it bothers me that (for me at least) he was not a visible obstacle when I began the first pass. I checked my 720P video. He's just not there at the beginning.

Each of these encounters is an opportunity for hitting a cyclist or rear-ending the car that slowed for a cyclists. Even the most conscientious driver can make an easy mistake in these situations where difference in speed, and visibility are significant factors.

Are cyclists asking too much of us? Should we be expected to reliably avoid these small, nearly camouflaged, non-illuminated people? Are they imposing too much risk on themselves and us? For my part, I practice keeping a 4 sec gap, but even with that, an abrupt slow down comes up quickly.

FWIW

Offline Lancs-lad

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2019, 01:26:19 AM »
In our neck of the woods Lancashire/Yorkshire Dales it's the fluorescent clad cyclists that ride side by side talking away to each other making it awkward to pass them, if they fancy a chinwag so much there's loads of lovely tea shops dotted about??
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Online Mister Paul

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2019, 08:49:23 AM »
The HC says that when passing a cyclist you should give them as much space as you would a car. That's a whole lane width. Cyclists are taught (government guidance) to ride in primary position when they need to, which is further out than in the gutter. This prevents close passes and gives the cyclist escape room if someone cuts them up.

Another perspective-
I cycle to work whenever I can. It's a 5 mile lane with changing speed limits. 30-50-20-60-30-60-30. On the whole drivers are considerate and safe. But on every journey there are a few idiots who don't like me being there and pass as closely as they can, because they ignorantly believe that I'm going to make them late for work. I then pass these idiots at a roundabout as they're stuck in the queueing traffic. The queuing traffic that I've reduced by not being in my car.

Only last night a car close-passed me. Screaming that I was a f****** w*****, and giving me the finger and the coffee shake. Then he parked up (illegally on the pavement) 300m further up the road in front of his house. I'm a lover, not a fighter, so I stopped for a chat on the other side of the road. He wouldn't get out of his car, the big man. He sat there for 5 minutes. Ironic, as his abusive rant was because he thought I'd held him up by a few seconds. When he got out of the car I asked him why he had to be so abusive. Apparently I was riding in the middle of the road (I wasn't) and holding up hundreds of cars (there were about 10 - I was riding at 20mph in a short stretch of 30mph road). Apparently I should be riding on the pavement.

There are idiots in cars, on motorbikes, on bikes. The roads are for everyone and we are capable of getting on together without problems. As bikers I believe that we should have more of an understanding of cyclists and the risk that they are exposed to from idiot drivers who think that putting us in danger for the sake of 2 minutes being added to their journey is justifiable.

Offline UnmzldOx

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2019, 03:41:42 PM »
To cover the lawful access part of the issue, yes the roads are for [nearly] everyone. Even that is in flux right now. With the rise of e-bikes and ATV / UTVs added to bicycles, mail carriers, farm vehicles and pedestrians, all kinds of full-width and half-width, slow and stopping obstacles are now legally or illegally on the road. It's a bit of a mess. Here's what I mean: IMHO road travel is made less safe and less efficient when all modes are thrown in together. It would be better if we could add a small lane to separate full speed and slow speed modes. If lanes can't be added, I begin to support banning the slower modes from certain full speed highways during commuting hours. That is done already on our limited access freeways (interstates), but we have not moved to do so on country roads that cyclists favor so much. Instead their rights have been asserted. After the death of two cyclists on the very route I take, the local authorities doubled down and added signs to remind everyone that cyclists may use the whole lane. From a legal standpoint, two cyclists could ride side-by-side at 15 mph for the whole 10 miles with a pile of vehicles waiting to pass, and the latter would have no legal remedy. The law is tilted too far toward the cyclist who is there for recreation rather than commuting. Requiring cyclists to hug the white line might relieve the problem a bit, but that invites close passing at full speed. I appreciate the majority of cyclists who do hug the white so that I may pass near full speed near the center giving them 8 ft or so. That works for me, but not all cyclists or drivers get it. That puts me sitting back in a queue waiting to pass occasionally. That's not as safe as it could be and not convenient. But you're right. Sitting in the queue for a few extra minutes is not the end of the world either.

Rant paused.

Online Mister Paul

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2019, 05:13:32 PM »
You've just reminded me how much better the attitude towards roads is in the uk as opposed to the USA. And that's saying something.

Offline UnmzldOx

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2019, 09:03:19 PM »
Care to expand? I would say ours is competitive with too little respect for safety. Yet, I haven't seen overt road rage toward the cyclists like you described.

Offline Aikenrunner

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2019, 12:52:30 AM »
Drivers in the US have the "McDonalds" attitude in that they want everything quickly and don't want to be delayed for 10 seconds. As a cyclist in the south I get harassed regularly if I am riding solo. If in a group it is much less likely. I think that I am more respectful of motorists than many cyclists in that I will avoid heavily traveled roads and ride as close to the white line as possible and I will even hop over to the outside of the white line when there is room but I still get passed very closely at high speeds, yelled at, and given the finger. People traveling in shiny metal boxes have no idea what it like to be on a bicycle passed by a vehicle traveling 40 mph faster within a few feet. There are inconsiderate people in every group of users on the road and all I can say is if we conduct ourselves in a safe and respectful manner hopefully no one gets hurt.

Offline UnmzldOx

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2019, 03:36:48 AM »
At a full speed difference of 40 mph, how many feet of passing clearance is needed to feel safe as a cyclist? Is my 8 ft rule enough? What does a cyclist expect and appreciate?

How are UK drivers different? Is there really more patiance and respect generally than in the US? I find the US Deep South is much less respectful than the NE with respect to driving.

Offline ewryly

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2019, 05:41:27 PM »
I have been reading this thread with interest having been both promoted bicycle commuting in San Diego County, CA for years, ridden over 250,000 miles on my bicycles,  and been an expert witness in  CA courts concerning bicyclists standard of care, but I don't have time to write a more thorough post, so this will have to do.  I can speak only to bicycling in the U.S., but here are few quick thoughts:

1)  Bicyclists were on the roads first.  In fact they were the first group, starting around 1870, to advocate for improved roads.

2)  In the States, bicyclists are either considered vehicles or have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicles.  In both cases there are typically sections in the law that spell out special rights and responsibilities for bicyclists largely dealing with the fact that bicyclists are narrower than other road users and can share lanes with those other road users.

3)  We can think of roads as resources with basically two different distribution principles:  Straight through sections where the distribution principle is for slower vehicles to ride to the outside and faster and passing vehicles to ride to the inside.  The distribution principle for intersections is the side of the road in the direction you wish to travel.  For bicyclists who tend to be slower, making this transition from straight through to turning when they want to go left (U.S.) is the real challenge.

4) Most car-bike accidents, like most motorcycle-car accidents occur at intersections and involve turning vehicles.  Bicycles who ride too far to the right risk being out of the area that a turning vehicle scans for oncoming traffic before turning.  (If you go to a bicycle criterium, you might see a late sprint with the second place rider hugging the crowd precisely to avoid detection by the leader looking to see where his or her competition is.  Good for the racer on a closed circuit, not for the bicyclist in traffic.)

5)  Governments encourage cycling for lots of reasons, but, at least in CA, the primary reason was commuting as part of an effort to clean up the environment.  A healthier population is certainly also a concern, but even encouraging recreational riding was part of an effort to get more people to commute by bicycle, especially in the cities.

6)  Separate bicycle facilities can make some sense but separate lanes for cyclists--versus simply ensuring that the outside lane of the road is wide enough to accommodate cyclists and cars side-by-side--are less safe than simply improving roads.  Completely separate facilities, while all right for slow recreational riding are not safe for commuters or faster riders.  For one thing, they create a whole new set of intersections most of which are not well regulated or which have the bicyclist yield to crossing traffic, typically traffic that does not expect to see other vehicles crossing.   Separate  facilities usually are not well maintained--lots of debris--and they tend to pick up non-bicycle users.  Worse, most places have a mandatory bicycle facilities rule that requires a bicyclist to ride in that facility if it exists, regardless of whether or not it is safe.  If a bicyclist doesn't, he or she can have a  hard time winning in court.

7)  Can you imagine if the government told you that you could not ride on a particular road unless you were going to work?  At least in the States, we generally don't segregate traffic by use, and I can't imagine that it would fly.  Plus a lot of bicycle riding is utility riding with a very, very low impact on the environment.

8)  But the real problem is bicyclists impeding how traffic might flow if there were not bicyclists on the road (I hesitate to call that normal use of the road because that begs the critical question).  So where should a bicyclist ride on a straight-through stretch of road?  If the bicyclist is slower than surrounding traffic, he or she should ride to the outside (right in the US) following the slower straight-through traffic to the outside.  If the lane is wide enough to accommodate a cyclist and a car for the length of the lane (i.e., not just for some short stretch between parked cars), the cyclist should ride just to the outside of the motor vehicle traffic thereby sharing the outside lane.  He or she shouldn't ride as far outside as possible because they then disappear to crossing and turning traffic (see #4 above).  To determine if the lane is wide enough for a bicyclist and another vehicle side by side, the bicyclist should map ahead a route on the outside of the lane that he or she can take consistently without having to weave right and left to avoid obstacles.  If that route allows the bicyclist to share the outside lane, then he or she should.

9)  What if the outside lane is not wide enough to allow the bicyclist to share the lane with other traffic?  In that case, the bicyclist should move far enough into the lane to force overtaking cars to cross the inside lane line in order to pass the bicyclist.  Car drivers--who are often in an amazing number of ways not law abiding--will take huge risks with the bicyclist's life just to avoid moving into the next lane while passing the bicyclist.  The bicyclist should not leave to the motorist discretion the question of whether or not the overtaking motor vehicle can safely pass the bicyclist in the same lane.  This is can be one reason why two bicyclists will ride side by side because even if there was just one of them, there would not be room in the lane for a car and bicyclist and that one bicyclist should also be riding far enough inside the lane to for cars to make lane changes.  If that is the case, then the two abreast bicyclists are fine, even car drivers are irritated by them.  If there is room in the lane for single-file bicycle traffic and motor vehicle traffic, then they should not be riding two abreast. 

10)  What if the bicyclist who is doing the right thing is slowing up traffic?  In that case, the cyclist should pull over when safe and allow the traffic to pass.  They do not need to do that to meet any car driver's sense of how much more important that car driver's current efforts are than the are the cyclists.  They get to consider their own reasons for being on the road that day and to work to achieve them while also accommodating other traffic.  And they should only do it in a safe way.  They are not inferior road users, just slower (and cleaner). I will agree that most bicyclists don't do that.  I will also contend that most car driver's frustration grossly exceeds the actual inconvenience they just suffered.  For instance, I suspect that if what was slowing up the cars was a slow moving truck or a tractor, car drivers would still be irritated, but would not feel aggrieved because they see the other traffic as a necessary and legitimate evil, but cyclists are just interlopers. 

11)  As for restricting bicyclists from particular roads, most states do that for limited access roads only, though California and some other western states allow bicyclists on limited access roads where there are no alternatives.  Most bicyclists don't want to ride on highways, but I have done hundreds of miles on highways when there is no CA, AZ, and NM.  Limiting cyclists to other roads shouldn't mean limiting them to access ot business or putting them on inferior and unsafe bicycle facilities.  But it is important for the environment to keep traffic moving, it certainly makes sense to look into fixing situations where traffic is not going at an optimal speed, but not by pretending that bicycles are toys and bicyclists just goofing around.

Offline ewryly

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Re: Share the Road
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2019, 05:47:35 PM »
*Originally Posted by UnmzldOx [+]
At a full speed difference of 40 mph, how many feet of passing clearance is needed to feel safe as a cyclist? Is my 8 ft rule enough? What does a cyclist expect and appreciate?

How are UK drivers different? Is there really more patiance and respect generally than in the US? I find the US Deep South is much less respectful than the NE with respect to driving.

Much of the work for bicyclists is to change drivers' attitudes towards them and to get bicyclists to behave like regular road users--i.e., obey the rules for stopping, etc.  The two go hand in hand.  San Diego was great not just because of the weather, but the roads were wide and there were thousands and thousands of cyclists out all the time.  That went a long way to normalizing the perception that bicyclist belong there, and bicyclists seem to do a decent job of acting the part.

 


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