Comment 10749

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 07, 2007 at 14:35:23

Frank Said:

"Sean, multiuse paths aren't meant for commuting and as such aren't designed for 20km/h bike travel."

I know... that is why I took offence to your original statement that they were designed for cyclists which implied to me that you believed all cyclists should ride on multiuse trails whenever they are available. My point is that even if there is a multi-use trail right next to a road, commuting cyclists should in most cases continue to use the road in order to maximize safety for all users.

Frank Said:

"In order to properly build a road for a cyclist, grades would have to change because sight distances are much different."

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this.... can you give me an example? I'm just trying to visualize it...

Frank Said:

"I agree with the part about not racing past cyclists and then turning right or stopping. I've never seen it happen but I can imagine it does."

It does all the time and I know it is more of a mental thing that you can't design out of roads. However, by encouraging people to cycle (or walk), these mentalities can slowly be changed as drivers learn to expect that they will encounter many more cyclists and pedestrians and will learn how to act around them.

The main point I was making here was about a serious double standard with regards to lane sharing. Whenever traffic is moving, motorists have an attitude that the very right hand side of the road is the cyclist's "lane". They think that the cyclist should stay there at all times. When it comes to a stopped situation, their perception shifts. They think that cyclists should stay in their place in the full "shared lane" and not create their own lane to the right and pass everyone. Let me demonstrate with two scenarios:

  1. A cyclist is riding on the right edge of a single lane road. A group of 20 cars comes from behind and begin to pass him (perhaps they were released as a group from a distant traffic light). The cyclist needs to turn left. Despite the fact that the cyclist was "first in line", if the cyclist signals to turn left, no cars will let him in. He has to wait until all 20 cars pass before daring to venture into the full lane in order to initiate a turn. If he DOES find his way into the lane and has to wait to turn (thereby holding up the line of cars), he gets honked at. Meanwhile if any of those cars had to make the turn, everyone would wait patiently. This is a clear case where the motorists view the right side of the road as an implied "bike lane" even though none is painted there.

  2. Same as above, but the cyclist does not make the turn. All 20 cars legally pass him and get stopped at a light up ahead. The cyclist then passes all of the cars to the right. In this case, all the motorists get mad because the cyclist was not waiting his turn. However, all the cyclist did was use his "implied bike lane" just as the motorists would have wanted him to do in the first scenario. And to add insult to injury, the situation hasn't even changed after he performs his pass! He is at the front of the line of vehicles that he was ahead of from the very beginning.

Clearly you can see that these two scenarios result in conflicting attitudes toward the cyclist's right to the lane. Please be honest about your attitude when driving. If you come upon a cyclist on the shoulder who has his left hand out, do you let him into the lane in his rightful spot so that he can turn (even if it means you might have to stop and wait)? Or do you hurry past him so that you aren't held up. If you'd do the former then you are in a miniscule minority. It's more a matter of "what's most convenient for the motorist" than "what's safest for the cyclist". If safety was number one, motorists would request that cyclists take the entire lane all the time and act as a car in every situation, even if it means following a bike at 20km/h for 2kms straight.

Frank Said:

"However, a bike lane gives a place for a motorist to look for a cyclist."

Bike lanes can be (and usually are) less safe for cyclists than traffic lanes. Removing bikes from the driver's lane (and primary viewing area) encourages motorists to NOT look out for bikes. Conflicts are created at intersections where a cyclist has a clear lane through an green light while a motorist is forced to make a right turn across the bike's path. Bike lanes also tend to collect more debris and potholes, and because the lane is painted, the cyclist cannot avoid these obstacles as easily because motorists expect them to "stay in their lane" regardless of these obstructions. It is no secret that the safest way to cycle is to act in a predictable manner as a part of traffic. I am proposing that we write the laws in order to encourage predictable cyclist behaviour.

Ron Said:

"In the past month I've experienced..."

Do you drive daily? You listed four incidents where you noticed bad cyclist behaviour. Can you list all of the incidents of bad motorist behaviour you witnessed ths month? Is there enough room on this page to fit then all? Don't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. Please count the number of motorists you see rolling through stop signs. My guess is that the answer is "99.9% of them".

Here's some footage for you: | |

Ron Said:

"Making the cycling laws a little more lenient won't necessarily help. Cycling is great and I'm sure it's the minority that cause the problems - but until we can enforce the laws we have (on cyclists) I don't see a point in tuning them for cyclists."

I am not advocating making them lenient. I am avocating the creation of laws that are fair, safe, and accommodating equally to all road users. Regarding enforcement, I am also advocating full enforcement upon all users equally and fairly. This includes cars speeding and rolling stops as well as cyclists blowing through red lights. I've said it before: start enforcing the traffic laws for cyclists only when you equally and fairly start enforcing them for drivers.

Frank Said:

When I bike, I'd much rather stop to make sure that I'm not going to get hit than yield at a stop sign expecting a motorist to stop and get broadsided.

Under these proposed law changes, nothing prevents you from stopping at every sign if you feel it necessary for your own safety. That's the beauty: your safety would be in your own hands!

Frank Said:

"When you're biking on side roads, obviously you'd yield at a stop sign. Generally you can see what's going on and road speed are usually slower than the main roads. Look both ways and cross. It's the same as walking along the road."

Here, you are advocating breaking laws because you want to use common sense: 'clearly there is no traffic, so I can coast through'. I am advocating making it legal to do so. I think you are missing my point in this article. I am not saying that all cyclists can or should blow through every stop sign. I am advocating allowing everyone to make the decision about the safety of doing so on their own, the same way a motorist does at a red light when he decides to turn right. Obviously at a major intersection where the street you are crossing does not have a stop sign, you are likely, for your own safety, to stop completely to check for traffic before crossing. These law changes aren't going to alter the actions of idiots who never stop. They are meant to encourage more people to ride and create a safer environment for everyone.

Ron, regarding your last post:

First, I don't understand why you perceive this as "lowering the bar". As I said before, allowing cyclists to make the call in certain situations is akin to allowing motorists to turn on a red light. You leave the judgement up to the individual.

Second, the problem on the 400 series highways is not the numerical value of the speed limit. It is lack of enforcement of the speed limit. The proposal to raise the limit to 120 is inherently connected to the proposal to improve enforcement. The idea isn't just to change it to 120 and hope for the best, the idea is to change it to 120 and then ACTIVELY ENFORCE the new limit. The same could be said about these law changes. You change the laws, and then you have a set of laws that are actually enforceable.

Third, connecting this to communism is a bit of a stretch :-)

Sorry about the long windedness of this response but I jumped in a bit late. I don't want to come off as argumentative, I just hope to make it clear that the whole point of this discussion is that I want to promote fairness in terms of the way the laws are written and the way the laws are enforced. There is a great inequality right now where the laws are written in favour of cars, and many of the laws governing cars are simply ignored. We need to reach a balance where everyone is justly represented by the laws, and that the laws are fairly enforced.

(comment edited for formatting by site administrator)

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-04-07 14:58:43

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