I came very close to going to prison. Not because I had done anything wrong by cycling on U.S. 27, but because the system is flawed. It works for those who have the money to buy the right connections.
Purvi Patel and I were in the same boat but for different reasons. Her story could have very easily been my story. I’d had two late term abortions due to severe fetal anomalies. Even writing the last part of that sentence sits wrong with me. I shouldn’t have to include my private medical information so that you’d feel empathy for me instead of disgust. But there we have it. Rape culture and victim blaming.
I can’t speak for Purvi Patel’s legal council or the laws that were used to charge her. I’m not familiar with either. What I can speak about with confidence is the mixed reactions people had when her story broke. Some people felt empathy, while others wanted to crucify her. I recall trying to raise awareness about her story and a woman wrote to me saying that “she dumped the body in a dumpster!” as though that should seal her fate. It reminded me of the pseudo cycling advocates who say “She’s cycling on the road!” as though that was all the evidence they needed that I was doing something wrong.
I’ve worked in a hospital before as hospital staff. My first experience with hospital waste came from my first summer job I had before college. I was working for the college laundry and we serviced the hospitals dirty linens. The stuff you find in there is shocking. The stuff you see in a hospital is shocking. But it’s only shocking to the people who live in suburban and urban bubbles. People whose closest foray into the medical world is watching edited for T.V. medical dramas don’t understand. Real life is much messier and less black and white.
So they judged her without knowing her and they prosecuted her with barely a peep from Civil Liberties giants like the ACLU.
Recently I saw an article declaring high speed internet in rural locations as our next civil liberties crisis. I thought, wow! What a crock of shit! Huffington post highlighted a story about a man who was struggling to earn enough through his online business to support his family. This has the ACLU galloping to fight for “justice.” Internet is important and it’s a great tool for learning but there are other avenues and no one is having their freedoms destroyed because they can’t connect at speeds greater than 25mbps.
Meanwhile Purvi Patel might very well languish in prison for 20 years because she felt conflicted about a pregnancy, shared those feeling via text msg, and had a miscarriage that was probably more of a relief for her than it was a loss. Then she put the already dead fetus in the trash. Much the same way that your local hospital does. Though most have their medical waste incinerated to prevent biohazards from getting into the environment. It’s all very regulated.
My first late term abortion I opted to have my pregnancy induced. It was just a matter of time and time wasn’t on my side. The baby had at this point died in utero and I was becoming sick. Every woman is different and every woman’s body handles a dead fetus differently. Maybe Nicholas was alive right up until the birth and they told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat to help me feel better. I don’t know. What I do know is that he was dead when he came out and I got to hold a 25 week old fetus in my arms. They are fragile as spun glass. Very tiny too. In fact the anti-choice posters they wave at Planned Parenthood don’t look like 6-12 week old fetus’. They look more like my son Nicholas at 25 weeks. Which is to say that those people are lying to you. They are lying to you when they tell you that Purvi Patel’s baby was born alive. They will feed you half lies and tell you that they are semi truths while denying that a half truth is a whole lie.
Much like this picture of me here.
The picture is carefully taken to show you what looks like a nice wide shoulder. Looks pretty smooth too. But it’s not and the broken white line you see to my right is the beginning of a turn only lane. The same turn only lane that I used to illegally cycle forward through and almost got killed on one occasion. So I stopped and tried riding further right only to find that the motorists were taking the right turn at such high speeds that they didn’t see me and I almost got killed again. So I said fuck it and started riding in the lane. Where it was legal and safe. Besides broken glass, rumble strips, pot holes, right turning motorists (at high speeds), and intersections. I still had to deal with people rolling coal on me and throwing things at me. One person even tried to run me over while I was attempting to merge onto the shoulder. They passed me on the shoulder and almost struck me. So I said fuck it! I’m not breaking any laws by staying in the right hand lane and that’s where I’m safe, so that’s where I rode.
If you didn’t know all that just looking at the picture would make you question my “morality,” which is an absurd thing to do but it’s what humans do and we as a species are absurd.
The courts didn’t have a legal leg to stand on but with an inept conservative Republican, who is also a Lexington KY road cyclist, for an attorney. One who specialized in contract law and had never conducted a courtroom trial, I was screwed and I knew it. People ask me why I didn’t ask for a continuance when the ASSistant C.A. Eric Wright introduced a new charge at my trial. Mostly I wanted my relationship with my attorney to be over but also because I felt bad for the people who had paid air fare to come out and defend me. I really just wanted the whole thing to be over. I knew my attorney wasn’t prepared to represent me and I knew I was going to lose on those first three tickets. I wanted to win. I wanted to win so bad I could taste it. But the odds were stacked against me and I knew it. Filing an appeal was my next option but the new attorney I hired, thanks to all of your generous donations, advised against it. As did Ohio bike lawyer Steve M. He knew that the case was poorly represented and Steve had given it his best but there was only so much Steve could do with the local attorney who sat through the whole trial like a bump on a log. The guy who filmed my news segment, the one from which the picture is taken and my local attorney are tight. Both cyclists. Both men. They are not bad people. What they are is really out of touch people. People who think Trump is going to make America Great again or that Hillary Clinton has a fighting chance against Trump. They are really out of touch with working class Americans.
My new attorney said we had two options, file a mistrial due to incompetent legal counsel. Which I didn’t want to drag Steve’s name into. Or accept a plea agreement. The plea agreement was only accepted by me because I did not admit to any guilt. That was my one stipulation above all else. Jude Booth had already ruled my cycling on the road was legal. The City of Nicholasville agreed to drop all charges, have the first three tickets expunged from my record and the fines waived (taxpayer dollars down the drain), and all I had to do was agree to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. We threw in that the police had probable cause to pull me over. But I didn’t give a shit about that because the U.S. Supreme court later ruled that cops can pull you over if they “think” you’re breaking a law but you’re not actually breaking a law. Meaning that the cop could think you’ve broken a law or he can make up a law and that would count as probable cause. Like I said the whole system is fucked up. So I gave them probable cause and agreed to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. Since U.S. 27 runs directly through downtown and I knew that the county attorney and his crew were as corrupt as fuck. I had no choice but to move away. I couldn’t go to my bank or the grocery store without using U.S. 27 and you know they’d throw my ass in jail for breaking the plea agreement if I said or did anything they didn’t like. Even though I wasn’t cycling on the main road to Lexington it was still U.S. 27 and I didn’t trust those fuckers.
But I would have fought and continued fighting if I wasn’t pressured into moving to Louisville. I really did want to fight but at the same time I didn’t because I was so overwhelmed and tired. Having someone constantly telling me to move and even going so far as to tell us to stay with them was enough to influence my decision.
I think Purvi’s legal team really didn’t have a clue as to how to defend her but I do know they put more effort into it than my local attorney did.
I also know that the same type of people who think I’m against bicycle infrastructure are the same type of people who think that Purvi Patel threw a live infant in the trash. Ignorant, out of touch, privileged, mostly male but some women too, and they are all assholes.
The environment that we are currently living in is so geared away from freedom and the people who live in it are so apathetic that they can’t even get 100k signatures to free Purvi Patel BUT! they get over 100k signatures to ask for the freedom of a man who strangled and killed a woman.
He might very well be innocent or he may be guilty as hell! But the fact that the New York Times wrote an extensive article showing that Purvi Patel did NOT kill her baby and that it WAS dead before it ever came out of her vagina is still not enough to garner enough interest to reach more than 18k signatures.
As a woman who was getting a lot of hate from the Mountain Biking community, male auto drivers, and an unwarranted amount of hate from the “progressive” male dominated Democrats of Lexington KY; I knew my pooch was screwed. That and I was fucking tired. Tired of the hate, tired of the controversy (where none need exist), and above all else tired of the attention and people hanging on my every word.
I fought Nicholasville KY because I wanted to keep my home and my kids. I wasn’t looking to be the face of cycling. It wasn’t a stunt to bring attention to cycling or even VC cycling. The VC cyclists were the only group that said “Fuck yea! You have the right to cycle anywhere the hell you want!” That and that alone is what attracted me to them.
As I got to know some of them I realized that the group was comprised of assholes too. Just a different kind of asshole. So I dropped out of the group. No one got a hold of me or brainwashed me into Cycling Savvy. I approached it from logic, the law, and personal experience.
I fantasized about a bikeway that had bike lights and riding on a trail with no fucking self entitled motorists.
I hate bike lanes. Not because I hate bike lanes but because the overwhelming majority of them are crap. Pure fucking crap. I cycle less here in Oregon because of them. I still only cycle for transportation. But If I can take the bus, I so will. I still get harassed for lane control. Even though it is specifically legal to control a lane here in Oregon.
Sometimes I see the bike lobby much the same way I see the “right to life” lobbyists. Always crying about life and how precious it is until the life that matters isn’t one they are particularly interested in.
Abortion without apology and Cycling without apology. They are both our civil rights.
Self autonomy and freedom!
Vote Bernie Sanders!
*Before I learned about lane control I cycled on the right third of the lane.
Don’t you hate it when people start off writing with an opening like that? I know I do. I write this salutation to warn you that what you are about to read will (hopefully) blow your mind. I wrote it quickly and without proofreading. So excuse my deplorable punctuation and grammar. Which has always been deplorable but had the benefit of proofreading. This needs to be said and it needs to be said now.
If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will, hopefully, have noticed a theme.
I am first and foremost a proponent of everyone getting along and sharing that which has been entrusted to the public for public use. I paid attention in Kindergarten when we were taught to respect each other and share. I hope you did too.
I am not, as some less than emotionally stable people will insist, against infrastructure. What I am against is the flawed logic that all of cyclings problems can be resolved with infrastructure alone.
In fact I believe that it is this bicycle infra. only cult which has lead to the deaths of many cyclists and the culture of removing the blame from motorists for their bad driving habits. Because “if they’d only had a bike lane none of this would have happened” is specious logic.
At the end of this blog I will present solutions to these problems.
Where the article in TreeHugger fails is in…
Blaming cyclists for the injuries they sustain due to careless drivers is rape culture. As this, hot off the press and the straw which broke this blogger’s back, article in TreeHugger accurately portrays. Where they fail is in the conclusion.
The article in TreeHugger promotes rape culture. Blaming infra. or the lack thereof but not fully placing the onus on the perpetrator of the attack is rape culture.
Blaming a cyclist for the actions of a careless driver are ingrained in us, not by those who want to see cyclists as expected and respected, but rather by those who have made it their personal mission to create a smear campaign against those of us who are actively trying to require motorists to be held accountable for their actions.
I often hear “If they had a bike lane this wouldn’t have happened,” as though we can just engineer all of societal ills out of public roads.
I believe that everyone has a right to use the public roads and that they should be treated with equal status when on the roads. I also believe that good bicycle infra is an essential component of encouraging cycling. I don’t believe that it’s the only component to promoting cycling.
I myself was arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road. I wasn’t not using the shoulder to be “Cute” or “Prove a point” as the zealots claim. No! I was a new, in every way, cyclist who took up cycling as a means to provide for her children.
I, as a poor hardworking single mom, got shafted by both “Motorists are king of the road” car culture and “Special snowflake syndrome” bike culture. Not to be confused with responsible motorists and responsible bicycle advocates.
I still struggle to get people to take my story seriously because some people have chosen to latch onto the idea that this was a stunt by VC.
Where the article in Tree Hugger fails is in…
Religious fanaticism is the antithesis to religion.
You can not believe in an all loving God. A God whom you believe created everything on earth and pronounced it good while shitting on those who question its existence. Nor can you follow such a God and believe that he has chosen you, above all others, as especially blessed, giving you special leave to shit on anyone who doesn’t believe in this same God, exactly as you believe in it.
Enter bicycle specific infra. only zealots.
Every problem which plagues cyclists can not all fit into a bike lane. The bike lane is not Jesus resurrected, come to save cyclists from the sinfulness of motorkind.
Bike lanes, like religion, can be good and helpful.
And like religion, they can also be bad. Very, very bad, and that which was created to solve problems can in and of itself create a plethora of new problems, as this article shows. Link here. Especially if the bike lane is engineered using the very common practice of “get cyclists the hell off the road and out of our way!” car culture engineering.
Anyone who questions the safety and viability of a bike lane is immediately shouted down by the “Infra. only zealots.” A rather cultish group of people who troll twitter and call anyone who asks for better forethought in bicycle infrastructure a “Cunt,” as in… “You must be a VC! Because only a VC would ever question a bike lane you cunt.”
I was so angry when a twitter user did just that because I was trying to promote bike infra which would accommodate wider bicycles for people with special needs.
Where the article in TreeHugger fails is in…
Our European friends may not be familiar with “Jim Crow” laws and it is this lack of familiarity which will lead them to question our aversion to words like “separated infra.” Because as we know here in the United States and especially the South, “Separate but Equal,” is anything but. Andy Clarke was himself a infra only leader and used his political power to try and establish mandatory cycle lane laws in Washington state. A state where cycling is given the advantage of infra succeeding or failing by the comfort with which cyclists feel when using it. And calling a cyclist a VC (Vehicular Cyclist) has, in the world of cycling, been given the emotional weight of calling a person of color the “N” word. It is a word which was once and briefly used to describe the facts of a person’s skin color but then rapidly became a way to dehumanize and humiliate a class of people. Much in the same way that overly zealous followers of infra only “Guru’s” will preach to their follows that all VC are ANTI-INFRA! For an interesting read about the opinion of just such a Guru, click the blue link.
When in reality nothing could be further from the truth. I consider myself a connoisseur of infra. I understand how to operate in traffic and I want the best infra possible. I don’t want crumbs from the “Car Culture” table and I don’t believe that we are being given a feast when someone paints a shitty little lane into the gutter. Or worse between two 12 foot wide lanes. I know better.
What Mr. C. Anderson consistently fails to grasp is that in America, our shitty by blow bike lanes, a bastardization of auto culture, are further made unbearable by “Mandatory Use” laws. And it is those laws which I hate above all else.
He almost had it right.
A vehicular cyclist isn’t repulsive. A vehicular cyclist is one of the most educated cyclists on the road. And as @Rightlegpegged once asked “Have you even read the Uniform Manual on Bicycle Infra or attended a city council meeting?”
Have you even. Much like, you’re so stupid but I’ll condescend to acknowledge you.
The answer is yes. In fact, the greater majority of VC I know are passionate advocates for good bicycle infra, as they themselves are cyclists who cycle for transportation. They, like me, cycle in spite of a lack of infra. So let’s give them the respect they deserve.
Have you even talked to a VC about their concerns?
HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS?
We need to immediately stop slurring anyone who is using VC cycling principles for their safety.
We need to create a safe place where people can share their concerns about infra without immediately resorting to name calling.
Repeal all mandatory bike lane use laws.
Make it a penalty against the officer for not ticketing a motorist who causes injury to a cyclist.
Stop encouraging people to cycle on the edge of a road by shaming them into thinking they are being VC if they occupy a whole lane.
Mandatory cycling education across the board and on every level.
And I feel this is super important. Create policy mandating cycling infra be made with the same specification on the user’s safety as is given to auto infra engineering.
Lower speed limits.
Re-visit past tort law and educate law enforcement that the onus is on the driver to operate with care around pedestrians and cyclists.
Ban auto ads from television and social media. Like cigarettes they have a huge impact on public health and shape the culture of speed makes right and entitlement.
We can do all of this and still promote good infra.
I also would like to see sharrows in low speed residential areas. This is a place where bike lanes don’t make sense at all.
While I’m working to end car culture, be so kind as to support me. Instead of talking about me behind my back, giving me the cold shoulder, or making fun of me ask me about what I would do to make cycling better for all.
Let me plainly state that my problem with the article in TreeHugger is that it blames a lack of infra on the careless actions of a motorist. That is rape culture.
Douglas Bruce Ford, Jr. is a Canadian businessperson and politician in Toronto, Ontario. Ford was Toronto City Councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North in Toronto from 2010 to 2014 at the same time that his brother, Rob Ford, was mayor of Toronto. Wikipedia
Robert Bruce “Rob” Ford is a Canadian politician and businessperson who is a Toronto City Councillor. He was the 64th Mayor of Toronto, serving from 2010 to 2014. Prior to being mayor, Ford was a city councillor. Wikipedia
Car centric societies have no business engineering bicycle specific infrastructure. They aren’t qualified. You can not live your entire life driving a car and think that your engineering degree makes you fit to design bicycle specific infrastructure. You can’t do it. It’s like hiring someone who only walks, and has never driven, to design the roads you drive on. You would consider them unqualified, no matter how extensive their engineering knowledge or how many framed bits of expensive paper they have hanging on their wall.
You have to feel bicycling.
Local cycling advocate Tyler P. wants to ride his bicycle. He has a job, he goes to school, he shops, pays taxes, and is an all around responsible person.
He is a first class citizen being treated with second class status.
Because he rides a bicycle.
Toronto a.k.a. ‘Car’onto thanks to politicians like the “Ford’s” is vastly lopsided in its engineering practices. These engineering policies affect the entire province of Ontario, including the city of St. Catharines in the Niagara region.
Tyler P. has been actively reaching out to the local administration in the Niagara region and asking them for
These are temporary signs that he is asking to be placed until the new construction is complete.
As it stands now. There is a 1.2 meter sidewalk and the city of St. Catharines is asking cyclist to dismount and walk their bicycles across a bridge.
It’s a long walk.
Bicycling for transportation is fun. It’s also healthy, good for the environment, and easy on the wallet. The number one response from cyclists when asked why they enjoy cycling is “FREEDOM.”
You can’t get that with a car, even if you made it 100% free in every aspect you would still be hemmed in, limited, and stuck in traffic. That is the nature of autos.
Car centric societies are jealous of the freedom which cycling brings and it’s why people blame cyclists for their traffic problems, try to pass laws restricting them, and gamers design infra which hems cyclists in on every side.
Why can’t he just ride in the lane?
Well he can. Legally in St. Catharines, and all of Canada, Tyler’s bicycle is a vehicle and he is legally allowed to occupy the full lane of travel. Which is why he is asking for the sign. Tyler knows what he can do. That’s not the problem. The problem is that people driving autos will make his life a living hell for exercising his rights. Because they are
Uneducated on the equal status of bicycles as vehicles.
Educated by auto ads that their auto is “like a family member,” and we all put our family before strangers.
Car culture breeds lazy, distracted, and passive driving.
Namely tyler doesn’t want to be harassed.
There has been Twitter mention to the authorities in charge of this project to take into consideration the needs of the cyclist before after the construction is completed. As it stands now the bridge is being built to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as an afterthought.
There is a real problem with bicycle infra that project engineers, city planners, and cycling advocates like to pretend doesn’t exist.
All transportation engineers put every measure into insuring that autos can operate at maximum speed with safety. They put very little of this same safety culture into bicycle design. Everyone assumes all cyclists are going to operate at super slow speed. I can tell you from experience that cyclists do not, and most will not, operate at the speeds for which you are designing their infra.
You create unsafe places for cyclists, pass laws mandating that cyclists must use these unsafe facilities, and then scratch your heads and conduct million dollar research studies to figure out why cyclists keep dying after all that effort.
Go ride your bike!
I’m talking to you transportation engineers.
In the meantime. Can we put a little lean on the people in charge of the Burgoyne bridge in St.Catharines, Ontario and get Tyler P. the help he needs in creating space for cycling?
When it’s done it will have painted lanes at the edge
And on a highly trafficked bridge some paint on the road is completely unacceptable. If a cyclist can be harassed for safely controlling their lane. Then the city has a moral responsibility to create a protected space. Not just from auto’s but from the debris that they push into bike lanes. (It’s why I prefer to cycling in the travel lane. Those nice people in their autos keep them swept clean.)
Please contact the names listed and go to their FB page.
Nicely! Ask them to support cycling.
Do it for yourself, Do it for cycling, Do it for the environment, But above all!
How very sad. My prayers go to his family in this hard time. Honestly though this should never have happened. There is no reason why a 16yr old boy should be out at 230am riding his bike.. Where are the parents?!
This is a very sad tragic story and I may get hate comments for this, but he had NO BUSINESS at 16 YEARS OLD LEAVING his girlfriends house at 2:30AM!?!? Wonder if he snuck out of his house… My prayers to the victim and his family… I can’t imagine their heartache….
WHY WHY WHY was a 16 yr old KID allowed to be at 02:30 !!!!!! Lack of parenting that’s why. His parents and the girlfriends parents should be charged with chiid neglect !!!!! Stop being your kids best friend and be a parent. You’re neglect cost him his life!!!
My condolences to his family and friends. I just want to say, that street is very dangerous at night. The surrounding neighborhoods have no street lights. I strongly believe the city of Victorville needs to do something about that. I have had a close call or 2 jogging on Luna Rd early mornings. I’m just happy the driver was responsible for his actions and did their part.I respect them as a person.Accidents happen lives are loss, no one is to blame. Its sad such a young kid lost his life, this should be a cause for the citizens to ban together and pressure the city of Victorville in taking more precautions to prevent fatalities like this. I’m sorry to say, but the city of Victorville really doesn’t do much.
Every single person who empathized with the driver, blamed the parents, blamed the victim, or in any way did not place direct blame on the driver needs a swift lesson on driver responsibility.
You do not hit things or people with your auto! Not ever!
It isn’t ok. It isn’t an “accident.”
It is careless driving. You have headlights for a reason. You use them to see what is in front of you. If you can not see what is in front of you then you SLOW down. If you failed to do any of these things and hit someone or something YOU are at FAULT!
If you kill someone while failing to do any of these basic driving components or use your basic safety measures i.e. dashboard to see how fast you’re going, brakes to slow down, headlights to illuminate what is in front of you. Then you are GUILTY of Felony vehicular manslaughter.
Driving is a responsibility and a privledge.
Riding a bicycle is a RIGHT. That’s why they don’t require licensing or insurance. Because it’s a right to ride your bicycle at any time of the night or day!
P.s. Streets are not dangerous. People who use streets irresponsibly are dangerous.
We lack real education on bicycle rights. We are inundated with auto commercials which depict unsafe driving and declare “Feel the Freedom!”
We have a very bad culture in the auto world and a very bad culture in the cycling world.
When the first thing out of a cyclists mouth, after I’ve told them I was arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road, is “in the car lane?” with a slowly growing look of horror. Then you know there is more going on in America then some paint and bollards will ever be able to fix.
It isn’t the lack of infrastructure. It is the lack of people who are willing to put their bike wheels where it matters. In the lane. In groups, in the lane. Not all trying to squeeze into a bike lane. But in the entire, publicly funded with your tax dollars, travel lane which is intended for all vehicles. Motorized or not!
A cyclist who uses lights, signals, and behaves as a predictable part of traffic doesn’t require bicycle specific infrastructure, some people would argue.
I would agree with them up to a point.
My views of a better culture for people don’t jive with bicycle specific infra (short for infrastructure) in dense urban area’s. Instead, I see these areas as perfect for true greening and humanizing public space.
The problem, as near as I can tell, is our cultural immersion in Robert Moses and his vision for the cities of tomorrow. Huge concrete jungles where everyone has a specific space and directions on how to operate in that space.
I hear this theme repeated back in transportation engineering. One webinar going so far as to suggest that trucks, motorcycles, and personal autos should each have their own specific lane.
It’s utter madness.
We don’t have space for each type of vehicle to have its own specific lane to operate in and we sure as hell shouldn’t confine people to “lane cages” in an attempt to regulate the mess that is humanity.
Looking back over the history of the rise of the DOT empire and their powerful influence over local governments; I begin to understand why cycling advocates have been wooed into this desire for bicycle specific infra in their neighborhoods. The propaganda is seductive.
I look over Streetsblog, People for Bikes, and League of American Cyclists literature and their love affair with bike lanes; I see people advocating for gilded cages.
You don’t need, nor should you want, a bike lane in dense urban areas. These are places where people should be free to mill around the neighborhood and shop. Pedal from one side of the street to the other as they run their errands. There should be trees, shrubs, food gardens, and benches to sit on in the middle of the road. Or at least on either side of a dedicated rail or tram line.
After speaking with the director of bicycle promotion in Japan, Mr. Hidetomo Okoshi, I left the North American Handmade Bicycle Show with a better vision of cycling and its future.
Mr. Okoshi explained to me that people in his country do not as a rule commute by auto to their jobs. Nor do they commute by bicycle. Instead they take the train and in their communities they get around by foot, bicycle, and auto. In that order of hierarchy. The people he explained do not travel far by bicycle. I asked him about bike lanes. He had an air of apprehension as he explained that Japanese do not need this as much as Americans because of their respect for each other. That is when the lightbulb hit.
Bike lanes do not create respect for cyclists anymore than sidewalks create respect for pedestrians. Communities which insist on bike lanes as a “friendly” way of incorporating cycling as a viable means of transportation aren’t doing anything to help the pedestrians in their communities. Bike lanes, by forcing cyclists off the usable portion of the roadway, enable motorists to speed and endanger both cyclists and pedestrians, not to mention themselves.
As was recently pointed out by Tim Cupery on my Facebook page who said:
it’s worth pointing out that edge-riding IS doing a favor to motorists, so they can continue to go the speed that they would prefer.
This is a key motive behind segregated infrastructure, and many cyclists think of themselves as second-class road users.
And he is right; Motorists do not slow down in the presence of bike lanes. If anything it only encourages them to speed.
How then are bike lanes heralded as a means of humanizing current infra? Because as I see it they aren’t. Instead I see places like downtown Louisville, Lexington, New York, and Portland as huge Robert Moses machines. Churning out the same style of precision engineering which treats people as machines or worse robots who are programmed to follow a specific flow.
Now some might get confused and understandably so, because bicycle infra when held up to car culture is confusing, over whether or not I support any infra at all!
The answer is YES!
But not the way you imagine it and not the way we are currently being sold.
My vision entails trains as mass transit over great distances and as high speed movement between fixed places. Walking and cycling as the normal means of transportation between shorter distances. Zoning which creates inclusive infrastructure and alleviates the homeless crisis, not exacerbate it. Neighborhoods where kids play on the street and tool around on their bicycles. E-assist pedal transport of heavy goods from a centralized location. More reliance on creative solutions and less dependence on the Moses era of thinking.
Bicycle highways which connect cities to each other are an excellent start to this vision. Zoning for the use of the areas around it to meet the needs of those cycling long distance is crucial.
But what do we do in the meantime?
We dismantle DOT or at the very least remove it from power as an oligarchy. Sorry that was a bit ambitious for step one. Let me start over.
We advocate for mandatory cycling education in all schools. Educating our children on how to operate their bicycles as a part of traffic.
We advocate for mandatory cycling education on all drivers licensing, re-licensing, and court appointed diversion programs.
(By following these first two steps we can effectively remove or at least significantly reduce cycling prejudice in one generation. Something to think about.)
We advocate for reduced speed limits in neighborhoods and dense urban areas including cities. 20 mph is plenty.
We advocate for mass transit and transitioning from Heavy Goods Vehicles a.k.a. tractor trailers to E-assist Heavy Goods Pedal Bikes.
We advocate for programs with local police to report bullying and dangerous motorist behavior.
We advocate for Greening our local communities with tree planting, food gardens, and shrubbery.
We advocate for repeal of mandatory bike lane use laws.
If we get this started we can all have nice things.
Or we can continue to have this.
Space is scarce without resorting to urban sprawl. Yet urban sprawl is exactly what layering bicycle culture over auto culture is creating. I hate #SneckDown as it 1. doesn’t actually change anything. 2. It’s a crappy way to “educate” people. 3. It is, in my own opinion, a throwback to Oliver Twist. “Please Sir! May I have some more?” We aren’t asking for our space, it is ours to begin with, we are demanding it back.
People who have much to gain from selling Bicycle Lanes shouldn’t be trusted as a source of unbiased opinion on the greatness of Bicycle specific infra.
This picture is a perfect example of gilded cages. It is a modern day version of separate but equal. Except that you aren’t treated as an equal. You are a bird in a cage and your freedom of movement is an illusion. Need to get to the shop in the middle of the other side of the street? Tough shit! Go down a block, make a U-turn, and then you will eventually reach your destination.
Yielding to oncoming traffic, I find my break and put myself in que to make a left turn. This is an uncontrolled intersection. Everyman for himself. Kind of like playing frogger but for keeps.
This would seem intimidating on the first look. Break it down into baby steps. You don’t have to get your bike in the far right lane on the first go. You wouldn’t do that in a car. Why would you do it on a bicycle?
I’ve had the added advantage of being an operator of a motorcycle. I know how to handle two wheels. You don’t treat intersections like this as a pedestrian. You treat it like you are operating a bad ass motorcycle.
Once the traffic to my left is clear, I check the right side traffic. I see that there is a car approaching at a high rate of speed but they are in the far right lane. So I pull out and merge into the left lane. I shoulder check and signal my intent to merge into the right hand lane. The car safely and legally passes on my right and the person operating the car to the rear of them slows enough to allow me to safely merge in. Once I have occupied the right hand lane, I then merge into the bike lane.
Break it down into steps. It isn’t hard. Education gives you confidence and knowledge. Knowledge that you are a legitimate road user and have every right to be where you need to be, when you need to be there.
I’m going along and everything is super uneventful even when the bike lane ends.
As an average cyclist, I am so sick and tired of hearing advocates whine, yes whine, about “unsafe” roads. A road is unsafe when people violate basic road rules and road safety.
The road itself is an inert presence. The people on the road make it safe or unsafe. As a cyclist you minimize your risk by operating visibly, predictably, and with the flow of traffic.
That being said, I understand and share the desire for better infrastructure. I want to see more of this
And less of this
And until we get the Education, Legislation, and Infrastructure which treats us as equitable road users. I and my child bike like this.
When I first started cycling I had no idea about bike tribes, bike culture, or bike lanes. Everything I knew about cycling came from my knowledge as the operator of a vehicle. Listening to the bicycle advocates, knowing what I know now, I would never have started riding a bike based on their tweets and Facebook posts. Your all encompassing focus on infrastructure is such that I would believe, if I didn’t know better, that biking without some type of specialized infra. is just not safe. Not at all safe! And the message I would take from that is “Don’t do it.” Don’t even try.
Which is why I am so grateful that I was as green as a meadow on a spring day and as wet behind the ears as a just born foal. If I had to bear the brunt of your cycling messages, I would never ever have put my butt on a bike.
But back to my commute.
So now the bike lane ends and being an educated cyclist, I know just what to do.
I shoulder check, signal, shoulder check, and merge into the right hand lane. My comfort level increases as I now have eight feet of space between me and passing autos.
I follow my Google maps directions and before I know it, I’m back on Pacific Coast Highway 99.
This is where things start to get interesting.
I’m now going downhill. There is a bike lane on my right and the fear of a mandatory bike lane law in my soul.
Since I’m going down hill, I’m doing at least 25 mph.
Back in Kentucky, when I was going through all that shit for legally and safely riding a bicycle, I spent a lot of time researching all of the stuff that I was being told by “knowledgeable” cycling advocates. One of the things I discovered is that bike lanes are not recommended for speeds greater than ten miles an hour. I don’t have the article to link to but I wasn’t alone in this knowledge. When I attended the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission meeting to update the regulations for cycling in Kentucky, one of the things I was able to influence was the speed limit for mandatory cycling in bike lanes. There isn’t a speed limit for cycling in bike lanes. What there is, is legislation stating that if you are doing better than 10 mph you are NOT required to be in a bike lane. This frees up the really fast road cyclists from bike lane requirements. If you can do 25+ mph on the road and I know some of you who can do 35+ on the road, then you are not required to be in a bike lane. It is safer for you to cycle in a wider lane of travel than in an itty bitty space. You’re welcome! Ungrateful bastards.
Oregon doesn’t have this exclusion specifically. But! There is a lot of loose gravel and other debris in the lane. So I control my lane all the way down the hill. TriMet bus driver gives me a full lane change to pass. This is important to note. Here’s why.
One day I’m riding the bus down this stretch of highway and I see a cyclist in the bike lane. The cyclist is trying to avoid a person parking their car. So the cyclist is in the bike lane but on the outer edge of it. So not really in the lane. Then the cyclist eases out of the bike lane but not fully out of it. The bus driver and I are watching this. I don’t say anything to the driver. I want to see what he does. (If I felt the cyclist was in danger you can bet I would have said something).
The TriMet bus driver slows down. Way down. The cyclist is hovering in and out of the bike lane. The bus driver moves to the left but just enough. So now the cyclist is in part of the right hand lane and the bus driver is partially in the right hand lane but partially in the left lane. Cars are whizzing by on the left and they are having to nudge out of their lane to the left. I mean the whole thing is a cockup.
Finally! We pass the cyclist and the bus driver let’s out a sigh of relief. It was a long and dodgy block.
I don’t do that. I am smack dab in the middle of the lane and the TriMet driver gives me a full lane change and passes right along at speed.
Then there’s the “First Student” bus driver. These guys are assholes. This idiot gets right on my ass. Totally breaking the law about following at a safe speed. He clearly wants me to move out of his way. My Google maps indicates that my left turn is approaching, only now I can’t make my left turn because I can’t see behind this fucker to know if there is traffic barreling up the left (passing) lane. So I impatiently wave at him to back the fuck off. He doesn’t. So I move further into the left side of the right hand lane and I’m practically hugging the line. I see that the lane is clear and I wouldn’t be violating anyone else’s right of way, so I merge left and tell the school bus driver to fuck off! He flips me the bird back. And that kids is why we can’t have nice things where First Student school bus drivers are involved.
I make my left in an intersection that is poorly controlled. There isn’t a left turn light. So I have to go when traffic is reasonably clear. There is an optical illusion to boot. The oncoming traffic has, in the far right lane, a merge into the street. Taking careful note of the traffic pattern I see that the driver is indeed taking the right merge and I am clear to make my left turn.
Google maps needs to put some real effort into their bicycle route. I’ll talk more about that on a different blog post.
I make my way up the road and turn right onto Multnomah Blvd.
I know I-5 is along here somewhere. As I travel down the road I can see the fast moving cars to my left. I’ve gone under the overpass and come up on the other side.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve wondered onto a road I shouldn’t be on. I see that there is a lane to the left which leads directly onto I-5 and being new to the area, I start to freak out a little.
Then I see a bike lane and I feel reassured that I’m allowed on this stretch of road. That I have not somehow wandered onto I-5 after all. Wouldn’t that make for an interesting news story and give the haters something to point and laugh at.
Just as I’m starting to feel grateful for the bike lane, I see this.
People are whizzing by in their cars and the paint has failed me. This is why I worry about new cyclists who have been educated by irresponsible advocates to rely heavily on paint. The paint is a lie! If you follow it, you will die!
I follow the same order of shoulder check, signal, shoulder check, and merge. The motorist speeding up from my rear sees me and slows down. They behave like any other well behaved road user. I am there first by the time they arrive and they appropriately yield the right of way to me.
Once I’m in the left side of the lane, they safely pass me on the right and make their right turn.
I turn left and merge into the bike lane. It’s not great infra. but I’m legally mandated to be there. If I get injured because of the poor quality and the state law legally binding me to use it, I’m sueing the state, the transportation dept., the city planners, engineers, and I’m going to encourage whoever hurts me while I’m in the bike lane to do the same. I’m intelligent and capable. If it’s good infra. I’ll be in it.
At this point Google maps and the geography have me confused as to my exact location. I’m directed down a steep ass residential hill. Riding the brakes all the way down and then I am confronted with another left turn at an uncontrolled intersection.
Hey Google! Directing cyclists onto residential roads isn’t always a safe bet. Direct and to the point. Direct and to the point. OK? OK!
I make it through and control my lane down the road.
I start seeing signs warning of construction ahead. I begin to wonder if I’m going to make it through here. Then I remember how confusing this mess is to people driving cars and I realize that I have it way easier than they do.
This was a totally uneventful crossing over the bridge. The construction workers in their souped up golf carts found me amusing as they passed me in the oncoming traffic lane. I straightened my back and raised my chin just a bit higher. I wasn’t just a cyclist in that moment. I was a queen and this was my court. 🙂
To everyone else on the road I treated them like they were obviously in the wrong place.
The only person who tried to rain on my parade was the court jester who honked at me as he passed me in the oncoming traffic lane. I turned my nose up at the prejudiced idiot.
Once I make it across the bridge and I’m securely on the other side, I see my beloved sharrow.
Whenever a motorist honks at me where there are sharrows, I point at the sharrow and give them my best snobby dismissal. Back straight, eyes straight ahead, and a little smile that plays about my lips and if they sit there and lay on their horn. I think “Whatcha gonna do biotch?! That’s right! Not a goddamned thing.”
Then I arrived at my destination, interviewed, and was offered the position.
I am really excited to help make great things happen for this company.
When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?
Before we can answer that question we first need to explain what a highway is. The definition for Highway is listed in KRS 189.010 (3).
“Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots…
We have a highway and within the highway is a Roadway or synonymously a Lane; and KRS has a specific statute for those lanes. KRS 189.340 (6) (a)
A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;
If everyone is following the law and more importantly the spirit of the law; the spirit of the law being safety, then there isn’t any harm to any road user and no need for extra measures of protection.
Unfortunately not everyone feels duty bound to operate their vehicle with due care.
A lot of people are under the misguided notion that speed grants extra privileges.
KRS 189.390 is very clear that there isn’t a right of speed on Kentucky’s Highways.
An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.
Traffic: The movement of vehicles or people along roads, or the movement of aircraft, trains, or ships along a route. Via: Cambridge Dictionaries Online.
What is the purpose of a safe passing law?
The purpose of a safe passing law is to give the police a statute with which to cite the offending person. It also provides lawyers and insurance adjusters something tangible when trying to ascertain fault and how much liability goes where and with whom.
Did this explanation bring up a mental image of buzzards picking over roadkill?
That would be because this law is what I term an “after the fact law”. There isn’t any visual guideline to show a person operating a motor vehicle just how much space is three feet. Often times that three feet puts the cyclist’s head right under the motorists tire. Should the cyclist fall over, their head would be squashed. Bicycle helmet included.
[Dr] June McCarroll, a physician in Indio, California who started experimenting with painting lines on roads in 1917 after she was run off a highway by a truck driver. In November 1924, after years of lobbying by Dr. McCarroll and her allies, California officially adopted a policy of painting lines on its highways. A portion of Interstate 10 near Indio has been named the Dr. June McCarroll Memorial Freeway in her honor.
Painted lines give drivers a visual marker with which to judge distance.
It is safer to have a stated change lanes to pass law than it is to have a minimum three feet law. In Kentucky there are drivers who will fail to understand KRS 189 and give only the minimum passing distance. And in a state which educates teen drivers that it is OK to driver 10 mph over the posted speed limit; see Transportation.ky.gov/Drivers Licensing Documents Page 5. giving a cyclist the minimum distance when passing at 10 mph over posted speed limit; is a recipe for disaster.
Our car culture has created a social, cultural, and legal norm for people to kill, without penalty, on our public right of ways. It’s the “Oops I didn’t see them syndrome” and it is bullshit.
The driver of an automobile is bound to anticipate the presence of pedestrians upon the streets of a city or upon rural highways, as well as to exercise reasonable care that he does not injure them after he is aware of their presence. O’Dowd v. Newnham 13 Ga. App. 220, 80 S. E. 36.
A safe passing law is a band aid on a gaping wound.
A safe passing law is an after the fact law.
Do we need it?
We need it because it is a start. Not the best example of a start, especially when other states are making better statutes from which we can draw from. But it is a start none the less.
We also need it because the infrastructure here is substandard.
Misguided advocates are pushing for bike lanes (think paint) on highways with 45 to 55 mph.
Gallons of paint will never replace the infrastructure we so desperately need. Nor will it replace urban designed spaces which give precedence to walking, public transport, and biking.
We are terribly entangled in car culture which is choking the very humanity out of us.
If you are wondering what we can do to make it better.
We can form a statewide advocacy group and lobby for better laws. Laws which require city planners to take into consideration all users of our public highways. Laws which specify dense urban planning as opposed to sprawling communities which are harder and more expensive to maintain. We need laws which require a one year mandatory probationary period for new drivers, mandatory retesting every four years, and an education program enacted in our schools. Driving school should have a required bike law and safety instructional forum.
We need a multi pronged approach to cycling and more importantly pedestrian safety.
Tiered licensing which ensures that teenagers are truly ready for a license to operate a vehicle. An exception for farmers children to operate farm equipment in the natural course of their duties. But not to operate non farm equipment on public highways.
Lower speed limits as a means of changing the culture of speed along with enforcement of speeding during times where operating a vehicle at speeds under the limit but higher than is safe for road conditions. Mandatory slow down laws when pedestrians or cyclists are present. Policies which make separate infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians a mandatory part of all construction. Policies which ensure that for every 100 people there are adequate shopping districts within walking distance. Wider and better sidewalks. Enforcement of stop lines. Elimination of right on red. Timing streetlights to favor pedestrians and cyclists. Narrower streets and wider bike lanes and sidewalks.
Vulnerable road user laws which enact stiff penalties for harming any road user with their vehicle.
When we pass another vehicle we are required to pass in the lane adjacent to the vehicle being passed. We are required by law to pass left of the center of the highway. To pass with enough clearance to avoid a collision or to cause the vehicle from being passed to have to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. These are the laws. These are for safety. These ensure the courteous use of public roads and when those laws are broken the best possible outcome would be a citation. The worst would be a collision and people hurt. All too often these brazen flaunting of laws are unobserved and the confidence of the abuser is increased. The police can’t be everywhere but we can create legislation enacting a police task force which takes these complaints and investigates them and if found guilty penalties applied.
Remember the opening question?
“When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?”
The answer which you may have realized by now is No. We are all vulnerable on the highway. While there is a hierarchy of how much vulnerability each user has, we are each of us putting our lives at risk by walking out our front door.
We need more, we need better, and we need it now!
So let’s start with three feet and then demand more.
I understand now why so many cyclists are being killed. Cycling like you are in the Netherlands or Copenhagen will get you killed in other countries.
There are some false beliefs out there. One is that infrastructure requires mandatory use laws, the other is that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure means you just ride willy nilly all over the road.
Netherlands cycle tracks are, for as near as I can tell, complete and connected. Like any highway, they go exactly where the user wants or needs to go.
This is not true for the UK and US.
If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
The Netherlands set a bad example by legally mandating the use of their bike paths. Even in the Netherlands, if you are being honest when you bring them up, they do not have perfect infra everywhere you go. They still have door zone bike lanes. I sometimes find them in videos of locals who post their cycling trips but there aren’t any video’s of the Netherlanders specifically railing against them. Here is a blog on the subject for the Netherlands: On road cycle lanes: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The reason this is often not considered an issue is because the Netherlands also have strict liability laws. So if a driver injures a cyclist by throwing the door open without looking, the cyclist (should they survive the experience) can rest assured that the police and public media are not going to further victimize them by questioning their right to be there. No one will ask if they were wearing a helmet (as though that could really protect you from having your head run over by 2 tons of machine). No one will question the color of your clothes. The cyclists in the Netherlands have the homefield advantage, even in the face of crappy infra. Their medical bills are promptly paid and they get to go on with life as usual.
Bike specific infra (in the UK and US) is often a painted line on the ground. More often this painted line on the ground places the cyclist out of the driver’s field of vision. With a very narrow margin of passing clearance. In many ways it’s like we forget that often touted slogan of “3 feet minimum” to pass. Our engineers do not take safe passing into account when painting bike lanes. The faster the traffic the wider the bike lane should be.
We often overestimate a driver’s area of vision as extending from the front side windows forward. The average driver does not drive with a 90 degree arc of vision. The average driver drives distracted. This is often compounded with age and limited physical mobility which makes it difficult to turn the head and look to the left and right as well as over the shoulder.
To avoid a drivers blind spots always put yourself directly in front of the driver when operating your bicycle. The Dutch/Netherlands started (as near as I can tell) this idea of hugging the curb. Which is easier to do if you are operating at a snails pace.
So if you are riding like the Dutch/Netherlands (think hugging the edge or weaving haphazardly in and out of traffic, also those box style turns where you cross like a pedestrian, honorable mention to filtering forward to the front of the line), if you ride like this, on public highways, you are riding with a death wish.
The Netherlands have taken into consideration that motor traffic occupies a great deal of space and they have adjusted their light signals to accommodate cyclists at intersections.
Which as you can see from the video, still needs a lot of tweaking. It’s o.k. to let loose on all sides for cyclists but not for cars? Come on! Where is the fairness in that? 😉
I’ve watched several videos of average people in the Netherlands, they are catching the film my ride fever too, cycling in the Netherlands, Copenhagen, and the Dutch. They do all of these things. (See this video for a full understanding of what I’m talking about:
I’ve also had the opportunity to read their laws and it is expressly illegal to haul passengers on bike racks. You will see a lot of law breaking in the video’s promoting cycling in the Netherlands.
If the Netherlands did away with the mandatory use laws this would solve the problem of faster cyclists running over pedestrians and slower cyclists. (This is a hot button topic in the Netherlands.)
Remember the Netherlands also have fast club rides. I feel very strongly that those cyclists do not belong on bike paths with slower moving traffic.
There will be the usual stupid comment: “Oh you just want children to cycle on heavily trafficked fast moving roads!”
No, I don’t. What I want is for there to be no heavily trafficked fast moving roads. Any roads that are used to swiftly move people from town to town should be limited access and built to those standards. All other roads should be built to accommodate all other road users regardless of vehicle type. All roads should be safe for foot traffic above and beyond anyone else’s needs.
When we build communities that are based on people walking, then we will have a community that is safe for cyclists of all ages.
I, as a responsible parent, taught my children how to cycle safely on the only road that took us to our destination.
I’m not the only parent out there who understands where the real risks are to riding in traffic. This is an old article but it clearly shows where the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from and if you yourself don’t know, allow me to state it plainly.
1. Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Overtaking through intersections on the passenger side is illegal because it is dangerous. You wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bicycle.
2. Motorists obey the rules of the road. Treat cyclists just like you would any other vehicle out there on the road. Change lanes to pass and yield right of way when legally required. Do not create confusion by yielding right of way when not legally required to do so.
For both Cyclists and Drivers, use sound judgement and know your transportation codes and laws before heading out. Always leave at least 10min early. You will never be late and find that your commute is much more relaxing when you don’t feel pressed for time.