Bicycle Specific Infrastructure and Robert Moses

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.

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Well that makes everything better! Especially if you only ever intend to cycle forward. I hope there’s a 7-11 in the middle of the street. 

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.

  1. We advocate for mandatory cycling education in all schools. Educating our children on how to operate their bicycles as a part of traffic.
  2. 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.)
  3. We advocate for reduced speed limits in neighborhoods and dense urban areas including cities. 20 mph is plenty.
  4. We advocate for mass transit and transitioning from Heavy Goods Vehicles a.k.a. tractor trailers to E-assist Heavy Goods Pedal Bikes.
  5. We advocate for programs with local police to report bullying and dangerous motorist behavior.
  6. We advocate for Greening our local communities with tree planting, food gardens, and shrubbery.
  7. We advocate for repeal of mandatory bike lane use laws.

If we get this started we can all have nice things.

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You can ride your bicycle through here. It’s lovely isn’t it?

 

Or we can continue to have this.

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Let’s stick a bike lane in here and call it green infra!

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.

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I call it “Cycling Without Apology.” And far too many of you cycle as though you are apologizing for being present on the road. 

 

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.

images (11)
I have some infra I’d like to sell you. It will make your life so much better. 

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.

But we love authoritay! and some people want to treat cyclists as special snowflakes.

special-snowflake

We will never move towards a society which unequivocally increases its modal share to bicycling unless we first remove all prejudice against and all special snowflake syndromes from cycling.

“Cycling without apology” and “Cyclists: Expected and Respected” should be mainstays of our advocacy language.

I don’t apologize for using road space which my taxes helped pay for. I am your equal on the road, respect me.

Any infra proposed which does not treat cyclists as either or both of those isn’t infra which is going to move our society forward nor will it increase modal share.

It can happen to you

Originally shared by:

Steve M Williams
December 5, 2015 · Clovis, CA ·
This put me damn near in tears; read this encounter with police that professor Steve Locke went through, and it will explain everything you need to know about being black in 21st century America. If you don’t get it from this then really I’m wasting my time trying to explain it.

“This is what I wore to work today.
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On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.

I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street. As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me. I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.

“Hey my man,” he said.

He unsnapped the holster of his gun.

I took my hands out of my pockets.

“Yes?” I said.

“Where you coming from?”

“Home.”

Where’s home?”

“Dedham.”

How’d you get here?”

“I drove.”

He was next to me now. Two other police cars pulled up. I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place. I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class. There were cops all around me.

I said nothing. I looked at the officer who addressed me. He was white, stocky, bearded.

“You weren’t over there, were you?” He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.

“No. I came from Dedham.”

“What’s your address?”

I told him.

“We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman’s house.”

A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded. Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place.

“You fit the description,” the officer said. “Black male, knit hat, puffy coat. Do you have identification.”

“It’s in my wallet. May I reach into my pocket and get my wallet?”

“Yeah.”

I handed him my license. I told him it did not have my current address. He walked over to a police car. The other cop, taller, wearing sunglasses, told me that I fit the description of someone who broke into a woman’s house. Right down to the knit cap.

Barbara Sullivan made a knit cap for me. She knitted it in pinks and browns and blues and oranges and lime green. No one has a hat like this. It doesn’t fit any description that anyone would have. I looked at the second cop. I clasped my hands in front of me to stop them from shaking.

“For the record,” I said to the second cop, “I’m not a criminal. I’m a college professor.” I was wearing my faculty ID around my neck, clearly visible with my photo.

“You fit the description so we just have to check it out.” The first cop returned and handed me my license.

“We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person.”

It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die. I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car. I was not going to present myself to some victim. I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery. I was not going to let them take me anywhere because if they did, the chance I was going to be accused of something I did not do rose exponentially. I knew this in my heart. I was not going anywhere with these cops and I was not going to let some white woman decide whether or not I was a criminal, especially after I told them that I was not a criminal. This meant that I was going to resist arrest. This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me.

If you are wondering why people don’t go with the police, I hope this explains it for you.

Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police. People look at you like you are a criminal. The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn’t have you. No one made eye contact with me. I was hoping that someone I knew would walk down the street or come out of one of the shops or get off the 39 bus or come out of JP Licks and say to these cops, “That’s Steve Locke. What the FUCK are you detaining him for?”

The cops decided that they would bring the victim to come view me on the street. The asked me to wait. I said nothing. I stood still.

“Thanks for cooperating,” the second cop said. “This is probably nothing, but it’s our job and you do fit the description. 5′ 11″, black male. One-hundred-and-sixty pounds, but you’re a little more than that. Knit hat.”

A little more than 160. Thanks for that, I thought.

An older white woman walked behind me and up to the second cop. She turned and looked at me and then back at him. “You guys sure are busy today.”

I noticed a black woman further down the block. She was small and concerned. She was watching what was going on. I focused on her red coat. I slowed my breathing. I looked at her from time to time.

I thought: Don’t leave, sister. Please don’t leave.

The first cop said, “Where do you teach?”

“Massachusetts College of Art and Design.” I tugged at the lanyard that had my ID.

“How long you been teaching there?”

“Thirteen years.”

We stood in silence for about 10 more minutes.

An unmarked police car pulled up. The first cop went over to talk to the driver. The driver kept looking at me as the cop spoke to him. I looked directly at the driver. He got out of the car.

“I’m Detective Cardoza. I appreciate your cooperation.”

I said nothing.

“I’m sure these officers told you what is going on?”

“They did.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“From my home in Dedham.”

“How did you get here?”

“I drove.”

“Where is your car?”

“It’s in the lot behind Bukhara.” I pointed up Centre Street.

“Okay,” the detective said. “We’re going to let you go. Do you have a car key you can show me?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my car key.”

“Okay.”

I showed him the key to my car.

The cops thanked me for my cooperation. I nodded and turned to go.

“Sorry for screwing up your lunch break,” the second cop said.

I walked back toward my car, away from the burrito place. I saw the woman in red.

“Thank you,” I said to her. “Thank you for staying.”

“Are you ok?” She said. Her small beautiful face was lined with concern.

“Not really. I’m really shook up. And I have to get to work.”

“I knew something was wrong. I was watching the whole thing. The way they are treating us now, you have to watch them. ”

“I’m so grateful you were there. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Don’t leave, sister.’ May I give you a hug?”

“Yes,” she said. She held me as I shook. “Are you sure you are ok?”

“No I’m not. I’m going to have a good cry in my car. I have to go teach.”

“You’re at MassArt. My friend is at MassArt.”

“What’s your name?” She told me. I realized we were Facebook friends. I told her this.

“I’ll check in with you on Facebook,” she said.

I put my head down and walked to my car.

My colleague was in our shared office and she was able to calm me down. I had about 45 minutes until my class began and I had to teach. I forgot the lesson I had planned. I forget the schedule. I couldn’t think about how to do my job. I thought about the fact my word counted for nothing, they didn’t believe that I wasn’t a criminal. They had to find out. My word was not enough for them. My ID was not enough for them. My handmade one-of-a-kind knit hat was an object of suspicion. My Ralph Lauren quilted blazer was only a “puffy coat.” That white woman could just walk up to a cop and talk about me like I was an object for regard. I wanted to go back and spit in their faces. The cops were probably deeply satisfied with how they handled the interaction, how they didn’t escalate the situation, how they were respectful and polite.

I imagined sitting in the back of a police car while a white woman decides if I am a criminal or not. If I looked guilty being detained by the cops imagine how vile I become sitting in a cruiser? I knew I could not let that happen to me. I knew if that were to happen, I would be dead.

Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description.

I had to confess to my students that I was a bit out of it today and I asked them to bear with me. I had to teach.

After class I was supposed to go to the openings for First Friday. I went home.”

~Steve Locke

I can feel his pain.

“You must be doing something wrong because you are [fill in the blank].”  Is a blanket form of prejudice. It can be used in racism, sexism, and for anyone who doesn’t fit the status quo.

The part of his story which had the biggest impact for me was;

“Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police. People look at you like you are a criminal. The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn’t have you.”

This is my own experience. While the local cycling advocates tsk’d tsk’d over me for legally and safely cycling on a public road. People assumed I had broken some law. That I was wrong to be cycling. All sorts of excuses were given as to why it was acceptable for the cycling community to leave me out to hang.

“I wouldn’t cycle like that.”

“You are giving cyclists a bad name.”

“You shouldn’t be on that road. It isn’t safe.”

All of these were excuses to justify their own fears and soothe their conscious, while my life was being systematically destroyed.

Can you imagine if members of #BlackLivesMatter; instead of supporting Steve, instead chose to focus on what he was wearing? Or the way he walked on the street? You would think, “how absurd!” And yet! This is exactly what happened to me.

I’m not black, but if I had been, would it have been a race issue? I’m not talking about the #AllLivesMatter group or reverse racism. I’m talking about why, we as a society leave some people to hang, while others are given empathy. There are no incremental levels of injustice and wrongdoing at the hands of the police or judicial system. If it was wrong to do to Steve, then it was wrong to do it to me.

I hope you felt empathy for Steve. I hope his story kindled anger in your heart over the injustice that he experienced. And I want you to feel that same anger about all the other injustices that are happening to people. But more than that, I want you to do something about it. I want you to be there for people. I mean really be there.

I want you to do one more thing.

I don’t want you to reduce Steve to victimhood. He is a strong, smart, capable adult. He deserves to be treated with respect. Black people deserve to be treated as “expected and respected” members of our community.

And when cycling advocates are advocating for cyclists. I don’t want you to reduce them to victimhood. Because we are not victims. We are strong, smart, capable adults. Cyclists deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be treated as an “expected and respected” part of traffic.

From my own personal experience, I have heard it all. I can not begin to tell you how heart achingly frustrating it is to explain to people that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t broken any laws.

No laws were broken!

Yet, I was ticketed and arrested anyway.

Professor Steve didn’t do anything wrong. The cops were being lazy and targeting any black male in the neighborhood.

The only thing protecting Professor Steve was his status as a professor.

The only thing protecting me was the color of my skin.

And neither of those things should have ever been a part of the equation where police and judicial bullying are concerned.

The fact that neither of us were breaking any laws should have been the only protection we required.

Furthermore, my status as a woman was enough to embolden my antagonizers both in and out of the legal system.

Don’t think for one second that because you are a man, white, or have social status that it can’t happen to you. Eli Damon can tell you that even those won’t protect you if you are a using a bicycle for transportation.

What happened to Steve, Eli, and myself should show you;

It can happen to you.

Start demanding positive changes.

Now!

Observing Traffic Court

If you want to put your finger on the pulse of car culture; observe traffic court.

The light was yellow for 2.7 seconds. I didn’t have time to stop in 2.7 seconds. So I went forward because I was worried about being cited for impeding traffic.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

 

There was so much traffic. The light was hard to see. I was worried about what the people behind me would do so I went through the light. I didn’t want to block the intersection.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

 

My van was loaded down with bricks. I must have had like a ton of weight back there. The road was really slick from all the rain and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop in time. So I went through the light.
Actual testimony from a defendant.

The motorcycle cop who cited all three of these defendants had a helmet cam. He presented the video evidence to the court.

One of these defendants had their traffic ticket dismissed. The other two did not.

Traffic Lights

§ 811.260¹

Appropriate driver responses to traffic control devices

(4) Steady circular yellow signal. A driver facing a steady circular yellow signal light is thereby warned that the related right of way is being terminated and that a red or flashing red light will be shown immediately. A driver facing the light shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…

(7) Steady circular red signal. A driver facing a steady circular red signal light alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…

The driver of a vehicle is required to keep their vehicle under control at all times. They are required to be on the lookout for other road users who may be in their path of travel.

As I sat and listened to the drivers giving their excuses as to why they failed to head the traffic control light, a theme began to appear.

  1. I was distracted.
  2. I didn’t have my vehicle under control.
  3. I was worried about the people behind me.
  4. I couldn’t stop in time.

All of the defendants excuses appeared to be valid in their minds. None of these excuses took into consideration anyone else who may have been using Oregon’s public right of ways. Namely pedestrians but also cyclists.

Speed Laws

§ 811.100¹

Violation of basic speed rule
(1) A person commits the offense of violating the basic speed rule if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to all of the following:
(a) The traffic.
(b) The surface and width of the highway.
(c) The hazard at intersections.
(d) Weather.
(e) Visibility.
(f) Any other conditions then existing.

If you can’t keep your vehicle under control; you are going too fast.

If you can’t safely stop at the yellow; you are going too fast.

If you can’t safely stop at the red; you are going too fast.

If the speed limit is posted at 35 mph but you can’t safely drive 35 mph then by law you are required to slow down.

Safety Zones

§ 811.030¹

Driving through safety zone
(1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of driving through a safety zone if the driver at any time drives through or within any area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected or is so marked or indicated by adequate signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
In the video, which the officer showed to the court, each of these drivers went through a safety zone. Their testimony indicated their inability to ascertain if there was a pedestrian present at the time they committed their violations.
While no one was injured, this time. It is a clear indicator that motorists are not educated about the rights of pedestrians. Nor are they educated about their duties as a motorist to be on the lookout for pedestrians or cyclists.
A glaringly obvious example of this is through TriMetsShow them your shine.” ad campaign. Seeing these ads on display throughout Portland heats my blood to a simmering boil.
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Part pedestrian and part cyclist. It is clear that the ad is placing the onus on the vulnerable road user to be seen. A subversive form of propaganda and victim blaming.

Oregon’s roads are first come, first served, and duty of care.

§ 801.440¹
Right of way
Right of way means the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed and proximity as to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other. [1983 c.338 §81]

Two of the defendants were found guilty.

One of the defendants was able to get his ticket dismissed. The dismissal was due to a lack of evidence. The evidence was based on the question of whether the yellow light was timed correctly and the vantage point of the officers video did not reveal the defendants traffic control signal.

All in all it was very edifying and I highly recommend it for all pedestrian and cycling advocates.

In all things, remember this, running a red light is illegal. The reason it is illegal is because it isn’t safe. It isn’t safe for you and it isn’t safe for any of the road users around you. Keep your vehicle under control and keep the safety of other road users in mind. Do not worry about what the people behind you are going to do. The person behind you is required to show you courtesy and safety by keeping their vehicle under control.

 

 

 

 

Why do you use the road like that?

Rachel @Kentuckygirl844 “…how many of those cars behind then actually have to be out and how many are just in the way “exploring.”

Grammatical errors aside.

I want to explore everything that is wrong with this tweet.

  1. It isn’t any of your business why other people are on the road. It is a public road and everyone pays to use it. When, how, or where they use it is up to them.
  2. “how many are just in the way” No one is ever in anyone else’s way on a public right of way, also known as a road. It belongs to the public and the public has the right to use it. These roads are first come, first served, and duty of care. We show compassion for other road users. We yield the right of way to those who were there first. It is courteous, it is wise, and it shows others that we have a heart beating in our chest.
  3. You have nothing better to do on a terrible winter day except to sit and wonder about what other people are up to? Lucky you! This is a picture of those who are not so fortunate. So how about a little compassion?
  4. “Adulting.” Only adults use the roadway. Only adults use cars on the roadway. This isn’t any place for “other” road users. If you aren’t adulting on the road then you are in the way. “Exploring” is for kids. So GTFO!
  5. If they are out there having a light hearted romp in the snow; is it really any of your business?

I think  your tweet says more about you than it does the people using the road.

This is why we can’t have nice things!

Snowing
I’m more concerned with the driver of the SUV. Why doesn’t he have his lights on? It’s your right to be on the road but you do have to show regard for other road users. Safety first!

 

Who needs a safe passing law? SB 80 Part II

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.

Have you ever heard of Dr. McCarroll?

[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?

Yes.

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’d rather have miles of this…

bikeINFRA

Than miles of this…

DowntownLexington.PNG

 

I understand now why so many cyclists in the US and UK are being killed.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. This is not true for the UK and US.
  3. If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
    1. When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
    2. You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
    3. You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
  4. The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

UK father commutes kids to school by bicycle. Stopped by police.

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.

How far did you get buddy!

Someone posed the question: “When controlling the lane, how do you handle the motorist or passenger that yells, points or beeps and says get out of the road? Yell back, shake your head, wave, wave w/one finger, try to educate them or something else? Thanks!”

Here is my response.

My daughter who typically blows kisses and hollers love ya!, got caught up in a motorists obvious rage a few days before christmas.
We were coming out of Oxmoor mall and heading to St. Mathews mall. We determined that the middle left turn lane was our best option to avoid merging traffic trying to get on and off the interstate.
A motorist flipped his lid that we were in the left turn lane and started honking outrageously. At first I ignored him as he was pretty far behind us and I thought he was honking at traffic in general. The old man driving the minivan managed to get up to the left of us and started the aggressive honking again. My daughter and I had been feeling pretty stoked up to that point. After everything we have been through a chance to decompress over the holidays was really rewarding and this turd broke the mood.
My daughter became very agitated as we advanced and passed the driver and then as the flow of traffic goes, we caught up to him and passed him.
Here is where it gets funny.
At the time it wasn’t funny.
So my daughter gets really angry at this guy who shat all over our peace and in an italian gesture puts her hand up and says “how far did you get buddy!” She is looking at him the whole time and I scream at her to look out. She caught herself in time to avoid serious injury but still managed to rear end the car in front of her.
At first we were both kind of shaken. No one was hurt and there wasn’t any damage. The driver looked in the rear view mirror and I waved. They shrugged and went on.
Now we laugh about it and when someone honks or is rude to us, we look at each other, smile, and say “How far did you get buddy!”
My personal opinion is do what you want. In that moment at that time your response is yours and I would never judge you are criticise you for acting the way you chose.
My only advice is to not let them rile you up to the point that you lose control of your own safety.


I would like to add.

Some people operate under the illusion that we can control the behavior of those around us. The reality is that we can only control our own behavior.

There isn’t any shame in losing your temper and the adage that “Civility is free” holds true. To each his own. Sometimes I smile and wave, sometimes I holler fuck you. It just depends on the situation, my mood, and if I feel my life was in peril by their actions.

Mostly I would just like to see this bad human behavior of judging other peoples reactions to potentially life altering situations come to an end.

How far did you get buddy!

My daughter.
My daughter.

She sits thoughtfully at a charity event. She had at this point won 3 frozen turkeys. Seeing a family that had not won anything she gave them one of the birds and gave the other one to another family.