Speed: There is never an excuse for speeding

By now you should know that calling a crash an accident is a way of moving liability away from the person driving the vehicle.

Reading an article in CNN Money, I see a correlation between litigation and blaming the inanimate object. (Yes, you can draw an analogy about guns here too.)

There isn’t any such thing as an accident when it comes to auto collisions. Wet roads are no more to blame for your lead foot than an app is to blame for this horrific collision.

DSC00542[1]
Your steel cage is no match for the speed of the idiot behind the wheel.

“The plaintiff, Wentworth Maynard, was merging onto a four lane highway outside of Atlanta, Georgia when his car was struck “so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment,” his lawyers contend.”

 

Choices:

Everything you do is about choices. We make choices everyday. We choose to oversleep an alarm because we chose to stay up late. We choose to linger in the shower and we choose to speed under the false assumption that we can “make up time.”

When cycling advocates are educating you about light signals and how traffic is engineered to operate at a set speed, you chose to ignore us.

We make many minute and seemingly inconsequential choices everyday.

Which weighs more? A ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?

They both weigh the same. A ton. But the volume of feathers to create a ton is vast compared to the volume of bricks to equal the same tonnage.

Each feather is a seemingly inconsequential choice that you made throughout your day, week, year, and life. But when that ton of feathers hits you, it’s going to feel like a load of bricks.

Manufacturers and corporations make choices too.

I’m not saying that corporations don’t have a part to play in the choices we make. They most certainly do.

Snapchat chose to put out an app with the ability to capture your speed while using the app.

Auto advertisements show people driving in ways that are patently unsafe and they choose to pay a lot of money to have these ad’s placed during prime viewing times.

Here’s a scenario: You can read it in full detail here.

You’re driving down the road in your car on a wild and stormy night. The weather is like a hurricane, with heavy rains, high winds, and lightning flashing constantly. While driving, you come across a partially-covered bus stop, and you can see three people waiting for a bus:

  1. An old woman who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about (your “soulmate”).

Knowing that you only have room for one passenger in your car (it’s a really small car), which one would you choose to offer a ride to? And why?

You can believe that you are limited by your choices or you can think outside the box.

We need to emphasize critical thinking skills when educating drivers and cyclists.

We also need to emphasize that speeding, distracted (any distraction) driving, and driving drowsy or drunk are choice’s and there isn’t ever an excuse for the choices we make. We are to blame when we make bad choices.

I mention the above scenario about the bus stop because I was confronted by an Atheist (I’m one too). He said that I was on some high horse and that there were definitely excuses for speeding. He then brought up a real situation in which he believed that his mother was dying and he sped to the hospital. He was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

He then went on to justify his speeding by admitting that he was so distracted by his distress over the idea of his mother dying without him that he failed to notice the speed limit sign.

I tried to reason with him logically about public spaces and how his actions have direct consequences for others on public roads. He refused to acknowledge anything I was saying and launched into a personal attack instead. I saved the conversation and will present it in another blog at a future date. But for now, know that two of the deadliest weapons in history, the automobile and the gun, have even critical thinkers blathering emotionalism when it comes to their cherished beliefs. It truly defies logic.

There isn’t ever an excuse to justify speeding. Much like there isn’t an excuse to justify shooting someone who is unarmed. Corporations and manufacturers have a responsibility to the public at large. Snapchat has no excuse for putting out an app that encourages users to speed. Users have no excuse for choosing to use the app or for speeding.

When your choices affect others, you are duty bound to consider the consequences of your actions!

Public roads are shared space. You are required to share public roads with large vehicles, small vehicles, slower vehicles, and people on foot.

 

 

 

Motorist Awareness Wednesday

Motorist Awareness Wednesday.

KRS 189.390 Speed
(2) 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.

Part 1
Driving on rural roads.

“Shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent,”

What does that mean?

From an engineering perspective operating at speeds for which the road was designed for, which is only a small part of this statute.

How does it apply to a driver operating on a clear day with high visibility on a rural back road?

Let’s assume a straight stretch of road, out in the middle of nowhere. No side streets, no business’, or residences with traffic pulling in or merging out.

It means you can operate at or near the posted speed limit as long as doing so does not interfere with the established rights of those already lawfully present on the highway.

Now let’s add a residence.

It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a pet or child suddenly dart out into the road. There is reasonable expectation that someone could be checking their mailbox or crossing the road to visit their neighbor, when residences are present.
I’d also add that we are still assuming a perfectly flat and straight road.

Now let’s add a curve in the road.

It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a vehicle, pedestrian, pet, fallen log, or a wild animal present itself on the road.
The lesson here is never ever operate as though the road ahead of you is clear when you are not able to see what is actually ahead of you. You do not have a reasonable expectation that there won’t be anything around a curve in the road.

Engineering standards require you to slow down even for gentle curves with some visibility ahead. You can not operate with the assumption that your vehicle is going to maintain contact with the pavement as you take a turn at speed.

 

Let’s add a hill.

We are going to go back to assuming a straight road without any potential conflicts from the side of a road.

You are required to operate your vehicle at a speed which allows you sufficient braking distance should you encounter another vehicle or object over the crest of a hill.
You should never operate at a speed which causes you to “catch air.” When your tires are not in contact with the ground you do not have any control over your vehicle.

Some law enforcement officers have trouble understanding these basic driving rules.

“Gribler said that, “in hindsight,” Oliver should not have been speeding through Bloomingdale into the sun and over a blind hill…”

The mother of the injured boy had this to say.

“I was almost physically ill,” she said. “All along I’d been telling my boys to keep faith, there will be a reprimand, he’ll suffer, he’ll be punished, and I just felt such failure. How am I supposed to help my boys keep their faith when there is no repercussion?

You can never ever assume that there isn’t something on the other side of the hill.

Summary of part 1

All things being perfect you still can not operate faster than the posted speed nor can you operate at a speed which interferes with anyone who is already lawfully present on the road.
You are still required to operate at a speed which allows you sufficient reaction time and braking distance to avoid a collision.

This falls under reasonable and prudent operation of a vehicle.

 

l2tCN.So.9
PETA activists who drive imprudently are hypocrites.

Next week we will look at dense urban areas and discuss this tragic story.

http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/04/01/nypd-no-charges-for-driver-who-hit-10-people-leaving-boy-brain-dead/

Lane control…Did I stutter?

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

But that is actually a misquote.

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” The quote is most likely due to George Santayana, and in its original form it read, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Via Google Search.

It is kind of like that childhood game of telephone. Words are repeated, misconstrued, rehashed, and then repeated further down as though it were the original statement.

As cycling “season” approaches let me start this all over again.

Lane control saves lives. Reduces the frequency of negligent motorist behavior and is the highest form of defensive cycling.

I will present to you a video in which lane control is not used. It is a highway much like the one described in Extremist thinking is hurting cycling.

The driver is at fault whether or not the cyclist was operating defensively or passively.

Cyclists may use the shoulder. Though I don’t recommend it.

We learn from our past so as not to make the same mistakes. It’s how I went from riding the shoulder to controlling my lane. I learned from near misses, logical thinking, and a careful review of state law.

In the video the motorist is seen drifting onto the shoulder. This is the first drift seen and the motorist maintains control of the vehicle as they correct for their mistake. The actions imply that the motorist is leaning over to the passenger side and reaching for something.

An earlier accident — which officials said wasn’t fog-related — involved a semi-trailer that was headed east on Interstate 70 along the turnpike. That accident caused motorists to slow down for several hours Wednesday morning as crews worked to clear the scene.

In that crash, which occurred at 3:20 a.m. at milepost 193.1 on eastbound I-70, near the Shawnee-Douglas county line, a 2005 Freightliner semi-trailer crashed after the driver lost control of his rig while reaching for a pack of cigarettes, turnpike official said.

The semi drifted to the right shoulder, then tipped over onto its right side and slid down the right driving-lane shoulder into the ditch. Via http://cjonline.com/

When a motorist is reaching over for an object it is their natural tendency to maintain a fixed and steady gaze on the road directly ahead of them. The fixed state of their gaze and the physical motion of leaning over will cause the driver to pull the steering wheel in the direction of their lean and they will drift out of their lane. All the while they will maintain eye contact with the road directly ahead of them. When a motorist is fixated in gaze their peripheral vision is compromised and this is exacerbated by speeds over 20mph.

speed-visual-focus-diagram-426x500.jpg
The critical ten

The driver in the video is not maintaining their lane. They are operating a vehicle without regard for other road users. This behavior is normalized socially and the proof of that is in how many motorists are allowed to slide the system. Either by not being cited or having their citations reduced or dismissed.

How lane control reduces and eliminates this behavior. 

Lane control works on these basic principles.

  1. The driver is maintaining a fixed and steady gaze on the road ahead of him.
  2. You are in that narrow cone of vision as the driver maintains that fixed stare.
  3. The driver is forced to acknowledge your presence and react accordingly

Does it work?

Damn straight it works.

There was a time when I was cycling down U.S. 27 and before I knew it a motorist had driven off the road, onto the shoulder, and passed me on the right. At first I interpreted this as bullying harassment. So I caught up with them at the corner gas station and confronted the driver. The driver informed me that he was distracted by his child in the back seat. Mom was sitting in the passenger seat. I realized that this father put not only my life but the life of his family in danger, it was this realization which made me lose my temper and I yelled at him to focus on his driving. I was worried that he would end up killing his family exactly like the driver who actually did end up killing his entire family. this also occurred on U.S. 27. (Completely unrelated to me but still profoundly affecting). Some idiot lady came out of the gas station and hollered at me to stop hollering at people. Because you know how annoying it is when vulnerable road users holler at motorists who almost end their life through careless driving. Poor motorists. Worse! Tea Party Libertarian Motorists. Arrogant and Victimized all in one.

Now, motorists will pitch a fit about you being “In The Road,” and some will eagerly pass legislation requiring you to operate as far right “Out Of Their Way” as possible. Some states even going so far as to legally require you to operate on shoulders. So check your state laws first. Fortunately those states are few and far inbetween. See also Bike League for some help on this subject.

Now here is where the game of telephone mentioned earlier comes in. Not every state has uniform statutes on “Cyclists Far To Right” laws. If a state’s “Bicycle Specific” law contradicts the state statutes you have a valid legal argument. Gather your peeps and start a movement to have those discriminatory laws abolished.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Back to telephone. You will hear rumors about “safety” and riding the shoulder or as far right as possible. It will seem to make sense. I mean isn’t it logical that something hurtling towards you at high speeds is an increased danger to you? Well yea, if it’s blind and has no brakes. Can you add and subtract?

Sidetracked again. A motorist hurling themselves at you at 55 mph (if they are so dense as to hit you directly from behind) while you are operating your bicycle at say 25 mph will have a striking speed of 30 mph. Which is why the guy in the video was surprised at how few injuries he sustained. I would estimate the driver of the vehicle to be operating at between 35 and 45 mph and the cyclist to be operating at 24 mph. Which means that the striking speed was actually around 11 to 21 mph. Totally survivable and why we don’t ride against the flow of traffic.

Back to telephone, fer reelz this time.

So we hear all these rumors about what is safe and how operating on the shoulder is safe. We are told that the law requires us to operate out of the way of motorists. Basically we hear a lot of stuff. But is any of it actually true?

After a lot of careful study which I won’t go into here; I can tell you that your bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and you have every right to control your lane and operate with traffic as an equal. That means in the lane. Fully in the lane. Not on the wee bitty edge.

If the cyclist in the video was fully educated on his rights to lane control and had been doing so, here is what I hypothesize would have occurred.

  • Motorist one (who was clearly paying attention) would have been required to reduce speed.
  • The motorists behind motorist one would have followed, so as to avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of them. (We all know rear enders are the fault of the person doing the rear ending and not the person being rear ended. How we flip that for cyclists I fail to understand.)
  • This chain reaction would have forced the negligent motorist to abandon their passenger side “dig” and focus entirely on the road.
  • Everyone would be irritated with the cyclist. Honking horns. Calling them an idiot. Tweeting snarky comments.
  • The cyclist would have felt harassed, marginalized, bullied.
  • Motorists would change lanes to pass or cyclist would have moved over and graciously allowed motorists to proceed before reclaiming their lane control position after being passed.
  • Middle fingers would be waved.
  • The cyclist would have coffee with their friends and commiserate about what a rude lot motorists are after hanging up their bicycle for the day.
  • The motorist would blame their bad day on the cyclist and tell their wife or boss that they were delayed not by their own lack of time management but by that one lone cyclist who slowed them down for 20 seconds.
  • Everyone would be alive and well. No injuries. No police reports. No delays lasting for hours. Paperwork to fill out. Insurance companies to call. Court dates to attend; leading to missed time from work.

Operating on a road is a fifty fifty deal. If everyone does their part, nobody gets hurt.

Motorists are terribly unreliable.

So we lane control to stack the odds in our favor.

Because ultimately the driver was the one who created the situation which lead to the collision. The driver is at fault. The Driver Is At Fault. THE DRIVER IS AT FAULT.

THE DRIVER IS AT FAULT!

And now here is the video.

Happy watching.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/158039745″>Clipped from behind</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user49751273″>Anon Rider</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It looks like they deleted the video.

So here is a different one.

Which I should warn you is very upsetting to watch.
You will read in the description about how the motorist admitted to seeing the cyclist in this instance but judged (wrongly) that they could overtake.
Again. 
Lane control prevents good motorists from making bad choices.
Bad motorists always make bad choices.
Don’t be a bad motorist.

 

A driver of a White Ford SUV killed a boy. Everyone in comments section victim blames. Except me.

Read the story here.

Screenshot-2016-03-01-12.36.53-660x330.png
Wonderful and well loved boys life cut short by careless driver.


Nicole B
.
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?!


Lisa S
.
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….


Katre R
.
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!!!


Kevin C
.
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.

My response to the BULLSHIT!

Cherokee Schill
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.

That is why we can’t have nice things.

It isn’t the lack of infrastructure. It is the lack of education.
Remember the excitement over Japans lack of bicycle specific infra?
Please don’t bring bike lanes to Japan.

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!

The day after I was killed

The day after I was killed.

I placed a linen napkin next to each plate and carefully filled the glasses with juice. I brought in the newspaper and spread butter over the toast.

I watched, my heart aching, as our youngest child clung to my wife, crying inconsolably any time she was set down. Her sobbing hiccups and wavering voice asking “where’s daddy?”

I felt my heart swell with love as my son sat on the front porch. Tightly gripping my old baseball glove, leaving crescent moons in the leather.

The day after I was killed.

I walked down a familiar sidewalk and kicked a few pebbles. Watching as they bounced over the gutter and onto pavement stained red with my blood.

I wandered over to our local pub and sat with my friends as they held a vigil. Their eyes wandering from their full glasses to the television, where my face was prominently displayed. The newscaster looked grave as he reported my death.

I watched silently as my best friend hung up his bicycle and vowed never to ride again.

One week before I was killed.

A woman walked out of the local police station. Tears of frustration in her eyes. Her attempts to report a dangerous driver unheeded by police. The officer stared dispassionately as she described the driver and their actions which killed me. Firmly the officer turned her away, saying “since you weren’t hit, there is nothing we can do. No laws were broken.”

One week before I was killed.

A stranger tried to save my life.

 

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

 

Kentucky SB 80 Part 1

When changing the law doesn’t actually change the law.

Some people are confused over SB 80.

This is my attempt to clear things up and encourage you to call the legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181 and tell them to vote yes on SB 80.

KRS 189.300 requires “all” vehicles to operate on the right “whenever possible”. It isn’t always possible to operate on the right due to the ever changing nature of highways. This is acknowledged in the statute by the words “whenever possible”. Which simply means it isn’t a requirement when changes exist to the highway which prevents operation on the right. Or simply stated, you are allowed to pass another vehicle.

But!

You have to make sure that the left side of the highway is clear of all other traffic before passing.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

If this is a two way highway we are on how much of the highway is on the left?

It could be safely assumed that half the highway is on the right and the other half is on the left.

But!

We don’t have to assume. When we read KRS 189.310 we see that indeed on a two lane road. Half the highway is yours and the other half belongs to oncoming traffic.

Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

Q: As nearly as possible? What does that mean?

A: Not all vehicles are created equal. Some have big butts. Just kidding. Some vehicles are larger than others and when a really large vehicle is going down a two lane road they need to…Wait for it!

Operate as close as practicable to the right hand boundary of the highway!

Q: The statute says slow moving vehicles! So really fast vehicles don’t have to follow that rule?

A: Wrong!

You have to give nearly half the highway to oncoming traffic and if you are moving quickly and are large then you too have to get over as close as practicable.

Odds are very likely though that you won’t be moving that fast if you’re operating a large vehicle. The more junk you have in your trunk the slower you tend to be.

Q: So are big trucks and farm equipment required to operate on the shoulder? I mean what is this whole boundary thing? You sound like my ex.

A: We have two places to look to. One is KRS 189.340

(3) The operator of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movements in safety. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway unless passing vehicle comes to a complete stop and such movement may be made safely.

The other place we need to look at is the definitions for the chapter. KRS 189.010

(10) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel,exclusive of the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two (2) or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” as used herein shall refer to any roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

So a really large and slow moving vehicle is not supposed to travel off the roadway.

Q: But it says “roadway” and not “highway”. Doesn’t the word highway include the shoulder?

A: I feel like I’m talking to the Jessamine County attorney and his ever faithful sidekick Eric Wright. To answer your question we once again turn towards the definitions.

(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 covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.

The definition of a highway is A main road or thoroughfare, such as a street, boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for use for travel or transportation. And as we already learned it is exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

The traveled portion of the road is also referred to as a lane of traffic and KRS 189.300 clearly states

The overtaking vehicle shall return to the proper traffic lane as soon as practicable and, if the passing vehicle enters the oncoming traffic lane, before coming within two hundred (200) feet of any approaching vehicle.

Roadway and traffic lane are synonymous.

The final piece of the puzzle is the phrase

allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.

Q: What is considered reasonably free passage to the left?

A: The left side of the highway.

Q: But what if it is a multi lane road?

A: Then it would be the left lane.

Q: Why can’t we all share a lane?

A: Because sharing a lane is expressly illegal! Both KRS 189.310 and KRS 189.340 make it very clear that on a two lane road half the highway is yours and on a multi lane road

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;

Omigosh! That was so hard to understand.

Correction: That was/is so hard for Eric Wright and the rest of the Jessamine County Attorney’s office to understand.

The updated proposed legislation specifically names bicycles and clarifies already existing language.

They have taken the existing statutes and made the language so simple that even the Jessamine County Attorney can understand it.

(3) The operator of a bicycle shall travel as closely as practicable to the right hand side of the traveled portion of a highway unless there is appropriate signage or markings to indicate otherwise. The operator of the bicycle shall not be expected or required to:
(a) Travel on the shoulder of the highway;
(b) Operate over or through hazards at the edge of a highway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards; or
(c) Operate without a reasonable safety margin on the right-hand side of the highway.

Remember that the original statute stated “Whenever Possible” but didn’t actually specify what hazards can be expected other than to mention other vehicles. So this clarification is essential for the deeply prejudiced.

All efforts have been made to dispel any myths about where bicycles “should” be.

 

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Q: Does this mean I have to make a left turn from the right side of the road?

A: (Face Palm) No! Nothing has changed about how you operate on the road. You are operating a vehicle per KRS 189.010.

See KRS 189.330 for rules on turning and intersections.

(6) The operator of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(a) Right turns – both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;
(b) Left turns – the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme right-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as such vehicle on the roadway being entered.

Now please stop being silly and follow the Rules of the Road! 

 

Stay tuned for SB 80 Part 2.

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.

Perception vs. safety

“When a situation feels dangerous to you, it’s probably more safe than you know; when a situation feels safe, that is precisely when you should feel on guard.”
― Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

There is a social construct to driving and bicycling, much the same way as there is a social construct to walking in a crowd. There are rules which guide our behavior and if everyone follows the rules, no one gets hurt.

Rule number one: Don’t hit what is in front of you.

As humans our eyes are adapted to seeing that which is directly in front of us. Though some of us require corrective lenses to make even this task feasible.

We trust our eyes but can our eyes be trusted?

How the brain processes the images we take in everyday is amazing. That we believe half of what we see is, to me, even more amazing.

I recently discovered “Brain Games” and I want you to pause your reading and watch this clip.


So did you trust your eyes?

Seeing is a task and driving is a task. When we are seeing and driving we are multi-tasking. Throw into the mix other drivers, street signs, stop lights, painted lines on the ground, billboards, lights, radio, cell phone, kids in the back seat, a passenger, and driving just became even more complicated.

We believe that we are safe when we are far from safe behind the wheel.

The CDC reported that in 2012 there were roughly 34K deaths attributed to the automobile. 2.5K of these were teenagers between 16 and 19 years old. Statistics

In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States (Tables 1 and 3). On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes. TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS

One of the things that I found interesting when reading the NHTSA website, was their reassurance that driving is much safer nowadays when compared to past history. When you have an average of 2 people killed or injured every hour is it really that safe?

Not enough emphasis is put on eliminating unnecessary multi-tasking such as talking on the phone. Example

From the data, it is possible to draw the conclusion that it isn’t safe to drive. It isn’t any safer to walk either. The only mode of travel that had under 1K deaths per year was the bicycle.

So if cycling is so much safer than the alternative, why then do we spend so much money on infrastructure that caters to car culture. Especially when it is such a dangerous mode of transportation?

Have you heard of social conformity?

Social conformity is the same construct which gives us gutter bike lanes and tells us it is “safer” to cycle on the shoulder as opposed to the travel lane.

The rules of the road tell you to occupy your lane. Even on a two way only highway.

We would have far fewer cycling deaths if people would stop trusting their eyes and social norms. Instead trust education and the rules that have been laid out for safe road travel.

For example: In Kentucky we have KRS 189.310 which states:

189.310 Vehicles meeting other vehicles and animals.
(1) Two (2) vehicles passing or about to pass each other in opposite directions shall have the right-of-way, and no other vehicle to the rear of those two (2) vehicles shall pass or attempt to pass either of those vehicles.
(2) Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

Our perception and social construct tells us to ride on the edge of a road. To be as far out of the way of motorists as possible. This puts us out of the line of sight and creates a safety hazard. It “feels” safe but in reality it isn’t safe at all.

Examples of unsafe cycling and a message from the CDC. 

What does safe cycling look like?

What is your lane position visually communicating?
What is your lane position visually communicating?

We need to clarify already existing laws to direct motorists to change lanes to pass.

We need transportation infrastructure that isn’t based on car culture. (pedestrians, public transit, and cycling as priority over automobiles)

We need NHTSA and the FHWA to have dedicated bicycle commuters as members of their board of directors.

We need all cyclists, motorists, city planners, transportation committees, and law enforcement to be educated in Cycling Savvy.

“Human attention, in the best of circumstances, is a fluid but fragile entity. Beyond a certain threshold, the more that is asked of it, the less well it performs. When this happens in a psychological experiment, it is interesting. When it happens in traffic, it can be fatal.”
― Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do