Opinion Piece from "The Father of Vehicular Cycling"
His faith in overtaking motorists was misplaced in the 1970s, and it remains misplaced today.
^^ I suspect that there is a lot of close calls and minor contact that is unreported from overtaking drivers. The reported data support his comments. However, the severity of the injuries when an overtaking vehicle hits a cyclist are on average more severe. A friend was hit by a drunk here 20 years ago and one leg is 2" shorter from that. He is lucky to be alive. A teacher in the south of the county was hit and killed by a drunk three years ago on a training ride. The police did not catch the driver after he sideswiped some cars 15 miles away a bit earlier. My impression having ridden streets in the seventies, and now, is that it can be worse now without a lot of route planning.
There was a long, rambling debate on BF 7 or 8 years ago that included JF, Hurst, and many others including (unfortunately?) myself. IMO he was never able to produce any modern reference that had overtaking collisions in the low single-digits, and I have found nothing in the years since. Everything I can find has it between 15 and 20%, and 40-60% of fatalities.
IIRC in order to get overtaking below 5% of injuries we had to include everyone falling over on the sidewalk, kids bumping their knees in the park, and maybe guys riding BMX courses and whatehaveyou.
Having said that, I don't disagree with this core message that operating as a vehicle is the only practical method to use a bike for transportation in most urban areas, and I agree that a lot of the new bike infrastructure I am supposed to be fawning over is worse than nothing.
But as everyone's youtube feed now demonstrates, overtaking vehicles, when present, will always be one of the most significant risk factors on my ride. That's fine, I'm gonna factor that in and deal with it. Trivializing this risk through mis-analysis of accident statistics does not improve anything for anyone.
My problem with Forester (or at least with his followers) is when it reaches into advocating against cycling infrastructure.
"Everyone should ride on the road just like me. We don't need any funding for bike routes. Fight Oppression!"
It's completely selfish, and really counterproductive. I realize it goes back to a time when bikes were threatened with having zero access to roads, but I think that battle has pretty much been won?
Going forward the issue should be getting more people cycling, and the VCers I know all think "education" is the single, magical solution. But it's really not.
Interesting to revisit this.
The North Carolina data: http://ncdot.gov/bikeped/download/su...types05-09.pdf are easy to misread. Table 2 lists overtake incident in two places (the first reads less than 8%) and the total is 11% but out of 57 percent not 100% so in the 15-20% range. Serious and fatal injuries are much higher especially with speed: http://people.aapt.net.au/~theyan/cy...ention%203.pdf See page 12 2nd column, third paragraph. This is a multivariate analysis based on the NC data, BTW.
Boils down to:
Speed_____ Relative probability to fatal injury relative to roads <20 mph
<20 mph____ 1
20-30 mph___ 2
30-40 mph___ 3
40-50 mph__ 12
> 50 mph.__ 15
Rounded to nearest whole number.
So a person speeding up on me at 51 mph in a 30 zone is putting me at about 5 X the risk of death if they screw up (and one would assume serious injury is the same) than I accepted as par for the course in riding a 30 mph road. This suggests that it is the speed of the collision that is a major aspect in the disproportionate fatalities with an overtaking vehicle collision. Side collisions are more likely but usually are at lower speed causing less injury.
Another aspect is that even with my mirror, it is hard to maintain vigilance and watch every overtaking vehicle. The wind of a mirror coming too close is an adrenalin surge I don't enjoy.
I'm not suggesting that the VC mantra wasn't counterproductive, but unfortunately there seems to be a never ending supply of ammunition for VC alarmists provided by the articles like this one:
Originally Posted by newfangled
Cyclist in hospital with serious injuries after being hit by car in Scarborough - Toronto | Globalnews.ca
There is no mandatory helmet law here, and there is no mandatory bike lane use law here. So why are police mentioning either of these things?
Originally Posted by THE ARTICLE ABOVE
If I got hit from behind driving a car, would the police give sound bites about how I wasn't driving in the right-most lane of travel, and my car wasn't equipped with a driver's side airbags?
How about a discussion of possible other contributing factors, like they fact that it was dark and pouring rain, whether there were functional lights/reflectors on the bike, whether the cyclist was signalling a left turn, and whether the car (a black BMW) was being driven the way most black BMWs in Toronto are, that is to say, way too fast.
They need to treat the accident like it's between two vehicles on a roadway. Not as if some guy was struck while trespassing in a space reserved only for cars.
Well said. It's like they have the "they were asking for it" attitude when the cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet.
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
It's a good article. But fighting the same fight and doing the same things with little results means that a change of approach is warranted.
I'm tired of "bike and cars should be equals on the road". They are not even close. The problem I see is that car drivers are taught bicycles are just like any other vehicle on the road, so WE ARE TREATED LIKE OTHER CARS.
We are seen as slow cars that must be passed as soon as possible. We are seen as cars that can be passed as close as possible. We are seen as cars in terms of our ability to stay upright.
We are not cars. There should be very different rules that are taught to drivers so that they understand THAT WE ARE NOT CARS.
We are equal road users, yes. We are not like all other vehicles. We need radical new rules so drivers get the picture that we are different, we are vulnerable, but we are road users and we play an important part of the transportation system.
There are lots of ways to see bikes differently in terms of traffic laws, and it would sure be nice if that process got started.
For example, slow moving motor vehicles get more time in driver training and law making than do bicycles. They have strict lighting requirements (including amber lights, dual rear, etc etc). New York says this about slow moving motor vehicles (does NOT apply to bikes):
Slow down immediately when you see a vehicle or equipment with a SMV emblem in the road
Increase following distance to create a safety cushion
Be alert and watch for turns into fields
Pass with care only when it is safe and legal to do so
Be aware that animal-powered vehicles may make unanticipiated movements
Remember SMV operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow
Be aware that equipment in tow may sway on the road
Yup. 40 years, and still the same old same old.
Originally Posted by canuckjgc
Drivers are aware that cyclists are legally allowed on the roads - they just don't care. Just like they don't care about pedestrians, or crosswalks, or stopsigns, or signaling, or speeding, or yielding to buses, or texting. VC ignores that.
The cult-of-the-helmet means that how you ride is now meaningless. All people care about is whether you've got your magic styrofoam. VC ignores that.
Bad cyclists will always exist, and people will judge all cyclists based on their actions. If a driver saw some cyclist do something once, they will blame you for that forever. VC ignores that.
And Vehicular Cyclists aren't born that way - at least not in North America they aren't. Telling people "Ride on the road" doesn't work. Potential cyclists need a way to work up to that, before being thrown to the wolves. VC ignores that.
Admittedly this is based on my limited experience with a couple of people who are adamantly against bike lanes, and are basically against any changes to the status quo, all because they've "read Forester."
As a frequent driver of an SMV up to 5 years ago, I too think that the SMV situation is made more clear than the cyclist's is.
Originally Posted by canuckjgc
I got a lot more response especially speeding up on me at 15-20 over the limit and getting too close, and slowing too late (inattention, intimidation, or stupidity). Daytime visible rear lights and bright traffic yellow-green tops helped. Well, actually eliminated that sort of thing. Haven't had one like that since the upgrades in daytime visibility. Mtbxplorer's triangle looks a lot like an SMV sign. I followed a recumbent with one and it make an impression. Enough like an SMV to get that response from drivers who know enough to respond to SMV signs, and yet enough different to be legal (an SMV sign is not legal on a bike in most states and provinces. The Toronto fiasco is IMHO a reiteration of the mayor's attitude. Where is the responsibility to avoid the accident? The driver's responsibility to control his vehicle in a safe manner? We care crazy if we do the same thing and expect a different outcome, so yes it is time for a change in approach, and we start with us. I have 'educated' some drivers by riding properly and well-marked.
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