Short destruction of vehicular cycling nonsense
I found this succinct demolishment of the vehicular cycling crazies in a blog:
That was too apt to not share more widely.
Originally Posted by sheffield cycle chic
Which was linked to in a Copenhagenize post:
Copenhagenize.com - Bicycle Culture by Design: Vehicular Cyclists - Cycling's Secret Sect
If you want to see what cycling looks like were at least 20% or more of trips done are by pedal power, you should check out that blog along with this dedicated to explaining to the Anglosphere the infrastructure available in the Netherlands:
A view from the cycle path
It feels really strange that I am about to sort-of argue *for* VC in this post given all the time what I spent pretty much doing the opposite again JF et al back in my BF A&S days, but there are some keys points in favour that are valid, IMO, and whatever form of modern cycling we argue for, we cant let them slip through the cracks:
1. Arguing that riding in traffic is basically suicidal is an advocacy problem any way they try to slice it. I have a 25km round trip to work. Zero meters of this trip have bike lanes, on street or off. My old commute was 40 km round trip with 120 meters of bike lane. I rather enjoyed both of those routes, which are all-urban and suburban roads. I did not get the impression that I was cheating death with every ride. VC guys would say I should take the lane. Bike lane guys seem to be suggesting I should not ride to work.
2. If we say riding on the sidewalk is dangerous, we need some real reasons why building another sidewalk a foot wider and calling it a "separated bike lane" is safe. I haven't heard any yet.
3. I have yet to see any bylaws passed here (in Toronto) that mandate use of a bike lane or sidepath (i.e. a prohibition on riding on the road). But I remain unconvinced such laws won't be made. Bike lanes are full of snow all winter and sidepaths are full of pedestrians all summer. I need to use the road sometimes. I'm not suicidal, I need to get to work.
4. In Toronto, the standard of care that is used when off-street bike paths are closed is not on the same planet as when a road is closed. They just block it. There is no advanced warning, there are no signs ahead to advise, there are no detours set up. If you're lucky you get an orange fence and a sign saying "no admittance". If you're unluckly you round a corner and nearly hit a parked truck. And suddenly roads don't seem so bad....
5. The posted speed limit on bike paths here was recently lowered from 20kph to 15kph. There was no explanation or public consultation. Just big new signs. Forgetting the fact that this is barely a qualifying speed for a Boston Marathon jogger, I'm trying to picture what the reaction would be like here if the speed limit on the highway was dropped from 100kph to 75kph with no reason given.
Maybe other people live in places where bike lanes and bike paths are smooth and fast and always open and they have no reason at all to ever ride on a busy road. But I can't imagine myself ever being one of those people... so yeah, I'm gonna "pretend to be a car" if that's what they must call it. Vroom Vroom?
I agree with ghettocruiser
This is funny, because I was thinking about creating a Forester thread after I stumbled on this:
New Report: Every Bicyclist Counts | League of American Bicyclists
I actually have no real problem with vehicular cycling, and generally practice it, but:
The results are sobering, eye-opening, and critically helpful in informing the current debate about the need for a non-motorized traffic safety performance measure.
We learned, for example, that a much higher percentage of fatal crashes than expected -- 40% of fatal crashes with a reported collision type -- were “hit from behind” incidents
-- that’s important to know for our education program.
VC takes as an article-of-faith that you will not be hit from behind. And that is WRONG. So. Very. Wrong. And continuing to preach that is irresponsible.
It seriously pisses me off when VC zealots actually advocate AGAINST cycling infrastructure, all because of their unwavering faith in that completely bogus and completely wrong Doctrine of the 0.3%.
^ The incident rate may be low but the death rate (consequences are very high). People have trouble with those sorts of statistics in truly understanding them and their implications. I used to ride with no mirror. Got one, and my constipation was fixed. Geez, but they came close before slowing! We recently discussed a 3 foot rule to the side how about to the rear!? So began my search for daytime conspicuity so that they had time to factor me into their plans. It is better, but there is still a sort of you are asking for it and it is not their fault if they run over my butt when people talk to me about riding on the road. That attitude has got to be changed. It should not be open season on your fellow Americans just because they are pedestrians or cyclists.
So the argument against vehicular cycling, as I understand it, is that a lot of the people enjoying the privilege of holding a driver's license are incapable of operating a motor vehicle in a way that respects traffic laws and is safe for cyclists and therefore people shouldn't exercise their right to ride a bike on the road.
Originally Posted by RoyFokker
I think I see a way to solve road congestion and pollution problems and make things safer for cyclists! As an added benefit bike shops and public transport would start seeing a large influx of customers too!
Or we could start doing the "logical" thing that most police departments seem to love and start ticketing cyclists for their own safety...
You honestly believe that one anecdote you found on a blog is a succinct demolition of people cycling on roads with cars?
Originally Posted by RoyFokker
Have you ever ridden on a road? Its mostly OK - 99.9% of the drivers are fine they overtake giving you space, of the ones that pull the left hooks, drive too close most are on their phones or just being careless and I think they should be punished. Thankfully the "I hate cyclists and am going to run them over in my car" brigade are very few and far between.
I don't see any existential crisis between cars and bikes
please show me some relevant statistics that back up your position that cycling on road is dangerous? Say more dangerous than riding in a car, riding a motorbike, being a pedestrian
I gotta say that percentage in my home town is not quite that high.
Originally Posted by SimpleJon
I'm both an avid cyclist, and a practicing traffic engineer. I really appreciate many of the techniques used and advocated by vehicular cyclists. I think riding on the road with traffic works fine in many circumstances. However, there are roads and conditions present that you'd have to be insane to actually try vehicular cycling in. I also like bike lanes, bike boulevards and paths; and I'll even ride the sidewalk for a short distance if I'm dressed up and just want some coffee nearby. I know that riding on the sidewalk is where I'm most at risk, but I weigh those risks and trade off's for most situations. I don't have any evidence that well designed bike lanes are more dangerous than riding on the road as VC'ers insist they must be; neither do they. In fact, like anything in traffic, there are risk factors and ranges between when something is safe verses when it becomes risky. Take marked, midblock crosswalks. For years nobody could really tell you if they made things safer for pedestrians, or death traps. finally a good study came out that said both of those are true, but it depends on other things like speeds, lanes and the number of cars on the road. Bike infrastructure will have the same characteristics; which is why I detest VC'ers insistence that bike infrastructure is bad no matter what. Its more nuanced than that. Now they have taken the position that its really not about the infrastructure, but the laws that have been passed. Ok, next argument...
Personally speaking, I like most of their ideas, but VC'ers are kind of like the crazy uncle in the family. You invite them to parties because its the right thing to do, and they are kin, after all. However, you don't let them drink to much, or talk to long, and you never, ever, ever hand them a microphone!
Local ordinances confuse the issue further. I had never lived in a place where it was legal to cycle on the sidewalks (pavements) until I moved to Kalamazoo, here it is recommended if not required where a "suitable surface exists."
Local motorists are not fond of bikes in the roadway, however, they seem to make some distinction between a cyclist with lights, panniers, and a helmet and a bike on a road. The former is considered a fool who thinks he is a car, the latter a fool who lost his license and needs to be hazed.
I cede the lane whenever I can, and ride with lights, helmet, vest, mirror, etc. taking the lane when I need to for a turn. As long as paths are constricted, under construction, under snow from roadway plowing and so on, we must have the same rights as motorists. As long as we don't wish to die on our bikes, we should be considerate while riding, and lobby our representatives for more plowed pathways.
I use the best of what's available to me.
If I have to ride on the road, then I practice some elements of VC. I don't take the whole lane all the time, because that's just being an *******. I take the whole lane when the road surface is crap and I have to weave around potholes, debris, and roadkill. I take the lane when I am trying to protect myself from "the squeeze" due to narrow lanes. I take the lane when I'm riding past a row of parked cars along the curb to get out of the door zone. But when I have space, I move over and let cars pass me without needing to change lanes. If the parking lane is empty, I will ride in it.
I will ride on sidewalks if they are in good shape and there aren't too many driveways, cross streets, and shopping center entries. It's not illegal where I live, and now that we have a complete streets ordinance that's slowly being implemented, some of the sidewalks are being upgraded such that they're being made wider, better connected, and a bit safer where they do cross streets and driveways.
I use bike lanes. Some of them are poorly designed. Thankfully, the city is upgrading some of the poorly designed ones even while they're adding more elsewhere. If the bike lane is junk, then I will use the street.
I will use bike paths where available, too. I use them at night illegally, too, because that ordinance is stupid. Again, thankfully we've got a pretty big local push to get 24hr access to the greenway paths. There's supposed to be a vote this month regarding extending access. The city's new greenways master plan considers the greenway paths a component of the transportation network, even though the greenways are currently managed by the parks dept and they currently are given the same operating hours as nonlinear parks. 24hr access is vital to that, and the League of American Bicyclists has made it clear that 24hr access is one component that will be necessary for the city to be upgraded from a bronze rated bike friendly city to a silver rated bike friendly city.
I think that a bicycle transportation network needs to be considered a separate entity from the automotive transportation network. Efficient auto traffic typically follows interstates and other major highways, which are garbage corridors for bikes. Efficient bike traffic requires an entirely separate facility that shares many components with a car's freeway system. At some level, there needs to be mixing of traffic, because you can't have roads AND separate cycletracks accessing every address. I would be thrilled if that mixing only needed to occur on roads with auto traffic of 35mph or less, and that casual riders who rarely go more than 10mph had plenty of wide sidewalks to choose from so they could avoid roads altogether.
One other thing, is that if cycling is ever going to be a realistic transportation choice for more people for more of their trips, then there needs to be the ability for people to cycle together.
Partly because humans like to be social, and "well, I guess we'll just meet up again at the restaurant. Good luck" won't fly. Partly because finding a group of people who are all equally skilled at VC is pretty tough. And partly because even if riders are all equally skilled, it's still really easy to get separated at lights/stopsigns/turns.
If you're an antisocial, bearded, old dude who's only interest is going "fast" (the obsession of VCers) then VC is fine. And if I'm commuting, I certainly don't want to go slow. But if I'm riding with my wife (who will never be much of a cyclist) to a restaurant, I'd sure love some infrastructure to make that easier.
"Vehicular cycling". I have not been to this forum for awhile and today is the first time I have seen this term and I saw it often. I think the term sounds silly and sounds a bit pretentious. I see the term was coined in the 1970's, a decade full of academic pretensions. Thank goodness that term has not caught on. Did the OP write that book?
Any bicycle on the road is a bicycle no matter why that bike is being ridden. Any cyclist on the road deserves to be safe and pigeon holing the "style" of riding as "vehicular" makes my skin crawl. Yuck.
That's all I got out of this thread.
I've been on this forum for a while and haven't heard that term until the OP brought it up. As you will learn, the OP of this thread likes to label anyone who doesn't agree with him 100% as not a real cyclist. I'm sure you noticed a lot of his arguments in here. Take it with a grain of salt. Some cyclists take the lane more than others, we don't have to label different "styles" of riding.
Originally Posted by cjohnson
I only know about VC because of listening to funding/planning debates for bikelanes.
VC's only real relevance as a "movement" in this day and age is that it is cyclists who advocate against any-and-all cycling infrastructure. And they do that through dodgy statistics, arrogance, and beards.
Just how many VC would be VC if they had a clear lane or path? I will stand for the right to cycle in traffic when no other option exists, but, it is my least favorite type of cycling.
Terminology is always sketchy. As a bearded guy (part time logger) I am concerned that hipsters and "vehicular cyclists" are bringing back McCarthyite responses. Both groups demonstrate a disregard for their own safety and that of others, both blame some other group.
Bike-specific infrastructure is alright, until it ends. Then what? Separated and protected bikes lanes are nice, except when you want to make a turn onto an intersecting roadway. There is a lack of education for motorists and cyclists alike on how to use bike-specific infrastructure. Add to that, there is little to no standards on infrastructure between jurisdictions and in some cases within single jurisdictions. For example: in Denver, some on street bike lanes have dashed lines at intersections for right turning vehicles. On other streets these dashed lines don't exist. This creates a conflict between right turning motor vehicles and through going cyclists. Many times bike infrastructure forces cyclists to engage in risky behavior: passing on the right, riding in the door zone, unsafe turns across multiple lanes of traffic; not to mention, a part of the motoring traffic sees bike infrastructure as auxiliary loading zones.
There's some saying about a path to hell and good intentions. I'd rather not be marginalized by bike infrastructure, but as it is implemented here, that seems to be the end goal: Move cyclists to the side of the road to get them out of the way of the cars.
Bike travel via non-bike specific infrastructure is OK, until bike specific infrastructure begins, then bike travel is awesome. See what I did there?
I would say that's generous, 95% maybe, but it doesn't matter. A tiny percentage taking risks with your life still feels like far too many!
Originally Posted by SimpleJon
I cycle on pretty busy roads to work, it seems to be human nature to assume that something that appears dangerous (high consequence) is automatically high risk, something that actually is dangerous.
Originally Posted by Mr Pig
Looking at combined injury and fatality statistics where I live in 2013 there were 64 accidents per 10,000 motor vehicles - 6,426 cases in total, note that this includes any accident where any medical treatment is required, even a check up.
Assuming that no motorist had more than 1 accident in 2013 this indicates that 99.64% of drivers were not involved in any accidents that involved any in injury whatsoever. It is also worth noting that Singapore has 970,000 registered motor vehicles with land mass (including several large reservoirs and outlying islands) of 270 square miles meaning there are 3592 motor vehicles per square mile which is very high.
The total number of RTA fatalities in 2013 was 159.
72 of that number were Motorcyclists and pillion riders and 44 were pedestrians. The rest are made up of cyclists, car drivers passengers and folks in the back of goods vehicles (which is legal here unbelievably).
The Traffic Cops did not publish the number of cyclists killed, but we have a pretty small community here and it always get reported as far as I can tell - for 2013 the following were the reported fatalities for cyclists that I have found:
Jan - 2 school kids killed by a cement truck on a pedestrian crossing
Feb - Construction Worker dies at a junction hit by a bus
May - Construction worker dies at junction hit by a bus
May - Another construction worker dies at the same junction 1 day later hit by a bus
May - Construction worker dies hit by a tipper truck performing an illegal u turn at a junction
May - Cyclist practicing for a Time trial rear ends a stationary truck and dies
I found 10 reports of serious long term injuries due to road accidents involving cyclists in 2013.
It should be noted that many of these very low paid foreign construction workers cycle on walmart type bikes with no lights or safety gear during the hours of darkness.
That makes a total of 7 fatalities that I can find - conservatively assuming that the number is double that that makes 14. (figures for 2008 to 2011 - 4 years show that 70 cyclists died in total which shows 17.5 on avg per year given downtrend each year for fatal / injury accidents from 93 in 2009 to 66 in 2013 this would show 14 to be a reasonable figure.
Getting data on how many cycling journeys there are per day is difficult in Singapore. A study from the Land Transport Authority in 2009 based upon CCTV outside of subway stations gave an average of approx 20 journeys per hour over an 18 hour period. There are 108 MRT stations in Singapore assuming that 100% of all cycling journeys pass MRT stations - I don't pass any and many of the popular cycle commute routes do not pass them, many commutes here are undertaken by low paid foreign construction workers who stay in camps they will generally not pass MRT's, also there are a lot of older people and housewives who commute 1 or 2 Km by bike to the stores that will probably not pass MRT stations. So in all likelihood 75% to 80% of all cycling journeys do not pass MRT's.
Conservatively this would lead to 20 jph x 18hrs x 200 commuting days x 108 MRT Stations / 14 Fatalities per year ~ 1 in 550,000 chance per year of croaking it cycle commuting in 2013 in Singapore.
It is interesting to note that there were no rear ending fatalities, which are the ones that scare me most, and only one serious injury report I could find for that. Since 2010 I found 2 rear endings and 2 side swipe (left hook) fatalities.
Most fatalities occurred at junctions and involved large vehicles at dawn or dusk and school kids, low paid workers on cheap bikes who generally ride with no lights during darkness (anecdotal based upon my observations), in In 3 out of 7 of them the bike was on a pedestrian crossing. remove these groups and you are looking closer to 1:2,000,000 per year. These risks are much less than those published for Motorbikes or road use in general - go and look it up if you don't believe me
RoyFokkers statement that Vehicular Cycling is ludicrously dangerous has no basis in fact (Crude Population based figures from Oxford university from 2005 / 2006 show US/UK to be 1:350,000 to 1:400,000 Risk of dying in an RTA on a bike)
At 99.64% I was closer with my guess of 99.9% of Singapore drivers are not dangerous than Mr. Pig at 95% The odds would become alarming at 95% of drivers being involved in Injury or fatal accidents. 0.5% compared with 5% would mean 140 cycling deaths per year not 14!!!!
BTW - This is not a intended to be a peer reviewed PHD thesis, just an attempt to apply a somewhat crude empirical process to some of the uninformed and wild claims of Risk I see and hear all the time. I don't believe there is any evidence to show that cycle commuting on road is in anyway more dangerous than any other form of road use - including being a pedestrian and that is the sole intent of this.
Where I have made controversial assumptions I have tried to be as conservative as possible and explain them. The statistics came from the Singapore traffic police website, the Singapore LTA and newspapers /blogs of traffic accidents. All available from Google - but do feel free to rip me apart if you feel I have made any big error here.
Last edited by SimpleJon; 09-20-2014 at 02:26 AM.
^ every locale and situation will be different.
But the League of American Bicyclists found that 40% of fatal collisions were from behind:
New Report: Every Bicyclist Counts | League of American Bicyclists
The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents found that in a quarter of fatal collisions the front of the vehicle hit the rear of the bicycle:
Cycling Accidents - Facts and Figures | Cycling Safety Advice and Information | Road Safety | RoSPA
Toronto found that "Motorist Overtaking" was the cause of 12% of injury/fatality collisions:
And from Alberta (where I'm from) 13% of injury/fatality collisions were from the rear:
And all of that is to contrast John Forester's often repeated claim that the chances of behind hit from behind are 0.37%, based on a dodgy interpretation of data from the 70s. And which is then used as the basis for the claim that bike infrastructure should not be installed anywhere, at any time, for anyone.
But I don't actually think cycling is dangerous. The best breakdown I've seen of that was done by Ken Kifer (sadly, Ken Kifer was killed by a drunk driver): Is Cycling Dangerous? -- The Risk of Bicycle Use -- Accidents, Fatalities, Injuries, and Benefits
You're ignoring the fact that there are little to no standards of implementation for bike infrastructure. Here in Denver, many on-street bike lanes are measured from the curb. However, this measurement includes an 18" wide gutter with storm drains that are unridable. So, over a third of the bike lane is unusable. On streets with bike lanes outside of parking lanes, the bike lane is shadowed by the door zone. Bike's are marginalized to a dangerous area: between moving traffic that won't give three feet, and the door-zone. Technically, in CO with the 3-foot-passing law a motorist has to pass a cyclist by three feet even if the cyclist is in a bike lane. But motorist assume the cyclist must remain in the bike lane at all times. The door zone shadow gives cyclists about a foot of bike lane to use.
Originally Posted by cjohnson
I tried an experiment this week: I changed my route and rode to work on streets with bike routes and on-street bike lanes. My normal route is main arterials into the city. In 8 days of commuting using bike routes I had bottles thrown at me, two instances of near-dooring, 4 right-hooks, two near collisions with motorists running red lights, 4 near calls when motorist rolled stop signs, passed aggressively more times that I could count.
It would take months to accomplish that list on my normal route. This of course is anecdotal.
I'm saving my pennies for a camera. It's time people are held accountable for their imprudent, callous behavior.
I saw what you did, and in spite of your lack of constructive conversation, I engaged you anyway.
I agree with you but in the UK the cops do nothing, video or no video.
Originally Posted by rogbie
That's very true in the US as well, Mr. Pig. Near me some cyclists were assaulted on a shop ride by some guy in a pickup. Guy got knocked off his bike. There was video and the cops said they couldn't do anything.
Honestly, the cops are lazy, useless... In the UK they're like glorified social workers. This wasn't the way I used to feel but after a few dealings with them I'm sorry but they are hopeless.
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