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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Car and Bike on the Road - Double Standards?

How true is this occurrence? I personally experienced this and agreed with the comic. Some other comments and discussions:

"Solution: the Idaho Stop law. (Bicycles treat Stop signs as Yield; red lights as Stop signs)"

"I've been commuting to work by bike in Washington DC for nearly 11 years. And I've been hit several times by cars... however, I haven't been hit in the last 5 years.


Because I follow the Idaho Stop law. Well, in rush hour I just wait for the light like a good citizen. But the point is, cars hate waiting for bicyclists. I was hit several times because of cars who couldn't bear to wait for me ( even though I'm on the right, hugging the right, doing what I should do ) so they pass dangerously close, or do something else stupid and I get injured, and they drive off.

At some point I realized that judiciously running lights got me far enough ahead that I didn't have this problem, and I haven't been hit since. It also has prevented right hooks!

I'm not going to pretend it's moral. I'm not going to high horse. I'm just giving my experience: I haven't been hit by a car in five years.

And yes, no matter what, whenever there's traffic I wait for the red light to change."

"At some point I realized that judiciously running lights got me far enough ahead that I didn't have this problem

This. The Idaho stop law is the way to go.

Here's the thing: Many, probably most, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians break "minor" traffic laws all the time. Many cars speed or fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs. Many bikes stop-and-go at red lights. Many pedestrians jaywalk or cross against the light.

These are rational and largely well intentioned people who are balancing (sometimes incorrectly) safety, efficiency and respect for the rules of the road. Whether safe, legal or appropriate, these are at least arguably rational decisions since many otherwise rational people seem do it, but the decisions about which laws to obey and which to "bend" are different for different modes of transport. These differences seem to be at the heart of much of the friction expressed in the OP and similar debates.

Motorists pick and choose which laws to obey all the time, typically for their own convenience (speeding, rolling "stops", etc.). The Idaho stop law approach is both convenient and safer for cyclists. But it's more convenient for motorists too: in most urban traffic cars do not have a higher average speed than bikes, but they accelerate and decelerate faster. It's this constant pass-then-get-passed cycle that seems to piss motorists off. The Idaho stop law puts enough distance between bikes and motor vehicles that this is less of a problem."

"The majority of car drivers are also cyclists, and thus understand how vulnerable a cyclist can feel. "Strict Liability", supported in law in the Netherlands, leads to driver's insurance being deemed to be responsible in a collision between a car and a cyclist. This makes car drivers very wary of bicycles. Finally, towns have been designed with limited access by cars and limited (decreasing over time) car parking. The resulting heavy traffic and very limited car parking makes car use unattractive in towns.

These factors together far outweigh the negative factors of wet and windy weather, strong headwinds due to the flat terrain, and frequent bicycle thefts. Nearly a third of all journeys made in the Netherlands are made by bicycle. Even the over 65 age group make nearly a quarter of their journeys by bicycle. Within some cities, over half of all journeys are made by bicycle."


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