A modest proposal

August 31, 2013 § 63 Comments

Dear Friends,

The recent death of Debra Deem is unacceptable. People have asked “How many more?”

My answer is simple: “None.”

The time has come for us to stand together and do something that makes a permanent difference. Not a Facebook campaign, or an Internet petition, or a town meeting, or an angry letter to the city/sheriff/police chief.

The time has come for us to do what is simple and what is right.

The problem

I believe the problem is painfully simple. We are afraid to ride in the lane, where we belong and where we have alegal right to be. We are afraid because we don’t want to get hit, so, paradoxically, we ride on the shoulder or in the gutter, where we are much more likely to get hit.

What’s even worse is that we stop riding on certain roads, confirming the cagers’ claim that no one rides bikes “there,” and further curtailing our presence on the road.

The solution

The solution is simple: Take the lane. It is ours. We belong there. It is safer. It trains cagers to expect us. It forces cagers to acknowledge us. It demands that cagers make a conscious decision: Hit us or slow down and pass.

It’s my firm belief and it’s my experience that they will slow down and pass. If they choose to murder me for exercising my right, so be it. At least they won’t be doing it because they didn’t see me. At least they might get a speeding ticket after I’m dead.

While we’re in the lane, they may curse. They may honk. They may get angry. But we will be safer, and more importantly, we will be making the road safer for everyone else. We will be doing what is our right. We will be taking a stand for the Debras, the Mariselas, and the thousands of others who have been killed for doing nothing other than riding a bicycle.

TPO

On Sunday I’ll be rolling out at 7:00 AM on the Kettle Ride, which leaves from the Manhattan Beach Starbucks. When the ride reaches Temescal Canyon, those who want to go ahead and do the usual ride in the usual way, that is, hugging the shoulder, dodging the rocks and glass and nails and sand and parked cars and behaving like second class citizens in terror of the cars that buzz them and harass them … those folks will go ahead and do their regular ride.

I’ll be taking the lane from Temescal Canyon to Cross Creek, where I belong, where I have a right to be, and where the cagers will have to deal with me as I am: A cyclist obeying the law and exercising his rights to use the open road.

I hope some of you will join me. We will ride single file in the lane. It will not be a fast pace. It will be steady, and it will not waver from its position.

This will be our first step to reclaim for Debra Deem what should have been hers all along: A safe and open and obvious and legal place to ride her bicycle. Once we complete the ride we’ll have a quick debriefing to talk about what worked and how we can continue to encourage actual riders on actual bicycles doing actual rides to reclaim PCH.

If this is succeeds as I hope it will, we can start thinking about how to reclaim the other roads that have turned so much of Southern California into a terror zone for bicyclists.

No more excuses. No more hand-wringing. No more waiting for advocacy groups, the highway department, or city governments to “give us a solution.” No more memorial rides for the innocent. No more lives lost and survivors’ lives wrecked because we were too afraid to do the right thing.

The solution is here.

The solution is now.

The solution is us.

See you there.

§ 63 Responses to A modest proposal

  • Wankomodo says:

    Make sure you bring a copy of the CVC. The sheriff up there pulled us over once for doing what you propose. Have fun and stay safe out there tomorrow.

  • Elan Walshe says:

    If taking the lane, I worry about cyclists getting rear ended by a car at full speed because the car didn’t see the cyclist due to any number of reasons. Be careful. Thoughts and prayers to all fallen cyclists’ families and friends.

    • fsethd says:

      Of course. That’s why we ride in the gutter. The fear of getting hit in the gutter is somehow less than the fear of getting mowed down in the lane. But I don’t know of a single SoCal rider who was killed riding in the lane.

    • channel_zero says:

      IMHO, your fear is not the drivers absolutely, positively, driving unlawfully if they steam-roll a cyclist. The fear is the cyclist dies in vain, like so many have already. Cagers enjoy a privilege/authority to kill a cyclist as long as the cager is not legally drunk.

      Consider notifying the Sherriff’s department in Malibu. If the patrol persons have some advanced notice with some guidance from higher ranking folks on the matter it might not be an eventful day for anyone involved.

      Repeating the exercise and staying in discuson with the Sherriff’s office and Malibu’s government reps on transit issues will lead to slow, incremental changes for the better. I **know** there are Malibu residents that share cyclists goals, except through a slightly different angle, to slow traffic down on PCH.

      I hope this isn’t the one-and-only time you do the exercise.

  • David Huntsman says:

    This is legal, in case anyone questions it. It is not civil disobedience. Even though it will feel that way.

  • David Huntsman says:

    And I know this will attract attention of people who believe cyclists are required to be in the “Bike Lane” on PCH. Just to be clear: there is no bike lane on PCH between Santa Monica and Malibu. It is road shoulder. Cyclists are not required to ride there.

  • Darell says:

    Seth – I’m riding with you remotely from NorCal

  • Darell says:

    Oh… and Wankomodo – I always carry a copy of the (relevant secion) of the CVC in my saddle bag. I just line the bottom of the bag with it. Takes up no space. Can be used as a tire boot in a pinch. ;)

  • roberthurst says:

    Please ride in the lane when appropriate and necessary.

    However, don’t fool yourself into believing that you are less likely to be hit while riding in the lane than off to the side. The available facts don’t support this notion, unfortunately.

    In any case, try to enjoy the ride.

    Robert Hurst

    • fsethd says:

      What facts are you referring to? Long Beach’s shared lane markings show an undisputed decrease in accidents.

      • roberthurst says:

        Sorry for the delayed response.

        I know nothing about the particular fatality mentioned in your post, so don’t know how any of the following may apply there.

        If you look at police reports covering several years, which is possible with the North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Crash Data Base and the few large-scale studies like Wessels’ study of Washington State data from the ’90s, there is no apparent safety benefit from taking the lane, at least with respect to same-direction traffic (I would argue some benefit for the lane-taker in avoiding right hooks and pull-outs of various types, but such benefit is not quantifiable). What we know for sure is that there are several times as many (about 7) hit-from-behind collisions, caused by motorists simply failing to notice the bicyclist directly in front of them, as there are ‘misjudged passes’ caused by the motorist striking or sideswiping a cyclist while attempting a pass. (Of course, precise lane position at the time of these crashes is almost never recorded.) Another thing we know for sure is that getting hit directly from behind by a motorist who fails to notice you is the surest way to get killed on a bike. Historically this crash type accounts for roughly one quarter of all cyclist fatalities, making it the single most deadly crash type by far, especially considering it is not super prevalent compared to several other common crash types. You’re kind of putting all your eggs in one basket (the motorist has his/her head momentarily dislodged from their arse basket) when planted in the path of vehicles on roads with speeds higher than 30 mph. So lane taking is far from a safety panacea. Sometimes it brings on another set of problems which is arguably worse than the alternative. You may be trading a slightly higher likelihood of a minor fender-bender for a much higher likelihood of the most deadly type of crash. Frying pan, fire. That’s not to say don’t ride in the lane — sometimes you’re taking the lane by default just by staying out of the door zone — but maybe think differently about it when you’re there.

        Personally I think sharrows are the best way to go on many types of streets. Sharrows are aimed at drivers as well as cyclists, and probably have some traffic-calming effect and awareness-heightening effect on all road users in addition to affecting cyclist lane position.

      • fsethd says:

        Sharrows put you smack in the middle of the lane. Smack.

        Accidents and fatalities decrease with them, including cager-on-cager accidents. I don’t accept police reports from NC in the 90′s, or anywhere, as proving anything. Police reports are totally inaccurate as a guide to what happened; cops make shit up all the time, and it’s usually to the detriment of the cyclist.

        Moreover, where does the 7x figure come from, and how are you defining “hit from behind.” A cyclist in the gutter who is “clipped” is, in my definition, hit from behind. The number I’ve heard — no citation, like yours — is that true rear-enders are less than 2% of all cager-bike accidents.

      • roberthurst says:

        I gave two citations, one large study of police reports in Washington State by Ralph Wessels, and the North Carolina Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crash Data Tool, which is probably the best searchable database of its kind. You can find links to these and much more at http://www.industrializedcyclist.com/lies.html. The 7-to-1 ratio comes from these. (Wessels tallied over 400 hits from behind versus 70 failed passes, and 10 fatalities due to hits from behind versus 1 caused by a failed pass.)

        http://www.industrializedcyclist.com/Washington_88to93.pdf

        Some incidents of getting ‘clipped’ may be misclassified as hits from behind, however getting clipped is not a very dangerous crash, relatively speaking. So when we see that the hit from behinds account for 25% of cyclist deaths, those are not cyclists “getting clipped.” Those are cyclists getting full-on rammed from behind. Note that in Wessels and other studies the straight hit from behind is a distinctly different crash type than ‘sideswipes’ and other forms of misjudged passes.

        Yes the rear ender is less common than garden-variety car-bike crashes common in urban areas, the right hooks and pull outs, but is much more deadly when it occurs, accounting for roughly one quarter of cyclist fatalities. There is no other wreck like it.

        My point is that lane-taking on high speed roads will likely lead to a decrease of overall crashes, but an increase in cyclist fatalities as there is more exposure to the most deadly type of crash.

      • roberthurst says:

        On sharrows — rarely do they put you ‘smack in the middle of the lane,’ at least around here. Rarely are they used at all on roads with speed limits higher than 30 mph. I wish sharrows were more widely used and were further into the lane and were much larger than the current version. On high speed roads, however, a nice shoulder is better for cyclists.

      • fsethd says:

        Ours are smack in the middle.

        Glad you’ve found a place in the roadway where you feel safe, and where you feel competent.

        For you, that’s dodging shit in the gutter. For me, it’s the lane.

      • roberthurst says:

        I dont do much gutter riding, but the option is available if you understand the hazards involved. I do more lane-taking than gutter-shit-dodging, but try to avoid putting all my eggs in one basket on roads with high speeds, and during low light situations. That doesn’t mean I ride the gutter, but I will look for a better route.

        Lot of teenagers staring at their phones while driving.

        Sharrows are cool. I like them a lot. I wish they were larger. The natl standard for sharrows is 12 feet from the curb or thereabouts on streets with side parking, which usually puts the current size sharrow right of center.

        Sharrows encourage sidewalk riders to ride in the street and wrong-way riders to ride the right way. They cause drivers to slow down and pass cyclists with more room. Pinning all of the decrease in accidents on changes in cyclist lane position is a mistake.

      • fsethd says:

        No, it’s not.

    • Cleave says:

      Robert, not sure which available facts your using. I’d like to see them. As Seth noted, the sharrows in Belmont Shore in Long Beach have been part of a significant reduction in all collisions on 2nd Street.

      Also, without compiling the statistics from bikinginla, it seems that a majority of bicycle fatalities occur with cyclists riding in bike paths, on road shoulders, or hugging the curb. Very few (any?) seem to occur when the cyclist is out in the lane.

      • fsethd says:

        Less than 2% of all cager-biker accidents are rear-enders.

      • roberthurst says:

        About one quarter of all cyclist fatalities are the result of the rider being hit directly from behind by a motorist who did not see/notice the cyclist. It is the most common type of cyclist fatality by far.

      • fsethd says:

        Cite? And are these hits with the cyclist in the lane or the cyclist in the gutter? That’s the data that matters. No one denies that getting whacked from behind kills you.

        The argument is that those rear hits happen more on the shoulder/in the gutter/in the bike lane than in the center of the lane. Where’s that data?

      • roberthurst says:

        Here’s the data from North Carolina 1997-2010.

        Of all the Motorist overtaking cyclist type crashes (which includes the straight hits from behind as well as misjudged passes, sideswipes, and the whole nine yards) 130 occurred while the cyclist was in the bike lane or on the paved shoulder, and 1733 occurred while the cyclist was in the “travel lane.”

        You can search the database yourself here:
        http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pbcat/_bikequery.cfm

        I’m not aware of anything similar for CA but I’d love to see it.

        Takes some serious dogmatic blindness to twist data like this in favor of lane-taking as a safety strategy.

        This is an old argument and you’re pretty late to the party.The best counter-argument is that a substantial number of hits from behind occur in low light situations.

        Personally I’ve done more lane taking in the past few months than most self-described lane takers will do in their entire lives. It is a necessary evil. I try to avoid doing it on high speed roads.

  • JPrumm says:

    Have you thought about calling the local media? Have them come along to help spread the word and bring more attention to the problems between cars and cyclist. Seth I think even preparing a statement for the media would go a long ways.

  • Why not ride two abreast? It’s more sociable, makes you easier to see, and facilitates passing by making your line half as long. Everybody wins.

  • Erik says:

    Lately, I’ve been joining more cycling-related groups on FB, and one that I “mostly” agree with, “Bicycles Belong in the Traffic Lane”, is pushing this one,
    http://www.idostop.org/

    Apparently we’re all in it together, Wanky, and if we start acting like Boy Scouts, motorists will stop murdering cyclists. Problem Solved.

    • fsethd says:

      Not until we get off the shoulder and out of the gutter.

      • Erik says:

        Agreed. It’s disheartening that the state of affairs is so lopsided in favor of motorists “rights” that sanctimonious know-it-alls now think “stop at stop signs” is a fucking manifesto, and the solution to everything that’s wrong with America’s roadways. Then, all of their tongue-clucking brethren come tumbling out the internet woodwork to agree with something as trite and useless as “obey the law”. I suspect these are the same people who place fault on an accident victim for the sole reason that they weren’t wearing a helmet.

      • fsethd says:

        Yep. It’s like saying, “Oh, the cager ran a red light. Now he can’t use the freeway anymore.” Total bullshit.

      • Erik says:

        And if wasn’t clear, the second paragraph of my original post was sarcastic, which usually isn’t clear in the internet. I agreed with your thought process and your conclusion, and I’m really happy for you that your solution worked out so well. You’re a gentleman and a scholar, sir. And a wanker.

      • fsethd says:

        Thanks, Erik!!

  • posinihilist says:

    I think some of you missed the last paragraph of this blog. I, like Seth, am a daily bike commuter who does often take the lane (and probably not enough, quite frankly). I often use streets such as Hawthorne Blvd. which aren’t exactly considered bike-friendly. From my experience, it seems that motorists do tend to treat you like an equal when you hold yourself like one. I dont believe that this is fully a matter of how we (cyclists and motorists) view each other on paper and am therefore inclined to deem an increase in political strategizing and legislative rhetoric ineffectual. I believe that this is about the intrinsic value we place on each others’ lives as fellow human beings out on the road and in reality. There are some people, such as certain sects of buddhists, who actually don’t believe in the concept of “accidents.” I may not be philosophically prepared to take that belief on as one of mu own, but I can definitely see the validity in their logic. Think about every “accident” you or someone you know has gotten into. Was it not because we were riding with our heads down, riding a brakeless fixie in the name of track bike “purity”, messing with the stereo on the freeway, going too fast in the rain, riding with inadequate optical aid, thus getting caught in railroad tracks, etc., ad infinitum? If we honestly examine these situations, had we not, in some way, put ourselves in a position to be hurt? One way I believe we do it is by constantly hugging the curb as if we’re trying to conceal ourselves when we are, in fact, a physical reality. Our posture and positioning is telling people, “Oh, dont mind me!” Which is wrong. We need to be minded. Just like everyone else. So Im with WM. Lets take action. In our daily lives as much as on the Kettle ride.

    • fsethd says:

      Yep. It can’t get any worse than it is now, and everyone who takes the “ride in the lane” plunge refuses to go back to the gutter.

  • Gary says:

    If you want some facts, research, physics and information to support the wisdom of lane control while cycling, check out the I Am Traffic website at http://iamtraffic.org. In particular, see the Resources on top of the page and the article at http://iamtraffic.org/engineering/behaviors-and-risk/.

    Also relevant is the infographic on Exclusion Zones found at http://iamtraffic.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/definitions_exclusion.png

    • fsethd says:

      Facts have a terrible way of getting in the way of my opinions, so I ignore them whenever I can. However, if your facts prove I’m right, I’m all for them.

  • Dan says:

    Seth, as an avid follower of your Writing and a local cyclist. Member of BCCClub. and a LCI league cycling instructor. we teach as you propose taking the lane or Road Positioning. that being said. CVC says ride as far right as particable not possible as most law inforcement think. be aware of CVC 22406(a) and CVC 21656. they tend to try and use these against us cyclict.

    • fsethd says:

      Dan, you’re more than a “local cyclist.” You’re one of the people who has completely changed my way of thinking. Without your cogent and powerful writing on CABO I would never have believed that take-the-lane was viable. I tried it on Del Amo with great trepidation and would only have done because of your advocacy. That shit works. I’m in your debt. We all are.

  • Eric says:

    Taking the lane is an important step. I think it has saved my bacon on my bike commute. I also think the red light on the back of my bike makes me more visible and I get treated with a bit more respect by cagers (even if some cyclists think they are uncool). I also suggest that people not give up on the other traditional methods of advocacy. These too can have an impact.

    The state legislature is again asking Governor Brown to give cyclists three feet. I hope everyone will consider contacting the governor and encouraging him to sign AB 1371 into law. His contact details are below. This law will give us that three foot buffer.

    Governor Jerry Brown
    c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    916-445-2841 office phone (call between 9 AM & 5 PM)
    916-558-3160 office fax

    I think the following, if pasted into a browser window, will enable you to send an email to the governor.

    http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php?utm_source=8%2F23+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8%2F23+Newsletter&utm_medium=archive&utm_source=08%2F29%2F2013+Newsletter&utm_campaign=08%2F29%2F2013+Newsletter&utm_medium=email

    • fsethd says:

      Totally agree. We have to move ahead on multiple fronts. And running a bright red light in daytime is EXCELLENT.

  • R.C. White says:

    Testimonial/Money-Back Guarantee:

    Hey Seth, What you propose works. I ride PCH every weekend. I know the nuances of riding there well.

    If I may; over the past two years, whenever I find myself in a small enough group to organize, I’ll get the group to ride a paceline rotation where the advancing line rides on the Left side of the fogline(in the lane) and the retreating riders ride on the Right side of the fogline. The cues are simple; when the leading rider crosses over the fogline to the Right he becomes a retreating rider. No need to read flicking elbows or strange body language; Left of the fogline: Gas On, Right of the fogline: Gas Off. Keeping the bulk of the riders in the lane establishes our territory. We leave 80% of the lane clear for cars to pass us with a margin of three feet and they don’t need to roll the lane divider to do so. We also protect the retreating riders instead of sticking them out in the lane solo. We are organized and calm since we’re all riding to plan, as a single unit.

    The Payoff: The motorists recognize us, calm down, and pass us with ease since we are riding in a predictable and consistent pattern. We all get home safe with lower blood pressure. I will give anyone a money back guarantee that this will calm the traffic around you and make everyone more skilled and happy(the occasional idiot notwithstanding). Happy is good.
    Happy is worth the effort.

    Having driven PCH on occasion I can say the worst thing is having to deal with a disorganized group of cyclists riding like a rolling yard sale. PCH is hard enough to drive without a bunch of Jack-in-the-Box cyclists punching above their weight-limit. Their mistakes ripple through the traffic. Laws are nice, but they are usually only useful after-the-fact, aka: Too Late.
    If WE want it SAFE, WE have to make it SAFE.

    Thanks for the opportunity to get this out. I fully support your ride proposal.

    • David Huntsman says:

      I don’t think that’s what Seth proposes. In fact, I think it’s exactly the opposite.

      • fsethd says:

        Tomorrow will not be a pace line. It will be single or double riders, probably spaced out, with no gutter riding.

        I think there are various ways to control the cagers’ view of the cyclist, and that can change depending on the size of the group and other factors, perhaps. But the most important thing is to start putting bicycles in the lane, and out of the gutter.

    • fsethd says:

      This is pure gold. “Cyclists riding like a rolling yard sale.” That will be plagiarized, soon.

      I’m also interested in starting to establish practices for solo and onesy-twosy riders. Your group technique sounds excellent.

      • R.C. White says:

        Re: Riding Solo, I’ve found that riding ON the fogline has the same effect as a group “in the lane” yet it doesn’t expose me as much to errant motorists. It’s a hedge given that I don’t have the mass of numbers with me. I think it may look like I’m “balancing” on a “wire”… either way it definitively has a positive effect(for me). I’ll also unzip my jersey and let if flap in the wind. I’ve heard that if you pull your shorts down that works too…

      • fsethd says:

        If it works, do it.

  • Gary says:

    Riding two abreast will create a column half as long as cycling single file. Easier for motorists to pass using full lane changes.

    Rear-facing video would also be good to have in case there is trouble with LEOs who want to ticket for “obstructing traffic.”

  • Gary says:

    Here is an article that could be very useful to educate law enforcement officers about cycllsts’ rights to use the road and to provide arguments to defend cyclists ticketed for “impeding traffic” or failing to ride far right where they have a legal right to control the lane

    Published in the July 2013 edition of Law and Order magazine “Bicycle Law Enforcement” is by Kirby Beck, a retired police officer and certified IPMBA police cyclist instructor trainer.

    The article can be read at
    http://lawandordermag.epubxp.com/title/12194/54; for a PDF version see https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-Gu4I2V0ZScMzhHVXJTeW91dnM/edit?usp=sharing.

    Some extracts:
    Many statutes list specific reasons why cyclists need to ride farther left within a lane. These include avoiding road hazards, preparing for a left turn, passing another vehicle, or avoiding objects such as parked cars, pedestrians or animals. The most significant reason given is a “substandard width lane” within which a cyclist and motorist cannot pass safely side by side. This last reason is the most misunderstood, largely because it applies to the majority of traffic lanes on today’s roadways—making the exception the rule. Anywhere bicyclists choose to ride in such a lane is legal.

    Many people believe that you can’t use the road if you can’t keep up. If a heavily loaded truck is unable to accelerate from an intersection or up a hill, most motorists understand and merely tolerate it or pass it when they are able. Yet if the vehicle is a bicycle, intolerance and outrage develops in some drivers. As with all slow-moving vehicles, bikes must use the right lane unless they are preparing for a left turn, but despite common misconceptions, they still have a right to the roadway.

    The major violations, which cyclist should be stopped and ticketed for are: 1) riding against traffic; 2) failure to yield right of way at stop or yield signs; 3) running red lights; and 4) riding without required nighttime lighting.

  • Erik says:

    From “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” on bicyclesafe.com (in my humble opinion the best website on safe cycling on the internet, and probably damn near as old as the internet):

    Scroll down to “Collision Type #10″

    “A car runs into you from behind. This is what many cyclists fear the most, but it’s actually not very common, comprising only 3.8% of collisions. (citation provided in original argicle) However, it’s one of the hardest collisions to avoid, since you’re not usually looking behind you. The risk is likely greater at night, and in rides outside the city where traffic is faster and lighting is worse.”

    While Seth makes the a very valid point that these rear-end accidents don’t necessarily happen in the lane, and therefore this type of accident says NOTHING about the efficacy of in-the-lane travel, he also misses two more important points: Did it happen at night? Did the cyclist have a rear light? I suspect these are the GREATEST contributing factors in rear-end collisions.

  • Gary Cziko says:

    Robert Hurst wrote:

    “Of all the Motorist overtaking cyclist type crashes (which includes the straight hits from behind as well as misjudged passes, sideswipes, and the whole nine yards) 130 occurred while the cyclist was in the bike lane or on the paved shoulder, and 1733 occurred while the cyclist was in the “travel lane.”

    I have not examined the North Carolina data. But I have never seen data which takes account of the lane position of cyclists hit from behind. Being far right in the lane between the right wheel track and the edge line is very different from riding near the center of the lane.

    Research by Dan Gutierrez and Brian DeSousa on cyclists’ lane position and motorist passing distance shows that the greatest passing distances are obtained by cyclists taking a position between the center of the lane and the LEFT wheel track. And that the closest overtaking occurred with cyclists near the right wheel track–closer than being on the right edge of the lane. This suggests that for the greatest margin of safety, you can’t move a bit into the lane. You need to OCCUPY the lane by riding near its center.

    You can see the graphic summarizing this reseach here:
    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/passingplotchart.jpg
    It shows that the “optimal clearance zone” is center to slightly left of center of the lane.

    Since so few cyclists ride near the center of the lane, I would guess that few or none of the 1733 “travel lane” fatalities mentioned above involved lane-centered cyclists in good visibility conditions or with good lights and retroreflective materials at night.

  • Erik says:

    I’m still thinking a lot about this and wanted to add a few random musings:

    Many of Robert Hurst’s arguments seem to be conflating two issues: Are rear-end accidents more likely to get you killed? Does taking the lane expose you to a higher likelihood of this most fatal type of accident, than by riding anywhere else on the road? What about when other factors are accounted for?

    His answer to the first question appears to be quite clear, and I don’t think the data are particularly revolutionary. The NC and WA data support what we already knew intuitively and attempt to avoid by riding in the gutter (or worse yet, by wrong-way riding, which, by the way, would virtually eliminate rear-end accidents but nobody is advocating for it): getting hit from behind sucks.

    His answer to the second question does not logically follow from the first. The fact that many of the rear-end accident victims in the two studies above were “in the traffic lane”, is practically irrelevant, since at some point we all have to ride in the lane for multiple reasons: There’s no bike lane, there’s no shoulder, or the shoulder is not safe. As others have pointed out “in the lane” says nothing about position within it, or about other compounding issues.

    To effectively evaluate the effect on the likelihood of a rear-end collision occurring during true lane-taking (i.e. center of the lane cycling) from historical accident data, compounding factors have to be accounted for, such as:

    Robert Hurst States:
    “Of all the Motorist overtaking cyclist type crashes (which includes the straight hits from behind as well as misjudged passes, sideswipes, and the whole nine yards) 130 occurred while the cyclist was in the bike lane or on the paved shoulder, and 1733 occurred while the cyclist was in the “travel lane.””

    That’s interesting, but what’s the ratio of rider miles in the bike lane or the shoulder to the “travel lane” where these data were collected? if it’s close to 130:1733, then the data don’t say much. Even if there is an increased probability of being struck in the “travel lane”, I’d be surprised if it weren’t adjusted to some extent by taking into account rider miles (or better yet rider hours). Also, what is the difference in motorist use in these two types of accidents along these roads.

    Are rider/driver behavior taken into account?
    Did the rider swerve into the lane as the car was overtaking?
    Where was the rider in the lane before the accident?
    Was their oncoming traffic that limited the overtaking car’s space to pass safely?
    Was the driver or the cyclist under the influence of intoxicants?
    Did it happen at night?
    Did the cyclist have a light?
    Were the driver’s headlights operating properly?

    Seth’s argument seems to be more along the lines of advocating for a sea-change than for statistically safer alternative (though it might turn out that it is statistically safer in the long run). Bicycles in the gutter are less visible and have less of an impact on driver awareness. With increased driver awareness we may gain increased safety.

    Sorry for the lack of orginization. Just dropping thoughts. And re-reading some of Mr. Hurst’s comments, I may be coming back around to his point of view a little.

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