Dead cyclists

December 1, 2019 § 106 Comments

If you want to read a meaningless puff piece about cycling fatalities, check out this stinker by Peter Flax. It’s no surprise that it’s published in Bicycling Magazine, a publication that exists only to Sell More Shit.

What is a surprise is that Peter wrote it. He’s normally a great writer but lately his work has a pretty ugly corporate aftertaste to it, and this is perhaps the worst piece he’s ever written. Basically, he falls into lock-step with motordom, arguing that the solution to cycling fatalities is more bike lanes.

Which is crazy because the article he writes says exactly the opposite. It’s as if someone walks you through the principles of arithmetic and then announces at the end, “See? 2 +2 = 5.”

To sum up, the article claims that more cyclists are dying because of larger cars, more smartphone use, more people driving more miles, more cyclists, and Zero Vision (a/k/a A Bike Lane in Every Pot) has stalled. I’ll get to the ridiculous conclusion that we need more bike infrastructure, but first a word about the cause, singular, that Peter and like-minded advocates refuse to analyze: Cyclists get hit because motorists don’t see them.

That’s right, folks. If larger cars and more miles and more cell phone use were the cause of collisions, then we’d be seeing more car-on-car fatalities as well, or at least a parallel uptick in collisions. We see the opposite. Cyclist deaths have increased 37%, whereas auto fatalities are up about 14% over a 5-year period, less than half that of cycling deaths. While cycling deaths rise, traffic fatalities as a whole have leveled off; there was actually a 1% decrease between 2017 and 2018.

To repeat: Cyclists get hit for the most part because motorists do not see them. It’s that simple.

And it’s a horrible analysis for the purposes of Zero Vision advocates, because these people are convinced that the solution to not being seen is to create segregated bike lanes and the like, even as they admit that such programs are stalled, or that they are long-term, or that implementation will more less always be blocked by angry motorists … like Flax’s co-residents in Manhattan Beach, whose rage at losing a lane of traffic on Vista Del Mar resulted in de-striping a Zero Vision bike lane.

Any logic or fact that points to something simpler, faster, and less expensive than a billion-dollar pork barrel infrastructure project gets ignored because Zero Vision advocates aren’t really interested in fixing the problem so much as they’re interested in the political process of allocating and spending the public pork. The best example? This incredibly damning paragraph in Flax’s article:

So while the NTSB analysis focused primarily on encouraging or mandating greater helmet use, as well as things cyclists, road designers, and carmakers should do so riders are more conspicuous to motorists, those factors don’t really explain why a serious, sustained uptick of deaths began in 2011. It’s not like helmet use had a major decline, or cities ripped out quality protected bike lanes, or high-viz apparel or auto headlights got worse. These factors, especially related to road design, might have an impact on fatalities going forward, but they don’t explain why more cyclists have been dying in the past decade. 

https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a29762318/why-more-cyclists-are-dying/?fbclid=IwAR3VHm7AINKjqaROowsfLjGH85QyH-ozTVmOHquWJMf0dUVVMbwOs0ugE2w

Let’s break this down. First, Flax lists the flawed NTSB analysis about how to decrease cycling fatalities. He rightly notes that encouraging or mandating greater helmet use doesn’t explain increased deaths. If more people are riding and wearing helmets, why are more people still dying?

But he lumps “things cyclists, road designers, and carmakers should do so riders are more conspicuous to motorists” together with helmets as if more steps to encourage cyclist visibility to prevent fatalities is the same as wearing more helmets to mitigate the effects of getting hit. They are emphatically not the same. Helmets, to the extent that they do anything, protect you after you’ve been hit. Wearing more helmets won’t decrease collisions, and the cause of cyclist fatalities is the collision. As advocates have long noted, putting the blame on the cyclist, “You didn’t have a helmet so you deserved to die after that soccer mom hit you while texting,” is the epitome of victim blaming and abdication of responsibility for making the streets safer for bikes.

No, the things that cyclists can do to be more conspicuous to motorists is the absolute core of savvy cycling because it’s the one thing we absolutely know: Except in the most extreme cases, drivers do not intentionally hit cyclists. They hit them because cyclists are inconspicuous.

The corollary to this is key. Whereas more helmets won’t prevent collisions, more conspicuousness will. And bike lanes do not foster conspicuousness, they shunt riders off to the edge, where poor design and narrow roads force riders into the door zone or onto the far edge of the bike lane, next to the giant SUV mirrors and bumpers of passing traffic. Bike lanes are especially hazardous when they are random tack-ons, as they are here in LA, where you have a nice, wide green stripe that cars generally respect … until the stripe goes away for no reason at all.

The only thing that will keep you off mom’s windshield is being seen. And the only ways to reliably be seen by every car are to 1) park your ass in the travel lane when it makes sense to do so, and 2) illuminate yourself like an emergency vehicle rushing to a train wreck. I’ve found that even when splitting lanes or playing gutter bunny, huge lights alert cars and they take pains not to hit me.

Flax’s conclusion that we need more bike lanes is as horrific as it is nonsensical. He concludes that the death of a rider in NYC has a silver lining because it has caused a push in major bike lane/infrastructure construction, even though fatalities continue to increase as bike lanes continue to be built. “Hi, ma’am, sorry your son got run over by that dump truck. Here is a bike lane for you along with that one he was in when he got hit. Enjoy.”

This idiocy is on me-too parade in places like Encinitas, where North County planners, in response to more dead cyclists, have approved construction of a short “protected” bike lane (materializes out of nowhere, ends randomly) that will protect cars, but not the riders who are forced to dodge moms, dads, kids, surfers, walkers, strollers, and other traffic funneled into the Zero Vision solution.

Why won’t people simply admit that the best way to prevent getting hit is to be seen, and spread the word? Unless you’re willing to build a national network of protected bike lanes, at some point every rider is going to see that dreadful “Bike Lane Ends” sign and know that she is back in traffic, to say nothing of riders who pedal outside the inner city limits of LA and NYC, which is virtually all of them.

Riders do a great job of teaching others to do things like wear helmets. Public shaming, private admonition, and a whole host of other peer-pressure tools are instantly brought to bear that result in near-uniformity in cycling behavior when it comes to helmets. Similarly riders do a great job of teaching others lane control and conspicuousness when they understand it.

When I began teaching lane control on PCH several years back, the leader of my riding club publicly scorned the effort as dangerous and crazy. This very guy now leads every weekend ride down PCH … in the lane, and everyone in the club now knows that you’re safer when you’re seen. This behavior has converted hundreds, if not thousands of riders on PCH to take the lane when it makes sense to do so. And it hasn’t cost a penny of public money or required a single drop of green paint.

Cyclists don’t need infrastructure that’s never going to be built to keep them alive. They are perfectly capable of understanding concepts and passing them on, especially when survival is at stake.

But ridiculous articles brushing aside cyclist conspicuousness in favor of hiding cyclists from the traffic flow actively work to endanger more people, all under cover of a publication supposedly dedicated to cyclists written by a guy who ferfuxake actually commutes by bike.

The sad answer is that it’s easier to blame SUVs and cell phones sipping coffee at your keyboard than it is to take a Cycling Savvy class, move two feet over, and dump $500 into a legitimate bike lighting rig.

Oh, and don’t forget to wear your helmet. That’ll keep them from running you over, for sure.

END


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§ 106 Responses to Dead cyclists

  • Gary A Cziko says:

    Being conspicuous and relevant go a long way to keeping a cyclist safe in traffic.

    High-viz colors (day), reflective elements (night), lights (day & night) for the first.

    Lane control (day and night) for the second.

    CyclingSavvy to show how and why it works if this post doesn’t convince you.

  • flehnerz says:

    Wow! Excellent piece, Seth!

    I think one of the biggest roadblocks Flax and others with similar opinions have is that they greatly desire to increase bike mode share primarily by taking space away from motor traffic and replacing it with bikes only space. Add the “motorist versus person on bike” dichotomy and victimhood complex and you have a toxic mess.

    The more of these current folks we get to become Savvy Cyclists the greater the fire will spread and the more our behavior will be normalized in our car-centric society.

    Cycling Savvy is absolutely transformational and I recommend everybody at least take the Essentials Course but if nothing else, please see the graphic on how to not get hit by turning trucks. This can save a live, perhaps yours or of a friend or loved one!

    https://cyclingsavvy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/truck-poster-11×17-PRINT.pdf

    https://cyclingsavvy.org/2018/07/safety-around-trucks-saved-my-life/

  • flehnerz says:

    One more thing, Seth… what lights or sets of lights are you getting for $500??

    That seems overkill for a lot of people!

    • Anonymous says:

      Go two posts back to the : “Bike commuter holiday buying guide”

      • flehnerz says:

        Thanks for pointing out the older post, Anonymous!

        2 x Cygolite Hotshot Pro 150 = 80.00
        4 x Apace Vision Seat Stay Lights = $72.00
        1 x Diablo MK11 = $295

        That’s 447 minus tax and or shipping. Makes sense now.

        Taillights are one thing so long as they’re working but headlights seem to be in an arms race for the absolute highest number of lumens. Brightness can be important however so is having a beam pattern that’s cut off at the top and properly casts light to onto the road like motor vehicle headlights do. The German company Busch and Müller makes excellent head lights with proper beam patterns.

        • fsethd says:

          Even better: if you own a car how can you possibly gripe about $500 in lights, or $5,000? It’s astonishing. Look at the cost of insurance. The average cost for operating ONE car in SoCal for a year is $9,000. Multiply that times ten years. And people are complaining about $500 in lights? To reduce their chance of getting hit? Wtf. I live in an insane asylum.

    • LesB says:

      You mean “underkill”.
      More lights = less kill

      • flehnerz says:

        I meant the cost was overkill, by all means go with as many lights as you think you need. It never hurts to have redundancy.

  • I can’t tell you how much I hate to defend Flax, but I think he’s right In that one “damning paragraph”. We all agree helmets don’t explain the uptick in cyclist fatalities. But neither do all the things everyone should do to increase conspicuousness, right? I don’t think it’s wrong to lump that with helmets in a pile of factors that do not explain the uptick. Of course I agree about increasing conspicuousness, but why the uptick? Did cyclists suddenly get less conspicuous? What caused that? What am I missing?

    • fsethd says:

      You are starting at the wrong end of the horse. Why do cyclists get hit? Not from helmets. And they don’t get hit because cars are big. Something has to happen inside the car, whatever its size, to cause the driver to strike the rider. Same for texting. Texting doesn’t steer the car over the cyclist. Something has to happen in combination with the texting to cause the collision.

      What happens in virtually every case is that the driver does not see the cyclist until it is too late. You can make everyone wear a helmet and that won’t make drivers see the rider. You can make cars tiny (a great idea, by the way), but that won’t make the driver see the rider when he is cowering in the gutter or thrust up against the door zone. You can take away everyone’s cell phone (say you want a revolution?) and drivers will STILL run over and kill cyclists. Most crucially, and this is directly to Peter’s point, you can build a bike lane from NYC to LA, but as long as the drivers don’t see the riders, they will still get killed. His idea that a dead cyclist is a “silver lining” because there will be 250 additional miles of bike lanes at some indeterminate point in the future is horrible. Can you imagine someone saying that to the victim’s family?

      You have to start at the cause of the collision, or at least the major cause in the vast majority of cases: the driver doesn’t see the cyclist until it’s too late. Serge, this is why CS works. It puts the cyclist squarely in view of the driver. The driver avoids the cyclist. Everyone continues on. This is why multiple bright lights work. They attract the driver’s attention far in advance and the driver avoids the rider.

      So technically, yes, all of these factors have increased cyclist fatalities but only if you account for the single most important, easiest to remedy, cheapest, and most effective human factor: Drivers don’t see bicycles until it is too late. Peter, and I don’t know why you’d hate to defend him, refuses to acknowledge that visibility is the platform on which collisions are based. He shares that with many others. Every blabbering cyclist who’s shrieked “Where’s your helmet????” is in some way mimicking this bias, the bias that it doesn’t matter whether people see you as long as you have a multi-billion-dollar bike project + helmet.

      And there aren’t “all the things everyone should do to increase conspicuousness.” At its base there’s one thing and one thing only: Be a predictable, conspicuous part of traffic, with the follow-up: alert everyone with your lights. If only it could be made more complex. Oh, wait …

      • I still don’t see an explanation for why more cyclists are getting today than a few years ago. Is the increase in bikeways causing more instances of unseen-until-too-late crashes? Or more and more drivers texting?

        • fsethd says:

          More cyclists are riding without the tools to make themselves seen. You can’t separate the two, which this poorly written article tries to do by ascribing conspicuousness to the pile of things that don’t explain the rise and ascribing “more cyclists on the road” to the pile of things that do.

          Had the article focused on lane control and lighting and then explained how more cyclists doing less of those things was a recipe for fatalities, it would have made sense. Instead, it immediately discounted conspicuousness and then went on to list car size, texting, more driving, more cycling, and stalled Zero Vision as the key factors.

          Flax’s conclusion that for bike infrastructure advocates, a cyclist’s death was in fact a silver lining says it all. Flax suggests that the cause for the uptick is insufficient infrastructure when he should have said that these factors in a driving environment where the cyclist is largely invisible are what have caused the increase. Look at the way he ridicules an emphasis on “$500 lighting” in his comment below, ignoring that huge swaths of the cycling public ride bicycles and wear clothing that cost far more more than that. Look at how he ridicules “$500 lighting” in Bicycling magazine, which, when you read his article, throws up countless ads for LIGHTING in the middle of the page. Look at how he makes fun of “$500 lighting” even though he happens to live in one of the most expensive zip codes on earth.

          Even as he tries to make “$500 lighting” the whipping boy, he ignores that there are much less expensive lighting options and, I suspect, probably uses them on his own bike. It’s the vilification of the opposition who simply wants visibility put front and center, and thanks, we’ll use the infrastructure when and if it ever arrives provided it’s designed safely.

          Most telling, he doesn’t want to acknowledge that lighting is simply the second component to riding in traffic according to the rules of the road when you don’t have a protected facility–which is practically everywhere, practically all the time. The reason he wants to ignore these things is that at bottom he believes in infrastructure as a kind of religion. Those who oppose it are heretics and those who get run over while waiting for the next 500 yards of green paint are martyrs offering up a “silver lining.” The clouds should part any minute now.

          Of course saying that bike infrastructure isn’t the answer would anger all of the planners and “advocates” who think it’s marvy to pedal on a green stripe for two miles on Hawthorne, Central, or Vermont before getting unceremoniously dumped back into the flow of traffic. I can tell you that in SoCal if you commute you are on your own. There is no infrastructure that will protect you for more than a few blocks. The rest of the time you had better figure out a way to be seen.

          Even Flax’s defense of his shabby article is non-existent. He simply responds that I’m a mean, narcissistic, occasional-ex-friend, all of which may be true, but none of which rehabilitates his poorly written mound of Bicycling Mag fluff and his exhortation that dead cyclists be a silver lining for more bike lanes.

          • Peter Flax says:

            Seth. I’ve got a thick skin and I never said you were mean. I’ve known for a while that we aren’t pals anymore and that’s ok. You came out of the gate with a bunch of insults about the piece and the outlet that published it and that’s ok. I’ve seen you shit on people like this a bunch of times and I’m not going to take it personally. People either agree with you or they are idiots—that’s how you are.

            Regarding my defense of my article or something like a rebuttal of your post, I will make it simple. Your rant kind of seems like you were more interested in amplifying the ideals of vehicular cycling and cycling savvy and articulating ideological differences we have in general. My piece was trying to tease out why the number of cyclists getting killed has skyrocketed in the past nine years. Nothing has happened in the past nine years related to the conspicuousness of cyclists that would explain the rise in deaths. Do you actually believe that exponential rises in smartphone use or increasing weight of SUVs or data indicating that our roads are more crowded than ever are unrelated to rising fatality rates? Or are you just itching for an ideological grudge match?

            In particular, your post has this one bizarre paragraph where you “prove” that visibility of cyclists is the key issue by pointing out that more cyclists are dying while more motorists aren’t dying. Your logic is beyond flawed. More than half of all motorists are driving around in 3800-5000lb trucks and SUVs—giant, heavy, sophisticated steel boxes—and so increasingly, people inside motor vehicles aren’t getting killed or badly hurt in fender benders, while people on bikes are getting killed more often. The only thing this proves is that the trend toward heavy vehicles is better for people inside them than vulnerable road users.

            I’ll end by noting that it’s really awesome that the biggest bike media brand is paying attention to advocacy issues.

            Enjoy your hi viz and $500 lights.
            Peter

            • fsethd says:

              Your skin, whether thick and crusty (not proven by your insult hurling), or thin and easily punctured (my experience with you) is beside the point.

              You still don’t want to respond to my actual critique of your poorly written article. I pointed out that you lumped conspicuousness into the same pile as other ineffective techniques such as helmets. This rationale of yours is false and leads to a bad conclusion. Conspicuousness is the sine qua non for survival in an environment not named Amsterhagen.

              Your horrible conclusion was that dead cyclists are a silver lining for NYC’s new 250 miles of protected bikeways, slated for completion ten years from now. Would you like to retract that or double down? Because you refuse to address it at all. Please pivot from the thickness of your dermis and review your actual words in your actual article, or “piece” as you call it.

              What difference does it make what my motives are? Or whether I am mean and it hurts your feelings when we disagree? You are the one who thinks that dead cyclists are a silver lining for bike infrastructure projects in NYC, and you are the one who thinks that conspicuousness is not a crucial factor in increased deaths. Promoting this crap in Bicycling Magazine, or anywhere else, is harmful. You may think that it’s awesome for a big publication to publish false things. I don’t.

              Most impressively, you suffer from the “I am Peter Flax, writer,” syndrome. You can’t admit that sometimes you write shit. Sorry, but everyone who writes, writes a large proportion of that. And people who write for corporate publications like Bicycling Magazine and Red Bull (do your kids drink that, btw, or is it mostly just for other people?) write an even larger proportion. I know it hurts to think that you may have written a really lousy article and so you’ll continue to avoid my criticism about the content, which I’ve now stated at least four times, and focus on my bad behavior. Can I save you the trouble and cop to being the bad person you say I am? Will that get you to explain why dead cyclists are a silver lining?

              Your concluding insult to “enjoy hi viz and $500 lights” reinforces your inability to deal with my actual criticism. But I will take up this silly gauntlet as well. Peter, Is hi viz a bad thing? Are you recommending low viz? Do you ride with lights? How much do they cost? How much is your bicycle? How much is your home in 90266? Why do expensive lights offend you, yet you own a car that costs multiples of that and you spend approximately $9,000/year to drive in SoCal? I don’t understand how someone with such thick skin could get pleasure out of playground taunts, but then I reflect on how painful it is for Peter Flax, Writer, to have to acknowledge that he wrote something bad and I guess it makes sense.

              I don’t especially enjoy charging my lights after each ride, affixing them, and riding in dense traffic. But it’s not especially off-putting and I do it because the Amsterhagen you and I both wish we had isn’t here yet. And of course I get a lot of pleasure knowing that the most expensive lights out there, which are really bright, are far cheaper than the first monthly payment on most 7-year car loans. But most of all, I ride my bike because I’d rather be mangled and dead than sitting in a car.

              Hope this helps.

              Standing by if and when you get the urge to explain the dead cyclist-silver lining thing.

              • Peter Flax says:

                The worst possible thing in our universe is when a cyclist gets killed by a motorist. This is something that I would hope unites us. Often it happens on roads where conversations have been going on for years about addressing obvious safety issues and where mayors or city councils stalled. Often after a rider dies, or in cases like NYC this year, where 25+ riders have died, the city finally acts to fix problematic roadways. It should not require human sacrifices for such modifications to occur but sometimes that how it goes down. We may at this point dislike each other but I’m hoping we can agree not to argue that either one of us takes these deaths lightly.

                • fsethd says:

                  I am blown away at the continual harping on the personal nature of this. “We may at this point dislike each other.” I don’t dislike you even a tiny little bit. I’m just blunt and that hurts. How you feel about me is your issue. I’ve told you before and will tell you again that you are a really good writer and a powerful advocate. Do I need to put it in caps? Wtf does any of that have to do with you writing an article that talks about the silver lining in a dead cyclist because now NYC will get 250 more miles of protected bike lanes in the future?

                  Also, if you read Eben Weiss’s article in Outside Magazine, you’ll have a hard time asserting that the city is finally acting to fix anything. He has two articles, by the way, and they directly contradict that anything new is being done. In any event, calling these deaths a silver lining was a terrible choice of words by someone who uses words to persuade people for a living.

                  Admit you wrote something bad and move on. No one will think less of you, me least of all, and if they do, fukkem.

                  And you can also admit that you really don’t dislike me, either, I just make you mad. Happens all the time. I’m actually quite cuddly.

                  • Peter Flax says:

                    It’s true. I don’t dislike you. But you’re toxic and mean-spirited, and interacting with you is stressful and unpleasant. I don’t feel good about responding to your insults by volleying insults back at you—that’s not how I like to discuss safety.

  • Peter Flax says:

    I think this column has been a long time coming; you’ve been itching to come after me for a couple years now. You can think whatever you want—even if it’s something delusional like that a piece urging the federal government to stop ignoring distracted driving and SUV safety standards has a pro-motordom corporate flavor. I’ve seen you take a shit on other people who used to be your friends, so I’m not surprised. Feel free to keep taking the lane on PCH at 23mph with all your lights and orange spandex and then tell yourself that whatever works best for you should work for everyone who rides a bike. I enjoyed our occasional friendship while it lasted. — Best, Peter

    • fsethd says:

      Almost 2,000 miles since August in jeans/commuter pants and tennis shoes, throughout LA, Orange, and SD counties. Less than a couple hundred on PCH … and none of it in orange.

      Most people hate it when they have to defend their ideas. You should welcome it because the idea will either become stronger or discarded. Win-win.

      The idea that 250 miles of bike lanes in NYC is a silver lining for a cyclist’s death or a solution to national death statistics is a bad idea, poorly presented, and backed by no research. Bicycling presumably paid you for this article and there are presumably people who will nod their heads in agreement at an idea that is just happy talk. Your piece urged more bike infrastructure and lumped conspicuousness into a pile of things that don’t matter, even though it’s the core of what causes collisions.

      I’m sorry I hurt your feelings; you will possibly get over it. But it was that or let your terribly written article go unchallenged. Despite the fact that we disagree completely, I don’t hold it against you and don’t mind the name-calling. I actually get called much worse on a fairly regular basis. Being reminded of my less savory character traits goes along with saying what I think in a public forum regardless of the standing of the person with whom I disagree. There’s even a word for it.

      “Dissent.”

      And when it comes to unpleasant people who were nonetheless flat fucking right, you should read the biography of Thomas Paine.

      • Peter Flax says:

        Your narcissism is hilarious. Thomas Paine attacked the morality of slavery in the 18th century. You are telling every bike rider to get a $500 light setup. Get over yourself bro.

        • fsethd says:

          See? Laughter is the best medicine.

          Now, back to your poorly written, inaccurate article calling a dead cyclist a “silver lining” for bike lane enthusiasts.

      • Peter, why can’t you participate in discussion without making ridiculous claims? Seth is not telling every bike rider to get a $500 light setup.

        His point is only to emphasize the critical role conspicuousness plays in avoiding getting hit. Lights help with that. Lane positioning helps with it. Being directed to be out of the way and out of sight and out of mind by a bikeway until moments before a crossing conflict at an intersection or driveway does not help with that. It does the opposite, especially if it also gives the person on bike a false sense of security and boldness.

      • Peter Flax says:

        Serge, if you read my piece I say that I don’t disagree that being conspicuous can be smart. But it doesn’t explain the rise of cyclists dying. It’s not like fewer riders are using daytime running lights or wearing hi viz socks. I don’t understand why it’s controversial, for instance, to say out loud that the average motor vehicle in the US is 1000 pounds heavier than a decade ago and crashes that previous led to injuries are now leading to deaths. Or acknowledging that smartphones have increased and changed the nature of distracted driving and that it’s increasingly likely that a skilled and conspicuous rider can still get run over. Not rise in pro cyclists getting hit and killed. Do you actually disagree with any of that?

        • Peter Flax says:

          Crickets from Serge. Noted.

        • “Crickets from Serge”… you don’t see that very often. Ha ha.

          No, I don’t disagree with any of that, and I (reluctantly) defended your combining helmets and conspicuousness as not explanations for the uptick accordingly in my first comment here. But I certainly agree with Seth that the silver lining remark was not only bad writing, but bad reasoning too. More on that below.

          That said, I’m not convinced larger vehicles, more texting, more driving, more biking, and VZ stalling explains the uptick. In fact, I’m not convinced the uptick is statistically significant. We don’t even know the sizes of the vehicles involved in each crash, much less whether there is a positive correlation between vehicle size and likelihood of fatality.

          But while we’re playing conjecture, I have a sixth possible explanation to throw out there: the building of the infrastructure is working. So, people on bikes are feeling safer, perhaps riding more, but less carefully. Which is why I think creating even more such infrastructure is bad reasoning.

  • “Unless you’re willing to build a national network of protected bike lanes,…”

    Even if… intersection and driveway crossing conflicts would be worse.

  • John McCloskey says:

    You lost me at the implication that there should be a 1:1 correlation between an increase in cyclist fatalities and motorists. Over the past several decades cars have been engineered to protect occupants to the point where you can literally drive a Subaru into a wall at 35mph and walk away. Of course there’s a curve in fatality ratios.

    The best way to keep cyclists alive is to separate them from cars. It’s ridiculous to argue otherwise.

  • ekoontz says:

    We’ve also seen an uptick in pedestrian deaths; probably a lot of the same reason – people aren’t conspicuous enough when they walk. I think it’s time for pedestrians to “take the lane” and walk in traffic just like bikes should. These “protected pedestrian walkways” (also known as sidewalks) are just an attempt by the sidewalk lobby to sell more concrete.

    • At the root of all this is the question of whether people on bikes are more like drivers of vehicles or more like pedestrians.

      The thing is much of how we’re treated depends mostly on how we behave, which is determined by how we think.

      If you think and act like a rolling pedestrian don’t be surprised to be treated like one. Careful what you wish for.

      If you think and act like a driver, you are treated like one. And what a treat it is!

      • ekoontz says:

        Could it depend on the bicyclist? For example an eight- or eighty-year old bike rider is probably more like a pedestrian than a 30-year old is. But for the vehicular cyclist, these vulnerable, pitiful riders are not worthy of consideration.

        • Tricia Kovacs says:

          If 8 and 80 year olds weren’t worthy of our consideration, we would shut up and let them ride in those “protected” bike lanes and be unfazed by their injuries and deaths. But they are worthy, so we do care.

      • Of course they are worthy of consideration. But what should that consideration look like? That’s what the debate is about.

        One approach is to try to enable the rolling pedestrian paradigm with special expensive and controversial infrastructure in a society unwilling to do it right, and with dubious effect on safety where it does get built. Where is that going to get us? More increases in bicyclist fatalities and ultimately even less interest in bicycling.

        The other approach is to spread the word about conspicuousness and how riding accordingly enables anyone 8-80 who is able to ride a bike to ride safely and comfortably just about anywhere. Today. On existing roads.

        Seems like a no-brainer to me. And I’m astonished at the resistance.

    • LesB says:

      It is legal for a bicycle to take the lane.
      It is illegal for a pedestrian to walk in the lane.
      ‘least here in Caly.

      • Winky says:

        Where I live (BC) it isn’t legal for a cyclist to take the lane.Single file at all times (no exceptions – not even for overtaking another cyclist), and as far to the right as is “practicable”. No definition of practicable is given.

  • Peter Flax says:

    Seth, happy to debate you on a radio show or podcast. Let me know if you’re up for a conversation on the air.

  • Dave Howard says:

    When I read this, I instantly thought of Patrick Ytsma, a guy who was killed on his bike a few years ago in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

    As noted here: “[H]e always took care—by wearing bright and reflective clothing, and equipping his bike with lighting front and rear—to make sure that he was visible. You couldn’t miss seeing him.” https://www.bicyclelaw.com/road-rights-patrick-ytsmas-death-justice-served/

    I remember someone saying in a newspaper report that he was “lit up like a Christmas tree.” News reports also note that Ytsma took the lane as sharrow markings on the road indicated he should do.

    Why do we have to savage one potential form of road safety in favor of another one, when any one of them in any given instance might be the one that saves a life? Why can’t we advocate all of them at once? If Ytsma had a way to ride apart from traffic going over that bridge, he’d very likely still be enjoying his life.

    The level of anger and vitriol in this article suggests there must be some other kind of personal agenda.

    • fsethd says:

      When you don’t have the protected infrastructure, as we don’t in 99.999% of all roadways in the USA, you’d better have some way to make yourself seen. And we have to be cognizant that just because you’re in a bike lane doesn’t mean you are conspicuous. This means riding according to the rules of the road, taking the lane when it makes sense to do so, and riding with lights.

      None of this guarantees eternal life …

    • Tricia Kovacs says:

      I don’t think anyone (including “vehicular cyclists”) would argue against separation on bridges.

  • ekoontz says:

    “And … crickets.”

    Your blog software apparently doesn’t allow replies more than 3 levels deep apparently. So that’s explains there’s no more replies in that thread, not “crickets”.

    “One approach is to try to enable the rolling pedestrian paradigm with special expensive and controversial infrastructure in a society unwilling to do it right”

    It works just fine in other countries; they have separate paths for bikes and their fatality rates are lower, and their level of bike ridership is correspondingly higher. But, of course we can’t do it here; it’s too expensive and life is cheap.

    • fsethd says:

      I think most people support infrastructure of some kind. Until it’s built, how do you ride safely? Lane control + max conspicuousness.

      • ekoontz says:

        I think vehicular cyclists like you are trying to do the best you can given your assumed constraints that Dutch infrastructure is impossible for financial or political reasons. But those factors can change and are changing, yes, even in America.

        • fsethd says:

          I’m not a vehicular cyclist. I’m a dude who rides a bike in LA where there is no Amsterdam nearby. Please advise what I should do tomorrow on my commute. Hug the gutter? Ditch my lights? Control the lane? Take the bus? Thx.

  • djw172 says:

    There seems to be something really important missing from this argument. If you’re claiming, as you appear to be, that the real cause of increased cyclist fatalities is not being sufficiently visible to drivers, then presumably you’re claiming that’s a better candidate to explain why fatalities are increasing. But if that’s the cause, you need to give an account of what’s changed in this respect. The structure of your argument clearly implies cyclists must have been more visible a decade ago. But unless I’ve missed it, you don’t seem to offer any explanation at all of why this would be. What has changed to reduce visibility, in our view, and why didn’t you include this in your article?

    • Chris Hillman says:

      There is documented evidence that current drivers are more distracted than in the past. More distraction equates to drivers spending less time per mile observing the road. Implicit in Seth’s argument is that a rider located where distracted drivers ARE looking increases their chance of actually being seen. Bright blinking lights increases the probability that a cyclist is observed earlier than later – in the midst of the drivers ongoing distraction.

      There was no vitriol in this essay, but there was blunt criticism. Sometimes it take being blunt to get a dialogue rolling. Address the criticism with out taking it personally – Seth made no personal attack.

      • djw172 says:

        Chris,

        Can you please let me know what specific part of my comment did you interpret as a “personal attack”? I didn’t intend any of it to be such, so I’d like to know where what I said that produced this misunderstanding. Thanks.

        • djw172 says:

          Sorry, not “personal attack” but what was it in my comment that led you to believe I was taking something “personally”? I’m trying to figure out the content of what appeared to me to be a missing step in his argument. I wasn’t objecting to bluntness at all.

    • fsethd says:

      The change is more cyclists practicing invisible riding techniques, unlit, while waiting for Godot in the form of Dutch/Danish infra that, like other promised messiahs, has yet to appear.

      • djw172 says:

        Thanks for clarifying. Can you point to some of the evidence you rely on for your belief that this change in cycling practices has occurred? I don’t feel like I’ve noticed less lighting use or any clear change in timidity/aggressiveness in either of the cities I regularly ride in, Dayton and Seattle. But obviously I wouldn’t trust my anecdotal sense of how things are changing, and I’m sure you have more than that to go on.

        As an aside, I do practice what you preach, more or less, on my commute in Dayton. On the busy street portion of the ride, after enough close in-lane passes, I just started taking the lane. The hostile, angry backlash it provokes, sometimes, with physically threatening behavior, makes me wonder if it really leaves me any safer. (Drivers here firmly believe cyclists belong on the sidewalk.) I was quite relieved to get a bike lane for a major portion of my route a few years ago, and would love one for the rest of it. I really don’t see why this needs to be an either/or thing.

  • Drew C says:

    A few points, Seth. First, I agree that the way you ride works to keep you and people who are stronger, faster and more-confident than most bike (and would-be bike) riders. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that we could do a lot more with infrastructure that don’t cost a lot of money (narrower lanes,slower speed limits, etc.) to make cycling safer for all.

    I’m mostly troubled with this conclusion drawn from data: “If larger cars and more miles and more cell phone use were the cause of collisions, then we’d be seeing more car-on-car fatalities as well, or at least a parallel uptick in collisions”. Well, I’d speculate that car-on-car fatalities are lower now because the vehicles are much safer when they collide with other cars than before. Not so much for car vs. bike collisions. Newer vehicle “driver assist” technology enables motorists to pay less attention and use their phones more without fear of crashing doesn’t help, either.

    I think your criticism of Vision Zero isn’t too helpful for cycling advocacy for everyone. While I agree that the bike lane at Vista Del Mar seems to have been a PR disaster, that doesn’t mean bike lanes don’t work. They work very well in many areas, where there are underutilized or excessively wide roads, or where slower vehicle speeds are observed. I think that a lot of the greater LA area has a huge congestion problem, and that carving bike lanes at expense of heavy vehicle traffic won’t get even begrudging acceptance from local motorists held hostage to their long commutes. I suspect the local planners and advocates will choose their battles more carefully in the future.

    I think a lot of people who ride won’t (or can’t) spend several hundred dollars for lights, nor should they need to, but I do concede that it likely does increase their safety with faster and heavier traffic.

    Last, I think a “big tent” approach to getting more people riding more is frustratingly slow, but I think we have to muddle through. Even cycling enthusiasts like you and I can’t agree on the best way forward.. I admire many advocacy organizations like Cycling Savvy for showing cyclists they can control traffic under the right circumstances, but it’s important to realize that there are many approaches to improving cycling for everyone.

    • fsethd says:

      Yes, and let’s put in bike infrastructure everywhere if that’s how the community wants to spend its money. In 50 years we may have a functional bike transportation network accessible to all and I will be stoked for my grandkids. I’ll also be dead.

      In the meantime, I have to get to work tomorrow, and in doing so I’d like to show others what is possible in Gridlockville, USA, without a car. It’s doable, safe, healthy, and fun AF with a few lights and some education and some common sense.

  • Dan says:

    Hey Seth. I love your blog, and in my personal life I adopt your approach of taking the lane while lit up with a ton of lights–day and night. I think where I differ with you here is that I just don’t think this is a one-size-fits-all approach. Face it: you’re a skinny white dude. So am I, which is why I think our approach works. For *us*.

    But surely you’ve seen women, children, Black folks, or others who do not have our level of privilege (not to mention people who are some combination of the above) on bikes. I understand if some of these people do not feel comfortable taking the lane, and I think we need to accommodate their discomfort.

    I think we’re all (including Mr. Flax) in agreement that the ideal is separated bike paths, not bike lanes. The question is what to do until we get there. I don’t have a great answer to that; I just have a strong feeling that hectoring people to “Take the damn lane!” is not it.

    • Sandrine says:

      I’m a curvy white woman and I take the lane, taught my daughter to do as well.
      Kids can learn anything, in fact, that’s what the Dutch do to go along with their bike specific networks, they have been teaching kids for a few decades which has them as motorists knowing what it is to be a trained and experienced cyclists, their bike network is not just an icing on the cake, there is a cake, its layers are years of education and training, from age 5 to 12 when they pass a test on surface streets (some with no infra), plus Dutch’s traffic laws prioritize cyclists over motorists and pedestrians and motorists drive manual.
      This is not the case in North America, here it is essential to be a savvy cyclist and learn the basics of CyclingSavvy’s method/technique.
      I don’t share my lane, I am traffic and motorists work with me to make it happen, it’s a win win all around.

      • Dan says:

        Awesome, and good on you! I mean that seriously and sincerely, and ask equally sincerely whether you think your attitude can be communicated generally, and if so how? If we can’t build the Dutch layer cake, how can we best build one of the layers?

        • Sandrine says:

          Thank you. I suppose I should capture/record my rides, though most are uneventful because riding full lane works so well but anyway, I do my best online, I try to convey how wonderful it is and if someone like me can do it, anyone can!
          “If we can’t build the Dutch layer cake, how can we best build one of the layers?” we don’t, my point was that it takes many layers for The Dutch to make it work, one layer is not good enough, riding among traffic, riding the traffic lane works, in fact, that’s what Madrid, Spain is doing and it’s working, plus it works as traffic calming, this is the future and it needs to happen now more.

    • Sandrine says:

      I’m a curvy white woman and I take the lane, taught my daughter to do as well.
      Kids can learn anything, in fact, that’s what the Dutch do to go along with their bike specific networks, they have been teaching kids for a few decades which has them as motorists knowing what it is to be a trained and experienced cyclists, their bike network is not just an icing on the cake, there is a cake, its layers are years of education and training, from age 5 to 12 when they pass a test on surface streets (some with no infra), plus Dutch’s traffic laws prioritize cyclists over motorists and pedestrians and motorists drive manual.
      This is not the case in the North America.
      It is essential to be a savvy cyclist and learn the basics of CyclingSavvy’s method/technique.
      I don’t share my lane, I am traffic and motorists work with me to make it happen, it’s a win win all around.

    • fsethd says:

      Until we get there there are three choices. 1-Don’t ride. This is what Americans by and large choose to do. 2-Ride in the gutter and hope you don’t get hit. This is what most American bicyclists do. 3-Practice lane control and ride with powerful lights. This is the province of the insane, apparently.

      • Sandrine says:

        Or the capital of the voice of reason!

      • Margaret Smiddy says:

        I learned about taking the lane at a bike safety class and once I understood why it’s important I’ve never been a gutter or door zone rider since. It took me a while to get on the lights routine too but that’s a regular thing for me now too. Ages ago at Davis I had a generator light and while it created a lot of drag I was always lit up.

        • Margaret Smiddy says:

          Also, a friend got doored and spent a fair amount of time in a hospital and then some more time getting to a functioning state. So I’ve been disinclined to be in that space

        • fsethd says:

          Nothing is 100% foolproof, but this combination of lane control and lights is the best thing we have until they build Amsterhagen here in the USA.

  • Sandrine says:

    Thank you.

    Bike advocates need to stop taking one layer of The Netherlands’ cake and pretend and endanger people into thinking this is the solution, heck, it’s not even the solution for the Dutch, their infra is one layer of their cycling network’s cake. They have been educating and training their kids for decades, from age 5 to 12 when they pass a test on surface streets (some with no infra), so then, later on, if or when they become motorists, they have been educated and trained as cyclists first, and then they have the infra to do it, and even then, they have been regularly updating and upgrading their infra/cycling network, and add to that another layer, their traffic laws prioritize cyclists over everyone else, motorists and pedestrians.
    Tell me what this have to do with putting the infra layer in North America? Nothing, if anything, as you have clearly and intelligently explained here, it endangers people every day.
    Those who have an impact on others with media platforms and push for such uneducated fallacies should ask themselves if they are doing the right thing, right now.
    Their advocacy is more about putting water in wine or big chunks of ice in drinks, dissolving the original content of the matter to appeal to the masses.
    The masses deserve better!
    Do not advocate for keeping people on bikes to the right, at the mercy of turning traffic. Don’t pretend you know anything about how the Dutch or the Danes do it because you don’t, and I hate to think these people are being disingenuous with other people’s lives… prove me wrong, stop advocating for blurring the horizon for people on bikes, they deserve, and you deserve to ride efficiently, safely and go on with your day and that doesn’t include infra with nothing else.

    • fsethd says:

      You can’t get infra zealots to deal with tomorrow, i.e., what am I supposed to do on my commute tomorrow where there are no bike lanes, no separated infrastructure, or anything except streets filled with cars?

  • nealhe says:

    Hello Seth,

    You are wrong about taking the lane if there is other recourse, particularly for cyclists slower and less proficient than you.

    And you are wrong about not wearing a helmet.

    But I think you should do whatever you like within the law.

    I think if Spider and Brad Gobright want to Free Solo …. go for it.

    It is not everyone’s cup of tea however.

    And I love it …. your stock in trade is rubbing the fur the wrong way …. that is why I subscribe … your articles make one think …

    https://pvcycling.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/so-near-so-far/

    “Between 2012 and 2014, almost half of all two-vehicle crashes were rear-end crashes. These crashes killed more than 1,700 people each year. … A 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study showed that 87 percent of rear-end crashes involved a driver failing to attend to the traffic ahead.”

    “Average number of car accidents in the .U.S. every year is 6 million. More than 90 people die in car accidents everyday. 3 million people in the U.S. are injured every year in car accidents. Around 2 million drivers in car accidents experience permanent injuries every year.”

    Do the math … that is 8,219 rear end crashes each day …. every day of the year.

    Motor vehicles have a very large profile and very bright tail lights …. A light on each side and one in the middle …. hard to miss those lights.

    Motor vehicles are painted bright colors and are easy to see ….. they are much bigger than a cyclist.

    Face it, humans are shitty motor car drivers … and they do not attend to what is directly in front of them …. and they all think they are ‘above average’ drivers.

    Two quotes from Blanche DuBois in ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ fit nicely:

    For a cyclist taking the lane and depending on the driver to not hit them:

    (As she is being led away to the mental institution) Blanche DuBois:

    Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

    And ….

    Blanche DuBois: I don’t want realism. I want magic!

    Cheers,

    Neal

    (Keep up the good work Seth!)

    • fsethd says:

      Hi, Neal. First, thank you. As one of my two subscribers you are free to say anything you want, pro or con. You can even call me a narcissist who is mean to occasional-ex-friends like Peter Flax.

      Second, cars do not typically employ rear lights except at night and unless braking. I recall that there were, however, studies in the 80’s that showed two tail lights spaced apart did not strike the eye of the following vehicle, and that’s why cars were required, over great Detroit opposition, to put a third, middle-placed light on the rear. I recollect stats that rear-end collisions declined, but since then those “center rear” lights have gotten smaller and been placed so that they no longer have the red-blast-effect that they originally did.

      Third, and most importantly, bright flashing tail lights are incredibly noticeable to cars compared to having nothing at all, which is how most cyclists ride. The strobe headlights are even more so, as they catch rearview and side view mirrors preventing right hooks, and they strike the eyes of left-turning traffic and of traffic exiting driveways. I had a guy in Redondo angrily flash his brights at me the other morning because he didn’t like the brightness of my headlamps.

      Fourth, what should you do when there are no bike lanes or other infrastructure? Hug the gutter? Why? And if a child or octogenarian is unsafe riding a bike in the lane at 10 mph, will they be safer up against the curb, pushed into the door zone, rolling over glass, grates, trash, and that pink dildo that Noel found that time on PCH?

      Put bike lanes in everywhere and punish cagers who park in them or violate them. Make separated, infrastructure universal and back it with universal cycling education. But for tomorrow, please advise the best way to get from here to Lakewood on a bike, because there is no infrastructure and people are hung over from Thanksgiving and even on their best days, as you put it, they are shitty motor car drivers. Me, too.

      Regarding poor human driving skills, that’s a whole other set of fur to rub backwards.

      • barraob1 says:

        Most cyclists have no rear light? Are you actually suggesting that? I’m lit up like Chernobyl and drivers still do their best to kill me.

      • nealhe says:

        I read Peter’s article just now and I liked it …. well done in my view.

        I may have missed it but Serge usually chimes in about autonomous vehicles as the game changer.

        I think he is correct …. about that anyway.

        My car has auto braking … but for pedestrians and cyclists it is sketchy …
        … works very well for other motor vehicles though.

        Very soon (I know you have to ride to work tomorrow) motorist auto braking that works for peds and cyclists will be standard.

        And somewhere down the line autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel. WhoooHoooo!!

        When that happens, except for occasional Boeing 737 MAD MAX like computer failures, it should be very difficult for a cyclist to lose separation with a motor (electric hopfully) vehicle.

        The irony of it may be that autonomous vehicles will have their own protected lanes …. at least at first.

        Looks like this subject still draws a crowd and is the ‘flavor of the day’ since the death of tubular vs. clincher and clincher (with a tube vs without a tube).

        I am in favor of all modes that help cyclists …. EEEEE & E and sometimes E.

        98% of traffic on the roads hardly knows or cares that we exist … and a certain percentage of them are drunk, stoned, stoned (legally), bad eyesight, cognitive difficulties, have a bee in the car, have a baby in the car, dropped their lipstick, daydreaming, oh … and have a cell call coming in, where is that damned phone?

        (Seth …. watch your 6 out there … talk to Serge about a mirror)

        Cyclists are a weak 2% of traffic when united so ….. like Rodney King said, “Why can’t we all get along?” … let’s get united and further cyclist goals.

        • fsethd says:

          When drivers see you they avoid you. This whole issue is “what do we do right now?” I have a commute today. Wait for Amsterdam? Hug the gutter? Ride without lights even though it’s black outside?

          • Sandrine says:

            Precisely. I’m sure most of us love Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to be in this world”, although this is not a true Gandhi’s quote and he said this “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change” well, live it, now, position yourself right in front of motorists just like smart motorcyclists do, be where the action is happening, in the traffic lane, not to the side, out of sight, and especially out of sight of motorists and turning ones, or they will see you at the last moment when they have to take a drastic decision and you might not be their 1st option to avoid a collision.
            Be the change, change yourself and the perception of yourself to others by being IN the perception, be there, right there, don’t shy away, how you treat yourself tells other how to treat you.
            Take the lane, be visible, courteous, anticipate, communicate, be traffic!

    • frkrygow says:

      Neal attempts to dispute the importance of a bicyclist’s visibility by referring to the large number of rear-end car crashes. Sorry, that’s a different situation entirely.

      I’m sure the typical rear-end car crash is not a motorist running smack into a visible car going much slower, as he would with a cyclist. Instead, it happens in dense traffic with two cars going the same speed, but following too closely. When something causes the car in front to brake heavily, the tailgating rear driver doesn’t have time to react.

      And in fact, the “something” up ahead is usually a chain reaction event caused by other tailgating drivers. Any sudden slowdown causes more extreme braking by each subsequent driver in the tailgating chain, until some driver can’t stop. It’s a very common crash scenario through the busy 5+ lane highway through our local shopping area.

      While riding through that area is aesthetically unpleasant, I do it when I have to, and I do it by taking the lane. Cars move in platoons, and when the lead driver of each platoon sees me obviously in lane center, he starts his merge from way back. Most of the time, motorists do merge with little trouble. None have ever come close to hitting me.

      And by the way, I do _not_ use daytime running lights. I’ve never seen evidence I need them, nor realistic evidence they are needed – except, perhaps, by gutter bunnies.

      • nealhe says:

        Hello frkrygow and All,

        Visibility is important …. but visibility does not ensure comprehension in the brain of the observer. Humans ‘see’ things without comprehending them.

        And motorist rear end crashes cannot be dismissed as some anomaly … the trailing motorist in a very large percentage of rear end crashes does not even apply the brakes … the human is ‘not in the moment’ and it can happen in the same manner whether the motorist is following a bicycle or another motorist.

        Check it out:

        https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/100carmain.pdf

        While not a perfect surrogate for a pedal cyclist in traffic …. NHTSA reports that for same miles traveled a motorcyclist is 26 times more likely to die than a motorist in a passenger car.

        While statistics are cloudy on cyclists since it is more difficult to come by actual use data …. but using data gathered by doing sampling counts …. it is estimated that cycling is about 2 times more dangerous than driving a passenger car for same ‘time’ in use.

        So cycling is not inherenty dangerous compared to many other activities.

        But relying on motorists to comprehend a cyclist better than another motorcar when following is a stretch at best.

        • fsethd says:

          Cycling for sure is NOT inherently dangerous. And using motorcycles and cars as surrogate models for bicycle crash data leads to false outcomes.

  • barraob1 says:

    If drivers paid a bit more attention, stopped phone use while driving and stopped hiding behind the I didn’t see you excuse cyclists would have a better chance of surviving. I wore hiviz riding a motorbike for years and it did nothing. Flax does more for cyclists than you shilling for the the hiviz industry.

    • fsethd says:

      Yes they run all those ads on my blog.

    • flehnerz says:

      Motorists still have to look up in the direction where they’re pointing their vehicle to ensure they don’t drift into an adjacent lane or off the road. This is in fact the first place they’ll look. So if you’re already there, in the center of the lane, and “lit up like a Christmas tree” as Seth suggests, then there should be few problems with them not seeing you. The big exceptions to this would be in adverse weather conditions where visibility is reduced and when driving into the direction of the rising or setting sun. These conditions increase the risk of something bad happening for everyone though.

      Flax and those with similar ideologies insert fear mongering, negativity, and catastrophizing – not positive advocacy. It’s counter productive. It’s anti-empowering. It creates more victims than is ever necessary.

      • fsethd says:

        And it’s funny how the people who are not enamored of bike infrastructure as the Messiah haven’t taken to name calling or personal insults or reference to my admittedly difficult personality. The obvious point is that if you have Amsterhagen in your backyard, you are golden. Or at least bronze. But here in SoCal, there is no such unicorn yet. I will welcome it when it’s here. Til then can I please use bright lights and act like a car instead of a gutter bunny? Please?

      • Sandrine says:

        That’s right! People on bikes, bicyclists, cyclists, those who would like to be on a bike, deserve better! They deserve to know where they are safe and how to do it. People forget that pedestrians have been trained, what? YES, every one of us have been trained since we were kids to walk around by our parents, nannies, caregivers, siblings etc, we have be trained and educated about it, we haven’t just been thrown onto a sidewalk and given a few signs so we can cross intersections, we have been educated and trained and cyclists need the same!
        They need to know how to be seen, visible, conspicuous, courteous, how to anticipate flow of traffic, communicate, follow rules of the road, just like pedestrians follow the rules of sidewalks and the road and have been educated and trained as kids to do so!

        • fsethd says:

          People think that education and training are silly. Easier to build something that doesn’t work very well, have a few cyclists die, and discover it’s a “silver lining” to … build more stuff!

          • Sandrine says:

            Bingo. How outrageous is it to put others in danger because of your own assumption of something that yourself are not implementing (education+training+traffic laws+infra+culture)… I can see that silver lining from here…

  • barraob1 says:

    You’re an absolute wanker, 500 quid on lights? Who are you shilling for?

  • Jesse Gray says:

    This is one of the stupidest blog rants I’ve ever read. Your “analysis”’is moronic and your conclusions asinine.

  • Anonymous says:

    Good solutions for now:
    1. Bikers wear more lights and reflective gear
    2. Cars—advocate for slower speed limits

    I think one thing that’s missing from all the death analysis is that the speedier the hit, the more certain the death, with or without helmet.
    Perhaps speed limits of cars or acceleration rates of cars have gone up over these years? I have no clue… but certainly compared to long long ago the speeds have gone up?
    So why aren’t we advocating for slower speed limits? So weird…
    I agree with the helmet analysis; helmets are kind of like abortions; the visibility issue is more of the condom… if people don’t like that analysis, visibility is like gun control… the bullet proof vest is like the hemet…
    But back to practicality talk… yeah, I think cars need to go slower… and automation will not slow cars down, so I’m skeptical that “technology will this and that”… because even an automated sudden stop at 60 mph won’t have significantly different physical mechanics from a manusl suddent stop at 60 mph… maybe if bikes (or humans? Yikes) had chips and the every time the automated cars detected those chips the cars slowed down to 20 mph, there’s be less collision? Will it come down to that…? What’s the rush with cars anyways? Why are people rushing…? Lots of questions…

    • fsethd says:

      Yes to slower speed limits. And yes, visibility is the platform/environment in which these other things are more or less effective.

  • Brer Marsh says:

    This article ignores the needs of other bike lane users and focuses only on the authors personal opinion as a cyclist. They fail to recognize that in urban areas bike lanes are used by a variety of users on a variety of transport types, like disabled or micro mobility users. The mere installation of protected lanes increases safety for all street users including pedestrians by about 40% while increasing business revenues 20-30%. This writer might be an opinionated cyclist but they are no urban planner. The science clearly shows protected lanes make our cities work better for everyone.

    • fsethd says:

      No it doesn’t. It says that this rider has few if any protected bike lanes to use, and therefore he uses lane control, CS principles, and lots of lights. Please direct me to the protected bike lanes in LA, Orange, and San Diego counties and you’ll begin to understand my concerns. Thx.

    • flehnerz says:

      The author isn’t ignoring anybody. People with disabilities using mobility devices are considered pedestrians and subject to the rules for pedestrians. The presence of bike lanes or not has little to do with them. More than anything they need ADA ramps, long signal crossing times, and in many places just a damned sidewalk.
      Other micro mobility devices such as electric scooters have a more complicated situation depending on the local laws but these devices have far more shared characteristics with wheeled vehicles than those of pedestrians.

      Where are bike lanes used by people other than those on bicycles? Assuming by “bike lanes” you mean the on-road lanes intended for bicycle traffic. In most places only bicyclists (and users of trikes, recumbents, etc) are allowed to use them. Motorists may merge across them to make a turn (except in right-hook happy Oregon). Pedestrians may use bike lanes if no adjacent sidewalk is available but they must obey the rules for pedestrians- which typically means they go against traffic.

      Separated bike lanes, or often incorrectly called “protected” bike “lanes” may be a different thing, in California they’re for cyclists only though. These facilities however are NOT “protected” at driveways and intersections unless they have some sort of traffic control device. “Protection” is a traffic engineering term that means a specific thing – and it’s not what separation advocates think it means.

      Off-road bike paths are often open to cyclists and pedestrians using different devices.

    • Sandrine says:

      No one will ever be “protected” by solely installing infra, this is NOT what The Dutch do, they have been training their people to cycle for decades, they are educated and trained as little kids until 12 yrs old where they pass a test on surface streets (some with no infra!), if/when they become motorists they were educated and trained cyclists with years of experience, add to that The Dutch’s traffic laws that prioritize cyclists over motorists and pedestrians and motorists drive manual, then they have the infra to put all this together and even then, the Dutch government regularly updates and upgrades its infra, so tell me how in the world one part of this equation can be taken out of context and installed here and is supposed to work and keep people safe? It doesn’t and we sadly see it every single day with close calls, near misses, collisions, injuries, fatalities… casualties all to prove a point? How outrageous is this!
      People on bikes, cyclists, bicyclists, and anyone on wheels deserves better!
      Bicycle training in The Netherlands (part one):

      Part deux:

  • Anonymous says:

    A friend forwarded this to me just so I’d get a laugh at your outrage. I’d stopped reading after you did the same thing to others. This is so transparent: When you use someone’s full name, we know they are the enemy. Nicknames mean they are okay. That you could be so angry says more about you than it does what Peter wrote. The only real question is, who broke you? What has you so torn up inside, other than envy for his success? You know, they make antidepressants for what you have.

  • […] read over the insults of Peter Flax in my Sunday blog and wondered, “Why is this guy so mad at me? I hit him for writing a crappy article and […]

  • J Marvin Campbell says:

    God it took forever for somebody to call you a wanker. As Suze S. would say: “They need to work on their snap!”

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