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Amen. I know drivers get frustrated being stuck being cyclists. But the cyclists' first rule is always do what's safe for you. The second is that inconvenience is part of life. The driver needs to take a deep breath and get over it.

I make no apologies and I don't ask to share the road. It's mine as much as it is yours.

Like you hinted at...the solution to the car-cyclist problem simply is this: everyone just needs to chill the fuck out. When people do that, roads get safer, more people start riding, and the rules of the road become more pervasive and cyclists become a more predictable element of the transportation network.

I recently saw ( I wish I could remember where so I could properly credit it) some very good advice on how drivers/passengers should open cars doors facing the street.

The tip is to use your RIGHT hand and reach across your body to open the door. Doing this means you have swiveled your upper body and are now in the correct position to check for oncoming traffic.

I think this is such a good practice that it should become part of every state's driver education materials and included on the road test portion.


The interviewer told a story about a cyclist on Rock Creek Parkway near the Kennedy Center that slowed him down and how he couldn't move over because of traffic in the left hand lane and as a result he was "nice and late".

Hey! That was probably me! I'm famous!

Just want to point out that the speed limit on RCP at the Kennedy Center is 25 mph. A cyclist on that stretch is likely going 15-20 mph. Cars are usually going 40-45 mph.

So if our poor, aggrieved, "nice and late" driver would slow the fuck down he probably wouldn't be further inconvenienced by cyclists.

@MM:

Like you hinted at...the solution to the car-cyclist problem simply is this: everyone just needs to chill the fuck out.

The problem with this is that under your scenario, drivers stand to lose out. Right now they can pretty much do whatever the Hell they want (outside of a very small set of rules they follow out of self-preservation).

If they had to grow up and share with other road users, they'd have to curtail their behavior.

If I were emperor for a day I would start, I think, by erasing most of DC's bike lanes. It simply should be criminal to paint such lanes within the killer door zones of parked cars.

After all building code decrees that exit doors for buildings don't open onto sidewalks lest pedestrians get doored. So why shouldn't we apply the same infrastructure safe guards for cyclists?

Bike lanes should begin 4 feet or so off of parked cars. If there isn't sufficient room to float the bike lane then we should either:

a) Use sharrows instead of bike lanes.
b) Permanently remove the parking.

Finally - while we must endure the present ill-conceived lanes cyclists need to learn to only ride on the outer white line of the bike lane. It is simply impossible for any cyclist to see inside of a parked car and anticipate a door being flung open.

oboe: might have been me, too. ;^)

I made a short YouTube out of some of the Q&A at Bike Snob NYC's book signing the other day. He had a pretty funny take on how cyclists should respond to unfriendly drivers. Link here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9fkU-gPQh8

JeffB, you need to take into account that not all drivers are as limber as you are. The right arm cross over probably can't be done by a lot of people.

As for the bigger issue, I think bicyclists and drivers just want to put it on auto pilot when they're on the road and get frustrated when they have to deal with conflicts of any sort. Drivers have a weird sense of time. Most time lost to traffic tie ups or getting stuck behind slower moving vehicles is negligible but feels much longer. Drivers can usually make this up with a flick of their ankle.

@oboe I never said the scenario was realistic....but maybe when the average American driver is 400lbs and perpetually on the brink of a diabetic coma, and gas is $15 a gallon (so, like three years from now), they'll calm down a bit. Even then, I only see the first half of that scenario having any chance of happening.

@Rootchopper,

I'm with you. I see it as more of an optimal approach and something that would be great to instill on new drivers.

Still I think most drivers who regularly parallel park also should have enough flexibility to turn their head when opening the door.

In a few years I wonder if cars will have become so robotic with automatic parking and cameras that it may no longer be true.

Then we will have reached MM's appalling future with 400 pound behemoths buttoned up in their steel tanks oblivious to their surroundings.

Commenters here seem to be ignoring the constitutional right of car drivers to travel 20 mph above the posted speed limit. It's in the Bill of Rights.

@Wash: thanks for the report. The windshield perspective is alive and well.

@everyone else: FWIW, the reach-across door opening technique is claimed on multiple websites to be what is taught in "Europe." See, e.g., http://bikenewportbeach.org/look-before-opening-your-car-door/ and http://bikesafeboston.com/post/16817724473/the-triforce

Maybe the reach-accross needs to be taught to children before they learn to drive. Drivers can look in mirrors and should be observing traffic enough to know who is coming, but passengers can be paying no attention.

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