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Reminiscent, occasionally in a verbatim sense, of the demands on Negroes, which were said to accompany the "privilege" of racial integration. I would settle for a little less recognition from the authorities in exchange for being left alone by yentas like this.

"I agree that cyclists should be safe and courteous (because I think EVERYONE should be), but not that they need to be hyper-legal in the hope that it will soothe everyone else." HORSEHOCKY!

What about having cyclists behave hyper-legal because we want everyone else using the road to be hyper-legal as well?

You may not have a problem with cyclists running red lights, but I DO! I have come to this opinion not because I'm a law-and-order nutjob, but because I want EVERYONE on the road to behave in an established, predictable manner (i.e. follow the traffic laws). Do you really want car drivers to think it's OK run red lights? Cuz that's what you're saying to the cycling community.

Law-breaking cyclists piss me off, too, as do lawbreaking everybodies. I'm an equal-opportunity grouch.

But let's face it. They reason the second comment in any article about bikes mentions red-light running is not an outbreak of civic-mindedness (especially since the same posters will, with a stunning amount of irony, defend speeding on the grounds that everyone does it and it's not unsafe).

It's brought up to reinforce the notion that cyclists use the road at the sufferance of its rightful owners, drivers. And if we fail to clean up our act, the implication is, we will lose the privilege to share the road.

So debate relative lawbreaking rates all you want. I'm not taking the bait. If you want to reach me, you know where to find me.

I blogged about this issue last year: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-no-man-is-island-even-in-his-car.html I'm an unusually law-abiding cyclist, I think. I make a point of stopping at every light precisely because I want to send out a message that everyone should follow all the rules.

But you are quite correct that the piece's big failing is that it imagines cyclists break the rules more than motorists. Like Goodyear, I live on Court Street in Brooklyn. It's a street where cars drive 60mph in a built-up area. I described in a blogpost how a car overturned in my street because it simply came way too fast down Court St: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-car-crash-sandy-hook-and-limits-of.html I'm fairly surprised Sarah Goodyear focuses on wrong-way cycling on the street as an issue.

The difference between a lawbreaking cyclist and a lawbreaking car is measured in tons. I'm not excusing the idiots of us out there, but she's comparing apples to oranges. And they do enforce by scale--most to drivers then to cyclists and then to pedestrians.

The way to take cycling to the next level is simply to have more cycling infrastructure and encourage more riders. As people get used to it, accidents and other issues go down, traffic improves, and everyone is happy. I mean seriously, what does 20,000 less people on the roads and 'L' in Chicago mean? It's got to have a tangible effect in the long-haul, yet she's semi-bemoaning it.

When drivers don't know the law and then treat cyclists like this is it any wonder why we don't follow the letter of the law 100% of the time?

What about having cyclists behave hyper-legal because we want everyone else using the road to be hyper-legal as well?

Seems like an odd strategy.

Do you really want car drivers to think it's OK run red lights?

No, and that's clearly not what I'm saying.

What is the lack of self awareness with the all-caps, exclamation point comment. It reads like an invitation to "please strap me to a gurney."

I think Goodyear's premise that "cyclists are no longer special" is empirically dubious. A 3% mode share means that I rarely confront other cyclists at intersections. If cyclists were truly not special--say making up 10 or 15% of traffic--you will see cyclist behavior simlar to Copenhagen, Amsterdam or even Paris. Cyclists do put their feet down there at stop lights because not doing so runs the very high risk of colliding with scofflaw cyclists riding the other way. A more accurate term for "special" would be atomistic. Once a hive of cyclists emerges we all become dutiful worker cycling bees.

I don't like to see cyclists blow through red lights in busy intersections. Then again, I don't like it when car drivers DO THE EXACT SAME THING.

I don't understand why some people fuss over stopping at a STOP sign at an empty intersection when car drivers continue to blow through crosswalks and engage in other dangerous and threatening behavior.

Just last week, Montgomery Co. police had officers walk in a crosswalk in Aspen Hill. They wore bright yellow T-shirts and did so between the hours of 11 am and 1:30 pm. During that time, 72 drivers failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Almost one every 2 minutes.

In addition, when you realize that after each driver was issued a citation, other drivers would see the police activity and be more careful about not attempting to drive over pedestrians. That had to take a minute or so. But as soon as the citation was issued and the driver moved on, the next driver would again fail to yield. This pattern repeated over and over again during the 2.5 hours. Basically, almost none of the drivers seem to be yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk on that road, unless they saw another driver being written up by police.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Failing-to-Yield-to-Pedestrians-in-Montgomery-Co-Could-Cost-You-206557651.html

http://www.mymcpnews.com/2013/05/08/pedestrian-enforcement-results/

footdroppers? I'll just keep on coming to a stop by reaching the speed of 0 mph. No need to bring the location of my feet into this.

this is excellent commentary. just excellent. well written, washcycle, and cogently presented.

Incidentally, I used to ride across that crosswalk on Veirs Mill daily, I once very stupidly asserted my rights there and caused a motor vehicle accident. To my everlasting gratitude no one was injured. Lesson learned re the status of bicyclists.

"What about having cyclists behave hyper-legal because we want everyone else using the road to be hyper-legal as well?"

Universally across the United States it's pretty much accepted that you will not be ticketed for speeding if you are driving your car less than 10 MPH above the speed limit.

There are devices sold to car drivers that alert them to the presence of red light cameras. The existence of such implies that drivers don't see a problem with running red lights - just getting caught.

Similarly, there are radar detectors that are sold that detect when there is a speed trap. The implication that speeding is ok, as long as you don't get caught.

I really hope WashCycle has sent his response to the Atlantic so that it may be printed in the next edition.

@UrbanEngineer: except that recently, as reported here, Falls Church police were citing cyclists who didn't come to a full, *foot down* stop on the W&OD trail. For a lot of non-bicyclists, including a lot of the drivers I end up waving through intersections, foot down = stopped. They don't know that I can trackstand for quite a while; they think that as long as my feet are on the pedals, I'm raring to roll.

@Paytonchung,

If I'm at a 4 way stop and the vehicle or pedestrian with the right of way doesn't take it as I'm track standing, I put my foot down. More so for mine and their comfort than for any attempt to adhere to the law (which I don't believe there is one, and there should not be one) or fear of being cited.

The 4-way stop is adequate unless it is enforced absolutely. As an absolute device it's defective.

The odds of three vehicles coming to a 4-way stop, and successfully sorting out right of way according to the regulations, are low. Let alone multiple cars executing a 4-way stop through more than one rotation.

If only 80% of operators know how to execute right-of-way at a 4-way stop, 3 drivers will will execute the stop correctly only 50% of the time.

But since we're all ignorant, it's more likely only 25% of drivers bother to know and execute proper 4-way stop. At that percentage, the chance of 3 operators executing a 4-way stop correctly is less than 2%. Since I never see it done correctly, I'm going to conclude that 25% per driver is a pretty good estimate.

That's why 4-way stops can't be strictly enforced, because they are defective if you expect it to be a binary yes/no control device.

The point of a a 4-way stop is to bring all vehicle speeds to a safe equilibrium. The intersection is dangerous if some are going 25 and others going 5. But if everyone is going 5, then it is safe.

And too, fines should be scaled to potential fatality. Fatality is a function of speed and mass. A 200 pound bicycle that goes 2 mph through a stop sign should be fined a fraction of a a 2000 pound vehicle going 5 mph through a stop sign.

But that kind of proportionality is never going to happen and the chances of me getting a ticket at a 4-way stop are low too. So my rules now and for the foreseeable future are:

1. Do no harm
2. Don't get harmed
3. Laws of physics are more absolute than the laws of man.

@Crickey7 Spot on.

I find it hard to worry too much about coming to a complete stop at an intersection after I've been buzzed and flipped off by an asshole in an SUV for no reason other than it would have taken him an extra 2 seconds to slow and go around me. My presence alone caused him to threaten my life. Let me repeat, my presence alone caused him to threaten my life.

No Sarah, we are NOT mainstream yet, and no amount of courtesy and rule abidance is going to compensate for the fact that 99.99% of transportation infrastructure in the US was built without even the slightest thought for accommodating cyclists.

How about the road cyclist that wove through the line of 6 cars at the stop sign on Beach Drive and Piney Branch and then proceeded to block traffic all the way up to Blagden taking up the center of the lane? You want equal access to the road, act like every other vehicle and obey the laws of the road instead of acting like entitled jerks and blocking traffic.

Road cyclists shouldn't be blocking traffic on any street. If you're not capable of doing the speed limit, stay out of the center of the traffic lane and have some courtesy.

Nothing you described is illegal.

"You want equal access to the road, act like every other vehicle and obey the laws of the road instead of acting like entitled jerks and blocking traffic."

Wait, when did every other vehicle start obeying the law? Was that in the last 40 minutes?

The analogy is weak, but there may be something to be learned from the COLREGs or rules of the road for mariners. They allow a huge range of vessels to share restricted waters with clear recognition of differences in size, speed, and maneuverability.

@Redline, there is no rule that states cyclists (or drivers for that matter) must maintain the speed limit. It's a maximum, not a minimum. Cyclists will often ride in the middle of the lane for safety, not to be un-courteous. Riding at the edge of the road invites unsafe passing and leaves little room to maneuver when one encounters an obstacle.

I obey the law, including legally taking my lane for safety purposes (which some might call blocking traffic, though it is not) and still get accused of being an entitled jerk.

So you will have to forgive me for thinking that's not the real issue.

Redline exhibits the asymmetry that exists on the road: generally speaking, drivers don't know the regulations they accuse cyclists of not following.

Drivers want us to follow the letter of the law until they don't.

"If you're not capable of doing the speed limit, stay out of the center of the traffic lane and have some courtesy."

The only way I'm doing the speed limit in DC on a bike is if all the cars causing the traffic jams would get out of my way.

I might start returning the favor and requesting that all motor vehicles get off the road during rush hour because they slow me down.

I'm not sure what the point of this article is. Goodyear isn't calling for bicyclists to be more law-abiding than motorists. I didn't see anything in her article about cyclists needing to be more "squeaky clean" than drivers.

And I don't think anyone, even drivers, will argue against more biking infrastructure. Everyone would like more apple pie. However, in developed areas, it is tough to find the space. Every town I know that has a cycling community is actively trying to find the space and money to put in more infrastructure. No one is happy with the progress so far, but I don't see many cyclists willing to give up 10 feet of their front lawn to create a bike lane on their street. And the infrastructure so far probably is about commensurate with a 3% mode share. It will get better.

The only worthwhile point I see here is that we need something like the Idaho Stop. Otherwise this is just a knee-jerk reaction: drivers are terrible too, not just us cyclists! And road infrastructure is built for cars! Yawn.

Here's something cyclists need to get: the rate at which drivers obey the law has absolutely nothing to do with whether cyclists should obey the law. If you don't like the law, get it changed.

Maybe it's different in DC, but where I live in SF, cyclists are far worse than drivers. I'm an everyday bicycle commuter, and I'm appalled. Drivers will occasionally roll a stop sign, mostly in quiet neighborhoods, and extremely rarely blow a red light (mostly following through after a yellow). Yes, they speed, but that's mostly on highways. Cyclists however almost never stop at stop signs. I'm guessing 95% run stop signs, even on busy streets with traffic present. Probably 70% don't even slow down, blowing through at speed. Riding against traffic is prevalent, as is sidewalk riding, and riding through crosswalks with pedestrians present. And their attitude is awful, far worse than the occasional angry driver. And don't get me started on Critical Mass... I slow-roll stop signs if it's all clear, so I'm no goody-two-shoes, but I'm honestly embarrassed to be a bicycle commuter in this city.

And the result? Probably a few more bike-car accidents. Faster commutes for cyclists I suppose. And lousy relations between drivers and cyclists. Which means that cyclists get less than they could from a cash-strapped city -- because who wants to support a bunch of a$$holes?

And this is Goodyear's point -- start acting like normal citizens and at least play by most of the rules, and then you can participate in society and reap its benefits. But acting like spoiled, entitled, holier-than-thou brats is not furthering the cause of cycling.

I didn't see anything in her article about cyclists needing to be more "squeaky clean" than drivers.

Being any amount of squeky clean is to be more squeky clean than drivers.

And I don't think anyone, even drivers, will argue against more biking infrastructure.

AAA has argued against each and every cycletrack in DC. And drivers argue against bike sharing and bike facilities everywhere else too.

Maybe it's different in DC, but where I live in SF, cyclists are far worse than drivers.

Not here. And not there either.

And this is Goodyear's point -- start acting like normal citizens and at least play by most of the rules, and then you can participate in society and reap its benefits.

Cyclists do act like normal citizens (which of course they are) in that they break traffic laws pretty frequently - even though they follow most of the rules.

Agree with kbob. Here in Boston there's a lot of "Mr Magoo"s on the road. Why? Some don't think. Some don't know the rules. Some are listening to their headphones. Some are simply clueless. Some are selfish dicks.

Why are drivers anygry about cyclists? Because they are scared they will hit one of those unpredictable Magoos. The key is predictability.

Should bikes have to use the roads exactly like cars? No. But every road user should have predictable movements. Jay-walking is not punished in Boston. I have heard the phrase "Massachusetts stop" (slow roll through stop signs). With that mentality what do we expect of bikes?

@washcycle - You are of course entitled to your opinions. Except for your comment about the local AAA, your reply doesn't appear to really add anything to the conversation.

Why are drivers anygry about cyclists? Because they are scared they will hit one of those unpredictable Magoos.

So, when some prick buzzes me for no apparent reason, he's actually just scared that he might hit me? There's absolutely no way you believe that.

kbob, oh but your comment - riddled with inaccurate statements, strawman arguments and wishful thinking does?

What in your comment do you think was particularly useful?

Was it the part where you misunderstood Goodyear's whole article? |

She asked cyclists to follow the law 100% of the time. THAT is better than drivers.

Was it the part where you claimed that noone argues against more biking infrastructure?

Because I can show you hundreds of times that that is wrong. Hundreds.

Was it the part where you insulted everyone by calling their comments knee-jerk?

That's productive.

Was it the part where you argued the strawman that the rate at which drivers obey the law relates to how cyclists should behave?

Where did anyone argue that I wonder? Who cares. You shot it down. Victory.

Was it the part where you stated that cyclists behave worse than drivers?

Because that's just your opinion, and again I can show you independent studies that directly contradict it.

Was it the part where you argued that better cyclist behavior will result in more money?

How is that not "Just an opinion.

Was it the part that you called cyclists abnormal citizens, somehow less worthy to be part of society?

Really, where was it, because I missed the part of your craptastic comment that contributed something.

@washcycle

Really, all I was saying is that if you want to respond, you should do more than say "Nuh-uh!" Thanks for making more of an effort on your next post.

>> She asked cyclists to follow the law 100% of the time. THAT is better than drivers.

I'm sure she would ask no less of drivers, but who knows? She did not ask them to follow the law more closely than drivers do. So what's your problem with her argument? By your argument, burglars should put off obeying the law until muggers do likewise?

>> noone argues against more biking infrastructure?

You got me there; I just haven't see that out here in SF, except people making the case that, while worthy, the limited money available should be spent on different priorities.

>> insulted everyone by calling their comments knee-jerk

Not everyone's comments, only yours

>> the strawman that the rate at which drivers obey the law relates to how cyclists should behave

Actually you argued that: "then how come I have to behave differently - squeaky clean - than everyone else"

>> I can show you independent studies that directly contradict it

I'd be interested in seeing those studies. Currently, I can only comment on my (fairly extensive) experience, which I have. It certainly is just that -- my subjective experience of years of cycling in SF. Judging by the reactions to Goodyear's article, and the vehement responses Henry Grabar's response, I'm not the only one who feels that way.

>> better cyclist behavior will result in more money

That is definitely an opinion, but I'd like to see you argue the counterpoint.

>> cyclists abnormal citizens

A cyclist who consistently and dangerously breaks the law and angrily berates innocent bystanders along the way doesn't strike me as a 'normal' citizen, whatever that means. Civil society is a contract: be fairly civil and law-abiding, and you get the benefits of the society. Doesn't seem that hard to understand to me. But that's just my opinion.

Tried to be nice, but can't resist a final swipe: If this is typical of cycling advocacy in DC, I can see why you all have so many problems with the driving community. I only wish it were much better here in SF. Sad.

Yep, all of our problems with drivers are because we are not humble enough. Thanks for that gem.

kbob,

>> noone argues against more biking infrastructure?

You got me there; I just haven't see that out here in SF, except people making the case that, while worthy, the limited money available should be spent on different priorities

Please look up rob anderson.

"Rob Anderson, a self-described dishwasher from Mendocino County, has gained notoriety for suing the city in 2005 to force it to conduct an environmental impact study before implementing its proposed bike plan, which called for taking away parking spaces and car lanes to make room for bike lanes. The suit was filed by attorney Mary Miles, a friend of Anderson's from their days contributing to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a caustic Northern California weekly owned by his brother. Anderson and Miles made the novel argument that bikes are bad for the environment because they get in the way of automobiles, which must then idle and emit more smog."

@kbob
I've made similar points before. Washcycle gets the last word. After all, it's his blog.

@UrbanEngineer - I remember that lawsuit. Perhaps "no one" is too strong a phrase. Anderson is definitely a nutcase. Unfortunately SF is littered with people who, like him, would rather rabble-rouse and maybe "win" than find the best solution for everyone.

@I forgot - Yes, but: "Someone is wrong on the Internet!"

She did not ask them to follow the law more closely than drivers do. So what's your problem with her argument?

She asked cyclists to follow the law 100% of the time. THAT is more closely than drivers do. So you're wrong, because she did.

My problem with her argument is clearly stated in the post above. I recommend you re-read it.

By your argument, burglars should put off obeying the law until muggers do likewise?

No. I'm not arguing that cyclists should put off obeying the law until drivers do so. Re-read my post.

Not everyone's comments, only yours

Oh, OK. Then I guess it did add something.

Actually you argued that: "then how come I have to behave differently - squeaky clean - than everyone else"

In response to her claim that we weren't special. If we're not special, then we shouldn't have to behave differently. Again, you should re-read the post so that you understand it.

I'd be interested in seeing those studies.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time.

I can only comment on my (fairly extensive) experience, which I have.

Alright, well that and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee. If you're going to make a blanket claim like "cyclists are far worse than drivers." you should really have more to back it up than your opinion.

I'd like to see you argue the counterpoint

The people who vote against spending money on bike infrastructure do so for reasons that have nothing to do with cyclist behavior, but rather with the ways in which their constituents get around

A cyclist who consistently and dangerously breaks the law and angrily berates innocent bystanders along the way doesn't strike me as a 'normal' citizen, whatever that means.

Let me rewrite that for you "A person who consistently...." If you would like to qualify your earlier statement to refer only to assholes, then fine, but then I don't know why you're singling out cyclists. And if her article was directed at assholes on bikes then she should've used entitled her article "Assholes aren't special..." but she didn't.

I think my big issue is that our being perceived as arrogant is only slightly related to the scofflaw issue. It's more closely related to our insistence on using road infrastructure that many drivers would really rather not share. So I see the scofflaw argument as a big ol' red herring.

>> THAT is more closely than drivers do

My typo. I meant "...more closely than drivers." I didn't see anything in her post where she suggested that cyclists should be subjected to more legal rigor than motorists.

I agree with you that better behavior won't per se take cycling to the next level (whatever that is). But I do think it's probable that bad behavior by some cyclists is detrimental to the cause.

The Guardian article is interesting, and not surprising -- most bike deaths are caused by bad driving not bad cycling. Perhaps this is because drivers are becoming used to bad cycling behavior and adjusting for it (certainly the case in SF, IMHO), whereas cyclists have limited options to adjust to bad driving. Also, I wonder about the large number of drivers whose version of the accident was that they didn't see the cyclist. If they didn't see the cyclist, they don't know whether he was following the rules of the road do they? Perhaps they didn't see him because he blew through a red light?

But the study doesn't exactly investigate whether drivers are worse behaved than cyclists. Just what the impact of that behavior on cyclists is. No mention of the impact on motorists. So it doesn't really answer the question.

>> I'd like to see you argue the counterpoint

I agree with your assessment of the motives of most anti-bike-infrastructure people. But are you arguing that better cyclist behavior will have no positive impact on bike infrastructure? Because otherwise, it's not a counterpoint.

>> If you would like to qualify your earlier statement to refer only to assholes

You're right. Unfortunately, IMHO, most of the cyclists in my city *are* behaving like assholes.

I'm not singling out cyclists. Neither is Goodyear. That's the point of her article. I'm saying that cyclists who are assholes should be treated the same way as all other assholes. And perhaps all cyclists ought to take a deep, close look at themselves and ask whether they are an asshole.

Here's my point: yes, the existing road infrastructure is configured against us, and yes, most drivers are clueless at best, and yes, I'd love to have the Idaho Stop, and we should lobby for better biking infrastructure, but acting like selfish dicks who think they are cool, important, invincible, and right is not furthering the cycling cause at all. It may even be hurting it. Having re-read your article several times, you're right about the crux of it: behaving well probably won't take us to the next level. But bad behavior could well hold us back. Squeaky wheels get oiled; assholes get ignored.

And as soon as we achieve 100% compliance with the law, the arguments will shift to our selfish refusal to ride slightly over the speed limit. Or our unnatural attire. Or our refusal, when we are in the road, to ride on the sidewalk, and when we are on the sidewalk, to ride on the road.

@Engineer: I do the same, but it's annoying and costs everyone time and effort. I need to work on my one-handed trackstanding, I guess, so I can wave people through with the other hand.

@SOS: "If you're not capable of doing the speed limit because you're stuck in traffic or double parked or texting or making an unsignaled turn, stay out of the right half of the traffic lane and have some courtesy." Ahh, much better. (I get stuck behind cars dozens of times every day. I daresay more cyclists are stuck behind cars every day than vice versa.)

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