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Biking uphill at 6 mph in a 35-mph zone can be dense and self-centered, depending on factors including how long the hill is. The braying by supposed biking advocates when drivers criticize this practice will eventually help create more restrictions on bikers.

The list of actions that are stupid and legal is a long one.

I've never seen a cyclist take the lane at "6 mph" on a 35 mph road. (Reductio ad absurdum fallacy).

If bicycles had to follow the "same" regulations as cars, there wouldn't be a 12 page bicycle section in the traffic code. Those 12 pages are full of exceptions and specifics unique to bicycles. That's the opposite of "same."

Is lane splitting legal in Virginia? I am not so sure. Va Code § 46.2-907 says:


A person riding a bicycle . . . may overtake and pass another vehicle on either the left or right side, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway as necessary to pass with safety.

***

A person riding a bicycle . . . shall not travel between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, except where one lane is a separate turn lane or a mandatory turn lane.


From this, it would appear that lane splitting is only legal in Virginia where one of the two lanes being split is a turn lane.

Can some one PLEASE tell me why I am NEVER pulled over for driving 10 to 20 mph OVER the speed limit yet drivers always whine about cyclists not following the rules?

On a bicycle I take the center of the road coming to stops at signs and red lights. Why do I take the center of the lane? Beacuse once again many drivers break the law and will not come to a complete stop turing right and indangering any cyclist staying to the right of the lane.

If I am maintaining the speed limit on my bicycle I still stay to the right out of courtesy to drivers and cyclists who might want to pass me.

So to the police who are reading this, if the rules of the road are to be inforced to the letter of the law on cyclists PLEASE do the same for drivers. It will make the roads far safer for everyone.

Thanks!

Biking and whining. The perfect combination.

Biking uphill at 6 mph in a 35-mph zone can be dense and self-centered, depending on factors including how long the hill is.

It's actually a lot like teleportation pod operators who fail to clear the pod of flies, or hovercar drivers who don't give the right of way to jetpack users and witches on broomsticks. By which I mean it is mythical. Unless you have "a single lane curvy uphill road with a 35 mph speed limit" in mind.

I note that you left single-lane out of your description, in which case I don't see anything selfish or dense about this activity.

Further I would add that if biking should be banned on a road then ban it. But if it isn't, then stop acting like there is some defacto, common-sense ban. Reminds me of a line by Monica Geller "I don't want to be the kind of wife who says no all the time, so if you could just figure it out on your own..." This is exactly what we mean by "Share the Road" as in, at times you might be temporarily inconvenienced, dealing with this in a respectful and safe way is sharing and adult.

KLO, I think the operative word is "moving". I think you can lane split between stopped cars, which is what this letter writer is referring to.

charlie, the only person I see whining here are the drivers.

I know this comes up quite a bit, but....does anyone know why drivers get a pass for the *universal* speeding we see every single day.

Drivers try to downplay this, but (setting aside the scenario where congestion makes speeding impossible) there is maybe one driver in one-hundred who obeys the speed limit.

And speeding has a Hell of a lot higher social cost than cyclists who ride through stop signs.

[We won't even get into the fact that most drivers won't even slow down if they're taking a right turn at a stop sign.]

I am a big proponent of promoting good will among all road users, trail users, etc. (see bell discussion). I oppose jerkish behavior on the part of cyclists and the lame defense that jerky driver behavior somehow excuses it.

Riding legally on a road never, ever constitutes jerky behavior, no matter how many cars are behind it and what they think. The minute you think otherwise, you've tacitly accepted the notion that there is a hierarchy of road users, and cyclists are only slightly above those selfish, jerky deer.

The WaPo has had quite a few stories about, yes, it's legal for bicyclists to take a full lane while riding. I wonder though whether it is prudent to exercise this right on (for example) a single lane curvy uphill road with a 35 mph speed limit, when you have trouble maintaining 6 mph. None of the stories ever seem to address the safety aspects of what can be an enormous speed differential.

No, I think the letter-writer has a point here. I was just discussing this with friend, but in the case of pedestrian-cyclist relations rather than the case of cyclist-car.

I know that pedestrians have the "right" to use the sidewalks, but I often wonder how prudent it is to exercise that right on (for example) a long narrow downhill where cyclists can achieve speeds of 25-30 mph, and where pedestrians have difficulty maintaining 3 mph.

The "right" to the sidewalk is all well and good until I run you over on my bicycle with a closing speed of over 25 mph. Not too bright.

dr gridlock is not a friend of bicyclists.

is this news?

car laws are not enforced in any meaningful way.

is this news?

car use is SUBSIDIZED by the big bad socialist federal and local govts. is this news? apparently it is to those who trumpet "the magic of markets" and claim to love individual and fiscal responsibility...

Biking and whining. The perfect combination.

Or counter-whining?

I've long come to the conclusion that traffic laws are suggestions at best.

Biking and whining. The perfect combination.

Driver: Oh, boo hoo! A bicyclist inconvenienced me in a minor fashion. They should be banned from the road!

Cyclist: Get used to it.

But, definitely, it's the cyclists who are whining here. Heh.

@Joe:

Can some one PLEASE tell me why I am NEVER pulled over for driving 10 to 20 mph OVER the speed limit yet drivers always whine about cyclists not following the rules?

I'm not sure, but my theory is that since driving is "normative" behavior, what is "legal" is defined as whatever the majority of drivers do. You see this most prominently with the "de facto" 80% rule of speed limits. The speed limit is whatever 80% of drivers feel is appropriate. You'll notice that the safety of other road users in no way even factors into this equation--it's literally, whatever the driver wants, the driver gets.

We have these high-profile campaigns where pedestrians and walkers are targeted for increased enforcement "for their own good". And eerily enough, "their own good" always dovetails perfectly with "what's most convenient for drivers".

Our neighborhood MPD mailing list had a great moment of clarity the other day, when someone asked for increased enforcement against the number of out-of-state cars speeding (15, 20, 30 mph over the limit) through Capitol Hill. A rep from MPD responded that, "Whenever we do a stepped-up enforcement, we write an equal number of citations for cars, pedestrians, and cyclists." As though that was evidence of equal law-breaking.

You could literally write a speeding ticket to 8 of 10 drivers in our neighborhood, and they constitute the only realistic threat to the public safety but, Hey!, we're writing equal numbers of tickets to everyone!

Both uphill and downhill biking are more dangerous. The solution isn't to discourage people from doing it. What they need to do is paint bike lanes. In DC the worst hill that I have encountered is 14th St. NW between U and Columbia. There is a bike lane from Walter Reed to Scott Circle but it disappears on the hill between Columbia Heights and U St. When I go down this hill I'm going the same speed as cars. It's very difficult to brake when a car cuts you off. When I'm going up I'm going about 5-10mph and in the position Dr. Gridlock describes at the end. It's not safe either way. The bike lane encourages more commuters to use that route but then it dumps them into traffic at the road's most dangerous point. Just paint a bike lane.

I oppose jerkish behavior on the part of cyclists and the lame defense that jerky driver behavior somehow excuses it.

This seems unnecessarily defensive to me. I think you've bought into a certain framing here.

No one is excusing jerky behavior because of jerky driver behavior.

The issue of "jerky cyclist behavior" is almost always raised as either a) an excuse for denying cyclists the right to travel on the roadways; or b) a way of consequences to some driver who kills or grievously injures a cyclist through neglect or malice.

When cyclists point out that drivers break the law, universally, and without any consequences, that's not a defense of jerky behavior, but a simple observation of human nature--and a rejection of the idea that perfect behavior is some sort of prerequisite to be on the public roads.

Anti-cyclists want to frame the issue as cyclists being uniquely disdainful of laws; of course, we know this is something that we see in all modes of travel.

I'd even take issue with your phrase "jerky behavior". When drivers exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, they sure as Hell don't see themselves as being "jerks". And you can be sure that the vast majority of cyclists who treat stop-signs as yield signs, or who "jay-bike" don't see themselves as being "jerks".

Cyclists aren't any better than the folks who drive or walk places; but they're also not worse. That's the point.

A common refrain of cyclists to any criticism of cyclist lawbreaking is to point out the relatively large incidence of driver lawbreaking (not that there are any good statistics on the former) and the greater consequences. I do it, too.

But that's not enough. It's framing the issue as "until other road users clean up their act, why should we"? And, of course, that simply leads to a cycle of finger pointing and refusal to act.

Cyclists need to obey the law more, not because it's tied to the right to use the roads, but because it's the right things to do. Because part of cycling is buying into the idea that each of us ought to leave the planet a little better off than how we found it. Because a bell really is nicer than a raised voice.

a single lane curvy uphill road with a 35 mph speed limit

Actually, I live on a road like this, except that the speed limit is 40 mph (assuming that "single lane" means "one lane each way, with no shoulders"). So it does exist. When bike riders go up the hill at 6 mph, and I am in my car behind them, I have to go up the hill at 6 mph too. And nothing bad has happened to me yet, as a result of this.

(I also live near a T intersection with three stop signs, where nobody in a car ever, ever actually stops. Though school bus drivers do usually stop.)

I have 3 laws that I use to ride:

Rule #1: I will ride in a manner that is safe.

Rule #2: Not withstanding rule #1 I will ride in a manner that is considerate.

Rule #3: Not withstanding rules #1 or #2 I will ride in a manner that is optimum for myself and my bike.

So the first rule dictates that I take the lane when it's too narrow for a car to safely pass me.

The second rule dictates that I don't bust through a stop sign at intersection when I can see another vehicle has the right-of-way.

The third rule says that when I come upon cars tied up in gridlock I'm free use my bike to its advantage and filter through the mess.

@oboe does anyone know why drivers get a pass for the *universal* speeding we see every single day.

Speed limits in Maryland are generally set 8-10 mph below the actual intended speed. In the case of state highways, the design speed is generally 10 mph over the post speed limit.

As far as I know, it all started with the inaccuracy of speed detection equipment and the culpability required for being convicted of a crime. If someone was measured at 3 mph over the speed limit, there was both a question about the evidence, as well as the intent to speed. So judges would acquit.

Highway officials noticed this behavior and set speed limits lower than they really intended, so that they largely got the speed intended. As equipment got better and speeding became a strict liability offense, there was no need to keep that 7-10 mph buffer, but the backlash for ticketing people going 5 mph over the limit was large, especially since everyone knew that speeding had been built into most speed limits.

Oficial recognition grew with laws requiring one to keep as far right as practicable if they are 11 mph under the speed limit--that's hardly slow if the traffic is all below the speed limit. In Maryland, the recognition that the number is not on the sign was complete when the speed camera legislation required one to be 12 mph to get a ticket.

These are not the only numbers that do not mean what they say. The actual prices of many goods and services in the USA are much greater than the published price, to the consternation of Europeans thinking that the price either what they pay, or the point from which one negotiates down.

But that's not enough. It's framing the issue as "until other road users clean up their act, why should we"?

I just don't see it that way: it's an argument against collective punishment. You say "cyclists need to obey the law more", but that's destined to fail. Why? Because there's no Universal Cyclist Club where we all decide how we'll behave.

Cycling is *not* contingent on cyclists obeying the law. If you want to step up enforcement for all road users, fine. But the idea that cycling on the road is illegitimate because cyclists are uniquely law-breaking is just plain wrong.

Not everyone rides a bike because they want to be part of a movement; not everyone drives a car because they're part of "driver culture". When I see a cyclist pull a jerky move, I don't think "We cyclists are such assholes!" just as I don't think I'm an ass if I'm driving a car and someone cuts me off.

If you're hoping that there's some homogeneous social movement called "cyclists", that they're susceptible to shaming, that they'll "clean up their act", and (most unlikely of all) that when they do, the greater driver culture is going to give them a Gold Star for it, you're in for serious disappointment.

There will always be jerks, irresponsible folks, inattentive folks, on bicycles. There will never be 100% compliance. Even if there were, drivers are woefully ignorant of the law, and almost always consider their convenience to be the final arbiter of "what's legal" anyway.

So, in the absence of cycle-oriented infrastructure improvements, the perception of the "scofflaw cyclist" will continue.

Speed limits in Maryland are generally set 8-10 mph below the actual intended speed. In the case of state highways, the design speed is generally 10 mph over the post speed limit.

Sure, but this is in a kind of Cartesian Plain traffic environment: it assumes the absence of any other street users than drivers. It's like a pure expression of driver entitlement.

I can't count the number of times you hear the circular argument that cyclists shouldn't be allowed on a given road because it's too dangerous, and it's too dangerous because autos go too fast, but that's okay, because they're going under the speed limit, and the speed limit's legitimate because there are no pedestrians or cyclists. Of course, there are no pedestrians or cyclists because the speed's too high--it's suicidal!!

and around and around we go.


Oficial recognition grew with laws requiring one to keep as far right as practicable if they are 11 mph under the speed limit--that's hardly slow if the traffic is all below the speed limit.

Do you have a cite to an actual law that says that? I'm a traffic law nerd and the only language I've ever seen in a keep-right statute is words to the effect of "when traveling slower than prevailing traffic."

Man, my best sermon and you didn't even blink. I threw in everything but little babies in trailers, and didn't budge the meter.

If what you say is true, then your defense would be "yeah, other people who ride bikes are jerks and break the law. I don't defend them."

But you do. So you're part of a group when you want to be (collective immunity from blame) and not when you don't (responsibility to obey the law). Which, BTW, is an individual, and not a collective, responsibility.

Do it for the babies in trailers.

@Jim T:

It's interesting though, that our speed limits (for all their flaws) represent the kind of hybrid between legal code and social compact that we see in cycling culture.

These negotiated speed limits make sense in the absence of any other road user type. I suppose you could make the case that it's the same with negotiated cycling behavior--though that has the benefit of not endangering others.

My big problem is the unexamined sense of entitlement that holds that illegal speeding is totally legitimate, presumably because car drivers agree on it and roads are for cars, whereas jay-walking or jay-biking is completely illegitimate because drivers haven't signed off on them--and since roads are for cars, pedestrians and cyclists use them at the discretion of drivers.

Anyone who cares about issues like this should read Tom Vanderbilt's "Traffic." One of his (many) insightful observations is that for the most part police officers see their job not to enforce the law, but to enforce societal norms. Speeding is a sociatal norm. Riding a bike, depending on the place, often isn't.

Now, societal norms are funny things. Most people consider themselves to be pinnacles of reason, and thus believe that their own beliefs reflect societal norms. Further, most people believe that laws reflect societal norms, which leads to the conclusion that the law reflects their beliefs. So you get things like the pervasive belief that cyclists must ride within a specific distance of the curb (usually three feet)or that cyclists are banned from the travel lanes of roads.

@Oboe's Id

"I know that pedestrians have the "right" to use the sidewalks, but I often wonder how prudent it is to exercise that right on (for example) a long narrow downhill where cyclists can achieve speeds of 25-30 mph, and where pedestrians have difficulty maintaining 3 mph.

The "right" to the sidewalk is all well and good until I run you over on my bicycle with a closing speed of over 25 mph. Not too bright."

Riding your bike, on the sidewalk, "over 25 mph. Not too bright." There, fixed that for ya. If you're going over 25 mph, you should be on the street. If you're too scared to ride on the street, stay home.

I know this was meant as a joke, but someone will read it and agree with it. There are a lot of nimrods out there, so don't encourage them. Heck, a motorist might decide to come after you on the sidewalk or trail. On the Custis Trail, in Rosslyn, and in a marked bike lane, I've come within inches of being nailed by scooters. Last Wednesday, as a pedestrian, I had to move out of the way of a motorcycle on the sidewalk.

But you do. So you're part of a group when you want to be (collective immunity from blame) and not when you don't (responsibility to obey the law). Which, BTW, is an individual, and not a collective, responsibility.

No, what I'm saying is that "cyclist" is a fairly arbitrary grouping. One of my pet peeves is that when it comes to drivers, the idea that a collective identity of the sort you're proposing is sort of faintly ridiculous. Sure we call out "Maryland drivers" or "Virginia drivers", or motorcyclists.

But in the larger culture (not among cycling advocates) the idea that "drivers" are "irresponsible" just doesn't compute. There are irresponsible drivers, of course, but they have nothing to do with me, because *I* am a responsible driver (I say as a fire off an angry tweet to DrGridlock while doing 45 mph on Canal Road.)

Pedestrians are somewhat between drivers and cyclists in having a "collective identity". Generally speaking, you hear this from the small subset of extremely entitled urban drivers: "Pedestrians always jaywalk with their ipods on, and never let me take a right turn on red!" etc...

But you rarely hear someone claim to have been "mugged by a pedestrian". Or that "pedestrians always elbow you out of the way on the train", or the like.

But with cyclists, it doesn't matter if it's a crackhead, a 17 year old kid on a BMX bike, a 9 year old, a professional racer, or a helmetless, Copenhagenized utility biker--they're all "cyclists", they're all entitled and arrogant, and until the last crackhead stops rolling through the last deserted intersection with a stop sign, cyclists don't deserve to be on the road.

I don't disagree at all that people shouldn't be jerks, that they should be considerate--particularly to those more vulnerable--and they should be safe.

But when I'm driving I have a certain set of obligations; when I'm cycling, I have another; and when I'm walking, I have another. That guy who runs a red light doesn't make me a jerk anymore than the pedestrian jay-walking, or the dude speeding through a residential neighborhood.

Here's a question: is it just when I'm on a bike that collective punishment operates? Just because I happen to be behind the wheel of a car doesn't mean I'm no longer a cyclist. If someone on a bike comes to the 4-way stop a split second later than I, but refuses to stop, and I have to wait for a half-second longer, does some fractional portion of that egregious scofflaw behavior confer upon me as lay on my horn, shaking my fist, and yelling "Scofflaw"?

It's all very confusing. We'll need a panel of Kant, Borges, and Freud to sort this one out.

I know this was meant as a joke, but someone will read it and agree with it.

Sorry, I was out walking the dog and left my laptop logged in. My id often does this, and it never gets any less embarrassing.

"But with cyclists, it doesn't matter if it's a crackhead, a 17 year old kid on a BMX bike, a 9 year old, a professional racer, or a helmetless, Copenhagenized utility biker--they're all "cyclists", they're all entitled and arrogant, and until the last crackhead stops rolling through the last deserted intersection with a stop sign, cyclists don't deserve to be on the road.
"

Easy answer that that. The lycra-clad are the source of all evil. Focus on them.

Between the lycra-clad and mexicans, you've got 80% of all complaints. Well, those bikeshare types are getting uppity. I saw a gaggle of girls riding them WRONG WAY down the Q st lane. there were like 5. I couldn't focus because of their skirts....

Cyclists really devalue their place on the streets with their one and only a-typical response to critisism which is "Well, drivers do it too".

Well, that may be true of rolling stop sign stops and lack of signaling (I have only seen one cyclist signal their lane change the entire time I've lived in the District), but cyclists have the whole "never stop at a stop light" thing all to themselves. I can count on two hands the number of times in my life I've seen a cyclists stop and wait at a stoplight until it turns green. 99% of the time its a brazen dash across the intersection, dodging cars and peds.

You want to be taken seriously on the streets? Quit coming up with whiny de-facto fallacious excuses for you to break every law in the book. There is no reason.

Anyone on the streets who breaks the law should be held accountable. That includes cars, peds AND bicycles.

but cyclists have the whole "never stop at a stop light" thing all to themselves. I can count on two hands the number of times in my life I've seen a cyclists stop and wait at a stoplight until it turns green. 99% of the time its a brazen dash across the intersection, dodging cars and peds.

I'm given to exaggeration myself which is why I so easily recognize it here ;)

Regardless of the opinions expressed in Dr. Gridlock, I'm very encouraged by the fact the driving public is becoming more aware of the legality of taking the lane. The Post deserves some credit for this, as do people writing letters to the editor :-)

@Jeff,

You are kidding right? You must not travel the same DC streets I do on a daily basis.

Check out 14th st, SB at T. I was behind a large delivery truck this morning that left a nice pair of dually skid marks as it had to come to a screeching stop as a cyclist bolted across 14th a good 30 seconds into his red light. I see that half a dozen times a day.

Tell me...how many times a day do you see a car come up to a red light and continue to drive through it. Or slow down, then bolt through the red when they think it is convenient?

I've seen it twice. Both times on an episode of Cops.

I saw one car today take a right turn from the left lane, slalom into the parking lane to pass more cars and speed, all in the space of 60 seconds.

And on one ride last week, I saw a car do exactly what you said, come up to a fully red light and then proceed through it. Coming within inches of me as I was stopped at the same light, in simultaneous violation of two traffic laws.

You want to be taken seriously on the streets? Quit coming up with whiny de-facto fallacious excuses for you to break every law in the book.

Here, a pitch perfect example.

And of course, the proper response is, Frankly, I don't give a damn if 'nookie' takes me seriously on the streets. Does not register to me in the least.

The threat to people on bikes is inattentive driving, speeding, and general inability of drivers to safely pilot their vehicles. Earning the grudging respect of Nookie (or anyone else) ain't gonna fix that.

I probably lose much more "respect" by taking the lane whenever I choose, and various other good practices, than when I jay-bike.

All that aside, though, it's pretty amusing how desparate folks are to hold on to that thin fig leaf that cyclists are "excusing behavior" by saying "drivers do it too".

Try to understand: you don't get to decide who is on the road. Certainly not based on "who's naughty or nice." The fact that drivers break the law in even greater numbers is superfluous to the argument.

as a cyclist bolted across 14th a good 30 seconds into his red light.

You could eliminate this type of contention by doubling the length of yellow lights. Again, the signals are tailored to the needs of drivers. Quite often someone on a bicycle will speed up to make the light, the light will turn yellow as they're a few feet away, the intersection will be too wide to clear before the yellow turns to red, and you have drivers who are monitoring the walk signal countdown as though it were a Christmas Tree light at a drag race.

Longer yellows are the solution.

I saw one car today take a right turn from the left lane, slalom into the parking lane to pass more cars and speed, all in the space of 60 seconds.

Nookie, if you want the right to operate your car on our city's streets, you're going to have to get your "buddy" here to drive like an adult.

No excuses!

@Contrarian

Oficial recognition grew with laws requiring one to keep as far right as practicable if they are 11 mph under the speed limit--that's hardly slow if the traffic is all below the speed limit.

Do you have a cite to an actual law that says that? I'm a traffic law nerd and the only language I've ever seen in a keep-right statute is words to the effect of "when traveling slower than prevailing traffic."

Yes. Md Code Transportaton § 21-301(b)

oboe, it's an interesting point about the 80% speed limit determination. It's kind of like letting people vote. I'm usually all for democracy, but in this case they're only letting drivers vote. And voting is the wrong way to deal with this issue. For example, we didn't all vote on which SEAL team would kill Bin Laden, because we're not qualified to make that decision. We can't even get American Idol right. So voting on the speed limit seems equally stupid.

@oboe: [comments on the evolution of divergence between speed limits and actual speeds] As you probably surmised, I was mainly trying to tell the story to answer your question rather than advocate the current situation. Many different people each taking a step that makes sense within her framework need not necessarily lead to where a good policy would take us.

The question about whether speed limits set solely to protect automobile occupants are appropriate is a different question than whether the speed limit should be set 10 mph below the level that gets you a ticket (unless you happen to think that bikes and peds always lowers the safe speed by 10 mph). Re-setting speed limits based on what is truly safe is done on occasion, though not enough. Most of the road people prefer physical traffic calming over tweaking the speed limit.

Maybe the quintessential redeck sheriff with a speed trap was right all along. And maybe our "more progressive" forebearers were wrong.

Changing the practice of setting the limits 10 mph lower than you mean may be as difficult as ending the practice of tipping. Perhaps if we ever convert to metric, when all the speed limit signs would be replaced anyway and people have to think differently about speeds?

As a side benefit, one of the traffic-calming devices being tried in Europe is removing traffic lights and stop signs.

Interesting on the "actual" speed limit being 10 mph higher, and really disapointing as this means the law is misleading bringing to question, what other laws are also manipulated? Are there any laws that are manipulated to benefit cyclists or are they "fixed" only benefit drivers?

As a side benefit, one of the traffic-calming devices being tried in Europe is removing traffic lights and stop signs.

I would completely support this move. Surely the areas drivers would also get behind this, right? Lower the posted speed limit on all surface streets to, say, 20 mph, eliminate all traffic devices, and instead institute the same rule you see on multiuse trails: that is, in all cases cars yield to bikes yield to horses yield to pedestrians.

Problem solved. Added benefit is we won't have to hear about this "scofflaw" nonsense--from which drivers remain mysteriously exempt.

Strange; motorists who complain that cyclists are "breaking the law" never seem to supply a reason why this is a bad thing or why it should be stopped. It's always just that cyclists are unlawful and should be penalized for it. No stories of a cyclist splitting a lane and ripping off a sideview mirror, or causing a motorist to lose control, no anecdotes about cyclists running stop signs and causing car accidents, no mention of the potential harm that could come (to anyone) when a cyclist rolls through a stop sign. Instead, we get anonymous statements about supposed scofflaw cyclists.

It's like a giant case of the green-eyed monster: motorists are confined and restricted by their vehicles and the laws governing them (not to mention the costs--financial and physical--associated with them) while the cyclist is free to move about essentially by his/her free will. This is one advantage of the bicycle over the automobile, and it isn't lost on motorists, who, if they have to suffer, want everyone else to suffer, too.

It must really suck to repeatedly sit in a car at a stop light, waiting, while a cyclist, exercising due judgement and care, makes his/her way safely through the intersection undelayed. The fact that the cyclist in such a case doesn't impede or otherwise interfer with the motorist (to the contrary) doesn't matter; it's the fact the (s)he is free, while the motorist is constrained in almost every imaginable way by his/her choice of mode of transportation. Thus, the hapless, self-victimized motorist cries, foul! and points the finger at (and sometimes takes aggressive action toward) cyclists as a means of displacing aggression. An aggression for which, incidentally, cycling is the perfect cure.

@nookie

Tell me...how many times a day do you see a car come up to a red light and continue to drive through it.

Nearly every day nearly any intersection. Often its called running for the yellow ... but making the red!

Or slow down, then bolt through the red when they think it is convenient?

I've seen it twice. Both times on an episode of Cops.

I guess you never see cars make right on reds in DC do you?

A lawful right on red is when the car comes to A COMPLETE STOP before THE STOP LINE. Then after ensuring their are no PEDESTRIANS in the CROSSWALK advances to a point to check if there is oncoming cross traffic. Then and only then are they permitted to make the turn.

A DC right on red begins with the car barely slowing down overruns the stop line and enters the crosswalk causing the pedestrians to flee in abject terror. Still in motion the motorist only looks left for oncoming traffic. Never right. Seeing a small gap in then guns his engine and is back up to DC cruising speed with barely a pause.

I do not understand all this emphasis on speeding. When cycling, what bothers me about drivers is inattentiveness and being assholes on some occasions when they do see you. I generally don't care how fast they are going if they see me and give me space.

Also, it pains me to admit that I think that a greater percentage of bicyclists behave egregiously (I'm not talking Idaho stops, but rather not yielding the right-of-way at red lights, salmoning, and riding without lights) than do drivers. It may only seem the other way because there are more drivers than cyclists.

@Blue-eyed Devil:

Careful now! Next comes all the testimony detailing how "I almost kill five cyclists every time I drive the four blocks to the grocery store!" And, "A truck carrying nuclear waste *could* swerve to avoid a cyclist and plow into a day care center, killing everyone!"

It's not just jealousy--it's the active fantasy life, frantically justifying the jealousy. It's irrelevant that there's no evidence that bicycles are a menace--but they could be!

They're like snakes on a plane.

Hahah...the furious justifications and hyperbole by the "cyclists can do no wrong crowd" are hilarious, if not sad to watch.

Jeff,

A car (or bike) going through a yellow light is a lawful action. Going through a red is not.

Blue Eyed devil,

"exercising due judgement and care, makes his/her way safely through the intersection undelayed. The fact that the cyclist in such a case doesn't impede or otherwise interfer with the motorist (to the contrary) doesn't matter"

1. I don't know what state you live in, but going through a red is illegal, no ifs and or buts. No noble description "exercising due judgement and care etc" makes on bit of difference, because it is 100% illegal. A car could do the same and you would be foaming at the mouth furious.

2. You obviously didn't read my post above. The delivery truck left 4 feet of dually skid marks to avoid the biker who blew through the red light at T/14th this morning, a good 30 seconds after his light turned red. The fact that he didn't end up as a lumpy corpse on 14th is due not to his "exercising due judgement and care", but because someone else had to do it for him.

Oboe, I can see your furious keyboard pounding, multi-answer to one post indignation from across the google tubes and it makes me sad for you.

No longer yellows aren't the solution, as if you had actually read the post you would have seen the light hadn't been yellow for 30 seconds. If someone (car/ped/biker) can't respond to a 30 second warning, they have no business being on public streets.

Your "The fact that drivers break the law in even greater numbers is superfluous to the argument" response is simply more swinging at windmills by the apparent master.

There are 49 times the number of vehicles on DC streets at any given moment as the number of cyclists hence a greater gross number of offenses in general. I would be willing to look at stats that show on a per rider/driver basis etc, but I doubt you have them.

I saw one biker blow through the clear red light this morning, 30 seconds after it turned red. I've yet to see a car do it today (or this decade).

Any more indignant law breaking justifications today?

Well, this is degraded to the same old thing.

"You cyclists/drivers/peds always claim we don't follow the rules but say that you do"

Fact of the matter is ALL user groups are guilty of not following the rules.

The solution? inforce the rules on EVERYONE. Or we could try to take away peoples freedom to choose to drive, cycle, or walk and just dictate to people how to get around and live their lives. Personally I'm not much for turning the US into a dictatorship.

Here's where being the rider who actually doesn't break the law come into play.

I don't break traffic laws, any of them, because there is no rule under which any road user is empowered to pick and choose which to obey, and which not to. We must obey them all (and I do).

You focus on red light-running as being worse, ignoring the speeding as a "lesser" offense, and really ignoring the traffic studies that show that at any given time on any given road, 70% of drivers are speeding. That does not mean the other 30% do not--in fact, the rate of consistently law-abiding drivers is probably on the order of 5%.

I'll bet you're not one of them. You pick and choose which traffic laws to obey yourself, and then lecture others on their law breaking. I'll just call that two-faced and duplicitous.

@JeffB:

A DC right on red begins with the car barely slowing down overruns the stop line and enters the crosswalk causing the pedestrians to flee in abject terror. Still in motion the motorist only looks left for oncoming traffic. Never right. Seeing a small gap in then guns his engine and is back up to DC cruising speed with barely a pause.

Ah, see but now, that's all irrelevant. As a society--and by that I mean, drivers--we've decided that such behavior is okay, because it doesn't endanger anyone. And by "anyone", of course, I mean "other drivers".

When it comes to the areas roadways, "legal" is of course defined as "those things which do not endanger, or inconvenience in any way, drivers".

Take nookie for instance: he looks at the city's streets, and sees nothing but lawbreaking bicyclists. Of course, anyone with eyes to see knows that everyone breaks the law on the roads in some way. And that the ones breaking the laws in such a way as to endanger others are almost 100% behind the wheel of a car. But to folks like nookie, pointing out that simple fact is a "justification of law-breaking" rather than a rather pedestrian observation of the human condition.

@nookie:

As far as my furious and indignant keyboard-pounding making you "sad", I think you misinterpret logorrhea for anger. I'm not saying it's not sad that I post so frequently, rather than doing something more productive; it is. I should be out riding my bike.

But I'm arguably a less tragic figure than yourself, in that at least I know I'm being ridiculous.

Remember that time you threatened not to take us seriously unless all cyclists everywhere obeyed traffic lights? That was hilarious!

Oh, well. I could be scrapbooking.

I thought you were chairing a panel of Kant, Borges, and Freud. Although I fail to see how a Danish comedian/conductor/pianist is going to help. Or am I thinking of Victor Borge?

@nookie,

1) I never spoke to whether anything was legal or illegal, so (putting aside, for a minute, all discussion of whether mere legality should be the standard of judgment), I fail to see your point.

2) I read your post (which, BTW, seems to grow more apocryphal with your every embellishing response). Nowhere did I state or even suggest that I was speaking of all cyclists; I simply created a scenario (one that is a reality for me every single workday) to illustrate a point.

If you insist on making incendiary replies to the comments of others, please, in the future, read more carefully.

Rule #1: don't kill anyone. Rule #2: don't get killed.
Rule #3: don't feed the trolls.

Everything else is just a guideline.

@Mark Williams "Also, it pains me to admit that I think that a greater percentage of bicyclists behave egregiously ...than do drivers" and I absolutely think it's the other way around. Imagine you could take an instant snapshot of everyone on the road right now. What percentage of each group would be breaking the law?

Most cycling isn't done in intersections and ~half the time it is, the cyclist has the right of way. Bike salmoning really isn't that common and night-riding is rare, with unlit night-riding a subset of that. Even when I was at my worst, I was probably breaking the law no more than 10% of the time. Cyclists simply don't have that many opportunities.

Now think about drivers. Compliance with speed limits on some roads varies from 60% to 1%. Many drivers speed a majority of the time. I would not be stunned to find out that right this very minute 40% of drivers are speeding. And that doesn't even get us to all the other violations. Drivers win on speeding alone.

Driving tonight made me sad. I was on Veirs Mill Rd (6 through lanes, 2 turn lanes) when I came up to a group of pedestrians waiting in the median at a marked un-signalled crosswalk. I began to slow for a stop, but it caused traffic behind me to honk, change lanes and accelerate. In the end I never stopped, since my actions were making the situation more dangerous.

I've had a similar story happen once the flashing yellow signal crosswalk (I stopped there, traffic eventually stopped), and another similar story on Bel Pre Rd, where a driver accelerated over a double yellow and nearly struck the pedestrian I stopped for.

A quick google search gives a2% compliance rate for yielding to peds.

This is my biggest aggravation while driving - It's an actual right-of-way violation to not stop, not just a failure to obey a traffic control device. However, by stopping, I risk the very lives the law was meant to protect.

I mean this as an honest question (I'm a longtime cyclist): Is it legal to impede the flow of traffic by going (for example) 15 mph in a 35? I know that there is no set minimum speed, but are there catchall laws about preventing traffic from moving, and, if so, do they apply to cyclists?

I always assumed that it was illegal, without really thinking about it.

Goro, there is no law against it (in some places there is, but it's waived for bikes and other exceptions)

In Maryland it is illegal to impede traffic whether you are driving or cycling. But there exceptions for those who minimize the extent to which they impede traffic consistent with safety. As a practical matter, it is illegal to unnecessarily impede traffic, and going where you are trying to go on that particular road is a given.

But it was not always that way in Maryland, and there are still states where you must keep to the right even on a narrow lane.

If there are two lanes in your direction, or you take the rightmost lane while the left lane is still available, then you are not impeding traffic. Cars can just use the other lane.

@wc
You didn't read my comment carefully. It's clearly not true that a cyclist should only yield the right of way about 1/2 the time at a red light. At a red light, everyone should yield the right of way! I do not characterize running the red after stopping when no one is around as egregious even though it is obviously illegal.
As a daily cycling commuter, I tend not to see much speeding in urban areas and it, per se, doesn't bother me much. What worries me more are drivers changing lanes without adequately looking and forcing their way through situations where they don't have the right-of-way.
That said, my observation is that a higher percentage of bicyclists refuse to comply with social norms than do automobile drivers. It is obvious, however, that automobile drivers control more kinetic energy and are, therefore, more dangerous.

Mark, half the time you have a green light.

Speeding is a big killer. It may not bother you, but it is a contributing factor in 1/3 of all fatal crashes, so it bothers me. According the FHWA, 70% of drivers speed in urban areas.

If drivers comply with social norms more, it is only because we've accepted speeding and talking on the phone while driving as normal. You don't care about speeding, and I don't care about social norms. I care about safety, and cyclists are safer than drivers. That's all that matters to me.

@washcycle:

Are you *still* justifying law-breaking by cyclists?!? You're relentless!

:)

That said, my observation is that a higher percentage of bicyclists refuse to comply with social norms than do automobile drivers.

And that is the essence of the myth of the scofflaw cyclist. Cycling is not a social norm, driving is. The very act of stepping astride a bicycle is non-conformist.

Exactly.

"Driving" *is* normative behavior. Whether it's recklessly speeding around residential streets, or running down pedestrians in a crosswalk.

@wc: When you are at a red light, it is not true that 1/2 the time it is green. I have no idea what that 70% of urban drivers speed comes from, but I can assure you that I have no problems keeping up with traffic (and passing it) on my commute down Clarendon and on M and L streets in the District during rush hour. I see very little speeding at rush hour, mostly parked cars.

In terms of social norms, I mean the implicit deal that everyone, drivers and bicyclists, make to assure traffic safety. I do not accept speeding, distracted driving, neglectful driving, not yielding the right of way when you have a red light in your face, forcing your way through when you do not have the right of way, not signaling when possible, riding the wrong way, and not being appropriately illuminated as being compliant with this social norm.

If you say that cyclists don't have as much kinetic energy, I agree that they are safer. It is my opinion, however, that cyclists break the social norms of traffic safety more often on a per capita basis than do drivers.
I certainly would not say that all drivers or all cyclists are scofflaws. Nor am I in the camp that cyclists can do no wrong.
The us vs. them attitude is unhelpful and, in the end, we are likely to lose as there are a lot more drivers than cyclists.

@Contrarian: I believe that this is the very point (i.e. the emphasis on the importance traffic norms to overall safety) that would lead to bicycle friendly communities in the report by the Ohio Bicycling Federation that you posted.

This is the Parable of the Three Blind Men and the Elephant all over again:

"I commute through Clarendon, across the Key Bridge, through Georgetown on M Street during rush hour, and see very little speeding!"

Granted, if you were to commute through Cheverly, MD, onto East Capitol Street, then through C Street NE or Constitution, and downtown, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single auto going at or below the posted speed limit.

Almost everyone behind the wheel of a car *does* speed if it's physically possible, but in those situations where it's physically impossible, drivers don't speed. Heck, if we were to include the unoccupied parked cars the percentage of cars not speeding would be even greater.

Just to reiterate, pointing out that drivers break the law universally--just different laws--is not intended to be an "us vs them attitude". That's a straw-man. It's the furthest thing from the argument we're making.

The argument is purely "us": humans break laws. Pointing the finger at cyclists (as you've done here) and saying "cyclists break laws 1,2, and 3 X% of the time, which is more than cars, which only break laws 4, 5, and 6 Y% of the time is the truly divisive argument.

At this point it's just ridiculous that folks make an argument (i.e. "cyclists are scofflaws"), which is then rebutted easily, at which point the argument becomes "Stop rebutting my argument! You're being divisive!"

What's your solution? To agree to faulty logic and handwaving in the interest of being "helpful" and winning over the legion of drivers with axes to grind on The Internet? No thanks.

Part of the solution is to educate drivers regarding the presence of cyclists and their, rights and responsibilities of cyclists. Drivers need to know what to expect from cyclists. Part of this is to explain to drivers why cyclists engage in reasonable behavior (even if it is illegal). That being said, by putting oneself in the cyclist-is-always-right camp and defending unreasonable behavior by bicyclists seems counterproductive.

Furthermore, I don't assume that the majority of drivers have an axe to grind. Sure, there are assholes in every group of people. If we get into these pissing matches, I think we will lose.

As far as comparing bicyclist and driver behavior, my statement was just an observation, not an argument. If I were to say that taxi drivers are worse (which seems true) than other drivers, am I anti-taxi? I think not.

Mark, When you are at a red light, it is not true that 1/2 the time it is green.

That's true. It's also irrelavant since I never said otherwise, what I said was "Most cycling isn't done in intersections and ~half the time it is, the cyclist has the right of way." In other words, even if a cyclist ignores traffic lights, roughly half the time they'll have the green.

I have no idea what that 70% of urban drivers speed comes from It comes from here.

Driver compliance with speed limits is poor. On average, 7 out of 10 motorists exceeded the posted speed in urban areas. Compliance ranged from 3 to 99 percent. Compliance tended to be worse on low-speed roads, better on roads with prima facie limits, or where the speed limit was based on an engineering study. Better does not mean good compliance; less than 10 percent on [sic] the sites had more than 50-percent obedience with the posted speed

I see very little speeding at rush hour, mostly parked cars.

In light of the above study are you willing to concede that your experience is abnormal, or that rush hour is perhaps the wrong time to evaluate driver compliance with speed limit?

It is my opinion, however, that cyclists break the social norms of traffic safety more often on a per capita basis than do drivers.

Considering that most drivers are speeding 90% of the time, I find this hard to believe. And that really is the tip of the iceberg. Before you say "I'm talking about social norms, not the law" let me ask what better measure of "social norms" is there than the law? Isn't the law just an attempt to codify social norms?

Also, when I said cyclists are safer than drivers, my point has nothing to do with size. My point is that cyclists are far less likely to crash into things or people than drivers are.

Compliance tended to be worse on low-speed roads, better on roads with prima facie limits, or where the speed limit was based on an engineering study.

And it bears repeating here that a road where the speed limit was "based on an engineering study" is pretty much a road where the needs of cyclists and pedestrians have been ignored.

It's the maximum safe speed a driver can operate his vehicle in the absence of anything but auto traffic.

Thanks for the cite. I'm not sure it makes the argument that you want it to. It seems to be the National Motorists Association's position in the pissing match against insurance companies arguing that speed limits are set to low. It said accident rates go up not when the speed limit is exceeded, but rather when speeds are significantly above or below the average speed. It concludes that because the average speed constitutes speeding, the speed limits should be raised.
Outside of the district, I am often on relatively open roads during my commute: Washington Blvd, Fairfax Drive and Clarendon. I tend not to notice many speeders, or perhaps because they give me sufficient room, it just doesn't register that they are speeding.

I don't want to be a defender of speeding, but I do find it ironic that the response to nookie is to rip him a new one (and deservedly so)and then in the same discussion state "that most drivers are speeding 90% of the time" without expecting the same treatment. Might it be possible that you are both wrong?

@wc: You state: "let me ask what better measure of "social norms" is there than the law? Isn't the law just an attempt to codify social norms?" Also, you correctly discuss legitimate reasons why a cyclist would and even should not follow the letter of the law in the "myth of the scofflaw cyclist." How ironic.

@oboe
An engineering study should set a maximum safe speed a driver can operate his vehicle absent ANY conditions. These conditions include traffic, including cyclists, weather, children, etc. I guess the forty years I have spent biking has yet to develop in me the sense that the world is out to get me.

Jim T., your distinction may be a little subtle. You're not "unnecesarily impeding" traffic if you're using the road with your bicycle. You might be "unnecessarily impeding" if you were weaving, stopping in the middle of the road, etc. But at that point, I suspect the proper charge woudl be reckless cycling, not impeding.

The distinction is that the presence of other vehicles behind you is really irrelevant for the offense.

Mark, I'm not sure it makes the argument that you want it to.

It does. I was contradicting your claim that cyclists ignore social norms more than drivers do. I claimed that the law is a pretty good measure of social norms and drivers routinely ignore it in numbers that are impossible to exceed. As you don't discuss this point, I'll assume you concede it. And I accept your gracious concession.

The other points of the study are entirely irrelevant to this discussion.

I don't see why ripping nookie a new one (which I didn't do. I don't engage nookie as he's a liar) and pointing to a fact about drivers is ironic. Nookie has no facts. I do. Is that Alanis Morrisette ironic?

I also don't see what is ironic about saying that 1) laws represent social norms and 2) cyclists break laws. [And where do I say cyclists should break the law, not saying it hasn't happened, it's just hard to defend without the specific situation. In tmofsc I specifically say "I'm not saying that cyclists should break the law. Nor am I saying they shouldn't." I did call for the law to be changed, but that is in keeping with social norms]. The conclusion, via the transitive property, is that cyclists break social norms. Is that ironic? I don't think so. It's true. [Does ironic mean true now? It's hard to keep up.] But no more so than drivers - and probably less. A point you already conceded.

I find the study to be a strange reference in this context because the study says that driving at the speed that drivers consider appropriate is the social norm and that the law should be changed (i.e. the speed limits raised) to accommodate that. Furthermore, the study alleges that this will not harm safety. This is the same argument that you make in the myth of the scofflaw cyclist.
Note that I have not taken any position on the validity of the study. Furthermore, I don't want to be in the position of defending drivers. I don't want to defend speeding, and all I have said is that it does not bother me as long as drivers give me space. After all, I don't want to be in the position akin to many of my fellow cyclists tsk-tsking bikers on the W&OD who are giving people wide berth while passing perfectly safely for going "too" fast.

I guess I would say that law aspires to define the social norm, but given many people's apparent ignorance or disregard of it, I don't think it reflects the social norm.

As to my observation as to who, on average, engages in more egregious traffic behavior, I'll take it back. Doing so would require that we agree as to what constitutes egregious behavior. Furthermore, it is ultimately irrelevant. The only thing that it will determine is which group, drivers and cyclists, will look worse in the eyes of the other. I think that the solution must be education as to each parties' perspectives and punishment of negligent and/or purposeful dangerous behavior. Unfortunately, I don't think that society agrees as to what constitutes this behavior. Furthermore, I don't think pissing matches between cyclists and drivers will get us any closer because I don't think bad will constitutes the majority opinion of either groups.

I said:

And it bears repeating here that a road where the speed limit was "based on an engineering study" is pretty much a road where the needs of cyclists and pedestrians have been ignored.

And Mark Williams said:

An engineering study should set a maximum safe speed a driver can operate his vehicle absent ANY conditions. These conditions include traffic, including cyclists, weather, children, etc.

Maybe I'm being dense here, but it sounds like we're saying the same thing...

If so, I admire your candor: so the point of using engineering studies to set speed limits is to allow drivers to drive as fast as their vehicles will allow them, absent any other condition or road user. It's the responsibility of everyone else to GTF out of their way. The strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.

I can appreciate this is an honestly held opinion, but it's certainly a marginal, fringe one.

No. What you previously stated was that engineering study finds "the maximum safe speed a driver can operate his vehicle in the absence of anything but auto traffic." Such a study shouldn't make a distinction between auto traffic, cyclists or pedestrians. Speed limits should reflect the maximum safe speed under "normal" conditions. If conditions are altered (i.e. bad weather, auto traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians) then the driver should reduce speed to account for these conditions. Does anyone remember driver's ed or is it even taught anymore?

@Mark Williams,

Sure, but you hide a lot in that little word "normal". Ever see one of those BMW commercials where the high-performance vehicle is railing around curves, and all the while, a little disclaimer at the bottom says, "Closed course. Professional driver. Do not attempt."

You seem to be arguing that the potential presence of other legitimate road users is a deviation from "normal" conditions. To my mind, that's incorrect.

The dynamic we often see is this: speed limit is posted which is "just right" for optimal conditions. So auto traffic drives at that speed. If cyclists can't "keep up" then they deserve whatever they get.

The case of pedestrians is even worse. You see this in the unsignaled, at-grade crosswalks on the George Washington Parkway: the speed limit is, what, 35? But of course, that's artificially low, because auto traffic can safely maintain 45, 50, 60 mph under "normal" conditions. So no pedestrians can ever safely cross the damned road.

Of course, in "driver's ed" Land, drivers would reduce speed to compensate for "altered conditions" (i.e. the presence of pedestrians). But somehow that never seems to happen, does it. In fact, you get hordes of folks excusing their failure to yield to peds because "it's just too dangerous."

A city's congested streets are shared space. They should be apportioned like an airport terminal. Speed limits on non-separated highways in the city should be set at 20 mph. Then if you hit someone with a car, and you're going any faster than that, it's your fault.

Hell, at that point, we could get rid of 90% of the traffic control devices. We'd be a Hell of a lot safer, and my bet is that people would get where they're going (by foot, bicycle, *and* car) just as fast if not faster.

One last thing:

What you previously stated was that engineering study finds "the maximum safe speed a driver can operate his vehicle in the absence of anything but auto traffic." Such a study shouldn't make a distinction between auto traffic, cyclists or pedestrians. Speed limits should reflect the maximum safe speed under "normal" conditions. If conditions are altered (i.e. bad weather, auto traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians) then the driver should reduce speed to account for these conditions

Is it just me or do these statements, taken together, fail to cohere? The engineered speed doesn't distinguish between modes; it determines a safe speed for *all* modes under "normal conditions". Except that the presence of cyclists and pedestrians represents "altered conditions" which drivers must then account for.

I'm not sure I follow.

I think that engineering studies just look at site lines assuming normal stuff like parked cars, foliage, curves in the road, clear weather and things like that.

The presence of cyclists, pedestrians, AUTO TRAFFIC, dead animals, bad weather, etc. must be taken into account when choosing at what speed one should drive. (I don't know whether studies really talk about safe speeds for all modes since this would require different assumption on different vehicle's braking and turning abilities, although I do note that there are sometimes different speed limits for trucks than autos.)

It at least used to be possible to be ticketed for driving too fast for conditions but still be not over the speed limit.

I don't see how a speed limit gives any obligation for cyclists or slow drivers to speed up. If drivers get on your ass and harass you, they should be cited for tailgating. On the other hand, when cycling (or driving) in this situation, I will always facilitate them to safely pass as quickly as practicable, often for my own safety.

I think the problem is not too many traffic control devices, but rather using the speed limit as a catch-all device rather than emphasizing specific area of risk. The GW parkway is a perfect example. It is signed 40 mph from Alexandria to 495 in the north. The part north of Roosevelt Island is basically a freeway with a substandard shoulder. There is no cross traffic at all. If the speed limit were raised on that part alone, people might realize that speed limit signs mean something and drive slower on the part between the airport and Roosevelt Island. I agree that the lack of signalized crosswalks on the Parkway are a problem. The solution seems to be to put signals up, which will emphasize to drivers where pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be.

On city streets, you state that speed limits should be 20 on non-segregated streets and if you hit someone going faster its your fault. I think that is pretty much the status quo, except the limit is 25. I would suggest that on wide, multi-lane streets, even if not segregated, the limit could be raised if there are few entrances and exits and many intersections have lights. I don't particularly have a problem with a rule that says that if you are going too fast and there is an accident than you are at fault. I would prefer, however, more enforcement of failing to yield right-of-way as most adverse driver-cyclist and driver-driver interactions that I have seen generally don't involve violations of the speed limit. Unfortunately many drivers and cyclists think that they always have the right-of-way given their exulted status as residents of this area (if they are actually paying attention), and that attitude is the biggest danger.

On city streets, you state that speed limits should be 20 on non-segregated streets and if you hit someone going faster its your fault. I think that is pretty much the status quo, except the limit is 25.

You think the status quo is that the speed limit is 25, and that if you're going over that speed, you're at fault?

Seriously?

And if the speed limit were raised to, say, 65 north of Roosevelt Island, you think that "people might realize that speed limit signs mean something and drive slower on the part between the airport and Roosevelt Island"?

All I can say is your optimism is to be commended.

In any case, I think the problem lies here: "I don't see how a speed limit gives any obligation for cyclists or slow drivers to speed up." It's clear you don't see it, but in the vast majority of cases, drivers drive at 5-15 mph above the posted speed limit.

So *raising* the already excessive speed limit, then hoping that drivers will "come to Jesus" and drive sensibly delves into the realm of pure fantasy.

The solution seems to be to put signals up, which will emphasize to drivers where pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be.

We *do* put signals up: there are pedestrian crossing signs at all at-grade crosswalks here. They're universally ignored by drivers...while traffic speeds by at 20 mph over the posted limit.

Sorry, I meant that that was the legal status quo rather than current enforcement practice.

Regarding cycling speed, I tend to ride the same speed regardless of the speed of drivers around me. I wouldn't respond at all if drivers sped up. I only care if the give me space and I find this to be uncorrelated with their speed.

I have not advocated raising an excessive speed limit, unless, of course, you view that a 40 mph limit on the parkway north of Roosevelt Island is excessive. (And I would not raise it to 65, because, as I stated, it is a substandard freeway.)

If the signals that are up don't work, put up more effective ones. Put down rumble strips. Put up traffic lights. Enforce the speed limit.

I don't see why you think the answer is lower speed limits when no one obeys the current ones.

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