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Old 02-28-2013, 02:35 PM   #41
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I read an interesting snippet about risk from a Jared Diamond essay. When he was doing fieldwork in the New Guinea highlands, he was out with a hunting party when nightfall was approaching. They had some tents that could be strung from two trees, and he proposed setting camp under a large dead tree. The tribal woodsmen refused, saying that they never stayed under dead trees, or even dead branches, as it was too dangerous. Diamond argued that the risk was very small, and the tribesmen replied that it may be small each time you do it, but we are out many times, and overall the risk is large. As there were no other suspension points around, they slept cold, under the sky.


An interesting way to think, and I believe more reasonable than our "educated" way of looking at risks of frequent events, where we tend to downplay them probably because trying to give full weight to them is unhandy, or it would interfere with other goals that we may have, or just because we have done the risky act many times and nothing bad has happened (so far).

Ha
Frequency is taken into account in the workplace when doing safety calculations on the probability of something bad happening, and public reporting of all near misses and accidents is used to show employees how easy it is to get hurt by "small" errors. But once one leaves the workplace we have a tendency to forget our education and fall back into bad habits.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:42 PM   #42
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I don't agree with this on a highway like 101 for 2 reasons -

1 - Bikes don't pay for the highways. At least in Minnesota highways are paid for by gas taxes. No general funds or property taxes (paid for by bicycle owners) go toward paying for a "right" to use the road.

2 - In Minnesota there are minimum speeds to travel on highways for any vehicle because driving slow (under 45 mph) is a hazard to others. Same thing should apply to a bike.
Disagree all you want. The Minnesota legislature believes otherwise

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Minnesota Statutes Sec. 169.222 OPERATION OF BICYCLE.

Subdivision 1.Traffic laws apply.

Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this chapter, except in respect to those provisions in this chapter relating expressly to bicycles and in respect to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature cannot reasonably be applied to bicycles.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:56 PM   #43
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Disagree all you want. The Minnesota legislature believes otherwise
I don't think anyone is arguing the legality, they are pointing out that it isn't safe. I don't believe it to be illegal to juggle chainsaws on my property, or put my retirement portfolio in a single 'hot stock', but it would be unwise for me to do so.

Based on some of the laws that our legislatures come up with, I sure would not use them as a model to guide my life, but only to keep out of a courtroom.

At any rate, bringing up 'legality' and cyclists is a bit ironic. IME, the vast majority of times, cyclists show no respect for the laws that apply to them. I don't see them stop for red lights or stop signs unless forced by traffic. They weave in/out of traffic. Signal? Rarely. I heard this discussed regarding red-light cameras in Chicago - what happens when a cyclist runs a red-light? Nothing - no plate, so no ID, so no ticket. And they know it. If they want the law to apply to them, then ALL the laws should apply to them.


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This probably sounds silly, but no matter how right one feels about using the road, one has to go with the laws of physics. No matter how alert and protected (helmets, etc), no way can a bike rider take on a car.
This was part of my point. Bikes travelling below prevailing speed limits mingled with cars in near proximity is a recipe for disaster.

A cyclist might feel it is their 'right' to cycle on that road, but as an old driver safety PSA said, "He was right, dead right". Which brings us back to the OP, and the sad fact is that cyclist is dead.

The risk of a 4% vs 3.5% WR, or a 75/25 AA vs 50/50, or taking SS early/late pale in comparison to this kind of risk.


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Old 03-01-2013, 05:23 AM   #44
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At any rate, bringing up 'legality' and cyclists is a bit ironic. IME, the vast majority of times, cyclists show no respect for the laws that apply to them. I don't see them stop for red lights or stop signs unless forced by traffic. They weave in/out of traffic. Signal? Rarely. I heard this discussed regarding red-light cameras in Chicago - what happens when a cyclist runs a red-light? Nothing - no plate, so no ID, so no ticket. And they know it. If they want the law to apply to them, then ALL the laws should apply to them.
I'm sure this will prove a valid defense when you are sued for injuring a cyclist because you refused to slow down until you could safely pass.


As the cited Minnesota law makes clear, the traffic laws do apply to cyclists. The fact that some of them break the law does not excuse your breaking the law. This is one of the concepts our mothers taught us when we were knee high to a grasshopper.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:25 AM   #45
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At any rate, bringing up 'legality' and cyclists is a bit ironic. IME, the vast majority of times, cyclists show no respect for the laws that apply to them. I don't see them stop for red lights or stop signs unless forced by traffic. They weave in/out of traffic. Signal? Rarely. I heard this discussed regarding red-light cameras in Chicago - what happens when a cyclist runs a red-light? Nothing - no plate, so no ID, so no ticket. And they know it. If they want the law to apply to them, then ALL the laws should apply to them.
I'm sure this will prove a valid defense when you are sued for injuring a cyclist because you refused to slow down until you could safely pass.


As the cited Minnesota law makes clear, the traffic laws do apply to cyclists. The fact that some of them break the law does not excuse your breaking the law. This is one of the concepts our mothers taught us when we were knee high to a grasshopper.
What prompted this response? I said it was ironic - I didn't say it was a defense, or a justification, or an excuse. My Mother also taught me not to do something just because others do it, or just because it doesn't break a law. She taught me to use my best judgement.

I don't plan on breaking the law. But when giving a cyclist that legal three feet, they can, and do, often drift in and out and may come closer just as I'm trying to pass them, and I may not have time/space to respond. It seems to me that cyclist has as much legal responsibility to provide that three feet of space from normal traffic as the car driver does to provide that space to the cyclist. And it's tough to know if they see me or not. It just does not seem prudent to effectively say "I'm gonna cycle here, and it's up to you to get out of my way". And that is essentially what T-Al said in his post -

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It's hard to describe how it feels to be riding in these locations and having a truck passing you at 65 MPH. Some trucks will move into the center lane, but most do not.
When I read that, my jaw dropped. I thought 'What the heck are you doing cycling on a shoulder where trucks are whizzing by at 65 mph! Get off the road T-AL! We want to see your next Christmas Video!' IMO, that is just crazy.

It is dangerous and often illegal for a car to move slower than prevailing traffic. IMO, it's crazy to have relatively unprotected cyclists in close proximity to larger vehicles, especially when those cyclists can't keep up with prevailing traffic.

I should add - I think sending the letter was the right thing to do, and an admirable thing to do, and it was well written. But w/o a real bike lane, I think cyclists should simply refrain.

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Old 03-02-2013, 11:29 AM   #46
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ERD50, you seem to presume that the cyclists are the ones getting in your way. But if both vehicles have equal claim to the road, maybe it's you who's getting in their way.

If you're driving a vehicle that's too large to safely operate on a road with mixed traffic perhaps you're the one creating the danger on the road, not the other way around. In other words, if you can't safely drive on a road that does not have bike lines, but where bikes are travelling none the less, then perhaps you should refrain from driving on it? Why is the burden on cyclists to accommodate you instead of the other way around, is it just because they're in a minority?

I'm betting you don't drive a Smart car or a Mini.
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Old 03-02-2013, 01:47 PM   #47
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ERD50, you seem to presume that the cyclists are the ones getting in your way. But if both vehicles have equal claim to the road, maybe it's you who's getting in their way.

If you're driving a vehicle that's too large to safely operate on a road with mixed traffic perhaps you're the one creating the danger on the road, not the other way around. In other words, if you can't safely drive on a road that does not have bike lines, but where bikes are travelling none the less, then perhaps you should refrain from driving on it? Why is the burden on cyclists to accommodate you instead of the other way around, is it just because they're in a minority?

I'm betting you don't drive a Smart car or a Mini.
My primary concern is safety. If I have to make a choice between saving my life, and breaking a traffic law, I will save my life. The legal issues are a distant second for me.

In fact, I have. I was sitting at a red light, and saw a car coming behind me way too fast. I got on the horn, looked both ways and decided to floor it and get out of his way, and swerved back/forth to try to get his attention. He did slam his brakes then and ended up half-way in the intersection. Should I have 'stood my ground' and sat there since it was my 'right' to do so, it was 'my space'? And risk injury to me, my family and my car? Who cares about laws over their families life?

The legal status of "equal claim" is nice on paper (see my earlier "dead right" comment), but as others have pointed out, they don't trump the laws of physics. And since the cyclist is usually not able to keep up with traffic, then yes, they are the ones 'getting in the way', if they can't move far enough off the road for safe passage of the cars. Don't you feel that way in a store when a couple people are stopped, blocking the lane with their shopping carts and yacking? Hey, they have a 'right' to be there, they are in the store shopping - but it's rude, no?

I guess I'm just amazed that anyone is arguing about who the 'burden' is on. Isn't safety the primary concern? If a road does not have a dedicated bike lane, then I'd say that road is designed primarily for car/truck traffic. So yes, I think the 'burden' is on the cyclist. W/O a bike lane, they should accommodate others. If there is a bike lane, I'm certainly not going to invade that space with my car, or body.

And the reality is, whether right or wrong about that road being primarily for car/truck traffic, most drivers are going to act that way. The cyclists who wants to 'stand their ground' is taking a big risk. I can't imagine why they would want to take that risk.

I drive a compact car (Volvo S-40). Not sure what that has to do with it? A bicycle is no match for even the smallest car.


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If memory serves well I recall that Anchorage, Alaska built a paved system throughout the city about 10-12+ ft wide for runners, cyclists, etc. that never crosses car traffic but rather goes underneath the intersections through large culverts. Too bad more cities where possible don't adopt that plan.
I'm curious why you think more cities should do this? It seems like a large expense - what's the gain? Most cities can't give up the space for bike lanes, it would be a huge expense to create more space. Bike and walking paths in parks are nice, that space is already there for enjoyment, exercise, etc.

If you think it is an environmental issue, that's very questionable. Very few cities are going to have enough cyclists year-round to be able to remove any existing car lanes. So all the space and paving and maintenance of bike lanes would be in addition to the car lanes, and additional environmental impact. That's a lot of asphalt. And there are some studies that show the carbon content of the food needed to power that cycle can be greater than the carbon content of the fuel to power a car the same distance, esp when car-pooling. Yes, those studies have lots of variables, but surely it is an offsetting factor.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:25 PM   #48
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And there are some studies that show the carbon content of the food needed to power that cycle can be greater than the carbon content of the fuel to power a car the same distance, esp when car-pooling. Yes, those studies have lots of variables, but surely it is an offsetting factor.
-ERD50
There is an element of warfare that goes into all these discussions. Bicyclists are for the most part aware that many drivers think they are a PITA, and they are aware that if they fight for what they see as their rights they are likely to get at least some of them. It's how social change always happens. Now some may pay a price, as do the protesters who get shot or beaten with cop batons. But at least when you are surrounded by your confreres at the Cascade Cycle Club it can seem like a good idea. I used to live in scenic area that drew many cyclists on weekends, and I had a good road bike, but I eventually decided to park it. It was too easy to get killed in a car out there, let alone on a bike.

About your mention of additional food energy needed to bike, I have noticed a strong and immediate influence of my daily activity level on the amount of food that I want. I am not sure of the carbon budget, but I know for most trips, and the kind of food that I eat, gasoline for a car would be cheaper than the additional food needed to go by human power. That's true for walking; I don't bike around cars.

How many cyclists does a cyclist know who has not had some bad spills, perhaps a meetup with a suddenly opened car door, a very close call in an intersection?

Ha
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