Comment 26361

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 13, 2008 at 14:11:50

Frank, I find it interesting that you think cyclists should take the entire lane all of the time. If only this were possible. You are the only motorist I've ever heard utter this request - I fully support your vision, but fear as a cyclist that I will be physically run off the road and possibly abused for practising something like that.

I have to reiterate kevlahan's point about what I call the "cyclist's lane double standard":

When a cyclist approaches a red light or a stop sign, motorists tend to speed past the bicycle and muscle into position in front of them, only to stop at said intersection. In the motorist's mind, the bicycle does not "own" the lane. If the cyclist was taking the entire lane, the motorist would be angry that he was hogging the road. In this situation the driver has no trouble "sharing" the lane with the bicycle.

Now, the situation has become a line of stopped cars who just passed a bicycle. Once the cars have stopped moving, all of a sudden they believe that the cyclist owns the lane and should stay in said lane, lining up behind the cars. They no longer want to share this lane! Meanwhile, if they had thought that way all along, they'd be in line behind the bike anyway since they would not have passed the bike. This is a serious double standard. It reminds me of a small child who approaches you and says they want to "share", but what they mean is that they want some of what you have. If motorists are happy "sharing" the road by taking it from cyclists, they have to accept it from the other direction as well.

One of the main reasons I believe in bike lanes is that they allow fair treatment of cyclists in these "line up" situations.

But bike lanes cause other horrible problems that need to be considered: a bike lane at an intersection can be a death trap. Putting a bike lane to the right of traffic is akin to putting a "straight through" lane to the right of a "right turn" lane. We would NEVER do that. But on many streets this is exactly how bike lanes are installed.

The real key is that a mutual respect must be reached between riders and drivers. And the best way to do this is to get more cyclists on the road so that there is a better balance between the users.

Regarding the "law off", I am open to it because I ride safely and within the law. I break some rules, but generally break fewer than most drivers. However my point was more general: there are different levels of 'law-abiding-ness' in both cyclists and motorists, and it's not fair for any of us to paint all users with the same broad brush.

That being said (and this is the important part), the reality remains: car drivers have an extra responsibility because they are operating machines that can very easily maim or kill human beings through even a minor bout of inattentiveness (or 'law breaking-ness') of the operator.

A side note about the physics discussion... there's a lot more to it than just the pinpoint of force. And I think empirical evidence is enough proof that we don't have to do all of the math. Cars routinely kill people, bicycles rarely do.

And my opinion is that calculating by passenger mile is less accurate than by time spent at the activity in terms of real world safety. Someone may spend their entire life on a bus, travelling countless thousands of miles, so by passenger mile they are astronomically safer than someone who spends their entire life walking back and forth to the store simply because of the math. When it comes down to it, the amount of time you spend doing an activity is more important than how much ground you cover. Distance is arbitrary - by that argument, skydiving is a safer way to travel than climbing a ladder, cause you cover WAY more distance jumping out of planes! Just some thoughts...

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