Two Wheels Bad


Facilitator and vehicularist alike are terrrified by digitized walkie-talkies.

Slate's Christopher Beam shines his helmet-light on the question of bicyclists, motorists and traffic laws. 

Today's cycling activists generally split into two groups: "vehicularists" and "facilitators." Proponents of "vehicular cycling" believe bikes should act as cars: occupy full lanes, stop at red lights, use a hand signal at least 100 feet ahead of a turn. That's the best way to make cars—and policymakers—aware of bicycles and to respect them as equals on the road. When it comes to making roads safe for bikes, vehicularists tend to favor training, education (most cities offer bike safety classes), and enforcement. Cyclists should not grouse about moving violations, the vehicularists argue. It is a sign that they're being treated as equals.

Facilitators, meanwhile, say we should change the laws and the environment to recognize the innate differences between bikes and cars. That means special facilities like bike lanes, bike paths (elevated trails separate from the road), and even Copenhagen-style traffic lights for bikes. It would also mean changing car-centric laws that don't make sense for bikes, like the rule that says you need to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

If I had to pick one of these designations I guess I'd be a vehicularist. Bicyclists who lobby for bike lanes are cattle asking for a taller fence. But I don't think it's a smart move be a pure play of either type. I used to participate in Critical Mass not only for a chance to say "Up Yours, Baby" to The Man but for its forcible reminder that bikes are different from cars, and that as much as you don't want to hit another car you triply don't want to hit a bike (and some part of every driver's heart says "Floor it" whenever he or she sees a bike). In L.A., which has some of the most rambunctious driving in the United States, following a strictly vehicularist routine—for example, not using the sidewalk to get away from hostile traffic—would be suicidal.

But the article is about that very ambiguity, and is worth a read.


NEXT: The Theology of Michael Jackson

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  1. I’ve got to agree with you here. Our city has started to implement bike lanes on major roads throughout the city. I just don’t think it’s an effective solution.

    I think we should focus more on sharing the road with bicyclists.

    1. Nice pictures on your blog Jenna!

      1. if the posts on her blog are your benchmark… then, yes, the pictures are nice.

  2. using the sidewalk to get away from hostile traffic

    I nearly ran over an adult doing just that. Didn’t expect him to be there, since it’s illegal and stupid. And yes, he yelled at me.

    1. (I was turning into a driveway. I almost never drive on the sidewalk.)

    2. As a cyclist, I prefer to bike on the road — when I can. But let me tell you, taking a “vehicularist” strategy during rush hour in the D.C. metro is a one-way road to disaster. So, during those times, I’ll bike on the sidewalk, rather than have cranky motorists intimidate me off the road by honking, driving dangerously close to me — even purposefully bumping me with their cars. Any cyclist riding on the sidewalk, however, should take care and pay attention to turning motorists.

      1. You bike in the D.C. Metro??!!!

      2. I used to be a messenger in DC and this is exactly how motorists treat cyclists there. When people ask me about cycling here in NYC I tell them that DC was worse.

    3. in Los Angeles it is perfectly legal to ridea bike on the sidewalk as long as you don’t willfully endanger pedestrians.

      1. Do they shoot at you less on a bike than in a car?

        Off topic (maybe): there was a ride-by shooting in DC or MD recently.

  3. I think you nailed it, TC. Different philosophies would work better at different places, probably even inside the same city.

    1. I hat it when I am walking and some person on a bike is going the wrong way in the bike lane. They always have to be right there where i am crossing! I never see them going the wrong way any other times either and I do notice bikes other times.

      OT: Check the AA ad on the back of the print edition of The Onion. I am not sure if I like “disco pants” coming back.

      Did Reason miss the real racism story this week or did I miss them cover it?

      1. I thought this was the official racism story this weekend. I guess it is now “officially” racist to call Obama or any other politician of color a socialist or communist.

        1. politician of color

          Or news anchor or Administration official or entertainer “of color” for that matter. Anyone notice that these prominent people “of color” are almost always light-skinned? There’s an unspoken racist pecking order in the world “of color.” Light is better, smarter, more beautiful. Naturally kinky hair is forbidden, low-class, ignorant. And yet tribalists with less than a quarter of African ancestry continue to call themselves “black.” Stupid white crackers can’t hold a candle to these professional racists.

          1. That homecoming queen that Suki noticed is beige. That color does not seem to count.

            1. Everyone is some shade of beige. And at least 2 of those 3 “black” women in the picture appear to be roughly half white (or “light beige” if you prefer to be accurate).

        2. The official racism story is denying an interracial couple to marry.

        3. Hmmm, so according to Dr. Lee, the terms “socialist” and “communist” are inherently racist because some prominent blacks of the past, including some now revered civil rights activists, actually were socialists, communists, or strongly sympathized with those ideologies?

          That is a textbook case of a logical fallacy: “MLK is black, and Obama is black. Some racists called MLK socialist, therefore any person calling Obama socialist is racist.” Don’t social science professors have to take some courses on logic?

          Incidentally, MLK was a socialist, and said “something is wrong with capitalism … There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” Also, Malcolm X was a socialist, Nelson Mandela was a closet communist, and W.E.B. Dubois was a card-carrying communist.

        4. ss,

          Weren’t all of those people C.J. Lee is apologizing for like real Communists?

      2. “What message are you sending by picking her?” McCoy said. “There are different reasons I think people decide to attend [historically black colleges and universities]. They know who goes here. They thought that was the playing field.”


        1. Is that playing field on a plantation or something?

          1. It’s not polite to ask.

            1. I’m not sure what you’re objecting to. Black people can’t be racists.

              :::mutters something about Asians excelling at everything.

              1. There’s nothing racist about blaming other racial types for your own failures in life, either.

              2. They don’t excell at space exploration except in the movies and television shows.

                1. Ouch. I’m waiting for a pissed-off Asian astronaut to berate you for saying this.

                  1. I think I will be getting it as soon as my Asian Chemist house guest and her boyfriend come up for air.

                    1. Just for kicks, type “black people are” into your google search box and marvel at the suggested topics. Yes, Google is racist.

                  2. Art, yes I saw John’s awful comment.

  4. The constant near-death experiences is the only part about riding a bike that I don’t like.

    1. What about the dorky helmets?

      1. Well, you could probably wear a Motocross helmet or something. Those are pretty cool.

        1. An Astronaut helmet would produce an interesting effect.

          1. Not too long ago, it was assumed that an adult riding a bike with a helmet on (his head, not the bike) was probably retarded.

            I still think that. Then again, I’m tactless.

            1. I didn’t think Astronauts were retarded until I met one. Guess we can agree there.

            2. And you’re the same guy bitching about them riding on the sidewalk? So what you’re saying is, they should ride on the street with cars, without and head protection.

              In other words, you just want them dead.

              1. BP,

                It’s the final solution.

          2. Very true.

      2. “Let those who ride, decide”.

      3. When I was flying over my handlebars after getting hit on my bike, my only thought was how I had mocked a pro-helmet advocate just days before.

        I still think it should be up to the rider to decide, but that accident sure changed my decision (and that of my children).

        1. I have a nice road mark on my bike helmet that I refer to whenever anyone says something about not wearing a helmet while biking. I used to feel a little dumb for wearing a helmet, but i don’t feel that way anymore. as to the retard comment above, that’s what you become when you crash without a helmet.

          1. You dumbass, you’re supposed to buy a new helmet when they get “used”. You can’t trust a cracked out helmet to continue to provide optimal head protection.

      4. Don’t wear them. Been riding a bike for over three decades now, and never had occasion to need the helmet. Finally decided a year ago, fuck it, it’s too hot with that puppy on, and ditched it.

        Much more pleasant riding without a helmet.

        1. I’ve been riding about as long and “only” had to replace my helmet once.

          But if that one time comes for you, replacing your skull might not be an option.

          Please consider wearing a helmet again, but if you don’t, please at least make sure you check “yes” on the organ donor box of your driver’s license. Your remaining parts could prove very useful to a lot of people. Thanks.

    2. Some people crash and have close calls fairly frequently; others never have close calls, much less crashes. Why the difference?

      Having even one near-death experience, or even a close call, much less having them “constantly”, is an omen to improve ones knowledge and skills about riding a bike safely in traffic.

      Effective Cycling by John Forester (book)
      Cyclecraft by John Franklin (book)
      Streetsmarts by John S. Allen (free PDF – google it)

  5. Well, I was actually responding to Suki’s comment, but I was defeated by the threaded system. :::howl of agony.

    1. You got a twofer. @ is tactless too 😉

  6. There is a certain type of cyclist who are complete assholes. They tend to be men. And they tend to have expensive bikes and gear. These assholes weave in an out of traffic, ride through red lights, and generally act like they are the only vehicle on the road. At least three times in the last couple of years I have damn near ran over a cyclist who blew past my right side out of nowhere as I was about to take a right turn on red.

    In Washington, DC there is a road called MacArthur Blvd. It wides along the Potomac up river from Georgetown. The road is very curvy and cars routinely go over 50 mph. It also has a beautiful bike path next to it that costs God knows how much taxpayer money. Yet, cyclists will go two and three wide on that street, endangering themselves and stopping traffic. I once got into an argument with a cyclist who cut me off only to of course slow up traffic while in front of me. I finally told him to take it up with my car because it weighs 3,000 lbs and if he kept riding like that mine or someone else’s car just like it 40 mph was who he would be having the argument with.

    As a motorcyclists it infuriates me how motorcyclists are constantly berated about being unsafe lunatics, yet cyclists can be complete douschbag assholes and no one says a word.

    I have noticed this phenomenon over the last few years and it seems to coincide with global warming panic. There seems to be this idea that since they are riding a bike and you are driving an evil car, they are immune to traffic laws. I ride a bike myself sometimes. I am not anti-cyclist. But, there does seem to be a growing class of assholes who pursue the sport.

    1. Geez, John, I’d be pissed off if I had to drive in DC traffic, too. 😉

      1. It is not as bad as advertised. No worse than Atlanta and not as bad as Houston. I hear all the whining about traffic in Boston and DC and I have never found it in either city to be the worse. I think people in the Northeast just like to whine.

        1. Houston’s getting better, thanks to a new snazzy I-10 west, but we still need more secondary boulevards like Westhiemer where lights are timed to keep main lane traffic flowing. Our central planners are hard at work on that.

    2. That is even worse than the ones I was describing above. At least they were in the bike lane.

    3. One of the problems here in sunny Minnesota is that when a bike lane meets a street the intersection tends to be real short ends up being real bumpy at high speeds. I’m happy to ride my crap bikes over them, but if I have my expensive road bike out and am cruising I stick to the street.

      I agree though that riding 2-3 abreast is bad. They should realize that by sticking to the right they can share the road in most places.

      My beef with riding on the street is with drivers who refuse to shade even slightly to the left to give you some room. I realize if there is oncoming traffic, you can’t swing out a bit, but there are so many times where there is just you and the one car and they buzz you. They tend to be men and they tend to be driving trucks and SUV’s.

      1. Your comment about sticking to the street makes you one of the complete assholes that John mentioned in his comments

        1. In Minnesota traffic laws, if a bike is on the street it is treated just like a car. You MAY NOT pass in the same lane, no matter how much you feel you are entitled to squeeze by. If the bike’s not going fast enough for you, too bad. Pass in the next lane over, or just put up with the bike traffic setting the speed.

          Going two or three abreast in the lane is a good way to make sure cars don’t pull that shit. It’s the same reason why motorcyclists often ride side-by-side.

    4. True — the asshole attitude almost always goes hand-in-hand with the $3000 bike and $800 worth of tight-fitting nylon/spandex gear that would make Lance Armstrong jealous.

      I live and work near Boston, and recently got a bike to commute to work and to get around town. I’m fortunate to live in an area with a lot of bike paths, which are great. But bike paths don’t go everywhere, so when I’m in traffic I have a healthy respect for other vehicles on the road — partly because they could kill me, and partly because in general I try not to be a dick. But that attitude definitely puts me in the minority around here.

      1. They need all that faggy looking shit so peole don’t think they have DUIs.

        1. The spandex shorts keep your junk from getting all banged up.

          Having working genitals is the opposite of faggy.

          1. Take it up with Andy Sullivan.

          2. Having working genitals is the opposite of faggy.

            What is it you think men do in bed together?

    5. The law may allow for the sharing of roads, but my two-ton vehicle will trump that law every time if we happen to come together. There is simply no way you can have vehicles weighing thousands of pounds traveling at speeds far exceeding those of a cyclist and have them on the same roadway. You are asking for injury/death. I’ve been riding motorcycles for decades and that is often a harrowing experience due to the general inability of most drivers to pay attention to their surroundings. You cyclists, IMHO, are nuts for expecting a 50+ mph car with the driver on a cell phone to give you, at 15 to 20 mph, the same lane authority as any other vehicle. Something will have to give, and it’s probably going to be you.

    6. Are you kidding me? I hear nothing but motorists bitching and moaning about how all cyclists are hazards to the public health because they don’t obey traffic signals.

      Pope brings up a good point too, many of the bike lanes here in PDX are either filled with broken glass or, are terribly maintained. When the road surface is repaved, they usually stop somewhere in the middle of the bike lane, creating a nice seam.

      Finally, speeding is against the law, rolling through a stop sign is against the law. Failure to come to a complete stop before the crosswalk when making a right hand turn on red is against the law. Before you motorists start getting too self-righteous, you might check your own driving habits.

      1. Stretchy, maybe you hear that because most bicyclists are assholes who think everyone else should look out for them, as if they had no power of steering or stopping. I’m sorry you have to reduce your efficiency to stop, but why did you think cars get fewer miles to the gallon in the city?

        I basically can’t go 1/2 mile in my neighborhood without watching a cyclist blow throw a stop sign or red light–usually without looking. Watched an SUV panic stop Friday to avoid hitting one.

        Let’s be clear; it’s not a threat to me in my sedan, it’s a threat to you. If you don’t value your life, don’t bitch when other people don’t value it more highly than you do.

        1. Bullshit. No cyclist in their right mind would go through an intersection without looking. We aren’t suicidal.

          All this proves is that YOU aren’t looking at them carefully enough to notice that they are looking. Good job proving that YOU and your ten-foot–wide SUV are the problem, asshole.

          Btw, I run red lights and stop signs specifically to AVOID interactions with cars. Do you really want to be following a bike through an intersection after the light switches, or would you rather have us 200 yards ahead and already up to speed?

          1. Bullshit. No cyclist in their right mind would go through an intersection without looking. We aren’t suicidal.

            I’ve nearly hit bicyclists blowing stop-signs in Philadelphia, small-town New Jersey, and blocks from my home in Florida. Each close-call has been a result of a bicyclist who did not look before blowing either a red-light or stop-sign. The most recent ones all had headphones on, guaranteeing they would not hear the vehicle with the right-of-way passing through the intersection, or approaching from behind just before they swerved across lanes.

            None of these involved SUVs: they involved me riding small vulnerable motorcycles. I nearly went down in New Jersey trying to avoid the idiot who blew a red-light by riding from the sidewalk into my path – I ended up stopped in front of moving cross-traffic, nearly hit myself.

            My usual approach when approaching bicyclists is to slow down, if they don’t seem to notice me, downshift or give enough throttle to make some engine noise to draw attention, tap horn if they still don’t notice me. Yet that’s still not enough notice for some folks.

            I’ve had various vehicles as my primary transportation: bicycle, car, motorcycle, sidecar rig. Regardless of vehicle, you should pay attention, and not ignore signals/signs. Even pedestrians shouldn’t step in front of moving vehicles about to cross their path.

  7. Fair enough, John, but coming from Columbus, OH, I was kind of surprised at the traffic situation in NY and DC. But gridlocks and shitty bicyclists/drivers are pretty standard for extremely important cities, I guess.

    1. Art. There is a lot to be said for living in a small city, the lack of traffic not being the least of it. The trick is to find a way to live close to work. How people manage to live out in Fairfax or Gaithersburg and drive two hours to work every morning is beyond me.

  8. My theory on this is that everyone is wrong. Bikers are wrong. Motorists are wrong. Pedestrians are wrong.

    The problem is that everyone in each of these groups thinks that they are as pure as the driven snow and the others are foul scum.

    The root cause of the problem is that bikes, feet and cars all move at different speeds and have different characteristics. Mixing them up on the same roads/sidewalks will result in problems.

    No one in any of the three groups will ever admit that basic fact when arguing about the best way to make life easier for their favorite brand of locomotion. They will always argue that things should be optimized for their group and screw the rest.

    This debate is never going to be settled until everyone acknowledges that there isn’t enough $ to create a perfect system for all three groups. Compromises will need to be made.

    The compromise that costs almost nothing and would be the most effective would be for everyone to just give each other a break.

    Motorists, give that biker in the road when possible. Bikers, try to stay as far to the right as possible and let pedestrians know when you are coming up behind them. That would solve 90% of most problems.

    1. If everyone is wrong I don’t wanna be right.

      1. Nice. 😀

    2. Segregation fo-evah!

    3. How about we split funding 33% between roads, bikepaths and walkways, and public transit.

      Problem solved.

    4. This is a Nation of Assholes, and the sooner we all realize it the sooner we can all get back to leaving each other to our own devices.

  9. If it moves, regulate it

    1. And if it doesn’t move tax it – and regulate it.

      1. and if it still doesn’t move, shoot it.

  10. With America’s obesity flabidemic, if Obama’s healthcare reform bill does not include subsidies for bike lanes and easing of regulations on cyclists, I will be very disappointed.

  11. I can’t believe no one has commented on this pointed rejoinder from the facilitators:

    You know who else liked bike paths? say vehicularists. Hitler.

    That pretty much ends the debate doesn’t it?

  12. I used to participate in Critical Mass

    thus marking you as a total inconsiderate asshole.

    1. Only if he was disrupting a private road.

      1. Eh, he pretty much said that he participated in Critical Mass precisely for the purpose of being an asshole.

  13. Bicyclists who lobby for bike lanes are actually sane. Bicyclists who drive on roads with automobiles are suicidal.

    All it takes is one teenage football fan trying to make it home from the store with chips in time to see the game to kill you. Bicycles should be in a separate lane, preferably with grass between the car road and the bicycle lane.

    1. Why don’t you consider making football illegal a solution?

      1. Look, I am a libertarian and in a perfect world we would have private roads like Walter Block advocates. But we don’t. It is far from a perfect world. So in order to save lives I would support building separate bike lanes. I frankly find it anoying when I have move over because someone is on a bicycle and I am trying to get to work on time. I live in Florida so this is an all year thing for me. I do not have the blessed time of snow and black ice to keep them off the roads while driving to work.

        1. I’m annoyed by your opinion. In a perfect world, people like you wouldn’t exist.

          And this is where the difference is between a libertarian and a pseudo libertarian:

          I accept that the world isn’t perfect so I don’t lobby for the solution to have you postnatally aborted.

          1. I am very glad that you have agreed to have a reasoned, rational debate. I am very glad that you have raised rational points to defend your position.

            By the way, I am an actual libertarian. In fact, I am a Rothbardian.

            1. It’s very hard to have a reasoned, rational debate with someone who doesn’t understand that words have a meaning.

              Rothbardian implies free-market anarchist, which is incommensurate with forcing other people to bear the cost of your prefered solution.

              1. “which is incommensurate with forcing other people to bear the cost of your prefered solution. ”

                I know what Rothbardian means. I am one. As I said, the world is far from perfect. I support the idea of free market roads. This is a situation in which people are dying now. They will continue to die until something is done to change the situation. We might as well put the already-stolen money to better use.

        2. I frankly find it anoying when I have move over because someone is on a bicycle and I am trying to get to work on time.

          Then leave earlier, giving yourself a larger time buffer. Duh.

          1. Or put a bigger bumper on your tuck.

              1. TRUCK

          2. I did not say they made me late. I merely said it was anoying. I would be just as anoying if I left earlier.

            1. until your car drives itself, you will be required to avoid obstacles including people on bicycles. is it that hard to turn your wheel a few degrees momentarily?

              1. “until your car drives itself, you will be required to avoid obstacles including people on bicycles. is it that hard to turn your wheel a few degrees momentarily? ”

                On some of these narrow two lane roads with traffic going both directions? Frankly, yes. And Florida Law requires 2 or 3 feet distance. And, as other posters have noted “There is a certain type of cyclist who are complete assholes”. I agree, there is indeed.

              1. i don’t disagree

        3. I find it annoying, so it should be illegal. Everyone else should have to do what is convenient for me.

          Do you understand the distinction between a right and an entitlement?

          1. Did I say it should be illegal? Did I even imply it??

  14. It would also mean changing car-centric laws that don’t make sense for bikes, like the rule that says you need to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

    I don’t understand that statement. Why shouldn’t bikes stop at stop signs? I assume this includes things like red lights as well. A large part of the problem would be solved if bicylists followed minimal rules of the road. It would also be nice to see the police do something about it. Never seen a bicyclist stopped, ever.

    1. The kinetic energy of the bike is produced by your own effort, so stopping is something any cyclist will avoid.

      1. Team America: So?

      2. In contrast, the kinetic energy of my car comes from a zero-point energy machine that someone else installed for me. For free. That’s why I don’t really mind stopping and starting.

      3. Yes, stopping and staring on a bike sucks. It sucks because it takes a lot of effort.

        But you’re on the bike for exercise right? Stopping and starting is just bonus exercise. Cowboy up and deal with it.

    2. Anyone who advocates that bikes (or all cars!) obey every traffic law has bought into the modern statist notion that laws are ends in themselves. The rest of us (especially the anarchists, who hate unnatural laws) understand that laws are a means to an end. In this case, that end is safety.

      How many of you come to complete stops in a car when you get to an intersection in which you have 100% visibility in all directions and there is nothing coming? I certainly don’t, and I don’t know many people who do.

      When I’m riding my bike, have perfect visibility, and am not in a position to surprise a driver, I will slow down at a stop sign or light, look in all directions, and proceed through if it is safe to so. I would actually be in favor of car drivers doing this as well, eliminating the need for most traffic control devices, if I felt that most car drivers were capable of doing so safely. Since half of them are yakking on a cellphone wedged between their shoulder and ear, smoking a cigarette with one hand, holding a coffee with the other, and driving with the left knee while the right foot actuates the velocitator and deceleratrix, it seems pretty clear that this isn’t the case.

      SAFETY. That’s the point. Not blindly following rules for the sake of following rules. Follow the rules during situations in which predictability is integral to safety, but bend the rules when safety would not be an issue.

      1. “The rest of us (especially the anarchists, who hate unnatural laws) understand that laws are a means to an end. ”

        This should be recited every morning in every classroom in this country instead of the fucking pledge of allegiance.

    3. I had the pleasure one morning on my way to work to witness a cyclist, riding on the sidewalk at a very fast clip, blow through the cross-walk against the light and get broadsided by a car making a left. He didn’t realize that the lane had a green arrow. If he had been on the street where he belonged, he would have avoided his detour to the hospital. Instead, he entertained a lot of insensitive motorists like me.

      1. I don’t think you are insensitive. You are otherly-sensitive.

        1. Again, nice.

          1. If only people liked my books as much as you like my pithy comments, Art. [sigh]

        2. I’m a white male, so I’m pretty sure it’s “insensitive.”

          1. And RACIST!

            BTW, I am so giving John crap about that Asian Astronaut comment as soon as beloved and I get back home. I need to find non-communist Asian Astronauts on Teh Googlez. 😉

    4. Agreed on that. I used to cycle commute when I worked close enough to home, so I fully support cycle commuting. But in the Pasadena (CA) area, we have these weekend warriors who ride around like they own the place, constantly blowing stop signs and red lights. I almost nailed one with my motorcycle when he blew through a stop sign. And these are the guys with the fancy gear. They’re obviously not commuting on these rides, so since they’re trying to get exercize, STOP FOR THE FUCKING SIGN! Then, they can get MORE exercise starting up again!

  15. Wow, no way dude that sure looks like fun dont it?


  16. I cycle for the exercise. I gave up ever riding on a road again. I’ve had too many incidents where a car intentionally came closer to me, or they’ve shouted or honked going past in an attempt to startle me, even on roads where there’s over 10 feet between the curb and the start of the first car lane, and I’m still just a couple feet from the curb.

    Yeah, a lot of the “serious” cyclists act like asses in tight situations, but people in cars regularly act like absolute scumbags intent on causing injury even when there is plenty of room for all.

    Now I just toss the bike into the back of the hatchback and head to the local park.

    1. I stick to the low-traffic roads, roads with wide bike lanes, and paths through parks.

      You’ve got to be fucking insane to mix it up with traffic on a heavily traveled road.

  17. When I was a kid, back when only retarded kids wore helmets and it wasn’t politically incorrect to notice, I was chastised by a cop for riding my bike on the sidewalk. He told me I had a choice: walk it on the sidewalk or ride it in the street. He had some old-fashioned notion that pedestrians had rights, too, and that laws should be enforced, or some such nonsense.

    1. Was that sheriff Taylor that corrected you?

          1. No. He was much taller. Then again, I was only seven. He could have been Robert Reich for all I know.

            1. Whose mother lets you ride in the street when you’re 7? Here in NYC, kids under 14 with bike wheels < some dia. get to ride sidewalks legally.

              1. Mine did and I will venture to guess that @ is over 40 also.

  18. some part of every driver’s heart says “Floor it” whenever he or she sees a bike

    Verily, Baby!

  19. It would also mean changing car-centric laws that don’t make sense for bikes, like the rule that says you need to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

    That rule doesn’t always make sense for cars either, but we can’t have drivers using their own judgment. How much gas could be saved?

    1. We had the same debate when cars showed up. Didn’t want the horses scared.

  20. I would be just as anoying if I left earlier.

    Wouldn’t we all?

  21. I blame the assholes that took all our money and used it to engineer 50mph roads. We’ve had some good conversation on H&R about things like Hans Monderman and shared space road design. The vitriol here is awesome. I drive a bike to and from school, and the car that startled me the most pulled up behind me and started honking and screaming “OBAMA!” on election night.

    1. Monderman’s ideas have a lot going for them. I doubt they will work everywhere, but in many areas they seem to.

      I have noticed that I have more problems with drivers here in NJ and NY than I do in othe places I have ridden fairly extensively, like VT, NH, PA, IA. I wonder if it has anything to do with gun laws? I can be legally armed here. Having been deliberately hunted by sociopaths driving cars, not just near misses but repeated deliberate attempts by the same person, I have had a few situations where my .38 or 9mm would have been useful, and used.

      1. That should read:”I can’t be legally armed here”

      2. That should read:”I can’t be legally armed here”

  22. I remember in 5th grade health class our book always advocated riding on the side of the road. Our teacher went along with this, even though I lived in a town of 10,000 and there was hardly anyone on the sidewalks, while the roads where often very narrow, with hardly any space to safely ride a bike. This teacher not realizing bullshit that a 5th grader could easily spot, was one of my 1st experiences with the idiocy of government.

  23. I’m sure it’s been said before, but could we get some sort of update/reload button that would highlight new comments? It’s hard to go back and spot exactly what’s been inserted in the threads.

    1. 2nd try:
      “Super Nate|10.18.09 @ 12:33PM|#

      I’m sure it’s been said before, but could we get some sort of update/reload button that would highlight new comments? It’s hard to go back and spot exactly what’s been inserted in the threads. ”

      FARK has that. Shouldn’t be too tuff to engineer that with a cookie

  24. Re: the 50+ mph roads

    In cities, we call those roads ‘freeways’ and bicycles are generally not allowed on them.

    1. Here in NJ they are called 50 foot long residential dead ends.

  25. Threadjack: retarded editorial now at the NYTimes……html?_r=1

    It contains some…magical economics in regards to a large public health care option.

    1. I have never seen such racism outside the hallowed halls of Hampton University. Never!

    2. i stopped reading after the words “bigger and stronger” in reference to the public option.

  26. One thing I like about driving in Germany was that they had way more traffic signs. You always approached an intersection knowing who had the right of way. I think they had a 200 signs. If I recall, many dealt with bikes, too.

  27. In my experience as a cyclist, I have observed numerous different personality types in cars, trucks and bicycles whose behaviors increase annoyance and likelihood of accidents.

    1) The scaredy-cat – Usually steering a motorized vehicle, the scaredy cat is unaware of his/her vehicle’s dimensions, struggling to compute the CPA of other vehicles/pedestrians and tends to unpredictably take inappropriate and dramatic evasive actions. These are the guys who swing wide into oncoming traffic despite the 4 feet of clearance between the shoulder and their vehicle when passing a cyclist, or who suddenly jam on their brakes when starting a right turn in front of you because they realize they are cutting you off.
    These guys cause a significant portion of the accidents.

    2) The asshole – these people appear on every type of vehicle. It’s their road and everyone has to accomodate them. This includes the T bus driver who left turns on red and takes out a bike on the bike path, the bicylist racing the wrong way on a one way street with no hands on the handlebars etc. These guys also cause a significant number of accidents and increase hostility between drivers of various vehicle classes.

    3) The distracted: whether wearing an MP3 player while going out on a ride for exercise, or reading the morning paper on their steering wheel, these guys are unaware of their surroundings. They don’t cause accidents so much as fail to prevent them. So long as the traffic patterns conform to their routine, all is well. Put a woman having a heart attack on a crosswalk with a policeman trying to assist her, and these guys are a secondary accident waiting to happen. They also increase hostility between groups.

    Personally, I stick to narrow roads that parallel major roads: on a bike you travel almost as fast as you would on a primary road, but much more safely. And yes, I follow the rules of the road, signal extensively, treat other vehicles with courtesy (although I have been known to yell at the occasional person in the three groups above), and have had few problems.

    In fact, I consider joggers who use bikepaths to be a far greater hazard than other cars. At least I have had far more collisions with joggers than with cars.

    1. Those joggers are also universally wearing headphones.

      1. And rollerbladers, except me.

    2. Don’t forget the dog walkers on the bike path with the 20′ leashes.

    3. One problem in NYC is the large proportion of pedestrians, esp. immigrants, who’ve never driven, and who therefore don’t understand what’s in a driver’s head or anything about rules of the road. On the Pelham Pkwy. bike & ped. way, which has a yellow line down the center, I’ve been tempted to go out one night and spray paint “KEEP RIGHT” and in my pidgin Russian “KIP REKT” (only with the backwards N type I, the pi type P, and the P type R), plus “TENEZ LE DROIT” because it’s the only foreign language I really know. I don’t know how many times I’ve approached on my 1-speed an oncoming pedestrian who’s keeping left, and I move to the right only to have the pedestrian move further left, onto the grass if need be to avoid me, because they don’t get the hint. And the old people whom I’m overtaking who probably can hear my ching-ching or honky and make no move to their right.

  28. Yo, fuck one-size-fits-all solutions.

    Some days i bike to work. Other days, i choose to sleep that extra 10 minutes that driving allows. What doesn’t change is that i maintain situational awareness no matter HOW i’m traveling, and let me tell you, i’m rare.

    1. Yo, fuck one-size-fits-all solutions.

      And HOV lanes.

      1. if civilization ended now and another race dug up our highways and discovered HOV lanes, would they think we had diamond shaped flying cars?

        1. If they discovered F-117s around the same time, yes.

  29. Also, let me say that, as a vehicular amphibian, i’m really digging the acrimony on this thread.

    1. Funny how all these anti-violence/war/coercion libertarians turn so violent when it comes to sharing the road with a broad spectrum of vehicles.

      1. Not sure if he is one of the pacifist libertarians. I’m not.

        BTW, what gave you the idea that a bunch of gun totin’ “get off my lawn” types were anti-violence?

      2. A bicycle is a “broad spectrum”?
        I have no problem with bikes, when they are in Vietnam.

        1. Bikes, cars, 4000lbs SUV’s. Pedestrians have also been mentioned. And what about motorcycles that even have their own laws and licenses?

          1. Non-commercial vehicle licensing is so Statist.

        2. I think that is like a disruptor, not a phasor.

  30. And rollerbladers, except me.

    Do you wear a brightly-colored tank top and cutoff jorts while you rollerblade?

    1. God no! I have some respect for the people around me!

      I am in full armor, jeans and a t-shirt on the warm days.

  31. people on bikes in the city are people using transportation to get from A to B.

    The completely fucking retarded morons in brightly colored spandex an taking up a lane on a country road with blind hills and corners deserve to die with a Ford, Dodge, Chevy, or GMC logo on permanently imprinted on their ass or forehead.

    1. The hill country around Austin if full of nuts like that. The roads around there are curvy and the people on them drive very fast. Hell, it is in the country. And of course many of them are driving large SUVs and pickups. The problem is that most people really don’t want to kill someone. So it is a real pain in the ass to come over a hill and run into some moron playing Lance Armstrong on the other side. Those idiots should take up crew or buy a motorcycle.

      1. Here in MO they just paved the deer and cattle paths. Hilly and curvy is an understatement. The roads are also barely half an ass wide. I have no pity for the bike morons that get smoked riding those roads. It gets chalked up to Darwinism at work and strengthening the gene pool.

        1. Do you live in Austin? I lived in San Antonio and Killeen for five years. I miss central Texas a lot. I don’t miss the horrible summers. But I still miss it. I think I could learn to put up with the summers to live there again.

          1. it was hot enough in austin this summer to melt tungsten. and flat enough that you can watch your dog run away from home for two days. do you really want to come back here?

          2. MO = Missouri, or Misery.

            I lived in Amarillo for a short time. The true meaning of flat is lost until you live in Amarillo.

  32. oh god preview.

  33. If being a “vehicularist” means I can’t text while riding, I guess I’m a “facilitator.”

  34. Just think, you could stop motorists from brushing cyclists if you mandated extra coarse grit sandpaper pads on elbows and knees.

    1. Diamond grit, so it can scratch their windows too 😉

  35. I tend to favor the facilitators as it makes more sense to take bikes as they are as still work to educate others.


    1. Phoning home while aloft would violate bans on texting while driving. As a mother, nurse for over 30 years, and member of Congress, I beg you ET, please, think of the children!

  37. i saw that austin was named as one of the most bike friendly cities in the u.s. all i can say is, “wtf???” maybe if you live downtown and commute to u.t.
    the thought of dealing with the drivers on lamar scares me into pure pedestrianism. and even that’s scary, especially in the asian sections of town.

    1. They got an Asian section in Austin now? I haven’t been over there since ’99. I had a brother who lived there all his life.

      1. yes, much of north east (my neighborhood, near dell south campus, is probably 80% vietnamese). there’s also a heavily asian area around north lamar. great asian center at lamar and kramer. just don’t try driving around there. or god forbid to bike. undersized clueless drivers with oversized suvs and cell phones. bad combo.

        1. Better not elect any homecoming queens from there then. Especially at “traditionally Black schools” 😉

      2. We are supposed to have our own section now?

      3. Trying again.


        We are supposed to have our own section now? Like if we are not segregated we might elevate test scores and mess up Federal funding for the schools or something?


        1. i haven’t found a “project” section of town yet. do projects really mess up federal funding?

  38. Proponents of “vehicular cycling” believe bikes should act as cars: occupy full lanes, stop at red lights, use a hand signal at least 100 feet ahead of a turn.

    Then later:

    But I don’t think it’s a smart move be a pure play of either type. I used to participate in Critical Mass not only for a chance to say “Up Yours, Baby” to The Man but for its forcible reminder that bikes are different from cars, and that as much as you don’t want to hit another car you triply don’t want to hit a bike

    Bikes are like cars, occupy full lanes, stop at red lights.

    Bikes are different from cars and should be treated different than cars in that you triply don’t want to hit a bike.

    As a person who lives in a big “Critical Mass” city, I’m sorry, but that’s why bikes should get the taller fence. To protect them from the guy in the 4000lb SUV who’s looking for his CD on his floorboards while you’re stopped at a light in regular traffic.

    Bike rider sandwich.

    It’s nice if you think we can educate motorists to pay respect for bikes by throwing bikes out in the regular 40mph hour traffic. It’s nice. Really it is. Some sort of government education program with more funding is sure to fix it.

    We’ve been “educating” motorists on general traffic safety for several generations. I’m of the opinion that driver attention and safety is about as good as its ever going to get. And some argue it’s getting worse.

    Let’s stick to bike lanes because, you know, they’re different than cars.

  39. As a motorist I don’t mind sharing the road with cyclists, but as a pedestrian a sure as hell mind sharing the sidewalk with those bastards. My modest proposal: give the cyclists “a rolling stop” and issue every pedestrian a handgun and the authority to use it on bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk.

    1. I mentioned the bike riders going the wrong way on bike lanes this morning (above) but I have a MAJOR gripe about them riding on the sidewalk RIGHT NEXT TO A BIKE LANE! UGH!

      I wish that I were bold enough to carry a ball bat with me for them.

  40. Who needs a handgun when it’s so easy to knock them to the ground?

  41. I don’t like to solve problems twice…I’d use a gun. Them ponytailed pipe huggers deserve no mercy.

  42. Who besides Tim Cavanaugh thinks bike paths/trails are inherently elevated? Almost all I’ve ever seen are at grade, and those that weren’t were sharing an overpass, underpass, or bridge with motor or pedestrian routes — or were former railroads, but even those trails are open to pedestrians.

    I’m a facilitator, but now I’ll read the comments to see if anyone can convince me not to be purely so.

    1. Nope, still a facilitator. And have to admit Hitler was right about this one.

  43. I see now that he was quoting Christopher Beam on the “elevated” bit.

  44. Did everyone catch the reference to Animal Farm in the title of this post?

    1. Pretty sure they did. I did.

    2. There weren’t super obvious ways to makes jokes about it. So no one mentioned it.

  45. “Super Nate|10.18.09 @ 12:33PM|#

    I’m sure it’s been said before, but could we get some sort of update/reload button that would highlight new comments? It’s hard to go back and spot exactly what’s been inserted in the threads. ”

    Yah. FARK has that. Shouldn’t be too tuff to engineer that with a cookie

  46. When I was riding a bike during a visit to Japan, I discovered their policy of “all bikes on the sidewalk,” at least in some districts. As a pedestrian it was a little harrowing at first to have someone zipping by you on a bike, but usually people who have been biking for a while are good at avoiding pedestrians. I think bike lanes make sense in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic that aren’t as accomodating to cars. In that case, more people would be inclined to use a bike for transportation anyway.

    1. Only when the pedestrians are used to the presence of bikes and look out for them.

      I learned very quickly when they opened some mixed use paths in a local park system to never assume the person ahead of you on the path will keep moving in a straight line as you pass them.

      People on foot will change direction from 1/2 to 180 degrees in a single step. Even passing them on foot is taking a chance for a collision.

      Mixing anything on wheel with pedestrians makes less sense than mixing cars and bikes on the road. That goes for bikes and roller blades and anything else I can think of.

      1. Rollerbladers are the worst. Especially when they are being overtaken.

        They seem to change their gait which makes them very unpredictable.

      2. I was taught to shout “Passing on your left!” a good 50 feet or more before passing a pedestrian on a mixed use trail or sidewalk. This easy habit would prevent most biker-walker close calls.

        Unfortunately, a lot of bikers don’t follow it. There are some who just weave around you at 15mph like you’re a rubber cone, without so much as a word or a horn or a bell.

        There are others that come up behind you at full speed and say “Passing” or even better, “Excuse me”, in a conversational tone from about two feet behind you and expect you to instantly dive out of the way in the correct direction.

      3. Agree 100%. As the parent of a small child who is fantastically well educated about not darting out into traffic, she’s not fantastically well educated about not darting around on the sidewalk.

        Speed doesn’t kill. Differential speed kills. And I’ve personally seen some nasty bike/pedestrian accidents– and while I can’t find the link, I believe a pedestrian was killed on Greenlake here in Seattle sometime back in the 90’s.

  47. Hey, the roads as a public commons are the perfect democracy. The biggest, strongest, most numerous, most willing to kill get their way.

    I have no idea why all the left cyclists in Critical Mass and other groups are so upset. It is a Progressive wet dream.

  48. My rule as a cyclist is that it doesn’t matter if the car driver is at fault, I’m still the one with my head smashed in. So I’m basically ridiculously cautious about traffic and try to play it safe and bike “defensively” as much as possible.

    For instance, I never make left turns. I’ll use the predestrian crosswalks and wait at each corner instead.

  49. Fuck you all. let me explain a few things. First, google any reasonable explanation of fatality rates and you will find people in automobiles die at a higher rate than people on bikes. Eat me. Second, the whole “bikes don’t pay their fair share” crap doesn’t fly. Roads are only partially paid for by fuel taxes. Especialy local roads. Which I pay for with my property, income tax, and monthly “road maintenance fee” in my fucking water bill. Whether I drive or fucking not.

    Now let’s talk about Spandex. Shit. Football players wear it too. But they are cool because football is a “‘Merican” sport and cycling is for faggy Frenchmen. Fuck you. I wear expensive bike clothes (which last for fucking ever) because they are comfortable and suit their purpose – especially the crotch pad. I really like the crotch pad.

    Then there is the bright fucking colors. Yeah. That’s the point, so morons like you will see me as I use roads I’ve paid for.

    And fuck you about the expensive bikes. Why wouldn’t libertarians just LOVE me spending money to support private industry – especially fucking Trek, which is based in fucking Wisconsin? Oh that’s right, you don’t give a shit about whether a business is based in the US or not.

    When you get your libertarian wet dream of totally private roads, then you can exclude me or charge me. Whatever you want. Until then, get the fuck over it!

    1. You do realize that Trek uses some pretty sweet Shimano components.

      1. And they have actresses who have earned the right to Spandex.

    2. I’ll be looking for you out on the road.

    3. What you said, but without all the ‘tude and anger.

    4. whoa dude, relax. And by the way, bright colors just make you a better target. You wanna avoid gettin’ shot, wear camo.

    5. The only guarantee that your brightly colored Spandex affords you is that you’ll leave a more compelling imprint on the pavement.

      Oh, and Trek sucks balls.

  50. And enough with the spandex hating:

  51. And enough with the spandex hate, already:

  52. You know what really needs to stop? People riding bikes on the wrong side of the friggin road, so that when you make a right turn at a green light you immediately come face to face with some oncoming idiot on a bike.

    1. I remember being taught to do that as a child – so that I could see oncoming traffic, instead of being hit from behind.

      Increases your approach speed, but also increases your view of the vehicles that may hit you, so you can get out of the way instead of being hit.

      1. Oops – I forgot to mention, this assumes the bike is keeping to the edge of the road (bike lane / shoulder / etc.)

  53. Squarooticus is right on here. The point of the law should be to make travel safer, not to simply have law. My sense is that many motorists dislike bicycles (and to a different extent motorcycles) because they feel two wheelers are somehow gaming the system in their favor by doing things automobiles cannot do easily, legally, or at all. This view sounds fair on the surface, after all, why should two wheels get “special privileges”? However, this fails when considering that non-automobile vehicles are not equals. They have certain advantages (and disadvantages) that should allow for different standards. In this light, it’s not clear why two wheeled vehicles should be expected to behave the same as automobiles, either. Does anybody think that motorcycles and bicycles behaving exactly like cars would be a help to areas with high traffic congestion? Along with the clusterfuck it would cause, such expectations would act as a disincentive to travel by such means, and only encourage more automobile use.

    Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle of vehicularist and facilitator. I rely on bike for most of my travel, and view myself as mostly a pragmatist. I ride where and how I think is safest for me and those around me. If this means on the street, on the sidewalk, or even across someone’s lawn, then so be it (though the street is by far the most preferable). Being strictly vehicularist or facilitator in most places in the US, would be at best unwise. Interestingly, I find Los Angeles to be a surprisingly friendly place to bike. My experience is that drivers tend to be most aggressive on the freeways with other motorists rather than streets, where they are quite accustomed to sharing with cyclists.

    1. I own a bike and one of the guys working for me is an avid biker, but I drive 99% of the time. I even drive frequently on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park in DC, which is wall-to-wall cyclists most days. I’ve learned to be patient and deal with the road sharing. It’s not a big deal.

      I always give cyclists and pedestrians the right of way and cut mucho slack, up to the point where they become self-aborbed assholes and don’t care about who they fuck over to get what they want. Right about there, I stop caring about them. I figure that they have weighed their own interests against the laws of physics and feel its a fair deal. I do the same for cars.

      My rule, just drive/walk/bike and don’t be a self-absorbed dick. We all get along better that way and I don’t have to kill you.

  54. Here’s a clue, bicycles are not cars. If they can not go the speed limit they should not block the lane. Suppose you are behind another car and that car insists on going 15 mph in a 45 mph road and it is not possible to pass – how long are you going to tolerate that? Drivers get ticketed for doing that. If they get ticketed for stalling traffic by driving drastically under the speed limit, then so should bicycles. That would be equal treatment.

  55. What I don’t get are the fuckwits in my neighborhood who insist on WALKING in the street, 6 feet away from a perfectly usable, tree-lined sidewalk.

  56. I ride my bike everywhere here in Chicago, and I’ve just about arrived at the conclusion that traffic controls are the problem much in the way that a lock only serves to keep honest people out. The bike lanes here are a relatively new development that was part of the lemming parade of “bike friendly” cities in recent years. They consist of two stripes painted on the asphalt between the driving lane and rows of parked cars. Although there are stylized bicycles and directional arrows intermittently painted between these stripes to indicate their purpose, the real message seems to be, “People abruptly swing their car doors open here.” I avoid these lanes as much as possible and ride far to the left whenever I have no other choice but to take one. The problem I see with these arrangements is how they fool so many cyclists into believing that there is some sort of force field engineered into the bike lanes that magically keeps all other traffic out of them. I don’t know if this makes me a “vehicularist” or a “facilitator”, but ultimately I’d prefer to see an overall reduction in all traffic controls that would leave people more dependent on their own senses. As for me, I already ride with the assumption that nobody else on the road sees me.

  57. If you’re not a vehicularist when you are 20, you have no heart. If you are not a facilitator when you’re 40, you have no head.

    Forget “man’s law.” The laws of physics must eventually make facilitators of us all.

  58. The problem is that bicycles and motor vehicles ARE NOT “equals on the road” and any attempt and managing the problem that starts with that assumption is doomed to fail.

    Most cyclists want to have their cake and eat it to. They want free access to the roads, but don’t want to abide by the same laws as vehicles. Furthermore, they think that drivers should just grin and bear it when slow-moving cyclists cause traffic back ups.

    Seriously, fuck cyclists and the tyranny of the majority that they represent.

    1. eewwww. Fucking cyclists is icky but sharing a sidewalk (and so much more) with Rollergirl…how can I facilitate that?

    2. While bikes and cars are not equal, neither are motorcycles and cement trucks.

      What makes us all equal is that we’re all humans traveling on the same roads in a manner that is consistent with the vehicular rules of the road.

      See CVC 21200 which declares that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of vehicles.

      There is no equality at the vehicle level, of course. It’s all about what’s in our heads.

  59. For great video of vehicularist riding in and around Los Angeles and some other areas, please see the CyclistLorax channel on youtube:

    It’s actually much safer than intuition or common sense might indicate. Most problems with same direction traffic occur when the bicyclist tries to get out of the way but can’t. The problem is that he is trying to get out of the way when he can’t – in those situations he should instead be, get this, in the way! Again, see the videos to see how this works.

    This is the way anyone who reads Reason would bicycle, once they “get it”. There is no going back, for a whole host of reasons.

    See also: Cyclecraft by John Franklin (new North American edition now available on Amazon).

  60. The bicyclist likes to do stuff.

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