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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm spinning this off as a new thread, from a post I made in the thread about the guy on the hood of a car.

I've been pondering the cycling/auto conflict a lot. It comes up in here pretty regularly, whether it's pictures and video, or someone posting that they got PO'd and spit on someone's car. Within a day an article in the Boston Globe had over 300 responses, duking out whether or not cyclists were psychotic anarchists or had a legitimate right to the road. And the 10-20% of cyclists give the rest of us such a bad reputation as law dismissing anti-christ figures who should be run off the road or just flat run over.

Some folks, like the poor girl in DC that just died, are new to cycling, and make typical, nervous, newbie mistakes. Someone who's used to driving and took up cycle commuting because of the cost of fuel is naturally more nervous, and more likely to ride like they were 12 again, because that's the last time they really rode, and they really don't feel that safe. Sure their tactics are illegal, and understandable because of where they're coming from... but those people are a growing demographic, and they really don't know any better. They end up looking inexperienced or reckless, and get yelled at or hit on their way to work, but get blamed by motorists. Hell, even the Mayor of Boston got hit when he tried to take up commuting to work.

So, as the roads begin to fill with new cyclists who aren't experienced, and a growing number of motorists who are frustrated on many levels, how do we fix this?

The debate in here breaks down very quickly on clearly established lines. There's a law, and we should ticket cyclists. But being lawful puts us in harms way, and motorists don't obey the law anyway. And even if we behaved lawfully, they'd still hate us, so why bother.

Stupid Dead horse!!! *Kick, Punch*

So, as a new point to ponder, I submit my question. How do we start pumping information into the general populace, so people like that girl in DC are more informed before they try to ride to work in the city? Do we make a mandatory cyclist's education at the end of Middle School? Do we start having outreach programs, like college classes, and the like? We have driver's ed, but noone needs to be licensed to ride, and maybe that's part of the problem. I'm not saying cyclists should be licensed, but I think the ability to get a unified word out about rules and agreed upon safe riding behavior (whether it gets followed or not) would give 'the cause' more legitimacy than our current image as a seething mob of snarling misanthropes.

Assuming that we'd work out financing or teachers later, who thinks this is a good idea? The reasoning on my part is that it at least addresses the fact that most middle schoolers don't understand the rules of the road, but they're old enough to be out there anyway. And most of them also don't know much about good cycling habits or skills. And it's a pretty decent age to implant the idea that bicycles have a right to be on the road... just before they get their licenses. They may or may not choose to follow the laws, but that's an existing problem. At least this way there's a starting point for helping us regulate our own. "You've been through this class... you know better." I can't come up with any way to wrangle adults into one room... at least we can start getting to people in school.

This is a hypothetical question, obviously. I've been frustrated by the discussions in here lately, because if we can't even agree among ourselves on a way forward, things are going to get worse as more cyclists pour into the streets. And sooner or later, people with cars are going to rewrite the laws.

I understand the urge to spit out the same arguments we've all read ad nauseum. Please try to come up with points that are reasonable and with an eye to coming up with any kind of solution besides "We're never going to solve this, and the stupid cage drivers hate us anyway."

This problem is growing. There are more cars every day, and those drivers put more money into the government and economy via sales taxes and gas taxes and insurance, etc, than we will just riding around. Their voices are already loud, angry, and in larger numbers than our own. And we've demonstrated to the world that we can't come up with any kind of self-serving consensus in here. So I just want to see if it's possible to start any kind of discussion that could be productive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Half a step ahead of you...

Yeah, I'm thinking that I'm going to have to. Posting in here is sometimes enlightening, and usually overrun with egos.

I still want to see if it's possible for anyone to start a larger conversation that spans a wider area than local groups. There's a thread in here somewhere about european cycling, and it mentions that there's a lot of "driver and cyclist training," as part of their plans. (small part, big article) I think it would be great to see cycling legitimized in a similar way in the states.
 

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Firstly, the police need to enforce cycling rules. Usually, the police are clueless about them, so before that, we need to give the police refresher courses. The police and advocacy groups need to inform cyclists that riding on sidewalks is illegal, blowing through every stop light is illegal, and riding after dark with no lights or reflectors is also illegal. Every bike also needs functioning brakes if it's on the road.

As far as motorists are concerned, deal harshly with those who deliberately hit cyclists, or those who are so careless that their actions deserve to be criminal.
 

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Generalizations

Dave_Stohler said:
Firstly, the police need to enforce cycling rules. Usually, the police are clueless about them, so before that, we need to give the police refresher courses. The police and advocacy groups need to inform cyclists that riding on sidewalks is illegal, blowing through every stop light is illegal, and riding after dark with no lights or reflectors is also illegal. Every bike also needs functioning brakes if it's on the road.
I endorse the basic points that the police should know the traffic laws, but your summary of the laws is way too broad. Riding on sidewalks is not illegal everywhere (varies with local ordinance, and in less urban areas is often permissible), and some states permit cyclists to execute a "rolling stop" (slow enough to be sure traffic is clear) at stop signs. Some states allow running a red light after stopping, if traffic is clear and the light won't change because the sensor won't detect the bike. I'll grant you that "blowing through" lights or stopsigns is never legal. As far as I know, every state does require actual lights (not just reflectors) front and back after dark.

The "functioning brakes" thing is an interesting debate, still unresolved (I think) in some states, with fixie riders arguing that their backpedaling ability amounts to a functioning brake, and should be as legal as, say, a coaster brake bike.

I don't necessarily agree that educating the cops is the highest priority. Traffic enforcement is a pretty blunt tool for teaching effective safe cycling, and lots of important techniques, that everyone riding in traffic should know, are not addressed in the laws at all. Educating cyclists -- and motorists -- is important.
 

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In the short term, this is an area where LBSs can make a difference. When I returned to cycling as an adult (ostensibly to ride with my kids), I first bought a hybrid at the LBS. The guys at the LBS gently asked if I knew what I was doing. I was "encouraged" to come to a one-hour class that the LBS ran on things like changing a flat tire and elementary maintenance of the bike. My guess is that a lot of adults that are deciding to ride to work to save money on gas are buying cheap hybrids at bike shops or taking old bikes that they have at home to bike shops to be put in shape to ride. If LBSs had an hour class every week of so for people who are getting back to riding that addressed basic riding/commuting issues (and maybe took everyone out on the streets for 15 minuts or so), it could be as big of a help as the one-hour basic maintenance class that I had many years ago.
 

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O.K. Mr. Big Shot Lawyer......

MarkS said:
In the short term, this is an area where LBSs can make a difference. When I returned to cycling as an adult (ostensibly to ride with my kids), I first bought a hybrid at the LBS. The guys at the LBS gently asked if I knew what I was doing. I was "encouraged" to come to a one-hour class that the LBS ran on things like changing a flat tire and elementary maintenance of the bike. My guess is that a lot of adults that are deciding to ride to work to save money on gas are buying cheap hybrids at bike shops or taking old bikes that they have at home to bike shops to be put in shape to ride. If LBSs had an hour class every week of so for people who are getting back to riding that addressed basic riding/commuting issues (and maybe took everyone out on the streets for 15 minuts or so), it could be as big of a help as the one-hour basic maintenance class that I had many years ago.
What kind of liability would a shop have running a class like that???

How quickly would one lawsuit put the typical small business LBS out of business?
 

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MB1 said:
What kind of liability would a shop have running a class like that???

How quickly would one lawsuit put the typical small business LBS out of business?
Good questions.

During the course of my representing the local roller derby league and my becoming a "sports law expert," I actually have done a great deal of research on analogous issues. The possibility of litigation is great and it would not be too hard for a lawyer to make a credible case if someone took such a class and later was hurt. However, there are ways to protect and LBS both from liability and financial extinction. First, a well drafted waiver/release of liability would go a long way to protect the LBS (one big caveat -- these releases may not be enforceable in all states). I anyone ever has participated in an organized century or analogous event, you know exactly what I am talking about. Second, any business should have a commercial general liability insurance policy to protect it from suits and the costs of litigation. I have never represented a bike shop, but I also would imagine that they have insurance coverage for products liability and related things. If a shop were to conduct such a class, a telephone call to the LBS's insurance agent and/or lawyer probably would be well advised.
 

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Noobs don't need "classes", they need to ride with a group, so that they can get yelled at when they screw up.
 

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MR_GRUMPY said:
Noobs don't need "classes", they need to ride with a group, so that they can get yelled at when they screw up.
You want a new commuter riding a rusted womans bike (with a squeeky chain) flat pedals and flat bars to join your group?

I knew you are a good man! :thumbsup:
 

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The League of American Bicyclists operates its "Bike Ed" program, curently the only nationally recognized cycling safety program. See http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/education/ for a class near you. The League trains "League Cycling Instructors," or "LCIs" to teach Bike Ed, which is the same program once called "Effective Cycling," but broken down into shorter modules and given a new name to avoid trademark conflicts with the program's original author.

Quite a few bike shop owners have gotten certified as LCIs, and it's a valuable service they can offer their customers other than just selling a bike and shoving the customer into the saddle and out on the road.

On the liability/insurance end, as part of our certification and annual renewal with the League, LCIs are covered under a general liability policy maintained by the League and its insuror, American Specialty.

Tom
 

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Noobies vs. militants

Here in Portland, one smallish part of the problem is noobie cyclists who don't know the proper way to ride... choosing to ride on the wrong side of the road, being unaware of bike routes that are just as efficient as main arterials, but are just offset from them to minimize conflicts, not signaling, no lights, etc.

The much bigger problem is what I'll call "militant" cyclists who choose to take a lane on a main arterial rather than ride the nearby bike route alternative to make a point, who blow stop signs & lights in the midst of other traffic, who treat every driver error near a cyclist as a physical provocation, etc.

Education of noobies would certainly help, and might make more people willing to ride. I don't know how you get the militants to conform. They range from Vehicular Cyclists who denounce & avoid any bicycling infrastructure on principle to 20-somethings who just don't care one way or the other... They know the rules, generally, but chose to ignore them. Other cyclists calling them on it might do something, or more likely might just start fights. I don't know.
 

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MB1 said:
We likely smoked rope on the same hill. :blush2:

Although not at the same time.
BTW I ain't going to vote for anyone younger than me on the grounds that they are inexperienced.

BTW2 I ain't going to vote of anyone older than me on the grounds that they are ready for a rest.
 

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Commuters???........Who cares about them?
I was talking about "real" cyclists. Yelling tends to weed out the sissies and the riders who aren't serious about learning.

Yeah, commuters should take a class.
 
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