Monday, May 30, 2011

Right of Way and Driver Education

Last night we were returning home on our bikes. As we approached an intersection where we needed to make a left turn, we signaled and moved to the leftmost part of the lane. A motorist approaching the same intersection behind us began to honk. We turned around, confused. The light had just turned red and all three of us were stopped at the intersection. She continued to honk. We asked what the problem was. She rolled down her window, and the conversation went something like this:

Motorist:  What the hell are you doing?!
We:  What do you mean?
Motorist: You're not supposed to be in front of me like that, you're blocking the road!
We: We're using the road just like you. Why are you honking?
Motorist: What the hell am I supposed to do when you're blocking my way?!
We: You're supposed to wait for us to turn.
Motorist: But you're not supposed to be there if I need to get by. You don't have the right of way!
We: What? Of course we have the right of way, we were here first.
Motorist: Unless you're in the bike lane, you do not have the right of way! You're supposed to let me get by!
We: Bicycles have the right of way just like any other vehicle.
Motorist: Not if you're not in the bike lane!
We: Yes. Check your facts.
Motorist: No! You check your facts!

I don't know how things would have gone had the light not turned green at that point, but it did. The motorist floored the gas pedal and veered around us in order to proceed straight as we made our left turn.

It's not so much the motorist's rudeness that I found alarming  (she was screaming at us), but the fact that she genuinely believed that cyclists did not have the right of way unless they were in the bike lane. In other words, she thought that if a cyclist needed to make a left turn, they must stand aside and wait for all the cars behind them to pass before they were allowed to proceed. This is blatantly incorrect, but that doesn't help any in situations like this.

In my view, lack of drivers' awareness about bicycling laws is largely responsible for cyclist-motorist confrontations. When I first began riding a bike in Boston, drivers would occasionally scold me for "breaking the law" (i.e. cycling on the road). Now that bicycles have become more common this seldom happens, but yesterday's encounter shows that misunderstanding of road rules still exists. I've read that in areas where this is especially bad, cyclists have taken to carrying copies of local bicycle laws and handing them out to motorists who harass them. That is further than I personally would want to go. But it seems to me that some driver's ed initiative is in order - especially if a city is actively striving to be more "bicycle friendly."

61 comments:

  1. There's no limit to what some people don't know.

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  2. I am not sure what is worse, that bicycles are considered vehicles under motor vehicle acts and we who want to do the right thing follow the rules, or that we have to ride with motorists at all. how many times have I had to yell or plead that I have the right of way? I've gotten a bit more brazen by taking the road if I am turning left and refusing to go into the ditch if on a road with a low speed limit. I was told to ride where the passenger side tires of vehicles usually track on the road and stick to it. I usually stick to the shoulder, but sometimes it is safer on the road. And boy drivers are rude, so rude, and often clueless about the rules. Even when I follow traffic laws often cars will either ignore me altogether or stop and wait when it is not required of them. One annoying thing to me is when cars hover behind me for what feels like forever instead of just passing when it is safe. Even if I wave at them that it is okay to pass, they just hover. I know that's better than blasting by, yelling and throwing stuff, but I wish I could carry signs. "No don't stop, keep going! Slow Down! Yes, I am turning right you idiot! Stop! I am turning left now. I have the right of way!"
    I even had an old man swear and curse at me because he cut me and a child cycling with me off and I followed him to tell him he did not have the right of way and could have injured us if we did not stop in time. Very uncool!

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  3. MassBike and MassDOT started the Same Roads Same Rules campaign about a year ago. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a long way to go in educating both motorists and cyclists.
    Mark

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  4. My husband got accosted today by someone who thought he should be on the footpath. I think that handing out copies of bike laws to arrogant drivers is a pretty neat idea!

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  5. We have just formed a nonprofit called Team Share the Road to promote safe roads for everyone -- cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Our focus is on education. Your example shows that bike lanes alone don't solve the problem. We live in an area with lots of flat, nice roads, not much heavy traffic and great weather, yet it is the most dangerous area in the country for cycling. The biggest problem is aggressive drivers who don't know that cyclists have the right to use the roads. The most viable short term solution is education.

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  6. We have the same problem here with motorists not knowing bicycle laws. I have a bumper sticker that says "Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules". I also have a "Share the Road" license plate. At least I can educate when I drive my car. Our law recently changed to cyclists must stay in the bike lane unless it's unsafe - like an obstacle. That can be interpretated and nothing says cyclists can reposition themselves in the road. I continue to go by Street Smarts, the best guide I've found, also the one our Dept. of Transportation uses when teaching cycling safety.

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  7. But some drivers seem more concerned about breaking these fake laws than others. Be nice to figure which ones these are. My guess is that even if these folk were aware of the actual laws, they would still get pissed at bicyclists. But at least they couldn't yell at you that you were on the road illegally.

    Bike lanes don't help, of course, as they reinforce the idea that bicyclists are only allowed on the road where special facilities have been added for them.

    My area has few bike lanes and it has been years since I've had a confrontation like yours. Although just yesterday a car about 1/2 block in back of me politely honked at me as I was moving across the road to get in position to make a left turn. My guess is they thought I was weaving across the road like a kid for fun and they were warning me to "watch out".

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  8. I hate these kinds of confrontations. Just reading about them makes me angry. I could list recent and similar incidents that have happened to me, but constructive ideas would be of more value and I don't have any of those just yet. Handing out the vehicle code leaflets sounds amusing, but I doubt this would placate an angry motorist.

    I will say that I don't recall as many cyclist / car incidents 15 - 20 years ago. Perhaps it was a function of fewer vehicles on the roads.

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  9. And that's kind of the issue with bike-specific lanes. A certain type of person will think that because there is a place for bikes, that's the ONLY place that bikes should be. And that's just wrong.

    I'm all for good cycling infrastructure, but it's a little bit of a two-edged sword here. We don't have much in the way of bike lanes/MUPs here, so I get yelled at to get on the sidewalk. O.o

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  10. MelissatheRagamuffinMay 30, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Our local bicycle coalition offers education worskshops for cyclists and motorists. the motorists never show up. Besides, I really don't think a lot of motorists care what the law says. They just have an attitude about bikes on the road, and if they can harrass us, they will.

    There is a left thurn I have to make every day on my ride home from work. There's no arrow at that light, so sometimes I have to sit there with my arm out waiting to turn. The cars behind me always start honking, and it really annoys me. I'm obviously waiting to turn left. It would be absolutely NO DIFFERENT if I were in my car. They'd still have to wait, but because I'm on a bike they think they can do that?

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  11. My teenage daughter just finished driver ed here in Virginia. Part of her training involved a 90-minute class with me in attendance. Not once in that 90-minute class (or, for that matter, the rest of the course as far as I can tell) did the word "bicycle" come up. DC-area drivers were recently rated worst in the nation in their understanding of basic motor vehicle laws. With this kind of driver ed, I am not surprised.

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  12. I seem to remember during my driver's ed experience (back in the early 90s when it was still offered in public school here) that there was some passing reference to bicycles being subject to the same laws etc, etc, during the page of the manual about "other road users."

    Unfortunately, I don't know that better education will make much difference for certain people, as it seems they will tune out anything that goes against what they WANT to believe the road rules to be (ie, whatever is convenient for them).

    On the bright side, in contrast to your experience, I had the day free yesterday so I took off and put in over 80 miles yesterday across just about every conceivable road type (suburban, small city, arterial road, state highway, rural road, multi-use-path and about two miles total of marked bike lanes) and was never once honked at, yelled at or cut off. And this was in holiday weekend traffic in New Jersey!
    There were quite a few cyclists out yesterday as well, especially as I got near the touristy towns along the Delaware River, and, as we've all noted, wherever there were higher concentrations of bikes, there was a smoother integration of bicycles into traffic.

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  13. "MassBike and MassDOT started the Same Roads Same Rules campaign about a year ago"

    Ha. I had no idea. How is this campaign run or publicised?

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  14. ^ Wow. Here are some motorist tips from that campaign. I bet that very few drivers in Boston have looked at this webpage, or are even aware of its existence.

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  15. In Maryland, new drivers of all ages have to take 30 hours of driver's ed unless they took it in high school. I recently (at age 29) took it, and bicycles were mentioned ONCE, in terms of the 3-foot rule, and the "teacher" then shook his head and mused "bicycles shouldn't be on the road anyway." I knew better, but didn't say anything because that "teacher" had already been a jerk to me due to my age. But yeah, really not surprised that these things happen given the total lack of education. I actually like the idea of passing out small flyers. I've also seen bike stickers with the three-foot rule on them, but I don't know where I'd be able to stick it so it would be visible to the drivers who need to read it (and of course they wouldn't care). Once people have a license, they aren't able to be educated IMO, so it needs to start at the high school level. But as long as the driver educators themselves think that bikes shouldn't be on the road there is no hope. :(

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  16. Sharrows have been really great in Seattle. They now appear on most major roads that are commonly used by cyclists, and they make it very clear that cyclists SHOULD be riding on the road, with traffic. Here is a photo of a sharrow:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sharedlanemarking.png

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  17. Reading this makes my blood boil, so I can imagine how frustrating it must have been for you.

    I agree that driver's education is greatly lacking and would do a lot to prevent tense situations like this. But I think the biggest contributing factor is that some people are major assholes. I'm still trying to come to terms with that fact, which affects many areas of my life, not just bicycling. :)

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  18. "In my view, lack of drivers' and cyclists' awareness about bicycling laws is largely responsible for cyclist-motorist confrontations."

    Modified.

    And what Dottie said - laws don't apply to the willfully ignorant.

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  19. Sorry to hear about that, V. Here's the issue that interests me most, though: why, in at least 30 years of trying, has bike education NEVER been made part of driver's education in any state? I know John Forester thinks it's a conspiracy by the car lobby, but I've seen no evidence to support that claim. So, what has happened? I'd really like to know the history. What happens when bike advocates go to the state DOT and board of education and suggest that it might be a good idea for everyone to be taught how to ride in traffic (just like every 12-year-old is taught in the Netherlands -- their excellent off-road infrastructure notwithstanding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16AO0_08r3o)? I really think that'd make the biggest difference, but somehow it has never worked.

    OTOH, while I was not actually taught to ride a bike in my own high school driver's ed class in the early '90s, I was definitely taught that bikes have the same rights and operate by the same rules; in fact, I distinctly remember being taught to move over one full lane to pass a person on a bike. And this class was taught by a macho, mustachioed football coach in a public high school in Florida!

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  20. I actually get how drivers end up thinking the way they do. I both ride and drive depending upon the time of year (two feet of snow stops me from riding, I'm just not that tough).

    Recently we had an accident between our car and a bicycle. the bike ran a stop sign at full tilt, cracked a carbon fiber wheel and took out glass and side mirror on our car. We had right of way (no stop sign) and the cops just shook their head and said "we see this all the time"

    We will not recover anything from the bicyclist even though he is at fault and we have thousands of dollars to replace glass and side mirror (safety issue, not even cosmmetic) on our one vehicle. Our insurance covers some but we, having a clean clean record and low miles on a single vehicle carried a high deductible (our mistake). (I should note that the biker was, thankfully, wearing a helmet and walked away from the accident)

    I watch bikes run stop signs every day of the week because I live and garden on a corner just like the one the accident happened at - a two way stop sign, not a 4 way stop sign.

    I ride bike in front of my husband and I stop for every stop sign, which means he has to stop. Where we live bikes are treated as vehicles on a road under the law.

    But stop and think about that. If bikes are "vehicles" then that means they're subject to the same laws as a car. Yet if you see them acting as if they aren't subject to the same law then you, as an unknowing driver, you assume that they AREN'T vehicles over time your brain assumes something different based upon observed behaviour.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't think the situation is right on either side but I see both sides of the situation and education and behavior change needs to happen from all parties involved. I don't think we'll be able to go car-free anytime soon even though we're down to one car and a pile of bikes for various uses so we must learn a different and better way.

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  21. It is funny, I will get honked at the most random times on the bike. To the point where I have no idea why they would be honking at me. I think I am clearly in the right, but I think some people are just determined to be haters and mean.

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  22. "Our local bicycle coalition offers education worskshops for cyclists and motorists. the motorists never show up."

    Shocking!

    The only thing that will ever change this problem is more drivers cycling (already a lot of cyclists drive, that part is taken care of).

    David Hembrow had a recent blog post about the good reception cycling infrastructure gets in The Netherlands, because almost all drivers bike, at least sometimes.

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  23. Exactly why bike infrastructure should mean bike racks. I'm not for bike lanes, which segregate bike (making them second class users). You give bikes somewhere "special" and many will think that is the only place you belong. Bikes should be traffic, like every other vehicle on the road.

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  24. Luckily in England in places where there's a cycle lane there's usually also a big red-painted section of tarmac with a bike logo directly behind the traffic light making it very clear to all road users that cyclists that arrived at the lights first have priority to cycle left or ahead, or can wait until there's an appropriate gap in oncoming traffic to make their right turn. Some drivers probably still don't have a clue, but with increasing numbers of these red painted sections appearing things should hopefully start to improve.

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  25. Here in San Diego, there has been an ongoing effort to make bicycling safer through a number of initiatives. After a two year trial in the bay area, the state of California has adopted the use of "sharrows" painted onto roadways, to alert motorist and bicyclist alike that bikes have full rights to use the lane. Bikes to not have to move to the right to let cars go by if there is very little room or a danger of being doored.

    There is a grass roots effort as well, through local biking advocacy groups, to help educate the local road users, again both motorist and bicyclist, of the laws governing the use of the road. It seems to be taking hold and as we get further into the campaign, I'm sure more people will begin to get the message. We've had good media coverage through TV, newspapers, internet bike forums, and even Craig's List and hope to get more as time goes by. Check out the list of links below to see how the ongoing effort is shaping up in San Diego.

    ===============

    SDBikeCommuter.com
    http://sdbikecommuter.com/forums/index.php


    San Diego Bike Union
    http://www.sdbikeunion.org/2011/04/what-is-sharrow-anyway.html

    Bike San Diego (Two articles)
    http://www.bikesd.org/2011/05/sharrows-in-the-lane/
    http://www.bikesd.org/2011/05/california-bill-to-ensure-that-traffic-devices-are-useful-to-all-road-users/

    San Diego Union Tribune ~ Robert Hawkins Bike column.
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/20/and-suddenly-there-were-sharrows-upon-city-streets/

    Bicycles Allowed Use Of Full Lane Campaign Stickers (San Diego ~ Craig's List)
    http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/bik/2410357369.html

    San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
    http://www.sdcbc.org/index.html

    Automobile Association of America (AAA):
    http://www.aaaexchange.com/Main/Default.asp?CategoryID=7&SubCategoryID=25&ContentID=74&SubContentID=9&

    KPBS Radio (PBS Radio in San diego)
    Pedestrian Activists Confront Streets That Are ‘Dangerous By Design’
    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/may/25/pedestrian-activists-confront-streets-are-dangerou/

    The Senate Takes Up Complete Streets
    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/may/25/senate-takes-complete-streets-dead-will-be-heating/



    =================

    Well that's enough for now! I'm sure you and your readers will have something to gain from at least skimming some of these articles.
    Your blog is again serving the whole country in it's efforts to make biking safe and part of the everyday experience, as well as educating at least the biking population that read your essays..

    Thank you for that!

    Ride well and be safe out there,

    OKB

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  26. Yes, there is the ignorance aspect to this but there is another: motorist road rage. I don't know the road rage laws in Mass or Boston, if any, or whether they are enforced or enforceable in practice. In my state road rage is illegal and there's even a hot line in my city. There is never anything in local media about the hot line's use or effectiveness.

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  27. Something magic happens the a perfectly sane people the second they get behind the wheel.

    They become self centered morons.

    It happens to lots of good people :^(

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  28. Veloria,
    I think I found out about it when I got my MassBike membership renewal last year; there was a loose sheet and a laminated spoke card in the package.
    I'm hoping on the motorist side that these come with license renewals and driving permits.

    Janice,
    I've actually had more problems on roads without bike lanes -Mass Ave in Boston in particular. The good news is that the city is adding bike lanes to both sides of Mass Ave and even removing parking on one side of the street to do it.

    Mark

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  29. A good read........

    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-05-27-cycling-survivor-a-post-crash-meditation-on-what-really-matters

    Share with those you care about.

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  30. " cyclists have taken to carrying copies of local bicycle laws and handing them out to motorists who harass them."

    I've considered doing exactly that! There's less harassment here from the drivers and more just stupidity. It's as if they encounter a cyclist and have no idea what they are supposed to do. Many drivers here will go out of their way to give me plenty of space while passing, only to run oncoming cars off the road! Like they can't wait 2 seconds for the oncoming traffic to go by. *Rolls eyes* Sometimes I think that there should be yearly drivers license testing, instead of renewing every 4-5 years or so. But from what I read in the other comments, in regards to cyclists this still wouldn't be much help since there just isn't much covered or the laws are just not being taken seriously by the instructors. I heard a commercial on the radio at work last week from the Governor's Highway Safety Office reminding drivers to share the road with motorcyclists. Which is good, but these days drivers already do consider motorcycles to be other viable vehicles on the roads. Maybe radio campaigns to remind drivers (car and motorcycles alike) that bicycles are vehicles on the road too.

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  31. The rights and responsibilities of cyclists are now being included in both drivers ed and license testing in Michigan. It took several years of lobbying y the League of Michigan Bicyclists band the cooperation of several state senators who are cyclists, but it did get done. Educating legislators is a good place to start.

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  32. I volunteered for two bicycle safety classes in Alameda CA in the past month. Thirty-one attendees at the first class, forty-seven at the second class, and they were all eager to learn how to negotiate traffic on their bikes. Much of the class time is dedicated to rights, responsibilities, and the LAW.

    It was empowering to learn about what our legal rights as cyclists are.

    There was a consensus at both sessions that motorists also need bike safety classes

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  33. At a point I think we should write down the license plate and send it in to local police ... even if it does not go anywhere. I have had this situation more than once and it does not seem to help to discuss this with a driver who is so certain that they are correct. At least the driver might think for a second!

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  34. Driver training and education have been diminished so much in the last 30 years, it is shameful. Traffic law enforcement here in Atlanta only happens for two things: a) if you're in an accident or, b)they are running a speed trap.

    It gets better. New drivers in Atlanta have their drivers test conducted in a parking lot. No road test in real traffic. Its been this way for at least 20 years and it shows. This is one case where we've gotten exactly what we paid for.

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  35. did you actually get the licence plate? could you find out who she was via the net and maybe send her the relevant literature to her home address?!

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  36. No we did not bother getting the license plate or doing anything like that. We were just out enjoying our day and didn't want to turn it into a whole thing.

    FWIW, the last time I was involved in a motorist confrontation it did involve license plates and it went like this. Apparently if a driver hits a cyclist but does not hurt or kill them, it's no big deal to the local police.

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  37. This kind of stuff happens to all of us, routinely. As others have mentioned, the perceptions created by the mere existence of bikelanes are part of the problem, but the main problem is driver ignorance and the truth is, we cannot do anything significant about that. Printing traffic codes will waste paper, create litter (and a projectile to be thrown at you in passing), and just rile motorists up even more. My response? After a few years of trying to discuss things like V et al did, I've reduced my response to a simple 1-finger salute. Same outcome, but it saves a lot of time and energy.

    -rob

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  38. Screech said...
    "simple 1-finger salute. Same outcome, but it saves a lot of time and energy."


    You think so? I was kinda hoping that, still huffing with indignation, the driver would look up the law when she got home and realise she'd been wrong.

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  39. in a world where some drivers don't think they need to stop at a STOP LIGHT, what hope do we have?

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  40. When stuff like that happens to me I just move over and gesture for the driver to pass.

    No use debating or trying to convince them.

    By the time someone is leaning on the horn because you're delaying their arrival to the next red light by a few seconds, rationality has already gone out the window. These people are on a bad trip and want to drag others down into it using any pretext, rational or not.

    The best thing you can do is to diffuse the situation by declining to escalate or prolong the confrontation.

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  41. Based on my experience (waiting at a red light, middle of the lane, so motorists can go right on red), it ends in escalating (motorist) profanity and the motorist passes on the right to go straight on red since his right to pass a bicyclist exceeds his obligation to wait before going straight on red.

    I have had both city police and Del Dept of Transportation staff (consulting engineers) tell me I can't turn left from left turn lanes. The police said if I was slower than the speed limit (i.e. waiting for cross traffic to clear) I had to be at the curb, while the DOT flat out said (not in writing) bicyclists can never take the ROW from motorists, and have to turn left from bike lanes if they are present. He dismissed the traffic code (I started carrying it with me after the discussion with the police officer).

    This is why I find disingenous comments about taking the lane being impractical so corrosive - I find it is in congested traffic such as Boston or Philadelphia that controlling the lane IS practical and necessary - left turning cars block the lane at intersections all the time.

    My impression is that this is also whey MD law requiring bike lane use do not allow exceptions for bicyclists moving at the speed of traffic. Since rush hour traffic is 10-20mph, if you don't restrict bicyclists to door zone bike lanes, they will not use them twice. the motorists are slowing down the bicyclists (and each other), but many of the motorists and police don't understand or respect the law any more than your motorist - they tell me that bicyclists do not have the right of way outside of bike lanes (or in bike lanes when cars are parked there, or when there is no bike lane, ....)

    Angelo

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  42. melissatheragamuffinMay 30, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    "Recently we had an accident between our car and a bicycle. the bike ran a stop sign at full tilt, cracked a carbon fiber wheel and took out glass and side mirror on our car. We had right of way (no stop sign) and the cops just shook their head and said "we see this all the time"

    I recently saw a near accident that involved a cyclist running a stop sign. I was stopped at the stop sign in question, could see that a car was coming, and the cyclist passed me on the right and blew right through the stop sign. He ended up falling off his bike. But, he just got up, gave the terrified driver the finger, and rode off. Does anyone think that the driver even saw that there was a law abiding cyclist present at this near miss, or that she will only remember the jerk who blew right though the stop sign and gave her the finger?

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  43. I love when they fuss at you, pass you, then execute some totally illegal move a little farther down the block. There is that one guy who put a video camera on his bike, and recorded all his interactions with motorists, though that was for informational rather than reporting purposes. I suppose we could all try that. Of course, the cops would probably still ignore us.

    I have somebody get seriously aggressive with me at least once a week here, though the frequency drops off in the winter. About once a year the local paper gets a letter to the editor about how somebody hates cyclists and wants to run them all off the road (I'm not joking, that's almost a direct quote from a couple years ago). Somebody tried to run me off the road last year, and I flagged down a cop who happened to be around the next corner. Though I pointed the vehicle out down the street and gave him the first half of the license plate number, and we have a share the road law here making such conduct a misdemeanor, the cop informed me he couldn't do anything. Such attitudes towards enforcement make having the laws on the books essentially worthless.

    The other forms of ignorance are almost worse, like the cyclists who think they should be on the road, but riding against traffic. Even if you can correct them, they often think the law must have changed recently, or something equally silly. How do people become convinced of such notions?

    I still think the best solution might be to just mount Gattling guns on our bikes. At least that might get the cops' attention :)

    Garth-

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  44. In Portland, we have these handy-dandy official "Oregon Bicycle Laws" business-sized cards which are great for handing out on just such an occasion. They are free, and most local bike shops stock them, as does the DMV! I try to keep one or two on me at all times while on the road. It's not the perfect solution, but it's better than fisticuffs, or getting run over!

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  45. In their defense, the Cambridge Police came through for this bicyclist over the weekend. A motorist swerved through the bike lane and then honked because I had been in her way. A pair of police officers who happened to be waiting at the intersection asked me if she had indeed cut me off; I said she almost hit me (and then honked). They proceeded to pull her over.

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  46. My own response in that kind of situation is to ignore the driver but to take the lane more aggressively, because I know the driver sees me, hence is not going to just run me over, and also is acting oddly, so I need to take more of the lane for my own safety. There are times when passive aggression is just the right thing to do.

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  47. Velouria, this is not just about not knowing the rules of the road; the lady's reaction was plain stupidity. Also, it's a well-known fact that the driver education in NA is nothing special, unfortunately.

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  48. re: 1 fingered salute vs reasoned arguments: I think it may be worthwhile to discuss the laws with a sane motorist, if you can have a breif and rational convo at a stoplight, but the honkin'/cussin' know-it-alls seem unlikely to actually look into such things. Their minds are made up.

    re: off-sides cyclists: This actually IS the law in many Latin American nations, and (at least around me) many vehicular cyclists hail from Latin American nations. Old habits die hard, and there are few ppl around who can and will take the time to explain the local laws to the immigrants. Many of the DQed-driver cyclists seem to take their cues from the Latin American cyclists, as they are the most numerous, and often tend to prefer similar styles of bikes as the DUI guys. (Walmart mtb.) Either way, aside from the increased danger for the off-side cyclists, i don't think this practice matters much in terms of the common perception of cycling in the USA.

    re: Jon Webb's remark on passive-aggressive riding: this is very good advice in most cases, but ppl have died that way, too.

    -rob

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  49. I think wallet sized cards would be a helpful thing in this situation. I have found myself in similar one--

    I was cycling on the left hand side of a one way street which happens to have a bike lane on the right hand side. I was on the left because I started out on that side of the street, I felt like being there, and I was planning on turning left in several blocks. I was buzzed by a car with a loud dog barking in my ear from the back seat. I let out a squeal and then the driver pulls over to the side of the road, and tells me that I MUST travel in the bicycle lane, since that is the law. I did not stop as I was afraid of more dog/man aggression out of him but as I passed by, I not so ceremoniously told him that I was about to turn left and the law lets me be in whatever lane I damn well please-- perhaps I should not have phased it so crudely-- but I was so taken aback, and well, pissed off. Had I a wallet sized card, I would have happily have flicked one in his general direction...

    This and many incidents like it are happening in Seattle, while riding on a heavily bicycle traveled corridor. This city is not always as bicycle friendly as people make it out to be. Though it is probably more of the rotten apple effect.

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  50. Motorists pay for the road tax (whatever you call it in US), so they thought they have the right.

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  51. Lim Soo - This is a common misconception. Everyone pays road tax in the US, including cyclists.

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    1. I am not sure you are right, and I am not sure you are wrong either. However, are you include cyclists that don't own cars? Most road taxes come from gasoline and tolls I thought; however, I may be wrong. Just want to point out that some arguments may not have any merit and they might. My question is what does that have to do with driving rules? When as a driver you have to yield to a pedestrian who is crossing the road, I fail to see what that has to do with whether they paid road tax or not???? What if the cyclist is 7 years old???? Have they paid road tax?

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  52. Last night my husband and I cycled to a restaurant next to a car and bicycle busy intersection. While we were eating we saw a bicycle waiting to turn left in front of a car with a bicycle on a roof rack. When the light turned green the car began blaring its horn as the cyclist rallied up the hill to turn left. We were astonished at the behavior from an ostensibly bicycle friendly driver. It seems not even cyclists are aware of bicycle rights on the road. We often hear stories of friends being practically driven off the road. It is difficult to determine an appropriate response that ensures your safety, but also educates drivers.

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  53. Sadly, our current society still has a LONG LONG WAY to go before we achieve unity on the roads. Lots of drivers I know firmly believe bicycles SHOULD NOT be on the road and will do things such as trying to delibrately cause an accident to a cyclist just so to get them off the roads.

    Also, its not just cyclists. Truck drivers frequently get their fair share of abuse on the road. Everyone bullies the truck drivers, cutting them off etc... for whatever unknown reasons.

    Luckly, the US still isn't too bad when it comes to such cases. The roads are still quite safe for the most part. You should try cycling in the Asian countries one of these days, such as China or Singapore. The roads and drivers there are really from the 7th level of hell!

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  54. Happens to me all the time, but usually without the civility of not trying to run me over. And once by a police officer (OK, County Sheriff, which around here is really just a politician with a gun, but still).....

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  55. I really have not had a any problems with the drivers around my area (Rio Grande Valley, deep South Texas). Sure there is the occasional honk but that is about it. There are some roads that I will not ride on due to heavy traffic and no shoulders.

    I can see the point that was made about bike lanes giving the false impression to drivers that cyclists have to stay in them. Or if no bike lanes then you can't be on the road.

    I had found a website in Austin, TX that has a pamphlet to pass out to motorists explaining Texas bike laws which seems to be a good idea to pass out at cycling events and bike rodeos.

    My main concern is how does one educate the masses of road rules and cyclists?

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  56. I LOVED this post!

    I live in the southern NJ shore....and I am CONSTANTLY being yelled at by motorists to "get on the sidewalk" where I "belong". Not to mention any combination of joggers, walkers & people pushing strollers in the precious few miles of dedicated bike lanes that we have.

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  57. What's funny about the "Get on the Sidewalk" mantra is that is distinctly against the law. SideWALK is called that for a reason. My sister got ticketed in a small Ohio town where there was no significant traffic issues or other problems simply for riding on the sidewalk. She was there because she did not inherit the ride on the road gene ;)

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  58. Try organizing something simple like a lemonade stand or a cookie/brownie stand in your community. Have the bikes all around. Encourage a dialogue. People would be more apt listen in that setting rather than read a flyer. Personally, in my community, I find the leotard cyclists to be downright arrogant and confrontational. They purposefully drive in the right lane of a 55mph parkway and pretend the huge bike lane doesn't exist, then yell at motorists for not moving over enough. Nobody wants to get yelled at by a grown man in a leotard. I let the last one of the hook. I get the law, but a lot of this comes from the bloated sense of entitlement yuppie cyclists throw around. Anybody that will grasp at the smallest thing to exert control over someone else is weird.

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  59. In my area, I notice that bicyclists usually don't stop at stop signs. They just blow throught them. They do this even if there are lines of cars waiting their turn to go. Isn't ironic that you all want motorists to obey the laws of the road when most of you don't?

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  60. I have a question that I am not sure is going to be able to be answered here. I think the issues regarding bikes versus cars is often an us versus them concept in both directions. I believe that both have a right to the road, and that both should behave EQUALLY responsible. Here is a question for all you bike enthusiasts out there. I am in my car and see 2 cyclists in front of me. I am approaching an intersection where I wish to turn right. There is no designated bike lane. T'hey are biking not in the actual lane, but in the side by the curb where mostly cars park. As I approach the intersection, bicycle A is in front of me and of course there is no question of whether or not to yield to them. To not yield would automatically mean that I would plow into them. I am slowing to an almost stop and have my turn signal to turn right blinking. I turn to look to my right and see bike B behind me and coming right up past me without even pausing. I of course am careful and make sure they have a free passage to continue. My questions are 2. 1. Did she (being behind me) have the right of way? If so, why? She was not in a proper lane. If she were in a car she would not be able to drive where she was. 2. Even if she did, is it not a reasonable statement that if cars should demonstrate extra caution around people on bikes in case they do something stupid that a cyclist should also be wise to be cautious in just such a situation? The argument I had with a friend is his statement that people on bikes have a right to the road (I agreed), that people in cars should be cautious around people on bikes to avoid accidents (I agreed), but that also she had the absolute right of way and that I was out of line for saying that it irritates me that people on bikes do not seem to be concerned, and that she should have at least slowed down to gauge from her side what was about to happen. What started this argument was that I said that I thought she was awfully careless to have not even slowed down in case I had turned onto the road. We are having 2 arguments. 1 is that he says she had the right of way and I find that hard to believe (but I am willing to agree that he may be right no matter how hard I find to believe that). The 2nd is that he seems to think that people on bikes can simply assert their right of way and that to criticize them otherwise is to cheapen their rights. However, in the same argument he asserts that even if someone in a car has the right of way, that they should always be cautious to defer to the bike. Logic dictates that this statement says that bikes always have the right of way in all circumstances. How can we not realize that both cars and bikes have rights to the road, but are equally responsible. Wisdom and right of way are not going to give you the same answer when the question of how to proceed comes up. I am all for bikes if that has not come across, but I also live in an area that people on bikes run through lights, run through stop signs, ride on the sidewalk, ride on the shoulder, ride in the actual traffic lane, signal, don't signal, etc. and would have to say that people on bikes who act like they are part of traffic are awesome, but those who do not and shout right of way are somewhat confusing to me. Please comment. I am curious.

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