Re: Back in the saddle

1
In a larger sense, I'm hoping to tackle my fear of cars around bikes.

One ought not suppress rational fears.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:39 AM
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I can't get over that fear at all. I'm willing to take the girls on the sidewalks and maybe this summer we'll do a bike trail, but I just can't handle the street. And I'm not even pregnant!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:44 AM
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I was going to say that you probably were uncomfortable because the bike doesn't fit you very well, but of course that's wrong. You were uncomfortable because you're fifty months pregnant. Good for you for going!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:45 AM
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In any case the only way to get used to being around cars on bikes is to do it. Also, it might just be scary where you are, if cars drive too fast and never expect see bikes. On the other other hand you were probably talking about riding on quiet suburban streets, which, really, fine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:46 AM
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You'll understand when you're a parent.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:50 AM
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I saw the list of comments, "XYZ comments on 'Back in the saddle'" and briefly hoped it might refer to some good news from AWB. Oh well. Here's to a swift end to all unwelcome droughts.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:57 AM
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Sifu, I know my quiet suburban streets are safe, but I'd probably need to go back on anti-anxiety medicines to bike on them. My chest is getting a little tight just thinking about it, although my congestion isn't helping there. (As a stupid aside, whenever I get congested to the point where I can't fill my lungs, I start having panic attacks to varying degrees that make the inability to breathe even worse. Why does my body need to be so stupid?)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:59 AM
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That doesn't seem like a problem with biking per se. Not really sure how to help you there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:03 AM
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Congrats! I agree that the only way to get comfortable is to progressively spend more time in traffic. I have, however, heard very good things about these riding in traffic classes:

http://www.austincycling.org/classes


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:04 AM
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No, I know. I just meant that you don't need to give me good advice because it probably won't help, which has nothing to do with you or the quality of your advice. I'm just really scared of cars, though it doesn't seem to impact my driving except to make me much more cautious than the norm.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:06 AM
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You know, if more cyclists carried guns, then drivers of cars would be warier about intimidating them. Stand your ground!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:21 AM
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I'm just really scared of cars

Me too. When I think about cycling in traffic, it scares me a lot. But when I'm actually doing it, I feel much more in control, and am rarely scared. I go back and forth about whether this means that cycling in traffic gives me a false sense of control and is actually foolhardy, but meh, I do it anyway.

(Well, I used to do it a lot more. I've been focusing on walking during the pregnancy for the sake of my hips and back.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:28 AM
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Anyhow it's not like sidewalks are some oasis of safety. Cars can drive up onto the sidewalk just fine, especially if there isn't street parking (or if the street parking isn't fully occupied). Really, there are very few things you can do in this country that don't involve 1. being well inside a building or 2. trusting random strangers to have the forethought and reflexes not to kill you with the enormous, flying hunk of metal they are in sole control of.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:35 AM
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In a larger sense, I'm hoping to tackle my fear of cars around bikes.

The best way to deal with fears like this is to confront them head-on. I recommend biking on the freeway. Suburban streets will be cinch after that.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:35 AM
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11: There was a guy on a cycling related mailing list I used to subscribe to who made a habit of riding with a Ruger Blackhawk strapped to his leg on the side facing traffic. He claimed it lead to much nicer behavior by drivers.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:35 AM
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Something that I found really helpful in terms of anxiety around cars is being told, and eventually believing, that a car is very unlikely to hit you from behind. Bike-car accidents are much more often about doors or turning. If you can get over fear of the cars behind you that you can't see, and focus on the ones you can see, it's much less scary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:36 AM
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Drivers are generally not actually murderous assholes. Per LB's comment, the vast, vast majority of car/bike interactions happen when the driver didn't see the bike. Once you internalize that, and start to pay attention to how to make yourself more visible, everything becomes much calmer (especially in places with wide streets and low speed limits).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:39 AM
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13.1: this is just a silly objection. C'mon: how often do cars injure folks on the sidewalk as opposed to on the road? I'm not some wikipedia-editor-"cite"-shouter, but be reasonable in estimating these things, dude!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:44 AM
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||

David Brooks: "American high school students tease nerds, while there is no such concept in the Chinese vocabulary."

Gawker: "Whenever you hear someone explain that a concept is so foreign to this or that culture that people cannot even use their language to describe it, it is safe to assume your passport has just been stamped for entry into the Land of Bullshit."

The comments have other people suggesting better translations for "nerd" that the one Gawker gives, which just comes from Google. I bet you guys can do a better job of tackling the issue of whether any of these differences in connotation justify saying that the Chinese have no word for nerd.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:45 AM
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18: I dunno. I know somebody who got a TBI after a truck jumped the curb and hit her. Probably most people injured by cars are riding in cars, by at least an order of magnitude, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:47 AM
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19: there's a language log post that seems dispositive to me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:47 AM
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As I've said here before, I think in many ways the sidewalks are more dangerous, at least if driveways in which cars are pulling into or out of are considered. A car can usually see you when you're acting something like a car might; a car that needs to cross a sidewalk to get into a driveway is generally really really really not expecting something on wheels to come by at 15 mph.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:51 AM
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My solitary crusade to increase bicycle riding to school in my community has not grown past my own family. At least half of the
400 kids in my son's school (grades 3-6) live within bicycle distance, and there are never more than five bicycles in the rack. Most disturbing, my son is the only rider from our section of town. There's a short stretch in a street that gets some traffic, but it has a wide shoulder. By the way, there would be much less traffic if the other parents stopped driving their kids to School. Parents suck.


Posted by: Unimaginative | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:53 AM
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Here is something from a reputable university: Bicycling on the sidewalk eliminates the relatively small danger to cyclists of crashes
with overtaking motorists, but increases the potential for more common intersection
collisions.

Street biking is safer -- say no to sidewalks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:05 AM
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19: there's a language log post that seems dispositive to me.

I believe it's considered courteous to provide a link. I don't hold your not having done so against you, though, because I know that the concept of courtesy is entirely foreign to Boston.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:05 AM
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Part of the problem is that Jammies is the one biking with the Precious Cargo attached, so it's out of my control. I just watch them being pulled merrily along and it freaks me out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:09 AM
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For the record, I live on a street with no driveways. I can only think of one driveway in about a five-block radius, and I know where it is. People either have garages that exit into the alley or they park on the street. And so around the neighborhood, yes, the girls are definitely going to bike on the sidewalk if they're biking. I probably would feel safe enough tooling around in our neighborhood on the street, but no way are the kids doing that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:09 AM
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And sidewalks are too erratic here to bother to bicycle on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:09 AM
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For what it's worth, my wife's cousin was killed by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling near his home, around fifteen years ago. He was a safe and experienced cyclist, always wore a helmet, etc. So it's not an unfounded fear, even if unlikely most of the time.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:10 AM
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I've been contemplating trying to get a bike again and start cycling to work, but I haven't figured out how to make it match up with the daycare logistics (since even if I figure out a reasonable way to put the kid on the bike, I need to leave a stroller there for my wife to use in the afternoon pickup). Pushing a stroller while riding a bike does not seem like the best idea; I suppose I could try just pushing both the bike and the stroller and start riding after I do dropoff.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:10 AM
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As I've said here before, I think in many ways the sidewalks are more dangerous, at least if driveways in which cars are pulling into or out of are considered.

Yes, aggggggghhhHHHH driveways.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:11 AM
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Even above and beyond driveways, per the link in 24 you still have more problems with sidewalk riding when you're trying to cross an intersection -- it's easier for a car not to see you when turning left if you're coming into the intersection and crossing the street from a sidewalk instead of from the road.

It's probably fine for little kids going at very slow speeds with an adult right there, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:17 AM
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Is there covered bike parking anywhere near the daycare? You could leave the bike parked near the daycare overnight. Lock it there when you come home in the evening and walk the rest of the way?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:17 AM
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It's definitely a collective action problem-- the first bikers on some stretch of road run a higher risk than people who come later. Once drivers are used to seeing bikers (who are hopefully polite, stopping at the signs and riding predictably and all), it's easier to ride.

That said, there are some road configurations that just don't work-- 2-lane roads that carry a lot of traffic, especially if windy and hilly, semi-dense places where drivers don't pay attention and don't have clear rights-of-way like parking lot entrances.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:18 AM
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Put the kid and the stroller in one of those giant Dutch wheelbarrow bike thingies.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:18 AM
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For what it's worth

Not much, I'd think? As I said, I know somebody who (nearly) died walking on the sidewalk not too long ago, and of course I assume almost everybody here knows (or knows of) somebody who has been seriously injured in a car crash?

27: truth be told, while Halford's not wrong, the bigger (and much more problematic in many ways) point of intersection between people bicycling on the sidewalk and cars is crosswalks; cars are going faster there than they are at driveways, and they aren't expecting somebody moving at non-walking pace. Which means that if you are committed to this plan you should make them get off the bike before crossing the street. Which means they'll never be able to ride for more than a block at a time, which will likely mean they'll rapidly get bored of it -- if it's not a good way to get around, what's the point -- which, depending on your perspective solves your problem or is itself a problem (because they'll never get skilled enough to be comfortable riding in mildly more challenging situations).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:21 AM
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2-lane roads that carry a lot of traffic, especially if windy and hilly

You'd think that this was basically universal but you're probably safer on a bicycle in Italy than you are in a car, and they have tons and tons of roads like this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:22 AM
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You're probably safer not being in Italy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:24 AM
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12: My hips are in open revolt at this point. I've been swimming three or four times a week, which seem to help with everything. But I always thought the warned-about pregnancy waddling was due to the baby's head descending, and it turns out, in my case at least, it's due to hinky hip joints.

I've biked to work a few times, which I liked, except when the chain came undone under load while going up hill. But only residential streets for me -- it is rational to be afeared of cars.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:24 AM
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I used to comfortably bike on the streets all the time in California but when I moved to the South, I switched to the sidewalks. I think there's a definite difference in driver attention between the South and other places. Which is kind of weird since the weather is more suitable for biking in the South than e.g. where I am now. Anyway, drivers in the South (generally, but I'm sure there are some cities that are exceptions) don't seem to be used to things like people wanting to cross the street, leaving enough space for bikers, looking when they pull out onto a road, or even crosswalks. All of those lead to a death of pedestrian or a biker in my previous town. It was ridiculous. Fortunately, no one really walked either so the sidewalks were free.

So, that probably didn't help with the 'not comfortable biking on the road' feelings of people. I actually love biking on the road. I don't bike really fast but I take my space where necessary. Plus my job is flexible enough I can bike when the traffic is light.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:29 AM
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The owner of a nearby bike store went on a bike tour a little over a year ago that was supposed to start in Florida, wind its way around the gulf a bit, and end (with a few stretches traveled by car) in Texas. I was following it on her blog. After a few days in Florida, having things thrown at her regularly (like glass bottles) and ultimately being sideswiped by a pickup truck, she decided to skip the rest of the Florida portion.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:32 AM
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40.1: yeah, that's all genuinely problematic, and may well be influencing Thorn's thinking, in which case... yeah, sorry Thorn. Bummer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:34 AM
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This thread may be making me more fearful, not less.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:35 AM
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42: Actually, just thinking about this has encouraged me to map out a way that we could get from our house to the car-free bridge that takes us all the way to the bike trail in the park on the other side of the river that doesn't require crossing any driveways. If Mara can improve her biking a little, we could totally do that this spring/summer. (We already do it as a walk, but just the park and not the bike path.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:38 AM
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Italy

Yeah, recreational biking along 2-lane roads is common in CZ, seems much less dangerous than on equivalent roads here beacsue of different attitudes.

When I lived in Saint Louis, I couldn't afford a car, had a job about 7 miles from where I lived, biked weather permitting. Roads were wide enough and lightly trafficked to support safe sharing. But probably every third or fourth drive yielded a hostile driver-- yelling, throwing crap, funny near-swipes.

I think the problem is a mindset of entitlement to an open, fast lane of traffic, a fantasy of roads without other drivers.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:45 AM
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|| Is there some reason other than assholery that prevented Justice Scalia from joining in footnote 6 of today's opinion in Levin v. United States? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:45 AM
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46: Nope, sounds like you nailed it.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:49 AM
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From many years of driving cars and riding motorcycles, I'd say the two most important things are being visible and not doing the unexpected and stupid. I mean, like suddenly emerging from a hidden alley onto the road, followed by your ducklings, isn't a good idea. I missed them, but not by much, and my reaction times are still very fast. Someone texting or otherwise distracted would have nailed two cute little kids.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:10 AM
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I really boil at all the cyclists around here who barrel through red lights, including at blind intersections. I think I mentioned this before, but I've even seen one running a red light, blocking cars that wanted to move, with a little kid in a seat behind him.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:22 AM
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47 to 48, and stop nailing cute little kids you guys.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:25 AM
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I've seen an astounding number of cars run red lights. What is it about drivers that makes them think red lights don't apply to them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:25 AM
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And oh my god, pedestrians! Seriously, it's like people start traveling by foot and they think no laws apply to them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:27 AM
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51: Some of it is just plain idiocy, some is worry about the truck or car behind being too close to stop if one brakes hard. It's not always an easy choice.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:28 AM
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I see a pedestrian cross against the light in such a way that cars who have the right of way have to stop for them basically every day! When is there going to be a crackdown? People just walk into the street because they figure "oh, I don't see any cars that I am inconveniencing too terribly badly, and if there are any they probably won't just flatten me." Do they have a death wish? I can't imagine walking to get around. It's fucking terrifying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:29 AM
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53: true. Not in any mode of transportation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:30 AM
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Actually sometimes it's a really easy choice, just the optimal choice isn't strictly legal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:30 AM
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6: Sniff!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:33 AM
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56: True. If I've got a gasoline tanker in back of me and a yellow light in front, I'm inclined to floor the accelerator. If that light turns red a bit before I'm through the intersection my guilt reflex doesn't kick in at all, "illegal" can go fuck itself.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:35 AM
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Here's to a swift end to all unwelcome droughts.

I like this as a toast!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 10:52 AM
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Here's to a swift end to all unwelcome draughts.
CHUG!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 11:00 AM
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Misread "here's to a swift end to all unwelcome droughts" as "here's to gswift end all unwelcome droughts"


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 12:01 PM
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61: his wife might object.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 12:08 PM
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What's safer for a kid then, d'you reckon - cycling along in front of me where I can see then and shout instructions (I'm very bossy) but being first in line to smack into a car door, or cycling behind me where I'll fret more but they might be protected more?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:22 PM
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63: that's an interesting question. My instinct is behind, because then they can follow your line, but I don't actually have a strongly formed opinion. Which is, you know, weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:24 PM
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Asilon, you have more than one kid, right? This is what the scientific method is for.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:29 PM
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My policy is ahead, but that isn't so much because I think it's safer, as if something happens I'll know, whereas if they're behind I could be blocks away before I miss them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:30 PM
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30- umbrella stroller can be bungeed to the back of a bike that has a child seat on it. Or some trailers convert to strollers when unhooked from the bike.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:30 PM
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I generally make mine go in front, because otherwise I just spend too much time looking for them. But I do wonder.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:32 PM
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Obviously, you'd have to change which one goes in front and which one goes in back on different days to control for age, ability, etc.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:32 PM
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Bungeed folded up that is- I don't advocate pulling the kid in an umbrella stroller with a bungee cord waterski-style.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:33 PM
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I'll start this weekend!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 1:34 PM
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13.1: this is just a silly objection. C'mon: how often do cars injure folks on the sidewalk as opposed to on the road? I'm not some wikipedia-editor-"cite"-shouter, but be reasonable in estimating these things, dude!

I used to work with someone who later killed a pedestrian on the sidewalk with his car. Therefore I assume it happens all the time.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 5:15 PM
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I knew some parents who watched their 8 year old get hit (and killed) by a truck, while biking up on the sidewalk. I'm a bit haunted by that story, knowing the stretch where it happened.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 5:30 PM
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||
NIN's 'Head Like a Hole' mashed with 'Call Me Maybe' is terrible and perfect
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 6:42 PM
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74: I was just going to post that! It's so so good. And the comment thread, with all the Verge employees making jokes, cracks me up.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 6:49 PM
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74 is amazing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:02 PM
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I keep playing it over & over. The damned thing is too perfect.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:10 PM
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I'd probably never bike on the sidewalk vs. the street - not that I bike at all anymore - but I never got that used to biking in traffic vs. biking on nearly empty residential streets or country roads. Also this thread is making me afraid to walk anywhere or drive anywhere.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:52 PM
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Also, also, a friend of mine broke his collarbone in a collision with another cyclist in an intersection where both ran stop signs at high speed. My friend started to laugh while telling the story and then stopped because laughing hurt.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:54 PM
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Also this thread is making me afraid to walk anywhere or drive anywhere.

Eeeexcellent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:54 PM
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81

I'm already as afraid to bike anywhere as I'll ever be!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:57 PM
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82

You could rollerskate.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:59 PM
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83

Heh, my favorite example of 54 was when I was biking through an intersection, had a green light, but people decided to cross on the far side of the intersection even though they had a Don't Walk. So I stop and dismount in the middle of the intersection, and more people keep crossing (it was near a subway exit so I guess a train had just unloaded) to the point where the light turns red. Now I need to get out of the intersection so cars don't hit me going across on the other road, I try to maneuver through and one guy turns to me and says all self righteously, "You know, you're supposed to obey the lights." Fuck you, self righteous pedestrian- I m sure he's gone off and told people about how rude bikers are and how we shouldn't make bike lanes to accommodate those lawbreaking bikers.
My other favorite is when I was coming to a stop sign, a pedestrian was about to cross so I stopped and dismounted. Turns out it was a city councilor, she stopped in the crosswalk and turned to me and said, "You know, bikes can kill people just like cars can." I'm not the one you should be talking to, since, you know, I actually stopped for you. I never voted for her again (although a lot of good it did, I think she's the mayor now.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:00 PM
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84

I'm either culturally retarded or blessed in that I don't know either song well enough to get much out of the mashup.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:01 PM
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85

People bike on the sidewalk here, but not many people seem to bike. I wish they'd call out or have a bell or something. I almost got hit by a bike rider I never heard behind me until he slammed on his brakes and skidded. I just happened to be moving to the left side of the sidewalk to walk on to a path; he must have thought I'd stay on the right until after he passed by. With warning, I'd have stayed on the right.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:05 PM
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My question about 74 is whether you could reverse it. And also whose musical brain is large enough and cross-referenced enough that they realized this would work (and then shouted "they called me MAD at the institute!" as lightning flashed in the background.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:10 PM
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I'm a bike-everywhere guy, but I get really, really annoyed by stuff like 85. Safety matters, and the key thing for safety is letting others know where you are and what you're doing. When I see someone riding without lights in the dark, or when someone passes me silently on the right, I fill up with rage.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:12 PM
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88

The only place I ride on the sidewalk is actually my own road, which is a 4-lane parkway that's barely actually 4 lanes, and is a busy high-speed commuter artery when it's not backed up with angry rush hour commuters. No way I would ever bike on that, which is totally legal- you're allowed to bike on the sidewalk as long as it's not a designated commercial district (indicated with "no biking on sidewalk" signs.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:12 PM
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88: oh boy if it's the road I think it is I wouldn't bike there either. I'm barely willing to drive there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:22 PM
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On the transit topic generally, I was amused recently to learn that VCU's bus system is called RamRide.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:24 PM
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88, 89. My 1st thought was FP P (this is not on the 1st page of results). Yeah, I'd avoid that on a bike. Even the one named after the fish is very problematic. This from a person who, on the first day I learned to ride, was taken on a 5 mile r/t bike ride on the streets in Dorchester. Part it was of along Dorchester Avenue too!

BTW, for those who do not want to be further worried about street safety, don't read streetsblog's new york pages. Infuriating.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 8:32 PM
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I think I've mentioned before that I wasn't really bothered by people biking on the sidewalk when I lived in NJ, because the distances were well-suited for biking but the roads seemed incredibly dangerous places to bike: narrow and filled with angry, aggressive drivers. Then I moved here, where people seem to bike on the sidewalk by default even when there are bike lanes in the street and little or no car traffic, and got annoyed again. Then I moved to a different part of town that has much more auto-oriented development patterns and became more sympathetic to people preferring to bike on the sidewalk and maybe just getting used to it and carrying that attitude over into areas where biking in the street is much safer.

I've actually mostly seen bikes neither on the sidewalk nor on the street but on the (fantastic) multi-use trail system. I wonder if getting used to that is part of the reason people tend to bike on sidewalks rather than streets elsewhere in the city.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 9:06 PM
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91- First thought is correct. A few years ago someone who grew up here decades ago sent us a note, mentioning that they used to go sledding on the road after snowstorms.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 5-13 5:19 AM
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My favorite place to find idiotic pedestrians, and/or questionable road layout, is Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington. There are bike lanes in the middle of the street, between the car lanes. Also, for like 10 blocks on Pennsylvania there is a perfect view of the dome of the U.S. Capitol, but only when you're in the middle of the street. So you get people stopping to take pictures of the Capitol, or of their friends and family posing in front of the Capitol, and if they're relatively smart they're doing it in the bike lane because the alternative is to do it in a lane meant for cars, but if they were smart they wouldn't be doing it at all. At least not during rush hour. (For the record, in the SE area near the Unfoggedecacon, there's a grassy median. Take pictures there to your heart's content.)

Personally, I usually bike in the street, hug the curb or bike in the parking lane if there's no bike lane, and just take my chances. I know there's a risk of a car door opening or a pedestrian walking in front of my face, but that's an abstract concern, while getting honked at is annoying and/or frightening in a more immediate way.

People biking on the sidewalk is definitely annoying when I'm a pedestrian. I rarely do it myself, except for when (a) traffic is so backed up that I can't squeeze through any other way, or (b) there's no bike lane and I'm going up a hill steep enough that I'm going at a crawl and/or wobbling. If either is the case, certainly both, biking in the street seems dangerous.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-13 9:04 AM
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On the transit topic generally, I was amused recently to learn that VCU's bus system is called RamRide.

At East Tennessee State, it's called BucShot.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 5-13 7:24 PM
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I know there's a risk of a car door opening or a pedestrian walking in front of my face, but that's an abstract concern, while getting honked at is annoying and/or frightening in a more immediate way.

After leaving work today, while unlocking my bike, I noticed a woman cruising past on a pretty sweet bike. When I reached the merge at the bottom of the block, there she was again--only now she was on the sidewalk, shaking with pain and anger and shock, with a (probably; self-diagnosed) broken finger, because some asshole had opened a car door into her. I stopped to ask whether there was anything I could do, and to try to express some sort of bike-commuter solidarity, and because I imagined that in her situation I'd feel better having a fellow biker there while demanding contact info &c. from the 3 inhabitants of the car, and so on, but she said she was fine and that I should take off, so I did.

I hope she's okay. Maybe I should have stuck around? I don't know.

This happens all the damn time. Sifu and LB are absolutely right when they say that this sort of thing, rather than people ramming you from behind or whatever, being the real danger.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 5-13 9:12 PM
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I find that I am a bad - ie law-breaking - cyclist when I think like a pedestrian, and a better, safer one when I think like a car driver. I mean, as a pedestrian, I am totally anarchic, figuring that the risks I take jaywalking or whatever are nobody's business but mine. And so I completely ignore red lights and so forth -- though much less recklessly than cyclists tend to do in London. But I am a remarkably law-abiding car driver and would be horrified to drive against a read light in one, even on a completely clear road. Odd, that.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:42 AM
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as a pedestrian, I am totally anarchic, figuring that the risks I take jaywalking or whatever are nobody's business but mine.

I've been almost injured by pedestrians far more often than by cars - the number of people who step off the pavement on to Oxford Street without looking, right in front of cyclists, is amazing. I've come off a few times doing crash-stops to avoid hitting them, and they look at me with bovine indifference and then carry on walking.
OTOH, saw a guy this morning lying in the gutter because a car had knocked him off. So that's a risk too.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:47 AM
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If you're not used to having lots of bikes around, it is hard to remember that they use the whole width of the road -- a pedestrian is pretty safe from cars if they're off the curb but close to it, but that's right where a bike wants to be. I've been on both ends of that one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 6:19 AM
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I've come off a few times doing crash-stops to avoid hitting them

I've not crashed, but have often had to break hard enough to cause massive break squeal, which of course reads to the idiot pedestrian as "out of control bike that almost hit me."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 6:47 AM
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Brake!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 6:48 AM
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I jaywalk regularly on a street near my apartment. The reason is that by crossing in the middle of the road I only have to watch for traffic from one direction at any given time. Crossing at the crosswalk involves the risk of being hit by drivers turning as well as going straight, and the way people drive around here is not exactly pedestrian friendly, to say the least. I realize this means taking my life in my hands, but so does crossing at the crosswalk. Being dead between two lines of paint does not seem to me superior to being dead in the middle of the block.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 6:51 AM
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101: D'oh!

I hate it when I have to break when I'm petaling hard.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 6:55 AM
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by crossing in the middle of the road I only have to watch for traffic from one direction at any given time. Crossing at the crosswalk involves the risk of being hit by drivers turning as well as going straight

Eh? Surely the point about crossing at the crosswalk is that you won't have to worry about traffic, because it will have been signalled to stop before you are signalled to cross? (Assuming "crosswalk" = "pedestrian crossing" here...)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:06 AM
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I jaywalk all the time*. I'm all for it. Really, I'm all for anything that partially reclaims the streets from cars and/or makes drivers have to think more about whether there will be something that is not thousands of pounds of metal impeding their path.

* Honestly, by Boston standards I don't jaywalk that much. Everybody does so much of it here because it isn't (quite) illegal, exactly, the way it is other places, which is one of my favorite things about this part of the world.

It totally makes sense, though, that bikes would often act more like pedestrians than cars, doesn't it? If you think of a vehicle in terms of the damage they can cause to somebody else, a bike is, what, four times as dangerous as somebody walking at a normal pace? Maybe twice as dangerous as somebody jogging, on average? And a driver in a car is, what, two orders of magnitude more dangerous than that? One of those things is not like the other two. And, of course, bikes are also different in that any infrastructure specifically designed for them is provisional and minimal, and otherwise they're forced to claim space from two other classes -- drivers and pedestrians, again -- that may feel unfairly put upon. I'm about the opposite of an oppressed class but sometimes a person feels that way when riding a bike.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:13 AM
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Gaaahd I do rant about this, don't I. Yesterday on Facebook a friend posted something about bicyclists constantly breaking laws, what with "wearing dark clothes, riding at night without lights, riding without reflectors or helmets". Only one of those is a law, dude. I had to hide the post lest I get sucked in.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:15 AM
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104: In Virginia cars can turn right on a red light (supposedly treating it like a stop sign). In practice this means they tear around the corner without so much as slowing down. Even with the lights in your favor you have to watch for someone coming up from behind and hitting you as they turn. Also the lights at the particular intersection of concern are timed so that a pedestrian can get about 3/4 of the way across before they change. Northern VA is simply not pedestrian friendly at all.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:20 AM
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In Virginia cars can turn right on a red light (supposedly treating it like a stop sign). In practice this means they tear around the corner without so much as slowing down.

One of my other favorite things about this part of the world: when the state legalized right turns on red in the early '80s the town I currently live in immediately put up "No Right On Red" signs at all of them. It doesn't always stop people (see above about drivers running red lights all the damn time) but it helps.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:22 AM
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It doesn't bug me as much as it used to, but how totally fucked up is it that we have major population centers that aren't safe to walk around? Its so inhumance and dissociated. Even in the best case like 7/8ths of the unbuilt surface of our cities is designating as legally inappropriate for unmodified humans, but then in lots of places even the 1/8th that remains is so careless and thoughtless that that's terrifyingly dangerous for mere meat-beings, too. Fucking cyborg dystopia. You know jaywalking wasn't invented until like the 1920s? Before that, the idea that a person wasn't allowed to walk in the street was absurd. You wouldn't necessarily want to, since it was full of mud and shit -- sidewalks helpfully provided as a convenience! -- but obviously you could.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:29 AM
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This city was built for Daleks!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:33 AM
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107: ah, I see. Lethal. Thanks...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:35 AM
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It's fascinating that it happened in the '20s, too. Can't you imagine some fucking unruined plutocrat, sick of getting hobo juice on his Duesenberg, claiming the great bulk of urban public property as his unimpeded right-of-way just so he'd have a straight shot out to West Egg?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:35 AM
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This city was built for Daleks!

WE BUILT THIS CITY ON ROCK AND ROLL THE RUINED HOMES OF OUR EXTERMINATED ENEMIES


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:36 AM
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112: around the same time, the UK was happily abolishing all speed limits (Road Traffic Act 1930) on the grounds that everyone was ignoring them anyway and it was making the law look silly. (Reintroducing them 5 years later in order to preserve a small remnant of the British population from flattening.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:40 AM
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111, 107 -- IMO, it's a hugely regional thing. In the west, generally, there's a much stronger culture of stopping for pedestrians, and a corresponding disapproval of jaywalking. When one moves west to east, one is surprised (as a driver) by having pedestrians popping from between parked cars all over the place, and nearly getting rear-ended all the time while letting people cross in a cross walk. Moving east to west, you get the glares of pedestrians as you pass them, with feet to spare, in crosswalks, and have to constantly worry about rear-ending the car ahead which has suddenly stopped because some pedestrian looked like they might be thinking about maybe crossing the street.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:46 AM
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115: weird; that does not match my experience at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:49 AM
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Having pretty much only lived in college towns, I've never lived somewhere that disapproved much of jay-walking.

(In Texas they might disapprove of the walking part.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:50 AM
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I enjoy both walking and biking, and generally support policies designed to encourage both, but honestly Tweety's comments are making me want to take out a few pedestrians or cyclists in the car just for sport.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:51 AM
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Which is to say in the west I found a much stronger disapproval of jaywalkers combined with a much weaker culture of stopping for (or at least looking out for) pedestrians. Woe betide the Angeleno who thought they could cross the unsignalized crosswalk near my old house there without first checking that no traffic was in sight (a situation that never actually obtained).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:52 AM
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The machine has captured you, Halford. Howard Zinn saw saw this clearly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:52 AM
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114. Ah, 1930. That was the year my father, who had never been behind the wheel of a car before, got into the second hand Morris he co-owned with three other lads, bump started it down a hill, and drove it around until he felt he'd mastered the art. Test? What test?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:52 AM
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I'm actually not even kidding about the rest of it, although I've mostly made my peace, as I say. What a fucking horrible thing we western cultures decided to do to ourselves when we got our hands on cars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:53 AM
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(Not solely or specifically western cultures, obviously. Just talking about first-past-the-post and/or what I know.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 7:55 AM
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And to 118 you could totally get away with it if you wanted to. By far the best way to kill somebody and avoid serious trouble is to hit them with a car. Go for it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:00 AM
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"here's to gswift end all unwelcome droughts"...61: his wife might object.

Applicants can post their naked pics to the Flickr pool and I'll let her make the final call.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:04 AM
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I haven't spent much time in LA, it's true. But tend to think of it as being sui generis wrt the Cult of the Sacred Car, just as NYC is sui generis in the opposite direction.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:07 AM
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No, the same Western crosswalk/stopping thing (which is accurate) generally applies to LA. The only difference is that in super crowded areas there are both tons of cars and to s of pedestrians so things sometimes get messy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:11 AM
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That's why I support the concealed carrying of caltrops. You can hit me, but it's gonna cost ya.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:11 AM
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I mean, as a pedestrian, I am totally anarchic, figuring that the risks I take jaywalking or whatever are nobody's business but mine.

My issue with this is that they only call the full time accident investigators to ped/car accidents when the ped is DOA or looks like there's a solid chance they're going to head towards the light. If you're just mangled in a survivable way I'm the one who has to listen to your groans and swear at you in my head while I do really tedious paperwork and diagramming.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:11 AM
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In Virginia cars can turn right on a red light

And that's how I got hit by a car while running! The practical effect of allowing right-on-red is that drivers roll up to and through the crosswalk, looking all the while to the left at oncoming traffic and turning to look right only after beginning to accelerate. It's my least favorite driver behavior, and I've totally caught myself doing it, too.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 8:37 AM
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I'm used to the drivers who accelerate to go around a bike, then make a right turn in front of the bike. I had a new one recently, though- accelerate around a bike so you can pull into the parking spot ahead, then throw your door open in front of the bike you just passed.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:06 AM
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Oh god 131 fills me with rage.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:22 AM
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A few years ago I realized I'd had the bad habit described in 130, abetted by switching to an automatic and not being used to the acceleration when I took my foot off the brake. That took some retraining. And I second togolosh's jaywalking justification. Intersections are chaotic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:31 AM
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I should really patent this bike safety idea I had, but I've convinced myself someone's already done it. Quick patent search doesn't turn it up though.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:42 AM
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134. Is your idea anything like this?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:44 AM
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135: That picture is clearly showing a car armed with repulsor rays, allowing it to blow through crosswalks without running anyone over.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:46 AM
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No, much simpler than that. Obviously can't describe more on a public blog if I really do want to patent it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:46 AM
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How does one patent individual ideas not company-related? At work we throw around the number $10k for US filing and the equivalent amount to add international and I'm not spending that on my stupid idea. On the other hand all I've seen are ads for "Patent your Idea with our Law Firm!" where they rip you off and steal your idea.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:49 AM
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101 to link in 135.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 9:54 AM
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this bike safety idea I had

I think you mentioned it here before. Is it a way to alert oncoming bikes that a door might be about to open?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 10:06 AM
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138: There's a book called "Patent it Yourself" by David Pressman which is quite handy. It's what I used to teach myself the relevant gobbledygook ("having a plurality of such bosses severally disposed thereon" being one of my favorite bits of patent-ese).

If you aren't going to pursue it you might as well disclose in as public a forum as possible, so someone can pick up the ball and run with it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 10:08 AM
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115: That's generallh my experience in WeHo. However, the jaywalking in the middle of a short block instead of at the intersection has gotten worse. I'm not taking any drugs so if they die, they die.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 11:29 AM
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There's a book called "Patent it Yourself" by David Pressman which is quite handy almost certain to screw you completely if your dumb idea ever makes money.

Liz S is the real expert, but you should be able to find some cheap lawyer who could do a simple patent application and get you through the process for $5,000 or so, I think, not $10,000. If it's not worth that to you, you obviously don't think you can make money on it, so just disclose it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 11:54 AM
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Based on 140, it seems I already have.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:16 PM
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143: If you can't afford $5k you at least have a decent shot by using something written by an experienced patent lawyer. It's not like passing the bar gives you superpowers or anything, nor is writing a narrow patent particularly hard.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:30 PM
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Alternately, we could just train drivers, as part of driver's ed., to reach around with their inside hand when opening the car door, which naturally twists the body so that you're looking out the window and behind you. When I first learned about that technique--in the NYT of all places; apparently that's what they teach in Denmark or the Netherlands or somewhere--my mind was totally blown.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:39 PM
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Oh, I could totally write a patent myself, I just don't know the mechanics of filing and prosecuting it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:42 PM
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I nearly got arrested for jaywalking once. I was walking part way out onto High Street deciding if I should run across the street against the light so that I could make it to the bus stop before the bus -- and just then a cop drives up -- and yells at me out of his car warning me not to jaywalk. So, I go back to the sidewalk, and about 15 seconds later, the policeman is gone, and I realize I'm going to miss my bus, if I don't make a run for it, so I take off. And so I make to the bus stop in time, and wait in line to get on the bus, and suddenly there's the cop again! He yells at me - he can't believe that I had gone and done exactly what he told me not to do - he's furious, and calls me over. I apologize and explain that I was just trying to get to work on time...and he yells at me some more....& he asks for my driver's license..and I'm waiting there, thinking that he's going to give me a ticket or else keep me there until the bus leaves, but then he gives me back my license, and says I can go, and the bus waited for me, so crime did pay for me. I suppose if I was younger and/or a minority, the story might not have a happy ending.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:45 PM
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I'd probably also do something dumb like forgetting to sign it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:45 PM
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I always look behind the car when opening at least the traffic side door, but it's for self-preservation. Do other people not fear having their door and legs sheared off by something bigger than a bicycle?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 12:48 PM
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I got very solemnly busted for jaywalking in Kiev once. It was no fun, because this was still under communism and communist police uniforms freak me out. On the other hand, I didn't have to pay a bribe, because it was still communist.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 1:14 PM
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150: Yes, I always check. Always have, always will until the Alzheimer's sets in.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 1:46 PM
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The parking lanes in Davis are so wide that I can actually open my doors without impinging on the bike lanes (which generally exist). Amazing.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 3:15 PM
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I'm not even pretending to be competent to litigate patent cases any more, but let me tell you, I'm way too scared to try writing one up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 3:22 PM
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146: Looking is entirely habitual for me, but that's a really smart idea. Consider my mind duly blown.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 3:29 PM
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Presumably the door-handles could be designed to make that the easier approach, too.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 3:30 PM
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122: This is not a "western culture" thing. The amount of space in cities dedicated to cars vs. people in Northern Europe is very very different.

I wonder if pedestrian cores are ever going to catch on in the US anywhere.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:06 PM
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157: depends how you define "western". Also, 123 to 157. "The US and sorta the UK and sorta Germany in some ways and a lot of other places shortly thereafter" was not succinct and I had to go bike to work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:15 PM
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156: I'm thinking a really heavy lever, like you'd find on a bank vault, requiring two hands and your core muscles.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:17 PM
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Pittsburgh made the "Market Square" area a woonerf recently, I believe.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:24 PM
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157 -- Last Chance Gulch?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 4:24 PM
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40, 41: See also.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 5:00 PM
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Hmm, that comment has been in the wrong thread so long I think I'll leave it here.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 6-13 5:36 PM
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