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Show #208 – The Debate

Nov 24th, 2013 | By | Category: Podcasts


Episode 208
The Debate
Week of November 18, 2013

Listen now by clicking here: [audio:]

Following recent articles in The New York Times, The Economist, and elsewhere, this week’s episode of The FredCast is devoted entirely to the topic of bikes versus cars and the ongoing debate surrounding the topics of sharing the road, vulnerable road users, the penalties for killing or injuring a cyclist, presumed liability laws, and how to improve the situation on the roads for cyclists and others. Included in this week’s show is a long segment of discussion from a recent episode of The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast, featuring Carlton Reid and Tim Jackson. Be sure to listen to find out how you can WIN a $35 Road ID certificate!

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The FredCast Cycling Podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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  1. Episode 208 debate. I really enjoyed this episode. You had many valid points. I was able to answer yes to 3 out of the 4 questions. The one that I answered no to was being hit, but have come close. I think majority of the cyclist who are hit, it is unintentional. Drivers are distracted or just do not see the cyclist or just try to get around us in an area that they should not try such as a blind corner and have to swerve back into the lane to avoid on-coming traffic therefore hitting the cyclist. The drivers who harass cyclist do so more intentionally. I feel they do the same to other drivers as well as runners and walkers. I think as a society we have become more ignorant towards others and that we are no longer held accountable for our actions or lack of actions. We have created a society that is all about me and are such in a hurry to save a few seconds and the hell with everyone else who gets in our way. What is sad is we see this on TV everyday on reality TV where people treat each other like crap and are allowed to get away with and even feel it is funny at the expense of the victim.

    I think that if things are going to change, society as a whole needs to change and start being held accoutable for their actions or lack of actions and learn to treat each other with respect and that their lives are just as valuable as their own.

  2. One thing that impressed me, listening to parts of The Spokesmen for the second time, was the argument that if we want presumed liability of motorists, cyclists must be predictable and law abiding. Presumed liability will never become law to benefit a group that gives lawmakers the impression that that group incites collisions by unpredictable and unlawful behavior.

    There is too much sloppy driving going on, and I don’t feel safe driving, cycling, nor walking. In addition to presumed liability, I’d think it should be much tougher to earn and to keep a driver’s license.

    Near miss – yes
    Struck by car – yes (still recovering after 3-1/2 months)
    Harassed – yes
    Know someone – yes

  3. Wow….. a whole podcast talking about traffic and not one mention of motorcycles! Once I started riding a motorcycle on the street I got a big wake up call on how distracted everyone is out there, cyclists, cars and pedestrians. To survive on a motorcycle you need to be aware 100% of the time. You need to look ahead and anticipate what might happen then be ready to react to the situation. Bottom line it is the responsiblity of the motorcyclist, driver, cyclist, skate boarder, pedestrian, etc….. to be aware at all times when on the road and be ready to react when the distracted user of the road doesn’t see you.

    I think most accidents involving motorcycles and bicycles have some blame on the rider. The rider needs to be aware at all times of what might happen. Now, usually when involved with a car the liabilty is 100% to the car, but usually the whole accident could have been avoided if the rider was more aware of what was going on around them.

  4. @CFraser – I was fully aware of what was going on around me when I got hit. But that wasn’t enough because of the actions of the driver which negated everything I did to avoid getting hit. Don’t rely on being “more aware of what was going on around them” as the answer to distracted, negligent, or otherwise inadequate drivers.

    I’ve refined my commuter rig, with its trailer and flags and lights and horns, and my riding habits, to avoid becoming a victim. Apparently, none of this is enough if all road users aren’t as responsible and aware of their surroundings as I am.

  5. I hope I don’t get banned from this site, but now something else is bothering me. As I debate with myself if I’m going to get out of my car and the traffic and back on a bike, I think about “the inherent danger of cycling.” I now think that phrase distracts us from the problem. What about the inherent danger of being in a car when another driver ploys into you? I’ve been to funerals for friends and acquaintances killed in cars, but, knock on wood, not for a bicyclist. What about the inherent danger of walking across a street? My 60-pound dog and I were almost hit by a driver who drove around the other driver who almost hit us. The “danger” arises from placing more value on whatever it is we’re doing than we place on the safeguarding of life.

  6. @DP I don’t doubt you were fully aware. I will amend my statement from “most” to “many accidents involving motorcycles and bicycles have some blame on the rider.” For anyone who was in an accidend on a bike think back to when it happened, was there anything you could have done to avoid the distracted driver or driver who didn’t see you. For example. While riding my motorcycle I made a right turn onto a road and got cut off by a car stopped but then changed lanes into my lane right when I pulled out. I had the right away and it was 100% the cars falt. Fortunately I wasn’t hit and only dropped my motorcycle. When I think back to the incident I never should have pulled out because that car was in a position to pull into me. I should have anticipated that and now I do every time I make a right turn onto a two lane road. I am looking at every car that is moving towards me and anticipating what they might do.

    Right now it is more dangerous to be in traffic. Once you step or pull out onto the road you are part of traffic and need to be 100% aware. I feel safer to be in traffic on my motorcycle than my bike because I have a throttle that can get me out of situations and I have control of who is behind me. Here in California we are very lucky to have it legal to filter(lane split) up to a signal through stopped cars. One of the most dangerous situations for a motorcyle is being rear ended while stopped at a signal. I did not give up cycling, just riding on the road. I now do all of my cycling in the hills around my home on my mountain bike.

  7. Another great show, listened to it for a second time today. And for the record, I fall on Carlton’s side of the debate,

    Not going into this at length, but suffice to say that cyclists lecturing other cyclists about compliance with traffic rules and regulations, is counter productive.

    Doing so reinforces the hate some drivers have towards cyclists, as they believe that even cyclists know how bad “WE” all are, and that’s why “WE” even complain about ourselves.. I believe that cyclists complaining about other cyclists road behavior gives motorists “ammo” too; as does red light jumpers or weavers.

    I would also like to point out that things cyclists do, like ‘ride 2 abreast’ and ‘in the middle of the road’, aren’t illegal. Regardless of this, either statement is a common excuse motorists use to justify their “road hate”. Even if we do obey the law they will still behave the same way towards us, with only their justification changing.

    To be honest, the problem is the motorists attitude, not cyclists behavior. I’m surely not the only one that’s noticed that they hate everything on the road, other than themselves driving in their car. The term “backseat driver” illustrates this perfectly, as its basically two drivers hating on each other…. but in the same vehicle. One cant take criticism and one cant stand how the other is behaving on the roads… sums up the motorist perfectly.

    Near miss – yes
    Struck by car – Kinda… (Clipped by mirror and high sided. They sped off)
    Harassed – yes
    Know someone – yes

  8. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since hearing the Spokesman broadcast. First, to answer the questions:

    Yes to all four.

    I look at all my cycling interactions with traffic with regards to safety. My first priority is simple; injury-free cycling. In my mind, this means not harming others while protecting myself from harm.

    I do not feel that following all traffic signage and laws leads to injury-free, or even safe in general, cycling. In fact, in many instances, following traffic signage actually creates a situation that is significantly less safe for the cyclist and those around her/him. In these instances, I choose to disobey traffic signage, but only if disobeying makes my ride safer for everyone, including everyone around me (pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, skateboarders, pets, drivers, everybody!).

    There are a number of four-way stops in my neighborhood that are perfect examples. The vast majority of cyclists in my neighborhood, myself included, coast slowly through these intersections when the coast is clear. The advantage of doing this seems obvious to me; it keeps the cyclist from needless stop/start/turn interactions with cars, joggers, people with strollers, other cyclists, people with dogs, etc., any of whom can act unpredictably.

    I have been struck by cars at four way stops after coming to a complete stop, waiting my turn, then beginning to ride through the intersection, at which point a driver simply took off and hit me. Once, the driver came from my right, travelling straight. On the other occasion, the driver was coming from the opposite direction from me and took a left, leveling me. Obviously, they were both distracted. Of course, once they hit me, they were annoyed and angry at the incovenience of having to call the police and an ambulance.

    Now, I try to stay out of the way of drivers whenever possible. Waiting for them to catch up to me at the intersection is just asking for trouble. I do not fly through intersections; I simply yield safely and keep on my merry way in one piece. My goal is to interact with traffic as little as possible.

    If there’s someone stopped or approaching the intersection, I stop, put my foot down and wait my turn. When someone signals for me to go in front of them, and it’s not my turn, I refuse. Sometimes I refuse even when it is my turn.

    Because I don’t trust drivers with my life just because they tell me to. If they cross in front of me while I wait, there’s no danger to them, whereas if I cross in front of them while they wait, I am clearly endangering myself.

    I refuse to compromise my safety or the safety of others in order to obey traffic signs and laws. Simple as that. Ticket me. At least I’ll be in one piece, and so will everyone around me.

    Also, I agree with Carlton’s point. The idea that we should wait until every cyclist in the world obeys all traffic laws before demanding more safety is ludicrous.

    In part, because some people are just stupid and fly around recklessly on their bikes, and that will never stop. In part, because people like myself aren’t going to obey traffic laws in those instances when they make us less safe.

    Just for clarification, I am not a racer or Fred. I am a run-of-the-mill daily bike commuter, I ride a hybrid bike with a rack on the back. I ride year-round, averaging roughly a hundred miles per week in traffic. I always wear a helmet and use lights at night. I have never harmed or endangered anyone with my riding. I am proud to be a safe cyclist.