A Conversation for Cyclists: Be Safe - Be Seen as a Bad Target

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 1


Maybe the injury rate is going up because the cyclists, wearing a protective helmet, feel safer...

Studies have been done that suggest that people take risks in perportion to the percieved safety. Hence, making people wear seatbelts and putting airbags in cars tends to increase the speed at which drivers drive.

Jeremy Clarkson has argued that the best way to improve driving standards is to remove the seatbelts from the drivers seat and replace the drivers airbag with a steel spike.

I'm not sure what the cycling equivalant of this would be, maybe a helmet with spikes on the inside? Just playing devils advocate here!

--- Al.

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 2


Yes, I did take that into account in the entry; I said the sleek look can induce a mistaken feeling in *road users* which of course includes cyclists. Also the opening and paragraphs are a warning against feeling (as well as looking) invincible.

It's an explanation, among others, that everyone who tries to make sense of the figures goes for. I was only flabbergasted in the conversations leading up to this entry, to see how many people tried - repeatedly - to wriggle out of the figures, saying "they must be wrong/skewed/overlooking something". The figures come from the most impartial of sources, and the head of the US Safety Commission admitted bafflement; which is good enough for me. The figures stand.

Risk homeostasis, in both cyclists and other road users, must account for a good deal, as the New York Times article surmises.

It has been shown in Canada that measures making ungated level crossings safer, by improving the motorist's view of the railway, have been followed by correspondingly greater risk-taking by motorists approaching the crossings.

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 3

Baron Grim

I also feel the increase is due to the cyclists riding riskier. I have actually heard of avid cyclists *accepting* the idea that they will get hit by a vehicle if they ride long enough. smiley - yikes... And coming from this type of cyclist it doesn't surprise me. The new breed of cyclist is arrogant. They demand to be considered vehicles themselves. There are road signs and laws that say the same. I see them riding IN the lanes of traffic rather than on the shoulder even when a nice wide shoulder is there. And they avoid the sidewalks, which by some laws they are required to do.

Not me Buddy!... If I have to make a decision between risking a ticket and risking getting splatted by a vehicle travelling 5 times my speed... I'll take the ticket. There is a bridge in my area that has a protected pedestrian path and signs ON THAT BRIDGE that say "Share the Road/Cyclists are Vehicles Too." There is NO shoulder between the outside lane and the concrete barrier protecting the pedestrian path. Traffic on this bridge travels at 60 mph. I take the pedestrian path and I think any cyclist that doesn't is insane. If I meet a pedestrian on that path, I don't hesitate to stop and let them pass safely. If I'm on a normal sidewalk, I swerve off into the grass to pass. But I see lycra clad helmeted cyclists cross this bridge in traffic all the time. I crossed this bridge once before the pedestrian path was completed and it scared the bajeezes out of me. To see others do it by choice confuddles me completely. But to see cyclists ride in traffic when perfectly good shoulders are available just makes me shake my head. Because here are people so confident in their LEGAL rights to share the road they'll ignore the consequences of Newtonian physics and apparently Darwinian survival as well.

You are right, wearing padded helmets and brightly coloured outfits does make one a good target. But so does standing in the middle of a firing range.

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 4


Hello there Count Zero! I gather you are in the US. I am in Ireland, and I am the Researcher quoted, who calls himself a "mostly-harmless grandad". I cycle non-aggressively, though I do enjoy traffic-jamming, zooming through and alongside snarled cars. That is pleasant.

I agree with you in not expecting to be hit sooner or later as a matter of course. I part company with you in one very big respect though:

"They demand to be considered vehicles themselves." I gather you think they are not justified? By law (here) a bicycle is a vehicle and carries the same duties and rights as others, with the exception of the duties to take out a licence, insurance and vehicle registration. These are required for motor vehicles on account of their danger.

"And they avoid the sidewalks, which by some laws they are required to do." If you mean they are required to avoid the sidewalks, that is also the situation here. Are you recommending that cyclists break the law and take to the sidewalks, because the road is not for them? If so we part company once again.

"I see lycra clad helmeted cyclists cross this bridge in traffic all the time." From your description it appears that they are not only within their rights, but legally required to do this, apart from the lycra. It seems that the lycra is truly part of the problem; hence my Entry.

I am against the idea of motorists scaring cyclists off the streets: hence my poem F103872?thread=245384

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 5

Baron Grim

Yes Recumbentman, I'm in the states (Texas specifically) and I'm advocating breaking the laws. (And it seems the laws are equivalent here.)

However, let me be more clear as regards considering the 'vehicularity' of cycles and cyclists. I do feel that cyclists need to obey the laws of traffic when they are in it. I feel that cyclists have a responsibiltiy for their safety and that of others. I think we agree completely here. For the most part I think cyclists should obey the law, but not when what is legal is inherently dangerous! Again consider the bridge I mentioned. The cyclist has a legal right to ride in a lane of traffic. Legally the cyclist would be wrong to ride in the protected pedestrian path. I for one in this situation would break the law. I omitted the facts earlier that this bridge curves and that there are rarely pedestrians on it. The traffic on this bridge can be dangerous without the cyclist present. There are tyre marks on the k-rail barrier where vehicles have failed to negotiate this curve. A cyclist may have the legal right and responsibility to ride in traffic here, but again, I say that cyclists shouldn't (unless they are riding in a sufficient pack that makes them much more visible and safe). The truly disturbing thing about this bridge and the sign on it is that there is a dedicated cyclists lane before AND after it. The path along side the road over the bridge is wide enough to accomodate pedestrians and cyclists when the cyclist yields. So I take the path. I'm not advocating cyclists ride on sidewalks all the time. But I also don't think cyclists should be forbidden to ride on every sidewalk ALL the time. (I always yield to pedestrians).

In an Ideal world I'd like to see cycle lanes on all similar roads. Or at least adaquate shoulders. I don't mind riding in lanes of traffic when the automobile traffic is travelling up to 30 and sometimes even 45 mph. But when cars are travelling at 50+ mph, I don't believe cyclists should even want to share the lane even though they have the legal right to. It is unsafe! Usually along such roads are sufficient shoulders. Again, I am disturbed when I see cyclists shun a perfectly good shoulder to ride in traffic solely "because they can!" They are arrogantly making an assumption that the motor vehicle drivers are aware of the cyclists rights and will yield right of way to them. They are also assuming the drivers are paying sufficient attention to what they are doing in the first place. I developed a saying when I was learning to ride a motorcycle safely... "you may be 'right', but you might end up 'dead right'." For instance I don't care how long my light has been green, I don't enter the intersection without checking for cross traffic. Just because another driver has a stop sign or light, I don't assume they will obey it. And if I'm at a stop and I see a speeding car approaching from my rear, I WILL find a path to run that stop to get out of their way.

I'm rambling a bit now I think but mainly what I'm trying to say is that there are some roads where the cyclists legal rights and responsibilities are congruent with what is safe. But also that there are some roads where it is inherently unsafe to be strictly legal. When cyclists ride in traffic even when there are safe, and sometimes even legal, alternate paths I think they are contributing to the rise in accident statistics.

BTW, I also ride 'bent. smiley - cheers

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 6


Well I can see you have a point. And there are plenty of places where there is a cycle track but it's not the safest place to be, and I will leave it in those circumstances. Every problem needs its own solution.

I cycled on the continent last September and was delighted by the courtesy shown to cyclists by all drivers there (France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden). They have plenty of cycle tracks, but even there they can't be complete and there are plenty of places where the cyclist has to get out and mix with other traffic. But you get respect when you do that on the continent; here in Ireland you get abuse and squashing.

Hard shoulders I use with great relief. No point being aggressive.

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 7

Baron Grim

I was discussing this problem with a friend who lives in the city (Houston) and he mentioned seeing a cyclist riding in traffic, impeding a city bus on a road that HAD A CYCLE LANE!!! In my opinion some cyclists almost deserve to be squished. I seriously want to know what was going through this idiot's head to ignore the cycling lane. He apparently was also making rude hand gestures to all that honked their horn at him as they passed.

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 8


Some people resist being ghettoised at all costs. I always use cycle lanes, except when I need to get into the flow of traffic, before turning right for instance (we drive on the left).

Maybe the psychology is in the cyclist

Post 9


In rural Lincolnshire there are no cycle paths or foot paths for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Therefore you have no choice but to ride on the road or in a ditch (i rarely choose the ditch option because this is much slower and invariably gets you very muddy). Riding on the road is fine and i do not mind it but i wish some people, lorry drivers espeacialy, would pay some respect to cyclists (well they dont have to respect us merely slow down abit or give us awide berth) when they come past at well over the speed limit a couple of centimeters from the bike, due to the laws of physics you are first pushed towards the ditch and then sucked in to the road. This is rather disconcerting because as you retain your balance it is usual for an other vehicle to be coming past. If any lorry drivers stumble across this please spread the word to others to please give cyclists a wide berth.

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