The first rule of motorcycling, that you accept when you swing your leg over a bike, is that no matter whose fault any collision might be, it is your responsibility and yours alone to anticipate and avoid all such incidents.
"But he pulled out in front of me" is never a valid excuse for hitting a car. You should have seen them. You should have slowed to a speed where you could evade or stop in time. You should have anticipated their dumbassery and accounted for it.
If you're not willing to accept responsibility for your own wellbeing you should not be on a bike, full stop.
If I’m riding down the road and there’s a car stopped at a stop sign or intersection, and we make eye contact, yes I assume they see me. I do not come to a full stop in the middle of the road to let them turn just in case they forget we looked at each other. There’s no way to ride that defensively and not get hit by car drivers behind me, or make weird illogical trade offs that otherwise increase my risk of being hit. Yes, we can all ride defensively, but at some point we’re trusting other drivers to behave logically.
Holding to your line every time you know you have the right of way is stupid, because some drivers will violate it either intentionally or inadvertently. It should be the [motor]cyclist's right, but realistically it isn't because we're the ones not shielded by two tons of crumple zone. But defensively yielding every time is also stupid, because some drivers will indeed respect your right of way, and that impedes other users on your same right of way.
The right approach is to judge it case by case with your full attention on how best to react, which changes with every situation.
Whatever vehicle I am operating (or even if I am walking), I should be paying attention as much as I can. Yes, the stakes are much higher for pedestrians and cyclists. Yes, it is much easier to zone out when driving. Adding in texting while driving, and we get more of those short-term memory effects.
I am reminded of this:
In the early days, the automobile makers made a concerted effort to change the culture around "who is responsible". Yes, they standardized the rules of the road to make it safer ... but they also injected into the culture to shift the responsibility to people who are not driving on the road.
In the end, I think for most people, they don't really want to get hurt, or see other people get hurt.
Even the ones who are trying to drive cautiously fundamentally accelerate much faster and move faster and have 3000 lbs on me.
We need highly separated infrastructure in cities or an extremely low speed limit (15mph) in cities on non car only roads.
No amount of good will and mutual responsibility is going to solve this problem.
When we look at that, we look at the whole. Safety is only one concern out of many. Fostering a sense of personal responsibility is another. There are others: artistic beauty and grace; personal initiative and prevailing over challenges; kindness and universal kinship towards all of mankind. Just to name a few.
An excessive focus on safety will prevent people from developing that sense of personal responsibility.
So this isn’t something to “solve” like that. We have not even figured out just what it is we want to do as a society. We have not even been able to recognize as a society that people have a diversity of views, and that individuals are at different stages of maturity and growth.
Even so: I generally agree that dedicated infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and public transportation is way better than this excessive focus on cars and SUVs. Investing into is costly, but we have to look at it as investing towards our children and grandchildren’s futures.
Cannot agree more. I would go so far as to say the ability to anticipate what another party will do is a prerequisite to being a good driver/cyclist/pedestrian.
As the article suggests(and from my own experience), making eye contact is no guarantee.
edited to clarify my point
Oh, that doesn't work reliably enough. Far from uncommon for cars that are stopped at a side junction, have a driver that looks, appears to see and make eye contact, then pulls out anyway...
You do seem to develop some sort of sixth sense for the ones that will. Then you can try to get them to see by over-using your carriageway - swerve to gutter then to centre line, etc, expecting and setting up to swerve behind the pulling out vehicle.
These type of incidents, which are rare and can’t be avoided, is why I took my bike off the road and only take it to the track.
Maybe the first rule of riding is “it’s not the safest form of transportation and you must accept the risk”?
Myself, I'm a cyclist, but a lot of motorcycle rules and bike rules overlap.
I actually feel far safer on a motorcycle than a push bike, because I have much bigger contact patches, far better brakes, stickier tyres and the ability to out-accelerate almost any kind of trouble. I'm also wearing at least half leathers and a proper full face helmet.
"The Matrix Reloaded" featured a 30 minute action sequence showing what it's like when a tiny fraction of other drivers are actually trying to kill you. Spoiler: without Neo swooping in to "do his Superman thing" and save you, you're dead, even if you've got automatic weapons and kung fu training.
I'm not being pedantic—there are situations, like the one described in the GP, that you just can't humanly do anything about.
I'd amend it to "anything that you could reasonably have anticipated is your fault, including people pulling out in front of you, cars changing lanes as if you weren't there, etc."
I seriously wonder why this dichotomy exists, especially as bicycles are gaining electric motors capable of propelling them at higher and higher speeds.
We tend to conflate the moral judgement of responsibility/fault with the actual reality of responsibility. If you're driving a deadly vehicle, the moral burden is on you not to kill me, but I still carries the practical burden of not getting killed.
Obviously, if I'm super reckless on my bicycle, I could still be killed by a responsible, blameless driver, but if we're equally careless, I would say I was behaving in a practically irresponsible manner and the driver a morally irresponsible manner. I was stupid, they were negligent.
(I rode a motorcycle occasioanlly for a while, but not enough to get to where I felt other cars were a bigger threat to me than my own inexperience was. "I could die taking this corner.")
This I disagree with. For better or worse, we are typically the ones who are riding on roads designed and built for them. We need to be held to the same standards, if not higher standards as motorcyclists and bicyclists, as we're intentionally playing in their turf, without their safety equipment.
If a bicyclist is careless, they are both stupid and negligent. If a car driver is careless, they are both stupid and negligent. The difference is that being careless on a bike of any type is more dangerous to you than being careless in a car, meaning that a biker can't afford to be careless if they want to go home at night.
> This I disagree with.
Well the law and society disagree with you. The type of reasoning is very ubiquitous too. The more dangerous thing you are operating the more responsibility you have. We generally have morals that align to it being worse to take someone else's life than your own, though we don't encourage either. A car can do much more damage to others than a motorcycle can. A motorcycle can do more damage than a bicyclist can. A bicyclist can do more damage than a pedestrian. It isn't surprising that the right of way follows the inverse of this; those that are most vulnerable have a higher right of way.
I think you are also conflating two different things. Legally and socially we consider the car to be held to a higher standard because it is more dangerous. Practically when I'm on a bike I have to be more vigilant because I'm more vulnerable and I value my life. But when we say that someone should be held to a higher standard we can take an inverse to check our understanding. Disagreeing that cars should be held to a higher standard is equivalent to saying "cars should be held to less (or equal) standards as bicyclists", which I think sounds kinda absurd.
> The difference is that being careless on a bike of any type is more dangerous to you than being careless in a car
And I think this demonstrates that confusion. The bike is not more dangerous, the car is. There is more danger involved when riding a bike, but the car is definitely more dangerous. There is no way you can argue that a bike can do more damage than a car can. The car is more dangerous, therefore it has more responsibility. But that doesn't mean you should trust them to be responsible. Different things.
At the end of the day, the only person you can depend upon to keep yourself safe is you. You can hope everyone else is doing what they can to avoid injuring you, but the most you can do is hope. The responsibility for remaining safe ultimately falls to you (regardless of your mode of transportation - there's always a bigger vehicle).
We can argue legal and moral responsibility until we're blue in the face, but at the end of the day it won't make a dead cyclist any less dead.
The motorcyclist idiom "The car always has the right of weight." is spread about for a reason.
Just this morning I had two cyclists cut horizontally across at 40 MPH street in front of me and other drivers. Many of them weave between cars or treat traffic signals as suggestions. Basically they want to be treated like normal traffic when it suits them and ignore laws when they want to. The ones who signal, wear helmets and reflectors and bright clothing, and drive on the road correctly are merely annoying because they hold up traffic and disrupt speeds, which is dangerous in itself because it causes a lot of lane swapping, but I can tolerate them.
I guess what I am trying to say is, thank you and GP for not being among those cyclists who are stupid, reckless, and entitled. I just know that someday I am going to be cleaning what passes for the brains of some idiot cyclist off of my windshield and am not looking forward to it.
I have however driven a motorcycle and while it is very dangerous, it is less so than a bicycle because you have the acceleration and maneuverability to get out of many situations. And motorcycles can drive the same speeds as the rest of traffic. People underestimate how many collisions are caused by traffic disruptions and abrupt changes of speed.
I don't want to defend this but rather explain this. Legally we are neither pedestrians nor normal traffic. But there is no explicit law for cyclists. You have to be both and it depends which situations it you are in, which typically falls under when it is most advantageous (or safest).
Specifically to the traffic signals, I'll illustrate first. The only time I have been struck by a vehicle while on my bike was while I was in a shared space (marked with sharrows) and waiting at a stop sign (I've also had cars come into the bike lane and hit/almost hit me, but that's another story that every cyclist has). Statistically this is actually the most likely place to be hit (motorcyclists know this too!). So why do cyclists not stop at stop signs? Because sitting at a stop sign is dangerous. Because to cross the intersection with momentum takes 2 seconds instead of the 5 that it takes when stopped. You are reducing your chance of being struck. This is why you won't see cops pull them over either (unless they are pulling into traffic, which is a different issue). Having momentum also SIGNIFICANTLY increases your ability to dodge things. You are absolutely the most vulnerable when you are not moving. To be safe on a bike you want to keep moving. We can't accelerate away from dangerous situations like motorcycles or cars. Humans don't have that kind of torque. It isn't just laziness or wanting to get to places faster (I'll give you that this is part). If you aren't moving then you are more vulnerable.
Cyclists that are breaking the law are generally doing it from learned behavior to increase their safety. Another common example is riding close to the middle of the road on shared roads. I cannot tell you how many times someone has opened a door on me. I've hit more than a few (most often when in I'm in a bike lane!). Both in day and night (when I have a fucking light that I directly aim into peoples' mirrors to try to make me more noticeable!). It's just easier to ride closer to the center and deal with the driver behind you that is upset and should be on the main roads anyways. Also, lots of dirt and crap accumulates in the bike lanes, so that's why we frequently move out of them. Frequently there's also gutters that would cause us to go over the handle bars.
Frankly, I value my safety over your convenience. That's what it comes down to.
> [the ones that] drive on the road correctly are merely annoying because they hold up traffic and disrupt speeds, which is dangerous
And we all agree. This is why you should argue for not just bike lanes, but protected bike lanes. But frankly most cars don't care about bike lanes and treat cyclists like second class citizens and disregard their spaces.
There are plenty of cyclists that are idiots and doing dumb things that will make you question how much they value their life. But I want others to also realize that cyclists also develop other patterns that may not be straight forward to drivers. Understanding each other and the vulnerabilities we face is how we make everyone safer and how we inconvenience each other less.
> Frankly, I value my safety over your convenience. That's what it comes down to.
That is quite natural, although with respect I must say it does illustrate my comments about an entitlement mentality, particularly since it is the cyclist who has voluntarily chosen to put themselves in such a dangerous situation. What many cyclists don't understand is that I value your safety as well, very much so.
That is why things like this:
> So why do cyclists not stop at stop signs? Because sitting at a stop sign is dangerous.
> Another common example is riding close to the middle of the road on shared roads.
...are incredibly frustrating. The reason why we have road laws at all is primarily to make driving behavior predictable. If people drive unpredictably, it raises the risk for everyone. On top of the inherent risks of driving a vehicle which does not have the speed and acceleration to be on the road in the first place.
Do cyclists care that cars might have to swerve into a ditch or another car to avoid them if they are cycling erratically? As far as I can see, they don't. Do they care if their cycling might delay commutes for dozens or hundreds of people? I commend you for being open about the fact that you seemingly do not.
Fundamentally, all of the arguments cyclists make would apply to someone walking on the road or riding a skateboard down it. Yes, it is incredibly dangerous. Fundamentally and inalterably so. It is indefensible when motorists invade bike lanes. They should be fined for that. That is the space for bikes. Sidewalks are the space for pedestrians. The road is the space for cars. (I am speaking from what I see as the logical perspective, not the legal perspective.)
I have been to places like India where there are basically no rules followed about who can be on the road, riding what, or how they are driving. It is total chaos and utterly terrifying. I am incredibly glad it is not like that in the US.
I agree with the need for bike lanes where bikes are heavily used (or if there is good evidence of latent demand for them if bike lanes existed). It often does not make financial sense to build them where they would be used infrequently, as that money could be used for other forms of public transit. Purely from a safety perspective, in my view, where bike lanes are not built it would be better policy for cyclists to cycle on the sidewalk rather than the road, because at least if a bicycle hits a pedestrian there is a low risk of fatality.
I really do appreciate your explaining this so calmly and neutrally however, as I find the self-righteous fury of so many cyclists very annoying as, from my perspective, they are the problem. For some reason this is a really charged issue for many people. Road rage all around, I suppose.
Emphasis on "to you". I consider it worse to be careless with other people's lives than with my own. I could cause someone else's death with my bicycle, but it's less common than in a car.
Additionally, I'm not cycling on the highway. I'm cycling on mixed-use roads, the majority of which have bike lanes. None of these are car-only roads. Those do exist, but I don't bike on them.
There's your problem right in the open. (Interestingly, the first modern roads were built for bicyclists.)
I would be fine restricting bikes to trails and dedicated bike lanes, if they existed. In the meantime we have to find a way to live together, like roommates in an apartment.
Yeah, well, there was a time that riding a bicycle or going to school wasn't nearly as dangerous. But you're going to blame the victims here?
I think this needs to be emphasized more. Saying that a bicycle is more dangerous than a car is equivalent to saying that being a bank teller is more dangerous than a gunman. Sure, that may be true, but are we really going to blame the bank teller here?
The reasoning behind it is that the smaller the traffic the more situational awareness it has (no blind spots on a pedestrian) and the quicker and easier it is for it to adjust what its doing to account for other traffic.
Public roads have a much more complex set of rules and large swaths of them are usually ignored in specific situations and in general there's a lot more ambiguity over who should do what.
Motorcyclists on the other hand enjoy first class status under typical traffic laws.
That said once night falls I usually adopt the attitude of “assume cars will try to kill me if they see me” and avoid them as much as possible by keeping to back roads and being extra paranoid when I have to cross major streets, despite having extra lights on my bike.
Where all the dirt and glass accumulate. Where cars pull over (even if not allowed). Where parked vehicles open doors without looking.
> Bicyclists are not afforded a full traffic lane when traveling. Bicyclists are prohibited from the highest quality roads. Bicyclists are required to ride on the shoulder.
This isn't true anywhere I've lived in the US.
1. Stopping and going on a bicycle is much more painful and leads to more risk taking behavior.
2. A cyclists own energy isn't nearly as scary as a motorcycle. I often find myself modeling accidents as "what if I ran into this stationary thing" which on a motorcycle you want to be preparing for as it is more likely and higher impact but on a bike. Less so. Unfortunately a moving car hitting you is the more likely scenario. Also on a motorcycle you're managing the traction of the wheels through turns, something I've rarely thought about on a bicycle. So you're just in a lower effort more vigilant headspace.
3. Cars don't feel a constant compulsion to pass motorocycles nor "go before the cyclist can slow them down". So I think the constant back and forth "getting fucked" has setup this bizarre altruistic punishment mindset in both cars and cyclists that leads to fuck bikes on the car side and fuck the laws on the bike side.
For example, discussing almost hitting a bicyclist on a 70mph road at night with the cyclist wearing dark colors with no reflectors or tail light:
>This is absolutely your fault. You're driving too fast for the conditions. You're the one who can't see what's ahead; you're the one who has to drive slower.
> It is not their responsibility to ensure you drive at a pace such that you can stop before striking an obstacle that was hard to see. Should we require pedestrians using the road (like the one without shoulders) to dress in bright colors as well?
And from some other threads:
> >Her not wearing a helment not only derailed her life, but it caused major problems in the lives of everyone around her.
> Blame the victim? How about the driver, was it not his/her fault rather than your sisters?
Here's from someone else:
> While momentum argument is real, my personal philosophy as a daily commuting biker in France is "I'm the more exposed to risk and the more hated road user, so don't get in the way of cars and don't ever dare touch pedestrians"
> That being said, yes I do pass red light when I have good clearance and I don't "emergency brake by courtesy" for pedestrians that are not already engaged in crosswalks or clearly far from my course.
> Theses two paragraphs are perfectly compatible IMHO. It's just that in order to play with the rules you must know and accept them and be aware that you are doing something borderline. And by borderline I mean something specifically NOT dangerous to others and yourself. If it's dangerous it's just plain dumb and irresponsible.
And a justification for breaking the law:
> I was once hit by a taxi while stopped at a light. He he did a right hook turn straight into me. This is why I don't stop at lights if I don't have to, and why I always get towadd the middle lane when I'm biking past a potential right turn zone.
Extrapolating from anecdotes to sweeping generalizations isn't intellectually sound.
Most of what I understand about motorcycle safety was taught by various MSF courses. In many states, the MSF is the most direct way to get your motorcycle endorsement. This makes them fairly sticky in the community.
So while they may be in more danger, there is a different set of expectations.
visibility. in my case I will ride with the high beams on during the day, if I am directly behind another car in stop and go I will turn them off. I also run small projector/fog lamps down low to form a light triangle which I believe further increases my being noticed. Yet as you imply, I don't trust that I am ever seen.
it isn't just short term memory but people just aren't paying attention to the drive. even in my car I see people on their phone or worse reading their phones display, all in a state that is hands free! the numbers are frightening if you think about it.
it was mentioned in another thread about speed and cars and that the manufacturers have had the ability for many years to keep our cars at legal speeds but none choose to do so and I doubt the public would permit it unless mandated by law. Well the same can be said about smart phones, passenger or not it may well be necessary for them to determine if they are in a vehicle and just not allow the display to be used.
Notice me, hell they have to put their phone down first. People miss light changes and on coming traffic far too often all because of their phones
Please quit doing that. It makes it extremely difficult to judge your distance. You think you're doing it to avoid having me pull out, and ironically I'm more likely to pull out because I haven't the faintest idea how far away that blazing ball of light is.
Seriously, do people that do things like this never look to see what it looks like from the other side? Or is it the power of the ol' cargo cult/urban legend/"common sense" (see also: "loud pipes save lives")?
I also run small projector/fog lamps down low to form a light triangle
That's what's going to save you, not being obnoxious with your high beam. It's a not-common pattern, and it establishes that you're not a car with a headlight out.
The amount of bus drivers and taxi drivers that chatted to me at the traffic lights and told me that the set up helped them judge my distance was great. I really think it helps people figure where you are and how your bike is moving. Plus if any one of my lights was hidden for a moment, there were 3 more to see. And at worst if one battery went I have more to get me home safely. I ride with lights on at all time.
In fact you should know if a car is about to change direction before its driver does. It gets easier with experience; a human driver gives many hints.
In the future, AI-powered cars may not give any hint, or different ones. Just like we advertise new drivers we should absolutely signal self-driving cars.
I just feel this deserves repeating. I've had times where drivers who didn't know where they were going cut me off repeatedly. Nothing resulted besides some burned rubber and a few very angry hand signals because I was paying far more attention to them and their trajectory than they themselves were.
Take a two lane road with no median barrier. Whether cycling, motorcycling or driving I have no choice but to trust that road users coming towards me stay on their opposite side of the road. I have to hope that they are not subject to a moment's distraction, or mechanical failure, or drunk. It's almost impossible to anticipate and avoid incidents like this. If I was a victim of such an incident does that automatically mean I didn't take enough responsibility for my wellbeing? Or does it mean I judged the risks of using a public road and was unlucky, whether due to someone else's dumbassery or otherwise?
My point is that there are many incidents that a diligent, innocent road user simply cannot avoid, and we shouldn't be so quick to apportion responsibility.
At some point, you have to trust others to obey the rules of the road. An article like this is not zero-sum, it doesn't have to make your riding any less defensive.
I wear a biker tailbone protector and a back protector + an helmet when I go snowboarding and I'm an amateur snowboarder at best that rarely goes in the park and rides at mediocre speed.
Why I usually don't see cyclists wear some of them protections?
2. A big difference is downhill versus (mostly) flat. I only wear my helmet about 10-20% of the time when I'm ski touring. Downhill bikers wear all sorts of padding & protectors.
They are useful for the same kind of accidents that happen to motrocyclists: being hit by something or hitting something.
Any vehicle you use for commuting is for convenience. Strapping into armour makes it harder so we don't expect it of drivers while we do expect it of extreme sports.
Supposedly the health benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers of the road but I've never looked into it.
They do in fact.
This is the list of the mandatory safety measures in Europe for motor vehicles, it's 24 pages long
> Driving is the biggest killer of young people
It is not driving, it's road traffic injuries, which includes biking.
Anyways it's worse in US than Europe and it's much worse for male than for female.
One could conclude that it's being a young male in the US that is actually dangerous.
> Any vehicle you use for commuting is for convenience
Assuming this is true, it is valid also for bikes or horses.
> Strapping into armour makes it harder so we don't expect it of drivers while we do expect it of extreme sports.
The entire car is literally an armor!
Why are cyclist so afraid of protecting themselves?
> Supposedly the health benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers of the road
It's not from being hit by cyclists.
>This is the list of the mandatory safety measures in Europe for motor vehicles, it's 24 pages long
Quite a lot of it isn't, read articles 6 and 7 and the lists of implementation dates.
>Why are cyclist so afraid of protecting themselves?
After having people maliciously aim their car at you for being in front of them, it's quite patronising to have them assume you're riding unsafely. People in other countries manage much better safety records through infrastructure and education. On the contrary, I don't think there's any safety clothing I can wear that will save me if a car crashes into me. This thread assumes that exists, yet assumes the same doesn't exist for anyone who dies in a car crash. Why don't you wear a helmet when in a car?
Infrastructure doesn't improve where I am because the nasty, tribalist rhetoric swipes any safety issues under the rug by assuming cyclist fault. You've accused cyclists of being afraid of protecting themselves, thus categorising them in a tribe separate from your own. But I'm not separate from you: I'm a driver, too. Yet when I'm in a car with someone and they see a driver do something foolish, I never hear them call 'drivers' idiots, it's always about the singular person. The tribalism makes you think of the other party as less important.
(And the foolish things happen multiple times a day - I can guarantee I'll see someone speed when I drive home tonight)
Accusing me of being afraid of protecting just gives me the impression that you feel I have to earn the right for you to tolerate me in the road. An impression I get every time someone punish-passes me, or manoeuvres assuming a cyclist won't be in their path. And it's so tiring to be told it's my fault when I know how often I see people fail to obey the laws of the road at my expense.
It is included indeed.
Being hit by cyclists is very common in places where bike density is high.
For example: https://nypost.com/2019/08/31/nyc-bicyclists-are-killing-ped...
> After having people maliciously aim their car at you for being in front of them, it's quite patronising to hav
On my motorbike I wear helmet and protections anyway, before having people maliciously aim at me (because you know, accidents can happen even without malice...).
Why are you so afraid to protect yourself?
> They don't.
Single sided bicycle accidents are pretty common.
Putting yourself at risk because there are supposed health benefit is stupid.
It's like being anti vax because you read somewhere that one time someone had a fever after a vaccine.
You can have health benefits AND protect yourself from dangers, one does not exclude the other (I would argue that protecting yourself from dangers will benefit your health more than cycling).
Adults are so pendatic about it that we develop muscle memory for it.
The reason is simple: don't assume other people won't make mistakes just because they were supposed to be careful and protect the weakest.
The safer option is to actually be proactive about safety, at the point that we would never think about crossing streets without looking first.
It is considered a severe distraction.
I noticed that bikers (not only them, but especially them) reasoning is kinda reversed.
I'm not a biker myself, I used to ride when I was younger, but I prefer to walk now.
As a walker I've had arguments with biker friends about the unsafety that their behaviour sometimes poses on pedestrians like going at high speed where there are other people around, arriving from behind when in a noisy city it's almost impossible to hear them and making simply suddenly dodging a puddle a life threatening hazard, riding on sidewalks, disobeying traffic laws etc. etc.
There is of course a majority of responsible bikers who are very careful, but what really baffles me is that talking about their own safety is a kind of taboo for a majority of them. Most of our arguments end up with them justifying with "cars are more dangerous, they should be more careful" and when I take them seriously and reply "so if cars are dangerous, why you never wear an helmet or other kind of protections except maybe a flashing light when on the streets?", the answer I get is usually "because it's their responsibility to not kill us".
It's really nonsense to me. I really don't understand the position.
The answer from any smart pedestrian certainly should be yes, but it's surprisingly hard to buy neon yellow jackets or hats. They're rare for bclists and almost nonexistent for mcyclists, of which I'm both.
Apparently most mcyclists would rather be cool than visible.
The poster in another comment says he wears helmet and body protections when skying, I think it's just common sense and not wanting to suffer sever consequences for no real reason.
I used to wear an helmet when skating.
Why bikers think they are the only immortal beings on this planet?
I personally think they should be ticketed for noise.
It's really nice they can come up with a simple rule to sidestep the issue with our short term memory or attention glitching out like that.
Then later reading up about it it actually makes a lot of sense.
Some more material to read up on it:
Some US transit agencies do the same point and call.
I'm genuinly curious, since bewilderment about cultural differences certainly does not a racist make.
It doesn't say if they tested that idea. I want to know if it actually works.
Drivers have to sort threats in terms of risk. Cycles, motorized or not, are simply not as much of a threat as cars/trucks. So it makes sense that they would fall off the bottom first. Cars are dangerous to things that are less dangerous than cars and it is inherent I think. At some point we are going to have to stop blaming the driver for stuff like this and place the blame directly on the use of cars. The only real mistake a driver makes is to decide to drive somewhere in the first place.
Missing from your response is that there are both risks FROM and risks TO. We absolutely need to blame dangerous drivers for failing to prioritize the second category.
Driving has become far too casual, too "just a thing you do." People don't respect it anymore. I'm a car guy and I see it every day, people rolling around in cheap, crappy cars who have no respect and no interest in driving; driving is the thing they have to do to get to the thing they actually want/need to do. That's it to them. Because of that they see it as something that needs to be tolerated, an accepted nuisance, and because of that, they purposely distract themselves, try and pass the time. Make this boring, arduous task go quicker so they can get their shit done and move on to more interesting things.
It doesn't matter how good you are or not behind the wheel; if you just don't care, you're a fucking danger to everyone around you. That's something not nearly enough people appreciate anymore.
Edit: Tucking fypo.
I enjoy driving, and should mention that in some ways the most fun I ever had was in a $500 1990 Nissan Sentra. Plenty of people in fancy cars dgaf about the act of driving, and plenty of folks in cheap cars (especially ones where keeping them running these days is a labor of love) care more than you might think.
Maybe it's a socio-economic thing. Maybe they're stressed out from working low-paying jobs. I dunno. This is my experience and I know it isn't scientific data.
And to be clear, when I say I'm a car guy, what I mean is I enjoy both cars and the act of driving. Not to toot my own horn here but I'm going on 12 years of driving with nothing beyond a speeding ticket.
Edit: As an aside, I don't drive a particularly expensive car either so I'm not snobbing here. Most of the time I'm in my F-150 which is a little posh I suppose but hardly the most expensive thing on the road most of the time.
What you just said is that you're OK with reckless endangerment and not OK with inconvenience. I would ask you to please reconsider your feelings here.
I'd be happier still if we could not have people who go too slow or too fast, but failing that and given the choice between, if fast people are left to their business to cruise at whatever speed in the left lane, unobstructed by slow drivers, everyone is demonstrably safer. But because people conflate moving slowly with moving safely, it's considered taboo to say that out loud.
This is a false dichotomy. There is in fact a third, safer alternative when driving already at the speed limit, which is not passing at all. Again you've chosen to prioritize convenience (speeding) over safety.
It very much is unsafe.
In some studies they find that speeding does not cause more accidents.
But speeding is still unsafe because speeding makes the accidents that do happen much more likely to be fatal.
Police in many cases use driving enforcement as a means of raising money, rather than reducing risk. Much of the infrastructure is designed to make driving easier and faster. We as a society need to make it unacceptable to drive at all dangerously, and introduce better alternatives (buses, rail, protected bike lanes, etc), and yes, driving needs to become less convenient in order to make other non-drivers safer on and around the roads.
Claiming that people should automatically be as concerned about being a danger to others as they are about danger to themselves is a nice thought... the world would be a good place if that was the way things worked... but it's not. Even the most educated and enlightened people put their own safety first and the threat to others second, because we're all human.
Maybe instead of attempting to find fault we should roll the dice in accordance with the speed vs lethality tables whenever a driver hits something with another person in it.
Sorry Jim, we're going to have to kill you today. The simulation says you drove right into the maw of a redwood chipper.
That's basically what it feels like using a mode of transportation that carries a high risk of death in a collision.
In this case, brutally rational... at least in a very short term sense! I of course agree with everyone here that at the conscious level, I would love to prioritize bikes, motocycles, and pedestrians. But I don't drive at the entirely conscious level, and neither does anyone else. A lot of driving occurs at much lower levels.
This is not all bad; if we were all driving at fully conscious levels, we'd all be driving like student drivers all the time. That's what "fully conscious driving" looks like. It is not a desirable thing. It would be much worse than what we have now. Nevertheless, the fact that the rest of our brain is involved means that we must also consider the negative side effects of using our lower systems, and one of those side effects is that it is going to be, by default, intrinsically focused on avoiding immediate negative effects like pain, and much, much less focused on long-term considerations like "what we did to a stranger" or "how long we'll be in court". These systems just don't have a long time preference. Heck, what we are pleased to call our "conscious" minds aren't always all that great at balancing long term considerations.
You can blame these systems all you want, but that's not going to change anything about them.
My personal cognitive hack is to try to see them as walking lawsuits, and feeding the lower parts of my brain lurid, emotion-laden images of what will happen to me and my family if I do hit one of those things out of negligence. My conscious mind really is rather worried about one moment's negligence wrecking everything. It's... better than nothing. But I'm still not really speaking the subconscious' language. It may be "subconscious" but that doesn't mean it's "stupid"... it knows I'm lying if I try to claim that I'm going to be physically hurt if I hit them.
99% of activity on the road are moving cars and trucks. So drivers look for moving cars and trucks, not fast mcyclists or slow bcyclists, and they largely ignore stationary objects like pedestrians (unless they're present in likely places like crosswalks).
It's the norm for anyone to see what you most expect to see and overlook the less salient stuff as "noise". For outliers like cyclists and pedestrians, I think the only solution is deliberately to become harder to overlook.
Personally, I suggest blinking lights on bcycles and pedestrians, and pulsing headlights (daytime) on mcycles.
I was waiting on my bike for an opening at a roundabout (rotary for US?) and the car behind me who saw me (he later confirmed it) started looking for a good timing to drive into the roundabout too and forgot about me.
He then started accelerating to drive into the roundabout just behind another car while I was still right in front of him. He completely destroyed my bike (which fell under me so I could walk aside and be safe) without noticing anything.
So.. yeah, the "see bike, say bike" rule seem nice and not a big deal. Please consider trying it :)
Edit: just saw @elosarv's link to a longer but more relevant "motorcycle invisibility training" video (https://youtu.be/x94PGgYKHQ0
But from the comments, it does seem to be legal some places. But, in all other states in the US besides CA, it is explicitly illegal. It still seems unsafe even it is legal.
It's built into the language of articles about crashes too. You'll see 'it is not known if the rider was wearing a helmet' without any similar remarks about the driver of the car. Or the oxymoronic 'police are still investigating the accident'.
 I wrote this, then searched to find an example. Here: https://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/2018/05/vehicle_crashes_i...
 As above. No action being taken, yet they know it's an accident. Written 2 hours ago. https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/burton/burton-bridge-crash-...
If I’m in a car and disobey the traffic laws and get in an accident with someone who was following the law - by definition, I’m at fault.
After jumping to blaming the rider, you graciously accepted you were wrong about the law in some jurisdictions. Unfortunately, you then continued trying to blame the rider without taking the lesson that you may not be aware of what's safest for a bike rider to do. The only explanation I see for this is that you place people on bikes in a different mental tribe to your own.
From even a practical standpoint, if I’m on a motorcycle, I know that I’m at an increase risk of injury. Why wouldn’t I be more careful?
That's to illustrate precisely the idea you mentioned. The violation of laws must contribute to the accident for it to count towards fault.
Now that it's clear to me that you agree with that, I'm happy to close the discussion.
The study itself explicitly states that they don't have the data to reach any conclusions about the relative safety of splitting vs not.
What the study shows is that riders who were lane-splitting at the time of an accident sustain fewer injuries than those who weren't. It mentions some differences between the two groups -- lane-splitters are more likely to be commuting and have better safety gear -- but glosses over how that impacts the injury rates.
I don't have another study to cite but motorcyclists who commute are likely a much less injured group than recreational riders. For a host of reasons, from not engaging in as much risky behavior -- who wants to die on the way to work? -- to being more skilled on average due to experience.
I'll also go as far as to say that commuting is certainly more dangerous than most recreational riding (the exception being recreational riding when the drunks are out, e.g. midnight on the weekend) due to traffic density. The text-and-drive crowd is also more active (both on their phones and on the road) during rush hour, perhaps because driving inattentively seems like a safer practice at lower speeds.
Commuting being a seemingly more dangerous activity doesn't preclude commuters from being a lower-risk-of-injury group. Age could be another factor -- older riders are more likely to be injured in motorcycle accidents, and might be less likely to commute or lane-split.
The study is crap. It lacks the data to control for other factors and draw meaningful conclusions about much of anything.
> This study is not without limitations. The primary limitation is our lack of exposure data. To estimate how the risk of being involved in a collision changes when motorcyclists chose to lane- split, we would require information on both the lane-splitting and non-lane-splitting riding that is done by some identifiable sample of motorcyclists. The collection of these data is fraught with problems, and the current study did not attempt to collect such data. The current data set cannot be used to compare the collision risks for lane-splitting or non-lane-splitting riders.
- If there's a gap ahead in stopped traffic, assume a car will pull across it and adjust your speed and attention accordingly
- If it looks like a car will change lanes without indicating, assume they're going to do it
- Assume nobody can see you and ride accordingly
I used to lane split when I had a motorcycle as the highway traffic was terrible for my morning commute and it was generally fine, though you would occasionally get an idiot doing that thing some drivers do where they indicated a lane change as they were doing it and without checking mirrors so you have to be very careful.
In jurisdictions where it is illegal, why should a motorist any more “expect it” than they should expect a car to do any other illegal behavior? Of course safe driving 101, is that certain common behaviors you should expect.
This is an outstanding vid on the whole subject illustrating the problem and some avoidance methods. This should be taught in rider training but it's not (US).
This was in Montana, US.
I've been through the MSF's BRC, ERC and ARC and there's a glaring lack of detailed techniques like this. IMHO it should be taught before figure eights and all that parking lot stuff.
LATER: It's the Montana Motorcycle Safety Foundation that ran the course, and it was the "MSF Basic RiderCourse".
I agree with your amended comment. In 30 years of motorcycling I managed to avoid hitting cars that pulled out in front of me. I lost count of the drivers that would pull up to a side junction, look in my direction, actually lock eyes with me and then pull out in front of me.
Eventually I encountered a van driver who had perfected the maneouver so that I relaxed at the last second, just before he accelerated into my path. I hit the side of the van. Fortunately I got away with a few bruises and a bent bike, but it could have been a lot worse.
The incident made me realise that caution and good reactions aren't enough to guarantee accident avoidance. I no longer ride every day, which is a pity as I still love motorcycles.
Since I know how this works, I’m more vigilant on my motorcycle. I always slow down before the intersection, sometimes well below the speed limit if it’s crowded. I don’t look at drivers, I look at wheels. I can see wheel rotation quicker than whole car movement.
Didn’t die yet, so I assume it works.
As a driver, a huge 20-ton truck is a very noticeable personal danger. Once seen, you make sure that you know where it is at all times when you're near enough to be 'damaged' by it.
On the other hand, a cyclist/motorcyclist, even when seen, is assessed as a 'negative danger'. That is, the cyclist is more at risk from you, rather than you from him, whether or not a collision actually occurs.
This means that a cyclist can be disregarded as a danger threat, and may be 'blocked out' to some extent. The amount of blocking out, I would expect, is a function of gradation amongst other present threats. In other words, if a huge truck is present, you're more likely to 'unsee' the cyclist.
This all happens subconsciously, and is just part of our evolution over millions of years as a species. As such, it probably means that we need to find ways to produce an 'un-natural' outcome rather than the current 'natural' situation..
Luckily I caught myself in time and nothing bad happened, but it scared the crap out of me to realize my brain was being an asshole again.
1. When crossing a car that could potentially accelerate into your path, train yourself to keep a hand on your front brake.
2. Get better at emergency stops. Train your self to "wait for the weight", meaning progressively apply front brake so that the weight of the bike transfers to the front tire before full application. Practice emergency stops so you don't end up with a fist full of brake or over-hammer the rear. Try to train yourself to at least glance in the mirror when doing an emergency stop, to see if what is behind you could be more dangerous than what's in front.
3. Get your bike ready for emergency stops. Buy a bike with ABS, if possible. In the states, ABS is not yet the law for new bikes, but the decrease in insurance premiums usually means that ABS is practically free. Also, don't cheap out on tires - get high quality tires that match your riding (warm/cold, wet/dry, etc.)
4. Buy a tail light blinker - when your brakes are applied, it blinks the tail lights, and makes it much more obvious that you are stopping.
5. This may be a bit contriversial - I try to get near one side of the lane when I stop. My theory is that if a car is coming in "too hot", it gives them the chance to swerve and hit the car in front of you.
6. Be seen. I don't think that guy got the huge bike for visibilility like the caption said, I think he just likes Honda Goldwings. The real way to be seen is to wear neon (or at least loud colors) and add running lights to your bike.
7. After reading tons of accident reports in my area, I can say to be extremely careful when taking a passenger. There seems to be a lot of accidents on country roads with riders 2-up that get hit by cars or deer. My theory (also from taking on riders) is that the 2nd rider is a significant detriment to manuverability, and manuverability is the motorcycle rider's main positive safety attribute. Just take it slow when 2-up, and stay off the road when the deer are out.
8. This one I can't stress enough - don't become complacent. The majority of rider deaths are those over 50 in the U.S. Always look at cars like they are going to try to turn on you. Look at cars in the oncoming lane - are they slowing down? They could try to turn on you, cover the brake. I have found that this mindset gets pretty exhausting in urban traffic, and I have changed my riding habits to ride out in the country roads more than urban.
9. Wear a helmet and use the strap! I can't count how many YouTube videos of crashes that I have seen where the helmet ways lying 15 feet from the accident because the rider didn't strap it down.
10. Buy an appropriate bike. Smaller bikes are safer. It's in the U.S. safety statistics (DOT? can't remember which one) that the larger the bike, the more dangerous. My theory is that large bikes are less manuverable, which accounts for a lot of it. I'm not going to try to talk anyone of their liter bike, but please be realistic with your skills, and remember you can always trade up to more powerful as you gain skills. It took me 10 years of riding before I felt comfortable on my 125HP Kawi Z900. More a thing of maturity and restraint than the ability to control the bike (which has a great progressive powerband, easy to go slow).
Motorcycles have long had mandated daytime running lights, as it helps make them more visible. Do modern motorcyclists intentionally retrofit super-bright Blue-White LEDs thinking they help improve their visibility?
What would be a good way to reach motorcyclists to help them realize their blinding lights aren't actually as protective as they presumably think?
Adding to your list, I'd also suggest rule #11: When riding on a multi-lane street or highway, never ride adjacent to another vehicle. Speed up to get ahead or slow down to fall behind. This helps to avoid the other vehicle making a lane change into your path. Keep out of the other vehicle's blind spot.
Btw sorry it takes up 4 parking spots and gets 2mpg. Y'see, we're also in a competition to use the greatest amount of shared resources possible before we die.
we are all make mistakes on the road. small or big, the consequence of that mistakes are far greater when you are on 2 wheels. It’s not even about size or mass, it’s about the fact that your body is going to be projected into a tree/a car/sidewalk etc.
Are you familiar with the prisoner's dilemma?
It's even worse in "accidents", where the motorcyclist might not be able to give their side of the story immediately due to injuries. Now the police report is heavily biased (in practice), which makes sure there will be future insurance issues.
Motorists should need to pay attention to their surroundings more since they've chosen a means of conveyance that can quite easily maim or kill due to a moment of inattention, but is that reality? No, because the risk is mostly externalized.
the consequences of a mistake are the ones that are really different - but on the upside you way less likely to get seriously hurt in a car vs riding a bike.
on top of that: it’s really fascinating for me to see people putting the burden of their own physical safety on other (ef if you know that a driver has practically a zero chance of seeing you in a situation why not protect yourself? it doesn’t matter that you’re right if you’re dead)
Sure, but my lane is 2x+ my width, and my body spans the width of my vehicle.
When I drive a car I'm not familiar with, it takes some time to get a sense for how wide it is. With a new bicycle, it doesn't--it spans from my left hand to my right hand. (My last driving experience was a short bus for the first time ever, after several years of not driving at all. A normal sized car is a lot less tricky, but still wider than and not centered on my body.)
Edit: Why the downvotes? Is my question probing at something people find incompatible with their ideology?
> Chapman always sent two vehicles from opposite sides of the road during those trials — either a car and a car, or a car and a motorcycle. Then, right after the participant pulled out, he would stop the test and ask them to use a laser pointer to point where the oncoming vehicle(s) had been on the screen.
> What Chapman found was that, every once in a while, there were instances where the driver had failed to report seeing the motorcycle and the car, even though an eye tracking device showed that they clearly looked at the oncoming vehicles. But he also found that participants were much more likely to miss the motorcyclist than the car driver.
Later when the motorcycle is only in peripheral vision, it's quite likely that constant bearing decreasing range contributes to the motorcycle being forgotten.
But this doesn't change the thesis, which says that the motorcycle is more likely to be forgotten because it's smaller. Because it's smaller, it's more likely to have the constant bearing decreasing range error, which means it's more likely to be forgotten.
To summarize: the effect may be useful in understanding why this happens, but doesn't change the thesis.
Right of Weight
I rode a motorcycle as my only transportation for years, in Florida, throughout many Summers and tourist seasons. I've also driven extensively on four wheels for local delivery and on eighteen for interstate freight. I have come to a holistic view of a problem that I believe encompasses all motor vehicles. I'll take this opportunity to express it, in no particular order.
First, the issuance of a driver's license needs to depend on more than the applicant merely having a pulse. Ideally, a full semester, comprehensive course on the principles of driving should be prerequisite for graduating highschool, else a third party alternative equivalent ought be required. The vast number of avoidable deaths and injuries exceeds any alternative. The constituent issues are many. Here are some observations.
Enforcement: LE needs reform. The emphasis on traffic citations seems overwhelmingly directed at revenue generation rather than practical safety, eg erratic, inconsistent speed enforcement; seatbelt violations (I'll get back to this *1); and automated traffic light citations are emphasized over myriad moving violations and generally irresponsible vehicle operation. This gets a bit complex for various reasons. Speeding is, regardless of reason, socially acceptable, even perceived as a right. In the right lane, I am perpetually tailgated even when traveling 5mph over the limit. It's often worse when precisely at the limit. I have never seen (or heard of) anyone ticketed for tailgating. It isn't infrequent for drivers to even display marked hostility to a driver obeying the speed limit, in any lane. Yet, speed traps (all those I've observed) are primarily effective at collecting fines, but not in long-term discouragement of speeding. I've seen school-zones that if regularly monitored, could dent the national debt in fines. But no consistency. I've yet to observe an officer pursue anyone for failure to signal, reckless maneuvers or irresponsible cellphone usage. I understand that this varies elsewhere, to some extent. While there are obviously difficulties involved in effective enforcement of such examples, effort could help.
Ignorance: I propose this be dealt with mostly through required education, which needs many amendments. Psychology is a neglected component of driver ed. There are many who simply don't care. There are many who simply don't know any better. There are more than a few that are much worse and more difficult to address passively. However, if the tremendous volatility of the mechanics involved was more pervasively understood through quality education, people would make different decisions. Silly it may seem, some can actually learn that they are not the only important driver on the road and that the infrastructure itself has inevitable limitations that cannot be bypassed through selfishness. This is hard to teach. The mechanics/physics are a bit easier. Looking before turning is not an elite skill -- people can do this, but often don't. Signaling certainly helps broadcast intent, but is often neglected. That we should do such not just for ourselves, but for the safety of others is frightfully esoteric.
Intersections: In Florida, it is legal to creep beyond the white line in a turning lane with or without an arrow light, then complete the turn after the light has gone red. I typically don't do this and it has enraged many to the point of violence. Similar with accelerating on yellow lights. One might argue that in the first example, I am at fault, though certainly not with the latter. There is a pathology here, one that could be lessened but isn't. Right turns on red are legal in Florida. Many intersections have visual obstructions which cause drivers to lurch beyond the white line to verify clearance of oncoming. Traffic cameras are fond of this, though I've never observed an officer pursue any such instance. This is an example of...
Ambiguity: There needs to be less ambiguity and more consistency.
Motorcycles are not invisible. They are legal motor vehicles and very few people are incapable of seeing them through exerting a standard effort. I reject any mystical cognitive excuses. If motorcycles had a reputation for obliterating cars that crashed into them, they'd become substantially easier to see. Driving large vehicles ranging from pickups to combination trailers, I've seen beyond a doubt a greater tendency to be 'respected' on the road, with expected exceptions. There is a pecking order to some extent.
Consequences of Error: This is a complex issue. If someone punches a stranger in the face, especially under surveillance, the consequences are typically severe. When someone kills or injures another driver, particularly a motorcyclist, there is a general tendency to go through the paperwork, clean up the mess, and place the responsibility on a third party, ie insurance and legal system, which often does little. An 'accident', however atrocious, is often given the benefit of the doubt if no overtly criminal activity is present. This is in part for good reason, because it is presumed accidental, but also makes atrocities remarkably easy where otherwise more difficult. Unfortunately, intoxicated driving gets most of the attention, while soberly bad decisions and brazen irresponsibility is systematically forgiven.
There is almost never a good excuse for hitting a law abiding motorcyclist. Most vehicle accidents are preventable. Our priorities are deranged.
1. Seat belts are safety features and worth using, for sure. Motorcycles don't have them, thankfully. It can be argued that a seatbelt could, in some rare instances, prevent an otherwise unsecured driver from harming others. I am quite convinced, however, that in most cases, the seatbelt protects only the user. Therefore, it would seem more productive in the conquest of safety (and revenue) that officers focused less on what drivers were willing to do to themselves and more on what they are willing to do to others. At the very least, proportionately. Much more to say. Too much said for a comment.