Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blog Stuff: Share the road... ...with a front bumper.

Folks, I can completely empathize with the desire to go out and zoom about on two wheels, even without a motor, and being a rider (albeit of the powered type) I know how annoying it can be to have to share the asphalt with the bovine herd asleep at the wheels of their GMC Yukons, but there's a time and a place for everything, okay?

There are roads around here, little twisty, two-lane, shady, hilly, shoulderless roads with no over-run areas, that have speed limits of thirty to forty miles an hour and are just no place for pedal-operated bikes, "share the road" or no. When you're coming through the apex of a blind corner on Mourfield or Canton Hollow at 35mph and there's a sweaty cyclist struggling along at 15-per on the uphill grade in the middle of your lane, it can be a hair raising experience. If there's oncoming traffic, you'd have no choice but to bunt the rider into the kudzu.

It's a thousand wonders that they don't have to pick spandex and toe clips out of the grill of a Durango at least once a week on Westland. Folks, for your own safety, go Share The Road someplace safe, okay?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's your hurry? You're only on the way to work...

Todd said...

Give the pedal pushers a break. You share a climbers paradise and all they want is a foot or so. So slow down a tad and enjoy the scenery.

Now, if they're 2 abreast or riding the middle line, fair game! :)

Anonymous said...

Tam:

There's a windy, twisty, steep road between San Jose and Santa Cruz - Hwy 17? - where I've seen pedal-pushers. Ther's no shoulder what-so-ever in many places. Thrucks, cars & SUVs share what little room there is. I'd be terrified to ride a bike there, but some dang fools persist.

jb

DirtCrashr said...

It's not just "Share the Road," to them it's "We Own the Road." We have the same asinine self-absorption and smug insistence of two and three abreast riding in these hills.
jb knows it; Hwy 17, Hwy 9, Skyline (Hwy 35)- from the spandexified elites of precious Portola Valley and Los Alto Hills on $3k+ peddlers up and over to the coast and back. "Only on the way to work?" They're only on a sweaty self-indulgent work-out. They're all "working" roads that people actually live-on and trucks and other working vehicles ply - not "play-roads" for muscle-toners. There's the laws of physics too, and it's "only" a 30mpg speed difference and a +/- 3000-lb weight differential.

Dwight Brown said...

" What's your hurry? You're only on the way to work..."

If I worked where Tam worked, or if I worked with Tam, I'd be in a hurry, too.

Jeffro said...

I haul oversized loads, often through the Rockies on I70. Tall loads (and hazardous loads) are routed over Loveland Pass because the Eisenhower Tunnel is too "short" plus HS fears a load of gas could blow up in there.

This is a tight, winding, steep graded road, so naturally it is a major challenge for bicyclists. That's where I'd wanna be - in front of a load of gas going down the mountain on jake brakes. The tankers tend to go faster than the bikes.

Homer said...

And the reason bicyclists fail to understand basic physics is...?

Jay G said...

The ones that really torque my motor are the ones that ride two- or even three- abreast, even though they know damn well that a car is behind them.

It's times like these a phrase my mom taught me as a boy sticks out: "You can be right, but you can also be dead right."

Dr. StrangeGun said...

"And the reason bicyclists fail to understand basic physics is...? "

A keen mix of hubris and stupidity, aged like a fine wine... or a moldy blue cheese. Haven't figgered that part out yet.

boxstockracer said...

My brother calls bicyclists who ride on two-lane roads "bicycle terrorists" because they can get you killed by refusing to yield to faster-moving traffic.

The speed differential is so great, that there's no place for the car to go if it comes around a corner and unexpectedly discovers a bicycle blocking the lane going 35 to 40 mph slower, and real vehicles approaching in the on-coming lane.

In some circles, purposely creating a traffic hazard that results in an automobile driver's death might be called homicide.

I also find it just plain stupid for bicyclists to be on the road with cars for a more basic reason. They suffer a very basic disadvantage with motorcycles, but have none of the advantages, like speed and acceleration. That basic disadvantage is recognition-identification in high stress situations.

In a high-threat environment like traffic, city streets, or two-lane country roads, the brain will be looking for a certain class of threats - those threats that are most capable of causing you immediate bodily harm. In any situation, the most dangerous and likely threat representations are stored for fastest retrieval, and in traffic those are generally "car" or "truck" representations. Other representations (like bicycles) are stored away in lower-priority (less available for recall) locations. Combine a little traffic with an on-coming car that looks to be swerving a little, and all of a sudden, looking for bicyclists becomes very unimportant.

This is why riding bicycles in traffic is so dangerous - not only are they not represented in context (bicycles in traffic???), they have no "threat" profile in the human brain. Their inoffensiveness makes them invisible in a threat-filled environment full of things that can kill you if you don't see them. And no amount of activism by bicyclists, or bicycle traffic laws will ever change that fact.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of raising ire, as a bicyclist there are VERY VERY few places where you can actually "share the road" safely, small roads rural roads where the speed limits are in the 35mph are about the only places.

So slow down already and play nice., and then pass as if you had a slow car in front of you. You aren't the only thing on the road and the speed limit is the upper legal limit.

For bicyclists after all, the highways are off limits, the major boulevards are a nightmare of parked cars, full of moving vehicles that refuse to yield inches,that actively cut off and block the way and many many other roads are plagued with huge potholes (what's a minor bump in your car is a big deal on bike, in case you didn't know) and there are masses of gravel on the shoulders, and...oh, lotsof other things that make the life of cyclists a misery...and no reasonable alternatives.


As to "we own the road" syndrome among bicyclists , it's exists alright, but in my experience it's an attempt to not get casually run off the road by utterly clueless drivers who are intolerant of anything not weighing 3000 lbs and having 4 wheels...and who sure as hell aren't sharing anything.

If most cars "shared" anything like as politely as cyclists there'd be little need for cyclists to be assertive.

I won't even start on what it's like to be a _pedestrian_ which is life threatening in most places, and specifically made to be a misery almost everywhere

boxstockracer said...

anonymous:

Roads are not now, nor have they ever have been designed for ‘slow’.

Roads are specifically designed to increase the speed of the traveler so that they may get from point A to point B in the most expeditious manner possible. The fact that some roads have lower speed limits than others is due strictly to the nature of the terrain they traverse. A 35 mph speed limit does NOT mean that the road was intended for non-motorized traffic, just that it recognizes a more difficult, and indeed a less safe environment, due to hazards that could not be avoided, like sharp corners, limited sight distances, and low light visibility due to tree shade. Assuming that a 35 mph speed limit makes the bicyclist safer is both stupid and dangerous. A 35 mph speed limit is there because the road is already dangerous without bicyclists adding to the danger by parking themselves in the middle of the road.

And you are parked.

No matter how fast you think you are, you are still slower than traffic by at least a factor of two, and you are at your physical limit. You have NO reserve in speed, stopping power, acceleration, or corning ability. Not only are you at your limit, in every one of those respects, you, as a bicyclist, perform at less than half the capability of the proverbial VW Microbus, the original accident-causing rolling chicane and future roadside bonfire.

Failure to recognize these simple facts will lead to tragedy - either yours, or someone else’s, because you refuse to take basic safety precautions. It is exactly the same as the pedestrian who crosses the street without bothering to look, because ‘cars have to stop – it’s the law.’ No matter how righteous your indignation, or how right you are in the law, it only takes one small fraction of a second for a driver to be distracted by a real threat, i.e., a car, to miss seeing you and kill you. Whether you have, (or had) the right to be there is completely immaterial.

With your current attitude and frame of mind, you will only continue to exist until the perfection in all others fails. At that point, you will cease to exist (except as a feature on the nightly news).

Take it from a motorcycle rider. I have been riding a motorcycle on public roads for over 35 years, in every conceivable weather and traffic condition, from hot-footing it up a dry, deserted winding road at 1 in the morning, to commuting in Los Angeles traffic, to riding home in the snow, to riding in traffic in the great north-wet –

. . . and I am alive today ONLY because of my superior speed, acceleration, stopping power, handling ability, because my head is mounted on a veritable swivel, and because I have a very finely developed case of the ‘Messerchmitt twitch’.

You have none of those advantages.

I also recognize that I am different from the majority of the vehicles on the road. I am not something people look for, no matter how much I wish it to be the case. I, and those like myself, are not a part of most people’s lives, so I do not exist as a representation in their brains. Car drivers literally do not see me because I do not exist in their lives.

I am also not a threat. When things get ugly, I won’t be the thing people are trying to avoid. I KNOW THIS AND BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY.

You, on the other hand, not only seem to assume that everyone sees you, but that you are the most important thing in everyone else’s life while you are on that bicycle. I can assure you, that is not the case.

In response to your comment “. . . So slow down already and play nice”.

It’s not about playing. It’s about staying alive, and if you want to stay alive, here are the rules for anyone on two wheels, motorized or not:

1) YOU ARE INVISIBLE. Parking yourself in the middle of the lane on a two-lane road does not change this fact, no matter how much you want to believe it will. Assuming everyone can see you is always fatal. That is why the vast majority of all fatal motorcycle accidents occur when a car turns left in front of the bike - YOU ARE INVISIBLE.

2) If you can’t get out of the way of a vehicle going twice as fast as you, either by accelerating away, or pulling off the road, you will, eventually, be run over. This applies to ALL vehicles, not just bicyclists, and no law will change it. If you don’t believe me, just try holding up a logging truck being driven down the mountain by a driver who’s being paid by the load. And remember – just because somebody is riding your rear end does NOT mean their brakes have not failed. You stay alive by assuming the worst, and getting the $#@% out of the way.

3) Roads are specifically made for speed. Get over it. If you can’t keep up, get off. People use roads exactly to get where they are going more quickly, and it’s not play. It’s work. Hard work. Inconveniencing every one else on the road who knows why the road is there, and expecting them to be nice is the height of arrogance and stupidity. While you’re all worried about the guys climbing up your rear tire, that guy in the on-coming lane in the pickup/camper combo is about to make a quick left in front of the car behind you, ‘cause he sure as heck doesn’t want to wait for all the cars you’ve got stacked up behind you.

And remember. You are invisible. He will turn left right through you and not even feel it.

I sincerely hope you heed these warnings and don’t end up learning all this the hard way.

staghounds said...

Boxstockracer, that's great advice, and not just for two wheeled riders.

You can beat the case, but you can't beat the physics.

I grew up on Cherokee Boulevard (Tam knows what that is) and my mother lives on Westland. It sometimes seems that cyclists, and pedestrians, are TRYING to be hit by a slightly less than alert driver.

The proliferation of cell phone talkers also raises the risk. Talking on a cell phone degrades a driver's ability about like 2 drinks does. Next time you're stopped at a light, check the drivers around you. If there are 8, at least one will be on the telephone.