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Thread: "Wheels of Misfortune" in the NYT

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    Default "Wheels of Misfortune" in the NYT

    This is a piece by the daughter of the woman killed earlier this year here by a cyclist who ran a red. It's very sad, and of course we should all wish that cyclists, like any other modal users, were more careful and law abiding. Any preventable death is one too many. I'm not sure I would agree with the inference that some sort of crisis of dangerous riding is occurring, though.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/o...ml?ref=opinion

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    I'm not sure I would agree with the inference that some sort of crisis of dangerous riding is occurring, though.

    If car drivers broke traffic laws at the same rate that I see cyclists break traffic laws, I would either be dead or choose not to bike anywhere near cars. I see multiple cyclists weave at speed through pedestrians crossing 15th Street every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    If car drivers broke traffic laws at the same rate that I see cyclists break traffic laws, . . .
    That is an untested hypothesis but also one unlikely to be true. There is very little real, good data on cyclist lawbreaking. The only study here that I'm aware of was for the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack, which showed a 42% rate of cyclists running reds. In contrast, DDOT data shows about 70-80% of drivers are speeding at any given time. Obviously, those are two different forms of law-breaking, but they are also examples of the more common forms of law-breaking for each mode. In addition, as many have pointed out before, the dangers posed by each types are wildly different. Speeding is listed as the cause of only 3% of vehicular accidents in DC, yet that 3% resulted in 22% of all traffic fatalities.
    Last edited by Crickey7; 08-11-2017 at 08:46 AM.

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    From reading the article, it seems that the author was pretty neutral towards cyclist behavior until it hit home with their mother getting killed by a cyclist. Only after that did the author realize that cyclists can and sometimes do create danger for pedestrians.

    It's like how we cyclists don't always realize the effects that our decisions can have on other trail-users until we go for a walk/run on a trail. Until one gets passed too closely, sees close calls between aggressive/oblivious cyclists, or sees a crash or its aftermath, it can be difficult to understand the danger to others.

    Just like drivers can have a windshield perspective, I think cyclists can have a handlebar perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    That is an untested hypothesis but also one unlikely to be true. There is very little real, good data on cyclist lawbreaking. The only study here that I'm aware of was for the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack, </b>which showed a 42% rate of cyclists running reds.</b>
    That's pretty good data that is similar to my anecdotal observation. Based on your information, I will revise my previous statement to:

    If 42% of car drivers ran red lights which is the same rate that cyclists ran red lights in a study conducted on the Pennsylvania Ave cycletrack in Washingston DC, I believe that there is an increased likelihood that I would have been seriously injured or killed during the prior two year time period that i have bike commuted. Based on a personal assessment conducted on the morning of 8/11/17, I evaluated a 42% red light running rate as being a 5 for the likelihood that a car would run a red light in an intersection in which I had the right of way and evaluated the impact of such occurrence as a 5. I have chosen avoidance as the proper risk management strategy in a scenario where 42% of cars would run a red light. I have anecdotally observed that multiple cyclists run red lights in other parts of DC. I have also frequently observed cyclists breaking other traffic laws which could result in injury or death to others or themselves, particularly failing to yield to pedestrians in the 15th Street Cycletrack near the White House. I am unaware of any comprehensive studies of how many cyclists fail to yield pedestrians in the 15th St cycletrack near the White House and whether such study would confirm my unscientific and anecdotal observations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobco85 View Post

    Just like drivers can have a windshield perspective, I think cyclists can have a handlebar perspective.
    I've actually taken to checking out some of the places that I bike frequently by car, just to get the motorist perspective of intersections and trail crossings. I think it's helpful, particularly in understanding that some "bad" driver behavior is a influenced by the infrastructure, particularly bad sight lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    I've actually taken to checking out some of the places that I bike frequently by car, just to get the motorist perspective of intersections and trail crossings. I think it's helpful, particularly in understanding that some "bad" driver behavior is a influenced by the infrastructure, particularly bad sight lines.
    THIS. There were 2 intersections in Alexandria I used to struggle with on a bike--I used to have a ton of close calls on them. I drove through them once or twice while running errands and realized it wasn't that the drivers were TRYING to hit me, it was that they really had terrible sight lines, and couldn't see bikes coming until much too close for comfort. Checking this out by car got me to slow wayyy down at those intersections, and gave me a better ability to predict what drivers approaching the intersection would do, and why.

    On the other end of the spectrum was when a driver who almost hit me and swore it was because he had no sight lines and couldn't see me. I went back and drove through the intersection going his route. You could see a few hundred yards in either direction, even from my tiny little Focus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    I've actually taken to checking out some of the places that I bike frequently by car
    There you have it, folks, Judd has just admitted to driving some of his HP laps!
    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    just to get the motorist perspective of intersections and trail crossings. I think it's helpful, particularly in understanding that some "bad" driver behavior is a influenced by the infrastructure, particularly bad sight lines.
    I'm amazed sometimes at how easy it is to miss signage of upcoming trail crossings on some of the speedways- er, I mean, highways around here. It's one of the reasons why I hate those tiny "Yield to Pedestrians (arrow pointing diagonally signaling "Here")" signs that VDOT has foolishly decided are adequate for on/off-ramp pedestrian crossings at interstates like the Beltway & I-395; they are difficult to see and get overshadowed by the larger signs nearby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emm View Post
    THIS. There were 2 intersections in Alexandria I used to struggle with on a bike--I used to have a ton of close calls on them. I drove through them once or twice while running errands and realized it wasn't that the drivers were TRYING to hit me, it was that they really had terrible sight lines, and couldn't see bikes coming until much too close for comfort. Checking this out by car got me to slow wayyy down at those intersections, and gave me a better ability to predict what drivers approaching the intersection would do, and why.
    The most eye-opening intersection for me to drive through was the W&OD and Shreve Road out in Falls Church. I biked through intersection a hundred times and had never driven it until like maybe 18 months ago. If you're driving west, the trail crossing really sneaks up on you and there's kind of a lot going on for drivers right there. So after driving it, I'm much more conscientious about how I approach that intersection on a bike.

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    Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York has touted his Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic fatalities across the city, which overwhelmingly involve cars. (More than 10,000 pedestrians were injured and 137 killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2015. And 4,433 cyclists were injured and 14 killed.) But clearly not enough has been done to protect pedestrians from irresponsible bikers. The number of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists rose about 50 percent from 2012, when there were 244 crashes, to 2015, when there were 361.
    Even with the increase in cyclist-pedestrian incidents, given the above figures, I find it hard to understand why we should be redirecting our attention onto "irresponsible bikers." All of these intra-modal incidents would best be avoided or mitigated somehow, but as a society, the inherent comfort we seem to have living with automobile-related injuries and fatalities, I find chilling.

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