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Interesting blog post about riding within, as opposed to alongside, traffic. Saw it on the internet-BOB list...

Cycling Savvy: A Story in Three Rides

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More vehicular cycling propaganda. Someone rode three times in a couple weeks and now they're an expert on whether we need more cycling infra. 

The ability to confidently and predictably mix with traffic on a bike is pretty important, and it's great that the author went on a couple short rides without encountering any aggressive or severely distracted drivers, but what she has to say will be more interesting after she's done it every day for a year or so.

I offered it up as an interesting post, not a screed against cycling infrastructure. That said, if you want some commentary from a more experienced rider, I recommend John Laidlaw's reply to the original post in the internet-BOB group:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/internet-bob/MkLasLYLzyM

John is far from a newbie rider. I think he's about 70, and has been riding in urban traffic by his own admission since the 50s. His oft-used phrase is that you change your perspective a bit if you think of it as "driving your bike". (You might need to be subscribed to view it. If so, and you don't want to subscribe, let me know and I will ask John if it's okay to copy his post here.)

'Driving your bike' is a great concept.  Particularly in cases like the other thread posted today about passing on the right when someone's turn signal is on.

I don't see why one can't both support vehicular cycling education and dedicated cycling infra.  I do.

Vehicular cycling does not work at all on roads with both high car traffic volume and high speeds.  For these we need separate cycle paths.  But vehicular cycling should be quite safe (even safer than using separate infra) everywhere else.  Unfortunately, here in the US, it's not as safe in practice as as it could be, since most drivers and many cyclists do not know and/or do not obey the law regarding cycling.

Amen to that.

Jeff Schneider said:

I don't see why one can't both support vehicular cycling education and dedicated cycling infra.  I do.

Vehicular cycling does not work at all on roads with both high car traffic volume and high speeds.  For these we need separate cycle paths.  But vehicular cycling should be quite safe (even safer than using separate infra) everywhere else.  Unfortunately, here in the US, it's not as safe in practice as as it could be, since most drivers and many cyclists do not know and/or do not obey the law regarding cycling.

Skip, I agree that it is an interesting post as a story of someone learning to get comfortable riding in traffic. Especially since this is in St. Louis, and there's currently another thread going on about riding there.

I do find it unfortunate that the useful skills that come w/ vehicular cycling are so often packaged with the attitude that bike infra is worthless or even dangerous. (Though I'll be the first to admit that poorly-designed infra certainly can be). 

I was able to see John Laidlaw's post, thanks - but I had to copy/past the URL (the "#!" in it appears to have messed up the forum software's translation of it into a link).  I certainly do find the perspective of anyone who's been riding nearly that long to be interesting! Overall, I agree pretty strongly with Jeff in that both vh skills and infra are useful and necessary to make cycling accessible to most. To be fair to the author of the article you linked, she did mention that her experience doesn't necessarily apply to the very young, old, or differently-abled. I guess it was just the phrase "And somewhere in there, it hit me. I was wrong. We don't need bike lanes" that triggered my "here-we-go-again" reaction.

I think she might have meant it differently than it struck you. I didn't read it as, "We don't need no stinking bike infrastructure!" I read it more as "Hey, wait a minute. I don't need perfect bike infrastructure everywhere all the time. I can learn and adapt."

Which gets to what, for me, is the ultimate (though, I think unstated) point of the post. Education helps. A lot. I don't think the post would have been written if the Cycling Savvy course wasn't available. We don't just hand out drivers licenses to every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who wants to drive. Maybe some amount of vehicular cycling education should be required. Tough to see how we'd get there today, but having something inexpensive available would still be useful.


David Altenburg said:

I guess it was just the phrase "And somewhere in there, it hit me. I was wrong. We don't need bike lanes" that triggered my "here-we-go-again" reaction.

Sometimes it seems not too far from this, however ;-)

Skip Montanaro 12mi said:

We don't just hand out drivers licenses to every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who wants to drive. 

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