Thursday, June 26, 2008

Safety video for cycling in traffic

I thought this was well done, demonstrating how to operate a bike as a vehicle, under all rules of the road. In particular, controlling the lane is demonstrated well here. This was a hard lesson for me to learn when I first started bike commuting as I didn't want to delay anyone or be "in the way". However, nearly getting doored when feeling pressured over to the right taught me a valuable lesson. Unfortunately I have experienced many a honk from an angry driver who thinks I should be driving in the gutter, or who nearly sideswipes me while passing too close. However, the truth is that most drivers are fine with this type of cycling, and they would rather see you clearly and not making unexpected maneuvers (even if they are delayed a few seconds!). They may not always be happy but everyone stays alive!


Eric said...

Great video! It should be required viewing for all drivers and cyclists.

Most drivers in my city are pretty good, but I have had drivers pull up beside me when I am in the center of a lane and then shift right forcing me onto the curb.

Tejvan Pettinger said...

Even though I'm an experienced cyclist, I found the video useful. Just today, I found it difficult turning right on a fast road. You don't know whether cars are going to slow down or not

Canajun said...

Two comments:
1. You'll note the speed at which the riders are travelling. While not as fast as the cars around them, they are moving at a pretty good pace so delays to car drivers are minimised. I have far too often been behind a cyclist out for a Sunday ride, travelling at 10kph or less, and taking up the entire lane. Rules of the road include maintaining a reasonable speed and not unduly holding up other traffic (whether on two wheels or four). That's a point the video neglected to mention.
2. On a related point, I recently followed a gaggle of cyclists (not sure what the proper collective term is)on a hilly, winding bit of road for over 2 kilometers. They were travelling at about 20 kph on an 80 kph provincial highway, riding two and three abreast. Any attempt to pass would have put them in danger, but that didn't stop several drivers from doing just that. So by all means cycle, but understand that your rights also include a responsibility to not impede other traffic.

Socially Active said...

Take care, be safe.

Unfortunately I wasn't so lucky. Car drivers make way too many assumptions about cyclist.

Car drivers assume cyclist are fast moving pedestrians.

A fast moving cyclist actually takes longer to stop than a car at the same speed. Unlike pedestrians, cyclist cannot side step an opening door.

Sean S. said...

great video, thanks for the link.

I bike everyday here in Saskatoon and have avoided controlling the lane most of the time. However, every now and than a car decides to pass me barely missing me as it goes by. I think I'll be giving this lane control thing a try for a week or two and see if there is a difference.

Fun fact, did you know that Saskatoon has the 2nd highest per capita cyclist numbers in Canada (~2.5%)?, only behind Victoria (~5%)

Socially Active said...


I think the pack riding which you hate is about the safest way for cyclist to assert their rights to use the road. The inconvience they offer you is no more than a farm tractor or other slow moving vehicle. If that was farm tractor pulling 3 grain wagons would you feel better?

As cyclist I should complain about cars blocking up city streets, slowing me down to a walking pace. A bicycle is just as fast as car in city traffic and faster than a bus, but slower than trains. Why do people insist on driving everywhere?

Canajun said...

socially active:

I live in rural Ontario, so hay wagons and other farm machinery are a fact of life and I meet them on the road every day. But what they do that pack bike riders do not (at least not in my experience) is they recognise that they are holding up traffic and make every effort to pull over to create a passing lane or wave the drivers on when the road ahead is clear. That way they know I'm going to pass and I know that they know, which has to be safer all around.
An impatient and frustrated car driver screaming up alongside a pack of bike riders on a hill or curve isn't safe for anybody on the road.
The point remains that with rights come responsibilities when it comes to a shared roadway. If you're not travelling at the same speed as the traffic around you, it is your responsibility to make sure that other road users can pass you safely and at the earliest opportunity.
By the way, everything here (and in the video) applies equally to motorcycles which have some of the same issues because of their size, i.e. they don't take up a full lane.

firerobin said...

I am just about to purchase a bicycle to begin cycling here in Dallas.

Great video ... came in at a perfect time for me!

Nice blog by the way.

Red Jenny said...

Canajun, a hilly and winding country road is A) dangerous for a cyclist if cars are speeding by, which could explain the lack of single file, and B) HARD WORK, especially if you've been riding all day. That you had to drive slowly for 2 KM while sitting in a comfy car doesn't really make feel sorry for you.

The truth is, it is better for a driver to be inconvenienced slightly (you lost 4.5 minutes according to your numbers, since you would have completed the 2 km in 1.5 mins instead of 6 mins) than a cyclist to be endangered. Asserting their right to the lane keeps them safe.

Plus, I have many times been stuck in traffic on my bike. The cars are barely crawling and I could zip by if I just had an opening. Never once has someone in a car pulled over just a bit to let me by. Yet they are not maintaining a reasonable speed and they are unduly holding me up. I have to sit there and eat their exhaust. By all means, drive, but understand your rights also include a responsibility not to impede other traffic, like a cyclist.

Point being, many people aren't all that courteous on the road, they aren't thinking about everyone around them but rather how to get to their own destination. Why slam cyclists for it?

Canajun said...

Clearly this is not an argument I'm going to win, but let me try one more time.

I'm not slamming cyclists as much as pointing out that with rights come responsibilities, and one of those is to obey the rules of the road, including maintaining a good pace and not unduly delaying or impeding other traffic. That applies whether it's a pack of riders or an 80-year-old farmer in a 40-year-old truck doing 20.

The second point is that, precisely because of the bad, impatient drivers out there, pack riders put themselves in more danger by not providing basic courtesies such as pulling into single file and waving drivers by when the opportunity presents itself. The riders remain in control of the situation and driver frustration is significantly reduced. Farmers on tractors know this and practice it, as do school bus drivers and others sharing our rural roads, so why is it so hard for cyclists?

Red Jenny said...

Ahhh, the old cyclists v drivers argument. Almost as old as monkey v robot.

Cycling in traffic is a heck of a lot more dangerous than driving (which is dangerous enough). Courtesy has to take a back seat to safety, but I agree everyone should be more courteous. Can't monkey and robot all just get along?

Canajun said...

Now the real question: Which one of us is the monkey?

Red Jenny said...

I'd rather be a monkey than a robot ;-)