2 hit and runs in 2 days and safety principles to be derived from the experience
- I wonder if we could produce a list of the various ways in which obeying the
law can be a lot more dangerous for cyclists and walkers than it is for
people in cars.
It was established in New York (and no doubt in other cities) some years ago
that if any one group of all road and sidewalk users obeyed the law to the
letter there would be chaos - with all its consequences in a volatile
congested crowd of people and vehicles. This observation and conclusion was
precipitated by a crack-down on rule-breaking cyclists. As a result cyclists
started obeying the law in large numbers and as you might expect gridlock
followed. The law backed off. This wasn't necessarily a good thing - because
motorist's failure to observe the law under the same dispensation required
to enable the system to run at all is far more dangerous in its consequences
for cyclists or pedestrians than it is for people inside cars (especially
with the safety equipment that comes with modern cars.)
My example, as an urban cyclist, of achieving safety through not obeying the
law to the letter would be the use of an overlapping red-light gap between
two sets of traffic lights to get away from a mass of traffic behind me and
negotiate a tricky road junction entering Birmingham city centre before the
bulk of the traffic behind me gets the green.
I used to obey the law at this site and found myself in a number of
situations where motorists were revving up behind me and indicating
frustration of the kind I seek to avoid engendering in them. I would also
find myself being dangerously squeezed between vehicles and pavement as
larger high-sided vehicles overtook. Getting away early is also safer to
avoid the very fast accelerating motorbikes that can make the "green" change
feel especially hazardous if one is sharing a "start line" with one or more
of them behind at the lights.
The law cannot recognise that, in the judgement of a cyclist, situations
which cause annoyance to motorist are also intimately linked to cyclist's
judgements of risk in a way that is not anything like as intense for
A cyclist who, by obeying the law to the letter, frustrates one or more
motorists is taking a risk with their own safety. I would suggest that
motorists, though they may annoy other motorists by observing speed limits
(and other road traffic codes), do not expose themselves to the danger to
which cyclists expose themselves by obeying the law. The law - for the
obvious reason that you can't, in law, acknowledge that a rule only works in
the breach - is incapable of allowing for the possibility that obedience is
often much much more hazardous for walkers and cyclists than it is for
people in cars.
BADDELEY'S LAW OF URBAN CYCLING: If nobody else is endangered and the right
thing is more dangerous than the wrong thing, I am inclined to do the
"wrong" thing if it ensures my safety and the safety of others around me
whether in cars, walking or cycling.
Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2001 12:55 AM
Subject: RE: urbancyclist-uk: 2 hit and runs in 2 days
> helen wrote:> >.............(cut)[second case]being
> > Today while I was on the Kingston upon Thames one way system, holding
> > the> middle of the lane as it gets a bit complicated and I don't like
> > cut up, the elderly lady driver decided she would have to push me out ofher
> > way. God knows how I stayed on the bike and didn't go under her wheels............
> > or the traffic in the other lane.
> The writer later said she didn't know what she could have done to avaoid
> this. The answer is simple: don't ride down the middle of a lane to
> block car drivers for safety. Usually it works but when it
> doesn't...you get pushed over.
> The argument is similar to other safety-related arguments.
> 1. People ride on pavements to avoid risks on the road. National
> statistics then show more collisions and injuries to cyclists on
> 2. People push their way to the front of a queue supposedly to be seen.
> They thus put themselves at risk of drivers moving off while the cyclist
> is still alongside, particularly a problem with lorries. This has not
> yet been confirmed by statistics to be more risky than waiting behind.
> 3. Cyclists block a complete 4-wheel lane to maintain their right of
> way. Drivers get annoyed or simply don't see you. You asked for
> trouble and you got it.
- On 5 May 2001, at 12:23, Simon Baddeley wrote:
> I wonder if we could produce a list of the various ways in which(...)
> obeying the law can be a lot more dangerous for cyclists and walkers
> than it is for people in cars.
> BADDELEY'S LAW OF URBAN CYCLING: If nobody else is endangered and the
> right thing is more dangerous than the wrong thing, I am inclined to
> do the "wrong" thing if it ensures my safety and the safety of others
> around me whether in cars, walking or cycling.
I've always enjoyed your posts to this list and I congratulate you for
using what is, in my totally objective, unbiased opinion, the
greatest personal urban transportation vehicle ever invented, the
I've never cycled in Birmingham, so maybe there is something
peculiar about the situation there. But, based on my own
experience in North American cities (including NYC), and on
reports from cyclists in N.A. and in Europe who, like me, do follow
the rules of the road, I have come to the conclusion that your law of
urban cycling (I won't call it Baddeley's law because I've actually
seen it expressed previously by others) is not very good advice.
Furthermore, I think that it's an abdication of cyclists' rights to the
We cyclists do have rights in a civil society. (Note that the word
"civil" has the same etymological roots as "city" and "citizen". It's
all about citizens living together in cities.) Of course, in order to be
able to live together and enjoy our rights as citizens, we have the
responsibility of abiding by the rules that we have developed
collectively over 3 or 4 thousand years of urban history, that allow
us to live together without diminishing the rights of others. For
cyclists, as for all other users of the public way, that means
following the rules of the road.
There was a time when I thought like you; that there were
circumstances where it might be okay to, say, jump a red light in
order to keep out of the way of motorists. That was before I realized
that I had just as much right to be on the road as anyone else. So
what if my presence caused the occasional millisecond delay to a
motorist? Lots of other things cause delays to motorists, mostly
So now I always stop for red lights and follow the other rules of
road sharing. It sure makes things a lot simpler and more
enjoyable. I also take my rightful place on the road, taking the
centre of a travel lane, if I have to. (I would never, ever allow myself
to get "dangerously squeezed between vehicles and pavement as
larger high-sided vehicles overtook.") Doing so has never, ever
caused any problems for me. My experience is that it hardly ever
causes more than a few seconds delay for motorists behind me
either. In most cases the motorist can simply pass me in the
adjacent lane. In most cases where that is not possible, the
motorized traffic is moving at bike speed anyway. The worst thing
that has ever happened is an impatient honk. Good sign. That
means that they see me. They also see that I am not giving up my
rights as a legitimate user of the road. I have also found that the
overwhelming majority of motorists recognize that I am following
the same rules that they are and they can see that I know what I'm
doing. They respect that.
I have found that to be true not just in my home city of Montreal,
but in every other city I have cycled in.
P.S.: I think that cycling issues are off-topic on this list. My
apologies to the other members. Simon and I will continue this
- Dear Wade
2 immediate thoughts.
The general one is that I feel privileged to receive your graceful and swift
rebuttal which, as you rightly say, is not in fact of "Baddeley's Law"
because these arguments have been rehearsed in the past. I was being mildly
provocative by claiming a widely observed but unwritten principle for many
urban cyclists as mine. I would like to continue this debate.
Second - you suggest cycling issues are off-topic on this list. I am of
course open to differences on this but how you move around in the carfree
city is to me highly relevant to the idea and practice of this list. We are
discussing civil behaviour in the streets and in the long run in those
cities where cars and walkers and cyclists are to co-exist (where Joel
imagines the ideal is unattainable - at least for the foreseeable future) I
think your view of obeying the rules makes much sense.
I have to say though that your suggestions worry me - because they make so
much sense. I remember many years ago climbing a sheer rock face with an
experienced tutor being advised that to increase my safety I should "lean
out". This counter-intuitive advice, once I could bring myself - sweating
with fear - to follow it, worked.
I suspect that if one is assiduous in obeying the rules of Vehicular Cycling
it will also work ... but do I have the courage? I would very much like to
cycle with you in Montreal and see your principles in action. That is not to
express doubt but to say that the way one actually does VC is critical. If
one were to cycle the way you describe but convey apprehension in one's body
language VC could be as risky as going into a lions' enclosure full of
apprehension - even though one knew how to go through the motions of
Simon (staying on list for the moment)
> apologies to the other members. Simon and I will continue this
> discussion off-list.
----- Original Message -----
From: Wade Eide <eide@...>
To: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>;
Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2001 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] 2 hit and runs in 2 days and safety principles
to be derived from the experience
> > >
> > BADDELEY'S LAW OF URBAN CYCLING: If nobody else is endangered and the
> > right thing is more dangerous than the wrong thing, I am inclined to
> > do the "wrong" thing if it ensures my safety and the safety of others
> > around me whether in cars, walking or cycling.
> I've never cycled in Birmingham, so maybe there is something
> peculiar about the situation there. But, based on my own
> experience in North American cities (including NYC), and on
> reports from cyclists in N.A. and in Europe who, like me, do follow
> the rules of the road, I have come to the conclusion that your law of
> urban cycling (I won't call it Baddeley's law because I've actually
> seen it expressed previously by others) is not very good advice.
> Furthermore, I think that it's an abdication of cyclists' rights to the
> -----Original Message-----Good writing, Wade.
> From: Wade Eide [mailto:eide@...]
> Sent: 5 mai, 2001 15:34
> To: Simon Baddeley; email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] 2 hit and runs in 2 days and safety
> principles to be derived from the experience
I generally think like you, that it's better to follow the same rules than
motorists when we cycle. In some places, I feel it's easier to take our
place on the road cycling in a lane. If the road is wide, it's ok to cycle
along the sidewalk because motorists have enough space to use the main lane
without threatening my security, but when the road is narrower or when
approaching an obstacle to pass, then it's a good approach to gradually
re-enter into the main lane to let drivers know we have the right to do so,
especially when there is no other place to cycle (apart the sidewalk I
decide to save for pedestrians).
I live in Vaudreuil and cycle there, I've never really cycled in Montreal
yet (if I eventually move there I'll need to cycle there). For instance, do
you cycle in a full lane on Sherbrooke street? When I walk on the sidewalk
on Sherbrooke I sometimes see crazy motorists going too fast on the first
lane, I suspect those have to slow down behind cyclists. When you come to a
bus stop, to you easily switch to the second lane? At what speed do you
cycle (do you impose your speed: slower or faster)?
- Louis-Luc wrote:
>I live in Vaudreuil and cycle there, I've never really cycled in MontrealWell from a recreational point of view, at least you have the Soulanges
>yet (if I eventually move there I'll need to cycle there).
Canal near by. http://collections.ic.gc.ca/stlauren/photos/soulanges.htm
P.S. This should look very familiar to you.
- Dear Simon,
The reason I think that cycling issues are off-topic on the Carfree
list is that, after following the discussions and after reading Joel's
book (bought at Chapters, downtown Montreal), I have come to
realize that "carfree city" may be a bit of a misnomer. I would
suggest that the term "pedestrian city" is closer to the planning
concept being discussed. Joel's "reference design" is based on
discrete pedestrian precincts interconnected by public transit
infrastructure and very carefully channelled vehicular traffic. Except
in those vehicular corridors, bicycle traffic would be restricted;
cyclists would either walk their bike or move in "rolling pedestrian"
Until these new pedestrian cities can be built, most of us are going
to be living in existing cities. I think that we would all agree that
most existing cities have been harmed (in some cases,
devastated) by planning mistakes in the last century, especially in
the realm of transportation policy. Transportation policy has tended
to limit, rather than increase, choice of transportation mode. The
mode favoured by policy, as we all know, was the private
I happen to believe that urban planning should increase choice in
matters of transport. That is why I am loath to restrictions of any
one particular transportation mode in the city, except in special
circumstances. (The pedestrianized rue de la Gauchetiere in
Montreal is one example.) I am also as opposed to the strict
segregation in transport as I am to the strict segregation of function
in urban planning. (Segregation is not the same as the normal
hierarchy within the street - faster, vehicular traffic near the centre,
slower, pedestrian traffic near the edge - nor is is it the same as
the normal hierarchy among streets - main streets, secondary
streets, alleys, high roads, low roads, etc.) After all, inclusion, not
exclusion, is the essence of civic life.
I think that planning in existing cities should concentrate on
making sure that distances between where people work, where
they live and where they shop are close enough that they can
choose something other than an automobile to get from one place
to the other. Where that is not possible, and for people who choose
to live far from their work (or choose to work far from where they
live), good public transport should be an option. The design of the
streets and roads should accommodate a balanced mix of
pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Those that do not do so can be
easily retrofitted. It's not rocket science.
I include bicycles in the vehicular mix. When the simple, time-
honoured rules and principles of vehicular road sharing are followed
(and enforced), it is very easy and safe to use a bike as a means of
transport. I and other vehicular cyclists are living proof of that.
So, in my existing city, my work is on two levels. Because I
happen to work in a planning profession, I am able to actively
participate in urban design that helps to promote a balance in
transport choices. On the personal level, I choose to live a
reasonable distance from my office and I choose to use a bicycle
as my primary means of personal transport. I also live within
walking distance of a shopping street.
As to the cycling issues: I may have made it sound like my way of
cycling (according to vehicular principles) is an act of heroism. It's
not. It's pretty simple, really, but it does have to be learned. I
learned the hard way, by trial and error. I would suggest an easier
way, by reading John Franklin's "Cyclecraft" or John Forester's
"Effective Cycling", or by getting a copy of John Allen's "Street
Smarts". For some reason, these things are not taught in schools.
The more paranoid among us might be inclined to think that's
because to do so would be to threaten the motoring
establishment's monopoly on our roads - and on our mindsets...
Cheers, and keep on peddlin'.
On 5 May 2001, at 23:45, Simon Baddeley wrote:
> Dear Wade
> 2 immediate thoughts.
> The general one is that I feel privileged to receive your graceful and
> swift rebuttal which, as you rightly say, is not in fact of
> "Baddeley's Law" because these arguments have been rehearsed in the
> past. I was being mildly provocative by claiming a widely observed but
> unwritten principle for many urban cyclists as mine. I would like to
> continue this debate.
> Second - you suggest cycling issues are off-topic on this list. I am
> of course open to differences on this but how you move around in the
> carfree city is to me highly relevant to the idea and practice of this
> list. We are discussing civil behaviour in the streets and in the long
> run in those cities where cars and walkers and cyclists are to
> co-exist (where Joel imagines the ideal is unattainable - at least for
> the foreseeable future) I think your view of obeying the rules makes
> much sense.
> I have to say though that your suggestions worry me - because they
> make so much sense. I remember many years ago climbing a sheer rock
> face with an experienced tutor being advised that to increase my
> safety I should "lean out". This counter-intuitive advice, once I
> could bring myself - sweating with fear - to follow it, worked.
> I suspect that if one is assiduous in obeying the rules of Vehicular
> Cycling it will also work ... but do I have the courage? I would very
> much like to cycle with you in Montreal and see your principles in
> action. That is not to express doubt but to say that the way one
> actually does VC is critical. If one were to cycle the way you
> describe but convey apprehension in one's body language VC could be as
> risky as going into a lions' enclosure full of apprehension - even
> though one knew how to go through the motions of appearing confident.
> Best wishes
> Simon (staying on list for the moment)
- Hi Wade,
>I happen to believe that urban planning should increase choice inI agree wholeheartedly with the notion of maximizing choices for
>matters of transport. That is why I am loath to restrictions of any
>one particular transportation mode in the city, except in special
>circumstances. (The pedestrianized rue de la Gauchetiere in
>Montreal is one example.) [snip] ...After all, inclusion, not
>exclusion, is the essence of civic life.
everyone. My wrinkle on this is that a pedestrian or carfree district
represents an expansion of choice, whose benefits to the entire city more
that compensate for the minor limitations imposed. A pedestrian district
does not considerably infringe on the rights of motorists, who can still
get to these places (or around them), as easily as they do an airport, or a
sports arena, or an amusement park, or even a large mall. I think a
pedestrian district is another choice of urban ENVIRONMENT that should be
available for the city residents who would choose to live, work, shop, or
visit it. Like the rue de la Gauchetiere, a pedestrian district is an area
that balances the lack of doorstep auto access with a generous payoff in
safety, energy efficiency and quality of life rewards, that are openly
shared with the entire city. You have surely enjoyed many times the unique
pleasure of walking along an old pedestrian street, where people can cross
wherever they like; where everyone can enjoy the sights, sounds and smells
of the city---free of the danger, noise and stench of cars. Why not create
more of them?
All modes of transit have certain benefits and certain costs. All of them
provide some useful service. And all of them potentially limit the
choices for using other modes of transport in some way. Freeways offer
substantial benefits to motorists, and the whole city benefits from the
quick freight services provided by the trucking industry. But freeways
themselves place severe restrictions on choice of transport mode over a
substantial chunk of most cities. Bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair
users, scooters and skaters do not have access to freeways. The barriers
that freeways form, and the noise and other pollution they create, strongly
affect the choice of transportation modes, and patterns of circulation of
thousands of people around them. Surface and elevated rail systems have
Its certainly true that a pedestrian or carfree district does limit the
transport options of motorists, in a small way. Places that are really
nice to walk in are not convenient to drive through. And the nicest places
to walk in, especially for kids, seniors, and wheelchair users, are not
possible to drive through at all. But how does the balance look? Is there
a payoff, to all the city's residents, in a pedestrian district? Are we to
believe that the hordes of people who flock to these places are really only
coming to admire historic buildings?
I hope that planners will begin to recognize that it takes a CONTINUUM OF
PLACES to provide a wide range of transportation choices, and that a wide
range of urban environments go with those choices.
At one end of the spectrum, there are the substantial portions of every
existing city that will probably always (or at least until gasoline prices
go up a little more) be devoted solely to motorized vehicles---freeways,
lube joints, parking lots, auto centers, auto repair shops, salvage yards,
parking structures, etc. Surface and elevated rail infrastructure (as well
as airports) also reside at this end of the continuum.
In the middle, are all the familiar suburban areas that are dominated by
cars; followed by those that do a better job of mixing cars with other
choices; followed by those where cars are permitted, but very
inconvenient. (These last two areas are where today's planners seem to
focus most of their attention.)
At the other end, is the pedestrian district. A place where nearly
everything is accessible by foot, bike or train; where the benefits gained
by excluding auto infrastructure from this small area, are shared with the
entire city---whose residents, young and old, flock there in droves, to
enjoy the streetlife.
I look forward to hearing what you think of this concept of a "continuum of
places"; and how you rate the relative importance of maximizing choices in
urban environment, as compared to choices of transportation mode.
> -----Original Message-----I just happened to walk in Chinatown (the above mention-
> From: T. J. Binkley [mailto:tjbink@...]
> Sent: 8 mai, 2001 19:12
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [carfree_cities] Choices
> Hi Wade,
> You wrote:
> >I happen to believe that urban planning should increase choice in
> >matters of transport. That is why I am loath to restrictions of any
> >one particular transportation mode in the city, except in special
> >circumstances. (The pedestrianized rue de la Gauchetiere in
> >Montreal is one example.) [snip] ...After all, inclusion, not
> >exclusion, is the essence of civic life.
ned pedestrian street) and had an accident. I have had a face collision with
a cyclist. How do I feel? Great!
I just continued my way as if nothing had happened. No one was hurt, no one
felt real threat.
If only they could prohibit motor vehicles from the "U"-shaped street
passing between Complexe Guy Favreau and Palais des Congrès (which segments
the pedestrian street), we'd have a more important continuous carfree area.
I've heard a rumor from workmates that a part of Sainte-Catherine street and
most of the Old Montreal is planned to become carfree (don't know when).
It'll become a tourist place with some horse & buggy riders, with a bike
rental station, and a small touristic balade.