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Laws of cycling chaos

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  • Karen Sandness
    ... When I was in Beijing in 1990, I couldn t help noticing the apparently chaotic traffic patterns that the bicycle commuters followed. A young American woman
    Message 1 of 3 , May 5, 2001
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      carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      > 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.

      When I was in Beijing in 1990, I couldn't help noticing the apparently
      chaotic traffic patterns that the bicycle commuters followed.

      A young American woman was teaching at the school where we stayed, and
      she commuted by bicycle every day from her official foreigners' lodgings
      on the other side of the city. She told us that the trip was really
      scary at first until she developed a kind of sixth sense for what the
      other cyclists were going to do. Her feeling was that everyone just went
      where they needed to go, and the other cyclists just adjusted their own
      paths accordingly.

      I noticed something similar during the year when I was traveling into
      New York City by car twice a month. (I know, I know, but I was coming
      from Ithaca, and I always brought a load of riders.) It soon became
      clear that if I obeyed the official traffic rules, I would just confuse
      people. If I needed to switch lanes, for instance, I just gave a token
      signal and immediately moved over, and a space opened up. Similarly, I
      learned to watch for people who were going to switch lanes in front of me.

      In transit,
      Karen Sandness

      P.S. As far as the question about the Portland freeway is concerned, I
      wasn't living here when it was removed, but there was a whole cohort of
      young politicians in the 1970s who were interested in avoiding the urban
      planning disasters that had occurred in other West Coast cities.
    • Kevin Pfeiffer
      When my residential street complained about high traffic speeds, we were told unequivocally that the city would NOT put in a four-way stop because stop signs
      Message 2 of 3 , May 5, 2001
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        When my residential street complained about high traffic speeds, we were
        told unequivocally that the city would NOT put in a four-way stop
        because "stop signs should only be used to resolve right-of-way issues."

        After six months, they put in the stop signs. Now the motorists slow
        down - if only as they near this corner - and stop, while the cyclists,
        strollers, skaters and pedestrians travel right on through; because
        there never was a right-of-way issue, this is not a problem. Everyone is
        happier, except those who write the "engineering standards". Go figure.

        No one obeys all the traffic rules. Neither motorist, nor cyclist. Some
        cyclists, suffering from an excessive amount of "act white and
        everything will be alright," believe that they they should ride letter
        perfectly. Me, I take my lessons from motorists; they've taught me
        rolling stops, running yellow lights, lane splitting (from the
        motorcyclists) and most important: predictability.


        -Kevin

        --
        Kevin Pfeiffer <pfeiffer@...> - Pasadena, California, USA
        The ESL Parlor - now serving English by the cup!
        http://forums.about.com/eslparlor/start/
      • Wade Eide
        ... Nor do I believe that it is necessary to be more Catholic than the Pope. However, I think that it s important politically, if not practically, for cyclists
        Message 3 of 3 , May 6, 2001
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          On 5 May 2001, at 16:47, Kevin Pfeiffer wrote:

          >(...)
          > No one obeys all the traffic rules. Neither motorist, nor cyclist.
          > Some cyclists, suffering from an excessive amount of "act white and
          > everything will be alright," believe that they they should ride letter
          > perfectly. Me, I take my lessons from motorists; they've taught me
          > rolling stops, running yellow lights, lane splitting (from the
          > motorcyclists) and most important: predictability.

          Nor do I believe that it is necessary to be more Catholic than the
          Pope. However, I think that it's important politically, if not
          practically, for cyclists to remain on the moral high ground. I
          always try to obey the laws at least as well as motorists - or
          better. For example I do stop for red lights, as do motorists.
          (Happily, the exceptions are very rare.) However, I am often on the
          pedals and moving across the heavy white stop line when the light
          changes to green and I try to make as good a rolling stop at stop
          signs as your average motorist. (I should note that there is some
          talk in North America about changing the majority of "stops" to
          "yield", as is the norm in Europe.) I think that enforcement of traffic
          law needs to be enforced better than it is now, especially with
          respect to speed limits.

          Wade Eide, who only speeds in the 40 kmh zone in Westmount
          when he has a wind in his back.
          Montreal
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