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On Scofflaw Cyclists & Exemplary Motorists 59

AmsterdamMultitasking

“Amsterdam, girl cycling from A to B, multi-tasking, like so many do” by Amsterdamize / RateMyVelo.com

You have heard it a million times before: Cyclists don’t deserve any respect on our streets until they obey all of the laws. The implicit message in this fallacy is that drivers have a right to be angry and be aggressive towards cyclists because some cyclists run red lights.

Perhaps the most troubling part about this statement is that it’s often made by cyclists themselves to other cyclists. The last thing cyclists need is other cyclists justifying road rage against cyclists based on some motorist utopian dream world where every cyclist puts their foot down at a stop sign before proceeding.

Given how popular it is to chastise cyclists in the mainstream media – while giving motorists a free ride – it was refreshing to see an article highlighting the hypocrisy of motorists who say cyclists don’t deserve respect on our streets until they start obeying the laws like motorists.

The Vancouver Sun ran the article entitled “Being driven insane – Does anyone observe speed limits?” The article begins:

“For the sake of your own edification, try an experiment I have been conducting for the past two months. Try it for a single day.

Drive the posted (maximum) speed limit. I don’t mean just on the highway. I mean everywhere – down neighbourhood streets, on major downtown arteries, through school and hospital zones. Especially try it during rush hour.

It isn’t easy. I’m not even sure it’s advisable. You will feel as if you were being pushed down a hallway against your will. A parade of cars will stack up behind you. Some will tailgate so closely as if to send you the message, via your rear-view mirror, “Hey, granny! Get a move on!” (Sometimes those tailgaters will be grannies.) Some drivers, angrily jerking their cars into the passing lane, will pull up beside you to get a look at the jackass ruining their day, then cast you a look of disgust before shooting off in an exclamatory burst of octane. The urge to speed up, if just to give into the peer pressure, will be overwhelming for you. After a day of this, you will come to the conclusion that you may be the only driver on the road observing the speed limit.”

The story goes on to highlight an important point that seems to get lost in the anti-cyclist rhetoric – the danger of speeding cars:

“Most drivers, however, recognized that speeding was the most significant cause of accidents collisions. More drivers than not also felt roads were becoming more dangerous.

But most drivers also felt that their level of speeding did not endanger anyone, despite numerous studies that show even a few kilometres over the speed limit increases the risk of an accident collision exponentially.”

Drivers feel their own speeding is justified, but at the same time feel that the roads are becoming more dangerous due to speeding.

Read the full article on the Vancouver Sun.

As we have pointed out countless times – the damage a car can do to a pedestrian or a cyclist increases substantially as its speed increases. A UK study found that a pedestrian hit at 40mph (64km/h) will die 85% of the time, while a pedestrian hit at 20mph (32km/h) will die just 5% of the time.

Our society seems to think it’s okay for drivers to speed, but if a cyclist doesn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign it is grounds to be threatened by motor vehicles.

In an effort to improve road safety, the colourful professor Dr. Steven Fleming over at Behooving Moving proposes a novel idea: ban seatbelts from automobiles so that drivers will be more cautious to others around them.

The professor asserts:

“you can give someone a car that is 10% safer, and they will drive with 20% more abandon”

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

Thanks to reader Trevor Keen for passing the link to the Vancouver Sun article.

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  • kfg

    “. . .some utopian dream world where every cyclist puts their foot down at a stop sign before proceeding.”

    That’s no utopian dream world. That’s hell. Even Forrester doesn’t teach this, as it can add to a cyclist’s risk (the cyclist is hampered in being able to react as either a vehicle or a pedestrian). It’s not even the black letter requirement in many places. Read your own local codes.

    Oh, hey, I’ve got an idea, why not require drivers to put a foot down at stop signs? That’s no cyclist’s utopia either, but it’s a lot closer.

    “ban seatbelts from automobiles”

    That’s not only not a novel idea, he left out the functional part: replacing the air bag with a big ass spike on the steering wheel. Lining the headrest with thumbtacks wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Lol, maybe I didn’t emphasize my sarcasm enough when I said “utopian dream world”. Perhaps I’ll put it in quotes instead ;)

      Love the spike and thumbtacks idea too. It would be a different world out there if motorists were properly held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.

      • kfg

        I’m not at all sure I was being sarcastic about my suggestion that drivers put a foot down. Come to think of it, I’m not at all sure that my suggestion that drivers “dismount and push” is sarcastic either.

        • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

          Lol, trust me, I would love that too :)

  • kfg

    “. . .some utopian dream world where every cyclist puts their foot down at a stop sign before proceeding.”

    That’s no utopian dream world. That’s hell. Even Forrester doesn’t teach this, as it can add to a cyclist’s risk (the cyclist is hampered in being able to react as either a vehicle or a pedestrian). It’s not even the black letter requirement in many places. Read your own local codes.

    Oh, hey, I’ve got an idea, why not require drivers to put a foot down at stop signs? That’s no cyclist’s utopia either, but it’s a lot closer.

    “ban seatbelts from automobiles”

    That’s not only not a novel idea, he left out the functional part: replacing the air bag with a big ass spike on the steering wheel. Lining the headrest with thumbtacks wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Lol, maybe I didn’t emphasize my sarcasm enough when I said “utopian dream world”. Perhaps I’ll put it in quotes instead ;)

    Love the spike and thumbtacks idea too. It would be a different world out there if motorists were properly held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.

  • http://twitter.com/BikeBikeYYC BikeBike Inc.

    Agreed! I tried the experiment you suggest a few years ago and was shocked to see how much anger/spite was directed towards me for simply doing the speed LIMIT.

    Now that I have been carfree for almost 2 yrs now I find that when I do drive (my girlfriends car) I tend to be much more cautious than before and especially notice how bad most (yes, most) drivers are. You cannot drive a single kilometre without seeing an infraction happen whether its a signal-less lane change, rolling through stop signs, tailgating, speeding, all of it.

    But, if I as a cyclist, roll through a stop sign, I am the “scofflaw” on the road and we’re all in danger. Right.

  • http://twitter.com/BikeBikeYYC sean carter

    Agreed! I tried the experiment you suggest a few years ago and was shocked to see how much anger/spite was directed towards me for simply doing the speed LIMIT.

    Now that I have been carfree for almost 2 yrs now I find that when I do drive (my girlfriends car) I tend to be much more cautious than before and especially notice how bad most (yes, most) drivers are. You cannot drive a single kilometre without seeing an infraction happen whether its a signal-less lane change, rolling through stop signs, tailgating, speeding, all of it.

    But, if I as a cyclist, roll through a stop sign, I am the “scofflaw” on the road and we’re all in danger. Right.

  • kfg

    I’m not at all sure I was being sarcastic about my suggestion that drivers put a foot down. Come to think of it, I’m not at all sure that my suggestion that drivers “dismount and push” is sarcastic either.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Lol, trust me, I would love that too :)

  • Gabilan

    Great article. I’ve often wondered why drivers get so much more angry about bikes breaking the law than they do about other drivers breaking it. You can’t drive a block without seeing cars speeding, rolling through stop signs, failing to signal, etc. But when cars collide you don’t see online forums filling up with vitriolic comments saying the victims got what they deserved because drivers disobey the law.

  • Keith_Vandevere

    Great article. I’ve often wondered why drivers get so much more angry about bikes breaking the law than they do about other drivers breaking it. You can’t drive a block without seeing cars speeding, rolling through stop signs, failing to signal, etc. But when cars collide you don’t see online forums filling up with vitriolic comments saying the victims got what they deserved because drivers disobey the law.

  • fallensky

    “utopian dream world where every cyclist puts their foot down at a stop sign before proceeding”

    Yeah what are you smoking? It’s really not that hard.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Driving below the maximum speed limit isn’t so hard either… or is it?

      • fallensky

        It’s not. However, one’s first priority when driving should be safety and, at times, driving above the speed limit is necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

        Not stopping at a stop sign while on a bike is just lazy.

        • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

          This is the exact hypocrisy that I’m talking about in this article. You feel justified in your speeding: which by the way is exponentially more dangerous for everyone than a cyclist who rolls cautiously through a stop sign.

          What a sad world we live in…

          • fallensky

            I don’t see hypocrisy there. Following the law literally can, sometimes, be more dangerous than not following it. However, stopping at a stop sign is both the law and a necessary practice of safety.

            By your logic, because motorists get to break the law, cyclists should be allowed to do it, too.

            Edit: In fact, because having cyclists stop at signs and red lights is such an impossibility as to call it Utopian, then, by the same measure, expecting cars to follow the speed limit is equally absurd.

            Edit #2: Just pointing out YOUR hypocrisy.

          • Anon

            From the referenced article:

            But according to a study done by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it is speeding, not speed differences, that causes “significantly” more accidents. Nearly half of all accidents resulting in death, the IIHS found, were single-vehicle impacts where the comparative speeds of the vehicles involved played no role or a minor role.

            Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Being+driven+insane+Does+anyone+observe+speed+limits/5123697/story.html#ixzz1TExkN6kZ

            Sorry I hate to break it to you but you’re riding a death threat sugarcoated to look and feel safe by dampening vibrations, blocking out road noises, shielding your view from nearby dangers. I came to that realization after I saw what it’s like after seeing what a road feels like on a bike and I’ve been a more conscientious driver.

            Also when you point out in the author’s hypocrisy for pointing out the general driver’s hypocrisy, you might want to ask yourself who may do more damage others by their negligence.

        • http://twitter.com/vabike VA Bicycling Fed.

          So when is speeding necessary for the safety of yourself and others? If you have some great insight that the rest of us have missed throughout 100 years of traffic safety and engineering studies, please share it.

          • fallensky

            The very situation that the article described. You know, the one above this comment section.

          • Driver8

            I disagree. It is not a driver’s responsibility to accelerate and/or speed to ensure a tailgating driver has adequate response time to stopping or changing speed quickly, it is the tailgating driver’s responsibility to leave adequate stopping distance, and it’s spelled out in every driver’s manual in the US. I live in California now, where people generally drive (and accelerate) much faster than in any of the (many) other states I’ve lived in. I don’t exceed the speed limit, and I’ll tell you it takes nerves of steel sometimes, but I’ve never been hit, just tailgated and passed a lot.

            The insurance industry will tell you that the single most common cause of a collision is “too much speed for conditions.” I see that Anon points that out below.

            You say below that more speed is OK for the “attentive” driver. Human reaction time is a constant, and as you drive faster your probability of not responding to a change increases – no matter how attentive you are.

            Not considering yourself an “idiot” is not an acceptable excuse to speed and thus endanger other peoples’ safety.

          • fallensky

            You make a good point. People are entirely unreliable in quantifying how good of a driver they happen to be. In fact, most people either have an inflated sense of their driving abilities or just do not give a shit and take risks that would not have been taken by someone with common sense.

            I, too, tend to drive slower than others near me and I have seen, on multiple occasions, that impatience leads to dangerous behavior. However, that is precisely the problem that bicyclists face when they are told that stopping at a stop sign is not a rule they need to follow.

        • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

          Seems like a speeding motorist is too lazy to follow the speed limit.

          Why is nearly every crash I see on television always comes back to “speed was a factor“.

          • fallensky

            Following the speed limit, as Gclarke wrote above and as the article mentioned, can put you at odds with the rest of traffic. It’s not always a matter of drivers simply going as fast as possible just because they can. Unfortunately, bad drivers, much like bad cyclists, are unavoidable and the likelihood of an accident for these drivers increases when they exceed a safe speed. However, if one is an attentive and conscientious driver, the speed at which s/he drives will not prove to have a significant influence on the probability of being involved in an accident. That is not to say that were an accident to occur while driving at 60mph rather than 40, the expected damage to both parties will obviously be to a far greater degree.

            It is without question that speed is a factor in many cases of automobile collisions (although, I believe that bad driving in general is a far more notable cause of cyclist’s deaths). But being an idiot is what causes accidents; some people are simply too stupid to drive a little slower or to drive a bit less aggressively. Speeding is a symptom of many things including the prefabricated road infrastructural that allows cars to drive with a plethora of physical space and far too few elements (such as stop signs, red lights, and speed bumps) to appropriately enforce the speed limit. Accidents caused by speeding, on the other hand, are a direct result of morons behind the wheel with too little experience and not enough common sense to adequately judge what the appropriate speed is (whether it be below or above the post limit).

        • Pete

          “Not stopping at a stop sign while on a bike is just lazy.”

          Nor does it require putting a foot down.

  • fallensky

    “utopian dream world where every cyclist puts their foot down at a stop sign before proceeding”

    Yeah what are you smoking? It’s really not that hard.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Driving below the maximum speed limit isn’t so hard either… or is it?

  • fallensky

    It’s not. However, one’s first priority when driving should be safety and, at times, driving above the speed limit is necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

    Not stopping at a stop sign while on a bike is just lazy.

  • Melissatheragamuffin

    A few weeks before the big accident, I was riding my bike home, and I was riding down a hill. I needed to turn left, so I put out my arm, looked over my shoulder, and took the lane. According to the computer on my bike, I was speeding – 32 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. A woman in a car passed me, yelled something nasty at me as she passed, and then sped off. If I was doing 32, how fast was she going?

  • Melissatheragamuffin

    A few weeks before the big accident, I was riding my bike home, and I was riding down a hill. I needed to turn left, so I put out my arm, looked over my shoulder, and took the lane. According to the computer on my bike, I was speeding – 32 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. A woman in a car passed me, yelled something nasty at me as she passed, and then sped off. If I was doing 32, how fast was she going?

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    This is the exact hypocrisy that I’m talking about in this article. You feel justified in your speeding: which by the way is exponentially more dangerous for everyone than a cyclist who rolls cautiously through a stop sign.

    What a sad world we live in…

  • fallensky

    I don’t see hypocrisy there. Following the law literally can, sometimes, be more dangerous than not following it. However, stopping at a stop sign is both the law and a necessary practice of safety.

    By your logic, because motorists get to break the law, cyclists should be allowed to do it, too.

  • http://twitter.com/vabike VA Bicycling Fed.

    So when is speeding necessary for the safety of yourself and others? If you have some great insight that the rest of us have missed throughout 100 years of traffic safety and engineering studies, please share it.

  • fallensky

    The very situation that the article described. You know, the one above this comment section.

  • Anon

    From the referenced article:

    But according to a study done by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it is speeding, not speed differences, that causes “significantly” more accidents. Nearly half of all accidents resulting in death, the IIHS found, were single-vehicle impacts where the comparative speeds of the vehicles involved played no role or a minor role.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Being+driven+insane+Does+anyone+observe+speed+limits/5123697/story.html#ixzz1TExkN6kZ

    Sorry I hate to break it to you but you’re riding a death threat sugarcoated to look and feel safe by dampening vibrations, blocking out road noises, shielding your view from nearby dangers. I came to that realization after I saw what it’s like after seeing what a road feels like on a bike and I’ve been a more conscientious driver.

    Also when you point out in the author’s hypocrisy for pointing out the general driver’s hypocrisy, you might want to ask yourself who may do more damage others by their negligence.

  • Gclarke

    I will stick up for the poor motorists. In Tom Vanderbilt’s book “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us)”, he makes the point regarding the lack of direct driver feedback. “The reason we have speedometers, and why you should pay attention to yours, is that drivers often do not have a clue about how fast they’re actually traveling – even when they think they do. A study in New Zealand measured the speed of drivers as they passed children playing with a ball and waiting to cross the street. When questioned, drivers thought they were going at least 20 km/h (12 mph) more slowly than they really were …”. The second point is the “run with the herd effect”. Drivers will maintain whatever speed the herd is moving providing the driver with a level of perceived safety.

    On top of this “distracted driving” (using a cell, playing a music, etc) is also shown to cause drivers to lose their sense of speed. People answering a cell call slow down until they understand who the call is from and what the subject is about and then they speed up as the conversation moves along.

    I can’t remember where the study was done but the team modified a fleet of cars and reflected the speedometer on the inside of the windshield where the driver could continually monitor their speed without looking down. Overall the results were that drivers did slow down to near the posted speed limits. The longer term effect was not studied.

    Perhaps it’s just a simple technology issue of providing drivers with enough feedback on their driving behaviors. Or, you can’t change what you don’t know.

    • Pete

      Or don’t let them drive at all. Speaking of technology, automate traffic movement and people will get there safer and faster. Then they can talk on the phone and text and surf the Internet all they want!

      But that would take away a driver’s “freedom” (to sit in traffic, on many occasions), and the car companies would have you believe that driving is actually a sport if you watch their ads (and how can you not?).

  • Gclarke

    I will stick up for the poor motorists. In Tom Vanderbilt’s book “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us)”, he makes the point regarding the lack of direct driver feedback. “The reason we have speedometers, and why you should pay attention to yours, is that drivers often do not have a clue about how fast they’re actually traveling – even when they think they do. A study in New Zealand measured the speed of drivers as they passed children playing with a ball and waiting to cross the street. When questioned, drivers thought they were going at least 20 km/h (12 mph) more slowly than they really were …”. The second point is the “run with the herd effect”. Drivers will maintain whatever speed the herd is moving providing the driver with a level of perceived safety.

    On top of this “distracted driving” (using a cell, playing a music, etc) is also shown to cause drivers to lose their sense of speed. People answering a cell call slow down until they understand who the call is from and what the subject is about and then they speed up as the conversation moves along.

    I can’t remember where the study was done but the team modified a fleet of cars and reflected the speedometer on the inside of the windshield where the driver could continually monitor their speed without looking down. Overall the results were that drivers did slow down to near the posted speed limits. The longer term effect was not studied.

    Perhaps it’s just a simple technology issue of providing drivers with enough feedback on their driving behaviors. Or, you can’t change what you don’t know.

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    Seems like a speeding motorist is too lazy to follow the speed limit.

    Why is nearly every crash I see on television always comes back to “speed was a factor“.

  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    Our society seems to think it’s okay for drivers to speed
    I was talking about something similar to this yesterday while watching the news.

    The one media outlet I watch spends at least 5 minutes solid every news broadcast daily reporting all the serious collisions (fatal or not) involving motor vehicles.
    The way the media reports it as well as how the general public reacts to it is as if it’s an unavoidable part of everyday life.

    I’d say at least 95% of all fatal accidents in Niagara are speed related…But hey, some believe it’s safer to speed :
    We do have our share of terrible cyclists in Niagara who blow stops signs etc., however the number of motorists who will casually go through reds and stop signs is quite alarming.
    You approach a green light or a two-way stop in St. Catharines, best to still slow down and look both ways always.

    Of course when I was pulled over a few months ago (still unsure as to why), I pointed out to the cop that a car that passed was doing at least 65km/h in a 50-zone. He said he didn’t have a radar gun and didn’t know if he was speeding or not (common sense not used)
    No wonder we constantly see motorists speeding past cops.

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    Our society seems to think it’s okay for drivers to speed
    I was talking about something similar to this yesterday while watching the news.

    The one media outlet I watch spends at least 5 minutes solid every news broadcast daily reporting all the serious collisions (fatal or not) involving motor vehicles.
    The way the media reports it as well as how the general public reacts to it is as if it’s an unavoidable part of everyday life.

    I’d say at least 95% of all fatal accidents in Niagara are speed related…But hey, some believe it’s safer to speed :\
    We do have our share of terrible cyclists in Niagara who blow stops signs etc., however the number of motorists who will casually go through reds and stop signs is quite alarming.
    You approach a green light or a two-way stop in St. Catharines, best to still slow down and look both ways always.

    Of course when I was pulled over a few months ago (still unsure as to why), I pointed out to the cop that a car that passed was doing at least 65km/h in a 50-zone. He said he didn’t have a radar gun and didn’t know if he was speeding or not (common sense not used)
    No wonder we constantly see motorists speeding past cops.

  • E Chenna

    Why would you compare motor vehicle speeding and bike rolling through stop signs?

  • E Chenna

    Why would you compare motor vehicle speeding and bike rolling through stop signs?

  • fallensky

    Following the speed limit, as Gclarke wrote above and as the article mentioned, can put you at odds with the rest of traffic. It’s not always a matter of drivers simply going as fast as possible just because they can. Unfortunately, bad drivers, much like bad cyclists, are unavoidable and the likelihood of an accident for these drivers increases when they exceed a safe speed. However, if one is an attentive and conscientious driver, the speed at which s/he drives will not prove to have a significant influence on the probability of being involved in an accident. That is not to say that were an accident to occur while driving at 60mph rather than 40, the expected damage to both parties will obviously be to a far greater degree.

    It is without question that speed is a factor in many cases of automobile collisions (although, I believe that bad driving in general is a far more notable cause of cyclist’s deaths). But being an idiot is what causes accidents; some people are simply too stupid to drive a little slower or to drive a bit less aggressively. Speeding is a symptom of many things including the prefabricated road infrastructural that allows cars to drive with a plethora of physical space and far too few elements (such as stop signs, red lights, and speed bumps) to appropriately enforce the speed limit. Accidents caused by speeding, on the other hand, are a direct result of morons behind the wheel with too little experience and not enough common sense to adequately judge what the appropriate speed (whether it be below or above the post limit).

  • Montrealize

    “you can give someone a car that is 10% safer, and they will drive with 20% more abandon”

    That’s call the rebound effect and it is one of the reason North American societies will spiral out into hell if drastic measures are not adopted.
    I like the removal of the belts and other ideas… But why not simply ban the cars from downtowns or even totally?
    Some cities have done it. In France, several cities (Bordeaux, La Rochelle) have kicked cars out of the downtown areas. Severely resctricting access to the city to encourage folks on trams. Some villages have set up parkings just outside of their limits and you have to walk to get to the village and inside.

    It just requires balls.

    • Gclarke

      “But why not simply ban the cars from downtowns or even totally?”

      Perhaps the question is not why we take the bus, walk, or cycle so little, but rather why we drive so much. Especially at these gas prices which can only go up over time.

      Toronto is served by a transit system and efforts have been made to increase bike-friendliness but cars abound even if parking doesn’t.

      So is it because transit planning can’t keep up with sprawl? Or is it because Toronto is just too big to be served widely through alternate transportation? Is it because we would only change when we had to start paying for road congestion? Or in the end, could it be that despite the rhetoric for walking and more bike lanes, subways, and bus routes, we really do just love the freedom of having a car at hand?

      Many in downtown Toronto do walk/cycle – because they can. And the subway is famously crowded all the time anyway – it’s not like people aren’t using the TTC enough. But to me it seems like it’s just not possible for most people to get to work at 8/9am every morning unless they use their own cars. Public transit’s biggest issue is it’s slow and sometimes unreliable. Quite simply, commuting long distances using public transit is very difficult, and given the choice to drive, people will ALWAYS take it, even if they hate driving and paying for parking.

      Biking is great for those who live and work downtown but bike commuting will never become an alternative for commuting from the sprawl areas to the city. Unless gas hits 500.0 cents per litre. Then the roads will be flooded with ebikes and mopeds.

      Get out of the bike lane son, granny is zooming through on her Veloteq … beep, beep …

  • Montrealize

    “you can give someone a car that is 10% safer, and they will drive with 20% more abandon”

    That’s call the rebound effect and it is one of the reason North American societies will spiral out into hell if drastic measures are not adopted.
    I like the removal of the belts and other ideas… But why not simply ban the cars from downtowns or even totally?
    Some cities have done it. In France, several cities (Bordeaux, La Rochelle) have kicked cars out of the downtown areas. Severely resctricting access to the city to encourage folks on trams. Some villages have set up parkings just outside of their limits and you have to walk to get to the village and inside.

    It just requires balls.

  • Gclarke

    “But why not simply ban the cars from downtowns or even totally?”

    Perhaps the question is not why we take the bus, walk, or cycle so little, but rather why we drive so much. Especially at these gas prices which can only go up over time.

    Toronto is served by a transit system and efforts have been made to increase bike-friendliness but cars abound even if parking doesn’t.

    So is it because transit planning can’t keep up with sprawl? Or is it because Toronto is just too big to be served widely through alternate transportation? Is it because we would only change when we had to start paying for road congestion? Or in the end, could it be that despite the rhetoric for walking and more bike lanes, subways, and bus routes, we really do just love the freedom of having a car at hand?

    Many in downtown Toronto do walk/cycle – because they can. And the subway is famously crowded all the time anyway – it’s not like people aren’t using the TTC enough. But to me it seems like it’s just not possible for most people to get to work at 8/9am every morning unless they use their own cars. Public transit’s biggest issue is it’s slow and sometimes unreliable. Quite simply, commuting long distances using public transit is very difficult, and given the choice to drive, people will ALWAYS take it, even if they hate driving and paying for parking.

    Biking is great for those who live and work downtown but bike commuting will never become an alternative for commuting from the sprawl areas to the city. Unless gas hits 500.0 cents per litre. Then the roads will be flooded with ebikes and mopeds.

    Get out of the bike lane son, granny is zooming through on her Veloteq … beep, beep …

  • Pete

    Or don’t let them drive at all. Speaking of technology, automate traffic movement and people will get there safer and faster. Then they can talk on the phone and text and surf the Internet all they want!

    But that would take away a driver’s “freedom” (to sit in traffic, on many occasions), and the car companies would have you believe that driving is actually a sport if you watch their ads (and how can you not?).

  • Pete

    “Not stopping at a stop sign while on a bike is just lazy.”

    Nor does it require putting a foot down.

  • fallensky

    You make a good point. People are entirely unreliable in quantifying how good of a driver they happen to be. In fact, most people either have an inflated sense of their driving abilities or just do not give a shit and take risks that would not have been taken by someone with common sense.

    I, too, tend to drive slower than others near me and I have seen, on multiple occasions, that impatience leads to dangerous behavior. However, that is precisely the problem that bicyclists face when they are told that stopping at a stop sign is not a rule they need to follow.

  • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

    As I see it, responsibility must be commensurate to rights. The right to wield an armored machine through streets cyclists and pedestrians have no choice but to share, must carry enormous responsibility. I was a passenger in a vehicle recently, whose driver (who shall remain nameless) seemed ready to assert their “right” to space, over that of a confused jaywalker. “What if the jaywalker is developmentally delayed?” I said. They would not have the right to drive, but surely they still have the right to be in the city. Time for a cup of tea, while I calm myself down :)

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      It’s also important to note that driving isn’t an inherent “right” in the first place. It’s a privilege that needs to be earned, and can be revoked at any time, whereas freedom of mobility on your own feet (or on a bicycle) is an inherent right for everyone (in most countries anyway).

  • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

    As I see it, responsibility must be commensurate to rights. The right to wield an armored machine through streets cyclists and pedestrians have no choice but to share, must carry enormous responsibility. I was a passenger in a vehicle recently, whose driver (who shall remain nameless) seemed ready to assert their “right” to space, over that of a confused jaywalker. “What if the jaywalker is developmentally delayed?” I said. They would have the right to drive, but surely they still have the right to be in the city. Time for a cup of tea, while I calm myself down :)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    It’s also important to note that driving isn’t an inherent “right” in the first place. It’s a privilege that needs to be earned, and can be revoked at any time, whereas freedom of mobility on your own feet (or on a bicycle) is an inherent right for everyone (in most countries anyway).

  • http://twitter.com/seankillackey Sean K

    I think we need to differentiate between cyclists going through red lights and cyclists not putting their foot down at a stop sign. In my mind those are totally different issues.
    Last week at the BFF launch I was met with the same answer when I brought up the issue of cyclists running red lights, immediately the topic turned to not stopping at stop signs (and that we don’t live in some kind of utopian dream world).

    Red lights exist usually at the meeting of at least one major street, if not 2. Stop signs exist almost exclusively on side streets with minimal traffic.

    Red light runners NEED to be stopped. I encourage all road users to call them out (in the most non-aggressive way possible) on their blatent disregard for other road users.

    Recently a cyclist ran a red light and nearly got me killed (I was stopped at the same red light). A car had to swerve around the red light runner and nearly hit me and in order to avoid me had to swerve into oncoming traffic. If any cars had been coming in that direction there would have been a very nasty accident.

    Apart from the obvious danger, the optics of running red lights is precisely what gives other road users reasons to believe that all cyclists are scofflaws.

    Can we stop mixing in red light running with rolling stops at stop signs? They simply are not the same thing. One is dangerous and stupid, the other needs to be looked at by lawmakers (not over the next 3.5 years obviously!)

  • http://twitter.com/seankillackey Sean Killackey

    I think we need to differentiate between cyclists going through red lights and cyclists not putting their foot down at a stop sign. In my mind those are totally different issues.
    Last week at the BFF launch I was met with the same answer when I brought up the issue of cyclists running red lights, immediately the topic turned to not stopping at stop signs (and that we don’t live in some kind of utopian dream world).

    Red lights exist usually at the meeting of at least one major street, if not 2. Stop signs exist almost exclusively on side streets with minimal traffic.

    Red light runners NEED to be stopped. I encourage all road users to call them out (in the most non-aggressive way possible) on their blatent disregard for other road users.

    Recently a cyclist ran a red light and nearly got me killed (I was stopped at the same red light). A car had to swerve around the red light runner and nearly hit me and in order to avoid me had to swerve into oncoming traffic. If any cars had been coming in that direction there would have been a very nasty accident.

    Apart from the obvious danger, the optics of running red lights is precisely what gives other road users reasons to believe that all cyclists are scofflaws.

    Can we stop mixing in red light running with rolling stops at stop signs? They simply are not the same thing. One is dangerous and stupid, the other needs to be looked at by lawmakers (not over the next 3.5 years obviously!)

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