Sharing the Road

Share the road! That’s the battle cry of cyclists. I don’t get it. Please help me to understand.

The “road”, as it turns out, was cleared, paved, and prepared for use by heavy vehicles. In most parts of the US, it is illegal for persons to walk on the road. The reason?

Well, as it turns out, it is rather dangerous for people to walk down the same road as two-ton vehicles barreling down at 70 MPH. Funny thing, that. And here’s the kicker: it’s pretty much the same situation for cars and bicycles.

I realize this claim has generated huge amounts of saliva in cycling fanatics, with said saliva preparing to spray unpleasantly out of the cyclist’s mouth in a dangerous fume of bizarre, cult-like anger. I realize I’m about to be schooled on the environmental consequences of vehicle exhaust, and how cyclists, bless them, are basically angels, saving the planet from the evils of carbon. But well, none of that changes the fact that mixing heavy, fast vehicles with human beings balanced on light, thin-framed little contraptions is a very, very, dangerous mix.

Before I am eviscerated, I’d like to point out that I strongly support bike lanes, and yes even favor local tax increases to expand the roads to create them. I think it’s environmentally sound and a very healthy practice. But bikes and cars do not mix in the same space.

Oh, and I realize that driving cars is dangerous to begin with. But a little fender bender between cars could easily result in a severe injury or even death for the cyclist. And on a practical matter, “sharing the road” can be near impossible. There are a lot of two-lane roads where I live, with double yellow “shall not cross” lines down the middle. So my choices are to drive 15 miles per hour behind the cyclist, or illegally cross the lines to get around - a risky situation with cars heading in my direction.

Is it really sound policy to allow vehicles and bicycles on the same road, without bike lanes? :ponder:

It works perfectly fine in the Netherlands, which is more densely populated than most of the U.S., has narrower roads, and more pedestrian traffic. And yes, if you are presented with a cyclist and a double yellow, it is as simple as, slow down to 15 MPH for 30 seconds until traffic clears and you can pass. If you were travelling 45MPH, you just wasted 20 seconds of your day. You burned that much time reading this post.

Cyclists, like any other slow moving vehicle, are not allowed to be on roads where cars are moving fast so that point is moot.

On your normal two lane road the speed limit should be 50-60km so a cyclist is not going so slow he or she is a nuisance. If he or she is they should not be cycling on busy roads.

Perhaps a minimum speed limit would be useful. However, cars must share the road with farm vehicles and other slow moving and perfectly legal vehicles in many areas.

When I used to live in the Yukon it was common to get stuck behind RVs going 10kph because the bumpy and windy conditions of the road wouldn’t allow them to go any faster.

No one suggested they didn’t have the perfect legal right to be on the road or that we shouldn’t have to share it with them because they are slow.

Essentially normal driving conditions expose us to lots of situations analogous to slow moving cyclists. We adapt and live with those. There is no reason not to do the same with cyclists.

Don’t forget that in normal city driving - which most of the western world lives in - average speeds for cars are often slower than bicycles. A few years ago, the EPA (I think, or maybe the city govt) in Melbourne did a test with one commuter on a bike, one in a car and one on public transport traveling approx 15-20km in rush hour. They all started at the same time, same place and the destination was the same. Bike was quickest, public transit next and car took the longest, actually twice as long as a bike.

Roads existed long before the internal combustion engine and other abominations of the industrial era were invented. Roads were originally made to walk on, push carts on, ride various animals on, etc.

These traditional rights are still respected in Taiwan, which is why you will often see a 99 year old woman bent permanently and hunch-backed, pushing cart loaded sky-high with flat-packed cardboard and hanging plastic bottles turning left over 3 lanes of suped-up BMWs and everyone stops or slows for her.

Respect, dude, respect. Traditional road-user rights are backward compatible. If you want to go fast, take the freeway.

That’s not true. I see cyclists on roads with 45mph speed limits. They drive maybe 1/3 that speed.

That doesn’t apply to where I live. I live in a rural area and commute to a medium-sized city. Car is the fastest way to travel by far.

Mucha Man is right about farm vehicles…we have to deal with those where I live all the time. But minor accidents would not have the catastrophic consequences as with cyclists and cars.

That’s not true. I see cyclists on roads with 45mph speed limits. They drive maybe 1/3 that speed.[/quote]

I’m if you hang out you’ll see other vehicles going slow as well. RVs, cars driven by old people, etc.

I think 45mph though is pushing it unless there is a wide shoulder for the bike. But then how many two lane roads had that kind of speed limit? Basically if you have a narrow two lane road with no shoulder at all and a speed limit of 45mph, the problem is with the speed limit not the cyclist. That’s too fast and dangerous for all.

You keep mentioning the concern about when cars and bikes meet then essentially they will hurt the cyclist.

There has been plenty of published research saying that the exercise benefits of cycling far outweigh the risk to injury. So on a public health point of view more cycling should be encouraged, not discouraged.

You suggest putting bike lanes along roads. You should know that bike lanes are not actually all that helpful. For one, all road debris tends to collect on the fringes of the road, and bike tyres are especially vulnerable to debris. Second, and more importantly, bike lanes tend to place cyclists at the periphary of motorists vision.

Where bike lanes do help is on long stretches of uninterrupted highway - ie those places you mention where traffic speeds are quite high (45mph or so). For that I welcome your idea of investing in bike lane facilities which, as you know, would mean less road space dedicated to motorised traffic. However, until these lanes are installed then you will need to share the carriageway since quite often such uninterrupted highways would be the only way for cyclists to get to their destination.

[quote=“Gao Bohan”]Share the road! That’s the battle cry of cyclists. I don’t get it. Please help me to understand. . . .

Is it really sound policy to allow vehicles and bicycles on the same road, without bike lanes? :ponder:[/quote]

It’s not only sound policy, it’s the law. For the most part, bikes have every bit as much legal right to operate on the roads as cars do and that’s a good thing. If 1% of the people driving their gas-guzzling behemoths 5 blocks to the grocery store or 10 blocks to work would hop on a bike instead the world would be a far better place. As was noted above, cycling should be encouraged, not discouraged. Moreover, aside from the health benefits and environmental benefits, many people simply can’t afford to drive everywhere and resort to bikes for financial reasons. Lucky for them they have a legal right to operate their bikes on the roads and cars are legally required to respect their legal rights.

It would be a crappy world if bikes were forbidden from riding on all surfaces except for a few designated bike lanes and drivers of gas-guzzlers had a state-sanctioned legal right to ignore, intimidated, cut-off and threaten the lives of cyclists. Sure, more bike lanes would be a great thing, but America and much of the world are broke, California’s roads are the worst of all 50 states, how do you expect to build sufficient bike lanes to satisfy the needs of all cyclists?

Share the road sounds like a sound policy to me. I admit it can become difficult to practice with elderly drivers like my dad on windy roads that are popular with lots of cyclists. But at least he knows that’s the law and he tries his best to comply.

Btw, if you don’t believe in “share the road” you’re in the unfortunate company of this asshole, sent to jail for 5 years for intentionally seeking to deprive cyclists of their lawful right to ride down the road.
huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/0 … 16209.html

Sorry, I thought it was clear from my statement that I know it’s legal. That’s why I used the word “policy”, and asked if it’s really such a good idea.

Who is suggesting drivers be given the right to harass cyclists? :ponder: I’m saying there are safe alternatives to exposed human beings on light-framed vehicles driving down the same road as heavy vehicles.

Another poster suggested that bike lanes are dangerous because debris collects there. That’s not what I observed in Houston, where bike lanes are ubiquitous and widely used. I lived there for two years and heard nothing but high praise about the bike lanes from local cyclists.

It can also be difficult on a hilly ten-mile stretch of a two-lane farm road. Dangerous for the cyclist, dangerous for the driver trying to pass him and dangerous for the driver heading the other direction.

Once again, nobody is suggesting the current law should not be obeyed. But I’d rather see bike lanes put in and the road off limits to cyclists. Should drivers really be forced to “share the road” with a vehicle that can barely make 1/3 of the speed limit?

How does advocating bike lanes discourage bike use? :ponder:

Nothing wrong with advocating bike lanes. Bike lanes are good. But there are many thousand times more roads than there are bike lanes. Bike lanes do not exist, and will never exist, everywhere cyclists need or wish to ride. Therefore, in conjunction with the sound policy of building and maintaining more bike lanes, there’s also the sound policy that drivers should respect and share the road with cyclists. Is it asking too much for drivers to be careful, attentive and respectful?

Plain and simple most vehicle drivers are scared shitless of sharing the road with bikes. I’ve lived in cities where bikes owned the road and places where cyclists are 5000 points if you hit them. Having never owned a car I ask people all the time how they feel about driving beside cyclists and without fail they say they are scared that the biker in front of them will “all of a sudden jink to the left”. This was in Canada though, where most people are taught how to operate a motor vehicle. For me, it’s all about education. Bikes and cars can share the road quite easily so long as both know the rules of the road. I can also relate to the anger car drivers feel too as I’ve found myself shouting out the window at fucknuts on bikes who have a self righteous sense of entitlement. I think wide spread implementation of bike lanes would only happen if cars lost their place as status symbol though and in America there are rare pockets that this is the case.

How about in all areas where it’s dangerous for cars and bikes to share the road due to speed etc, we take the cars off the road until such time as safe and usable bike lanes are built?

Gao Bohan - are you suggesting that in order to make things safer, you do not wish to cars and cyclists to use the same roads?

If so, where would the cars drive?

While I applaud you for taking this commonsense stand, you have little chance of changing any cyclists’ minds about this. About as much chance of getting a dog owner to accept that his animal’s love of to barking and crapping is subservient to the rights of human neighbors to live in peace or walk on crap-free streets. There is little more than class self-interest at play when one minority attempts to convince the majority to tolerate their own poor behavior.

I also live on a country road which has double-yellow lines for several kilometers which on weekends is infested with selfish cyclists who cruise two or three or four abreast while chit-chatting. Not all cyclists are inconsiderate, self-righteous assholes but the ones that are sure get your attention. There is a large sub-set of cyclists that think they should enjoy all the rights of other wheeled road users while ignoring the laws written for them, or that they do not have to give the same courtesy to other road users as is extended to them.

When you can keep up with the flow of traffic, then go ahead and take up the space of a car by riding two abreast. Otherwise, move over.

If the side of the road near the curb is dirty or bumpy, complain to the city government about it but do not use this as an excuse to slow the flow of traffic.

Cycling for the most part is a sport, a hobby. Don’t compare yourself to a slow-moving goods vehicle or tractor because those need to use the road while most of you are just enjoying yourselves. Of course I do not refer to those who commute by bicycle.

Go back and read those special rules for cyclists in the highway code. Note that basically all laws for wheeled vehicles apply to you, and some extra ones. Do not imagine you are exempt from all rules because you are some kind of hero. For most other road users you are nothing more than a pain in the ass lycra-clad poseur.

Honking horns from your six-o’clock mean you are in the way and should move over. You don’t need to look back to see what kind of vehicle you are holding up before deciding whether to move over or not. If it has a horn it’s bigger than you are and that’s all you need to know.

I totally support this idea. First, let’s get rid of all cars (and motorbikes, btw) on mountain roads. :smiley:

To be true, I can’t understand the rant by some here about inconsiderate “asshole” cyclists, etc. Maybe this is different from country to country. But so far I don’t think I’ve never encountered any of these bad cyclists who supposedly act if the road belongs to them only. Where are they? Usually it’s the motorists (be it in cars or on scooters) who are inconsiderate to cyclists just because they know they are bigger and faster and stronger than a cyclist or hiker. As a cyclist it happens to me all the time (practically every single time I ride my bike in the mountains) that I’m confronted with cars and scooters that speed up narrow mountain roads, cutting corners, etc. at the risk of cyclists and hikers coming down. It’s quite scary even when you’re mentally prepared for inconsiderate car drivers and you’re riding at extra slow speed before corners, etc. I think it’s really the motorists who need to be educated. And the best way to do this is to have them exposed to more and more cyclists on the roads.

Riverside bike paths in Taipei. Practically any weekend. Thousands of 'em! :laughing:
But yeah, my feeling is that Taiwan’s mountain roads on the weekends should be reserved exclusively for cyclists and people who live there, with a maximum speed of, say, 25kph for all motorized vehicles.

Sharing the road goes both ways. Just as motorists should respect the rights of cyclists to use the road, cyclists should respect the rights of motorists to use the road. Cyclists should also not engage in dangerous or obstructive behaviors like riding two or more abreast, impeding traffic flow or ignoring stop signs. They should ride at the side of the road, not the middle.

The SF Bay Area. Also, Tainan.

Especially Critical Mass: if you’ve ever been stuck at an intersection by a blockade of Critical Massholes, you’d know what I’m talking about.

In the Bay Area, it’s pretty much routine to see cyclists ignoring stop signs and zipping through intersections. Not stopping at a stop sign is not only dangerous, it’s also against the law. Yet far too many cyclists think the law doesn’t apply to them.

Also, Tainan. Getting stuck behind cyclists riding five abreast on a narrow road is not an uncommon experience there.

I respect the rights of cyclists to share the road. They should do the same with motorists, as I do when I ride a bike.