97 points by lamby 8 days ago
There should be a name for the phenomenon of a satirical, ironic or trolling community turning into the real deal, by aggregating people taking the issue seriously.
This seems to be a repeating pattern.
In this case, it seems to be slightly more complex but still it begs the question if by keeping posting fake news or stories, you start believing them, consciously or unconsciously.
A user on hacker news years ago put it well like this:
"Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they're in good company"
That's a variation of Poe's law:
"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article."
It is a corollary but it is an application to people in large numbers.
Since, in the long term, there is always less people in on the joke than new followers, you are guaranteed that the community is going to be taken over in the end.
Isn't this how the whole flat-earth thing started?
That’s certainly what happened.
"Ironic shitposting is still shitposting"
No, the original version is actually the 4chan version. "Ironic shitposting is still shitposting" is the distilled
version we started using later.
Edit: Ok, I stand corrected. After checking it turns out the HN post is probably the source. It's just I saw it posted in its original form on 4chan most often.
Interesting! For many years on 4chan, that quote can be seen in a daily basis and produced hundreds of memes, which trolls and trolls trolling each other for being trolls. But it in fact was actually originated from Hacker News?! Even more interesting, it was originally intended as an exact critique to the 4chan community, but then completely picked up by 4chan and became part of the collective consensus of 4chan, and now ended up as a self-fulfilling prophecy...
I don't like the shitposts or trolling, but always fascinated by them as a social and psychological phenomenon, and the way how idea travels and spreads.
I was going to rain on the parade by saying that that quote is old. But then I saw that it was posted almost 10 years ago and could very well be the source.
That quote is kind of eye opening. Once you think about it and start making connections to the ridiculous hate communities it has given rise to, it's fascinating.
Another variation is what Popehat calls "the Rule of Goats" (easy to google, a bit NSFW).
...and sometimes it is a profitable business.
This is Poe's law corollary.
And I think that, even simply being exposed to the rhetoric will distord your view. Back when the alt-right was appearing on the Internet, I wanted to engage with the other side to get their story. The more I read and argued, and the more close-minded I found myself to become. I put a stop to it.
Deconstructing your interlocutor's arguments forces you to think in the same binary logic, take the same intellectual shortcuts. I absolutely think that reading radicalized thesis will radicalize the reader.
Nietzsche was right about staring into the abyss and battling monsters.
> There should be a name for the phenomenon of a satirical, ironic or trolling community turning into the real deal, by aggregating people taking the issue seriously.
I've wondered if this is how pizzagate got started. When I first read about it, I thought it was hilarious. It was mind boggling to learn that people were serious about it. To me, the theory seemed to be purposely constructed to be ultra ridiculous.
Yes, similarly, I was alarmed to read that qanon type groups gain traction on subreddits like /r/conspiracy. We have a chat channel at work where people post links from that subreddit and joke about it. It’s discomforting to realize we’ve been participating in misleading people by adding to view and subscriber counts.
Same with /r/mandelaeffect. You’d think it was pretty obviously a joke, but I’ve seen posts where people seemed to be dead serious about parallel universe shenanigans.
The lesson here is, don’t create joke or troll communities unless you’d be comfortable with them turning very real.
That's how Reddit's "The Donald" was born. It was basically satire that attracted the real followers and eventually got overrun by them.
> attracted the real followers
And plenty of Russian trolls.
"The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves." ( Lenin )
edit: from https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-controlled-opposition
Except in the case of these user groups, more often than not it seems the thing takes a life of its own and gets out of the creator's hands entirely
It happened to Lenin too, in the end, who became alienated from Stalin and most definitely did not want him to be his successor.
"You become what you pretend to be", or as my grandmother said "if the wind changes, your face will be stuck like that".
I'm almost positive that's exactly the story behind 4chan and shit reddit says.
To me it brings to mind how media like the Daily Show conduct serious discussion and news distribution about politics while ostensibly being a comedy show.
There is Romanian satirical website that has the fact that it is satirical next to it's logo. When they published a joke about the french troops, the "news" were discussed seriously on french TV.
It's an extension of Poe's law. The earnest ones cannot discern satire from their own, so they unironically join in on the irony.
"In a nutshell, that’s why this story matters: because the hate preached on anti-cycling Facebook pages isn’t confined to the digital realm. It’s a poison that bleeds from the screen into the real world, where aggression towards cyclists is very real, and very deadly"
Goes for a lot of other things too.
Cycling seems to be a really inflammatory subject for online discussion, and I've never really been sure why; it seems like a kind of identity politics.
As a bicycle and public transit commuter and former car commuter in Copenhagen, I have a saying: When I'm driving, I find cyclists annoying, but when I cycle, I find cyclists even more annoying.
There are a ton of cyclists who just don't give a shit. They'll blast past you at intersections, cutting into other lanes, they'll swerve directly in front of you and brake, they'll jump on the sidewalk, they'll completely ignore pedestrian-only zones, they'll randomly cut to the left or right of turning cars, the list goes on. Some people bike in completely irrational and unpredictable ways.
Often I'll pass someone (I'm a reasonably fit and speedy commuter on a good bike), only for them to place themselves right in front of me at the next red light, and then take forever to get up to speed, so I have slooooowly get up to speed behind them and then pass again. Repeat ad infinitum. Most of the time, the slowpokes are on their phones (hand-held, obviously) and/or swerve all over the place, putting everyone in danger. Or they ride two abreast while chatting, completely blocking the bike lane and ignoring people ringing their bells behind them.
It really pains me to see people act like that, because it completely sours the relationship between different types of traffic, casting a bad light on the rest of us. Sometimes it seems like they're deliberately out to piss off drivers, which is not a healthy long-term strategy.
That was a bit of a detour, but my point is that the problem exists on both sides. There are definitely both asshole cyclists and asshole drivers. On the cyclist side, I think part of the problem is that a lot of people don't really know the traffic laws, or they don't think they apply to cyclists.
This is certainly not meant to downplay the shitty actions of many drivers, I've seen some absolutely horrendously irresponsible driving here as well.
As for why it's such an inflammatory subject, that's simply the case for any discussion involving cars. If you read car forums, people are very quick to go flying off the handle, and there are usually some pretty extremist and very vocal members. Car culture is very opinionated and to a lot of car people, their cars are direct extensions of their personalities and egos. Cyclists challenge their "rightful ownership of the roads", and are therefore an enemy.
It seems like a regional thing though. In many European and Asian countries there may be animosity between some cyclists and some drivers of cars, but not the extreme polarisation seen in American (perhaps Australian and a few other countries too?) communities.
There's a few things going on that I see (in the US), and probably many I don't.
* Most US roads are not bicycle ready. They weren't designed to have mixed vehicles, they weren't built for it, and they don't do it well.
* Cyclists have been given a right to be on these roads, which can't safely handle them, by legislation.
* Having them there does impede traffic that the road WAS designed for.
* The US culture has devolved lately into a "my rights" based one.
* Both the car drivers who have historical precedent with "rights to be there" and the cyclists with the newfound legislative "right to be there" willfully fail to recognize the rights of the other.
* Both sets of drivers blame the other for the lack of adherence to safety and traffic laws. Both are correct.
I’ve been a bicycle commuter for 25 years, primarily in the US (Minneapolis, Santa Fe, Bay Area) but also 3 years in London. Your last 3 points are much more important than the first three, there’s simply an attitude problem in the US, and it goes both ways, both drivers, and riders (and even pedestrians) are militant and angry about the space they feel entitled to.
Compare to London where the streets were designed for neither automobiles nor bicycles. In London there’s a culture of acknowledgement that we all have to make do with the available space. So pedestrians spill into the street, cars occasionally have to go up onto the pavement (aka. Sidewalk) and bicycles achieving critical mass happens naturally during peak times. London is 10 times as congested as SF and yet everyone is 10 times as calm.
It’s amazing to me the success the auto lobby had in America a century ago to create a culture where the default is that everyone should be able to drive super fast and have parking available in every square inch of developed land, and anyone who uses anyone who uses any other form of transportation is an uncivilized pleb deserving of second rate accommodations at best.
There is absolutely weird entitlement problem in the US with regards to drivers, and motorcycle riders feel it, too. It becomes clear when a common response to supporting filtering (motorcycles being allowed to move to the front at intersections for visibility reasons) is, "Why should they get to go first?"
Which, of course, is completely irrelevant complaint regardless of ones views on filtering. There's this notion that a driver is entitled to both their place on the road and some sort of ill-defined spot in a queue that isn't there.
I don't buy your characterization of car drivers' rights as having "historical precedent" while cyclists (only) have "newfound legislative" rights. Cyclists' rights to use public roads go back at least as far as motorists' do, and the subsequent poor design of roads with respect to cyclists' rights did not annul them.
If anything, it is the more recent (and sensible) restriction of cycle use on certain major roads that is "newfound".
> Most US roads are not bicycle ready. They weren't designed to have mixed vehicles, they weren't built for it, and they don't do it well.
This is true, but many of the roads in my hometown that people insist were "built for cars" predate the automobile, which is just to say that they can be (and have been) changed to support whatever we want them to support.
As an interesting side note, in my area "road diets" were recently proposed, turning a four lane road into 2+turning lane+bike lanes. The planners had data indicating that this would lead to less congestion and higher safety... and many people lost their minds in fury at the idea of giving up lanes to cyclists.
Where is this? I like this
This is also true, and they DON'T currently support cars + bicycles. That they can be made to do so is interesting, but irrelevant to the current situation.
It's relevant in countering the assertion that roads were built for cars. A lot of roads were built for horses, but nobody thinks that's a compelling argument for, well, anything.
As a US citizen I am the biggest hypocrite when it comes to cyclists/pedestrians in the road. When in a car I think "They'll get out of my way, I'll win in a fight" while riding a bicycle I think "What are they going to do? Hit me".
That's such a normal way of thinking in the US's transportation culture. What's chronically absent from it is any sense of common courtesy.
So, inevitably, we end up in an inherently acrimonious situation: Everyone smaller than you is treated as nothing but an obstacle to be avoided, and everyone bigger than you is understood as a threat to your safety, and everyone about your same size is regarded as that asshole who just cut you off, or that asshole who needs to speed up and quit holding up traffic, etc.
We've become such misanthropists when it comes to transportation that it's even common for people to aver that they don't like using public transportation because they don't like how it brings them into regular social contact with people they don't know, and nobody thinks that attitude the least bit strange.
It's really quite odd, when you step back and look at it. Sad, too.
Dissonance mitigation is a fascinating and scary thing. Observing it happen in oneself is a real treat. Kudos for being so honestly reflective.
Cognitive dissonance and how we respond to it is the main topic of the first episode of Sean Carroll's new podcast Mindscape. I found it very interesting.
This sounds more psychotic than hypocritical to me. "I'll win in a fight", is this a normal way of thinking? I'm a US citizen and I can honestly say this thought has never crossed my mind while driving. My thought when passing a cyclist is to make sure I'm giving them enough room and hope I'm not doing anything to make them fearful. I thought most people were this way, and it seems obvious to me that it's the right way to act. How prevalent is this other, "I'll win in a fight" attitude?
* Most US roads are not car ready. They weren't designed to have mixed vehicles, they weren't built for it, and they don't do it well.
* Motor vehicles have been given a right to be on these roads, which can't safely handle them, by legislation.
Having lived in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila, I can tell you that getting angry at cyclists wouldn’t make much sense. The roads are complete chaos in all those places, everything on the road is a deadly hazard.
The roads where I live now are a lot more orderly, but cyclists get a free pass in a lot of ways. You’ll get a ticket for passing within 5 feet of a cyclist, so you better hope they’re a fast cyclist when you get stuck behind one. I also see them run reds frequently and ride across pedestrian crossings. For a group that makes up about 1% of commuters, they manage to make a disproportionate nuisance of themselves. I’m not an anti-cycling nut, but it’s not hard to see where the frustration comes from.
Depends. If you happen to come across extremist cyclists and at the same time oblivious or even arrogant car drivers, it can get out of hand real quick in Germany, as well.
There is lots of hatred on both sides. Drivers see cyclist running a red light and generalize about those criminal cyclists.
Cyclists take an idea like Critical Mass that was originally supposed to be a demonstration, a traffic-political statement, and don‘t even care about traffic policy anymore, but openly talk about how to disrupt car traffic the most so those „carholes“ get the traffic jam they deserve. It‘s just fun to them, a bit of trolling.
I don‘t see the relationship improve, unless many more „common“ people use the bike. Then they would have much more understanding for the other side when driving a car, and the bike extremists would vanish in the mass as statistical noise.
What little legitimacy cyclists have established for themselves was accomplished by being pushy, not by being pushovers. With cars it was the same, they secured their rights to the road by running people over back in the early days, which makes critical mass look pretty quaint by comparison.
Breaking law doesn‘t give you legitimacy.
Injuring pedestrians doesn‘t give you legitimacy, either.
You simply illustrate the extremist biker that will achieve nothing but more hatred from all other participants in traffic.
That‘s why I‘m hoping for more „casual“ bikers who don‘t see the war on the street as their focal point of life.
Unfortunately there is a lot of anti-cyclist sentiment going on, and it seems to have been increasing over the last decade or so.
From my perspective in Copenhagen -- one of the foremost cycling cities in the world -- I think this is happening because policies are increasingly being enacted to favor cyclists and public transit. A lot of road improvements have favored bicycle lanes, often by decreasing the number of lanes available for cars, or by making a lot of streets one-way only for cars.
Some car drivers see these as direct attacks on their chosen mode of transportation, or even their lifestyle as a whole.
I see this as a necessary evil. You cannot improve conditions for one type of transport beyond a certain point, without also making conditions worse for other types of transport. Cycling, walking and public transit go very well hand-in-hand, but personal car traffic doesn't really mesh that well with anything other than car traffic.
So for high-density living, car traffic must necessarily be down-prioritized in favor of higher-density and less polluting traffic, namely cycling and public transit, both of which work best in cities. Roads and parking lots simply take up way too much space that could be used for parks, homes, shopping streets and people instead.
Conversely, it is hard to make public transit work efficiently in rural areas, and cycling 10-15km between towns for social activities (in all kinds of weather) is not acceptable to most people. Electric bicycles mitigate this somewhat, but in most less densely populated areas, cars still make a lot of sense for most people.
I'm a city person, so I favor cycling and public transit, and I would love to see the center of Copenhagen completely closed off to personal car traffic, only allowing delivery drivers and other professionals with a legitimate need to drive through the city center. I don't condone violent activism or similar methods, nor do I condone breaking traffic laws through methods like Critical Mass and the like. The "critical mass" I want is simply for there to be so many cyclists in traffic that they cannot be ignored or marginalized.
I would also never try to ban cars in other less-densely populated places, because that's simply not realistic. At least not yet, not without some major revolution in living conditions or public transit feasibility.
At some point, we have to realize just how ridiculously wasteful personal car traffic really is, and do something major to disrupt it. I don't think self-driving cars are the answer.
Not disagreeing, but it can go both ways. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and broke the law, I'm sure that created some angry white hatred, but in the end advanced equal rights for African Americans.
You're uttering mindless platitudes without anything to back it up. Look at how Trump, or Uber got their way. It certainly wasn't by taking the advice of people who disagree with them. And sure, they're hated, but they've proven that their tolerance for hate has more endurance than the hate people have to dish out on them. The 'extremist' cyclists paved the way for the more casual cyclists by not giving up.
We've warned you before that posting uncivilly will get you banned here. Please don't do this again.
I think you're right, and it's frustrating.
I'm pretty much neutral: I'm a licensed driver, and I've cycled to work in the past, but right now I don't have a bike or a car.
I saw a discussion on a local forum recently where cyclists and motorists just refused to accept that both camps use their vehicles as transportation. Drivers acted like cyclists were just silly kids, despite some being eligible for Social Security, and cyclists acted like drivers were robber barons having their chauffeurs mow down poor people.
I've seen it change too. When I was younger, I visited Vienna yearly and there the attitude has changed I feel. 15-20 years back you had better stay on the sidewalk or risk being cut off etc by cars, but now it seems they love their cyclists.
On a side-note: cyclist in Berlin are very annoying they park their bike in front of you at EVERY traffic light and are then exceedingly slow to get moving again.
Now that I think about it, it might just be that the attitude changes with the introduction of cycling lanes to keep cars and bikes separated
Stopping in front of cars is done to gain the best visibility. That's why cities are introducing bicycle boxes at intersections. A bicycle is alway slow to get moving, unless it has an electric motor, that's why cyclist hate stopping and will sometimes cruise through a stop sign or red, because it feels safer than trying to pick up speed while cars are revving behind you and trying to squeeze by.
In the UK there is a specific area at the front (which cars will often decide to stop in) just for bikes to stop, called a bike box. I believe it is safer for them to be out in front rather than pushed to a side, or caught between cars.
In my experience, in an urban environment, it doesn't matter how fast you get moving again, there's another traffic light right ahead
We have quite a few of those in Boston. I'm often hesitant to use them as intended because I'm pretty sure it'll just piss some ignoramus off. It's just not worth the chance. And in other cases, the lead car is already stopped on it (and also encroaching into the crosswalk as well).
One change I'd really love to see implemented is moving the traffic light pole to the near corner (as opposed to the far corner or suspended in the middle). This encourages drivers not to creep into the intersections because they wouldn't be able to see the light.
You wouldn't have thought that these things would be enforced, but an employee of mine got caught stopped in one in his car by a camera and had to take a 1-day course to avoid getting points on his license. He had absolutely no idea about them as apparently they don't have them in his home country of Portugal.
I've often wondered how much preparation/study of the local laws does one need when driving in another country?
If you lived in country A and were planning a holiday in country B, then yes I'd spend a bit of time googling their laws. But on a 2 week "coast to coast" road trip travelling through a dozen countries? I probably wouldn't bother.
However, if I knew nothing about the UK "bike box" and was driving as a guest, something tells me it would be blindingly obvious what it was for. No? I mean, it's a symbol a bike surrounded by thick white lines. https://goo.gl/maps/zz1TvLM6fcv
That's no excuse — Portugal uses the same road markings, as does most of the world. A solid line across the road shows where to stop when the light is red. It's defined in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic Signs and Signals:
"A transverse marking consisting of a continuous line across one or more traffic lanes shall mark the line behind which drivers are required by
the sign B, 2, "STOP", referred to in Article 10, paragraph 3, of this Convention, to stop. Such a marking may also be used to show the line be
hind which drivers may be required to stop by a light signal"
In fairness its a different coloured bit with a giant bike on it. All behind a solid white line.
We have that, too. And I don‘t really understand it.
I mean, bikes accelerate much slower. So what realistically happens is that bikes weasel through cars and the right curb to the front, distribute themselves over the whole width of the lane. And when they get green they... have to go over to the right side again (single-file!) and are being overtaken (usually with little room) by all the cars.
I‘ve just read the article you linked, and the HGV aspect is a good one. But in my home town, those bike boxes aren‘t on streets with real goods traffic, but on residential streets.
The main problem with cycling is that some cyclists are safer in the road while others are safer off of the road.
I happen to live in an area with wide (car width+ shoulders) so most of the time I'm there. However, there are a handful of left turns I make that result in me being in the vehicle left-turn lane at the signal lights. When the green arrow shows I'm lights-out sprinting through the intersection so I'm not holding up vehicle traffic. Cyclists can actually accelerate much faster than vehicles over the first couple of seconds and it's only 5 seconds or less through an intersection.
Having said that, my sprint power from a dead stop is from 6 - 15 watts / kg, depending on my motivation level. If someone is coming away from a dead stop at a lower power-to-weight ratio they should probably not be in the road since they will unnecessarily hold up traffic.
Also, it's not just the athletic power, but the bike design and the technique of the rider.
I ride a hard-tail mountain bike I converted for commuting with some more appropriate city tires. I am no triathlete, but I know enough to shift into the right starting gear before I stop and to sit with one pedal up in a position that allows a good power stroke to get rolling again. I am often first across a large intersection when the light changes, although a few drag-racing cars may catch up (against the general trend in which drivers seem more distracted and slower to respond to light changes these days).
I see younger, healthier riders who wobble all over the intersection like a little kid learning to ride. They have their bikes in the wrong gear or have a bike with fixed gearing. They fumble around trying to get both feet on the pedals before they even have enough forward movement to balance. And, some ride bikes that seem to be configured in the worst possible way for balance and efficiency, with bad geometry, seats and handlebars in the wrong place, or absurdly heavy materials...
>"there are a handful of left turns I make that result in me being in the vehicle left-turn lane at the signal lights"
This is caused by traffic laws seeing everything in the road as being similar to a car, which is counter-productive, forcing slower traffic such as bikes to cross lanes for left turns.
It is much more sensible and safer for cyclists to do hook turns, instead of using the vehicle left turn lanes.
> 6 - 15 watts / kg
How do you measure this on a bicycle? I know you can do that on a stationary rower (I was exceedingly happy when I could hold > 1 hp for 30 seconds) - do you measure on gym stationary bikes?
You can install a device on an ordinary bicycle to measure the power input to the pedals.
Very cool! Thanks.
> It seems like a regional thing though. In many European and Asian countries there may be animosity between some cyclists and some drivers of cars, but not the extreme polarisation seen in American (perhaps Australian and a few other countries too?) communities.
As a German, I say: you hang around with the "wrong" cyclists and motorists to perceive the strong polarization. I know people of the more militant kind from both sides.
Let me tell you: these cyclists typically know the exact subtle details of the road traffic regulations (Straßenverkehrsordnung) much better than most motorists (who had to do an exam about this topic to get their driving license). This is also very necessary, since lots of motorists feel so much entitled and do not actually know the laws. In this case only knowing the law exactly helps and if discussions are futile (they often are), the only thing that you can do is to file a criminal charge against the motorist.
To give my private opinion (after having heard lots of arguments from both sides): The fact that there exist obligatory driving licences is a lot at fault for all these escalations. Their mere existence leads to a lot of the entitlement of the motorists ("I had to take the driving exam and learn a lot about traffic laws before, while the cyclists did not. So the motorists feel 'more entitled to know what is right and wrong in traffic'").
The culture between the UK an Europe is quite different for cycling.
In the UK, 90% of the cyclists are older men in the latest lycra racing gear on //edit//road bikes. In Brugges, people just get on a regular bike with a basket on the front wearing their normal clothes.
Within the UK there is a large variety of cycling cultures. Cambridge is a city where everyone cycles to work in jeans/office clothes.
(Don't confuse "track bikes" and "road bikes"...)
It may sound like a minor correction, but track bikes are uncommon* on the road. You probably mean road bikes.
The important difference is that track bikes do not have brakes. Most bikes on the road do.
*Yes - there are people cycling on the road using bikes without brakes. However, that's not 90% - it's a small minority. Cycling on the road in the UK without two braking systems (e.g. front brake, rear brake) is illegal, and unusual. Regardless, anyone cycling without a front brake is an idiot.
Done. In my day they were called "racers". I'm not au fait with the distinctions on modern types.
Cyclists usually have a strong pride in commuting with bike and has a style (looking fast) that separates them from the rest of the population.
Combine that with the number of conflict surfaces such as pedestrians walking in biking lanes, car drivers failing to properly look for incoming cyclists, cyclists speeding and more frequently breaking traffic law and order than others (my anecdata).
I understand the frustration that exists in all groups.
I wonder if part of the problem might be a natural tendency to generalise bad behaviour of a small number onto the whole group?
For example, I might see several instances of individual cyclists running red lights and generalise that to "all cyclists run red lights". Or see several instances of individual motorists "dooring" cyclists and generalise that to "all motorists are dangerously inconsiderate".
It's probably easy to go from that generalisation to an overt dislike of the other group. Therefore, I try to force myself to attribute bad behaviour to the individual rather than any groups they might be a member of.
Part of it is that it's a necessary mindset. When cycling, you have to assume that every driver is trying to kill you and every parked car is waiting to throw a door open and knock you off (and possibly kill you). Even where malicious intent is lacking, distracted driving is such a pervasive problem that you have to adopt a mindset of "everyone else is awful"....because statistically speaking, enough of them really are.
I think there's a big difference between "everyone else is awful", "there's statistically enough awful individuals" and "every driver is trying to kill me". Only the last one of those is going to lead me to incorrectly blame a whole group.
I agree that a statistically significant subset of drivers cause problems (and a statistically significant subset of cyclists, too), but the vast majority of individual drivers (and cyclists) are safe and do not deserve to be grouped in with the the problem-causers.
They have to be grouped in, as there's no way to differentiate them.
Also, you're proposing a false equivalence. When drivers cause problems, other people (pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers) die. When cyclists cause problems, they're usually the only ones that get hurt. The urgency of the two problems is dramatically different.
I really wish "a bike running a red light" wasn't seen as such a problem. In many places, pedestrian cross on red lights also. In other places, cars can turn right on red lights. In at least one state, bikes can use red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yield signs.
It is easy run a red light on a bike (or as a pedestrian) in a safe manner, but it often isn't in a car.
Cyclists speeding? I hope your car is set to a maximum of 20 mph or you might as well join that FB group.
We have some shared bike/pedestrian paths that twist and turn through a nice wooded area. The paths have a very well marked 10 mph speed limit; however, there is a certain kind of cyclist that can’t be bothered to slow down and whip through these paths at top speed. 10 mph isn’t all that fast, are these cyclists clearly speeding and putting pedestrians at risk.
Perhaps this is somewhat like what the other commenter insoeaking about.
They might not be able to break the law enforced speed limit. My definition of speeding is that they go at a speed that is reckless for the situation.
more frequently breaking traffic law
I can't find it right now but there was some research done in the UK recently that showed the opposite was the case.
Surprising. In London at least, when you cross at a crossing, you always have to check for cyclists skipping the lights.
Sure, but what % of the drivers habitually go faster than the listed speed limit? In the parts of the US I live in, the difference between that number and 100 is imperceptible, especially on the roads with speed limits on the lower end (~25 mph).
IIRC the two road users tended to break the rules in different ways, so it's unsurprising that as a pedestrians you might be more aware of one class than the other.
When I'm in London, I check that the first car is going to stop at the crossing. That's by no means guaranteed.
Once the first car is stopped, the others have no choice. All cyclists reaching the crossing can pass on red if they choose, so the comparison needs to take that into account.
a counter point: when cycling in London you have to be aware that 30% of the time there will be be a vehicle stopped the protected bike zone in front of the lights...
It's certainly routine to see cyclists running red lights in London. I'm sure cars do that sometimes, but I can't recall ever having seen a car do it while I was crossing the road.
Indeed. But if a car does it someone may die. Even a fast cyclist needs a lot of bad luck to run over and kill someone.
Finding a fair way to count these things is really difficult.
But you can hit hard enough for lifelong suffering easily. There is no excuse for reckless driving even with a bike.
I upvoted this because I probably should've said it myself.
I said in another comment that I think it's really difficult to find a fair way to count. I meant that. I didn't mean "it's difficult to count such that I look like an angel and make that counting mode look fair".
But in this discussion, we're readily avoiding the daily mayhem and death that cars actually perpetrate. A new perspective is seriously in order. Which is most prevalent and presents the greatest risk in an urban environment?
Should bikes yield to pedestrians? Yes, absolutely. Is that equivalent to drivers speeding, swerving, texting, road-raging, etc? Not in the slightest.
A cyclist can cause a swerve and crash, or just be the one killed. You can argue in the latter case that the cyclist is the only one hurt, but fault aside, most people will be devestated if they kill someone else.
This chap ran over and killed a woman: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/sep/18/cyclist...
You're proving his point. It's so rare that it makes national news (or international, when you're an idiot with no brakes). Cars kill dozens of people in the US a day. Bikes kill far less than one person a year.
I‘m really tired of this apology.
Yes, chances are slim you‘re killing a pedestrian. Chances are very real you severely hurt and injure him. Ask the pedestrian how much fun that is.
Those casual dismissals are evil, IMO.
Add to that the attitude that I just read again on Twitter unrelatedly, that pedestrians shouldn‘t blame bicyclists endangering them on pedestrian lanes, because it‘s ultimately the cars‘ fault.
Bicyclists most vocal about traffic issues often don‘t care about weaker participants in traffic when they are not the weaker ones.
There are different types of running red lights (and the dangers are country dependent). I myself frequently pull away at the lights while still red a second before they go green. I do it to get out ahead of the traffic for my own safety and to get clear of the traffic so I’m not in the way. This is in London, where all pedestrians are crossing at the same time and there are no cars moving.
The main danger in it is drivers becoming angry (totally irrationally) and reckless.
Sure, but cyclists can't use that as an excuse for bad behavior. I mean, if I punch someone, it's unlikely to kill them, but that doesn't mean I can just take a swing at someone whenever I feel like it.
Sure, it's in no way a valid excuse. But one act is much more dangerous than the other - a cyclist running a red light and a driver doing it are not morally equivalent, and it's slightly offensive to cyclists to claim that it is.
Of course it is just as dangerous. We‘re not talking about a cyclist killing a car driver, we‘re talking about a cyclist getting killed. That can easily happen with a cyclist running a red light.
I find it strange that cyclists love to discuss things as if bad outcomes to themselves didn‘t matter as long as they are the ones responsible. That‘s no way to sensibly talk about traffic safety.
At some UK junctions a cyclist riding through red will make virtually no difference to anyone; in the same way as motorist on some sections of motorway (ie freeway), in good conditions, driving over the speed limit will make virtually no difference.
A car jumping the light leaves no room for another car; a cyclist doing it leaves more than enough room.
Yes, if they're busting through a pedestrian crossing with pedestrians on, or going on to a narrow junction, etc.. then you're in to dangers similar to "not indicating" (something that puts me in danger as a pedestrian every day).
A cyclist hitting a car, it's extraordinarily unlikely to kill anyone including themselves. The contrary is not so. That's why cyclists don't worry as much about the possibility of hurting others on the roads. Of course interactions with pedestrians are bad all round, but much worse physically for cyclists than for vehicle drivers.
There are imbalances, ignoring them doesn't make anyone safer.
Are you really claiming that a car running a red light with speed v1 and crashing into a cyclist with speed v2 is more dangerous than a cyclist running a red light with speed v2 and crashing into a car with speed v1? That‘s ludicrous. The situations are perfectly symmetrical.
The research I've read recently indicates (responsibly) running red lights and stop signs decreases a cyclist's chance of getting hit. When stopped, a cyclist is less visible and mobile. Vehicles can be less likely to see them, and they're less able to maneuver out of dangerous situations.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-bike-st... (I've seen other sources, but this is the first one I found first just now)
That's only a discussion on the probability of a crash. I'm talking about the effect, given a crash has occured.
Because people in this thread claim that it's virtually impossible for a cyclist to get killed when crashing into a car. Only a car crashing into a cyclist could possibly kill the latter.
And that's nonsense.
There’s a difference between reckless driving/cycling and running a red light. There are in fact many ways to safely or unsafely do so for both types of vehicles. This needs to be acknowledged first, because there are situations where it’s actually safer (getting out of the way of aggro drivers just as the light turns) or necessary (lights only triggered by sensor that doesn’t pick up a bike).
Sure, but who wouldn‘t acknowledge that? Nobody is talking about these edge cases.
I remember while I was cycling to work through Edinburgh (and always stopping for lights) a cyclist running through a red light outside a police station with a police car also waiting at the red light.
No idea what he was thinking - the police car did set off in pursuit.
Might be so statistically, but people do not experience statistics and build their perspective from it.
Emotionally seeing someone running a red light or making up their own lane has a higher impact than someone speeding in a car lane. I think it has to do with cultural acceptance.
It may plausibly depend on how you add your apples and oranges. How are you going to count a traffic accident with two deaths against a bicycle leaning against a shop's display window (that's a really extreme example, yes)?
A (car) motorist crashed into my 5-year old son while he was riding his bicycle through a cross-walk (legal here). She had a stop-sign and failed to look right to see him before plowing forward. She ran over his bike, but he was knocked back and escaped with only bruises and scrapes. He had clear right-of-way.
Cyclists (the less considerate ones) can be unpredictable and frustrating for cars - I appreciate that. But "Get off the roads!" is only a very small part of the issue. Respect, training, and consequences commensurate with the level of damage inflictable by cars is something very absent from US driving culture (especially where I live in the relatively rural northwest). Cyclists whether on the road, bike paths, sidewalks, etc. kill and seriously injure people with negligible frequency compared to cars per mile.
Compelling reading indeed; Even less work was done at this terminal than a normal friday afternoon...
Is there not an equivalent "compulsory single file for motor vehicles" petition?
I can envisage that first triptych that shows the bicycles spilling into the car lanes, in reverse ... ie the roughly equally-capable fast-moving cars should be in the single lane, with bikes, pedestrians and other road users free to maneuver and accommodate one-another across multiple lanes.
>compulsory single file for motor vehicles" petition?
Yes. In suburbs and rural areas "think of the children" types routinely get all their friends (usually stay at home parents and retirees) to complain to the town that a particular instance of dotted yellow line is inappropriate. Probably about half the time it backfires (e.g. they get a bunch of 4-way stops or speed bumps to slow down traffic through their snowflake neighborhood which results in them listening to every motorcycle accelerate off of every one of those stops or every landscaping trailer make a racket going over the bumps).
Reminds me of VI hart and her anti pi agenda. She made a video explaining how to get your followers passionate about your ideas (in this case pi< tau). Its sort of tongue in cheek but it makes some points about social media and the ability of it to influence people.
Thanks, I hadn't seen that one.
What a great opportunity to ignore a very interesting article on social media's role in "fake news" and instead have a debate about cyclists vs. motorists again. Well done everyone!
With deep learning and techniques such as text and image generation, as well as the existence of motivated and well-funded state or corporate organizations, I fear the age of social media as social manipulation is just the beginning.
Which I suspect is actually a good thing. People will eventually become resistant to such manipulation. It happened in the world of computer BBSes back in the day. It also happened in the world of USENET after that. Compuserve, AOL, ... it's always the same thing. You end up with a group of people with extreme troll resistance which I am pretty sure carries over into day to day life and politics.
Facebook, and the like have exposed more people than ever before to online trolling. It is very possible that the result might be a world where people tend to think for themselves.
> It is very possible that the result might be a world where people tend to think for themselves.
Would be nice, but I don't think that's realistic. Look at the past few millenia of religion in human civilization and it becomes increasingly clear that humans are not just vulnerable to, but seem to be actively courting, brainwashing. It's the default state. And religion and brainwashing have plenty of expressions in the tech world, and science, too. Most people just aren't critical thinkers.
Brainwashing fills needs intellectual honesty cannot, which is why it has historically won and will continue to win.
The closest we've come to filling those needs with intellectualism has both manifested itself as pseudo-intellectualism and an almost religious take on Enlightenment era philosophy.
What the heck is a gun cyclist?
"Gun" is just a way of describing someone who's good at something. Australian slang.
To all those commenting about "Whoa is me, the dastardly cyclists are running red lights and stop signs", please look up the concept of an Idaho Stop.
Stop pretending that you're seeing these cyclists performing an Idaho stop during busy traffic. You know full well they're paying attention a whole hell of a lot more than you considering their life is on the line. You may not see us looking both ways, because it only takes about 15 degrees of head movement to allow our eyes to capture the full peripheral to check for oncoming traffic and it's a hell of a lot more convenient for the drivers behind us to have some distance between us.
The only reason this is a big deal is because humans are barely different from monkeys on an emotional level and can't rational handle the concept of there being a different legal context for a bike vs. a motor vehicle.
I know about Idaho stop, but unless Idaho stop makes its way to the official Rules of the Road of the respective state, province, or country, and its knowledge gets verified at driver's test, it is irrelevant.
In the province I live in, there is no "Idaho stop". Rules are unambiguous: if you are on the road, whatever you are driving, you STOP at the stop sign. No guessing "do I/they do Idaho stop or not".
The whole notion of treating bicycles as vehicular traffic was wayward and has been debunked. It's really obvious that bicycles are not cars, you can tell just by looking at them.
There are differing levels of enforcement in different places, but I've made thousands, possibly tens of thousands of infractions on my bike in 35 years of commuting, sometimes right in front of the police, and I've never had a ticket. Is a rule really a rule if it isn't enforced?
If I say everyone needs to wear clown shoes to work on Wednesdays, is that a rule? It doesn't mean jack-shit because I can't enforce it.
Drivers are held more carefully to the rules of the road, but given that they're ensconced in a protective metal shell, they have a lot more leeway with the law of the jungle. With cyclists it's the other way around.
> The whole notion of treating bicycles as vehicular traffic was wayward and has been debunked. It's really obvious that bicycles are not cars, you can tell just by looking at them.
The same as with Idaho stop, it does not matter. Looking at something that approaches the intersection, do I have to think what that is? What if it is a bicycle with electric assist? Moped? Scooter? Is it electric? Is it with ICE? Something in between the moped and the bike? Where do I draw the line? That is way more thinking than just following the rules of all-way stop/or main road/yield.
> There are differing levels of enforcement in different places, but I've made thousands, possibly tens of thousands of infractions on my bike in 35 years of commuting, sometimes right in front of the police, and I've never had a ticket. Is a rule really a rule if it isn't enforced?
Rules are there for your benefit, not police's.
> Drivers have to obey the rules of the road. Cyclists only have to obey the law of the jungle.
This quote right there pretty much explains why there is so much anger towards cyclists
The rules are definitely not there for my benefit, the bearing they have on my safety is incidental. I've got more important things to look out for than the traffic signs. The roads were designed for cars and any attention given to cyclists, the rules they shod obey, or design features to accomodate them is largely an afterthought.
It really doesn't matter how cyclists behave, the anger will still be there, because cyclists are part of the wrong tribe, their presence on the roads in any capacity is viewed as a violation of the natural moral order.
When I'm cycling, whether or not I'm obeying the rules has little material effect on a driver's ability to get from A to B, I'm courteous, but their blood pressure still goes up. My advice to them is to see a doctor and get it fixed.
According to the laws of New York State, bicycles are vehicles. They are required to follow the laws and traffic patterns, not make their own.
This is a reasonable post undermined by a ridiculous last sentence. Cyclists need to obey laws but those laws should not be the same as for cars because the impacts those laws seek to prevent are not the same.
I phrased the last sentence poorly. I've changed it.
> The whole notion of treating bicycles as vehicular traffic was wayward and has been debunked
When, and by who?
I'd argue that even that's insufficient. Educational campaigns are hugely important as no one ever retakes a driver's test. There are frequent confrontations over entirely legal traffic movements because some people just don't know. And I'm not talking about recent bike safety laws either.
A compounding factor is that while rules for cars are more or less standard throughout the 50 states, rules for bikes are a complete mess. For example, in Massachusetts, a bike can ride in the left lane (I mean, you should probably have a good reason but it's 100% legal) where as in some other states, bikes have a mandated max distance from the right hand curb. How can anyone know what is actually allowed?
And a solution to the disjoint sets of laws is that states are very different. Super urban areas necessarily need different laws than very rural areas. Even regional snow fall amounts is a factor as bike lanes basically disappear in the winter.
I agree that rules alone are not sufficient, but it is a start. You can have an educational campaign to introduce, say, Idaho stop as the law, but educational campaign to follow Idaho stop before it is the law is confusing at best and breaking the law at worst.
FWIW, as a cyclist I would love to see Idaho stop legislated. As a driver, I do not follow stop rules blindly. If approaching all-way stop a see a cyclist (or anyone) close enough to the intersection without any signs of the slowdown, of course I will let them cross first. But even with the Idaho stop legislated many cyclists misunderstand it. For example, Idaho stop means treating stop sign as a yield sign, which means if you can safely cross the intersection without impeding anyone else (e.g. if there is no one else around or they are far enough from the intersection), you do not have to stop. It does not mean "I don't have to stop and have priority over cars no matter what".
That is exactly the point of making something the law instead of informal rule - there should be no ambiguity.
There's evidence practicing the Idaho stop makes cyclists safer, even in regions where it isn't legal. If that's true, IMO cyclists should bike in the safer fashion regardless of the rules.
It is very limiting to believe that "rules are unabiguous" and should be followed to the letter. Rules are often (partly) wrong, not completely adapted to a situation, etc.
Let's remember that "rules" used to make homosexuality worthy of a prison sentence, drinking alcohol was sometimes illegal too.
Well, there’s NO different context, at least in some places. In Montreal, which is a very bike-friendly city, you can get a ticket for running a stop or using headphones. I was recently stopped for this, by literally an ambush cop on a bike bath. Luckily got away with a warning. But I’ve heard others getting tickets.
I mean, we have lots of traffic laws, some not so well thought out, others enforced capriciously, others not at all, and so on. I suppose we might as well just unofficially adopt the Idaho stop outside Idaho and to hell with other States' laws...
More seriously, I think the Idaho stop is a good idea. Cyclists won't stop unless they really have to for reasons fairly obvious to anyone who has ever biked on streets. No need to make that behavior illegal. But it will require a bit of an education campaign. And we already have a ton of things that require mass education: zipper merges, yield the left lane to passers, and so much else.
Should NYS allow bikes to make right turns on red too while we're at it?
If a car rolls through a stop sign they're being an asshole who thinks they know more than the people who made the laws and have little respect for anyone around them.
The same is true of bicyclists who do the same.
I have never driven a car in my life (age 35 currently) despite growing up in a very rural area. Now I live in a city and bike everywhere and NEVER run a stop sign. The behavior of both drivers and bicyclists is embarrassing.
Well, then, that makes a metric ton of drivers assholes. There used to be this common claim in SF that stop sign rolling is a cyclist thing. Then Stanley Roberts sat at a stop sign and found nearly every car rolling it. Got it all on video too.
> that makes a metric ton of drivers assholes
Yes, this is true.
>If a car rolls through a stop sign they're being an asshole
Meh, it really depends on the type of stop and conditions.
Regardless of the number of wheels one's preferred mode of transportation has I'm not gonna complain about people doing rolling stops at 4-way stops where there's good visibility and the traffic conditions are such that there's no possibility of misinterpreting who's turn it is or at a right turn that would be a yield instead of a stop were there not a left turn option.
> Meh, it really depends on the type of stop and conditions.
I disagree. A stop sign is a stop sign. Otherwise the sign would say use-your-judgment-and-decide-what-to-do.
> Otherwise the sign would say use-your-judgment-and-decide-what-to-do.
Huge numbers of stop signs are found in North America, but they're not so common elsewhere. In Europe, most smaller junctions in residential areas will have a "yield" sign, or no sign at all. Busier ones might have a mini-roundabout (give way to the left).
In the UK, installing a stop sign requires the permission of the central government. This is to keep the sign special — if you see one, there really is some risky road layout that means you can't see safely until you're stopped at the sign. There was only one example anywhere near where I grew up: next to an junction by an ancient castle where parts of the building overhung the road, meaning large vehicles might be on the wrong side of the road to pass by.
Traffic laws are written in a way that makes them as resilient as possible toward idiots. We require a full stop because not everybody has good judgement.
Yeah and the people who think they have good judgement often have the worst judgement.
Absolutely false. You're mathematically safer when your speed is at parity with the other drivers on the road, and stopping unnecessarily interrupts your momentum to the point of drastically reducing your average speed over the course of a given distance traveled, increasing the chances that you'll get more severely injured during the journey.
If a car is travelling at 35 mph and you're traveling at 25 mph, then the relative speed of the car is 10 mph.
If a car is travelling at 35 mph and you're travelling at 10 mph, then the relative speed of the car is 25 mph, which is going to hurt a hell of a lot more than being hit by a car travelling 10 mph relative to you.
I'm a cyclist who doesn't think I'm too good to follow the rules of the road, and I can't tell you how much I love having to pass the same cyclist over and over in my car because they're doing Idaho stops.
What they are frequently not watching for, though, is pedestrians.
Rob Pike and net.suicide?
As a driver and a cyclist, it seems to me simply that many drivers have a tremendous sense of entitlement. Everything else stems from that, otherwise poor behavior would just be an annoyance instead of triggering actual murderous rage.
Of all the classic flamewar topics, the cyclists v. drivers death match has the most surprising levels of vitriol. That plus the tedium of rehashing the same old arguments for the unbelievableth time makes for some of the worst HN threads we see. If anything should be globally off topic here, it's this.
I don't mean to pick on you personally! It's a systemic failure of the community to keep its hivemind.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17731908 and marked it off-topic.
Sorry. My comment was specifically talking about, why all the vitriol? But I suppose that's just another comment in the sea of the flamewar.
As a pedestrian and driver in London (mostly pedestrian), it seems to me that many cyclists have a sense of entitlement.
I’ve had cyclists plow through zebra crossings (crosswalks where stopping is mandatory) at full speed just inches away from me. Or blow through red lights for them that are green walk signals for pedestrians.
In all fairness a lot of cyclists behave like idiots too. I would never ride at night without lights. I don't run stop signs at full speed expecting that cars stop for me.
I believe the sense of entitlement to come from the fact that most drivers have only ever experienced the road in a car. As a driver and a cyclist, I'm not sure about registration of cyclists, but I am sure that everyone should be required to do a minimum number of hours on a bicycle before they are allowed anywhere near a car, in the same way that pilots must gain experience before they upgrade. I am certain this would have numerous benefits.
many drivers have a tremendous sense of entitlement
It seems to me to be precisely the opposite. It is extremely common to see cyclists have a full 4-5 foot shoulder to ride on, but they always choose to ride as close to vehicular traffic as possible. Sometimes even on the white line. By doing so, they endanger everybody, and the only explanation for this behavior is entitlement.
So, cyclists, please change my mind: when you have a wide shoulder to occupy, and you choose to ride so close to the left of it that your handlebars are in serious danger of being clipped by vehicular traffic, why? Why not the middle of the shoulder, or, god forbid, the right side of it?
edit: thanks for the enlightening replies.
Often, there is more gravel or sand or other crap as you get closer to right edge of the shoulder. Also, potholes are more common at the edge of the road in some places. The leftmost part of the shoulder is usually the clearest and smoothest. And if there are cars parked on the right, it's good to have some clearance in case someone throws open their door without looking.
I'll try to ride as far right as possible, especially on a busy street. But those other dangers are quite real, especially once you've picked up a bit of speed. In the areas I ride, cars can't really go much faster than bikes anyway (except they accelerate faster). So the relative speed of a car in motion is less than all the stationary stuff on the right that can hurt me. My city has a lot of cyclists and bike-friendly roads, so drivers are relatively alert and used to slowing down for cyclists. As a driver, the only time I find cyclists annoying is when they ride on the roads without shoulders or bike lanes and take a whole lane.
>So, cyclists, please change my mind: when you have a wide shoulder to occupy, and you choose to ride so close to the left of it that your handlebars are in serious danger of being clipped by vehicular traffic, why? Why not the middle of the shoulder, or, god forbid, the right side of it?
Cyclists need much more road width than you might intuitively expect, because we're less able to safely ride over debris or potholes. An obstacle that you would barely notice in a car could cause a cyclist to crash. The shoulder is often littered with debris, because the wheels of vehicles tend to sweep debris out to the edge of their usual track; the shoulder doesn't benefit from this sweeping action.
We know that we might need to swerve unexpectedly for reasons that aren't obvious to following traffic, so we want to make sure that we have sufficient space to swerve away from traffic rather than towards it. Riding well to the left gives the cyclist more control over their distance from passing traffic, because they maintain a buffer of safety that they can use if an inattentive or aggressive driver passes dangerously close.
Some cyclists might take this principle to an extreme, but the opposite is usually true - timid and inexperienced cyclists tend to ride right in the gutter rather than staking out a survival zone, severely limiting their options if they need to avoid a hazard or a vehicle is passing dangerously close.
On narrower roads without a shoulder, safe cyclists will take a variety of road positions based on the conditions; the reasons aren't always obvious to following drivers. We always keep at least four feet away from parked cars, because of the risk that someone unexpectedly opens their door in our path. Hitting a door is often fatal, because the top edge of the door is at around head height to a cyclist. We might tuck in to the right to maintain a safe distance when being passed, but we might also move out to the left of the lane to indicate to motorists that it would be unsafe to squeeze past us in the same lane on that section of road. Riding in the tracks followed by car wheels is usually safer, because those parts of the road are swept clean of debris and less likely to be contaminated with spilled oil or diesel.
Clearly not a cyclist.
Cyclists are not idiots. They are the product of roads that severely punish those that don't attend to drains, grates, glass and metal trash from car accidents strewn liberally in the margin of the road. They make tires called 'gator skins' for a reason.
Go ahead and ride in the gutter, do it tomorrow. And see if that bike makes it a mile, much less all the way to work.
Obviously I can't speak for all situations but often I'll ride towards the centre or vehicular edge of the path if there is a risk of pedestrian hazards, or parked cars on the other side. People jumping out in front of you or opening car doors is all to frequent, and almost impossible to avoid, particularly in areas where cycling is not so popular.
As a pedestrian, I am annoyed that after spending a lot of money to create nice fully separated bike paths near where I live, some of the lycra clad cyclists still insist on racing along the footpath.
I'd say its diffiuclt for those only experiencing the roads from a motor vehicle to know what roads are like when youre that much closer, frequently you have to maneuver awkwardly, deeper into the road, if you want your bike to last longer than your current trip. Though I doubt that will change your mind and it certaintly doesnt excuse cyclists who ride dangerously or carelessly.
As someone who drives frequently and cycles everyday through London to work (and loves both activities) the perspective ive always shared is that cycling makes you see the worst in all other forms of transport. CYcling to to work there are days where I hate pedestrians, hate drivers and days where i definitely hate other cyclists. I've nearly struck careless pedestrians who were jaywalking looking at their phone and ive been struck by a car at a junction where i had right of way (and thankfully lived to tell the tale).
There are assholes in all camps, but I suspect its amplified dpeending on which activity youre engaged in
As someone from Amsterdam who owns a car, commutes by bike, and rides a road bike for sports, my opinion is that it's mostly the road cyclists who create unsafe situations. Sure, car drivers are not free of any blame, but they tend to stick better to the rules than cyclists.
If you're an avid road cyclist like me, there's a big changes you've done all these things more than once:
- Crossed a red light.
- Ride on the road while there's a cycling lane next to it.
- Cut corners.
- Ride a bit to fast in busy area's (maybe to keep your Strava average high)
- Pass an normal cyclist a bit to close.
This is a lie. Cyclists and Motorists break the rules at the same rate. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/survey-finds-bicyclis...
We may as well say a typical car driver has crossed a red light, driven on a sidewalk, exceeded the speed limit, or made a risky overtaking manoeuvre.
Without some evidence, the discussion just degenerates into the usual cyclists vs. car drivers argument.
I think the hypocrisy and self righteousness of some movements like fanatical cycling particularly gets people worked up online.
(Complaining about car drivers being unsafe but then constantly running red lights themselves.)
We apply very draconian rules to motorists, and then people get upset when those same kind of rules are not applied to other users. It is very inconsistent and that makes people angry. But this ignores the fact that motor vehicles are exceptional in terms of the harm they can cause simply due to weight and speed. That is why we need draconian and annoying laws, but only for motor vehicles. The risk posed by bikes and pedestrians is so small that strictly enforced rules would be authoritarian and restrict freedom to an unacceptable degree.
I do agree that cyclists should follow rules. But the magnitutde of danger caused by rule breaking is massively lower and that should be acknowledged. A dangerous driver is committing a worse crime than a careless cyclist.
Also, cyclists are not some homogeneous group. The person complaining about dangerous drivers is not neccessarily the person going through a red light.
> The risk posed by bikes and pedestrians is so small that strictly enforced rules would be authoritarian and restrict freedom to an unacceptable degree.
Rubbish. Having cyclists stop at red lights when people are crossing the road does not restrict their freedom "to an unacceptable degree". And even though I'm not likely to be killed by a cyclist running into me, I'd still much rather that they didn't.
I say this as someone who doesn't have a driving license, so I'm not "pro car". I'm just anti getting whomped out of nowhere by a bike.
I thoroughly agree. I live in Oxford, UK, well known for being bike-friendly, and it's incredibly rare that cyclists stop at lights here. It's a historic city with narrow streets and restricted visibility in some places. More than once I've gone to pull away from lights and a cyclist has zoomed through a red, forcing me to swerve. I've also encountered the 3-abreast thing and it's infuriating as a driver. Many ignore the fact there's a car behind them and force me to overtake dangerously rather than going to single-file.
Now don't get me wrong, it's frustrating, but I'm also a cyclist. I appreciate Oxford's bike-friendliness. I cycle more than I drive. In fact, I've encountered more of the 3-abreast problem when I'm riding - groups having a chat at a slow speed while I'm trying to get to work. I stop at lights for my own safety while others completely ignore them. I never ride without a helmet. And when I'm on the road, I try to keep as close to the kerb as I can without hitting drains.
It's frustrating, for sure, but the internet breeds hatred from frustration. There's a nice little graphic showing it as a distillation process. Facebook is phenomenally bad at this, by design, since it groups and sorts these kinds of people together. This DFROC group has one advantage though - it could be turned into a private group and then this pool of cess would never need to leak out to the rest of the internet. So long as it stays there, this hatred can continue to fester without hurting anyone, but as we know by now, it always leaks back into real life. The minority may give the majority a bad name, but the boiling hatred from these echo chambers eventually convinces somebody that their feelings are justified and go do something they will regret.
The internet is not a healthy place, but it does have its distant basis in facts.
Mildly chaotic behaviour is a perfectly normal thing for a densley populated urban area. And that chaotic behaviour is true of absolutely everyone. Drunk pedestrians walking into the road. Kids wobbling on their bikes or walking out into the street without looking. Getting cut up at roundabouts when someone is in a hurry. All these things are perfectly normal and suprisingly safe, except when you add cars the the mix. Then suddenly you need hundreds of rules to do the most basic things. And Oxford is a perfect example of a city centre that is completely inappropriate for cars. The roads are simply not designed for it, and there are thousands of chaotic normal people in close proximity. That is what causes the conflict and frustration.
There's 'chaotic' and 'absolutely suicidal' when steaming down St. Aldates towards Folley Island, where there's a T-junction with traffic lights, and a number of regular buses.
>That is what causes the conflict and frustration.
So if a cyclist runs a red light and nearly knocks me over, it's not the cyclist causing that, even if they could easily have just stopped at the light?
> So if a cyclist runs a red light and nearly knocks me over, it's not the cyclist causing that, even if they could easily have just stopped at the light?
Sounds like it's the light that's causing it, given how much you're focusing on the light in your comments. Take the light out of the picture (which probably requires taking cars off of that road) and what would happen?
That would make it worse, since the issue is that you often can't see the bike coming. (Bikes are quiet and quite difficult to detect in peripheral vision.) When there's a convention that everyone stops at certain times to let pedestrians cross the road, you don't have to worry too much about that -- if people actually follow the rules.
I've never seen a no-motor-traffic intersection that used or needed lights. Somehow cyclists and pedestrians manage to negotiate priority at junctions on paths, cycleways, and in pedestrianized town centers just fine, human-to-human, even blind corners.
Who said anything about no-motor-traffic intersections? I'm talking about cyclists in London. Regardless, it's pretty eccentric to suggest that traffic lights are responsible for collisions caused by people who ignore them. However safe a particular intersection currently is, removing traffic lights from it will make it less safe than that. That might be tolerable in a scenario where there's no motor traffic. But there is, obviously, motor traffic in London.
> Who said anything about no-motor-traffic intersections? I'm talking about cyclists in London.
You seemed to imply that safety at intersections between cyclists and pedestrians needed or was helped by traffic lights. I don't think that's true.
> Regardless, it's pretty eccentric to suggest that traffic lights are responsible for collisions caused by people who ignore them. However safe a particular intersection currently is, removing traffic lights from it will make it less safe than that.
There's an increasingly mainstream view that just the opposite is true, see e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/remova...
>You seemed to imply that safety at intersections between cyclists and pedestrians needed or was helped by traffic lights. I don't think that's true.
Safety is helped in London, in the real world, when people don't run red lights. You seemed to be saying that this wouldn't be the case if there were no cars, which is totally irrelevant.
>There's an increasingly mainstream view that just the opposite is true
Try crossing a busy road which doesn't have any lights. I have one of those on my walk back from work, and it's by far the most dangerous crossing.
> Safety is helped in London, in the real world, when people don't run red lights.
Maybe. If stricter enforcement of red lights leads to fewer people cycling, it might lead to more deaths overall.
> You seemed to be saying that this wouldn't be the case if there were no cars, which is totally irrelevant.
You asked about who or what was "causing" the issue.
> Try crossing a busy road which doesn't have any lights. I have one of those on my walk back from work, and it's by far the most dangerous crossing.
It's dangerous if cars are driving fast. Other changes (e.g. narrower streets, speed limits) can make it very safe. Look at the article's example: crossing Exhibition Road, without lights, feels safer than light-based crossings IME.
>If stricter enforcement of red lights leads to fewer people cycling, it might lead to more deaths overall.
I did not call for stricter enforcement. Cyclists could choose to stop running red lights without any changes in the law or how it is enforced.
>You asked about who or what was "causing" the issue.
You seem in effect to be saying that we can’t blame cyclists for running red lights here in the real world because you can imagine some kind of cycletopia where lights wouldn’t necessary. If a cyclist runs a red light and consequently crashes into me while I'm crossing the road, the cause of that accident is, obviously, the cyclist and not the light. Removing the light isn't going to make bikes any easier to see, or cyclists any more careful. (Those of a careful disposition wouldn't be running red lights at pedestrian crossings in the first place.)
Cyclists are free to argue for different traffic regulations and infrastructure, but in the mean time, they should follow the rules and stop endangering others.
> Cyclists could choose to stop running red lights without any changes in the law or how it is enforced.
True, but that would carry a similar risk of leading them to cycle less.
> After all, the accident would have happened just the same if the light wasn't there.
Disagree; you would likely have acted differently if the light wasn't there. If you were right, we'd see cyclists colliding with pedestrians at no-motor-traffic junctions all the time, since none of them have lights. But we don't.
>True, but that would carry a similar risk of leading them to cycle less.
>you would likely have acted differently if the light wasn't there.
I don't act differently when there are no lights, since I know that most cyclists ignore the lights anyway!
>If you were right, we'd see cyclists colliding with pedestrians at no-motor-traffic junctions all the time, since none of them have lights. But we don't.
Cyclists are harder to see when there are cars on the road, so that's an irrelevant comparison.
In any case, cyclists do collide with pedestrians in the absence of motor vehicles. The canal tow paths in London are particularly bad for this, for example:
> I don't act differently when there are no lights, since I know that most cyclists ignore the lights anyway!
Then it sounds like cyclists ignoring the lights aren't putting you in any real danger, and that "cyclists choosing to stop running red lights" as you suggest would do you very little good.
> In any case, cyclists do collide with pedestrians in the absence of motor vehicles.
They do, occasionally. But notice how no-one in that article even mentions the possibility of introducing traffic lights, because they're so obviously not a solution to anything.
>Then it sounds like cyclists ignoring the lights aren't putting you in any real dange
That is simply a non sequitur.
>"cyclists choosing to stop running red lights" as you suggest would do you very little good.
It would stop them frequently nearly crashing into me, which would certainly be good from my perspective.
>But notice how no-one in that article even mentions the possibility of introducing traffic lights
Erm, because it wouldn't be possible to add traffic lights on a canal tow path. The point is that ignoring traffic lights is dangerous, not that traffic lights should be put everywhere.
> It would stop them frequently nearly crashing into me, which would certainly be good from my perspective.
I don't advocate crashing into pedestrians. But the best way to avoid crashing into pedestrians is to pay attention to pedestrians, not to lights.
> Erm, because it wouldn't be possible to add traffic lights on a canal tow path. The point is that ignoring traffic lights is dangerous
None of your articles seems to think that traffic lights are helpful.
I am talking about what causes the conflict and frustration. That is based on perception and emotion. It has nothing to do with assigning blame or responsbilitiy in a collision.
>Many ignore the fact there's a car behind them and force me to overtake dangerously rather than going to single-file. //
FWIW cyclists are allowed to ride 2 abreast in the UK (occupying the full lane), the correct procedure as with any slow moving traffic in front of you is to be patient and wait for a safe place to pass.
A cyclist riding close to the kerb increases danger, you invite cars to pass at higher speed and you leave no margin for error then - one wiggle and you're toast.
I live near Oxford and although there are a lot of cyclists I wouldn't describe it as bike-friendly. Every time I cycle down the Botley road I feel like I'm putting my life in my hands.
Yes, I absoultely agree that cyclists should stop at red lights. But it is not morally equivalent to dangerous driving and we should be more relxed about it in comparison and resist an over zealous response.
More generally we should design urban communities so that things like pedestrian crossings are not even neccessary.
> The risk posed by bikes and pedestrians is so small
I don't know... cars stay on the road where I live. Cyclists will happily ride on the pavement and justify it with 'the road's too dangerous to cycle on'. They seem to consciously be happy with endangering people more vulnerable than themselves in order to keep themselves safe... which is what they criticise car drivers with.
I'm more concerned in practice about my three-year old daughter being hit by a cyclist on the pavement, than by a car on the road.
I don't know. When I was cycling, I was scared almost everyday on the road, it's very difficult to describe how fragile you can feel sharing the road with cars. I stopped commuting by bike after my second accident.
As a pedestrian now, I might be scared like once every two month by a teen cycling on the pavement, but I don't feel that my life is in danger whatsoever.
Although I very much understand you concern about your daughter safety. The problem is that cities were/are designed for pedestrians and cars. The truth is bikes clearly don't belong to pavement and I'd like to say they can share the road with cars but it's never the feeling I had.
The dream for cyclists is a dedicated lane with clear separation from the road. This is almost utopia atm.
As a daily cyclist I commonly see parents with strollers on the bike road. For my bike road to work there is a down slope followed by a sharp turn, and there the city planners have made a temporary combined bike road and pavement for the last couple of years during construction. It is very common to see strollers during there, people in wheelchairs or groups of small children.
The city seems happy with endangering people. Parents seems happy with endangering babies there. No one has ever been charged with endangering of children, and I have never seen anyone stopping a parent with a stroller and telling them that they are endangering their child by walking on a bike road. If anything I also see an increase of strollers during the time when the road is full of ice. The order in which the city clear out snow and ice is roads > bike roads > pavement, and parents with strollers do not want to walk in snow. Given the alternative most seems to pick the bike road.
Other fun participants I have seen on exclusive bike roads is 4-5 year olds learning to bike with training wheels. Just like with strollers I always give them a bit extra distance when passing them, which might explain why there has been zero deaths or injuries from bike hitting strollers or young children even through those are common sights on bike roads. If one wonder the cause of that I think one just need to check the average speed of bikes in a city and the reaction and braking speed.
I am sure if a parent would take a stroller and walk on the road against car traffic then social service would have a very strong opinion about it. That would actually be unsafe behavior and traffic records support in every way that bikes are safe and cars are not. Being more concerned about a three-year old being hit by a cyclist on the pavement than by a car on the road is flying against statistics, and I would say actual behavior. Would you honestly say that your reaction to a parent walking with a stroller on a bike road would be identical to a parent walking with a stroller against car traffic on the road?
I think it is great that the parent feels safe enough to do that. Cyclists should yield to pedestrians if need be and not get upset about it.
This might sound odd but I agree. It is good that it is safe for bike and pedestrians to be on the same road, and a common rule of thumb for cooperation is that whoever is faster should yield to those who are slower. That is true for boats and planes, often true for cars and trucks.
A lot of tensions and unnecessary fear would be resolved if we just applied common sense and speed limits to roads. Have pavement and most bike roads like today but put a speed limit to that of a running person (around 15km/h (9mph)). At those speed and lower there is no safety concerns and tolerance between cyclists and pedestrians should be encourage. Then we have fast bike lanes with a max speed of 30km/h (18mph) and city car roads with the more common 40km/h (24mph) and 50km/h (31mph), both which pedestrian use should be discouraged because of the danger from increased reaction, braking and stopping time. If two roads of different speed cross then the lower speed limit should be used and who ever is faster should yield, and if accidents still happens then traffic lights, speed bumps, cameras and other methods to reduce speed should be applied.
By focusing on reaction, braking and stopping time you get a fairly decent prediction model of accident rates. This is what our assessment about what is dangerous should be based on.
> I don't know... cars stay on the road where I live. Cyclists will happily ride on the pavement and justify it with 'the road's too dangerous to cycle on'.
That sounds bad. I would not do that and would not support any cyclist who did. It's not something I see happening where I live.
> I'm more concerned in practice about my three-year old daughter being hit by a cyclist on the pavement, than by a car on the road.
Have you looked at the statistics for how often those things actually happen, and how bad the consequences are when they do?
Why do Cyclists get to be special? Where I live, the same rules apply for cyclists as for drivers up to loosing your drivers license for biking drunk (including biking ban).
A bike can do a lot of damage and harm once it goes beyond walking speed and even at walking speed it can be quite dangerous.
I get that not every cyclists runs the red lights but those that do are a clear danger to traffic safety.
You could also have a rule that bans drunk pedestrians. Because they could cause an accident by making a car swerve. They are also more dangerous in terms of committing other crimes. The difference is that pedestrians and cyclists don't weigh several tonnes and are able to move at very high speeds.
I am not suggesting that bad behaviour should be legal. Merely that it is not morally comparable to dangerous driving.
Lots of places do have laws that ban people from being intoxicated in public.
They often aren't severe, more so police are able to remove extremely intoxicated people from a public location.
That is also somewhat the case. If someone is sufficiently drunk walking about instead of getting a safer ride home, they may receive a temporary driving ban (I haven't heard of anything longer than a week in that case) and if you endanger traffic then you can loose your drivers license.
The difference is that pedestrian and cyclists don't weigh tons but can still severely endanger others and themselves.
> If someone is sufficiently drunk walking about instead of getting a safer ride home, they may receive a temporary driving ban (I haven't heard of anything longer than a week in that case)
Why a driving ban rather than a walking ban? Doesn't the same logic suggest giving cyclists a driving ban rather than a cycling ban?
A driving ban because if you endanger traffic while drunk then how can we trust you not to endanger traffic while drunk when you're allowed to drive a car?
You don't get a cyclist ban, to my knowledge, since it isn't licensed. This is mostly about deriving how responsible you are with a car from how responsible you behave in traffic when you're not a car.
A car is not a bike. Whatever happened to the concept of context?
If you flatten a pedestrian I doubt they care whether it was with a car or a bike. And the court won't care much if you were drunk.
The road is supposed to be used responsibly, driving or cycling drunk shows you don't care about that. Everyone here uses Taxi, public transport or friends for transport if drunk.
> If you flatten a pedestrian I doubt they care whether it was with a car or a bike.
The pedestrian absolutely notices whether they were hit by a tonne of metal going 40mph or 20kg going at 20mph. Regulation should be proportionate to how much risk you impose on others. Given how many more people get killed by car drivers than by cyclists, we should be looking to make driving tests much stricter before we even begin to worry about regulating cycling.
Of course the risk is taken into account but in the end, if you hurt someone while driving or cycling drunk, you have thoroughly demonstrated your lack of understanding of traffic rules and shouldn't handle a car.
I don't think that's so much of a factor.
I've met plenty of people that do not use the internet have irrational hatred for cyclists in the UK.
It seems like it's a car culture thing. And whenever a driver sees a cyclist doing something wrong it confirms the idea to them.
Regardless of whether there's any merit to it.
The media like to stir it up, the Daily Mail in particular seems to have a hatred for cyclists. My own parents regurgitate this hatred at me even though they know I'm a cyclist.
I wouldn't take it personally, Daily Mail readers like to regurgitate misinformed hatred at anyone who will listen (and often at people who'd rather not).
Data over traffic accident and injuries should define which transportation is more unsafe, especially since most traffic laws exist in order to prevent accidents.
To my knowledge, speed and braking distance is the biggest factor for accident rates and injuries. The average bike speed in a flat city was last time I checked around 12km/h (7mph), which has a very short braking distance. Unsurprising the accident rate of bike hitting pedestrians is extremely rare for a flat city, where the top listed accident rate for bikers here in Sweden is 1) person falling off the bike with no other person involved, 2) car hitting bike in a crossing where the car is running a speed usually above the speed limit.
A typical car driving at 50km/h (30mph) has a reaction distance of 21m, braking distance of 14m and total stopping distance of 35m. This is why efforts to reduce high accident rates for crossing involving cars is done by reducing the speed through speed bumps, cameras that publicly display the speed, and additional traffic lights. In the cases where those efforts are not enough there is usually talk about separating the traffic since the lowest speed limit is 30km/h and that still produce a risky braking distance for highly trafficked crossings.
I find the way car drivers go on about running red lights (which is not inherently dangerous, so there's no contradiction between running red lights and caring about safety) to be hypocritical given how often drivers break speed limits (which is just as much a violation of the rules of the road and much less safe).
> constantly running red lights themselves
A motorist runs a red light, it's one stupid motorist. A pedestrian crosses a road dangerously, it's one stupid pedestrian. A cyclist runs a red light, it's all cyclists. I have no idea how that works.
It's a classic example of in group / out group thinking: Cyclists are the out group, so any action of one of them is perceived as representative of the whole group. In group members are perceived differently - wrongful actions are perceived as the individual's responsibility and are not extended to the group as a whole.
It works the same in the other direction. Cyclists also generalize about all car drivers. It‘s a human tendency to extract patterns from singular, highly emotive situations.
It's strange how cyclists have become an outgroup though. Carlton Reid ("Roads Were Not Made for Cars") suggests it goes all the way back to the 1880s and reckless young men on "pennies". Still one of the common criticisms is "young hoodlums on bikes terrorising the neighbourhood". At least that distinction implies it's not all cyclists, just the "hoodlum" variety.
I only think people that want ride bicycle for sport shouldn't run in public road. I want to go to work and not waste time because you have time to do your sport.
It's not like there's plenty of other road for doing it.