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Asking all car drivers here....

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11. Posted by Buzzcock (Full Member 178 posts) 7y

I am both a cyclist and a motorist. Ten years ago I was knocked off my bike while cycling home from work across a roundabout where I had right of way. The woman who knocked me down didn't see me because she had driven straight onto the roundabout without even looking to her right for any road user to whom she should have given way. I put in an insurance claim against her which I won after two years and she got a couple of points on her licence for failing to report the accident to the police.

As a motorist the bane of my life isn't cyclists but idiots on the motorway who have no lane discipline weaving in and out without signalling or those who drive slowly in the middle lane causing bottlenecks in the outside lane; also there are some motorists who drive at the same speed regardless of the road or the conditions, so they'll drive at 40 mph in a 30 mph zone or a 60 mph zone, being a danger to others in both cases.

12. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 7y

My profession is traffic planning in urban areas. I am a car driver myself as well, around 40,000 km a year. I can only say that you can try to prevent accidents from happening only to a certain point. After this, stupidity of car (and bicyle by the way) drivers comes in and usually there is nothing what you can do about it at all.
Still, unlike Q said about having them separated, there is a concept named Shared Space which actually promotes having all people in traffic making use of that same space which makes car drivers more alert of the things around them. This is especially true of course for urban areas, not for highways etc.
I just came back from two weeks Morocco driving a car over there....that stupid donkeys are everywhere! Gives me some extra experience on car driving in that kind of countries. Worst drivers ever!

13. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 7y

Quoting Utrecht

Still, unlike Q said about having them separated, there is a concept named Shared Space which actually promotes having all people in traffic making use of that same space which makes car drivers more alert of the things around them. This is especially true of course for urban areas, not for highways etc.

Sorry, but I've never agreed with the theory. We don't keep cars and pedestrians together. There's good reasons for sidewalks and cross walks and why pedestrians aren't allowed on highways and why stop signs/one way streets/etc. don't apply to pedestrians. People seem to think, almost, that just because bicycles have wheels they're the same as cars. They're not and they can't share the same space as cars and pedestrians.

I've also never agreed to the "drivers should pay more attention" theory of things either. People make mistakes. Whatever the reason, they do make mistakes. They have a right to make mistakes. The design of anything should keep that in mind. The most frustrating thing is that by ignoring these concepts it penalizes not only drivers, but bicyclists as well.

14. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Quoting Q'

Quoting Utrecht

Still, unlike Q said about having them separated, there is a concept named Shared Space which actually promotes having all people in traffic making use of that same space which makes car drivers more alert of the things around them. This is especially true of course for urban areas, not for highways etc.

Sorry, but I've never agreed with the theory. We don't keep cars and pedestrians together. There's good reasons for sidewalks and cross walks and why pedestrians aren't allowed on highways and why stop signs/one way streets/etc. don't apply to pedestrians. People seem to think, almost, that just because bicycles have wheels they're the same as cars. They're not and they can't share the same space as cars and pedestrians.

You should come to the Netherlands and see the shared space concept in action, Q!

I saw a report on it on German TV and I found it amazing. It is similar to how cyclists and pedestrians share a lane or street in some German cities or how cyclists are allowed to cycle in pedestrian areas. From my experience cyclists and pedestrians work well together as long as both parties are aware of each other. If pedestrians expect cyclists and cyclists expect pedestrians in a pedestrian zone or on a cycle path everything goes smooth without a hitch.

I also don't mind riding on a street with cars - as long as all drivers behind the wheels have enough experience with cyclists. That was my main gripe in my original post - the lady behind the wheel did not get my signal for turning left and as a result I kissed the asphalt.
In Italy I encountered the problem that car drivers expected me to be as fast and agile as a motorscooter. They would signal me to go first and then get confused when it took me a few seconds to get rolling (a touring bike with full luggage can weigh up to 50 kgs). Thinking I was waiting for them to go first they would start going - and then hit the brakes and honk.

15. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

Quoting t_maia

Quoting Q'

Quoting Utrecht

Still, unlike Q said about having them separated, there is a concept named Shared Space which actually promotes having all people in traffic making use of that same space which makes car drivers more alert of the things around them. This is especially true of course for urban areas, not for highways etc.

Sorry, but I've never agreed with the theory. We don't keep cars and pedestrians together. There's good reasons for sidewalks and cross walks and why pedestrians aren't allowed on highways and why stop signs/one way streets/etc. don't apply to pedestrians. People seem to think, almost, that just because bicycles have wheels they're the same as cars. They're not and they can't share the same space as cars and pedestrians.

You should come to the Netherlands and see the shared space concept in action, Q!

I saw a report on it on German TV and I found it amazing. It is similar to how cyclists and pedestrians share a lane or street in some German cities or how cyclists are allowed to cycle in pedestrian areas. From my experience cyclists and pedestrians work well together as long as both parties are aware of each other. If pedestrians expect cyclists and cyclists expect pedestrians in a pedestrian zone or on a cycle path everything goes smooth without a hitch.

I also don't mind riding on a street with cars - as long as all drivers behind the wheels have enough experience with cyclists. That was my main gripe in my original post - the lady behind the wheel did not get my signal for turning left and as a result I kissed the asphalt.
In Italy I encountered the problem that car drivers expected me to be as fast and agile as a motorscooter. They would signal me to go first and then get confused when it took me a few seconds to get rolling (a touring bike with full luggage can weigh up to 50 kgs). Thinking I was waiting for them to go first they would start going - and then hit the brakes and honk.

While living in Chicago (and burbs), I rode both my bike and drove my car - at different times, of course. (Though my bike rode in my car quite often.) Few areas have shared bike and pedestrian areas (along Lake Michigan is one.) Otherwise, cars and bikes must share the street as bikes are not allowed on the sidewalks. Then, and even now when I drive in the city, I find cyclists to be of two types - those who are about as arrogant as the motorist and those who are uncomfortable sharing the same space with cars (trucks, buses, etc.). Both can be a hazard as the use of hand signals has almost ceased to exist. I honestly can't remember the last time a cyclist signaled their intentions so I could act accordingly. In areas where bike lanes are present, drivers ultimately find them to be a stripe painted on the street for no reason and ignore them.

The shared pedestrian/bike (skate, rollerblade, skateboard) space along the lake isn't all that effective either. It would be great if pedestrians and cyclists were on the same page. But, in this time of people only being aware of their own 2x2 foot space around them, sadly, it's not the case. Most cyclists have a bell on their bike but refuse to use them to let pedestrians know they are coming up from behind. The pedestrians think the bikes should be on the street so refuse to give the cyclist due space. It ends up being a living breathing obstacle course for the cyclist. Then add in the cyclists who decide to take their dog for a run at the same time and that leash will take out 2-3 walkers at the knees. Not to mention not stopping while the dog deficates all along the pavement. Basically, the pedestrian is spending most of their time looking down to avoid stepping in dog doo rather than paying attention to what's coming up on them from front or back.

I'm not sure what the solution should be... Adding some education about shared space and cyclist's right of ways in driver's ed might help but probably not. The lessons will be forgotten as quickly as the use of hand signals. I'm sorry that you were involved in an accident and it does sound like the driver was not understanding your intentions. I realize there are a lot of conscientious cyclists out there and I don't mind sharing my streets with them. Presently, there is a large push for drivers to be more aware of cyclists and motorcyclists here. Fingers crossed some will get the picture.

16. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 7y

Quoting t_maia

You should come to the Netherlands and see the shared space concept in action, Q!

I've been to both the Netherlands and Germany several times. And my wife is a German cyclist so I'm quite familiar with the setup in that part of Europe. The Netherlands and Germany are unique in the world (of the places I've been to anyway). But for instance, China, which still has quite a population of bicyclists but with a growing auto population hasn't made really any provisions for bicyclists. We've had a big debate here in Toronto when they changed one of five lanes of a main downtown streets to bicycles only. That's what I mean by most of the world. Most of the rest of the world caters to bicycles much much less than Netherlands/Germany for sure.

But, I also think the bicycle lanes in Germany could be improved. There's no physical barrier between the lanes. There's usually a step between cars and pedestrians nicely separating both. I've learned when visiting Germany to watchout for my life when walking down the street. The bicyclist tend to use me as a target! As a pedestrian I have a problem with how that space is shared, that is, it's not shared very well it's too easy to cross the line. Most bicycles still don't have rear view mirrors, and signal lights and more or less put the majority of the responsibility on the auto driver to watch out. It's better but still not really well thoughtout, IMHO.

17. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Adding some education about shared space and cyclist's right of ways in driver's ed might help but probably not. The lessons will be forgotten as quickly as the use of hand signals.

I think driver's ed is too late, Isa.

I remember lessons in kindergarden on "how to act on the street" and later in 2nd, 3rd and 4th and again in 6th grade visits to a specialised parcour on "how to ride a bike safely on the street".

I was taught the traffic signals (stop, right of way, one-way street, pedestrians only, etc) in those lessons and there was a test in the end. The test wasn't graded, but those who passed got a reward in form of some gimmick from the traffic control police department (they were conducting the lessons).

Essentially it was "driver's ed 101 for a pedestrian child" and "driver's ed 102, 103, 104 for a child cyclist".

This is were basic safety rules were drilled into me (always use hand signals, always have working lights, follow the traffic rules, etc) and I haven't forgotten them.

If all car driver's in the USA had gone through at least one of those lessons they might remember them later on, making them more capable of reading a cyclists intentions.

I also think these lessons are what is missing with a lot of cyclists outside of Europe. A couple of posters complained about cyclists randomly weaving in and out of traffic - if these cyclists had had lessons as kids they would use hand signals and ride more sensibly.

18. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

Quoting t_maia

Adding some education about shared space and cyclist's right of ways in driver's ed might help but probably not. The lessons will be forgotten as quickly as the use of hand signals.

I think driver's ed is too late, Isa.

I remember lessons in kindergarden on "how to act on the street" and later in 2nd, 3rd and 4th and again in 6th grade visits to a specialised parcour on "how to ride a bike safely on the street".

I was taught the traffic signals (stop, right of way, one-way street, pedestrians only, etc) in those lessons and there was a test in the end. The test wasn't graded, but those who passed got a reward in form of some gimmick from the traffic control police department (they were conducting the lessons).

Essentially it was "driver's ed 101 for a pedestrian child" and "driver's ed 102, 103, 104 for a child cyclist".

This is were basic safety rules were drilled into me (always use hand signals, always have working lights, follow the traffic rules, etc) and I haven't forgotten them.

If all car driver's in the USA had gone through at least one of those lessons they might remember them later on, making them more capable of reading a cyclists intentions.

I also think these lessons are what is missing with a lot of cyclists outside of Europe. A couple of posters complained about cyclists randomly weaving in and out of traffic - if these cyclists had had lessons as kids they would use hand signals and ride more sensibly.

Sadly, you're probably correct, Maria, it's too late. We also had the same type of cyclist training when I was in grade school and that was centuries ago (or so it seems some days). I still use hand signals when necessary while driving. Not too long ago our blinker bulb burned out so no left rear signal for those behind us to see. It was a few days before it could be fixed so I used the hand signal to show I was turning left. People didn't get it. Instead, they just yelled for me to signal next time or honked their horn at me. (I found this interesting in a town where half the drivers have forgotten what a turn signal is let alone how to use it.)

19. Posted by Peter (Admin 5807 posts) 7y

I used to cycle into work most days at our old house (too far now unfortunately) and it certainly was full of interesting experiences. One of the big things I notice is that people very rarely check their mirror before opening their doors, resulting in close calls when they open them right in front of you. The other problem is people not checking their left mirrors when turning left (note: we drive on the left). So if you, the poor cyclist just happen to riding next to them/behind them, they stand a good chance of knocking you off while turning. This to the best of my knowledge is not part of driver education in Australia. At least, I never recall being taught that lesson!

As a driver, I actually am very rarely inconvenienced by cyclists. Sure they slow me down occassionally, but I see that as a problem with the roads, not the cyclist. They're just trying to get from a-b. Certainly I don't experience the problems with cyclists that I do with drivers. Thankfully there are more and more bicycle lanes in Melbourne now - even a few"eurostyle" ones, where cars are parked between the bikes and the traffic.

Maria, sounds like that driver was from a country with much worse driving skills. I found that travelling through places like Russia for instance, people just don't respect road laws like we are used to. Try crossing at a zebra crossing in Moscow for laughs. Actually don't - you'll get killed!

20. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 7y

I love history and I love technology. The current reversal of many technological trends fascinates me. Everything from consuming locally grown foods to revival of the bicycle in a great many cities.

Originally, people walked, and there weren't many straight streets as a person on foot can maneauver around or even over obstacles quite easily. Then the wheel was invented and methods of transportation became larger, faster and less maneauverable. So people invented streets. The mechanical means of transportation were kept to the center of roadways. Rules of good conduct and mechanisms were invented to keep everyone safe and moving along at their optimum. Horse drawn carriages where replaced by bicycles which where eventually replaced by cars. Each mode of transportation being faster and providing more for the driver. I think it will be interesting to see how we learn to share our roads with a third mode of mass transit, which hasn't happened before I don't think, or maybe people will even revert to using cars less often and bicycles will fill our streets again.