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VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L  May 1999

VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L May 1999

Subject:

Re: Cyclist killed in Hartland

From:

"Peter K. Duval" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 6 May 1999 20:02:51 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (93 lines)

I generally ride in the right "tire wipe", which prevents flats, increases
visibility, increases right side wobble and recovery space, and usually
requires
motorists to make a deliberate passing maneuver, make the decision earlier,
slow-down and/or give wider berth.

My lane position is consistent with a fundamental principle of traffic calming
espoused by Carmen Hass-Klau:  "Safety in Uncertainty".  A driver who is
uncertain about the road ahead -- and particularly uncertain about their own
safety, not just someone else's safety -- will behave much more cautiously.  I
think that it is also important that a cyclist be seen as being *in front*
because that is were driver concentration is focussed.

Of course, our current crop of highway engineers likes to design roads that are
inherently boring and mind dulling.  Sweeping curves, wide lanes, and wide
clear
zones induce higher speed and reduce attention.  This is doubly bad for peds
and cyclists:  the larger
speed differential reduces available time for a driver to recover from a
mistake
geometrically (mistakes which Dan Burden likes to point out occurs every couple
of
minutes), higher speed at impact increases the severity of injuries
nonlinearly.

It is also consistent with the vehicular cycling philosophy of John Forrester.
With some exceptions, shoulder riding -- like shoulder driving -- is a bad idea
and is certainly *not* required by law (although the VT law may give that
impression).

From the driver's perspective, the onus for a safe passing maneuver is also
more clearly on the overtaking
vehicle .  I have heard the phrase "the cyclist
swerved into me" so many times.  I suspect that in many instances, a cyclist
has
given away so much wobble and recovery space trying to hug the right pavement
edge that the driver feels that it is OK to pass at a similarly close
separation
distance.  Having given away so much space, the cyclist finds the motor vehicle
in the left wobble space -- with noise, wind blast and shying exacerbating
instability.  So a close pass triggers has a reinforcing effect that results in
a bad crash, which is often blamed on the cyclist "swerving".

Another possibility that has the same setup is that a cyclist hugs the road
edge
so closely that they constantly adjust lane position (genuine swerving, that I
witness quite frequently) to avoid
bad shoulder, drains, or road debris.  This is really poor cycling style.
Always strive to maintain a consistent lane position on clear pavement.

I am afraid that this crash illustrates the point that no amount of engineering
will compensate for bad drivers.  Taken together with the extreme cost and
delays
of road construction, our best approach to safety is supporting efforts that
make the act of driving safer for all rather than try to mitigate the act of
crashing. Traffic calming, roundabouts, speed management, traffic
reduction and  driver performance standards are good examples.

-Peter

a spring wrote:

> Someone inform me too.
>
> At 07:55 AM 5/4/1999 -0400, you wrote:
> >The Valley News (out of White River Jct, VT) carried a story in Monday's
> >paper (5-3-99) about a 73 year "avid" cyclist struck behind and killed on rt
> >5 between Hartland and North Hartland, about 2 pm Saturday, May 1. The story
> >indicates that the driver apparently fell asleep and smashed into the
> >cyclist, and that alcohol was not involved.
> >>From my experience, this section of rt 5 has very little traffic.
> >
> >It was a horrible thing that happened and we all realize that being out
> >there as a cyclist or pedestrian increases our chances of being hurt;
> >apparently nothing could have been done to prevent the accident.
> >
> >My concern is about a statement by the reporting trooper. The 7th paragraph
> >quoted VSP trooper DiMauro as saying, "It looked like he was in between the
> >white fog line and the road edge - right where he was supposed to be."
> >
> >Probably DiMauro was trying to indicate that the cyclist didn't in any way
> >cause the accident, but can the BPC educate the the VSP about where a
> >bicyclist is "supposed to be"?
> >
> >Bud Haas
> >

--
Peter K. Duval                         +1 802 899 1132
98 Sleepy Hollow Road                   fax:  899 2430
Essex Junction, VT 05452-2798      [log in to unmask]
USA                            www.emba.uvm.edu/~duval

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