An MBA student posted the following image on the Cyclists Are Drivers! group on Facebook. It’s part of a group project, and she wanted feedback and advice.
I offered this comment, which I’m not sure is very helpful at all:
I like the fact you’re targeting Moms. But please realize that by suggesting they ride on the sidewalk you are actually encouraging them to do something more dangerous than riding in traffic. Are you prepared to take moral responsibility for that?
I realize my emphasis on ethics and morality is a big turn-off, but I see no sense in pretending that we are not morally responsible for the advice we give to novice bicycle riders. John Schubert offered a more cogent and useful response (with minor copy-editing and links added by me):
…thank you for coming to this group for comments. You’re getting them.
As Bob said, your framing needs some, er, um, adjustment. And I think you’ll do a lot better if you learn the “bicycle driving” framing from the ground up, rather than pasting corrections onto an “edge bicycling” framing.
The edge bicycling framing is the dominant paradigm you see in society today. That doesn’t make it correct, nor does it make it safe. And it has a set of assumptions that are wrong, wrong, wrong. But it’s part of the culture. I mean, what’s so bad about being out of the line of fire up on the sidewalk? Intersection conflicts, that’s what.
For some new framing:
Start with the premise that the bicyclist has the right to operate safely, and not the obligation to stay out of everyone’s way.
Continue with the icon-breaking concept: other road users don’t aim to run you down. No, they aim to avoid you. (Think of how much people act on the assumption that motorists are itching to aim for and run down cyclists. That’s not how people operate.)
Most of today’s bicycle facilities imitate the “out of the way on the sidewalk” paradigm, and say they “protect” and “separate” the bicyclist. What a shameful lie. What these facilities do is hide the bicyclist from other road users until the moment of impact.
So let’s go to where safety really exists: visible + predictable = safe.
How do you implement this? Far and away the best introduction to the operational details is to take Cyclingsavvy. The LAB course can be helpful too, depending heavily on the quality of the instructor. (LAB has some very good certified instructors, but it also has….. you get the idea. And the course curriculum is not nearly as good as cyclingsavvy, so you only get good instruction if the instructor pushes the envelope of the specified curriculum.)
While you’re figuring out how to get to a Cyclingsavvy course, do a day’s homework. Clear out 15 megabytes on your hard drive and get a half-ream of paper. Download, print out, and study: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/25000/25400/25439/DOT-HS-803-315.pdf
This document is the Grey’s Anatomy of car/bike collisions, the iconic 1977 Ken Cross study. Yeah, it’s old, but it’s still very relevant. And it’s very readable. It divides car/bike collisions into many different types, and analyzes each type. It discusses the behavior, the expectations, the visual field, etc., of each collision participant.
When you know this information cold, your world changes. You understand why Mr. Sutterfield was aghast, and rightly so, at the suggestion of sidewalk riding. You can look at an intersection and instantly see how cyclists can make the vehicle code work for them in riding safely. And you’ll develop skepticism that one can make a dangerous behavior safe just by playing with a paint brush.
THEN you have the background to make responsible recommendations to others about cycling safely.