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Saturday, November 29 2014 @ 02:12 AM UTC
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Fear, intimidation, and decision making

Biking Elsewhereby Raphael Clemente

As one who uses a bicycle for the vast majority of my trips around town, I am often struck by the crazy behavior and strange reactions of some automobile drivers. I am not implying that people who drive cars are evil or by virtue of riding a bicycle for transportation that I am better than anyone else. But some drivers are intent on using their vehicles to barge their way through situations using intimidation and fear as a means of influencing others.
Freedom from Fear
Undoubtedly, one of the most common deterrents to bicycling is fear. Fear of motorists. Notice I said “motorists,” not “cars” or “traffic.” When people talk about bike safety, especially those who are afraid to bike on the roads, they aren’t much concerned about potholes or dogs or sand on the corner or their ability to control the bike. They fear the motorist they can’t see and who supposedly can’t see them. This fear is based on the belief that a significant number of motorists are likely to hit bicyclists while overtaking them. Does it happen? Yes. Is it common? Not at all.

Beliefs are survival tools our brains use when we don’t have sufficient direct sensory information to make a decision. Good beliefs can protect us from potential dangers. Bad beliefs mislead us into being fearless when we should be wary or fearing the wrong things. While I sit at my desk in my office I believe my bike is sitting in the bike locker where I locked it and left it, even though I have no evidence to support that belief. It’s not until I go out there, open the locker and look inside that I know my bike is actually there. I couldn’t function sanely if I spent the day believing my locker was being broken into. Conversely, if I believed no one would wish to steal my bike, I wouldn’t bother locking it and would again sit at my desk believing it was still there.

What kinds of events contribute to our beliefs about bicycle safety? First and most common is sensory information — observation of the motorists and bicyclists around us. Such observations often convince people that bicycling is unsafe. It only takes a few incidents of carelessness or rudeness by motorists to convince some that cycling is a dangerous activity even though most interactions with motorists are non-threatening. We humans are easily startled when something big comes rushing up from behind us. Think — predator! Even after 25 years of cycling an overtaking car still occasionally startles me.

Second are the lies that motorists tell when they have treated cyclists poorly. Catch up to a motorist after one has nearly sideswiped you and you’ll most likely hear one of the following lies: A) “I didn’t see you.” B) “You belong on the sidewalk.” C) “You’re supposed to ride all the way to the right.”

Third are stories about crashes. The media does not report “20,000 people rode their bikes today and none of them were hit by motorists.” They usually report that someone has been killed while cycling and make little or no effort to explain why the crash occurred.

The fourth way is through statistical data on bicyclist-versus-motorist crashes. Here again the information is skewed toward the negative. The statistical data people receive through the media is vague and misleading.

My purpose on these pages is to show you why proper cycling on roads is quite safe and can be accomplished by normal adults. I’ll be covering a few statistics (okay, a lot of statistics) my own experiences, the skills and practices necessary for safer cycling, and some reasoning about the motorist’s perspective.
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Bike safety bill likely dead this year, lawmaker says

Biking Elsewhere[This could easily have been written about here as well.]
Des Moines police say the driver was clearly at fault, but no traffic ticket was issued.
It’s cases like this that trouble cycling advocates. They’re pushing for state legislation that would offer bicyclists more protection – and heavier penalties for drivers who break the law.

But the new legislation likely won’t become law this year, a key Democrat said today.

The bill, Senate File 117, passed the Iowa Senate last month, but probably won’t pass the House in the few remaining weeks of the session, said Rep. Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton.

That’s frustrating to Iowans like Sherman, a 48-year-old software developer who has been riding competitively since 1986.

“I understand they’ve got big fish to fry with the budget, but this costs nothing,” Sherman said. “I can’t see how they’re going to be voted out of office because they voted for safety. What these guys are cowering at I don’t know.”

Quirk said he doesn’t oppose the bill, but one sticking point is that the it would prohibit a driver from depriving a bicycle of the full use of a lane if the lane isn’t wide enough for them to share

“You have liability issues when you give a bicyclist full lane privileges,” he said.
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Bike To Work Day - Friday May 15, 2009 at Columbia Mall

Biking in the Metro AreaFor the second year the Howard County Government is sponsoring a Bike To Work Day rally at Columbia Mall (behind Sears) on Friday May 15th. The rally check-in will start at 7am - you can ride to the Mall or park your car and ride from there. There will be cue sheets from the Mall to:

* Temporary Howard County Government Office Building (Stanford Blvd)
* APL/Maple Lawn Farm/Southern District Police Station
* King's Contrivance Village Center
* Gateway -- Robert Fulton Drive
* Clarksville -- West to Rte 32
* Downtown Ellicott City
* Catonsville -- UMBC via River Road & through Patapsco State Park
* Elkridge to BWI industrial parks

You can now register at:

When you register on the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (Baltimore area) B2W web site, select Howard County - Columbia Mall. Registration gets you a t-shirt and goodie bag; there will also be random prize drawings - you have to be present and check in to be eligible. In addition for the entire Baltimore region the first 1200 registered also get a reflective leg strap and safety light, and the first 500 get a tire gauge.

Please try to make this a successful event and show the County Officials (last year County Executive Ken Ulman as well as Planning & Zoning/Transportation officials, and County Council were represented) how active the Howard County bicycling community is.
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Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan - Make Walking and crossing Streets Safer

Biking in BaltimorePedestrian fatalities comprise about 20 percent of all traffic deaths in Maryland. [Baltimore Spokes: National average 13%.] Over 2,500 pedestrians are injured annually, more then one-third of which occur in Baltimore City and more then another one-third of which occur in Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties. Pedestrians 15 years of age or younger are particularly vulnerable to being injured -- over 30 percent of injured pedestrians are in this age group. [Baltimore Spokes: This age group comprises 13% of the population.]
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Biking in BaltimoreimageDruid Hill Park at the Lake from 9 am – 3 pm
Come find out just how easy it is to ride a bike around Baltimore. Local and national sponsors will be on hand to promote cycling and lead group rides. Whether you’ve never been on a bike, haven’t biked in awhile, or ride every day, there’s something for you at the Baltimore Bike Blast.
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Biker/pedestrian love park ave - w4m - 25 (Mt. Vernon)

Biking in Baltimore[From Craigslist missed connections:]

White male, late forties, brown hair, moustache
lumbering gait, resembles Carl from athf. Walking against traffic on Park ave by Madison
Girl that ran into you with bike at about 4pm yesterday, headed North on Park ave.
I was headed directly towards you, and I had to blink to make sure my eyes weren't decieving me. A vision in tapered sweat pants and matching sweater. I wasn't sure if you were going to notice me, especially after I said "excuse me" and then yelled "look out", but when you jumped directly in front of my bike, I knew it was meant to be.
I didn't know it at the time, but we must have both been struck by love. Perhaps it was the way you called me a *censored* in that Hampden-esque grunt, or the subsequent threats and challenges that ensued, but you really got my heart racing.
I didn't mean to seem uninterested, but after I fell off my bike due to you throwing your body in front of it, I got back on and biked away only because I thought you were running after me to beat the crap out of me. Forgive me, I didn't realize you were smitten until you mentioned the possibility of "teaching me a proper lesson". You ran after me for a good two blocks before giving up, at which point you yelled "you ain't even got no drawers on *censored*". I would like to clarify that I had running shorts on, and it may have appeared I was pant-less because my coat is long, but when we get married in Atlantic City (I'll wear white and you'll be appropriately three sheets to the wind on malt liqour) feel free to tell the story to our guests about how I wasn't wearing any pants when we met. I'd like to specifically take you up on your offer of a "fair and square race" on "yer legs". A healthy bit of competition in relationships is never a bad thing. Maybe we could race to the liqour store and the loser can buy a six pack of pabst. (I pegged you as a pabst drinker, personally I prefer Mickey's, but we could compromise. You seem like the reasonable type).
I bet you couldn't outrun me if I was blindfolded and had a cigarette (pal mals, baby, just for you) dangling from my mouth.
Please, dear sweet pedestrian, find me. You can teach me how to be an asshole, and I'll teach you how to walk on sidewalks, and in the right direction. I know our love will last.
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Mass Transit priority for high speed car access not bike/ped

Mass TransitFrom the Gazette about the Shady Grove Metro Station and bike path in Rockville:
Johnston said the county\'s Department of Transportation felt there was a need to build the path based on \"worn pathways\" they had seen in the area and community suggestions.

\"We always want to make it easy for people to get to transit centers and this seemed like a very good investment in order to do that,\" he said.

The project had originally included a 200-foot spur that would provide a connection from the path to the Metro station, but Johnston said the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) asked that that part of the project not be built.

Angela Gates, a spokeswoman for WMATA, said in an e-mail message to The Gazette Tuesday morning that Metro decided against the spur for safety reasons.

\"Ultimately, Metro directed the county not to include the crossings because the north-south arterial section of the access road is high-volume with moderate, then accelerating speed,\" she wrote. \"It would be unsafe and inefficient to have a bike path crossing and speed humps across the arterial. Pedestrians and bicyclists can use the existing crossing of the east-west section of the access road.\"

Gates wrote that Metro would consider a bike path crossing of the access road \"if and when Shady Grove Metrorail station facilities are transformed into a transit-oriented development with a grid network of roadways.\" [Baltimore Spokes translation: We\'ll hang onto the old school of thought of not accommodating bike/peds as long as we can and not make it any easier for them.]
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What does Rush Limbaugh have to say about bicycling?

Biking Elsewhere"Frankly, if the door opens into a bicycle rider I won't care. I think they ought to be off the streets and on the sidewalk. Don't misunderstand here, you bike riders, do not misunderstand this, but I mean if you're going to get in the street, get over there, get over as far right in the lane as you can. You ought to see Saturday morning where I live. It looks like a swarm of mosquitoes. It causes you to take an alternate route. And so now poor bike riders, some old codger opens the car door, bam! The bike rider does a head flip over the door. I haven't seen that. Now they want to fine you for not only opening the door, you don't close it soon enough, you get a $50 fine in Madison, Wisconsin. (laughing)"
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Clyde police won’t charge man who ran down cyclist

Biking ElsewhereA recent collision that left a bicyclist with numerous broken bones, nearly 100 stitches in his face, permanently deaf in one ear, and leaking brain fluid through a fracture in his skull cannot understand why the driver who nearly killed him won’t be issued a citation.

Roger Hinson is a Clyde native, now living in Springfield, Mo. Dauring a recent visit with his mother in Clyde, the avid cyclist was struck by a truck driven by James Welch. While Welch’s driving history cites numerous infractions, this most recent incident will not be one of them.

Clyde Police Chief Derek Dendy, who investigated the collision, said Welch isn’t being cited “because that’s not something I would normally do ... unless (the at-fault driver) is impaired or there’s a problem with the accident. We do not issue citations. It’s just not how we do things here.”
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Publicity and Public interest story for b2wd

Biking in the Metro AreaThe following was sent to me so I thought I would give a chance for the lurkers to come out and share their story with the world and please don't be shy, all bike commuters are cool:

Fox 45 our Media Sponsor for Bike to Work Day is interested in doing a couple of spotlight news stories on cyclists in the region. Do any of you have commuters in your area that would make a good story?

We’re looking for someone who has been positively affected by commuting by bike.

Question: how has bike commuting or participating in B2WD changed their life?

Please email me a paragraph about the person and their contact information that I can forward on to FOX45 by Thursday 3-26-09 at Noon. (Note I'll need additional lead time.)

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