Monday, July 1, 2013

League of American Bicyclists releases bike education videos

Fresh out of the cutting room. I forward to you for public comment.

Ian Brett Cooper of the Desegregated Cyclist has reviewed them here. 

 A few late (and early) comments.

In the Intersection positioning video. Crossing railroad tracks (near the end of the video) at a right angle has more to do with not having your wheel trapped than it is a puncture. Crossing at an oblique angle (i.e., not at close to a right angle to the tracks) creates a diversion fall hazard. Your wheel can get trapped in the space between the road and the steel track and you cannot turn or balance. An excellent example of that happening is in Santa Fe at the Cerrillos/St. Francis crossing.

I largely concur with Ian on the bike lane video.  The LAB, for political reasons, never seems to find a bike lane it would not publicly damn. Bike lanes may feel good, but poor examples impose destination position and door zone penalties and paint stripes do nothing to keep the distracted driver out--see my previous post. Some of the riders in the video seem to be riding in the door zone in spite of admonishing us to beware of this. Also, the video doesn't discuss proper lane positioning when approaching an intersection, instead warning cyclists to be careful of being right hooked rather than instructing on how to avoid it. A better video of avoiding that scenerio is here. Good bike lanes are really nice (for example, Diamond Drive north of Orange/Sandia, South San Ildefonso, and Canyon). Bad ones need to be fixed or eliminated. End of rant.

Riding on the sidewalk is covered well, but I think the hazards need to be shouted out. The bottom line is that sidewalks were designed for pedestrian, not cycling activity. Some serious problems include that a lot of naive cyclists ride into intersections from sidewalks at high risk.  Motorists are not expecting bicycle speeds on sidewalks if they are looking at all, and by speeding off the sidewalk, you have no ability to avoid a crash! Repeat three times. Secondly, there is little room to manuever around others, as shown in the video.  By far the biggest complaints I hear about bicyclists on sidewalks and multiuse paths is that bicyclists act like asshats to pedestrians.  I've been the recipient of that attitude when walking our dogs on more than one occasion. Don't be the arrogantly driven SUV of the sidewalk or path.

On most trails, whether paved or unpaved, cyclists are at the bottom of the right of way barrel, after walkers and equestrians. Ringing a bell or calling our on your left does not relieve you of the requirement to pass safely. On singletrack or jeep road, be careful not to come up from behind and spook horses. Like cars, they are bigger than you are and even more unpredictable when startled.

Where should I ride is critical information. Lane control is important. People will try to take your lane, even with you in it, if you let them. Be assertive, and **** 'em if they can't take a joke.

Scanning and signalling is incredibly important. Making eye contact and communicating your intent is really key to safely interacting with others. Bike handling skills (steering, braking, maneuvering around the unexpected) are undervalued skills. We want to make bicycling an 8 to 80 activity, but if you are not at least marginally skilled in bike handling, there are some situations that will be a needlessly intense challenge. Streetsblog mentality aside, a skilled rider, whether 8 or 80, can handle more conditions and make them look routine. If I make it another score of years, I hope to still be saying that.

Do the Basic Bike Check (aka ABC Quick Check) as a routine before riding. You are not safe if your bicycle is unsafe. Its easy to miss little stuff that can become big stuff, and that can hurt.

I have almost zero interest in the helmet wars, but likewise don't think helmets should scare people off.  If you do fall, and almost everyone eventually falls, a helmet can protect your brain from a direct impact and thus mitigate the extent of injury.  John Allen has commented to us there are plenty of ways to fall having nothing to do with crashing with a car, including this story. I could offer several others involving black ice, oil on water, bike racing, and singletrack endos. Its not nice to hit your bare head on the road or a rock when the rubber side goes mysteriously up. There is a good article in Bicycling, here.Go read it. Its free. Young riders and newbies fall more often. Old farts like me have greater risks as our brains age. Protect yourself rather than get political about it.

Thanks so much to Gail and Jim Spann for funding this series. Very good overall, but needs work on some key details.

The LAB Ride Smart page is here.

For more online instruction, the Mass Bike/Law Officer's Guide videos, which are very well thought through, are here.


Ian Brett Cooper said...

Thanks for covering this. I think it's a bit of a mixed bag. I agree with four of the videos, but then I find three of them lacking, especially the one about bike lanes, which is about the kind of thing I expect from 'Streetsblog' or another of those 'cycling advocacy' groups who pretend to be pro-cyclist, but who actually try to get us killed by blindly supporting useless or dangerous facilities.

I've gone 'in-depth' on the videos on 'The Desegregated Cyclist'.

Khal said...

Thanks, Ian.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

The bike lanes video is the most bothersome. One thing I didn't mention in my review is that the cyclist is shown taking what is a substandard bike lane on roads that are either entirely free from traffic, or which have traffic moving very slowly indeed (15-20mph). In other words, there's not even any need for a bike lane on the featured roads!

It's incredible to me that cyclists would go anywhere near a door zone bike lane on an empty street!

Khal said...

Durango, CO has plenty of these door zone bike lanes on quiet, multilane boulevards. To me, they should lose their bronze BFC status and instead get a "brown" BFC status.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

I'm with you on the helmet wars. I've just read John's story thanks to your link. I had a similar incident back in around 1983. Fortunately it was the back wheel that got something caught in it and I came to a very sudden halt. I'm still not sure how I managed to keep the bike upright, but I did. That was the closest I ever came to falling off my bike on the road.

I've fallen off a bike only twice in my life: the first time was on the sidewalk in 1970 when I was 8 years old and doing something incredibly stupid - cycling with my eyes closed on a dare; the second time was in 1984 when I was 22, when I collided with a pedestrian on a bike path in Germany. I've hated bike paths ever since.

I never wore a helmet until around 1997, when my wife insisted I wear one. I still have mixed feelings about them, though now I swear by my EVT 'Safe Zone' helmet mounted mirror, and I do think helmets are handy as a last line of defense in case plans A, B, C, D and E all get scuppered.