Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cyclists Gone Wild

Taking the lane is one thing, but taking the whole lane for no reason other than you can if there is enough of you in the group, as I see it is just plain wrong.

After complaints from motorists, police in Winter Park, Florida were out with video cameras. What they filmed made to the news on an Orlando station.

At the start of the piece, I saw cyclists three or four abreast; at least one rider completely over the double yellow line. About twenty cars backed up behind the riders.

Then I saw the entire pack blow through a stop sign, and make a right, at a very high rate of speed even though there was other traffic passing.

It looked to me that this was an unofficial race, rather than a group-training ride. Here is the link, view for yourself and be your own judge.

Actually, in a large group like this it is often safer to ride two abreast. They can do so taking up half the lane, which gives motorists a chance to see around the group to determine if it is safe to pass.

Riding single file a group is twice as long, and takes twice as long to pass.

Stronger riders can stay at the front if they wish and change off by having one line constantly moving forward, and the other dropping back. Wind direction usually decides which line moves forward. (Picture left.)

Going through stop signs and lights, the whole group stops, and then moves off as a group, as if they were one vehicle.


Anonymous said...

Cycling is demanding enough and STR too? It's like requiring drivers to obey speed limit laws ...takes all the fun away.

STR too difficult with 14-foot wide lanes? In St Louis, we're suppose to STR in lanes reduced to 11 feet.

Anonymous said...

Does stopping as a group meet the letter of the law? Shouldn't each bicycle operate as an independent vehicle?

Dave Moulton said...

“Does stopping as a group meet the letter of the law?” Probably not, but a large group stopping as individuals would delay traffic even further.

In at least one state, cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs, which seems the more sensible approach. All I advocate is that cyclists do not blow right though without even slowing. And take your turn if there are other vehicles waiting.

As for “Sharing the road,” by taking half the lane drivers still have to go into the opposing lane, so should not do so if it is unsafe. I was always under the impression that a car can cross the double yellow to pass a cyclist if it is safe to do so.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it hardly makes sense for a car to sit behind a single cyclist doing 15 or 20 mph when it is perfectly safe to cross the line and go on by.

I find it annoying when cars squeeze by because they won’t cross that line, and they can see there is no opposing traffic for at least a quarter of a mile.

Ed W said...

I saw the rider across the double yellow line, and like you I was bothered by the disregard of stop signs. But there's also a shot in there of the long line of cars backed up behind that pack, along with one or two ahead of the camera vehicle. Normally, traffic would simply go around a group whether there's a double yellow or not, but if the camera car is a marked police vehicle, they will not pass in a no passing zone.

Would you? I certainly wouldn't if I were driving.

jim g said...

Proceeding through a stop sign as a group is called "corking" and that practice is partly what makes Critical Mass the zoo/havoc that it is. If we're talking about a group of sixteen motorcyclists we'd all agree that corking isn't acceptable, so why should it be for pedal-powered vehicles? After all, this is a bike ride -- not a funeral procession (in which all vehicles involved have a "funeral" sign posted on the vehicle, and individuals posted at intersections directing traffic)!

Peter said...

most important part?

"Many deputies are cyclists, too."

We need to continue to get more cyclists out on the roads.


I have always disagreed with the 'bicycles are motor vehicles and as such need to follow the same exact laws' agitprop. It's not true, and we need to challenge it.

And I'd like to start making it clear that cyclists should have priority/right of way/preference/etc. from now on. That's how we should roll. Let's start changing the laws.

All that said, tell these numbskulls to move their asses to the side of the road and let cars overtake them when it's safe - if it's ever safe, and I'm not sure it is on that road.

Else, let's get more bike-only lanes - cyclovias and whatever else. There's no reason bikes can't have full use of some roads/routes whenever they want it.

Ron George said...

I have a reader with the Central Florida bike team Armada. Lets see what he has to comment.

Anonymous said...

yup, that whole deal looks pretty moronic. no wonder people try to kill me when i ride my bike. the real kicker is that most of those clowns probably drive their Porsche Cayennes to work every week day.

Anonymous said...

Two things. First beter cycling accommodations such as paved shoulders help with sharing the road. Second in the diagram depicting rider rotation I feel the wind direction arrow should be replaced with a face in the form of a cloud with puffed cheecks blowing air.

Anonymous said...

I am an ex-racer who lives near Orlando and participated in this ride on a couple of occasions a few years ago. And yes, it IS an unofficial race. The days that I rode there were over 50 riders of various abilities who not only took the entire lane, but also most of the lane of on-coming traffic. In sactioned road races, there is the yellow line rule, however this ride is completely unescorted and unsupervised. What you saw on TV was mild. There was a particular descent through a subdivision with narrow streets, with cars backing up into the road & children playing on and near the road, and the "peloton" was moving at over 35 miles per hour. This ride has been in existence for over a decade, and I am surprised that law enforcement has tolerated it this long!

AMR said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the post/video. It is interesting to see what's happening on the roads at the other side of the globe.

A few interesting points there:

I have to say, I like the way the police dealt with the issue. Here, they are waisting time and "tax-payers" money by issuing tickets to commuters, travelling on a pedestrian/cyclists only bridge at 10 km/h, for not wearing a helmet.

In the photo, we can see that the bunch was blown apart as there are gaps everywhere. Probably, some of the less experienced/slower riders at the back need a few words of advice on how to ride in a bunch and on the roads. Some situations do call for single file riding.

The guy in black (photo again)looks fit enough to be pulling that bunch forward but he seems to be talking to someone and has lost the plot on where to place himself. Has he heard of trucks, buses, big 4x4 that take most of the opposite lane?

As for the cars behind, it is just unfortunate. They need to be patient with cyclists. I don't think they should try to overtake and compromise everyone's safety (including their own). Cyclists are part of the traffic and drivers have to be re-educated as there will be more and more of us on the roads. That is a group on a training ride but it could have been a situation where the cyclists were a little family going for a ride or to the shops.

I read somewhere: "Cyclists don't cause traffic, cyclists are traffic".

It brings me to the comments by the young woman: laws have to be changed. It is true, the world is changing, there will be more and more bikes on the road(hopefully!!).

Stop Signs? I do believe bunches should stop when in view of other road users (and cops!). Myself, if it is 5:30 am and there is no cars, I will slow down, have a good look and keep going...

Lastly, we do need to respect other road users and educate ourselves and the new riders on the positives and the negatives of riding on the roads.

Safe riding!

PS. Aren't all training rides unofficial races? Kidding!!

Anonymous said...

I ride the Winter Park ride from time to time since the start is a short distance from my house. The section that they show in the video is a stretch of road about a mile and half long in the middle of nowhere (at least compared to most of the route). Most of the folks taking up the road are the less experienced riders trying to hang on since the group usually kicks it up on this stretch. The group has been trying to police itself recently in an effort to preserve this ride since other rides have been nearly shut down by officials in the recent past. I can't say that it is perfect but the group leaders and those who have been doing this ride for some time are making the effort to understand that it is not a race and that safety should come before all else. Wish us luck!

BTW love the blog Dave!