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The Bicycle Driver's Point of View

The Bicycle Driver's point of view on...

Traffic Science
(the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of traffic):

  • A bicycle is a type of vehicle, as defined in the dictionary and the
    majority of state vehicle statutes (including North Carolina)

  • Three fundamental traffic principles are uniformity, simplicity and user
    cooperation
    - Uniformity means treating similar traffic situations in a standard
    manner, enabling more rapid and reliable user behavior
    - Simplicity of traffic situations minimizes user confusion, stress and
    errors
    - Cooperation (not competition) by transportation system users reduces
    conflicts and improves efficiency

  • Segregating vehicles by type violates these principles by
    - creating unwarranted exceptions,
    - increasing complexity unnecessarily, and
    - assuming that all drivers of certain vehicle types cannot cooperate

  • The fundamental operational difference between wheeled vehicles and
    pedestrians is maneuverability. While vehicles can travel faster, they lack
    the pedestrian's ability to almost instantly reverse, move sideways or
    change direction

  • The limited maneuverability of vehicles means that bicyclists are
    inferior pedestrians, even at a walking pace. As speed increases, operating
    a vehicle in traffic as a pedestrian becomes progressively more dangerous


Traffic Engineering (the application of traffic scientific principles to practical ends):

  • The Rules of the Road are the best known basis for the safe and efficient
    use of the public roads. In keeping with the principles of uniformity and simplicity, the Rules do not discriminate by power source, size, weight or average speed

  • Traffic rules, facilities and devices should not discriminate by vehicle
    type without significant reasons supported by good traffic science. Other
    forms of discrimination (minimum vehicle speed, maximum size or weight)
    that may be warranted in some situations (controlled access highways,
    physical limitations of facilities) should not be used to indirectly
    segregate by vehicle type

  • Due to the fundamental difference between vehicles and pedestrians, the
    Rules of the Road have different sets of Rights and Duties for each class
    of user

  • Crashes are more likely when vehicles are operated either
    - by the rules designed for pedestrians or
    - on facilities designed for pedestrians
    as those designs assume greater maneuverability than vehicles possess

  • Drivers cooperate together best when each one uses the same set of rules. When operating a vehicle of any type on the public roads, the best
    technique is to "merge with the herd" and drive according to the Rules of
    the Road for vehicles

"Bicyclists fare best when they act, and are treated in return, as drivers of vehicles"

- John Forester, author of
Effective Cycling.


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