Category Archives: Advocacy

A Bike Lane is not a response to bike transportation issues

Bike Lane proposals are not about making bicyle throughput better on a road. Bike Lane proposals are about creating space outside of the travel lanes for bikes. It is not a request by cyclists, for cyclists.

Depending upon perception, a Bike Lane is a request to create a safe space for bikes away from motor vehicless, or it is a way to push bikes out of motor vehicle lanes. Either way, it is entirely about making it easier for motor vehicles to operate on a road, and has nothing to do with improving bike transportation and everything about to do with motor vehicles.

If we are honest about this, a bike lane is a placebo to placate drivers, and riders who fear drivers. The real solution to our transportation issues remains, fewer cars, not more, nor automation of them. However, we still need bike lanes. Why? because in order to achieve, fewer cars to make the travel lanes safe and sane to share, we need more bikes, and to get more bikes, we need the placebo that is bike lanes.

So, when the question of bike lanes comes up, everyone needs to get on board because they benefit every road user in some manner or form.

Things People Say

I swear. Whoever changed the law to where bikes are to be on streets were crazy and still crazy as hell. They are asking to be hit everyday. Stay on sidewalks. Or do not ride bikes on city streets at all.

In a recent online conversation regarding the use of bikes and how Georgia law applies to bikes on the sidewalks.

Now, there is a lot to unpack in these 5 short sentences, but it is probably worth it, because based upon the rest of the thread, quite a few people actually believe this stuff.

Whoever changed the law…

Well, this is fairly easy. No one changed the law. Bikes on the roads predates the advent of cars on the roads, and the law reflects that simple fact. Bikes were there first, and they retain the rights of use. In fact, paved roads actually came to be because of bikes and their riders, not because of cars and their drivers. Sadly, this tidbit is very lost on many drivers today, who firmly believe that, “Roads are for cars”.

They are asking to be hit…

No, they are using the roads they help pay for, as is their right. They are asking drivers to honor the laws and not hit them. This argument is like saying that the pretty young lady “asked to be raped by dressing too ‘sexy'”.

Stay on the sidewalks…

The sidewalks that are for pedestrians ( who were exiled there by the automotive lobbies that had to do something to prevent being exiled from cities in the 1910’s and 1920’s because too many non-car users were being killed by cars ). The sidewalks that are illegal in Georgia for cyclists over the age of 12 to use. This would seem to be a non-starter under current laws. For what it is worth, in the states where riding on the sidewalks is legal? they have not been any safer than riding on the roads. Florida for example is both sidewalk legal, and amongst the most deadly states to ride a bike in the US.

Or do not ride bikes on city streets at all.

“Get off of my lawn”. Thank you for your thoughts, but I will exercise my right to use the roads. I pay for them through property, income and sales taxes ( as well as owning a car, and a motorcycle ). Oh yeah, and with rising gas prices, I suspect I will not be alone.

All For One 100 – Please, register or donate

For this I am stepping out of character, and posting this not as OGRE Dru, rabid bike advocate, but instead as Dru, cyclist, spouse, parent, neighbor and friend.

Every big charity ride we do has a benefactor. Many of race for charities as well. Most of us also give in some manner through other venues. Sometimes we choose events based upon a charity organization, but as often as not, our choices are made based upon the course, the sag stops, or just convenience. Because of this, I generally choose NOT to promote most of the big events personally. All of us will find causes that are near and dear to us individually. I encourage everyone to support their cause.

My cause is us. This community of cyclists. You are all dear to me, and that means that I wish to donate and promote a cause that is directly supportive of us, and this community. This is the why of what I choose to do as OGRE Dru, rabid bike advocate, but also how I wish to donate and promote, as Dru, cyclist, spouse, parent, neighbor, and friend.

Which brings my to the All For One 100 and specifically the Van Purser Foundaton. A non-profit ( 501(c)3 ) that exists solely to provide assistance to other cyclists in times of need. In other words, it is a cause that is entirely about us, one supported by us. The All For One 100 is the primary fund raising opportunity the foundation has.

So…

Please register or donate to this event

The ride is October 2, 2021 which is typically a good time to ride in Atlanta. The route(s) are all enjoyable, and since this is an event for us, and by us, they are local, often on roads we ride frequently.

The announcement from the Van Purser Foundation is below, and I just want to reiterate just how important I think this event is to me. Sign up, show up, donate, ride bikes, and enjoy the day. Know that in so doing you are helping all of us in your community of cyclists.

The board of the Van Purser Foundation is delighted to announce that its application for the ALL FOR ONE 100 charity ride has been approved by the city of Alpharetta and North Point Community Church. Starting at 7:30 A.M. on Saturday, October 2, 2021, from North Point Community Church, it will be a fully organized and supported event, drawing on the approach from its inaugural year of 2019.
Your participation in this worthy event and your generosity in supporting the Van Purser Foundation are greatly appreciated.

Register Now

Can Bicycles Pass Cars on the Right?

This is a surprisingly common question from drivers any time the discussion of bicycles on the roads comes up. Unfortunately, while the law is fairly clear on this, it seems to confuse a lot of drivers (and cyclists too). So, let us delve into this in detail and evaluate just what the law means and intends. There are several parts to this discussion, and a couple of different laws that come into play here, so we will need to deal with a few different situations to illustrate the issues.

There are really 3 scenarios that exist and raise this question.

Road with a Bike Lane

When there is a bike lane, there should be no doubt here. If a bike is using a bike lane, it is no different than a car in a seperate lane. It should move as far forward as the traffic in that lane allows.

That said, just because there is a bike lane present, a cyclist is NOT required to use it.

Road with a Shoulder

This is where the confusion begins. If there is not a bike lane, does that change things? Well, looking to the law we get a clear answer from 40-6-291.

40-6-291

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 40-6-50, any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder; provided, however, that such person shall not be required to ride upon a paved shoulder.

Meaning that where there is a shoulder a bicycle may use it, but they may not be required to use it in the same way as they are given the option regarding the use of a bike lane when it is present. Given that, yes, they absolutely can pass on the right using a shoulder as if it is a bike lane.

Road without a Shoulder

This case is the one where things become a little less clear. Part of the confusion stems, oddly enough, from the very same 3′ law designed to protect cyclists on the roads. For the purpose of this discussion we are going to use the version of the the 3′ law that becomes effective July 1st.

40-6-56. Safe distance defined; application to bicyclist.

(a) The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a bicycle shall approach the bicycle with due caution and shall proceed as follows:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the bicycle if possible in the existing road and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be at least ten miles per hour less than the posted speed limit or 25 miles per hour, whichever is more, and proceed around the bicycle with at least three feet between such vehicle and the bicycle at all times.

(b) Any violation of this Code section shall be a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $250.00.

When people hear and relate to the 3′ law, the common perception is that it applies to cyclists as well, and that a bicycle must also give a car ot truck that same 3′. The wording of the law however is quite clear. The explicit use of the “motor vehicle” designation as well as specifically addressing as a motor vehicle passing a bicycle and never in the reverse context.

So, no a bike does not have to give a car 3′ feet, and as there is an expectation of shared space, there is no prohibiton from a bike passing a car in the shared lane, any more than there is for a car to pass a bike, given that it can be done safely, and without leaving the roadway or paved portion of the shoulder, something that is a common occurence with cars going around left turning cars, which is, I might add, also illegal.

Things a Bike Cannot Do

All of that said, there are things that a bicycle cannot do to pass traffic at a stop control.

  • A cyclist cannot leave the road and ride down the grass/dirt area next to the roadway.
  • A cyclist (over the age of 12) cannot use a parallel sidewalk ( unless it is a designated multi-use path ).
  • A cyclist may not hold onto a vehicle in the roadway for stability or to be pulled along.
  • A cyclist may not create an impact with a vehicle ( ‘flip the miror’ ) in order to get past.
  • A cyclist may not use a right hand turn lane to filter forward.

Things a Car Cannot Do

There are a couple of common behaviors that are also not legal to be aware of.

  • A driver cannot move over to block a bike lane to prevent filtering.
  • A driver cannot move over to block a shoulder to prevent filtering.
  • A driver cannot allow a passenger to ‘door’ a filtering cyclist.
  • A driver cannot through things out the window at a filtering cyclist.

Conclusion

The reality is, there are few situations where a cyclist cannot legally filter forward, and in truth, statistically speaking filtering forward is the safest and least disruptive model for cyclists to follow. However, there are caveats to this. Large groups generally do not filter. Many cyclists will elect not to filter when they know that the far side of an intersection presents a pinch point that places them at an elevated risk for a crash.

Non-Car in a COVID-19 World

There has been a lot of discussion as to what is ‘safe’ in terms of outdoor exercise and transportation over the last few weeks with the implied threat of COVID-19 infections.

Unfortunately, early on in the onslaught of information, there was a lot of poorly done ‘research’ into the subject of how the disease was being spread, and people with little grounding in infectious diseases and epidemiology jumped into the fray adding noise to the signal. The result is that there remains a lot of misunderstanding about the risks of riding, running and walking outdoors during this time.

Now we are finally beginning to get some fairly balanced information from multiple sources that indicate a very different reality. One that is telling us that we need to stay active both for our health, and for our ability to combat the virus if/when we are infected. What we are also discovering is that running, walking and cycling, while practicing social distancing are good options, for both transportation and fitness.

Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists (Vox.com)

One of the aspects of all of this that is going to be a challenge as we reopen the world is a new dynamic. Public transportation, like busses and heavy rail are going to problematic. Ride sharing solutions like Uber and Lyft are also facing harsh new realities. Individual personal light transportation platforms are poised for a huge surge. That means bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboard, and many other options are suddenly rising to the forefront of both fitness and transportation worlds.

To such a degree, that the World Health Organization has made statements directly addressing this with an announcement that cycling is encouraged, both as transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.

In a statement the organisation said: “While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people”

“Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”

Most of the United States infrastructure is ill equipped to handle this new reality, with few non-car transportation, non-public transit corridors. It will be important for cities and communities to quickly embrace this new reality, with short and long term plans to deal with the slow return of cars to the roadways mixed in with the broad reemergence of other non-car transpotation models.

Ride Guides: When to Filter on the Right

A common question in the cycling world is when is appropriate to filter to the front of a line of traffic.

As with so many things there are multiple approaches to the question, but let us provide a guide to work with here. 

First things first, what is the legality of filtering on a bicycle in Georgia?

The relevant law in Georgia is 40-6-43

O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-43:

(a) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following circumstances:

1) When the vehicle being overtaken is making or about to make a left turn; or

2) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle.

(b)  If otherwise authorized, the driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.  Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway.

With that in mind, if there is enough road space to the right to pass, a bike may legally pass on the right, particularly in light the ta bike MAY use a shoulder, while a car cannot.

Establishing that bikes CAN pass on the right, and when that is appropriate is fairly easy.  The secondary and perhaps more important question becomes SHOULD they pass on the right, and when is it appropriate.

The question of should boils down to road knowledge and awareness. If you do not know the road, then it is not a good choice to filter forward until you do know the road or can see the other side of the intersection. More important to the decision of if it is appropriate to filter forward is not a question of do you have space on the near side of the intersection, but does that space continue to the far side of the intersection? If the space exists on the far side of the intersection, and allows for a reasonable and safe space to merge into traffic if needed on the far side of the intersection, then for a single rider, or up to about 4 riders it is usually appropriate to filter. There are exceptions, like if the light signal is about to turn green, then holding your place in line is probably the better choice.

For groups though, once there are more than 4 riders together, it is rarely appropriate to filter forward. With a couple of exceptions, the one that seems to crop up the most often is the stop on a steep uphill.  Lights are usually placed on plateaus in hills, and since bikes are at MUCH higher risk of falling during starts on steep uphills, if there is space, a group should slide to the flatter space to reduce the risk of a crash or fall on the hill.

When filtering though, it is never appropriate to ‘swarm’ cars.  Filter along the right, but do not give in to the urge to also flood up the left.

Like most things, this will require situational awareness, and individual ride leaders may opt for slightly different approaches, so please allow them the leeway to dictate how their rides will be run.

Speed Limit Sign

Drivers, please note the wording of a speed sign. It is a speed limit right? 

consider the operational word: limit

limit
[ˈlimit]
NOUN
a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass.
“the limits of presidential power” · [more]
a restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible.
“an age limit” · [more]
synonyms:
maximum · ceiling · limitation · upper limit · restriction · curb · check · [more]
mathematics
a point or value that a sequence, function, or sum of a series can be made to approach progressively, until it is as close to the point or value as desired.
VERB
set or serve as a limit to.
“try to limit the amount you drink” · [more]

Is it a ‘speed recommendation’?

Is it a ‘speed requirement’?

Is it a ‘speed minimum’?

No. It is a limit. max, and unless otherwise posted, there is no minimum, and no legal expectation that it is an expected speed of travel either.

Irreconcilable Actions

There are so many things about anti-cycling aggression that I simply cannot reconcile. Obviously, I spend an enormous amount of time in advocacy efforts both online and in person.  I also ride, a lot. As I ride, I get to see a great number of behaviors from people that range from respectful to frustrated to aggressive, all the way to potentially deadly.

For the past week I was on vacation.  I took one of my bikes with me, and I rode at least 30 miles every day, using a mix of road, bike lane, road attached bike path and even some off road trail. Some miles in cycling kit, some not, some even without a helmet *gasp*, which is not something I normally advocate, but I was testing a theory.

The week was spent in a beach destination location, Destin, FL in the panhandle, where bikes and pedestrians are a prominent fixture within the infrastructure, though the infrastructure is incomplete, and in many ways, VERY broken.  Still largely a car centric beach town, there are bike lanes, bike paths, sidewalks, and lots of infrastructure elements that should make cycling fairly attractive. In addition to the infrastructure, the roads are completely and utterly overwhelmed by automotive traffic. One would think that in this environment, all kinds of non-car options would be popular and desired. The reality is far worse than it should be.

If you do not know the area, it is a peninsula of land between the ocean and bay about 25 miles long. At its widest it MIGHT be 4.5 miles.  For most of the way, there is one main road, US-98, and at various points, 1 or 2 alternate routes stretching from the Okaloosa Island bridge to the end of the bay north of Grayton Beach off of 30A.  There is a bunch of residential and visitor lodging along here, and that translates to a very high number of cars.

To combat this, many visitors get to their destinations and rent bicycles or golf carts to get around for the duration of their visit. Bikes are everywhere. People of all ages are riding them.  Barefoot, flip-flops, swimwear, no helmets, no safety equipment.  They are traversing bike lanes and bike paths, often on sidewalks. They use bike racks. In short, they treat bikes like transportation.  They have fun on them, and respect them while they ride them, all while getting frustrated with drivers that do not give the right of way to the bike paths or the walkers blocking the paths walking 5-7 wide.  Then they park the bikes.  They walk or jog on the same paths and sidewalks and get angry at the bikes crowding them, while railing at the cars that fail to respect the bike paths and sidewalks.  Then it is time for lunch, dinner or a grocery run so they hop in the car, and immediately disrespect the bike paths, sidewalks and bike lanes that they just enjoyed.

And even with all of this, when they go home, they cannot see a bike as anything but a toy.

In 7 days of bike rides along this corridor, I lost count of the number of drivers who pulled in front of cyclists and pedestrians alike at the various intersection conflict points, realized the error and shouted ‘sorry’. The drivers did not take anything from those conflicts, since I saw several do it several times in a single drive ( the joy of riding a bike when car traffic is stop and go and averaging just 6-10mph ). These same drivers fail, consistently to respect the bike and pedestrian spaces, even while they enjoy using them, complete with complaints towards the cars that do not respect them.

Then of course there is the same level of disconnected infrastructure that plagues most of the country.  Bike Lanes that begin and end with little to no warning.  Bike Lanes on roads with 65mph speed limits. Sidewalks that stop and start at random intervals. Bike Paths that are multi-use paths, where bikes really aren’t welcome. Poor signage indicating what is and is not legal. For example Florida is one of just a handful of states in which bikes may indeed use the sidewalks.  It is also a state that requires the use of a bike lane if it is present, unless it is unsafe to use ( which is sadly the case for most of them, but local law enforcement seemed determined to stick to the first part of that while ignoring the later and they really do not like non residents pointing that out to them ). Helmets are not required, and only the serious cyclists will be seen wearing them with any regularity.

It is a beautiful thing to see so many bikes, pedestrians, skateboards, scooters and runners out an about without their cars. Lots of smiles.  People waving, chatting, enjoying the outdoors.  It only marred by the disconnect that occurs as soon as we get behind the wheel of a car.

While riding on the same roads as the rented mopeds and golf carts, having the occupants cheer as a bike rides past them, moving over to make space for the bike, and then mixing with cars who go out of their way to block the same bikes from passing. This is a behavior that I have seen for years away from bike friendly infrastructure when dealing with cars. 

The only conclusion that I keep circling back to is this:

Something about the operation of a car has a fundamental psychologic impact upon us.  When we get behind the wheel of a car, we become almost pathologically selfish and isolated, with a must get ahead of *that* person, as all costs.  We take obscene risks with other peoples lives in the interests of getting somewhere just a few seconds faster.

When it comes to advocacy of anything that is not a car, that is the one thing we have to change.  Everything else is slapping a bandaid patch onto that problem. 

Because really, it might just be the car that is the problem.

Why Not Ride On The Right Line?

When you ride on the roads a lot, you learn that lane positioning and movement directly impact driver behaviors around you. Unfortunately, no amount of prevention can overcome the oblivious driver, as evidenced by the frequency of rear end crashes that occur daily, not just involving bikes. Sometimes it is interesting to see just what it is like to ride the white line as so many drivers think they want.

In the video, this is one ride, 11 miles in the middle of October. There are no bike lanes to be in, and the rider is aggressively trying to ‘share the road’…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAYqlz-Ahzs