The politics of safety and vehicular cycling

I am going to start off by expanding a bit on Herb’s intro to Vehicular Cycling and John Forester. These posts are not an attempt at an wholesale assassination on ‘Vehicular Cycling’. There are many good things about Vehicular Cycling that one would be wise to consider putting into practice. I agree with Herb that some parts of Vehicular Cycling should be considered as part of a balanced approach to riding on our streets. That said, there are some suggested practices and pieces of information in Vehicular Cycling that range from questionable to dishonest to dangerous. This is troubling because quite frequently these problem areas are in the forefront, being used to obstruct the progression of all things cycling, whether it is a bike lane or legislative relief. While Vehicular Cycling converts like to describe their entire approach as a proven theory, the problems being explored in these posts will suggest that Vehicular Cycling contains a mix of various theories and hypotheses.

Vehicular Cycling is explained as the, “...practice of driving bicycles on roads in a manner that is visible, predictable, and in accordance with the principles for driving a vehicle in traffic...” What is missed in most of these definitions is the political component of Vehicular Cycling. Read any Vehicular Cycling literature and it clearly asks its converts to advocate its tenets where ever and whenever they can. Vehicular Cycling contains a political philosophy that is strongly influenced by staunch conservative values and encourages followers to promote it with religious fervor. This is not a criticism: any sort of advocacy group has different political influences and different ways of delivering their message. It is, however, important to understand how these influences present themselves, and how they shape suggested practices. In the case of Vehicular Cycling, it holds to true conservative values of preserving the way things are and resisting radical change, regardless of how beneficial change may be.

To begin this discussion it is important to start with a key definition. Every set of practices or laws relating to how to operate a vehicle on a road have a common goal; that is, to make the use of the roads “safe”. It is important to understand how this word is used to understand the goals of any proposed “safe” practice, and how it is interpreted.

How is “safe” defined? Dictionaries use an “either or” definition, you are “safe” if you are free of harm otherwise you are not “safe”. In general usage though the definition is more comparative. We ask, “Is it safe?” Meaning is there less risk than an act one is familiar with. For instance, “Is roller blading safer than taking a car?” No one assumes that any act is completely safe.

"Risk" is an easier word to define as it deals with the probability of harm occurring and is subject to less opinion. Everything else being equal, you or I have the same risk of being struck by lighting. Yet our views could be at odds when asked if riding in a lighting storm is “safe”. You may view it is “safe” practice because it has an acceptable risk factor, I not.

The word “safe” when discussing cycling takes on a lot more opinion and emotion in its definition. “Safe” in cycling discussions contains two major parts, a quantitative and qualitative assessment. Risk, usually measured through statistics, is the quantitative assessment. I would argue that the qualitative assessment is opinion gained through one’s experience, perception or interpretation. The qualitative part is very powerful to cyclists or potential cyclists when they act. In some cases so strong that they will ignore the quantitative assessment altogether. A perfect example of this is riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. There is a wealth of statistics that clearly states that this practice is far more risky than riding on the road. Typically the practice of riding on the sidewalk is driven by the discomfort of sharing the road with much larger vehicles or just the road itself. This decision can also be influenced in a large part by factors that are not easily identified by statistics. A good example here would be the aggression cyclists face from drivers while riding on the road, whether the cyclist is in compliance or not with the rules of the road. Rarely do cyclists get hit by these aggressive drivers but it can make riding very unpleasant. Some time ago I heard cycling advocate Ben Smith-Lea describe the desire and importance by cyclists to have a pleasant ride described as the “quality of life on the road”. A quick read of any cycling advocacy website or face-to-face discussion amongst cyclists shows how important quality of life really is.

It is extremely important to understand that cyclists’ concerns are not unique nor do cyclists suffer from any sort of mass mental health issue as suggested by Vehicular Cycling. Drivers have the very same issues and they too will favour the qualitative assessment, and with good reason. Unlike cycling, there is more quantitative evidence supporting their assessments. They too have discomforts like sharing the road with large vehicles, non adherence to rules of the road, aggression, and so on, which bears out in statistics. In a stunning statistic referred to in an open letter by Ian Law published in the Toronto Star, nearly one in 17 cars in Ontario was involved in a collision in 2006. Other statistics point to aggression being the cause of up to 80% of collisions. This begs the question of how “safe” it is to advise cyclists that they are “safest when they behave like vehicles”? Especially when motor vehicle drivers and the conventions established for them to operate on the road that Vehicular Cycling practices have been modeled on are in such turmoil themselves.

Vehicular Cycling attempts to address the qualitative issues with questionable results and sometimes even uses unsupported “facts” to achieve this. Vehicular Cycling even attempts to dismiss the qualitative concerns by cyclists altogether by labeling them as a disease. This “disease” will be dealt with more directly in the second part of my post. There are three articles I have referenced in the following three paragraphs I would like to draw your attention to. One deals with the contrasts between a cyclist interested in not only being safer but in the quality of life and a Vehicular Cycling practitioner. The second makes a quantitative argument as to why cycling is “safe”, arguing that cycling is safer than most any other transportation choice. Finally the third takes a direct look at the qualitative assessment.

“Bike Lanes: A Motorist Invention” in The Urban Country by James D. Schwartz highlights the contrast between issues of quality of life versus the tenets of Vehicular Cycling. There may be a slight miss in the article when the Vehicular Cyclist is not challenged when he states that cyclists should not be given any special consideration on the roads. This conflicts with a Vehicular Cycling practice of “filtering”, a practice to give a cyclist an advantage in slow moving traffic. “Filtering” is in a legal gray area in several jurisdictions including Ontario. In others it is widely practiced even if illegal.

Ken Kifer makes an excellent quantitative argument that cycling is safe, even boasting that, “...bicycling is nearly six times as safe as living!” He also argues that the fatality/ injury rates could even be further reduced if more cyclists practiced Vehicular Cycling. Unfortunately he supports this reduction based on some of the more questionable attributions’, like the source of a cyclist's fear, of Vehicular Cycling.

Sociologist Dave Horton takes a hard look at the factors involved in qualitative assessments that are made by cyclists. This is a very well researched article and makes some excellent points. He does seem though to somewhat share a “conspiracy theory” with Vehicular Cycling of the invention of cycling as dangerous: “...The road safety industry, helmet promotion campaigns and anyone responsible for marketing off-road cycling facilities all have a vested interest in constructing cycling - particularly cycling on the road - as a dangerous practice...”

There is a myth in the cycling community that Vehicular Cycling tells cyclists to behave and drive like cars. This follows with protests that a bicycle can never be like a motorized vehicle. In its most base form Vehicular Cycling is proposing that we have a common approach to the road in order to best communicate with other road users. Any reasonable proposed practice to use on our roads would pretty much have to rely on similar mechanics.

The problem is that Vehicular Cycling founding father, John Forester, surrendered to the automobile before even considering any other approaches to use to communicate with other road users. He freely admits admits as much. Google Videos has a lecture by Mr. Forester where he provides his interpretation of history and how the car took the dominant role.

He chose to integrate his approach into the system of rules of the road that were established for the automobile; a system that was flawed even before he promoted Vehicular Cycling. Other forms of transportation: pedestrians, planes, and ships, for instance, have much lower incidents of collisions than automobiles. You had a much greater chance of dying in a car on 9/11 than you would have had had you been flying or been on a ship. These other modes of transportation use a much higher level of active communication that what is found in the rules of the road. Approaches like “Complete Streets” and “Naked Streets”, which Herb will deal with in greater detail, have proven how flawed the current rules of the road and street designs are.

There, too, is the problem that to this day the bicycle is not universally accepted, even in some North Americas jurisdictions, as a vehicle. Even if it is considered a vehicle, several jurisdictions treat the bicycle in its driver education manuals and highway laws as a nuisance. It could be argued quite easily, however, that this is not a flaw of Vehicular Cycling but a flaw created by lawmakers. A more relevant problem with Vehicular Cycling is that it is rigid and adverse to change, something that, again, we will later on touch on in greater detail. Things change, societies change, needs change, understandings change and any proposed method must be able to adapt. If it fails to adapt it becomes irrelevant and out of touch.

In my second part to follow I will take to task both some minor and major issues with Vehicular Cycling. I will be encouraging you to take another look at some so-called facts promoted by Vehicular Cycling enthusiasts. There will also be some simple social and driving (yes, with a car) experiments you can carry out on your own that may offer you a basis to alternative explanations to those of Vehicular Cycling dogma. I will also make a case as to why the “cyclist inferiority complex” is more junk psychology than it is fact.

Comments

I like where this is going... Can't wait for part two

let me emphasize once more that planes and ships have a higher level of safety precisely because the laws governing ships and planes stress safety as an absolute priority. Particularly in aviation, safety concerns trump any consideration of efficiency. Road crashes have their genesis not only in the design of the roads, but also in the laws that govern them and the philosophy that dictates both road design and the laws that govern roads.Aviation laws, for example, state quite clearly that safety trumps all other factors. Nowhere I know of does the Ontario Highway Traffic Act make a similar simple declaration. A pilot who refuses a clearance on the grounds of safety has the absolute support of aviation law and of the aviation community. Anyone who has refused to turn right on a red with an impatient motorist behind them knows that does not hold true on Ontario roads.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

As you imply, Vehicular Cycling looks at the statistics of safety rather than the "comfort" of bicycling.

And most experienced bicyclists would agree with the vehicular method of safely bicycling on a road.

For a moment, let's ignore Foresters perhaps unfortunate way of talking about why many bicyclists are afraid of bicycling on the road, even when the road is perfectly safe. (He calls it "cyclist inferiority complex" and says it develops because society pushes the idea that people in bigger and more expensive vehicles have more right to the road).

The contentious area involves bicycling infrastructure. Most vehicular cyclists are OK with bicycle facilities as long as they are safe and don't lead to a reduction of our right to use the roads. We worry about the latter because in the USA it is unlikely that all our destinations can be linked by decent infrastructure and we don't want to lose our right to use bicycles as transportation and recreation.

A vehicular cyclist would look at a side path and say it is more dangerous than riding on the road because it makes the intersections, where most collisions with cars take place, more dangerous. A facility advocate would argue that a slight increase in danger doesn't matter if it makes the bicyclists feel more secure, since bicycling is pretty safe if any case. They would also argue that the facility would get more people bicycling and the safety might even improve due to a possible "safety in numbers" effect..

The vehicular cyclist is somewhat skeptical of the "safety in numbers" effect and would argue that even if true it is unethical to design a facility that gives the illusion of safety to bicyclists when it actually increases their danger.

VC relies almost exclusively on observational statistics, observing what happens and then recording the result. This is somewhat problematic. There are very strong arguments for and against this manner of collecting results regardless of what context it is used in, cycling or not.

What is very problematic is that VC attributes a lot of assumptions as to why a particular result occurs.

In addition, one must also be very careful with how the stats are presented. While a certain VC practice may decrease the number incidents it may in turn increase the severity of an incident. Instead of twelve cyclists with broken arms you may have one dead one.

The issue of losing rights to the road is fear mongering. While there may be an odd instance of some unworkable restriction placed against cyclists, cyclists will not be stripped wholesale of access to the roads.

Well written and I can't wait to read the rest.

You can say that Forester "surrendered to the automobile", but you could also say that he faces the reality that to use the bicycle for practical transportation, it is currently and for the foreseeable future required to ride on existing roads that also carry motor vehicle traffic, and given this presence of motor vehicle traffic, vehicular cycling is the best combination of safety and convenience. Or at least that's my view, I can't speak for him. Sure, if there were no cars, we wouldn't need such "unnatural" rules governing our interaction with each other on the road, as there were not in the pre-auto age, but that's not the world we live in now. It is both physically and fiscally impossible to build physically separate infrastructure to all possible destinations, and history shows that "separate but equal" never works out in practice. One group always has more power than the other.

Does Vehicular Cycling suggest that bikes behave like cars where lights are concerned.

Plenty of unlit cycles I see (or not).

John Brooking there is a difference between co-existing and submission. Cars and cyclists can co-exist on the roads while respecting each others differences. Submitting to a flawed system as it is now and was before VC imitated it is not very effective.

No one is calling for infrastructure to all possible destinations.

Quote, "VC relies almost exclusively on observational statistics ..."

Really? Perhaps you need to look at some of the work done by Lisa Aultman-Hall, Phd (a civil engineer not an advocate) on commuter cyclists in Ottawa and Toronto for the US Transportation and the Journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

If there's any doubts about the need for cyclists to acquire vehicular skills and ride on roadways when they have a choice between roads and sidpaths or sidewalks, her work should put them to rest.

In defense of the principles and tenants of VC:

Your admit that, "the bicycle is not universally accepted, even in some North Americas jurisdictions, as a vehicle. Even if it is considered a vehicle, several jurisdictions treat the bicycle in its driver education manuals and highway laws as a nuisance. It could be argued quite easily, however, that this is not a flaw of Vehicular Cycling but a flaw created by lawmakers."

Your statement above is valid, and the contention by many "Vehicular Cyclists" that the promotion of segregated bicycle facilities (usually "bike/pedestrian" facilities) leads to incompetent bicycling practices and a perception that bicyclists are just "rolling pedestrians" (not legitimate road users) is also valid. We competent VC's are constantly fighting the tide of misinformation promoted by well-funded armies of bike facilities pimps. Rather than correcting the flaws in our frequently "incomplete street" infrastructure in order to enhance safety for all road users, segregated facilities promoters strive to build new segregated infrastructure - much of it of questionable design from the standpoint of safety.

This bombardment of misinformation and segregation leads to highly illogical, superstitious beliefs.

For example: I live in a relatively rural coastal region that is visited by commercial bicycle tour groups. Our coastal village roads were designed for horses and carriages, so it is difficult to claim that the roads here are particularly unsuitable or "dangerous" for slow-moving road users such as bicyclists, who are often faster than the tourist traffic. However, when I recently visited local Inns and B&B's to promote my bicycle rental business, many of the innkeepers exclaimed that our area needs more bike paths and bike lanes, and that our roads are too dangerous - even as other innkeepers promote bicycle touring on these very same roads! Our entire county only has exactly 0.9 miles of paved bike path - so where are these people getting their hunger for bike paths from? Are our roads really "too dangerous", or are our road users "too dangerous"?

Local public and law enforcement perception of bicyclists' proper place is negatively influenced by bike path promoters using examples like Portland, OR. - even though there is little resemblance between urban Portland and our local rural/coastal village area. On the other hand, we can be pretty sure that If a group of Amish families from PA. moved into our region and used their horse-drawn carriages and wagons for transportation, local police would have no difficulty enforcing traffic laws in an equitable manner to assure the rights of all to safely use the roads. We wouldn't be promoting a labyrinth network of segregated paths for Amish buggy drivers. Our local police currently finds our laws protecting bicyclists to be (quoting a local police chief) "unenforceable". Would he find laws protecting Amish buggy drivers "unenforceable".

Public tolerance for other classes of slower-moving vehicles is much higher than it is for bicyclists. Bicyclists are discriminated against as a "class". There absolutely IS a cultural bias against bicyclists among a large portion of the motoring public, and many misunderstandings as to the proper place for bicyclists to ride. Promoting segregated bicycle facilities certainly does imply and reinforce the notion that bicyclists don't belong on roads, and that bicyclists can and should continue to operate incompetently - anywhere else except on roads "belonging to" motorized raffic.

The needed cultural change would best be accomplished through education - unless many private individualsare willing to deed their own property over to use for segregated bike highways! Regions like ours don't have wide roads or public lands on which to create segregated bicycling facilities, so we either successfully promote VC, or else we competent cyclists suffer the harassment inflamed by the well-funded, politically-connected, and politically-motivated "bike-friendly" (NOT bicyclist-friendly) lobbying juggernaut.

I am suspicious of anybody who feels the need to tear down other peoples' approach to things. When it comes to bike advocacy, popular support is overwhelmingly behind bike lanes and paths and so on right now. It seems to me that you are spending an awful lot of energy disproving something that very few people seem to believe in anyway.

Every movement will have its dogmatic wack jobs, but it seems to me smart people pick and choose the best way for themselves to operate from the various opinions out there. Speaking of being dogmatic, most VC people I have read or follow online are anything but, so I'm not sure where you are getting that. In some ways I have become quite VC and appreciate how it has improved my "quality of life on the road". On the other hand, some bike lanes are really nice and do their job well and I enjoy using them. Sometimes I share lanes with cars that strict VC-ers would not. In short, I try things out and adopt the ones that enhance my experience and safety on the road, which are most often directly linked.

I have one specific beef with what you have written: "it holds to true conservative values of preserving the way things are and resisting radical change" It seems to me that telling everybody to go out and ride in the street like a real vehicle is radical change. If everybody did it the culture of speed in which we live could be changed somewhat for the better, I think. Preserving the way things are would be to stick to the gutter or ride on the sidewalk, it seems to me.

I guess I'm just kind of puzzled by what might be motivating this "series"... do you think the VC movement and its relatively small number of followers are doing some kind of harm?

Unless I missed something this is a measure of observation and outcome. This again is in no way a criticism of the approach, it is a valid method. There is no examination of why in the face of overwhelming evidence why people still choose to ride on sidewalks. VC makes a lot of guesses as to why but nothing that can be supported.

I can't believe you called all of us conservatives. Your politics might be conservative, but us vehicular cyclists think you can kiss our liberal commies behinds. :)

... many of us want to end the car culture, make people more important than cars, public space more important that car-parking, and most of all, to change YOUR mind about, "what driving is for".

Review the before and after study the city of Copenhagen did recently , where they measured the car/bike collisions and other accidents that took place on roads unimproved for bicycles, then repeated the measurements after the improvements. They attempted to take into account any increase in bicyclists on a given road due to the improvements so the statistics are normalized.

What they found was that the more comfortable a facility made the bicyclists, the higher the bicycle accident rate. In no cases did the accident rate decrease after the facilities went in and on a few types of facilities, the type bicyclists said they felt most comfortable on, the accident rate went up significantly.

This is observational, not cause and effect. But as has been noted by traffic engineers for generations, the more complicated a flow pattern, the more accidents. Intersections have vastly more accidents than straight sections of roads without turns. It's almost intuitive why this would be. Most bicycle facilities are designed to make bicyclists feel separated from cars on straight sections, where few serious accidents take place ( at least in urban and suburban regions), and make the intersections worst, which is where the accidents take place.

Since most of the car/bike accidents happened in intersections and these accidents increased significantly with, say, side paths, one is strongly tempted to say that the complication in the intersection due to the side paths is the reason.

I can speculate on a lot of other reasons for this - maybe the bicyclists are so comfortable on the facility that they are less cautious when they reach an intersection.

The Copenhagen study had a different guess -saying that some of the facilities made a street less convenient for parking, so the drivers parked on cross streets, increasing the risk of collision due to possibly higher traffic on the cross streets due to parking cars.

Perhaps - but this goes against thousands of traffic studies that say any complication in intersection design increases accidents, including car/bike accidents.

Whatever the causes, except for fully separated paths with no at-grade intersections, no scientifically performed study has shown a safety improvement from the standard bicycle facilities and many/most have shown negative impacts.

The Dutch recognize the intersection problem, so often put signals with bike-only phases on intersections with any significant traffic. This is probably an unacceptable solution in most US cities due to the large impact on travel time more signals would have, both to auto drivers and bicyclists ( the bicyclist is almost guaranteed to have to wait through a signal cycle at each intersection).

Most professional bicycle facility advocates know all this, so they rely on other arguments for facilities, mostly on ones that rely on the fact that bicycle facilities sometimes increase the number of bicyclists. The two main ones I hear are:
1) Even if they decrease the safety, it is a small decrease for a safe activity so it doesn't matter; and
2) The increase in bicyclists will, in the long run, increase safety due to a safety-in-numbers effect even if initially there is a decline in safety.

"What is missed in most of these definitions is the political component of Vehicular Cycling. "

You're confusing "vehicular cycling" with "vehicular cycling advocacy". The Wikipedia article cited does have a section entitled Advocacy, albeit a short one. But the political/advocacy component is not part of the definition of vehicular cycling, which is simply operating a bicycle on roadways in accordance with the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles.

"In the case of Vehicular Cycling, it holds to true conservative values of preserving the way things are and resisting radical change, regardless of how beneficial change may be."

To the contrary, vehicular cycling advocates seek radical change, radical change in the behavior of the vast majority of bicyclists, because currently very few bicyclists even see themselves as having the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of vehicles, much less behave accordingly.

As far as change in the area of transportation modal use, nothing in vehicular cycling, the practice or philosophy, says anything about that. But vehicular cycling advocates tend to either favor major changes in the direction of reducing personal motoring use, or believe that cycling will have little influence in that area and that resources are best spent on preserving our rights.

Fortunately, i live in the east end, but this 'bike lanes for university ave' plan simply shows the bike lobby enslaved politicians to be on a war against the car. Even though cars will be pollutant free in ten or twenty years, they rail about the environment obliviously.

Look, i have nothing against bike lanes and paths, in fact, take all of Beverly and St. George, and all of Church or even Yonge and turn them into no car zones, so bicycles and pedestrians can frollick in their car-free Eden, but don't deliberately sabotage University or Jarvis , which are the main thoroughfares for vehicular traffic! We can't all pedal home from Home Depot with the new BBQ balanced on the handlebars! And bass players like me don't cotton to hauling our amps on the bloody "Bitter Way"!

Peace and harmony, brothers and sisters.

Spleen - The lanes on University are a trial over low volume months, the issue has been studied by experts and there has been open consultation with the building operators in the area. University might be a busy street, but it is also an eight lane roadway that should work well for cyclists.

Considering that there are two bike lanes that will feed into these lanes on the north (Wellesley & Hoskin) I suspect that these lanes will get plenty of traffic.

Just so we're clear on Jarvis, the city decided to remove the centre lane per the recommendation of a study on restoring the public area (streetscape), bike lanes were an after thought and had nothing to do with the removal of the centre lane.

"Calling bike lanes a ‘war on the car’ is like calling parks a war on buildings".
- V. Dodge

Nothing can be supported? You didn't look at Aultman-Hall's work closely enough.

She surveyed 3,000 commuters and compared incident rates on-road vs paths/trails. She separated them into two groups, sidewalk cyclists and road cyclists. A sidewalk cyclist was defined as one who cycled on the sidewalk for any part of a commute.

Markers for vehicular cycling in addition to riding on the road rather than sidewalk are:

. cyclist making a left turn from the left lane,
. use of busy streets rather than avoiding them, and
. membership of a club or had taken a training course.

Since sidewalk cyclists were,

. less likely to make a left turn from the left lane when on the road
. more likely to avoid busy streets when an alternative existed, and
. less likely to be a member of a club or to have taken a training course,

road cyclists could be equated with a greater propensity to ride in a vehicular manner

Results:

Those that chose to ride on sidewalks when there were adjacent roadways had higher accident rates both off-road and on-road compared to those that didn't, and all cyclists, sidewalk or not, had higher accident rates off-road.

Conclusion: lower application of VC skills and use off-road facilities each separately increases the risk of accident.

Is there an alternative to Vehicular Cycling that is going to be discussed. So far the only advice is don't ride on the sidewalk, which is totally consistent with VC.

What should I do on the road that is different than what I do now (ride a bicycle in accordance to the rules of the road for vehicles)?

operating a bicycle on roadways in accordance with the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles.? It's the safest, fastest, most direct way to get where you're going, if you cycle for transportation.
There are not enough public funds to build bikelanes to all the places a transportation cyclist needs to go, which is also where motorists need to go: shopping, work, doc's appointments, business meetings etc. And what will novice cyclists do to get where the BL begins and when the BL stops if they have no road training or experience? The sidewalk?
I would have more time to listen to pontifications from the bike facility crowd if they first learned to ride on the roads in a proper and safe manner. Why do these people eschew education but complain about motorised traffic being unsafe? And that is what Forester's book is all about. If you don't like his take, try John Franklin's book Cyclecraft (North American version). You will get the same information: be predictable by riding in a vehicular manner and be visible with good lane positioning.
The course offered by the CCA and TBN is CanBike which derives from Forester's Effective Cycling. This is taught Canada-wide with a similar LAB course in the states. For the price of a helmet you can learn to ride confidently in traffic.
If the City of Toronto seriously wants to encourage cycling by addressing novice fears and concerns it would be cheaper to give everyone who wants it, a free course than big spending on infrastructure. And everyone would get where they want to go..... safely

.

Mark, short of abandoning cycling on roads, the only alternative to vehicular cycling is riding on roads contrary to the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, by definition. Few will advocate doing so explicitly, but the characterization of vehicular cycling as being elitist or exclusive clearly implies it.

Many of the strongest opponents of vehicular cycling advocacy are, paradoxically, practitioners of vehicular cycling. What they oppose is not the practice, but the advocacy of the practice. I think this is because vehicular cycling is safe and comfortable cycling on roadways integrated with other drivers, including motorists, and this necessarily implies that segregated facilities are unnecessary. They hate that.

That is the law. I would suggest that riders of unlit cycles probably never had any proper road training...or cared to.
Are you implying these people are VCs?

Does Vehicular Cycling suggest that bikes behave like cars where lights are concerned.

Plenty of unlit cycles I see (or not).

@Serge. The first problem with the logic here is to define a term "vehicular cycling" (writ large) as encompassing "riding according to the rules of the road" and thereby exclude all other ways of cycling on the road or lane. Vehicular Cycling (with the capital V and C) is a philosophy, not a practice of all rule-abiding cyclists. One can be a road-rule abiding cyclist in a bike lane or bike path. One can be rule-abiding by sitting in a bike box waiting to make a left turn on an advance bike signal.

The VCers (like Serge) have now taken to seeing themselves as the enlightened Greeks with all other cyclists as being the barbarians at the gates. The VCers are truly under attack and VC must be defended against by the hordes of chaotic, inexperienced and unruly cyclists.

VC, according to myself, is a passive movement because it basically says: whatever the laws for vehicles, cyclists must obey them, so long as cyclists have the right to ride on the road. From what I can tell it provides no coherent approach to making cities safer through infrastructure, signage or landscape. It has nothing to say about calming motorized traffic, and it has never bothered to differentiate between different types of bicycle facilities out there (other than broad categories of "lane", "cycle track", "bike path") as if one could categorically reject them all if one is found to be defective.

I counter that just because a cyclist behaves in a regular, predictable, and lawful manner does NOT make them a Vehicular Cyclist. It may just be a cyclist that sees predictable behaviour as being safe, but doesn't follow the entire program of Vehicular Cycling (which includes so much more than simply following the rules of the road, which in no traffic act in any jurisdiction - from what I know - defines how a cyclist should make a left turn). This cyclist may end up bending the rules now and then by riding in a predictable manner contra traffic on a quiet one way residential street (I suggest it is predictable partly because many cyclists do it and drivers expect it).

This cyclist will also know that just because lawmakers made a law doesn't make it perfect, and that more than likely they didn't take cyclists or pedestrians fully into account when coming up with the Highway Traffic Act or in re-designing the roads for automobiles. This cyclist knows that we're not simply receivers of laws from heaven but that we can fight to get them changed and improved. They can see the usefulness of a law that puts the burden of responsibility on the largest, fastest vehicles; they can see the usefulness of well-constructed separated bike lanes on major arterials; and they are fine with riding in regular traffic but want separated facilities where traffic is heavy, fast, and unruly so that even the young and the old can be comfortable.

@trikebum. So we're running out of public funds to build bike lanes? Even though city council can simply allocate more money to bike facilities, it doesn't help that motorized traffic hogs the vast majority of public resources by requiring the building of more and more expansions of highways and roads to accommodate all those single person vehicles.

The quickest, most effective way to get more people cycling is to slow down city traffic; put in bike lanes and paths were appropriate (quiet roads don't need bike lanes); and to provide some level of cycling education in school or later.

The truth is that the cities can not continue to build exclusively for the car. Not only is there not enough room, but there are little things called acid rain and climate change. The best way to get people to find alternative modes of travel, including cycling, is to make the landscape more comfortable for them to do it. Cycling education, on its own, cannot make this shift. People simply aren't taking CAN-BIKE in droves and they aren't going to start riding on suburban arterials where the driving is way too fast and the roads too narrow and full of potholes. It's simply not comfortable, and it feels very dangerous, even for an experienced commuter and CAN-BIKE instructor like myself.

trikebum, perhaps it's time to change your strawman. You're just as likely to find a bike lane loving person teaching CAN-BIKE (myself included) as you are in the general public. If it makes you feel better you can continue to believe that bike facility folk "eschew education" though it is clearly wrong.

By the way, TBN doesn't offer CAN-BIKE. In Toronto it is offered by the City's Parks and Rec department.

@trikebum. So we're running out of public funds to build bike lanes? Even though city council can simply allocate more money to bike facilities, it doesn't help that motorized traffic hogs the vast majority of public resources by requiring the building of more and more expansions of highways and roads to accommodate all those single person vehicles.

What I said was:

There are not enough public funds to build bikelanes to all the places a transportation cyclist needs to go, which is also where motorists need to go: shopping, work, doc's appointments, business meetings etc.

The fact is 98% of taxpayers will not want to pay for 2% of the population to 'feel comfortable' on Toronto streets, no matter how environmentally concerned they might be. And as a concerned environmentalist I don't support expanding and building roads to accommodate motorized traffic.As the saying goes: expanding roads to fight congestion is like loosening your belt to fight obesity. Gridlock is a traffic calmer causing more people to get out of cars and onto bikes and public transit.

But the question I had, after that first sentence was:

And what will novice cyclists do to get where the BL begins and when the BL stops if they have no road training or experience? The sidewalk?

As a CanBike instructor what would your advice be?
Thanks.

The fact is 98% of taxpayers will not want to pay for 2% of the population to 'feel comfortable' on Toronto streets

"They" (that is the 98%) don't need to pay. The city's bike budget accounts for less than 1% of the Transportation Budget, and is easily paid for by the taxes that the 'cyclists' paid into the pool.
The historical reality is the Bike Dept rarely spent its full capital allocation; that is it has been spending less than it was allocated. Imagine what the city would look like if the Bike Dept had spent it's full capital Budget every year!

But with this logic, what would be your answer for for why "we" all pay for wheelchair accessible buildings when so few people have disabilities? My answer is that the buildings which are accessible benefit more than their 'intended' audience, as it becomes easier for the elderly to use, as well as parents with young children in strollers.

These benefits often extend well beyond the 'intended' audience, and "we," all of us, ultimately share the benefits. The same is true of bike lanes; everybody gets to share the benefits 'intended' for a mere few.

Herb states, " ... more than likely they (lawmakers) didn't take cyclists or pedestrians fully into account when coming up with the Highway Traffic Act ...".

He makes this statement from admitted ignorance on the matter, hence the qualifier "more than likely ".

From a cyclists' s point of view, Ontario's Highway Traffic Act is one of the most unrestrictive pieces of traffic legislation in Canada. Cyclists are drivers of a vehicle and have the same rights as motor vehicle drivers. There are only a couple of rules mentioning a bicycle and they don't restrict cyclists any more than do similar ones applying to motor vehicle drivers. If he were in Quebec or BC, he would find quite a few anti-cycling laws. In these provinces, cyclists are not drivers of vehicles and thus do not have the same rights as other drivers.

Unfortunately people like Herb feel they are entitled to rights that violate existing rules of the road like passing on the right (and then in some cases moving left to occupy so-called "bicycle boxes").

As cyclists we are better off when we have the same rights and fulfill the same obligations as drivers of other vehicles. That of course would require all cyclists to spend some time in cyclist's "drivers ed" - 15 hours or so, apparently something advocates for segregated facilities are not willing to support.

... and we haven't even started to talk about how segregation INCREASES THE RISK to less than competent cyclists. (See Aultman-Hall post above.)

"They" (that is the 98%) don't need to pay. The city's bike budget accounts for less than 1% of the Transportation Budget, and is easily paid for by the taxes that the 'cyclists' paid into the pool.

What 'cyclists' paid how much into what pool? Even if they paid a full 2% of the total transportation taxes it would not be enough to pay for a comprehensive bicycle infrastructure that some clamor for.

But with this logic, what would be your answer for for why "we" all pay for wheelchair accessible buildings when so few people have disabilities? My answer is that the buildings which are accessible benefit more than their 'intended' audience, as it becomes easier for the elderly to use, as well as parents with young children in strollers.

These benefits often extend well beyond the 'intended' audience, and "we," all of us, ultimately share the benefits. The same is true of bike lanes; everybody gets to share the benefits 'intended' for a mere few.

That is not the same at all. Wheelchair accessibility is for those with physical disabilities. They don't have other choices. In private buildings these facilities are paid for by the owner. It's nice though that folks with strollers can enjoy the benefits too.

A lack of BLs do not prevent cyclists from accessibility to Toronto streets. And competent cyclists who ride according to the rules of the road don't find most BLs a benefit. In fact I find them a detriment to the vehicular cycling principle of being visible. Gutter bunnies are not easily noticed by motorists and that's why they get unintentionally buzzed by motorists who didn't 'see' them.

Here is my take on Vehicular Cycling.

I would love for Toronto to have Dutch-style cycling infrastructure in which cyclists have fast, safe, direct and convenient travel between any two points in the City. And car drivers have to take indirect routes that maximise the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. So that car drivers cannot cut through residential neighbourhoods and the downtown is car-free.

Unfortunately, we are not quite there yet. So when using the grossly inadequate and unsafe infrastructure that we do have, I am a vehicular cyclist. On lanes less than 5.6 metres wide (which is almost all of Toronto's roads) you will find me taking the lane and riding in the centre of the lane. Because it is unsafe for a motor vehicle to pass me in the same lane if the lane is less than 5.6 metres wide.

The same is true with bike lanes that are less than two metres wide or where the centre of the bike lane is the most dangerous place on the entire road to ride because it is in the door zone. I simply refuse to put my life in danger by using such dangerous infrastructure and always take the centre of the general traffic lane adjacent to substandard bike lanes.

Whenever harassed by a car driver I always (OK, almost always... sometimes I'm on tight schedules) take out my cell phone, call 911 with the car's license plate number and ask that charges of Dangerous Driving be laid against the criminal driver. I always state that I am willing to testify in court against the violent criminal driver.

I never engage in "gutter bunny" riding, I never ride on the sidewalk, I never wear a helmet and I never ride at night without lights.

It is my sincere belief that if everyone else did the same, we would all be much better off. Which is why I do strongly urge everyone to do exactly the same things.

Kevin Love
Riding my Pashley in beautiful Toronto, Ontario

That was sarcasm Trikebum, but thanks for sharing.

Cities like New York, Minneapolis, Chicago & Portland have expanded their cycling infrastructure and can relate it to an increase in the numbers of cyclists; I haven’t seen anything on how traffic congestion has a similar effect – that seems like a dubious claim to me.

I agree that people will feel more confident cycling on the road with the benefit of some education. However, most people site safety concerns as the main reason they don’t bike on the road, and bike lanes are the best way to deliver on that need. I don’t think we need to build them on every street and I don’t think cycling should be limited to bike lanes alone, but Toronto is significantly lacking in bike facilities.

In 2001 the city rolled out its Bike Plan, now 9 years later we have less than half of it installed, and it’s not for a lack of money. Toronto’s budget allocates $800,000,000 over a 5 year term on road repair – that’s $438,000 a day. Public policy is the reason that we don’t have better bike facilities, period.

If you want an example of how (often misguided) public policy trumps money consider that City Councillors like Rob Ford, Gloria Lindsay-Ruby & Mike Feldman have had approved bike lane installations halted in their respective Wards, and it was not because of financial concerns.

As a home & car owner I pay for roads. So instead of leaning on the 2% theory, I suggest that we redefine our roads as being inclusive to all users. It’s a solution that works, it’s a sound investment, and it will certainly serve our transportation needs better than a traffic jam.

PS - The 2% measure of cyclists is over the entire GTA, if you look at the area in the city centre the numbers are much higher - this is where bike lanes are needed the most.

@JFJ: In terms of access to roads, perhaps it's true that Ontario has given the most rights to cyclists in Canada. But if we were only to use Canada as a baseline for determining good cycling and pedestrian legislation then we would be sorely missing the big picture. I don't see why we should accept Ontario as the cream of the crop when there are even better jurisdictions out there.

I believe that instituting "Strict Liability" as it exists in various European jurisdictions such as The Netherlands and Denmark would help immeasurably towards making motorists a bit more humble and a bit more careful while careening down streets. Strict Liability is explained here:

-Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.
- Strict liability encourages more careful driving (and cycling, because a cyclist would be deemed to be at fault for crashing into a pedestrian).
- Strict liability would be a matter of civil rather than criminal law so would not affect criminal prosecutions.

Or, here's another good law. In Germany cyclists are allowed to go contra motorized traffic down one way residential streets. I'm sure this horrifies some VCers but it works well, mainly (I think) because of drivers' expectations of cyclists being there and because of calmed traffic. Toronto cyclists unceasingly ride contra traffic on side streets. And the huge reason they do so is because of the lack of infrastructure on main streets and because Toronto is full of one way streets to prevent vehicles from going in a straight line.

By the way, JFJ, I don't think I ever told you I thought cyclists were "entitled to rights that violate existing rules of the road like passing on the right". In fact, the HTA allows any vehicle to pass on the right as long as it is safe to do so. For example, if you're on a four lane road the vehicle in the right lane can pass the vehicle in the left. I see it all the time. But perhaps you're referring to trying to pass a car on the right when they are already in front of you and have moved over to the right to make the turn (and they've got their signal light on - a rare occurrence in Toronto). Then, of course, I cyclist (or car) would be doing this unsafely and illegally.

This makes no difference if there is a bike lane or not; the motorist must first merge safely into the bike lane while not cutting off cyclists and then turn. And cyclists must either wait behind or pass on the left. This is why Toronto made the bike lanes dotted at the intersections to indicate to cyclists and motorists that turning vehicles should merge into the bike lane to make a turn.

I don't even buy this idea: "As cyclists we are better off when we have the same rights and fulfill the same obligations as drivers of other vehicles." As I said before, I think it would be great if cyclists and pedestrians, who are both more vulnerable than motorists, had more rights on the road than motorists, and that motorists had much more obligation than the other two groups. And I would hold to that for the times when I'm in a car, being careful around vulnerable road users. Let me give one example: children have the "right" to bike on the sidewalk because as a society we feel they are safer to bike there than on the road. Motorists, however, do not have the right to drive their cars on the sidewalk (although they often will). I'd say this situation is pretty good and pretty safe for the kids. We don't want give kids on bikes and adults in cars the same rights and obligations.

So I'm not convinced at all by the false logic that the only situation that can exist is if all road and street users must have the same rights and obligations, when we can imagine situations where giving one group more rights or another group more obligations may lead to an even safer melange.

have the same rights under the HTA as motorists? Those who ask that question show they do not understand a basic legal and philosophical distinction. We each have the right to move about freely; that right has existed in common law from the beginning, and nearly every document speaking of rights in the English Common Law tradition has referred to the procedures for asserting it, going back to the thirteenth century. However, when we go out, we have no corresponding right to operate a motorized vehicle in a public place. Hence the term license, for driver's license. The government cannot, and must not, make a right the subject of a license. This explains why we need no license to do any of the things we have a right to do. A license, by definition, refers to a permission to do something we have no intrinsic right to do. For example, I can copy, perform, adapt, and distribute software and literature I have written, and music I have composed. But to distribute someone else's work, I need their permission; I need a license from them. Likewise, to operate a technology as intrinsically hazardous as a motor vehicle in public, I need permission from the people whose lives I will endanger if I do not operate safely. I need a license. That very word tells me I do not have a right to drive. So, motorists do not have any rights on the road: they (we) have permissions and responsibilities.

What, then, about cyclists? As of now, most jurisdictions (albeit with the occasional grumble) recognize, by default, the right to cycle, since they do not license cyclists. In most jurisdictions subject to constitutional restrains (Canada and the United States, among others), a good argument for the right to cycle exists, based on the right, which I mentioned above, of personal mobility. Since governments haven't attempted to restrict the right to cycle by issuing licenses, the issue has not come up for a ruling in the courts. Under current laws, then, cyclists have rights, based on the common-law right of personal mobility. No corresponding right to drive a motor vehicle exists, only a conditional permission.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

...that cycling infrastructure grows cyclists.

Cities like New York, Minneapolis, Chicago & Portland have expanded their cycling infrastructure and can relate it to an increase in the numbers of cyclists
It's the other way around; first there are large numbers of cyclists, then there are demands for infrastructure, and the reason cities bow to these demands is because they've reached a 'nuisance number' and they want to get those pesky cyclists out of the way of motorists to improve traffic flow. Segregated facilities were first introduced in Europe in the 1920s for precisely that reason. In the 30s in Germany, cyclists were forced to segregated facilities because Hitler didn't want them visible on the roads when he hosted the 1939 Olympics. German cyclists protested vigorously to no avail.

A recent post from a cyclist living in Germany:

I had mentioned before that there was a petition to the German
parliament to remove the necessity for cyclists to ride on separated
paths under certain circumstances (in other words it is illegal for
cyclists to ride on the roadway if there is an adjacent side path
marked with a bike path sign).

Unfortunately this petition was stopped in a committee before even
considered by the Parliament. The only party voting for the passing on
of that bill was the Green Party. read more: http://tinyurl.com/27mlhcf

Most motorist groups including CAA and AAA support BLs. Why do you think?
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) promotes BLs. And one of their 3 'Vital Few Priorities'
is Congestion Mitigation.......http://tinyurl.com/6gbpxk

Most vehicular cyclists I know don't want BLs because most motorists expect cyclists to 'be where they belong'. I have been honked at and harassed when I choose not to use a BL for safety reasons.

had trouble with preview feature. My apologies.

Geez Herb,

Before you post check your facts.

From The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario, under the heading of "Civil Proceedings"

  1. Onus of disproving negligence

(1) When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle.

(2) This section does not apply in cases of a collision between motor vehicles or to an action brought by a passenger in a motor vehicle in respect of any injuries sustained while a passenger

Don't know what caused the server to change the section number for "Onus of disproving negligence".

Anyhow it is section 193. of the HTA not section 1.

The server changed the section number.

Anyhow, that was section 193 not section 1 of the HTA

Trikebum

Believe what you want about Bike Lanes, but there is some data from the NYC Dept. of Transportation that connects the expansion of infrastructure to increases in the number of cyclists.

Using their counts (18 hour periods/day), the number of cyclists goes up by more than 50% between Sept. 2007 (27,859) and Sept. 2009 (42,295). What is particularly interesting is that between June 2006 and June 2009 NYC also added 200 miles of Bike Lanes, nearly doubling their Bike Network. So the number of cyclists grew at nearly the same rate as the Bike Lanes.

I consider myself a VC, but I will gladly use the Bike Lanes on busy routes like the ones on bridges and arterial streets. I recently got “doored” on Bloor St., and that probably wouldn’t have happened if I was in a Bike Lane.

PS – The CAA recently made a deputation to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to ask the city to stop and re-study the proposed separated Bike Lanes on University Ave.

@JFJ

I think you misread what I wrote. I am not claiming anything is wrong with the study or its methods at all. Like any other study that measures by observation and outcome it does not study what cognitive processes went on when the cyclist acted. Again this is par for the course for this type of study.

I received this from a friend. I decided to remain anonymous because of the warning at the bottom.

Harjit.Singh@torontopolice.on.ca 5/3/2010 3:00 PM >>>

From May 03 to May 09th, 22 Division will take part in a Bicycle Awareness
Campaign.
Cyclists will be increasing in numbers as the weather warms up. To assist
with their safety and the safety of all road users, officers from 22
Division will be speaking to cyclists to ensure they are aware of the rules
of the road as the apply to them. Officers will also inspect the bicycles
to ensure they meet the requirements of the road.

If anyone wishes information in regards to bicycles on the roadways,
booklets can be picked up at 22 Division station and 22 substation. One of
the booklets is written towards new (younger) riders.

As always Drive / Ride safely.

Antonio Macias
Sergeant #1290
22 Division - Traffic Response Unit.
Toronto Police Service.
3699 Bloor Street West, Toronto,
Ontario, M9A 1A2
Telephone: 416-808-2224
Facsimile: 416-808-2202

This e-mail (including any attachments) may contain PRIVILEGED and
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION only
for use of the Addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient
of this e-mail or the employee or agent
responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, you are
hereby notified that any dissemination or copying
of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-
mail in error, please immediately notify me by
telephone or e-mail to arrange for the return or destruction of
this document. Thank you.

A Copenhagen study before and after a separated bike lane was installed showed more accidents at intersections and fewer between. Overall, there were about 10% more accidents but 20% more bike riders.

Certainly intersections are a major problem of separated facilities. There needs to be special care, special stoplight cycles, special attention paid, and yes, there are more delays for all.

Ideally, it would be nice to close off the minor intersections to cars and just leave the signalled intersections.

But the anxiety of cyclists cycling in traffic is not misplaced. The 2003 Toronto study found hit-from-behind accidents were only 11% of the total, but about 36% of the fatalities.

tOM

Herb claims, "... the HTA allows any vehicle to pass on the right as long as it is safe to do so".

Not any vehicle, just motor vehicles.

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e...

Section 148. (5) Vehicles or equestrians overtaking others

Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaking another vehicle or equestrian shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision with the vehicle or equestrian overtaken, and the person overtaken is not required to leave more than one-half of the roadway free

Section 148. (8) Passing vehicle going in same direction

No person in charge of a vehicle shall pass or attempt to pass another vehicle going in the same direction on a highway unless the roadway,

(a) in front of and to the left of the vehicle to be passed is safely free from approaching traffic; and
(b) to the left of the vehicle passing or attempting to pass is safely free from overtaking traffic.

Section 150. (1) lists exceptions but applies to motor vehicles only.

John G. Spragge seems to be confused about the claim that cyclists have the same rights in Ontario as drivers of other vehicles. He seems to have interpreted this to mean the converse, that motorists have the same rights as cyclists, which of course they don't.

Ontario's HTA expressly states that driving (a motor vehicle) is a privilege and drivers are subject to licensing.

All citizens including new born babies have an inherent right to use public highways (other than specific vehicle rights of way such as freeways and busways). Cycling along with riding a horse is included in this inherent right and derives from common law as Spragge mentions.

@JFJ

In the absence of any prohibition of an act under the HTA, common law takes over. This would require the cyclist to exercise due care when passing on the right as the HTA does not forbid. Though I guess it could be argued that s.147 requires cyclists to remain to the right cause they would normally be a slower vehicle.

Many comments have dealt with finding a practice that results in the least amount of harm/risk. This is a valid point if a cyclist's priority is the same, a practice that produces the least harm/risk. The question though is if the least amount of harm/risk desire is universally shared by cyclists. It could be something entirely different. It could be something conscious like the desire to not be sharing the same lane as larger vehicles. It could be something unconscious, a fear of large vehicles that is ingrained in one by evolution or sometimes referred to as natural self-preservation.

If it is the former and the cyclist understands the difference in risks their priority is shaping what they consider "safe" for better or worse. They made the choice. The latter too shapes what a cyclist considers "safe" even though the fear could be balanced with a skills course or research.

We could go on and on shoving risk statics around until we are blue in the face. It will not solve a thing until there is some clear idea of why cyclists make the decisions they do. That is also why observation and outcome stats are such a poor fit until the priority is known.

Now people might get up in arms and belittle anyone that picks another priority other than the least amount of risk/harm. With so much talk of rights in these comments how could anyone criticize one's right to chose? Especially when in most cases the difference in harm/risk between different practices is low.

Darren,

The sections of the HTA I quoted directs operators of a vehicle to pass on the left. That includes cyclists. An expressed prohibition would be redundant.

Darren's post looks like a thinly veiled plea to let perceptions and feelings trump facts.

It's good that the phobia of fear of flying doesn't cause the aviation transportation authorities to make commercial airline travel riskier.

Passing on the left of a right turning vehicle is generally my choice when I feel it is safe to do so.

The law does make a distinction that any vehicle that crosses the lane of another adjacent vehicle must yield to that vehicle. The best example I can think of would be when you are driving on a multi-lane highway; the driver must yield to the vehicle in the lane you are about to enter.

So by the same principle, a vehicle that has not yet initiated a right turn across a bike lane must yield to the approaching cyclist.

Of course physics has the final say, so judge wisely.

@JFJ

Your read on the HTA is unworkable. In straight-through traffic when traveling slower than the faster moving motor traffic you stay on the right side of the lane(s.147(1)). When that traffic hits a compression and slows down you start passing the formerly faster moving vehicles to the left (s.148(5)), even though prior to that traffic slowing down you had enough room on the right. Alternatively you can stop or go slow and wait until the traffic speeds up if there is not enough room to the left of those vehicles(s.148(8)). Oh but wait, all of those now slower moving motor vehicles have now pulled to the right as required by the HTA (s.147(1))to allow you to pass. So now you are passing them to the left, but wait again. That motor vehicle traffic is now moving faster than you, so back to the right for you.

Seems like the only thing that will solve this is a bike lane.

I have noticed that when people have a valid point to make on this site, they seem to do it without much trouble. Taking time to discredit others is lame, and generally an indication that an argument is lacking in credibility.

Of course he makes the statement with a qualifier: the laws were passed generations ago in an era of expanding car use which brought about the requirement to have many of these laws in the first place. Strictly speaking it's possible that lawmakers had cyclists in mind, but given both the context of when it was passed and the end product, it's exceedingly unlikely. We're all ignorant as to the intentions of the original lawmakers unless we happen to have their memoirs or look up the debates in Hansard, and even then we're unlikely to know. You're just creating a red herring.

The fact that Ontario's HTA is among the least cyclist-unfriendly highway codes is as much dumb luck and inherited equestrian-oriented codes than anything else.

Here's a philosophical question: if the other vehicles have stopped, is a cyclist passing them on the right passing them or just going past stationary objects? If a vehicle isn't in motion, is it a vehicle? While the HTA doesn't spell that out, there is an implicit assumption of motion built into the definition.

Or suppose you're being passed by a bus (I use it since it's longer and easier to visualize, but theoretically any vehicle will do) that then slows and stops... are you supposed to start slowing once its velocity goes below yours and match its slowing to bring yourself to a stop when it does? If cyclists are out group riding - which is legal in Ontario - does that mean that cyclists on the right can't go "pass" those to their left, say, as might happen around a right-hand bend? The passing-on-right issue is actually made worse by VC advocates' support of wide curb lanes as the preferred form of cycling-supportive facility since these lanes are much harder to 'take' all the while making it easier to pass on the right.

And speaking of buses, I guess those dual right-turn + bus stop lanes with advanced straight ahead greens for buses must really offend your sensibilities since they enable passing on the right by buses (albeit in a different lane) and then preferential treatment at the beginning of the next light cycle. Or the rule that requires other vehicles to yield to a bus attempting to reenter traffic (something that goes against the usual principle that entering traffic must yield to existing traffic). These all violate existing or preexisting rules, after all.

It would be great if all cyclists took a "drivers ed" (sic) course (I have, fwiw), but how would you actually compel this nirvana into existence? Cyclists (like pedestrians and equestrians and other operators of non-motorized vehicles) have an unfettered common law right to use the public highways. A law would have to be passed to change this, and, well, once lawmakers actually start thinking about cycling and cyclists we might not like the results (yes, I added a qualifier). It could be made part of the regular requirement for getting a driver's license, which would also have the benefit of making motorists more aware of cyclists since they would have to pass the cycling component first, but this won't strictly cover everyone who cycles nor would it matter to existing cyclists and motorists. It could be done at the school level, so that covers all future citizens who grow up here, but it doesn't cover migrants from elsewhere nor the existing cyclist and motorist population. The upshot is that while education holds the potential to be enormously beneficial, the practical fact of the matter is that it won't help in any meaningful way for the best part of a half century. The reason that most cycling advocates (of any type) are unwilling to call for mandatory cycling lessons is because it will just

As for myself, I'm unconvinced by both segregated facilities (which have to be designed to a high standard to work safely) and pure VC advocacy, which has basically failed miserably to increase cycling above a percentage point or two, a level far too low for a 'safety-in-numbers' scenario to work since it still means that only a very small group is cycling (more valuable than more cyclists alone is more motorists who are also cyclists). It also doesn't help that its lead advocate is a shill for the 'American Dream Coalition' (!) along with discredited pro-sprawl, pro-car, anti-urban, anti-transit luminaries like Wendell Cox and Randal O'Toole:

http://americandreamcoalition.org/speakers.html

Last line of penultimate paragraph got lost somehow:

The reason that most cycling advocates (of any type) are unwilling to call for mandatory cycling lessons is because it will just decrease the number of people who cycle.

I know that people care deeply about this stuff, and that is laudable. This kind of squabbling, however, isn't doing anyone much good in my opinion. How about just accepting that there is a place for cyclists taking the lane or occupying a well designed bike lane or even a cycle track that works. Why the hell can't "mixed modes" apply to cyclists as well? That is the reality we all ride in. Any capable cyclist is best off knowing some VC stuff. Most transportation cyclists use the street, the bike lane and the path every damn day... so what's with all the hubbub? Ride your bike. Support what makes sense to you. Care about cycling and respect that other cyclists may want something you don't.

You're right, JFJ, it does say motor vehicles. I had quickly looked it up in my CAN-BIKE manual but looking back I see that the manual says that motor vehicles can pass on the right when it is safe to do so, and that for cyclists this is a grey area.

This would be a great example of where the HTA lawmakers completely forgot about non-motorized vehicles. Taken to its extreme it would mean that in every case where a car could safely pass on the right of a stopped or slowed vehicle a bike would be prohibited from doing so even though bikes are required to stay as far to the right as is practicable. If it were safe for a motorist to pass on the right wouldn't there also be a good chance that it's also safe for a cyclist?!

CAN-BIKE takes the approach that there are situations where a cyclist can safely pass on the right, even though its a "grey area" of the law.

Section 150 (1) The driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only where the movement can be made in safety and,

(a) the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn or its driver has signalled his or her intention to make a left turn;

(b) is made on a highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles in each direction; or

(c) is made on a highway designated for the use of one-way traffic only. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 150 (1).

So by the same principle, a vehicle that has not yet initiated a right turn across a bike lane must yield to the approaching cyclist.

That's true but the driver doesn't 'see' the cyclist as their attention is only in the driving lane. That's why I ride there and not in a BL. Portland is famous for BLs and also for right hook cyclist deaths.

It has never been proven that BLS are safer than riding in the street obeying the rules of the road.
But BLs have been shown to be unsafe in many ways mainly by directing to the gutter where they can't be 'seen' so are not visible to distracted motorists with no peripheral vision. Look what happened in Ottawa last year when a motorist 'drifted' onto the Shoulder/BL (same thing) and wiped out 5 cyclists.
If you are integrated in traffic and controlling your lane you are highly visible and no driver will hit something in the road that they could avoid in time. Want to prove that theory? Just put a garbage can in the road.

So by the same principle, a vehicle that has not yet initiated a right turn across a bike lane must yield to the approaching cyclist.

That's true but the driver doesn't 'see' the cyclist as their attention is only in the driving lane. That's why I ride there and not in a BL. Portland is famous for BLs and also for right hook cyclist deaths.

It has never been proven that BLS are safer than riding in the street obeying the rules of the road.
But BLs have been shown to be unsafe in many ways mainly by directing to the gutter where they can't be 'seen' so are not visible to distracted motorists with no peripheral vision. Look what happened in Ottawa last year when a motorist 'drifted' onto the Shoulder/BL (same thing) and wiped out 5 cyclists.
If you are integrated in traffic and controlling your lane you are highly visible and no driver will hit something in the road that they could avoid in time. Want to prove that theory? Just put a garbage can in the road.

for the double post

Under the heading of "Of course he makes the ..." the writer states that VC advocacy has failed to increase cycling above a percentage point or two.

That's not so surprising since VC advocacy doesn't have that as its purpose. Forester's website at: http://www.johnforester.com/ shows VC advocacy to be concerned with "preserving bicycle transportation" and for the "right of cyclists to cycle properly and safely". Elsewhere he states "Vehicular cyclists believe that cyclists should operate on the roadway according to the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles".

Personally I think the world would be better place if more people used a bicycle for health and recreation purposes, and when practicable, for transportation. It will not be a better place if the system that allows more people to have a better standard of living globally is crippled.

The last paragraph of the writer's post reveals an advocacy that is less about safe cycling and more about radical environmentalism.

Herb, you say, "This would be a great example of where the HTA lawmakers completely forgot about non-motorized vehicles".

It's your assumption that they forgot. Perhaps it was deliberate. There is the example of two cyclists killed in Portland, Oregon in October 2007 in separate incidents but both involving cyclists riding up the right side into truck drivers' blindspots.

... and Herb you really need to familiarize yourself with Ontario traffic law. Once again you misinterpret it, this time you say, "... bikes are required to stay as far to the right as is practicable". Not so,

Section 147. (1) Slow vehicles to travel on right side

Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

(end quote)

This rule applies to drivers of any type of vehicle types not just cyclists. Also it recognizes non-laned roads which explains the phrase structure.

If there is a centre line or are lane lines, all a driver or cyclist has to do to comply is to drive or ride in the right hand lane (ie must not drive in a lane to the left). If there is no line at all, as on dirt roads and some residential roads, then the driver or cyclist must stay right. All of this is dependent on travelling at less than the normal speed of traffic then and there. If there's no other traffic around then this rule has no effect. Also if there is a group of cyclists and just one faster vehicle, it can be argued that the normal speed of traffic is that of the group of cyclists.

Often this rule is wrongly used by police to force groups of cyclists to ride single file.

Trikebum - Cyclists are required to ride on the right side if the road, so is makes sense to have designated facilities there. I understand the false sense of security that some riders may adopt when riding in a BL, but they do facilitate safe cycling and by a direct result, build the number of cyclists.

JFJ - Cyclists need to stay to the right of the road unless:
1. It is unsafe to do so
2. Passing a vehicle
3. Making a left hand turn

There are laws about riding single file also - please don't make me look them up.

Tom Flaherty. There is no prohibition against cycling two abreast in the HTA. Depending on where you live in Ontario, there may be local by-laws.

As for your other comments, well that's just an opinion and not required by the HTA except as described in my previous explanation.

It might be useful to look up the facts and quote them before posting, otherwise you are just helping to give more weight to myths, of which there are many when it comes to cycling.

S.150 essentially fixes a problem with preceding sections of the HTA on passing as it relates to motor vehicles. Without it cars could get stopped behind left turning vehicles. Case law bears that out.

JFJ - Stay to the right means stay to the right, if you are riding beside another cyclists and you are not passing you can get charged under the HTA under Section 147 or 148:

147.(1) Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

148.(1) Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway meeting another vehicle shall turn out to the right from the centre of the roadway, allowing the other vehicle one-half of the roadway free.

148.(6) Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.

There is always interpretation in the application of the law, I think you might be taking things too literally.

Tom Flaherty - so what are saying is accept your interpretation rather than what's written ....
I'm afraid you are out of your depth.

Judicial interpretation occurs if there is ambiguity and usually applies to constitutional law. There is no ambiguity in the sections of the HTA that I quoted. Learn how to parse sentences especially section 147 (1).

JFJ,

The information in my previous post was copied direct from the HTA on sections that have been referred to me by the professionals that enforce the law - it was not "parsed" as you say.

I have discussed this issue at length with Police, including two Traffic Sergeants, so these are not my interpretations – I’m not qualified to interpret the law.

The fact is that interpretation is everything to the Police, as they have to decide which law is best applied in a particular situation. For example, I left out Sec 154. (1) - Failure to ride in marked lane, which may also be applied to cyclists riding two abreast.

I hope this helps.

Police don't interpret the law, they enforce what is written. I don't care for hearsay, it's not worth a pinch of ...

Section154. (1) is a non-sequitur.

Hey if you want to live in a mythical world, you are free to do so. Lot's of other cyclists do as do many police officers.

I can lead a horse to water but I can't ...

... well you'll get my drift.

JFJ,

I have tried my best to give you good unbiased information here, as has Herb, Darren & John, and all you do is provide mocking insults and awkward legal advice.

Call Sec 154 (1) "non-seqitor" (or whatever), but it's direct information form the same people that are going to give you a ticket for the offence.

I'll leave you to learn this stuff by personal experience, for some people it's best that way, then you can explain your "mythical" concept to the Police Officer who is left to interpret your actions.

Tom Flaherty,

I've been in court on more than one occasion and have yet to lose ...

I take it your experience is all theoretical.

Really you won in court - that's great.

I have been able to successfully make my point with the attending Officer on the few occaissions where it was required - which has left me ticket free so far - so no, not theoretical.

...but JFJ is correct as so far as the riding two abreast is concerned. The HTA empowers municipalities as to whether or not riding two abreast is illegal or not. The by-law number that covers Toronto cyclists is 14(1).

Cops do charge under the HTA because they simply do not bother looking things up. The copy of the HTA they have with them is a short version and does not get into specifics. I have seen several tickets now that were written for a cycling infraction but only applied to a motor vehicle. I have video of a smug cop threatening a cyclist with a charge that is a glorified parking ticket for a car. The cop thought he was being really smart.

Cops that are assigned to a traffic unit tend to have a better grasp on things and do a better job of writing the right ticket. Cops that are assigned to a more general type of unit depend more heavily on their police issued short version of the HTA.

Here is a partial copy of it. Notice the first entry. This is why many cyclists during blitzes get improperly charged with no lights at high noon on a bright sunny day.

http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/pdf/hta.pdf

The case R. v Bunda gives us some insight as to how the courts have interpreted s.150 and riding abreast with respect to motor vehicles.

Do cops interpret the law? Absolutely. They charge based on their interpretation and it is up to the courts to decide if the interpretation is valid and if not the court applies its interpretation. Once the courts have provided enough direction the cops then tend to fall in line. A good of example where there is a lot of interpretation going on is the new stunt driving law. The law is still being shaped by the courts as new and wonderful ways it has been applied have been challenged.

"...Judicial interpretation occurs if there is ambiguity and usually applies to constitutional law..."-JFJ

This is way out on left base. Our legal system uses a lot of 'judge made law' or precedence. One would be very hard pressed to find a section of the HTA that has not been interpreted by the courts in one way or another less than three times.

Thanks for the input Darren - but I don't see how Sec. 150 applies to the cycling two abreast situation.

I recently beat a ticket for 'failure to ride on the right', by demonstrating that I was preparing to make a left hand turn, but it took some time to get to that point with the Cop who pulled me over. He admitted he had just had a debate with a colleague on the issue the day prior and had spent some time earlier that AM reviewing the HTA - I think we can all agree that the (non-traffic services) Police don't always get bike laws right.

I followed this up with a discussion with the Traffic Sergeant at his division, who was very helpful. I shared his take with another TS who agreed, and I got some more Q & A with him too.

I'm not making any claims of my own other than sharing the specifics I've got from the Police (at Traffic Services), specific to: 'obstructing faster moving traffic' and 'failure to ride in marked lane'.

I am familiar with the by-law for Toronto, but in the absence of such a by-law, I would challenge anybody to prove to me that a cyclist had the right to ride in a manner that unnecessarily obstructed the flow of faster moving traffic, whether by riding two abreast or otherwise.

I read R v. Bunda and at no time did the judge interpret the law or try to rewrite the law. Where there was doubt about definition or ambiguity he correctly referred to case law. What he did do was interpret the behaviour of the appellant, compared it to the wording of section 150 and then found him guilty as charged.

This finding was totally consistent with the law as written, unlike Tom's "interpretation" of section 147(1) whose structure and grammar would have to be changed to find a cyclist guilty for not riding to the far right when he's riding in a right hand lane.

@JFJ - It set a precedence for what is considered an element of "stunt driving". The accused tried using s.150 as a defence.

Tom I only offered the case as an insight as to what a judge considers in their decision.

The most likely explanation for your situation is that the cops did not consider any by-laws. Many view it as a waste seeing the fines are so low. Unfortunately once you are charged the onus is on you to prove they misapplied the law. Most people do not even research their charge. They just pay the ticket and that is how the cops get away with it.

I hear about two cyclists a year getting charged with criminal mischief for riding two abreast or blocking traffic. Sheer madness but it is up to the cyclist to prove it is wrong. As far as I know all of the charges were eventually dropped or reduced.

The first step is to send in an intent to enter a not guilty plea. This is followed by a request for disclosure from the prosecution. Disclosure is the Crown's statement of its case and evidence they intend to use against the defendant in court. Once the request has been made, the Crown prosecutor has to look at the cop's case and decide if it's worth pursuing. It's then that it's found out in cycling cases that the cop was probably wrong (ie he misinterpreted the law), that is unless he gets someone for no bell, horn or gong on bike.

If disclosure is not received, the defendant must show up in court intending to plead not guilty. Then the case is normally withdrawn by the Crown. This is because the JP will throw it out anyway on grounds that the Crown failed to furnish its case to the defendant (this is a constitutional right). If the defendant doesn't show, the court assumes that the defendant has conceded the case and disclosure then becomes irrelevant.

It's a surprise to me that the cycling community in Toronto doesn't seem to be aware of the fundamental rights of cyclists in disputes with the law. It should spend less time trying to shut down the city in rush hour and more time getting its facts straight, but then facts seem to be elusive in certain sectors of the Toronto cycling community.

I think it would be a sensational way of drawing attention to the lack of knowledge on Bike Law by fixing a gong to your bike - classic!

Thanks Darren - Criminal Mischief eh? Wouldn't have figured that one.

I have to agree with you about the level of awareness with a regular PC on Bike laws.

I remember speaking with an officer that attended when I got a "Door Prize" and he asked what I wanted. I said I wanted the passenger charged with 'Improper opening of a vehicle door', and he replied, " That's not against the law".

I emailed him the HTA Sec. later that day (UGH).

I suspect we all want cyclists to ride as well and safely as possible. We have a number of different opinions about how best to do that, but almost all our disagreements concern the manner in which we facilitate safe cycling. And here Darren puts it quite correctly, in my opinion: the problem with what its advocates call "vehicular cycling" has less with the behaviour advocated for individual cyclists, and and far more to do with the larger outlook of many of its advocates.

A comment earlier in this thread makes for a good example. 'JFJ" wrote:

Personally I think the world would be better place if more people used a bicycle for health and recreation purposes, and when practicable, for transportation. It will not be a better place if the system that allows more people to have a better standard of living globally is crippled.

This seems to imply that our current prosperity depends on a transportation paradigm which, for a substantial minority of people, depends on the private automobile, I have three responses to this: first of all, we can't define "better" and "worse" ways to live; the distinction involves too many issues of subjective judgment. Secondly, even on its own terms, the argument remains highly questionable; by many estimates, the cost to the user and to society of the private automobile outweighs all of the benefits. But the real issue involves the elephant on the motorway that vehicular cyclists don't talk about. Forester alludes to this obliquely when he writes of the many ways motorists have developed a dependency on the private car.

Dependency, like any addiction, degrades the addict. As individuals, we experience that degradation in many ways; a sedentary, car dependent lifestyle has links to almost as many debilitating and life-shortening conditions as a dependency on cigarettes. For society as a whole, having a large and influential minority dependent on the car has produced a very specific form of degradation: impunity for motorists. We see this reflected in the death toll on the highways, the "special" laws which provide significantly lower penalties for causing injury or death with a car in all but a few of the most egregious circumstances, the "no-fault" insurance laws which shield drivers from the normal civil consequences of causing serious harm to other people, the ease with which jurisdictions hand out licenses to drive and the extreme reluctance to revoke them, and the occasional tolerance shown to egregious acts of road rage.

Because too many people view the removal of a driver's license as having unacceptable lifestyle consequences, courts do not do it, which means that cyclists cannot count on sharing the road with even marginally competent or ethical drivers. When a cyclist dies in a crash, the driver involved almost never faces the consequences a person who committed homicide with a gun or a knife would face. Until vehicular cycling advocates address this issue, I don't think they have a lot to say. As someone who generally follows good vehicular cycling practices, I get harassed about once for every 20-40km I ride, with close passes, honked horns, swearing, and so on. To the extent that Forester and his followers dismiss the very reasonable fears of cyclists while ignoring both the impunity enjoyed by drivers, and the addictive system that makes the impunity necessary, I believe they discredit their own position.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Trikebum - Cyclists are required to ride on the right side if the road, so is makes sense to have designated facilities there.

Not true only as right as practicable.If you need to take the lane for safety reasons that is permitted:

HTA 147 - Slow moving traffic travel on right side
any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed should drive in the right-hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right edge of the road except when preparing to turn left or when passing another vehicle. For cyclists, you must ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line, clear of sewer grates, debris, potholes, and parked car doors. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you. http://tinyurl.com/da4qg2

If you had taken the full traffic lane while passing parked cars on Bloor St you would not have been doored. Your misinterpretation of the law could get you killed.

I understand the false sense of security that some riders may adopt when riding in a BL, but they do facilitate safe cycling and by a direct result, build the number of cyclists.

BLs do not facillitate safe cycling, just the opposite.They will only 'build' the number of dead cyclists. And these will be the least trained I'm sorry to say.

I floated this question twice:

And what will novice cyclists do to get where the BL begins and when the BL stops if they have no road training or experience? The sidewalk ?

What would a competent vehicular cyclist or CanBike instructor recommend?
I ask this because if we're going to 'grow' new cyclists they have to come from somewhere and obviously not from the ranks of the experienced.

Trikebum

I got “doored” while passing on the right of a vehicle stopped in the middle of a lane, with a metre of space I should have had no problem passing the car. If I had the option of a Bike Lane I would have likely had adequate space to pass without the threat of a car door. Besides, why would I take the lane when both lanes were filled by vehicles stopped & idling?

If you have some concise data that shows that Bike Lanes are unsafe then please provide it. Did you happen to check out the NYC Dept. of Transportation website? There is plenty of information there that you might find interesting.

I am not misinformed about the Sec. you refer to (147) – I actually understand it pretty well.

This looks like a leading question, trikebum. As an instructor, I recommend that people bike safely in a bike lane or in a regular lane.

If it's a bike lane ride in the middle. If it's a regular width lane go 1 metre from the curb. If it's a narrow lane and the relative speed is similar to the cyclists then take the lane. If drivers behind get annoyed or start threatening cyclists for taking the lane (which I've had numerous times) then the choice for the cyclist is to find another route (good luck), pull over to let the offending cars go, or stay put in the middle of the lane and put up with all the abuse of the drivers' road rage (very few will follow this last option).

A bike lane helps cyclists to claim that space a metre out as well as demarcate a space so drivers won't drift as often into the curb space.

Novice cyclists could certainly use some tips on getting into and out of bike lanes. I encourage them to take a course, but it also looks like most of them figure it out.

JFJ I do not know what your post is in honour of other than to support your contention, and your contention alone, that Toronto cyclists are ignorant.

JFJ missed an important step at the beginning of the process per the Provincial Offences Act that can get one's ticket tossed before it even sees a courtroom. Surprising seeing it is supported by the very same case law JFJ cited for disclosure.

Getting disclosure is not a requirement for the accused, it is their choice as to whether or not to get it. The prosecutor has the ability to deny it if they feel that the accused is not fit. Very rarely does this happen for traffic tickets besides maybe very serious collisions or fatalities. They can ask that it only goes to your counsel as they are more strictly bound by the rules of the court. Again very rare in traffic court.

Disclosure is good but you also need to know what to look for once you get it. That is something where competent counsel comes in. They know where to look and what to challenge.

There are also time limits and allowances that must be observed when requesting disclosure. Ask for it the night before the trial and you will get laughed at if you ask for it to be tossed when they do not have it. Competent counsel will also know what to do if your request for disclosure is not fulfilled and the JP goes ahead with the trial anyways.

With run-of-the-mill traffic tickets the prosecutor will probably only see the ticket about 5 minutes before trial. (The last trial at Markham Rd I was at, all of the cop-prosecutor conferences were done right in from the of the accused with everybody else watching.) Unless of course the cop themselves are prosecuting. A common occurrence in Scarborough courts. The cops are surprisingly quite good at the role.

Can you get tickets scuttled by talking to the cop and/or their superiors after being issued as in Tom's case? While you have to be careful not to annoy them (very risky) it can be done provided you can give solid reasons and they are willing to listen. Some people have done this and have just ended up giving the cops more evidence to use against them. You will still have to appear in court if the cop agrees that you did not deserve the charge but the cop will either not show or tell the JP that they have no evidence to present.

In the end, if you are going to fight a ticket it is best to get counsel, either a paralegal or lawyer, as soon as possible. There are many more ins and outs in traffic court than most would imagine.

...of a vehicle stopped in the middle of a lane, with a metre of space I should have had no problem passing the car. If I had the option of a Bike Lane I would have likely had adequate space to pass without the threat of a car door. Besides, why would I take the lane when both lanes were filled by vehicles stopped & idli

So you filtered to the right and into the motorists' door zone/blind spot? ** If there was a BL the motorist would probably have stopped in it and the situation would have ended the same**
I would suggest that a competent vehicular cyclist would have the choice of
1. merging into the adjacent lane if able to anticipate in time, if not,
2. stopping behind (like any other vehicle) and waiting for the vehicle ahead to resume travel, or
3. filter to the right in a watchful careful manner. This would be the least safe maneuver but most cyclists do it anyway, I sometimes do myself fully understanding the consequences of doors and right turning vehicles.

I passed on the right in what would normally be considered a safe space - you know the side where the passenger door is? (in case that wasn't already obvious).

If there was a BL and the car pulled into it, I would have no choice but to turn to pass on the left - so NO, not the same.

All good now?

I passed on the right in what would normally be considered a safe space - you know the side where the passenger door is? (in case that wasn't already obvious).

I'm sorry, no disrespect but passing on the right is never a safe place. It puts you in the motorists' blind spot. And I have to ask; who would 'normally' consider that a safe place?

More theoretical stuff from Darren and is far from what actually happens. Para-legals are great to plea bargain on behalf of motorists , usually speeding tickets. Example, driver was going 180km/h but accepts a reduced charge of driving 130km/h - much lower fine fewer points deducted. That's where para-legals earn their money. Most know diddly about cycling infractions and lawyers even less. You'll be wasting your money using either.

Cyclists who unjustly get tickets should do the research and represent themselves. They should read what I described before and read very carefully the section of the HTA that they are charged with. Unless the prosecution can prove a person did not do exactly what the HTA wording requires a cyclist or driver of a vehicle to do, then there's an excellent chance the defendant will win. For example, I know someone who got charged with an HTA infraction while riding in a group. The cop chose one person in the group and wrote a ticket even though he didn't know or couldn't recall whether the defendant was riding on the inside line or the outside line of the group, or at the front or back. It never got to court once disclosure was requested.

I have acted on behalf of others in court (including motorist tickets) . Darren hasn't. I've never lost.

One time in band camp...

OK Trikebum - Enlighten me

Situation:
You are cycling along a four lane, two way street. The two west bound lanes are packed with stopped traffic. You want to proceed west safely, so you should:

a) Stop in the middle of the lane leaving a safe distance between the vehicle ahead of you and wait for traffic to advance;
b) Steer to the right, stop, dismount, and proceed on foot using the sidewalk;
c) Pass in the middle of both westbound lanes using caution;
d) Pass on the right hand side of the roadway using caution;
e) Phone a friend

Of course it wouldn't surprise me if you found another option. I await your answer.

Um, actually you're being simplistic and ridiculous, trikebum. And considering we can't verify your authority on the subject, I'd say people should just ignore your advice.

There are plenty of times when passing on the right is a "safe place." It all depends on the context and the amount of space on the right. Even CAN-BIKE says there are situations where passing on the right is alright.

It is not just "blind spots" that are at issue. In fact, every car has blind spots on both sides. The issue is to not pass on the right when the car is turning right, and not when you have to "squeeze". The rule of thumb is to have 2 metres of space, at least that's what I've gleaned from CB.

Seriously JFJ, get down from your high horse and stop gushing condescending crap. It would be better if you stuck to sharing information without the prickly taunts.

I believe you know my position from my comments on May 5, 2010 - 1:59pm.

On a 2 way 4-lane road my default lane position is in the middle of the curb lane unless there is room (12' or wider lane) to share with motorized traffic safely. If I feel traffic is passing too close too fast I will not share my lane. If they want to drive like that they will have to change lanes. Do I get the odd honk from the odd ill-informed motorist when I do this? Sometimes.....but honks don't kill and at last I know they've seen me.
Just yesterday I was going down a 1 way 2 lane street with parked cars on each side doing what I do as the lane was narrow, when I got a honk from behind. When I stopped at a light, the woman driver came up on my right making a RH turn and yelled that I was not a car!
I laughed and said "but I am a vehicle".

Right hand Filter - safe, OK. So what you are suggesting is what the majority of cyclists (myself included) are practicing on the road everyday. Don't assume I'm wrong just because you see yourself as being overtly right.

Michael,

The sanctimony and mythmaking in this thread needed to be countered. It used to be that facts always trumped opinions and feelings. As for sharing information, read the whole thread. For example, I've explained how to deal with tickets and the justice system, but I guess you'd rather believe someone who spouts the theory. Oh yes, Michael you always did live in a hairy, fairy world of make believe. Once again you confirmed it from afar.

Yours
Sister Janet

trikebum wrote:

Look what happened in Ottawa last year when a motorist 'drifted' onto the Shoulder/BL (same thing) and wiped out 5 cyclists.

If you are integrated in traffic and controlling your lane you are highly visible and no driver will hit something in the road that they could avoid in time. Want to prove that theory? Just put a garbage can in the road.

I find a lot of things about this statement objectionable, starting with the implied absolution of the driver in this case. To start with the issues particular to this one case: no outlet I know of has yet published any police reports or legal arguments in this case. So let us not assume the accused "drifted" into the bike lane, or that he didn't see the cyclists, or that a different lane position might have saved them. To the extent we have published evidence about the crash, that evidence appears to suggest all the cyclists got hit from behind at high speed.

This matters because it illustrates a real problem with "vehicular cycling"; the notion that cyclists have a duty to make ourselves visible to motorists. This leads to excuses for negligent drivers that nobody would ever make in other circumstances. Nobody would suggest in mitigation of the boxing day shooting in Toronto that the shooter "didn't see" Jane Creba, or suggest that everyone who walks around in downtown Toronto has an obligation to wear orange vests with "innocent bystander" stenciled on them. We don't hold people responsible for "staying safe" from gun violence; we hold other people responsible for not shooting them. The same rule ought to hold for cars: when I, for my own convenience, gain, or pleasure take two tonnes of steel capable of moving at over fifty meters a second, carrying the equivalent of over 30 kg of TNT into public space, I have an obligation to take proper care so as not to harm anyone. That means looking before I merge into any lane, before I make any turn. It means I, not the cyclists or the traffic engineers, have a responsibility to know, and follow, the protocols for driving on a street with bike lanes.

This comes back to the issue of impunity for drivers. A large part of impunity stems from the assumption of good faith, which, in turn, the argument that cyclists have a duty to make sure motorists see us feeds into.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Germany has repealed it's mandatory bikelane/sidepath law after 80 yrs. Studies by the government report they are less safe than riding on the road.

Nonetheless, the results of the study were clear: the use of a sidepath incurs a risk up to five times as high at intersections as riding on the roadway.

This study showed that sidepaths lead to a change in the type of crashes away from intersections. No actual reduction in the numbers of crashes could be shown. It was also established that bicycle crashes on the roadway often result from bicyclists' being too close to its edge. Many of the crashes were collisions with suddenly-opened car doors. These crashes could be avoided simply with the spacing which the police ask bicyclists to maintain.

This page is translated from German to English by John S Allen: http://tinyurl.com/yaqklfz

as an unsafe road, only unsafe drivers.

And the web page you quote to bolster your argument, that sidepaths and bike lanes cause accidents, actually says nothing about bike lanes; it only addresses the issue of sidepaths. Since in many cases, so-called sidepaths simply legalize sidewalk riding, this does not surprise me. If you can point to a study which links proper bicycle lanes. with the appropriate 1.5 meter width and turn facilities where appropriate, with car on bicycle crashes, then you would have an argument. But you can't quote a study on sidepaths to discredit bicycle lanes in Toronto.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Those cyclists on the road in Ottawa could have been a herd of sheep. they would still have been creamed.

Any shepherds for sheep lanes out there?

"JFJ", to the extent you've provided facts, about, say, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and Ontario traffic courts, I'll say thank you for contributing to the discussion.If I ever get into a traffic situation involving the police, I'll consult my solicitor and the bike union, but I will give your advice its due weight.

But I will point out that most of the controversies surrounding vehicular cycling involve not what the law says but what it ought to say, less about the dismal road safety statistics than what we ought to do to improve them. Ultimately, the debate between so-called vehicular cyclists and many people on this board, or as I would put it, the debate between accomodationist cyclists and reformist cyclists involves values.

Speaking for myself, as a sailor, a cyclist, a licensed pilot and, yes, a motorist, I want to end the culture of impunity surrounding the automobile. I want to see dangerous driving defined correctly, as a violent act. I want people who kill other people by crashing cars into them at 90 km/h over the posted speed limit to get the same sentence as people who kill other people by firing Uzis at them. I want motorists held absolutely responsible for operating their vehicles safely. I want the words "I didn't see..." or "I didn't know..." to count as aggravating, not mitigating factors. I don't want this so much because I think that will substantially reduce the use of private automobiles, although I do think it the prospect of actual Canadian murder sentences for killing people with cars would stop the majority of street racers cold. I want motorists held to account without fear or favour because the notion of a protected class of people using a technology as dangerous as the private car offends my values and my sense that justice means equality before the law.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

way out of line.

Aside from involving no facts whatever, unless you count establishing your willingness to engage in insensitive posturing on message boards (doing so anonymously takes all the point out of it), I still see no point in what you have written. Do you mean to suggest that "real men" and "real women" would have taken the lane? Do you really think that would have protected them? Every year, bad driving kills over forty thousand people in North America, very few of them in bike lanes. Drivers hit other cars bang in the centre of driving lanes all of the time. A driver inattentive enough to "drift" into another lane and then hit the people in it from behind would almost certainly have hit cyclists right in front of him. I can only call the argument that cyclists who got injured in an act of violence by a driver somehow caused their own fate by using the bike lane both fatuous and offensive.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Cars hit cars every day.

Hmmph! Tips indeed. And who will give them these 'tips'? Other people who ride in bike lanes? The answer I was hoping for from a CanBike instructor was that while everyone is waiting for BLs they should learn to ride on the road according to the rules of the road, and the best way to that would be to take an accredited training course.This is what Effective Cycling and CanBike were created for. Do you not agree?

Novice cyclists could certainly use some tips on getting into and out of bike lanes. I encourage them to take a course, but it also looks like most of them figure it out.

I don't think wrong-way riders, sidewalk riders and scofflaws have it figured out at all. Do you?
In pursuing an agenda of building BLs on the premise of attracting people to take up cycling, the newcomers will be innocent pawns in a game of politics. They are the ones who will come to harm, not the ones who have road training or have 'figured it out.'

I would like think that a CanBike instructor would not merely suggest, but to actively promote education as the cornerstone in any programme designed to increase cycling. Right now, those who clamour for BLs only give lip service to education, if they consider it at all.
I'd really like to know how many people took a CB course in TO in the last few years as compared to how many newbies. Do you have any figures? Any guesses?

And the web page you quote to bolster your argument, that sidepaths and bike lanes cause accidents, actually says nothing about bike lanes; it only addresses the issue of sidepaths. Since in many cases, so-called sidepaths simply legalize sidewalk riding, this does not surprise me.

Bikelanes, sidepaths, cycle tracks same thing...same dangers. This site was quoting the German government concerning two studies they did.

Speaking for myself, as a sailor, a cyclist, a licensed pilot and, yes, a motorist, I want to end the culture of impunity surrounding the automobile. I want to see dangerous driving defined correctly, as a violent act. I want people who kill other people by crashing cars into them at 90 km/h over the posted speed limit to get the same sentence as people who kill other people by firing Uzis at them. I want motorists held absolutely responsible for operating their vehicles safely. I want the words "I didn't see..." or "I didn't know..." to count as aggravating, not mitigating factors. I don't want this so much because I think that will substantially reduce the use of private automobiles, although I do think it the prospect of actual Canadian murder sentences for killing people with cars would stop the majority of street racers cold. I want motorists held to account without fear or favour because the notion of a protected class of people using a technology as dangerous as the private car offends my values and my sense that justice means equality before the law.

John,

Killing or injuring someone through negligence is already a criminal act and attracts some very serious penalties. But not as serious as for killing or injuring someone intentionally. And there is a good reason for this - there is a big difference between people who set out to intentionally hurt other people and people who hurt other people by being careless. Morally, one is far worse than the other.

You asked for tips for passing on the right so I gave them to you. You're the one who is getting all dramatic on how dangerous it is to pass on the right. I counter that, in fact, most cyclists do it safely a lot of the time, because cars are not turning right or they have slowed down or stopped in rush hour traffic.

I think you're ridiculous. The bike lanes are there now and people are using them. So you're suggesting we rip them all out and then force education on all cyclists first?

I do not believe that a well-built bike lane encourages cyclists to pass on the right. All bike lanes in Toronto end before the intersections to encourage intermingling. Where there's a right hand turn lane, the city has put the bike lanes to the left of the turning lane.

You're trying to force people to choose one or the other. Either we educate everyone or no one gets educated but we all get bike lanes. It's a stupid dichotomy and it's unrealistic.

Negligence and carelessness are both the same thing. Dangerous driving (a criminal offence) and careless driving (HTA) are both negligent acts. The difference between the two is that the former usually involves putting more people at risk and can involve an element of intent. ie Speeding through a crowded street to show off to your friends (the intent) while not considering the risk to the public (negligence). Careless driving is available as a reduced charge to dangerous driving.

Homicides require intent. There are no elements of negligence in homicide.

If you have neither negligence nor intent you have an accident or act of nature.

@trikebum - your conclusions are erroneous, hardly scientific. They are not all the 'same thing', obviously. And there have been no studies, that I can find (including the Aultman-Hall studies) that show they are "exactly" the same in terms of danger.

The Aultman-Hall study only looked at roads, off-road paths and sidewalks in terms of exposure to incidents. She didn't look at painted bike lanes, or even bike lanes separated by bollards.

A fairly comprehensive literature review, completed last year, concludes that on-road bike routes, on-road marked bike lanes and bike-only off-road paths were associated with the lowest risk.

RESULTS: The literature to date on transportation infrastructure and cyclist safety is limited by the incomplete range of facilities studied and difficulties in controlling for exposure to risk. However, evidence from the 23 papers reviewed (eight that examined intersections and 15 that examined straightaways) suggests that infrastructure influences injury and crash risk. Intersection studies focused mainly on roundabouts. They found that multi-lane roundabouts can significantly increase risk to bicyclists unless a separated cycle track is included in the design. Studies of straightaways grouped facilities into few categories, such that facilities with potentially different risks may have been classified within a single category. Results to date suggest that sidewalks and multi-use trails pose the highest risk, major roads are more hazardous than minor roads, and the presence of bicycle facilities (e.g. on-road bike routes, on-road marked bike lanes, and off-road bike paths) was associated with the lowest risk.

CONCLUSION: Evidence is beginning to accumulate that purpose-built bicycle-specific facilities reduce crashes and injuries among cyclists, providing the basis for initial transportation engineering guidelines for cyclist safety. Street lighting, paved surfaces, and low-angled grades are additional factors that appear to improve cyclist safety. Future research examining a greater variety of infrastructure would allow development of more detailed guidelines.

I had also casually found an old study that seems to confirm that cycling on sidewalks is risky, but that bike lanes pose less risk than a major or minor road without bike facilities.

Negligence and carelessness are both the same thing.

Sorry to be such a nitpicker, but they are not the same thing.

Negligence is carelessness that results in injury to people or property.

For example, you could drive your SUV at 140kmh down Harbord street while wearing a blindfold and carrying on two different conversations on two different cell phones. Careless? Yes. Negligence? Not until you run someone or something over.

dealt with sidepaths, not bicycle lanes.

But the article you quote has a comment which reveals the whole bias: it suggests bike lanes pose a threat because motorists drive through them, or park in them, or otherwise impinge on them. In other words, the problem arises from misbehaviour by motorists. This reflects a much larger pattern within accomodationist cycling circles (people with this political outlook like to call themselves vehicular cyclists). They propose training (for cyclists, not motorists), they oppose infrastructure (because motorists don't always treat it properly).

This goes beyond issues of cycling. Cyclists, transit riders, pedestrians, and, yes, motorists ought to resist a system in which anyone seeking access to public space has to deal with a class of people with social permission to behave ignorantly and recklessly. If motorists park in bike lanes, let's name the problem: those motorists who do it, and the society that gives them permission. If motorists "don't see" cyclists, name the problem: motorists who don't pay attention, and the enablers who excuse inattentive driving.

That raises the question: how do we educate motorists? I would argue in favour of bike lanes on that basis if no other: bicycle lanes present a clear statement that cars do not have exclusive rights to the road. They present a clear and visual statement that society, for a huge number of very good reasons, values cycling, and thus encourage it.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Sorry, I just can't stop.

Homicides require intent. There are no elements of negligence in homicide.

You mean murder.

Homicide is causing the death of a human being, directly or indirectly by any means. Homicide is only an offence if it is murder, manslaughter, or infanticide.

Manslaughter may be committed by criminal neglgience.

if you fire an Uzi on Yonge Street, you get arrested. If the bullets you fire hit someone and kill them, you get charged with murder. We infer from your action in pulling the trigger that you intended to kill, and intent follows the bullet. If you drive a two-tonne steel battering ram down Harbord Street at massively excessive speed with inadequate control, we can assume you intended to kill someone, and intent follows (or should follow) the bumper.

Negligence means not living up to a standard of care. Not clearing your weapon at the firing range and letting it discharge and hit someone counts as negligence. Pulling out a Glock and firing multiple rounds in a shopping mall does not fall into that category. Neither does driving at a rate of speed (almost triple the speed limit) in a dense urban environment. We only make a (meretricious) distinction because we have gotten used to the idea of motorists as a legally protected class.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

No, you can't assume that you intended to kill someone. We can assume that you are stupid, reckless, and that you shouldn't have a driver's license. If you hurt someone, you can go to jail.

But what you are suggesting is that someone who speeds excessively is intentionally trying to kill someone which is a fallacy. The truth is that someone who speeds excessively hasn't turned their mind to the possibility that what they are doing is dangerous. That's negligence, not murder.

special motor vehicle logic, that we only accept because we don't question it.

Consider two dangerous machines. On burns an explosive propellant behind a small projectile, which shoots down a barrel and can cause lethal penetrating wounds. The other burns an explosive propellant behind a piston, which turns a crank, which propels a large wheeled vehicle capable of causing lethal blunt force injuries.

If you operate the first type of machine in public, at random, we infer from the dangerous nature of the machine you used that you intended to kill someone. If you operate the second type of machine in public at such a speed, and under such conditions, that you cannot effectively control it, we should assume you intended the same thing.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Driving is typically a safe activity when done within the limits of the law. The level of acceptable negligence of a driver offers convenient defense when they end up banging into pedestrians and cyclists; some even crash into houses and shopping malls - remember the elderly lady that got plowed through a brick wall when walking outside of a Toronto Mall last year?

I would never suggest that a car was used as a weapon unless there was reasonable intent, but I do think that we could make our streets safer if there were increased responsibilities for drivers.

If a driver made contact with another pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle they should face an automatic suspension and fine pending an investigation. As John has already pointed out, the aviation industry regulates pilots by this standard, so why not drivers?

A car hits a pedestrian in Toronto every six hours, and the most common defense is that the driver did not see the victim; including mothers pushing strollers across the street.

Would drivers be a lot better at avoiding collisions if they were also trying to avoid a suspension and heavy fine?

There is no harm in the definition of negligence,

from the dictionary,
"failure to act with the prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances "

From the criminal code,
"Criminal negligence
219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons."

To sustain a 'criminal negligence' charge you need to have caused harm. Yet you do not need harm in a Dangerous Driving charge, just negligence.

Dangerous Driving

Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft

  1. (1) Every one commits an offence who operates
    (a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;...

...Punishment

(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Careless driving takes the same tack,

Careless driving

130. Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2009, c. 5, s. 41.

The only place the word careless is used in the criminal code,

"Careless use of firearm, etc.
86. (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons."

Which again speaks to negligence.

Another dictionary uses carelessness part and parcel of the definition of negligence,
negligent - Careless, without appropriate or sufficient attention; Culpable due to negligence
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/negligent

Finally, yes I should have used the word "culpable" or "intentional" in front of the word "homicide".

Pulling out a Glock and firing multiple rounds in a shopping mall does not fall into that category. Neither does driving at a rate of speed (almost triple the speed limit) in a dense urban environment.

Both examples are negligent. The question for the Glock was there intent. If you were shooting at balloons to get them down you are only criminally negligent if you hit someone and probably pretty stupid. A more realistic example happens all of the time in hunting. A hunter thinks he spots a deer while driving, reacts without looking, pulls over and takes out his shotgun to blast away. Only to realize he blows away grandma on a hike.

Take out Glock at the mall and start shooting at people to scare them then you are talking murder.

let me put this clearly. I do regard speeding as a punishable offence. I regard it as a very serious offence if it results in a death. But I do not regard ordinary speeding, letting your speed get up to, say, 20km/h over the limit, as sufficiently reckless with life to trigger a charge of murder. But the situation posited, involving speeds of 140 km/h in the downtown, involves not ordinary speeding but an extreme of motorist behaviour. At that speed, a car would take 140 meters to brake after the driver spotted another car or pedestrian; one and a half times the length of some of the blocks on Harbord. Going that fast, a driver has to register that if another car comes out of the intersection, they will kill the occupants. That kind of intent parallels the intent of an armed robber who enters a bank with the intent to shoot anyone who resists.We only treat it differently because of the immunity we have (wrongly) decided to confer on drivers.

Tom: personally, I would like to see a simplified law: if you get caught driving drunk a second time, if you kill or injure anyone while driving drunk or dangerously or a certain amount over the speed limit, you never drive legally in Ontario again. Period. No exceptions allowed, no excuses accepted.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

I assure you that negligence is a technical term with a precise meaning, and that it includes harm.

For your criminal code example, I assure you that you will not find offences that involve criminal negligence that do not involve harm. If you continued to read the sections that followed after 219, you would see that the actual offences all involve harm: criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and manslaughter by criminal negligence.

That is why the language of "carelessness" and not "negligence" is used in the other sections that you quoted - they deal with inherently dangerous activities that constitute offences regardless of whether someone is injured. If harm was a requirement they would use the term negligence instead.

John, the law recognizes what you are talking about during sentencing. Someone who was driving 20k over and kills someone and someone who was driving 100k over and kills someone might both be found guilty of criminal negligence causing death, but the first person will face a lesser sentence than the second person because the facts were less egregious. If that's the case, why does the label that you put on the activity matter - the state has recognized that the person has committed a criminal act and penalized them accordingly.

Some posters get personal and start slinging uncomplimentary blanket descriptives such as stupid, simplistic, ridiculous, bullshit etc.instead of challenging individual statements on their own merit. I don't think this is conducive to intelligent debate, but perhaps that is not the goal?

@trikebum - your conclusions are erroneous, hardly scientific. They are not all the 'same thing', obviously.

What I said was same thing same dangers. Cyclists riding in any of these facilities are subject to right hooks at intersections and are not visible to motorists entering the road from driveways or side streets. Motorists look out into the traffic lane.before proceeding.They are not looking for and do not see cyclist on sidewalks and BLs. They see me easily because I am where they expect traffic to be: in the traffic lane.

If I call your conclusion bullsh*t, that's not a personal attack, that's me making a judgement call on your conclusion. It doesn't seem to have done much good, because you continue to assume that all bicycle facilities have the same "dangers", when it is clear from the literature I quoted that they are not the same at all: they are not all just as dangerous.

You are making these sensationalist conclusions, trying to scare cyclists out of bike lanes, and someone needs to call you on your here-say and conclusions without evidence.

Trikebum - Looking way back, I think you were trying to make the point that people shouldn't be reliant entirely on Bike Lanes; that seems reasonable. Adding that people should seek to educate themselves on safe cycling practices is also valid, but taking the position that Bike Lanes present more danger than safety is just not true.

Are there collisions that take place where Bike Lanes terminate? - yes. Does a false sense of security pose a threat to cyclists when they come out of a Bike Lane? - yes. However, if you look at the overall data and collisions rates, bike lanes do significantly improve safety; to refute this claim without any conclusive data opens you up to ridicule.

So before we all turn our collective backs on the traffic engineers, urban planners, and extensive data that support Bike Lanes, you need to realize the audacity of your position and consider that maybe there is consensus in the place where this whole debate started.

This was written by Christine Code, CanBike instructor and national examiner:
http://tinyurl.com/25tkyda

She opens with this quote:

Cyclists tend to blame motorists or road engineering for cycling accidents, and rarely consider that the problem may lie from within. The persons causing most cyclist accidents are cyclists themselves, so by far the most effective method of reducing cycle injuries is learning to drive a bicycle as a vehicle using virtually all the same rules as driving an automobile.

Panaceas will not solve cyclists' problems. Bike paths and helmets were yesterday's panaceas; today's are bike lanes. Bike lanes are being promoted without considering their adverse effects, and in the absence of any evidence to support the claim they are "safer" for cyclists.
—Avery Burdett

and she continues with:

Here are some of the problems that bike lanes create:

* Bike lanes cause turning and crossing conflicts for cyclists and motorists thus encouraging cyclists and motorists to drive in an unsafe fashion.
* Bike lanes contain additional road hazards for cyclists.
* Bike lanes lead to discrimination against cyclists.
* Wider curb lanes would be better than bike lanes for cyclists.

Conclusive data is more than the unsubstantiated opinions of one (CANBIKE instructor or not).

You should also consider that studies have shown that the increases in volume on a Bike Lane, far out pace the overall percentage of accidents, e.g.: 50% increase in the number of cyclists occurs with only a 10% increase in accidents. Proportionate values have consistently shown that a Bike Lanes provide improved safety.

Sorry 'anonymous' I am not assured by your opinion.

You are trying to take a codified view of our legal system. Our system is common law which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to push.

No clue what you mean by saying that negligence is a technical term. Maybe you have a reference for that? Negligence is based on a reasonable persons test, that is why you see the term "reasonable" so often, it is a common thread. While on its face it may seem awfully abstract there is enough case law to define 'negligence'.

The Supreme Court in R v. Hundall 2003 ties all of this information together quite well,

Per L'Heureux‑Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory and Iacobucci JJ.: The mens rea for the offence of dangerous driving should be assessed objectively but in the context of all the events surrounding the incident. The objective test meets the requirements of s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and was properly applied here.

Negligent driving can be thought of as a continuum that progresses, or regresses, from momentary lack of attention giving rise to civil responsibility through careless driving under a provincial Highway Traffic Act to dangerous driving under the Criminal Code.

Section 233 (now s. 249) of the Criminal Code requires an objective standard. This standard is quite appropriate given the need to reduce highway carnage. A consideration of the personal factors essential to determining subjective intent is generally not necessary given the fixed standards of physical and mental well‑being coupled with the basic knowledge of the standard of care required of licensed drivers. A driver, whose conduct was objectively dangerous, should not be acquitted because he or she was not thinking of his or her manner of driving at the time of the accident. The nature of driving itself is often so routine and automatic that it is almost impossible to determine a particular state of mind of a driver at any given moment. The question to be asked, therefore, given that liability for dangerous driving is based on negligence, is whether, viewed objectively, the accused exercised the appropriate standard of care‑‑not whether the accused subjectively intended the consequences of his or her action. The accused can still raise a reasonable doubt that a reasonable person would have been aware of the risks of his or her conduct. The test must be applied flexibly in the context of the events surrounding the incident.

The trier of fact must be satisfied that the conduct amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the accused's situation. If the accused offers an explanation, such as a sudden and unexpected onset of illness, the trier of fact, in order to convict, must be satisfied that a reasonable person in similar circumstances ought to have been aware of the risk and of the danger involved in the conduct manifested by the accused. A charge to the jury need only follow this reasoning. It need not be long or complex. Neither the section nor the offence requires it.

If that's the case, why does the label that you put on the activity matter - the state has recognized that the person has committed a criminal act and penalized them accordingly.

Well, fundamentally, because the whole notion of justice rests on the truth, learning it, telling it, acting on it, and part of telling the truth involves naming things correctly. If I operate a car at egregiously excessive speed in the city, I have formed the intent to kill anyone who drives around the next corner, and if I form that intent, and I do in fact kill the person, that makes my offence murder, not negligence.

In addition, in Canada the "labels" you speak of have penalties attached to them: 10 years without parole in the case of second degree murder, 25 in the case of first degree murder.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

that CanBike instructors lack the qualifications to critique bike facilities?

Darren,

Do you have any legal training, or are you just blindly poking around on CanLII, or worse, wikipedia?

I am not trying to assure you, I am trying to educate you. No amount of arguing on the Internet will change what negligence is. You can choose to remain ignorant if you'd like, that is your choice.

If I remember correctly, in Hundal is the out of control dump truck case. As I recall, it was raining, he was speeding, and he drove a dump truck into another car killing or seriously injuring the occupants. That is simply further proof of what I have been telling you - that damage is an essential element of negligence.

If you'd like to prove to me that damage is not an essential element of negligence, I invite you to find a case where someone was found guilty of a negligence offence or civilly liable in negligence without causing damage.
While you are reading case law, start with donoghue v. stevenson and work your way forward.

If you are so interested in this, I encourage you to enrol in law school and join the ranks of the profession. Once you've finished your first year torts class, come back here and let me know what you've learned.

John,

is your argument that a nineteen year old who gets carried away, engages in a stoplight drag race with another car, and kills a cyclist is equally evil as a person who hates cyclists, drives the same speed and intentionally swerves into a bike lane, killing someone? Are you saying that both of those people are equally morally blameworthy?

What if the nineteen year old is destroyed by the experience, has nightmares about it for the rest of his or her life, refuses to drive again, and would give anything for the chance to take it back? What if the other person sleeps like a baby and would do the exact same thing again, given the chance? Is your position that these two people should receive equal punishment?

You are now asking
questions to assumptions you made previously?

Damage is not an essential element of negligence, though it can be a
result.

Criminal negligence is the general classification for negligence in the
criminal code. Dangerous Operation is the specific charge for negligent
operation. Subsection 1(a) requires no damage or injury. Only risk that
someone could have been harmed.

Your favourites from the uneducated folks at CanLII show over 414 cases
with respect to subsection 1(a). Here is just one example;
http://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsca/doc/1997/1997canlii907/19...

Now with a civil suit you are suing for some form(s) of compensation to
replace what you have lost. If you were to a race on a public street
you could face the charge of dangerous driving. If some sort of
loss were to occur you could also be liable to civil action. There is no
way to use a suit to seek compensation for only dangerous driving under
1(a). Though if I had knowledge that you were about to do something
negligent, like dangerous driving, the appropriate civil remedy would be
an injunction to prevent you from doing said act.

Donoghue develops 'duty of care' and does not ask for damage to occur
but "foreseeability of damage" or risk with respect to negligence.

Trikebum - I asked you to provide conclusive data to support your claim the Bike Lanes are more dangerous than safe. All you provided was the expressed opinion on a CANBIKE instructor.

  • Definition of Conclusive: Serving to put an end to doubt, question, or uncertainty.

PS - The people that wrote CANBIKE are the same people that play insrumental roles in the implementation of Toronto's Bike Lanes.

When you say assumptions, are you referring to my question about your lack of legal training, or your poking around on wikipedia?

Care to answer either of those questions?

that an unbiased, properly instructed jury could, on the facts in your first example, convict both the street racers in your first example of manslaughter or unpremeditated murder. On the facts in your second example, I believe a properly instructed jury could convict on premeditated murder charges.

Let's change the weapon. Imagine two young men taunt one another over a woman friend. To make the other back down, one produces a Colt; thinking his opposite number intends to fire, the other pull out a Glock. In mutual fear, they exchange shots, and a stray shot kills a pedestrian. Same sad lack of impulse control and lousy judgement, same outcome. But in the case of a gun death, the prosecution would almost certainly level charges of murder, probably against both participants.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

If a person acted with a reckless disregard for the safety of others, you could argue negligence; but, if you can prove that they acted with intent, then that's an entirely different matter.

... that in the second case, the driver was speeding excessively and spontaneously drove into the bicycle lane with the intent to kill a cyclist. Assume that both are convicted of second degree murder. Both have committed the same offence and both face the same sentence. Are you comfortable with that?

following the rules of the road has been best, safe practice for for well over a 100 years.

As segregated facilities are now the 'new kid on the block", I think it's up to the newbies to prove 'conclusively' that these make cycling safer than riding on the road obeying the laws.
After all, you want vehicular cyclists and other taxpayers to bankroll them so you can feel more comfortable without having to learn anything.

OTOH I would happily contribute to a cycling education fund so newcomers will feel comfortable riding on the road in a vehicular manner.

PS - The people that wrote CANBIKE are the same people that play insrumental roles in the implementation of Toronto's Bike Lanes.

Really? The people who wrote CanBike? Please tell me more.

following the rules of the road has been best, safe practice for for well over a 100 years.

As segregated facilities are now the 'new kid on the block", I think it's up to the newbies to prove 'conclusively' that these make cycling safer than riding on the road obeying the laws.
After all, you want vehicular cyclists and other taxpayers to bankroll them so you can feel more comfortable without having to learn anything.

OTOH I would happily contribute to a cycling education fund so newcomers will feel comfortable riding on the road in a vehicular manner.

PS - The people that wrote CANBIKE are the same people that play insrumental roles in the implementation of Toronto's Bike Lanes.

Really? The people who wrote CanBike? Please tell me more.

Go to canbike.net and check the history tab - any names look familiar?

Yes. Christine Code and this:

...a group of instructors in British Columbia had travelled to Seattle to certify as Effective Cycling instructors under the supervision of John Forster.

I see no policies advocating or endorsing segregated facilities..

John, respectively I cannot see how it would be of much help to cyclists if your examples were considered murders or not. It is an argument that has gone on for decades about how much responsibility/knowledge and/or intent a driver has getting behind the wheel. Even if they were considered murders would it change the kill rate of cyclists, which is really low to begin with?

Would greater good not come from a deterrent such as the 'stunt driving law' or something along the lines of 'Greg's Law' that allows for the seizure of vehicles? Maybe something that takes better aim at the aggression on our roads?

Sorry anonymous you lack any credibility or respect to get an answer.

The 'Canadian Judicial Council' may be helpful to you. They have 'codified'-like questions/answers/rationales for several parts of the criminal code. Including 'negligence' and what is an included negligent offence.

Good luck.

First, CAN-BIKE instructors are not privy to any privileged information. They rely on statistical data as much as anyone else.

Second, I say again that the literature review I linked to shows that the majority of studies out there show that bike lanes and segregated bike lanes have a positive influence on safety and comfort.

Third, you again come up with a ridiculous either/or choice for cyclists: either we have bike facilities and everyone disobeys the law; or we have no bike facilities and everyone obeys the law. This choice is stupid and unrealistic.

I apologize if you believe that I have been disrespectful - that is not my intention.

My point is simply this: legal terms often have a very precise meaning associated with them. They sound like English, you can find them in the dictionary, but what they actually mean is not exactly what you think they mean - this gets people who don't have legal training in trouble when they go into court and rely on their misunderstanding of the law. "Negligence" happens to be one of those terms.

@anonymous - Nothing about the justice system makes me comfortable, but I feel as comfortable with the idea of the racing driver in your scenario facing the penalty for murder as I do with a young man who pulled out a gun in fear for his life facing the same penalty. I acknowledge the impossibility of calibrating legal outcomes precisely to degrees of remorse or culpability. But a look at current dispositions of cases involving traffic deaths, including deaths caused by heinously irresponsible behaviour, indicates a disparity between the punishment for killing with a bullet and killing with a bumper that amounts to effective impunity for drivers. I want to end the impunity. If that means someone who cries for what they have done after they have done it serves as much time as someone with a hateful attitude and no remorse, I regard that as an unfortunate result of an imperfect justice system, and better than a situation where the courts go out of their way to avoid undue inconvenience to people who commit homicide with a car.

@Darren - You ask a fair question. I can only answer that I consider removing impunity for drivers the right thing to do purely on the grounds of justice. I strongly suspect it would alter driver behaviour. The image of the public road as a lawless free for all certainly appears to help car manufacturers sell their "safety" features. I suspect the same perception makes people reluctant to ride. I agree I cannot prove any of this. I would also say that exposing drivers who kill under the most heinous circumstances to the full weight of Canadian murder statutes would not preclude more traffic safety laws.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

For an apology to have any value it needs, at the very least, credibility. You need a lot of work to build your credibility.

Not asking you to identify yourself but better support your claims. You spend more time trying to deflect with rudeness than answering the issue at hand. You tell us to believe you and trust your word yet do nothing to back it up. Who in their right mind would believe someone named 'anonymous' and is so condescending? Surely you yourself cannot believe anyone will give you any credibility based on your behaviour.

Yes 'negligence' is misunderstood because a lot of people have a hard time understanding the differences between subjective and objective issues involved in its definition.

John I cannot fault you for your beliefs but think it will be very hard to get the changes you want recognized. Especially since you also want to turn equity onto its head. Will be a lot of work for little gain.

Immediately seizing peoples' cars when they do stupid things is showing, so far, to be more effective. Less stupid people on the road, less chance they get to kill.

have you taken over this conversation for Seymore?

If you wish to debate fairly with me please go back to the questions I've put to you as a CB instructor. Please reread and lets discuss point-by-point where you and I disagree. Blanket negative and personal descriptives such as stupid, bullsh*t:, ridiculous, simplistic, unrealistic etc
tend to shut down fair and logical debate. Or could that be your intention?

And who will give them these 'tips'? Other people who ride in bike lanes? The answer I was hoping for from a CanBike instructor was that while everyone is waiting for BLs they should learn to ride on the road according to the rules of the road, and the best way to that would be to take an accredited training course.This is what Effective Cycling and CanBike were created for. Do you not agree?
**
" Novice cyclists could certainly use some tips on getting into and out of bike lanes. I encourage them to take a course, but it also looks like most of them figure it out. "**

I don't think wrong-way riders, sidewalk riders and scofflaws have it figured out at all. Do you?
In pursuing an agenda of building BLs on the premise of attracting people to take up cycling, the newcomers will be innocent pawns in a game of politics. They are the ones who will come to harm, not the ones who have road training or have 'figured it out.'

I would like think that a CanBike instructor would not merely suggest, but to actively promote education as the cornerstone in any programme designed to increase cycling. Right now, those who clamour for BLs only give lip service to education, if they consider it at all.
I'd really like to know how many people took a CB course in TO in the last few years as compared to how many newbies. Do you have any figures? Any guesses?