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Cyclists' behavior at Pedal PGH

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chemicaldave

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Aug 26 2013 at 12:01pm #

I don’t normally like to complain about cyclist who disobey traffic laws because I’d assumed those people were a minority. However, after riding PedalPGH yesterday I feel like I should say something. There were many observed instances of people disobeying traffic signals and generally being discourteous to other riders and vehicles, too. PedalPGH is probably the one day where cyclists are most visible to drivers. I know we shouldn’t have to prove our right to use the roads, but it only hurts when you disobey traffic laws in front of drivers.

1) I lost track of how many people didn’t stop at signs or rolled through red lights. I know it can be safe to do an Idaho-style stop but when there are cars driving with us the only thing it serves to do is support drivers’ preconceptions about cyclists not following the law. Usually the first thing I hear drivers complain about is that cyclists never stop at signs or that they run red lights. Yesterday was probably the most visibility cyclist get in the city, and a large number of them disobeyed traffic signals in front of other vehicles, many cutting off cross traffic who had a right of way. Please, it doesn’t take that much effort to start again after stopping.

2) Running red lights. At one point on the north side the 100km and 25mi routes intersected. I saw some riders roll through the red light and almost hit cyclists coming the other way who had a green.

3) A couple of times I noticed cyclists failing to line up behind cars in a left turn lane. I saw people cut in front of cars that were stopped. Why they did this I have no idea. Again, bad idea to do this in front of drivers.

4) I noticed this more on the 25mi route that the 100km one: massive packs of riders swerving into oncoming traffic in order to pass slower cyclist, and slower cyclist not riding to the right, impeding vehicular traffic to the rear. Perhaps it’s not a valid complaint but I thought the law was only two abreast. This was a problem coming up liberty, on friendship ave, down highland ave, and up dallas ave.

I have 4 hours of video that I could go through a pick out offenses, but I’d rather not post incriminating evidence in public.

Am I being too critical or did anyone else see this type of behavior?


sarapgh2

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Aug 26 2013 at 12:12pm #

This is a tough one because I know a lot of people feel Pedal Pgh is important to bike advocacy and showing that cycling is for everyone. That said, I totally agree with you @chemicaldave and avoid the ride like the plague. My husband insisted on driving us near one of the routes on our way to the grocery store and I couldn’t watch. While there were groups that rode reasonably and courteously, there were many riders that (I’m sure in ignorance) were riding in a very dangerous manner. I saw the same things regarding not following red lights or stop signs, pulling in front of cars out of nowhere, weaving around parked car rather than staying in the line, etc. etc.

There’s not much the organizers or volunteers can do about this behavior, so I’m not here to point fingers nor, I’m sure, is chemicaldave. I just think the behavior on this ride gives cyclists a bad name.

I also thought the dipshittery was confined to the 25 m ride, but then we saw the 65 m people. :( These cat 6 heroes were worse IMHO because they were in danger of causing damage not just to themselves, but to others, as they didn’t stop at the well-known Frick crosswalk and almost ran down an elderly woman with a walker and a dog, as well as another pedestrian. Then flew through the red light below.

this is just my opinion, I know this event means a lot to many people on this board.


andyc

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Aug 26 2013 at 12:25pm #

I noticed a lot of the same. While I did a fair amount of jockeying by others on uphills (while watching my mirror for traffic), I did stop at all red lights and slow and look (or stop if other vehicles) at stop signs.

I imagine most of the people just don’t normally ride on roads or didn’t expect that normal road rules applied. This is especially true around intersections where no one really lined up in the appropriate lane. (Many intersections seemed more like an amoeba-like mass expanding to consume the available space and enveloping any other vehicles that may have been waiting.)

The only solution I can think of is that anyone that is normally a road rider (or perhaps more aptly “street” – as in city grid) must set a good example. (Herd mentality certainly does set in fast.)

I thought to myself on several occasions, “Having a number pinned to yourself is no excuse to behave irresponsibly – it just lets everyone else know exactly which number jackass you are!”

I was also surprised that the letters to the editor this morning were not inundated with stories about irresponsible cycling – and I can’t say the letter writers would have been wrong.


edmonds59

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Aug 26 2013 at 12:34pm #

I did the 25 miler. Bad. The thought that kept popping into my head was how much it was like New Years Eve or St. Patrick’s day for drinkers – amateur day.
That said, I just rode my own ride. I would repeatedly get ahead of a large group of newbs, stop at lights and stop signs, signal turns, and get in correct lanes for turning. I must say, about 60% of people would follow my lead, and as the day went on, I saw significantly more people stopping, signaling, etc., so hopefully something sunk in. A large number of people would go streaming by, but you know what, I’m not their freaking mother. Or a cop.
In my observation it was the Cat 6 wannabees, young and old, who most flagrantly blew the laws and once again, they really should know better.


jonawebb

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Aug 26 2013 at 12:43pm #

It’s a general problem, not just at Pedal Pgh. Everyone has their own set of rules, and the laws don’t correspond exactly to safe practice. Some of the things you’re complaining about — by “weaving around parked car rather than staying in the line” I think you mean filtering — are actually legal. And we all do stuff that’s illegal — anybody here ride while listening to an iPod? Or not stop foot down at every stop sign? Or roll through a 4-way red light after the pedestrians have cleared?
If we as a society really cared about this we’d have laws that make sense, and enforce them. But bikes are just not that big a danger to others; mostly, when a cyclist does something stupid, they are creating a risk to themselves. So we let it go. And that seems like a good idea to me.


edmonds59

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Aug 26 2013 at 1:14pm #

The most egregious incident I experienced was at the stop sign on N. Highland at Bryant, right near Tazza D’Oro. I was WAY out in front of any other riders, and a white car was stopped on Bryant waiting to turn out onto N. Highland. I stopped at the stop sign, but the car continued to wait, because approaching behind me were mixed groups of cyclists, some casual riders who were going slowly enough to safely stop, but THEY were being passed at high speed by a steaming group of Cat 6′s sailing down the hill who had no intention of even slowing at the stop sign. So this amorphous, uncontrolled collection of riders oozed through the intersection without anyone crashing. Thank goodness the driver erred on the side of caution, there would have been all kinds of injuries. For the driver and passengers the resulting impression must have been just a huge brain-full of WTF?


HiddenVariable

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Aug 26 2013 at 1:17pm #

jonawebb wrote:Or not stop foot down at every stop sign?

where did this ludicrous idea that a stop requires one to put one’s foot down? it’s certainly not encoded in the law.

anyway: echoing the sentiment here, yeah you get a lot of people out on bikes who don’t normally ride at all, let alone in traffic. i rode with a friend who does ride regularly, but almost entirely on trails. i was rather shocked to see him riding about a foot away from parked cars, thinking he ought to have known better, and when i advised him on this, he had no idea (and later, this modification in his behavior potentially avoided two mishaps). he also filtered up at every light, even if the one car in front had just passed us. i often stayed back in line, and waited for lights that were about to change, and i believe my behavior had an effect on his. but a lot of even experienced bicyclists just don’t know how to ride in traffic, and pedal pittsburgh is an event that attracts a lot of inexperienced folks.

hopefully, as time goes on, and more people ride bikes, and more bike infrastructure pops up, we will have fewer complaints to voice.


WillB

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Aug 26 2013 at 1:18pm #

jonawebb wrote:mostly, when a cyclist does something stupid, they are creating a risk to themselves

Traffic rules are not just there for safety, they also maintain fairness and order. Lots of the things that cyclists do aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they’re rude and they disrupt the order of traffic and that’s part of what upsets people. Road users have an obligation to be considerate in addition to being safe.


jonawebb

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Aug 26 2013 at 1:21pm #

HiddenVariable wrote:where did this ludicrous idea that a stop requires one to put one’s foot down? it’s certainly not encoded in the law.

I guess it’s OK if you can do a track stand. But slowing to a crawl, nah, not a stop. Crappy track stand, nope. Better to put that foot down.
I’d like to suggest anyone complaining about the illegal behavior of others during Pedal Pgh also include a list of the traffic laws you, personally, flout.
Myself, I’m a stop sign-crawler and a one-way street violator. And I’ll roll through a 4-way red light after the pedestrians are cleared. And oh yeah, sometimes I ride on sidewalks in business districts when there’s no pedestrians around.


chemicaldave

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Aug 26 2013 at 1:57pm #

jonawebb wrote: Some of the things you’re complaining about — by “weaving around parked car rather than staying in the line” I think you mean filtering — are actually legal.

I don’t mean a parked car, I mean a running car in the lane waiting to turn left and cyclists going around and cutting in front of the cars to meet up with people in the front.


Mikhail

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Aug 26 2013 at 2:20pm #

http://pvpost.com/2013/08/23/prairie-village-police-ticket-26-bicyclists-for-disobeying-stop-sign-20654


scott

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Aug 26 2013 at 2:35pm #

I got reports from a bunch of people that 90-95% of the riders yesterday were very courteous.


ajbooth

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Aug 26 2013 at 3:08pm #

scott wrote:I got reports from a bunch of people that 90-95% of the riders yesterday were very courteous.

That mirrors my experience on the 62 mile ride. The vast majority of cyclists were well behaved. I did see a cyclist nearly get double crushed by running a red light on Negley–cars from both directions had to stop to avoid him. I also confronted a rider who passed a large group bunched in a left turn lane in East Liberty. He passed the group on the left, and in trying to get to the front of the group, almost knocked a child over. I was angry, and chased him down. We exchanged ideas about his asshattery, and suffice it to say we did not see eye-to-eye.

Other than those two incidents, the cyclists I rode with, or encountered, were friendly, observant, and cooperative. When the 25 mile route and the 62 mile route co-mingled, it was a little challenging, because many of the 25 mile riders were clearly involved in their first group ride. But I expect that on this ride, so I’m always looking out for it.


gg

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Aug 26 2013 at 3:29pm #

As with most things these days, people tend to focus on the few bad eggs and not realize there are lots of nice cyclists out there. Even on a cycling forum such as this one, people focusing on the negatives. It is a tough go out there on a bike. Sometimes on a big ride like Pedal Pittsburgh people will take an I own the road approach due to the masses. It happens. Get over it. It isn’t like every day is a big ride like Pedal Pittsburgh.

Jonawebb, I think you and I ride in similar fashion as I read your posts.


sierramister

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Aug 26 2013 at 3:36pm #

We rode unrelated to PP with my wife and baby through Homestead. We were surprised by the lack of education on the part of the organizers regarding the recent crackdown from West Homestead in front of Costco. In fact, I was surprised that there wasn’t a marshall through this section of trail!

With the baby, I didn’t take the trail. We stopped at every stop sign, with a full foot down, mostly because we saw the West Homies out near Costco (they pulled over a motorist just after we passed them). A group of PP riders behind us were growing impatient because our group was stopping at every sign.

Not to mention the full stops have made it awkward because the motorists are confused about whether they should yield or proceed to sidewalk users.

Besides that, we were very pleased with the courtesy everyone had given the heavy traffic on the trail.


pbeaves

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Aug 26 2013 at 3:51pm #

one of the things i continually noticed was the way “bad behaiviors”
would cascade thru groups of riders as though it was how one should ride in an
event this scope.

When groups / families of casual riders are waiting at a light and
sees someone in thier matching logo kit blow thru every light
as though it was expected behaivor, they think that is how one
should ride this event.

At first they are stopping, but then they see the lights being ran,
so i guess we’re supposed to run the lights.
i mean that guy just did it, and he looks like those guys on the tv
during the big french bike race last month.
So they run second light with a slight pause, so far so good, this is easy.
Then they start running all the lights, thinking why not?
we’ve got numbers on our backs, the city knows theres a big bike thing today right?
we’re supposed to have the right of way the whole day, right?
cars dont run over the people who run the marathon, right?
and we have numbers just like them, right?

honestly, its a miracle someone didnt die.

I am truly supportive of the event and the benefits it brings to the city,
i’m not sure how, but i feel there needs to be some kind of enhancemental education
for all riders of future events.
safely enhance the experiance & fun for the casuals,
and to remind some others that pedalpgh is not a cat6 free-for-all.

(i’m not phrasing this in an attempt to bash riders whom enjoy matching kits.
this was based on my observations of the day.
and yes, i know plenty of people in t-shirts & gym shorts who ride like jack@$$es)


smarchit

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Aug 26 2013 at 3:52pm #

I witnessed and grimmaced at a fair share of redlight runners/yielders as well on the 60 mile course. This seemed to be particularly prevalent during the early hour sections in downtown, and circling around the Allegheny Center/ Northside Loop. The groups seemed well behaved as we started out down Carson, but patience with the frequency of the lights appeared to grow continuously thinner as we progressed through town. Car traffic was light enough at this time that it didn’t pose a major hazard, but it certainly presented a poor reflection to the motorists we were encountering.

Having said that, I saw that the Trib at least got a positive picture and caption reflecting a large group of riders stopped at a light on Carson.


stefb

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Aug 26 2013 at 4:56pm #

Any time you get cat 6ers and new people together on the same route, this kind of thing is going to happen. Any time anyone does anything there are jags that are going to do dangerous things. The more I commute the more I roll stop signs and yield at red lights if there is no other traffic. I don’t think any amount of education was going to change the behavior of some people. I admit that I didn’t put a foot down at every stop sign. But I can see everyone’s points. The only way to make people stop and obey laws is to have a ton of marshals and I don’t think that is happening. Though having a Marshall at a big intersection where we were turning left would have been nice, but there probably wasn’t the man power. For instance, from highland to ELB, we had courteous drivers that let us go, otherwise it would have been tough.


stefb

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Aug 26 2013 at 5:01pm #

But really, it was pretty obvious that there was a cycling event going on. As a human being with a brain, if I was looking in from the outside, I would recognize that there were kids, new cyclists, and the random turds, as well as mostly well behaved people.


edmonds59

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Aug 26 2013 at 5:08pm #

Wow! Maybe that photo will shut up the idiots who comment on newspaper articles who say they’ve never, never, ever, ever seen a bicyclist stop at a stop sign or red light.
Nah.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 26 2013 at 5:36pm #

Oblivious cyclists are a symptom of a different problem, one we’ve discussed here at length at other times, namely that Americans in general never received any training at all in proper bike etiquette. Those of us on this board are mainly experienced cyclists, so most of us have hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of miles of on-road experience. On a day like yesterday, all those people who have an old Huffy in the basement, or that Trek they got for Christmas 2008, drag it out, pump up the tires, pin their bib number on, and go for a ride. Great for them! Great for us! But wow, that’s when all that non-training comes out for display.

It would really, really help if we had a way to train children the way it’s done in places where they treat cycling as a serious way of getting around. Also a way of getting that same training into adults’ heads in a wholesale manner. I know the Cycling Savvy program would be ideal as a training mechanism, but how do we do that for a group of 2,500 to 3,000 riders?


edmonds59

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Aug 26 2013 at 5:57pm #

Good point Stu, but thinking about it, I must differ.
I think Pbeaves hit the nail on the head. The total newbs are smart enough to watch others for cues, that’s just natural human behavior. The really offending ones who I observed appear to be very experienced riders who have ridden those thousands of miles with terrible habits, who just think the rules don’t apply to them, and will never descend to some kind of “training” program, and they don’t seem to acknowledge or care what kind of example they set. I don’t know what you do about that.


racedoug

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Aug 26 2013 at 6:33pm #

I did the 25mile route and did see a few red light runners. Some would even blow the light and yell “all clear”. Traffic was very kind during the entire ride. I did see one “biker” yell “4 feet a&&%$le” at a driver when he thought they passed to close. To me he was one of the “I am special so I can ride anywhere bikers” He was actually in the wrong. This was at a tight spot with cars parked on both sides of the road just after a light, the “special biker” crossed the yellow line while the truck was trying his best to go around the group. All the driver did was hold his hands up while the “biker” yelled. Everyone in the group around me realized and said that the biker was in the wrong.

What are we going to do when we have 2800+ bikers of all skill levels, comfort levels, etc… riding together??? I say the only thing we can do is lead by example. During the entire ride I would yell “car back” to try to encourage the group of people riding 10 wide to thin out a little making it easier for cars to get around. I even got a few thank you’s for doing that from some people who I am sure were a little uncomfortable riding in traffic. I also stopped at every light. More than once when someone would run a red light I noticed that some people were thinking about doing it too but would see me stop and they would stop right with me.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect by any means, I rolled a few stop signs but only after seeing that there was no traffic and more than likely would not be any cars coming at all just to be sure that if the people behind me rolled through they would not run into a problem.

So to make the long story of my two cents short….all we can do is lead by example.


cburch

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Aug 26 2013 at 6:33pm #

train the new ones and let the rest die off.


Marko82

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Aug 26 2013 at 6:43pm #

Instead of getting up early and doing the 100k, I slept in and then spent the day just riding around sections of the course. I don’t know if it was because I was riding later in the event, or if cyclists’ behavior was just worse this year, but I saw plenty of bad cycling behavior yesterday. I called a few people out (politely) for running red lights, only to see them run the next red light they came to. I saw cyclist riding through a vehicle crash @ Dallas and Penn nearly knocking the injured drivers down. Etc, Etc.

So what to do?
I think it would be great if next year BP held a “how to bike safely in the city” clinic in the week leading up to pedal pgh. It would be similar to the clinics that are held leading up to the marathon every year. Riders could stop by to pick up their numbers & packets and attend a twenty minute safety talk by certified cyclists. It could even be a video with a live Q&A. In my mind the instructors would explain WHY you want to do or avoid some behaviors, not just ‘this is the law’. I know this costs money – but this is our core mission – making cycling safer – isn’t it?

We keep talking about educating both cyclists and drivers – so let’s start doing it!


mr marvelous

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Aug 26 2013 at 6:54pm #

I really enjoy Pedal Pittsburgh, there is a lot of good things to post about, good people, lots of bikes, and tons of fun. I notice every year there is a thread about something wrong about PP, how about a thread about things we love about it. I believe we all had way more good moments during the ride than bad, lets talk about the good.


cburch

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Aug 26 2013 at 7:07pm #

what he said

mr marvelous wrote:I really enjoy Pedal Pittsburgh, there is a lot of good things to post about, good people, lots of bikes, and tons of fun. I notice every year there is a thread about something wrong about PP, how about a thread about things we love about it. I believe we all had way more good moments during the ride than bad, lets talk about the good.


Naomi

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Aug 26 2013 at 7:18pm #

Many of the drivers were very courteous.

I made a point of stopping at the stop signs and more than once a few of the following cyclists also stopped :-)

I think the MS rides have the riders sign a pledge to ride no more than 2 abreast, call ‘on your left’ when passing, stop at stop signs etc. Maybe including that in the registration form, or asking for experienced cyclists to lead by example would help.


ajbooth

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Aug 26 2013 at 7:59pm #

It was Sunday.

The weather was spectacular.

I was on my bike for four hours with mostly like-minded people.

Those are some of the things I love about Pedal Pittsburgh.


gg

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Aug 26 2013 at 8:13pm #

mr marvelous wrote:I really enjoy Pedal Pittsburgh, there is a lot of good things to post about, good people, lots of bikes, and tons of fun. I notice every year there is a thread about something wrong about PP, how about a thread about things we love about it. I believe we all had way more good moments during the ride than bad, lets talk about the good.

Haven’t been in a while and used to ride the 60, but I couldn’t agree more. After reading this crap, I don’t think I would have any interest in doing the Pedal Pittsburgh at all. Too many judgmental people for me. It is just a weekend big ride. Goodness, why be so hard on folks that might be very new. How about some encouragement? Wow!


screbner

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Aug 26 2013 at 8:23pm #

+1 Marko +1 Naomi +1 Racedoug

We need to educate and lead by example. We’re not going to get public support for our vision if we don’t coexist with other users of the public right-of-ways. Particularly when we’re in a very public forum, like an organized ride the scale of Pedal Pittsburgh. Period.


salty

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Aug 26 2013 at 8:33pm #

Yes, there was plenty of bad behavior on the ride. That’s no reason to shit on the whole event, which is a great and positive thing as a whole.

Behavior on the MS ride is no different than what I saw yesterday. They do have the advantage of having marshals at many intersections directing traffic, including stopping cars. It would be awesome if that could happen for PP, but I get the impression the city won’t allow volunteers to direct traffic, and the cost of having the police do it is prohibitive. I’d imagine there is some threshold of X thousand participants where it will become feasible to do it, or even close the entire course.

I like Marko’s suggestion of a training clinic. It won’t get through to everyone but it would definitely help.

Also, even if marshals can’t direct car traffic, they can stand at intersections and direct cyclists to stop, which has worked pretty effectively on the keg ride. Of course that requires a TON more volunteers, but I assume everyone here complaining will be happy to help out with that… myself included, since I didn’t volunteer for the event this year – although I did kill a lot of brain cells huffing markers while coloring sadly ineffective “RIDERS MUST STOP” signs.


scott

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Aug 26 2013 at 8:58pm #

Thanks for the constructive suggestions. We’ll definitely talk about some of these ideas and see what we can do. So far these last two years it’s all we can do to pull it off. If you look at the email we sent and the rider guide we emphasized rules of the road. What may be the best thing to do is to make a 3-5 min video that we can send via email to all the registrants.


edmonds59

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Aug 26 2013 at 10:45pm #

I didn’t read anyone criticizing Pedal Pittsburgh, or Bike Pgh. It was a fantastic event. It’s been criticism of the behavior of other cyclists. We’re not supposed to do that here now? If we can’t critique ourselves, then we are exactly the thing that the anti bike commenters on the newspaper editorial pages charge us with, righteous idealogues unable to accept that any of us could do any wrong. I suppose I may be less apt to vehemently defend cyclists to the last breath on those editorial pages going forward.


salty

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Aug 26 2013 at 11:28pm #

There was plenty of bad behavior. I stopped at a lot of stop signs/red lights only to have riders blow past me on all sides. Not cool. Plenty of people did stop and generally follow the rules too. So, what can we do to make it better next year?

Do we really need 30+ posts of stereotyping, name calling, nitpicking, and general negativity?


salty

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Aug 26 2013 at 11:32pm #

FWIW, the most dangerous thing I saw (well, heard – it was behind me) all day was two cars crashing into each other hard on Penn Ave at Dallas. Fortunately no one was hurt, including any of the many cyclists in the vicinity.


HiddenVariable

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Aug 26 2013 at 11:56pm #

on the whole, i really thought it was a spectacular event. the problem of all those new folks suddenly riding around by bicycle and not knowing what to do is mostly solved by all those new folks suddenly riding around by bicycle and figuring out what to do. in fact, i think the event is more successful the more it gets people who aren’t used to riding in traffic out and learning from their mistakes.

there were definitely a lot more people than usual out riding, and many had no idea how to ride in traffic, but i look at my friend with whom i rode,and i see a bit of a learning curve. he’s a pretty strong rider, but really didn’t have much traffic experience. now he does, as a result of this ride.

and lastly: the bigger this ride gets, the better, obviously. if we imagine an event on the scale of, e.g., nyc or chicago, then we will have long ago ceased to care how well the riders represent the cycling community. it’s pretty much our duty to grow this ride.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 27 2013 at 5:42am #

I like Scott’s idea about a short video.

K.I.S.S.


edmonds59

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Aug 27 2013 at 5:59am #

So it just becomes Critical Mass without the name, and the asymmetrical haircuts? I’m ok with that if that’s the goal, but I know some people’s hair goes up in flames at the mention of CM.
I think Scott’s idea of the video is excellent. Much more likely to be seen. The 30-to-50 yr old men in “sponsored” kit who I watched blow red lights are not going to attend clinics. The PP ride brochure very clearly stated to stop for lights and stop signs, etc, and signs were placed right on stop signs. I’m not sure what else ride organizers can be expected to do.
As I said previously, the worst offenses I saw were not primarily by newbies, they were by much more experienced appearing riders setting bad examples. As we found with the Phenomenal Hope situation, hopefully these criticisms will trickle out through contacts to the people who need them. (edit; so yes I do think a thread with any amount of criticism of individual rider behavior is useful).
Also I think when the police help out with these things, they tend to do exactly the wrong thing, i.e. waving riders through lights, etc., and facilitating bad habits. Where they do help, they should be encouraged to direct riders to as they would on any normal traffic day.


Mikhail

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Aug 27 2013 at 6:39am #

salty wrote:but I get the impression the city won’t allow volunteers to direct traffic

Well, I rode 60 mile course as a volunteer (in orange safety west) mostly handing out spare tubes and helping to fix flats. But I stopped traffic a couple of times on intersections to let group I was with to pass it. Especially Mt.Oliver and S.18th (not very bicycle friendly drivers either have enough time to accelerate after Arlington-S.18th traffic light or still coming fast up hill). I guess volunteers can gather enough people at intersection and then stop traffic for a short time. In my case, it took about 20 seconds and none of drivers complained.

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