Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The limits of fluorescent yellow

As far as I am aware, there are two theories of cycling. The first is that adopted by some European countries. Cycling is recognised as a legitimate form of transport ideally suited to short trips and for that reason it is positively encouraged. Separate networks of bicycle lanes are installed and at junctions it is very clear who has right of way and when. The other is vehicular cycling which is practiced in Australia, the US, the UK and other English speaking countries. That is the theory that bikes are vehicles too and they should be treated the same way as all other vehicles. They should be subject to exactly the same rules and as a consequence deserve the same respect. That respect is of course seen on the AdelaideNow website whenever there is an article even remotely related to bicycles.

With vehicular cycling there is no need for separated bike lanes because people on bicycles are treated the same way as people in cars. That means that they can be rear ended in the same way as cars. That is generally not advisable for a person on a bicycle so instead of removing that danger altogether, you are encouraged to put on your helmet and fluorescent yellow jacket. Very sensible of course but you have to hope that the motorist behind you is not like this bloke. I saw this video on Tom Vanderbilt's blog How We Drive (he is the author of the book "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" - a must read):

Regrettably, no matter how careful you might be for your own safety, human beings being what they are, inevitably someone will eventually make a mistake. If you are in a big European car with magnificent crumple zones and multiple airbags, your chances of serious injury are lessened (to a point). Not so if you are a pedestrian or on a bike. Somehow we continue to expose people to this sort of danger though.

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