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An Awareness Test:
This is cool.
Oh, and yeah, watch out for cyclists. Thanks to The Monkey Cage for the link.
Loophole1998 (mail):
Cool. Another reason why eyewitness testimony is not always worth believing.
3.20.2008 2:31pm
Visitor Again:
An excellent demonstration that focus on one thing may mean lack of focus on others.
3.20.2008 2:36pm
Waltlaw (mail):
I'm so unused to watching sports it took me a few seconds to parse the instructions (white team, pass the ball) and interpret the action and I immediately lost track.
Just as I gave it up I saw a guy in a furry suit walk through the scene and knew that this was the important point of the exercise.
Never underestimate the observational powers of the confused mind.
3.20.2008 2:46pm
Guest!:
Saw 12 and a bear. What do I win?
3.20.2008 2:46pm
M.E.Butler (mail):
Nothing. There were 13 passes.

As a chronic cyclist, though, I concur with the final injunction: watch out for us.

And, to keep safe, we cyclists should always assume that every driver is not only unaware of our presence, but is actively attempting to run us over.
3.20.2008 2:55pm
Jamessadfasdfasfd:
Orin: A general comment for you. For whatever reason, the text of your posts never appears in this site's RSS feed; only the title does. Thus I rarely, if ever, read your posts, because a title alone just isn't enough to entice me to click over. Have you considered posting differently---as your colleagues do---such that some text appears in the feed's description field?
3.20.2008 2:58pm
Houston Lawyer:
What I really like are urban residents who go out to the country and ride bikes. A local jury will not convict you for running over a bicyclist who was riding 4 abreast with his friends on a two-lane 70 mph road.
3.20.2008 3:00pm
alias:
Cyclists who ride in congested urban areas during rush hour are idiots. If I'm in the right lane, I shouldn't have to expect some idiot to try to pass me on the right. And if I have a green light, I shouldn't have to worry about the fact that cyclists generally ignore signs and traffic lights and might be trying to run the red light.

If that stupid bear would moonwalk when there were fewer people around, would wear a reflective vest when it's dark out, or would moonwalk on a designated bear moonwalking trail, it wouldn't have to worry about motorists.
3.20.2008 3:02pm
Brian K (mail):
And, to keep safe,...

wear reflective clothing at night. you'd be surprised at how often I see people jogging at dusk/night in dark colored clothing.
3.20.2008 3:02pm
Earnest Iconoclast (mail) (www):
I don't understand why people think it's a good idea to ride a vehicle with a total weight of about 200 lbs (including driver), a top speed of around 30 mph at most, where the driver's body protects the vehicle along with cars and trucks. I realize that the law says that bicycles must ride in the street, but the physics are just against the bicyclist.

Watching out for motorcycles is hard enough... how many unlikely things are drivers expected to be on the lookout for? Bicycles, pedestrians in the wrong place, cars in the wrong place, motorcycles, animals, potholes, etc...
3.20.2008 3:06pm
D Palmer (mail):
ME Butler,

You are right. Drivers should look out for us, but I always assume that they aren't.

Cyclists could do a better job too though. A cyclist was recently killed here in Chicago when struck by a car as he blew a red light during an outlaw bike race. A local "bicycle activist" was quoted to the effect that it showed how little people pay attention to cyclists.

It's a two way street.

Drivers, cut me some slack, I can't always ride on the shoulder, sidewalk riding is illegal in most places, I don't want to get hit by a car door, so I refuse to ride 6 inches from the parked cars.

Cyclists: pay attention, respect stop signs and red lights, don't ride with headphones in both ears, don't ride at night in black clothes with no lights then whine because you almost got hit by a car.

In the importal words of Frank from Hill Street Blues: "Let's be careful out there"
3.20.2008 3:08pm
Wayne Jarvis:
How about a PSA reminding cyclists that traffic laws apply to them. Also, if the government builds you a special paved bike path 10 feet from the road, why do you insist on riding your bike 15 mph on the curvey and dangerous road (like Beach Drive in DC)? Gitcher spandex-wedgie on the bike path, fool.
3.20.2008 3:13pm
OrinKerr:
For whatever reason, the text of your posts never appears in this site's RSS feed; only the title does. Thus I rarely, if ever, read your posts, because a title alone just isn't enough to entice me to click over. Have you considered posting differently---as your colleagues do---such that some text appears in the feed's description field?

I was unaware of this. Any idea how I post "differently" to do that?
3.20.2008 3:18pm
The General:
I always watch out for cyclists. They're worth more points than pedestrians.
3.20.2008 3:18pm
Lior:
@alias: cyclists shouldn't pass you on the right. They should be behind you or ahead of you in the lane just like any other road vehicle.

As a cyclist who shares the road with cars, it annoys me to no end to see other cyclists constantly breaking the rules (ignoring stop signs and red lights, going against traffic on one-way streets, trying to go in the same lane as another car). This is what leads drivers to hate cyclists. When I go on the road I consider myself a road vehicle just like the cars, and I want the cars to respect me and treat me like a road vehicle too.
3.20.2008 3:25pm
Hoya:
Wayne Jarvis: I ride on the road instead of a bike trail for the same reason that you drive on a highway instead of taking dinky side streets the whole way. There are usually fewer occasions in which one has to stop or slow.

There are exceptions (like the W&OD trail in Northern Virginia), but bike trails usually suck for doing anything other than goofing off. They have more stops and crossings, are clogged with unpredictable joggers, parents with small children that wander aimlessly about, and so forth.
3.20.2008 3:33pm
Parker Smith (mail) (www):
3.20.2008 3:36pm
Lysenko (mail):
Videos like this one have been used in experiments several times (in others it's a guy in a gorilla suit). On average only about 1 in 5 people see the gorilla/bear/whatever. This demonstration of selective attention pales in comparison to my favorite, though. They've had an experiment where two men (one dark-haired wearing a sky blue shirt and light tan slacks, the other blonde and wearing a dark blue shirt and brown slacks, different facial features, several inches height difference, etc) would get behind a counter with one hiding out of view. The test subjects would be asked to get their test forms from the man in the blue shirt. When they approached the counter, the man would take their form, duck behind the counter to get the test...and the second confederate would stand up to hand the test to the subject, giving them the rest of the instructions. Again, the guy standing back up is a different height, different hair and eye color, same -type- of clothing (button up shirt and slacks) but different color...and again, only 1 in 5 people noticed.
3.20.2008 3:36pm
Shelby (mail):
M.E. Butler: Read Zodiac; the main character dresses all in black to ride at night without a light, because he assumes all drivers are out to hit him and he doesn't want to be an easy target.

Houston Lawyer: In and near Portland, the police won't ticket you even if you veer off the road and run over two bicyclists on the shoulder.

As both a driver and a bicyclist, it ticks me off when cyclists don't both follow the law and use common sense. It terrifies me when drivers don't.
3.20.2008 3:44pm
D Palmer (mail):
Hoya,

Yes! We have a great lake front bike path here that I use to ride to work downtown a couple days a week in nice weather. I can't tell you the number of people I see who seem to have spare children, that is to say they pay no attention to them and let them wander around as if the path belonged only to them, making me assume that they don't mind if one or two gets picked off by a passing cyclist or roller blader because they can make more or have others at home.

On my return trip in the evening I just take it easy and use the time to decompress. But even so I have come close to taking out a child dashing across the path or a jogger u-turn in front of me without looking first.
3.20.2008 3:44pm
jweaks (mail) (www):
How many cyclists ride through a dark tunnel in a dark bear suit?
3.20.2008 3:52pm
Hoosier:
What drives me crazy is that after seeing something like this, it is impossible to AVOID seeing the bear-suited guy. Now I can't see why it fooled me.
3.20.2008 3:59pm
Wayne Jarvis:
Hoya, its faster for you but creates a quarter mile traffic jam for everbody else. Most cyclists drastically overestimate their own speed. I can't tell you how many near accidents I have witnessed caused by cars swerving to avoid slow cyclists that refuse to use the bike path.

But that's okay. Better motor vehicles swerving out of their way to avoud a slow cyclist than a slow cyclist swerving out of the way to avoid and even slower jogger, right?

Ugh.
3.20.2008 4:01pm
Curt Fischer:

If I'm in the right lane, I shouldn't have to expect some idiot to try to pass me on the right. And if I have a green light, I shouldn't have to worry about the fact that cyclists generally ignore signs and traffic lights and might be trying to run the red light.


I disagree and agree with this. Obviously cyclists should obey traffic signals, and stop at red lights and stop signs. But, when I cycle through congested urban traffic I pass cars (carefully) on the right all the time. It's one of the primary attractions of cycling during rush hour: you get there faster.

The only caveat is that when approaching intersections, you need to make very very sure that some one is not trying to make a right hand turn just as you plan on going by.
3.20.2008 4:03pm
Mark Jones (mail):

In and near Portland, the police won't ticket you even if you veer off the road and run over two bicyclists on the shoulder.


Maybe that's because they're as tired as the rest of us of these bozos demanding that we give them all the deference they feel entitled to while refusing to obey the rules of the road? I hate those idiots.* I nearly hit some idiot on a bicycle because he's done something stupid--and illegal--and he gets pissed at ME?

*No, they don't all act that way. But many of them do--and as usual are ruining it for everyone else by making the driving population hate them all.
3.20.2008 4:09pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
As for bike paths, they really do tend to suck compared to roads. Relative to real roads, bike paths are consistently less well-maintained, have more random curves, have more tree branches sticking out over them, and are constantly crossing driveways and little side streets that don't interrupt the flow of traffic on the street but do on the bike path. Plus you have to weave around the pedestrians.

The speed you can maintain on a bike path is far below the speed you can maintain on the road right next to it. I don't want to die, so I'll take the path and be extra-careful if it's night and my lights have gone out or been stolen (the latter seems to be a problem on this campus) but there's no way I'm taking a bike path on a regular basis.
3.20.2008 4:14pm
Brian E:

Now I can't see why it fooled me.


Because the bear walked behind the black team on the right side of the screen and when he was on the left side the white team was on the right side of the screen.

"Watch out for cyclists" is the wrong moral of this video. The real lesson is "it's OK to hit cyclists that dress in all back and try hard to blend in so they won't be noticed".

For driver safety it's much more important to be able to see quick motion from brightly colored objects, so if you caught all 13 passes (I did) you're doing OK. Bicyclists should try to be more like the white team than the guy in the bear suit.
3.20.2008 4:18pm
D Palmer (mail):
Brian E: excellent perspective!
3.20.2008 4:22pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
I saw the gorilla video about a year ago. In the safety field, this is called attention blindness, where you can't see the obvious because you are concentrating so hard on something else. What I would like to know is any ideas about how to help workers who are doing concentration-intensive work in situations where they may miss obvious risks.

I wrote an expert with a strange idea -- which is, hire a woman. The idea being that women tend to notice things men miss, the old gatherer-v-hunter thing, gatherers seeing the broad picture. But the expert explained that women do no better at this test than men. So much for that theory.
3.20.2008 4:26pm
Guest!:

M.E.Butler:
Nothing. There were 13 passes.


12 out of 13 ain't bad. And I caught the bear! Y'all 13-spotters who missed the bear are out hitting bicyclists and causing havoc on the roads.
3.20.2008 4:26pm
FormerOne:
I used to work at CIA (and not the culinary institute). This video (one very similar to it actually) was shown to all new orientation groups. Interesting stuff.
3.20.2008 4:26pm
Hoosier:
>>>How many cyclists ride through a dark tunnel in a dark bear suit?

Damn! You got me AGAIN!

I was only paying attention to the bikers dressed as polar bears.
3.20.2008 5:08pm
treebeard (mail):
An even better example of this phenomenon is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voAntzB7EwE&eurl
It's the "color changing card trick."
3.20.2008 5:16pm
normal person (mail):
I hate cyclists. They hover in the middle of the road and act like automobiles must submit to their authority.
Move the hell over!
3.20.2008 5:20pm
normal person (mail):
If that stupid bear would moonwalk when there were fewer people around, would wear a reflective vest when it's dark out, or would moonwalk on a designated bear moonwalking trail, it wouldn't have to worry about motorists.

Beautiful. Too beautiful for words.
Please, cyclists, idiots, take heed.
3.20.2008 5:22pm
Patrick Brown (mail):
This video is based on research by Daniel Levin and Daniel Simon, among others, on a phenomenon called "change blindness." This has been studied at some length in the last 10 or so years. It leads to what are called "continuity errors" in movies. More seriously, it was the source of a pilot error that led to the crash of an Airbus airplane in 1992, killing 87 people. For details on that, see this paper by Varakin, Levin, &Fidler:

Recently, there has been interest in the related phenomenon of "change blindness blindness," which occurs when you ask people to predict how good they would be at noticing a change in a scene. People are likely to overestimate the probability that they would notice something - perhaps because when we miss something we usually don't realize that we miss it, so we think that we are pretty good at seeing what's there. Change blindness blindness has relevance to lawyers in particular, as it may have a role in determining the confidence with which a witness reports what they saw or didn't see.

It is known that (a) you are more likely to overcome change blindness if you are looking for changes, and (b) that the intention of discovering changes becomes more important as the scene becomes more complex (Beck, Levin, &Angelone, Consciousness &Cognition, 2007).
3.20.2008 5:26pm
The Cabbage (mail):
We're here! We're Queer! And we don't want any more bears!

/voted for Kodos.
3.20.2008 5:28pm
harrumph (mail):
More seriously, it was the source of a pilot error that led to the crash of an Airbus airplane in 1992, killing 87 people.

It wasn't pilot error. Some goddam cyclist got in the way.
3.20.2008 5:30pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
My college of employment used this video to train us professors this year at our college assembly.
3.20.2008 5:34pm
bikeguy (mail):

I hate cyclists. They hover in the middle of the road and act like automobiles must submit to their authority.

Only in your imagination. The ratio of idiots driving and talking on cell phones exceeds the number rude bicyclists who ride down the middle of the road by roughly a 100,000:1 margin. But let's focus on the bike riders.
3.20.2008 5:37pm
not a prof (mail):
Jon,
Train your professors to do what exactly? (Seriouly.)
3.20.2008 5:38pm
normal person (mail):
Only in your imagination. The ratio of idiots driving and talking on cell phones exceeds the number rude bicyclists who ride down the middle of the road by roughly a 100,000:1 margin. But let's focus on the bike riders.

Yes, let's focus on the bike riders. It is far more annoying to be trapped behind some bike-riding sissy going 10 miles an hour, oblivious to the world around him, and preventing anyone from passing, than it is to be behind some normal person driving an automobile and chatting on their cell phone.
3.20.2008 5:41pm
normal person (mail):
This is what I'm talkin' about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sojzynJoRj0

I like how the video begins: "...a danger to themselves."
Yeah, and a danger to all the normal people driving cars.
3.20.2008 5:46pm
OrinKerr:
I think you all are missing the point: THERE ARE MOONWALKING BEARS EVERYWHERE. We just are focused on other things, and we generally miss them.
3.20.2008 6:01pm
dll111:

Lior:
When I go on the road I consider myself a road vehicle just like the cars, and I want the cars to respect me and treat me like a road vehicle too.


If you're just like other cars, then speed the fuck up!
3.20.2008 6:05pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Orin is right. And even he doesn't notice that Moonwalking Bears abuse CC laws everywhere they thrive. It's perhaps why they thrive.
3.20.2008 6:15pm
JDS:
> If I'm in the right lane, I shouldn't have to expect
> some idiot to try to pass me on the right.

You certainly shouldn't expect this if you bothered to use your turn signal. I'm a bicycle commuter; I pedal twelve miles most afternoons at a pretty steady 20mph - passing hundreds of automobiles. But every day, some idiot makes a credible attempt on my life by turning right directly into my path without bothering to flip on their directional signal.

Sure, every motorist hates bicycles. But we cyclists pay property taxes and gasoline taxes and - by law, everywhere - have the right to take an entire lane when it's necessary for safety.

I won't defend bicyclists who ignore signs and signals, and fail to signal turns. They should be ticketed and fined, and should bear the consequences of their negligence. But so should motorists.
3.20.2008 6:17pm
hattio1:
Wow,
The vitriol reserved for bikers here is something else. I used to ride in Chicago when I was in Law school. I usually took the streets to school, and the bike path home, but a large reason was that the bike path wound around and didn't go anywhere like a straight line.
Frankly, I was never overly worried. Yes, I broke traffic laws (including riding on the sidewalks when that was feasible). I felt more worried about the cars that were parked (a sudden car door opening in front of you) than I did about the ones that were moving.
3.20.2008 6:29pm
D Palmer (mail):
Wayne Jarvis:
Hoya, its faster for you but creates a quarter mile traffic jam for everbody else. Most cyclists drastically overestimate their own speed. I can't tell you how many near accidents I have witnessed caused by cars swerving to avoid slow cyclists that refuse to use the bike path.

But that's okay. Better motor vehicles swerving out of their way to avoud a slow cyclist than a slow cyclist swerving out of the way to avoid and even slower jogger, right?

Ugh.


Sorry Wayne, but too bad. I know not all of my fellow cyclists follow the rules, but neither do all drivers. My taxes pay for these roads too. I own a car and a motorcycle, but I chose to use my bike a couple days a week because I enjoy it and it's good for me. I have no special right to be an obstruction or run stop signs or red lights, but neither do you have a special right to run me into a parked car so you can avoid adding 45 seconds to your trip.

Very rarely do I see a cyclist causing a measurable backup even on busy Chicago streets. You are just as likely to be delayed by some slow moving geezer, a stalled vehicle, or a cop giving a ticket to someone. If you can't get to your destination 2 minutes later than you intended then leave earlier.
3.20.2008 6:34pm
erics (mail):
hattio1:
It's not really something else. The vitriol is rather typical.
3.20.2008 6:35pm
Wayne Jarvis:

Sorry Wayne, but too bad. I know not all of my fellow cyclists follow the rules, but neither do all drivers. My taxes pay for these roads too. I own a car and a motorcycle, but I chose to use my bike a couple days a week because I enjoy it and it's good for me. I have no special right to be an obstruction or run stop signs or red lights, but neither do you have a special right to run me into a parked car so you can avoid adding 45 seconds to your trip.


Yes, and my taxes pay for the road and the bike path which which bikers refuse to use because joggers "slow them down" in the same way that they slow down motorists.

For the record, I don't have a problem with responsible cyclists on city streets. My issue is with those selfish d-bags that insist on riding on the winding road with no shoulder when there is a bike path---literally---ten feet from the road. And I wouldn't think of "running someone into a parked car."
3.20.2008 7:04pm
Michael B (mail):
Makes a guy wonder how many moon walking bears he's missed in life.
3.20.2008 7:15pm
anym_avey (mail):
A friend of mine, while driving on a city street, was once pulled over by a bicycle cop. There's a beautiful poetic justice in that.

Some cyclists are idiots, and I've seen 'em. I've also seen drivers who made it a point, on wide open roads with plenty of clearance and cyclists obeying the law, to cut sharply around the cyclist and accellerate simultaneously, kicking up wind, dust and rocks. Basic road rage, and some of the commenters here appear suspiciously close to it.

Meanwhile, the cell phone comment is entirely apt: My safety and convenience are endangered several times a month by drivers who incorrectly believe they can do two things at once. However, cyclists endanger my convenience only rarely, and (so far) have never endangered my safety.
3.20.2008 7:54pm
General Disarray:
When I was a Marine second lieutenant on the rifle range at the Basic School, a scout-sniper in a ghillie suit crawled the entire length of the firing line, at a distance of about 100 yards, while a couple hundred lieutenants dry-fired their rifles. Only a handful spotted him. (I was not one of them.)
3.20.2008 9:53pm
theobromophile (www):
Once, when driving around a rotary in France, I was cut off by an elderly gentleman on a bike who had headphones in both ears and an infant in a Snuggly in front of him. I braked and swerved to avoid him, not having predicted that he would cut diagonally across the flow of traffic. Then, because that wasn't enough, he swerved AGAIN. Somehow, I didn't kill him, his great-grandkid, or his Walkman.

Nothing in America has come close to that level of idiocy.

My constitutional criminal procedure professor showed us this video (except it had a gorilla who waved; moonwalking bears don't last very long out in the Virginia countryside). Interesting stuff.
3.20.2008 11:14pm
bike commuter:

Yes, and my taxes pay for the road and the bike path which which bikers refuse to use because joggers "slow them down" in the same way that they slow down motorists.

For the record, I don't have a problem with responsible cyclists on city streets. My issue is with those selfish d-bags that insist on riding on the winding road with no shoulder when there is a bike path---literally---ten feet from the road. And I wouldn't think of "running someone into a parked car."

You take the most convenient way to get where you're going, so do cyclists. Big deal.

Buy you might be surprised that many cyclists consider the construction of side paths and bike lanes to frequently be a waste of taxpayer money that makes cycling both less safe and less convenient. Examples here and here. Generally, it's better just to build the road 8 feet wider than to build an 8 foot side path next to the road. I didn't ask for the side path you complain about to be built. I would have opposed its construction if I lived there. Your town's poor planning is not my fault.

As to getting stuck behind a cyclist every now and then, when your route involves a long, winding road, you need to plan to get stuck from time to time. Driving a car, I've been stuck for miles behind farm equipment. That's just par of the course on that kind of road.

As a driver, I have never been stuck behind a cyclist for more than 30 seconds. As a cyclist, I have never slowed a car down for much longer than that. Also, as a cyclist, I regularly get slowed down by cars in urban traffic, but that's just part of being in traffic.

As to taxes, cyclists pay road taxes, too. In my part of the country, city streets are paid for with general revenue, not gas taxes. So cyclists pay for the roads when we pay property, income, sales, or any other kind of local taxes. Since we do no damage whatsoever to the roads, the city is freeloading off us.

Also, if you're in any major city, go out of town and look into the city on a hot summer day. See all that smog? It doesn't come from cyclists, and motorists aren't paying cyclists to breath it.

Finally, as to insurance (an issue raised by someone else), homeowners and renters policies cover liability of cyclists. If my insurance company thought that biking to work increased the risk of injuring someone else, they would increase my rates. But they don't. I pay the same amount that I would pay if I took the bus. Given the negligible risk of injury I pose to others, I am massively over-insured.
3.20.2008 11:15pm
mrsizer (www):
The "unfair" part of this test (and the color changing one) is that they explicitly direct your attention AWAY from what the real question is.

If this video's question would have been "watch this video and tell me what you see" - not even mentioning "what you see that's totally strange" - the results would be very different.

This is just marketing garbage. It's been known for centuries that you can distract people from reality.

Re: The motorist/cyclist issue - bicycles (and motorcycles) are merely obstacles in the road. Any sane driver watches for stuff that's "in the way". It doesn't matter if it's a bicycle or a delivery person with a hand-truck. This commercial is marketing crap that uses a known flaw in human perception to promote their agenda.
3.21.2008 12:28am
Mac (mail):
OrinKerr:

I think you all are missing the point: THERE ARE MOONWALKING BEARS EVERYWHERE. We just are focused on other things, and we generally miss them.


Orin, how long have you been seeing these bears? Perhaps you have been working too hard?
3.21.2008 12:35am
Brian K (mail):
But we cyclists pay property taxes and gasoline taxes

i'm not sure what kind of cycle your riding, but none of the ones i've seen use gas.

(i know what you meant...i just wanted to make the joke)
3.21.2008 12:37am
Peter Wimsey:
I saw the bear, but that was probably because I was talking on the cell phone at the time.
3.21.2008 2:05am
rc:
mrsizer "Any sane driver watches for stuff that's 'in the way'"

Not true. Tests, psychology, and my experience show that we don't see what we don't expect. Literally... we don't see it. The photons hit the rods and cones, but the data does not process in the brain. It is established fact that unexpected data is discarded by the brain.

So start expecting cyclists.

(personally, when I ride, I wear an eye-stabbing, fashion-killing, contra-cepting neon-green windbreaker. People notice me)
3.21.2008 3:50am
Frater Plotter:
I'm a cyclist and a driver. My town has a large number of highly educated people who insist on putting themselves in situations where they are likely to hurt others or get hurt.

Cyclists who ride on the wrong side of the road -- like a pedestrian's supposed to, to see oncoming traffic. Illegal, stupid, and dangerous. Bikes aren't peds; bikes are traffic.

Drivers who drive while talking on their (non-handsfree) cell phone. Illegal (or rather, will be, later this year); stupid, and dangerous. Goes double for checking your damn email on your damn blackberry, or TXT MSGing your LOL ROFL friends.

Cyclists who don't use lights at night. Illegal, stupid, and dangerous. Same for not using reflectors.

Drivers who don't use their turn signals and merge when turning right across a bike lane. Illegal, stupid, and dangerous. The bike lane is a traffic lane; if you are turning right from the second-rightmost lane, you must signal right and merge into it first.

Cyclists who ride too close to parked cars. Illegal, stupid, and dangerous. In my state, cyclists are required to ride as far to the right as it is safe to do so; riding inside the "door zone" is unsafe. Stay away from those doors, even if that means being out in front of moving cars. The driver behind you may be pissed off, but he can see you; the kid in the back seat of the parked car isn't looking before he opens the door right in front of you.

Drivers who honk at cyclists. Illegal (here anyway -- you can get a ticket for honking when there's no hazard), stupid, and dangerous.

Cyclists who swap from the sidewalk to the traffic lanes to the crosswalk. Illegal (in some towns, not others), stupid, and dangerous. In most towns around here, riding on the sidewalk is legal (but stupid), but veering in and out of traffic is reckless anywhere. Bikes only belong in the crosswalk if you're dismounted.

Drivers who throw things at cyclists. Illegal, stupid, and dangerous. That's not just a moving violation; that's battery.

Cyclists who run through red lights or stop signs, thinking they're only for cars. Guess what -- illegal, stupid, and dangerous.

Drivers who jump the light thinking there's no oncoming traffic ... and T-bone a cyclist who's got a green light.

Cyclists who act like jerks to drivers.

Drivers who act like jerks to cyclists.

Sigh. We're all doomed.
3.21.2008 7:05am
bike commuter:
To avoid the moonwalking gorilla problem, I wear a lime green shirt or vest designed for construction workers. They are bright, reflective, durable, breathable, and a lot cheaper than anything specifically designed for cyclists.
3.21.2008 7:21am
normal person (mail):
Frater Plotter,
Yes, but the cyclists are worse.
- normal person
3.21.2008 10:06am
Prof. S. (mail):

As for bike paths, they really do tend to suck compared to roads.


I think the same thing when I walk, but that doesn't mean I shold walk down the middle of the road.

I don't mind cyclists at all - so long as they are not impeding traffic. Of course, the cyclists love to talk about their rights to use the road, but then seemingly miss the statute in my state specifically prohibiting impeding traffic.
3.21.2008 10:37am
Nony Mouse:
I didn't notice it was a bear precisely. I was counting, noticed a guy in a black hoodie dancing in the middle, set to ignoring him, and got 13. I didn't study him long enough to say what he was, until the announcer came on to ask his question. My cubemate completely didn't notice the first time, claiming "that wasn't there last time... was it?" The other one, I had a 'something changed' moment (couldn't put my finger on it, but knew something was different), before I had a specific change moment. But then, I was one of the worst subjects to have in a psyc 101 test, because I could tell you, five minutes into it, what the test was really about, rather than the stated object of the experiment. And even worse, I'd tell the conductors of the study in the debriefing when I noticed it, and how much I thought I reacted.
3.21.2008 1:12pm
D Palmer (mail):
Prof S.

The problem is that many people (my rabidly anti-bike wife included) seem to beleive that our very presence is an obstruction, even if we are following the rules of the road and doing our best to be unobtrusive.

I try to ride on wide roads with a shoulder so that I am out of traffic. I have lights on the front and back of my bike, I wear hi-vis clothing. I use the local bike paths despite the excessive number of clueless an apparently suicidal pedestrians and their children. If there is no path I try to use side streets rather than high traffic main thoroughfares.

But sometimes I have no choice but to spend part of my ride on a limited/no shoulder road that places me in the flow of traffic. I try to avoid this as I don't want to die, but I can't always do that. All I ask is for drivers to give me a break (brake?).

I will say that I wish that cops did a better job of enforcing traffic laws on cyclists (bike messengers should be at the top of the list, they are by far the worst offenders and create a lot of bad feelings). I think that much of the resentment we get is because drivers see cyclists flagrantly disobeying traffic laws and not getting punished.
3.21.2008 1:16pm
Mac (mail):
D Palmer


I think that much of the resentment we get is because drivers see cyclists flagrantly disobeying traffic laws and not getting punished.


AMEN!
3.21.2008 2:10pm
Bike Commuter:
While I agree that cyclists should obey red lights (I do), I think many motorists greatly overestimate their own lawfulness:
-Watch any busy intersection. Notice that at the end of almost every cycle, cars run the red light. Even well-marked red light cameras catch red light running motorists by the thousand.
-Watch any four-way stop in a residential neighborhood and see how many drivers actually stop.
-Try to drive 65 in most 65 MPH zones, and see how many drivers are angered at how slow your drive.

If you're a motorist, you don't have the right to get preachy until they can drive to work and from work while
1) signaling every turn and lane change the requisite distance ahead;
2) never drive even 1 mph above the speed limit;
3) come to a complete stop at every single stop sign;
4) don't run a single light after it's changed to yellow.

The main difference between cyclist lawbreaking and motorist lawbreaking is that cyclist lawbreaking is dangerous pretty much only to the lawbreaker, while motorist lawbreaking imposes dangers on others. Stupid motorists slaughter thousands of people a year. Stupid cyclists mainly hurt themselves.

Any libertarian should agree that government should focus its resources on behavior that's dangerous to others. Tolerating annoying behavior is just the price of living with near other human beings.
3.21.2008 7:45pm
not a dumb bikist (mail):
never drive even 1 mph above the speed limit

Actually, that can be quite dangerous. I'm not sure where you live, but if you never drive one mile per hour above the speed limit, you could be endangering a lot of motorists who will swerve to avoid you.

My guess is that most police give a "buffer" of a few miles per hour, based on realism.
3.21.2008 9:59pm
Bike Commuter:

My guess is that most police give a "buffer" of a few miles per hour, based on realism.

So cops routinely let motorists violate the law? Hmm. Maybe cyclists don't get such "special" treatment after all.
3.21.2008 10:13pm
Frater Plotter:
The problem is that many people (my rabidly anti-bike wife included) seem to beleive that our very presence is an obstruction, even if we are following the rules of the road and doing our best to be unobtrusive.


That is, yes, part of the problem, and a very serious one: the minority of drivers who believe (contrary to law and practice) that the roads should be only for cars and trucks. You can usually tell the real fanatics among that crowd because they also harass motorcyclists -- or, at least, those motorcyclists who don't have walrus mustaches, spiked helmets, large muscles, and brass knuckles.

But another part of the problem is that many people who put their asses on bicycles and put those bicycles on the road, are really not competent to do so. I'm not an advocate of bicycle licensing ... but I sure as hell don't mind when I see a cyclist pulled over by the cops for running a stop sign. (And yes, it does happen.)
3.21.2008 10:25pm
bike commuter:

But another part of the problem is that many people who put their asses on bicycles and put those bicycles on the road, are really not competent to do so. I'm not an advocate of bicycle licensing ... but I sure as hell don't mind when I see a cyclist pulled over by the cops for running a stop sign. (And yes, it does happen.)

I agree. Part of the drive for bike lanes and side paths comes from cyclists who don't want to bother to learn how to ride in traffic. Bike riding ain't rocket science. Pretty much anyone who wants to learn how to ride in traffic can. I don't see why government should pay millions of dollars on bike lanes just because a few cyclists don't feel comfortable in traffic.

For more on the waste of government money on bicycle facilities that don't actually make cycling safer, see http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/index.htm , http://www.johnforester.com/, http://danenet.wicip.org/bcp2006/aashto.html, and http://bicycledriving.org/bikeways/bike-lanes.
3.21.2008 11:21pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
I've been pulled over as a cyclist for running stop signs a couple of times, and for speeding once (doing 55 in a 45 mph zone). Each time I got a warning, though I begged the asked the cop to give me a ticket for the speeding violation so I could frame it.

For the most part, I obey the rules of the road. But, just like driving the speed limit can be dangerous, the same thing is true about always obeying traffic rules for cyclists. Lets say there is an intersection with protected left hand turn signals that turn green first. I will stop at the intersection between at the leftmost part of the right lanes (so cars can make their right on reds). Then, when the green arrows signal for left hand turns, I'll wait until the traffic clears. If it clears before the signal changes to green, I go first. That way I'm moving and back on the right hand travelling comfortably before any of the cars start going. They can pass more easily, get help up less by my accelleration, and its safer for everyone (especially me). Strictly speaking this is illegal, and I know it annoys some drivers to pass me twice, but it does work better than the alternative -- for me, and for the drivers.
3.22.2008 6:37pm
life in the fast lane (mail):
Roads should only be for cars and trucks.
3.24.2008 4:43am
bike commuter:
Grunt. Roads should only be for bikes and public transportation. Grunt.
3.25.2008 5:43am