Friday, November 18

It Depends

Some of us have been blessed with a surplus of education in our lives. MOST of us that are so blessed, have learned the principle that True/False questions that include "Always" or "Never" are USUALLY "False."

And so it is with cycling. Many are fond of  quoting John Forester as saying "cyclists fare best when they..." and endorse the principle of "always VC." Others take the opposite track and whine for ever more elaborate facilities. Well, as with a lot of things, either can be true sometimes, but not always. Forester, for example, notes that cyclists are welcome to cycle through parks whilst even militant motorists would not endorse the destruction that motoring through same would entail. In his book, he recalls situations in which cyclists are at a distinct disadvantage relative to motorists. In short, the man says, "it depends."

Actually, it depends on ACE. And ACE will be a future post. ACE stands for "Ability, Conditions, Equipment." Strangely, I was never taught about ACE in bicycle school or even in bicycle instructor training.

I've had an occasional correspondence with someone that has formed the impression of "VC GOOD," "Non VC Not so Good." THIS post's purpose is to dispell that notion. Because, regardless of what we might wish, the real answer is "It Depends." While I did not set out to do so, on my ride home from work today, I operated mostly in a totally vehicular fashion, according to vehicular rules. However, I also operated according to pedestrian rules, and even when operating to vehicular rules, I did so differently in different situations.

You might wonder why. Well, it's pretty simple. Circumstances vary. Those of you that also motor understand this very well. Put simply, when driving a Toyota Prius, you don't drive the same way on a quiet street as you do when merging onto a freeway filled with 18 wheelers. And you don't merge the same way onto a freeway filled with Alfa Romeo or Jaguar race cars. I operated to pedestrian rules today simply because it allowed me to get where I wanted to go quicker than waiting in with a bunch of motorists and it didn't cause conflicts to do so. Sometimes that happens. Get over it if you want to be militant - or I'll post a series of photos that'll cause you to say, "well duh!" Heck, I've even been known to ride on sidewalks myself - like that time my chain broke and I had four miles to get home. Sidewalks and "scooters" go together sometimes.

Various circumstances follow - all are from past posts on this blog:

I'll Look at the Detectors and Ride Where I Think is Best
It Depends!

Long Sight Lines and Fast Speeds - I Ride to Be Best Seen
I Don't Ride Here in the Fog - Because It Depends on Me AND My Motorists

Sometimes It Depends on Things Getting Complicated

Sometimes We Get the Luxury of a Boulevard. It All Depends

Sometimes We Have to Make Maneuvers our Motoring Partners Won't Understand

Sometimes, Riding Shoulders is Simply RIGHT - No Conflicts Here
Forester's Book Shows Photos of Cyclists on Shoulders. In Texas, I Routinely See Pickup Trucks on Shoulders

Sometimes, Unlike our Motoring Relatives, We Simply GET OFF THE ROAD!
So, What's the Cycling Rule Here?

As In a Lot of Things, It Depends!


MamaVee said...


Ham said...

You do realise that I'm waiting for a delivery address for a competition winner?? I looked in my Spam folder to see if you mail was redirected, but unless you are "Best Penis" it hasn't been.

Steve A said...

Ham, check your inbox for other items other than the one you note!

Steve A said...

Realising things, my solicitor says "colour me grey, you boffin!"

Pondero said...


I think we sometimes tend too much toward policy and process. Too lazy to think. In real life, it depends. Don't be lazy-brained. Figure it out.

Good job, Steve.

Chandra said...

I like the many illustrative pictures. I agree as well - It depends and there is no panacea!

Of all the pictures, I think the one that best suits what happened to me roughly two weeks ago, is the yellow sign :)

Pz :)

John Romeo Alpha said...

What Pondero said.

In addition, your post is somewhat subversive, in that it subtly urges road users to think for themselves and process all incoming data about actual conditions to choose the best/safest approach, rather than blind obedience to power and tradition. Not subversive in the "occupy" sense, more like in the sense of the "Tradition" song in "Fiddler on the Roof."

cafiend said...

Excellent post. In the photo where you referred to seeing pickup trucks on the shoulders in Texas I was reminded of my first wife's observation -- as one who had spent her formative years in Texas and considered herself a Texan at heart if not by birth -- that drivers on two-lane roads down there would customarily pull off to let a faster motorist go by. By extension, the vehicular cyclist in that culture might take advantage of a suitable shoulder to free up the lane where possible.

SiouxGeonz said...

Thanks for the refreshing acknowledgement (I've been dealing with a fellow who's become a Fundamentalist Evangelist VC and it's gotten painfully old...)

Steve A said...

Be careful, the Internet is a smaller community than we sometimes realize. I will, however remain mum, though it tempts me to resurrect my post on "Ideological Purity." In the meantime, just think of me as a "Trotskyite on a Bike."

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