Friday, July 07, 2006

My prejudices

While cycling through the middle of eastern Ontario, I thought of a law to promote cycling safety that Ontario could lead the way with, setting the example for other jurisdictions throughout North America.

If an owner of a motor vehicle is compelled to place a "number 3" logo on the rear window of this motor vehicle, the owner must also place a large version of said logo on the front of the vehicle in a highly visible manner, such that cyclists on the road ahead can be warned that the owner of this vehicle is under the false impression he or she is a highly skilled driver with many hours of video training beyond G1 licensing requirements, and does not need to slow down or move to the left while passing cyclists. The same applies for large Chevy or Ford logos.

I try not to prejudge drivers based on the vehicle they're driving since it's far more useful to look at how they're driving, whether aggressively or absentmindedly, and prepare for it. At the same time, I definitely have a short list of vehicle types in my mind that set off flags and make me extra cautious when I see them approaching from behind. These are the vehicles that tend to pass too closely or make aggressive lane changes.

My pinko-commie, CBC-listening side tells me to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had a difficult childhood and choosing this vehicle gave them some much needed self confidence. But my Financial Post-reading, capitalist-pig side tells me to look out for number one, screw them and take the whole lane until you see evidence that they're responsible drivers.

(Note: Example of "number 3" logo in case the reader is not familiar.)

Darren J 7/07/2006 12:42:00 p.m.


Somewhat related. Have a look at the following study, that clearly demonstrates the relation between passing distance and car make/model:
Thanks for the link Jeroen. Even though that's a british study, where vehicles are slightly different, I have had similar experiences. The white van is on my list.

I have to say, I don't like what follows in the comments on that site. It sounds like people are almost suggesting that it is an excuse for the van to pass closer because it is wider. This idea of not being willing to slow down for a cyclist is exactly the problem.

Some people are also saying that we shouldn't worry about the car coming up from behind, since that's not where the biggest threat comes from. It may not statistically be involved in the most collisions with cyclists, but it's still very threatening, especially to novices.

Hope your ride is going well.
Hey Darren, I have to admit that I'm doing a lot of "disgression is the better part of valour" riding these days, especially along Highway 7 and on Brock Street in Whitby. Brock Street is torn up and narrow, and if I look over my shoulder and see big trucks coming I bail onto the sidewalk.
Highway 7 is just a busy Highway, and if I see a transport coming I bail onto the gravel shoulder.
Don't like to admit that, but I figure I'll stay alive longer getting off the road sometimes.
Be well!
Hello Darren,

Like you said, even if it is not the largest threat, it scares me a lot. Now imagine all larger trucks might be silent - electric powered - vehicles in the future....

This morning I had a close one again from my #1 on the list: black F**d pickup.

Hey Tuco,

I agree with your shoulder concept. On Woodbine (way north of Hwy 7) I'm always driving in the shoulder. It gives me another 4ft clearance. The shoulder is less than 12 inches there on most places.

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