In New, Bike-Friendler Dallas, Drivers Have a Friend in the Morning News' Tod Robberson

Thumbnail image for DeepEllumSharedBikeLane.jpg
via Trinity Trails
With all the feel-good talk recently celebrating Dallas' hesitant but progressing embrace of cycling (Painted bike lanes! A don't-be-a-dick-to-cyclists ordinance!), it's easy to forget about the concerns of the driver.

Never fear. Morning News editorial writer Tod Robberson is here to champion their cause. In a post yesterday, Robberson, after taking pains to note in a Hey-some-of-my-best-friends-are-cyclists kind of way, how great it is that people want to use bikes as transportation, does his best to pour cold water on the city's new-fangled pro-cycling rhetoric.

He supports the new bike-friendly ordinance in theory, but only "provided the law also contains provisions to address bike riders who blatantly engage in bad behavior or violate the law."

Not everything they do is goodness and light. Astonishing numbers of bike riders seem to think red lights and stop signs don't apply to them, or that it's OK to pass a motorist on the right side of a single-lane road. And if a motorist gets in their way, some have no problem flipping the bird or yelling out an obscenity.

The notion of special privilege for bike riders no doubt contributed to the high speed collision that killed Lauren Huddleston on the Katy Trail two years ago this month.

Robberson is of course right on one point: plenty of bike riders are self-righteous assholes who are selective about which traffic rules they follow. How this, rather than simple negligence, is responsible for Huddleston's death, and why this is somehow more exceptional than the thousands of deaths caused by negligent drivers, I'm not sure.

But no matter. To allow Robberson to finish.

In order to get courtesy, you have to show courtesy. I'm all for the encouragement of bike riding and perhaps even the new laws Rawlings proposes with a few tweaks. But I'm also for better enforcement of existing laws and greater vigilance by police to ensure that the law applies equally to all -- motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

What Robberson doesn't understand is that the people who use bikes as a means of transportation today -- the people who are likely driving drivers crazy out there -- are still part of a hard, dedicated core. They're outliers. They're the pioneers who aren't afraid to brave a lack of cycling infrastructure -- and roads full of drivers unused to, and uninterested in, the their presence -- to get to work or wherever it is they're going. They've had to learn to be aggressive, because otherwise they'd get flattened.

The idea of the proposed ordinance and bike-friendly infrastructure is to acknowledge, after years of catering exclusively to cars, that a bike is a legitimate form of transportation whose use should be encouraged. The way to do that is to make it safe for everyone, not just a few people who are willing to risk their lives to get around. When things are safer, the courtesy will follow, and the conflicts that so irk Robberson will naturally happen with much less frequency, as they do in cities that have had bike lanes for decades.


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63 comments
sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

To hell with shared lanes! I would like to see bike paths or lanes physically separated from car lanes. I would like to see a trend of building transportation infrastructure that doesn't have to do anything with cars. Why should cars hog all the infrastructure construction money? Yes Dallas is hot, but I am out of shape and rode an electric bicycle 19miles in 98 degrees without breaking a sweat. I rode motorcycles as my only form of transportation for 2 years and the heat really didn't bother me. With a rain suit, rode in the rain and kept dry. Damm it, we need lots of transportation options not just one. Has no one noticed that Dallas smog is getting really bad, worst in the state?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

This has become a puritan argument.  Cyclists don't need to follow traffic laws cause they are often too insignificant to worry about.  I've been urban biking for decades.  When approaching an intersection a bike has the maneuverability and visibility to move as if they're in the Matrix.  At other times, like on straight stretches the bikes indeed need to get over to the right and expect to be passed. 

 

So, what I'm saying is that those wanting bikes to obey traffic laws are half silly.  Bikes can out maneuver you when cars are jammed up, and when traffic is flowing cars need to look out for bikes.  Why is this so hard to understand?  Are car operators bitter and jealous?   This has been over argued, and discussed in absolute terms for far too long.  Any wonder that laws written for one ton motor vehicles don't perfectly fit a 100lb, man powered bicycle? 

TSTS
TSTS

It's quite a feat that the editorial board of the DMN manages to come out on the wrong side of any argument every time, all the time. Kudos!

Lee-dallas
Lee-dallas

My experience on the White Rock Lake walking/running/bike path is that 98% of the cyclists do not even have the courtesy to say "on your left" when passing a walker. Expecting courtesy on the roads may be a stretch, but their self interest in their safety might motivate them. I even have had one man stop twice in several months when I suggested that he announce. He threatened to slug me the first time and to whip my ass the second . When I mentioned him to a bike officer, he described him before I could do so. They are looking for him.

TheJeremyAdams
TheJeremyAdams

In the three or four articles put up this week on Unfair Park I have noticed how venomous the comments can be.  I am a cyclist, I do obey the laws, and I feel that I do need more protection than my helmet and lights can provide.  I understand the anger drivers feel when cyclists break the laws by running lights and signs.  What I don't understand is why, with traffic laws already in place that govern ANY vehicle LEAGLY on the street we need to write more in to this proposed ordinance.

 

Why do many drivers not run lights and signs?  Because the police will ticket them.  Why are cyclists not being ticketed for breaking the existing laws?  Do you not think that enforcing these laws would, possibly, bring down the number of infractions by cyclists?  Another thing to consider is this:  This ordinance is not adding bicycles to the streets.  Bicycles are already legally allowed on the streets and there is nothing that is really going to change that.  Drivers MUST give cyclists the respect they give other vehicles.  Cyclists must do the same.

 

And one final point I would like to make, please stop with the talk about how they obviously don't care about their lives or are daring the driver to hit them.  That is a stupid assertion to make.  Of course they care about their lives, otherwise why not just lie in the street?  As for " just daring" the driver, that is a matter of perspective.  If the drivers here don't believe that cyclists have the right to be on the road then anything the cyclist does on the road is a dare to the driver.  That statement is akin to "I dare you to trespass on my property again" when the "trespasser" is walking down the sidewalk in front of your property.

CraigT42
CraigT42

When things are safer, the courtesy will follow, and the conflicts that so irk Robberson will naturally happen with much less frequency, as they do in cities that have had bike lanes for decades.

How sweet and ignorant.

Ever been to SanFrancisco or Oakland?  An incredibly bike frindly city with some of the biggest assholes on 2 wheels.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The city should cite Jimmy John's at Elm and Akard for their delivery cyclists who bike like maniacs on downtown sidewalks.  I thought there was an ordinance covering this dangerous behavior.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Just because you're a bike enthusiast and you don't like robberson, doesn't invalidate his points.  No, bikers don't get a grace period to be jackasses until all auto drivers are courteous to them, then they'll behave and follow the law.  You want bike lanes, you want to own your lane?  Then follow the damn law.  Cyclists have brought a lot of the vehemence they face down on themselves.  Period.  I'm not anti-cyclist, I support shared lanes, but I think cyclists need to be forced to toe the line.

Schutze, you're totally off the mark.  It's nothing like your analogy.  Unless you want to throw in that the woman being blamed goes home and beats the shit out of her kids.  Bikers don't show courtesy even when they have the balance of physical force in their possession.  They ride roughshod over the trails around dallas constantly, assaulting runners, walkers, anyone who dares to impede their Lance Armstrong inspired race against no one.  I've been hit by one of the assholes because I refused to run off-trail for cyclists anymore.  To my satisfaction, I was able to continue my run after a bit, but he had to push his newly trashed road bike back to the parking lot.  Come to think of it, where I live now, I mostly run on the streets, and drivers are 10 times more courteous than cyclists ever were on the trails.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Robberson's argument reminds me of blaming women for getting the shit kicked out of them because they deliberately did stuff they knew would piss off their husbands. In a civilized world, it's the one who possesses the balance of physical violence whose duty and extra burden it is to exercise self-control and see to the physical safety of the more vulnerable partner or participant. Simpler way to put it: when's the last time you saw a bike ram a car and total it? Of course the driver has the extra burden. How could it be otherwise?  Some idiot turd will tune  in here and say, "Yeah, well bike riders shouldn't ride around drunk naked running over children and stuff." Yeah, screw you. You know what? Next time you see some bike rider acting like he owns the road, just assume he does own the road. That way you won't kill anybody. You think your ego can handle that? 

cyclist
cyclist

I always love it when a motorist says about the cyclist "I could have killed that guy!" But you didn't and it's not because you did anything extraordinary not to kill him, it's because most cyclists do everything possible not to be flattened.It may piss off the motorist to see a bike up the road running a light or a stop sign, but from the cyclist's point of view, the safest time to go through an intersection is when you're not there. Red light or not.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @sidewalkastro Dude, you have to start somewhere.  No matter how good you are this year, Santa is not going to bring bike only infrastructure to Dallas magically.  If the cyclists and walkers really want to reduce numbers of cars in downtown and trendy neighborhoods, DART has to get fixed.  These areas need more people than just the ones who live there, and as it stands now, cars are how people are going to get there.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @scottindallas There you have it folks, ignore laws and statutes.  Want to deal drugs?  Want to rob a liquor store?  Run it by Scott.  If he says it's okay, go for it.

A point you may have failed to consider: The streets in Dallas were not designed for cyclists, they were designed for automobiles.  So the majority of laws were written to encompass auto traffic.  However the laws ARE universal and the DO apply to cyclists.  Stop at stop signs/red lights.  Take the lane where you can safely do so (in some cases it is more dangerous to the biker to yield the lane and move right), yield it when you can.  Use arm signals to indicate lane changes and turns.  In other words, don't be an Ass.  Then you won't need the preparation H you prescribed to the individual below.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Lee-dallas Guess what, they can't.  They'd be hoarse, and it's generally unneeded.  You should expect a bikes on that path, or ban bikes from the path.  But, a bike can identify your pace and path and pass you safely before you even notice, and react, after the fact.  Try Preparation H it might help your sore butt.

kduble
kduble

You've seen squad cars before. Do they signal their turns? Bicycle cops at the intersection near my home don't consistently wait for the light to change when they see nobody is coming. If they cops are going to start enforcing these laws, they'll have to begin abiding by them also.

 

What the city ought to be doing is moving toward a complete streets concept. This means timing signal lights for bikes and not just cars, and getting rid of some these signal light to replace them with roundabouts.

 

We have way too many traffic lights. Not only does this discourage cycling, but cars idling at stop lights is bad for air quality.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @TheJeremyAdams nice post, now go read what cyclist wrote and you have your answer the vitriolic posts on the other 3 bike entries

kduble
kduble

Schutze didn't write this post. It was Nicholson.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 also, if we took the right of way of the sea principles to bike/hike trails, the walkers would have to yield to the bikes. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 we should make drug dealing illegal too.  But, both are hard to enforce. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @JimSX You're wrong.  In seagoing rules larger vehicles that can't stop and maneuver as easily as smaller boats have the right of way.   Based on this cars should have right of way over bikes and bikes over pedestrians. 

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

 @JimSX 

We all agree Everyone should obey the rules of the road ..

Even so this point makes no sense.

Of course the driver has the extra burden. How could it be otherwise?

Well it is and here's why ?

Because the cyclist is the one who tends to be in greater danger than the driver behind the wheel .Who is going to the ER or the morgue if both try to occupy the same space at the same time ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @cyclist OR, often trying to take your lane, wait for the light and go when the light turns green is more dangerous than going when the cyclist can affirm there are no cars. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @cyclist thats the stupidest shit Ive heard, and the exact reason most drivers regard cyclist as arrogant asshat law breaking pricks.  Congrats for living up to the stereotype.  Im sure you make other cyclist proud.

sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

 @RTGolden1 Dart being fixed isn't going to happen anytime soon unless some outside agency forces them to change. I wouldn't know who that would be. It's the same old problem what comes first the chicken or the egg. Most of the bike paths in the city are more about recreation than transportation. At least bike path are a lots cheaper to build than highways or rail.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1  @sidewalkastro On that note, I'm inclined to believe that Dallas needs it's own rapid transit to address what DART won't or won't for a long time--I'm talking about streetcars/trolleys in CBD, Uptown/Oaklawn and perhaps old East Dallas (Gaston corridor and Lakewood)  Oak Cliff could expand on the Beckley line and a streetcar seems to be the best solution for Love Field. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @AdultBabies You missed the comma, if you want to have a man contest, I will vanquish you physically, as I've dispatched of your sophistry often enough.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 You have, despite the intro, described a balanced approach.  I don't support suggesting bikes "take the lane" as another did, (in another thread, I think)  I did grow up riding here, on these streets.  There was a time where I would've dared a fleet of cops with helicopter support to try an catch me.  But, failing to stop for stop signs, when you can see the intersection with perfect visibility, and know you're not affecting cars is no crime against anyone.  Busy intersections are another matter, but I've found that I could safely jump the queue, by riding the back fender of the lead car.  I've hitched rides on cars (which I can't defend, but it sure made steep inclines far easier)  and passed cars going 55 in a 35, in the left lane.  I seldom caused a driver to react to me, and was always keenly aware to keep it that way.   All I'm saying is that strict adherence to the "traffic laws" is a puritanical reach.  I've also sought the sanctuary of sidewalks, which is illegal for a car, so, where does the law fit there?  This isn't a black and white issue.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @kduble Roundabouts take more area than conventional intersections.  I'm not judging them one way or the other, but they're not applicable in any situation. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @TheJeremyAdams I looked that up.  The ordinance clearly states, "A bicyclist may ride on a sidewalk if not prohibited by local ordinance (e.g., sidewalk riding is not allowed in the downtown Dallas central business district).

 

September 1, 1983, Senate Bill 843 amended Texas Law regarding the legal status of bicyclists to conform with the national Uniform Vehicle Code.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @kduble Keep reading sparky, that part of my comment was a response to Schutze's comment below.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @scottindallas  @RTGolden1 the trail is not the sea, and to further your idiotic analogy, if we took right of way of the sea principles to the streets, bikes would have to yield to cars.  As you do so often, you completely miss the point in your self-righteousness.  The point is:  Cyclists show no courtesy, therefore they have no right to bitch about not being shown any courtesy.

 

There are cyclists who know how to work themselves into traffic.  They know how to take a lane so a car has no choice but to notice them.  I do not mind sharing the road with these cyclists.  I do not mind being caught behind them and having to move at a slower pace for some time.  I don't really even mind them filtering at stop signs/stop lights (I'm certain that the irritation I do feel at having to maneuver around them after every light has more to do with envy than them doing anything 'wrong').  There are cyclists who ride the trails with courtesy for others using the trails.  I don't have problems with them either.  You are correct above that cyclists don't have to announce "on your left" at every pedestrian/runner, IF they ride courteously.  If the cyclist has room to pass, i'd prefer he doesn't announce.  Just pass my lumbering jog and let me be.  I stay as far to the right on the trail as I can when running, and pass walkers off-trail most of the time.  It's called courtesy, the ability to consider the needs, wants, and preferences of others in addition to your own.  You should try it scott, it might take some weight off that arrogant chip on your shoulder.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @sidewalkastro  @RTGolden1 I don't care if DART takes them over, we need them built; and the city's needs aren't identical to the region's.  A DART takeover could be good or bad, how would be more important. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @pak152  @RTGolden1  @sidewalkastro That's not true, not in the flat, overly broad way you stated it.  I read the Reason article too.  Streetcars would work in the neighborhoods I discussed.  The Reason article creates a false dichotomy.  Light rail is better for Macro transit, but street cars are better at micro transit.   I could see it in Downtown Richardson, the Dallas CBD, Oaklawn/Uptown, East Dallas and Bishop Arts.  It wouldn't be effective in Preston Hollow, Lake Highlands, and newer parts of the city

pak152
pak152

 @scottindallas  @RTGolden1  @sidewalkastro trolley lines are cost prohibitive and inflexible. better to increase the number of bus routes and introduce several different size busses. as population densities change over time it is easier to reconfigure a bus route than it is to build a new trolley line

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @AdultBabies No, you're an idiotic pedantic sophist, who misses the forest for the trees. 

pak152
pak152

 @AdultBabies  @scottindallas naw he's saying the combined weight is 100lbs and since scottindallas is a fearless bike rider I suspect his bike weighs around 20 lbs thus making him about 80 lbs not counting the fully loaded panniers on his bike

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @scottindallas  Bullshit.  Just bullshit. 

A bike approaching this fantasy open view stop sign has just as much a duty to stop as a car in the same intersection.  The stop sign is there for a reason.  The fact that you choose to ride in a dangerous and annoying manner doesn't make it right, it just makes you dangerous and annoying.

Lee-dallas
Lee-dallas

 @scottindallas  @RTGolden1 

He is roughly 50-55, gray hair. Both times I have run into him he was riding without a shirt. Gray hair on his chest. Maybe 210 lbs. Really obnoxious.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1  @Lee-dallas no, but I suspect that it could be an a-hole friend of mine.  I'm not willing to defend him, though I haven't really ridden with him enough to know how he rides. 

kduble
kduble

It's a solution best intended for new construction. There are, however, places in the Metroplex designed for them yet they don't have them. Two cases in point: Galatyn Park, Richardson, and the intersection of University and Northside Drives, Camp Bowie and West Seventh in Fort Worth. In each cases, planners apparently had planned to put one in originally yet got cold feet.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @pak152  @kduble I don't have anything against roundabouts, but I also understand the costs involved in expanding via condemnation.  A small taking can result in a total loss for some property owners.  And, I know you don't support that.  The City of Dallas ain't Kansas.  New construction is one thing, but it's hardly applicable for Dallas' troubled intersections. 

pak152
pak152

 @scottindallas  @kduble they may take more area, but they keep the traffic moving. they also don't necessarily have to take up more room

http://www.roundabouts.us/

http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/roundabouts.aspx

 

""Modern roundabouts are being constructed more and more in the state of Kansas, in the U.S. and around the world. The benefits range from increased safety, increased capacity and improved aesthetics over other types of intersections."

http://www.ksdot.org/burtrafficeng/roundabouts/roundabout_guide/roundaboutguide.asp

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

 @scottindallas  @pak152  @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  @TheJeremyAdams Well, for one, I can move and stop *with* auto traffic. My MC can get the hell out of the way at the speed of traffic, whereas you on a bicycle, are a sitting duck in traffic. If I did choose to ride a bicycle in Dallas traffic, I would definitely wear a helmet.

 

Also, you aren't "letting us" do anything, if we choose to ride helmetless, that is our option, and an option that I and many others fight strenuously for through participation in the AMA and ABATE of TX. and WI.

 

If you want to have that fight and want the option to ride without a helmet on a bicycle, by all means, get a bunch of like minded folks together and have at it. We as motorcyclists have already done all of that hard work to maintain our freedom to choose that option.

 

If you are just "sour-graping" because you think you should be able to make that decision for me, I'll invite you to mind your own business.

 

Incidentally, for at least the last 30 years, there has been a never ending (and unsuccessful) campaign among the do-gooders at the NHTSB to require MC riders to wear helmets. Since they have been largely unable to implement those laws, and actually, we as MC riders have been quite successful in overturning existing helmet laws (See recently: Lower Michigan) they have escalated the fight and now this task has been delegated to the CDC. It seems that they now consider riding helmetless on a motorcycle a disease.   

pak152
pak152

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  @TheJeremyAdams sorry but that is not an ordinance it is a state law. ordinances are passed by municipalities

 

go here http://www.greaterdallasbicyclists.com/spokesman/index.html and scroll down to the Bicycles are vehicles link and download the pdf

"Texas Law has defined a bicycle as a vehicle since September 1, 1983. Senate Bill 843 amended Texas Law regarding the legal status of bicyclists to conform with the national Uniform Vehicle Code. The law makes clear that a bicycle is a vehicle. It also clarifies the circumstances under which a bicyclist is permitted to ride away from the right edge of the road."

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @scottindallas Yeah, I didn't see that comment below until already responding.  Will certainly concede that point in the match to you.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 And, if you notice, I indeed declared below that cars indeed have the right of way.  How could it be any other way--talk about winning the point but loosing the case. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 You think I don't yield to cars?   You're crazy to think otherwise.  I don't know about courtesy, (not that I disagree with you too vehemently) but how about riding in a way that doesn't freak out cars, or expect them to react?   I think we're in accord here.  What I reject is the proposition of some ironclad rule, that's supposed to govern every situation.  I think you make some terrific points about no bike dedicated lanes, as sharing keeps everyone alerted to the situation. 

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