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The VEHICULAR CYCLIST
"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles"
John Forester, Effective Cycling

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Website This site is currently being amended for better viewabilty on mobile devices. Concurrently, time dependent articles are being brought up to date. Notifications will be posted as changes occur.


picCYCLING & THE LAW has been updated. flag Although aimed at cyclists in the province of Ontario, the article addresses issues which are fairly universal. Historically, the public and authorities alike have misinterpreted or misrepresented traffic laws to the advantage of motorists at the expense of cyclists and their safety. The motorist "get out of my way" attitude still prevails.

Hopefully, there will come a day when legislators, traffic police, road cyclists, and other road users will have a common understanding of the law and thereby will make the slogan "share the road" truly meaningful for all.
Posted December 22, 2019

CITY COUNCILLOR CALLS FOR CYCLISTS TO OBTAIN PERMITS TO RIDE IN GROUPSpic - a City of Ottawa, Ontario councillor has called for cyclists to obtain a permit when they plan to ride in groups on roads in the province. During a Transportation Committee hearing to consider the safety plan of Canada's capital, Councillor Eli El-Chantiry expressed concern about cyclists riding in groups on rural roads. Not stated by El-Chantiry but presumably the reason is because groups briefly inconvenience motorists.

Lucky for club cyclists nobody takes the loony councillor's proposal too seriously, although the City's largest club, the Ottawa Bicycle Club failed to be represented at the meeting despite the attendance of advocates for segregation of cyclists preaching their anti-rules of the road cycling. Listen to the Podcast at 3:08:00.
Posted December 6, 2019

IF YOU CARE ABOUT RULES OF THE ROAD CYCLING, pic you will read this carefully, ...

An Interview with John Forester
the author of Effective Cycling and cyclist who penned the term, "vehicular cyclist".
Posted September 30, 2019


PROVINCE AFFIRMS CYCLING CLUB'S RIGHT TO RIDE TWO ABREAST - Georgian Bay’s paved rural roads, escarpment, and rolling hills about 150km north of Toronto, make it a popular area to ride among Ontario's cyclists. The significant growth of cycling there has resulted in frequent conflict with pic both motorists and Ontario's Provincial Police (OPP). Representatives of the local, 450 member Collingwood Cycling Club feel that the OPP’s local detachment has been favoring motorists by aggressively targeting its members and other cyclists for, among other issues, riding two abreast when together in a group. A
report appeared in a Toronto daily newspaper a year ago describing some of the problems cyclists were encountering. Included was an "over the top" handcuffing of a club member, a retired police officer.

Since the report appeared, the club appears to have resolved the issue of riding two abreast with the admission by the OPP that there is no such prohibition in Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA). This was confirmed after the OPP contacted Ontario's Attorney General. See video report ...

The club had hoped this finding would end their differences with the police but apparently not. A recent report suggests that the police are still quibbling over parts of the HTA and have yet to accept the legality of all of the club's group riding practices.
Posted July 10, 2019


FAKE LAW ONTARIO - picThat's the name given to the link to an audit of selected websites found to be misreprentating traffic laws which negatively affect Ontario's cycling community. We previously reported on errors found and requests to have them corrected. The audit has been updated to reflect progress. Posted July 10, 2019


TRUCK DRIVER ACQUITTED IN "PROTECTED" BIKE LANE FATALITY - The driver of a truck that struck and killed a cyclist while she was riding in the City of Ottawa's first (and only at the time) "protected" pic bike lane has been found not guilty in her death. Ontario Court Justice David Berg said that the accused's driving was not a marked departure from reasonable driving standards. Nothing was mentioned during the trial of the role played by the City's design of the bike lane which has the effect of increasing the risk of cyclists being "right hooked" when chaneled to the right of right turning motor vehicles. This despite the fact that the City reconfigured the intersection immediately after the collision occurred. The City had been previously warned that its bike lane was a death trap. More at Ottawa Citizen ... Posted February 11, 2019


TOO FREQUENTLY POLICE DO NOT KNOW THE LAW THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO ENFORCE - The latest example was caught on video in the Canadian Cycling magazine It occurred in Toronto after a cyclist was pulled over and ticketed for interfering with traffic.pic The police officer said that the cyclist had to be in the designated bike lane and then added "you were in front of me". Because the exchange between the cop in the cruiser and the cyclist was heating up, the officer called for assistance which resulted in four more cruisers arriving. One of them with the officer's commanding officer inside. Later the ticket was withdrawn without explanation.

Since I could find nothing in Ontario's Highway Traffic Act which matched the officer's description of the violation I asked Toronto Police Sevice for details. It turned out that the ticket had been written as a violation of section 170(12). A quick check of that section shows that it concerns vehicles stopped or parked on the roadway and not to moving vehicles. Posted July 2, 2018


TORONTO TRIES TO CHANGE VEHICULAR TRAFFIC FLOW PATTERNS & FAILS.

pic


Well established rules of the road are being tinkered with to address problems with an inherently flawed city cycling facility. It is another example of dedicated bicycle infrastructure making interaction between cyclists and motorists more complex and thus requiring an added level of skills for both. City politicians and bureaucrats have been convinced that the solution to all cyclist problems can be solved by engineer designed infrastructure when the real issue is the mindless promotion of cycling among neophyte, unskilled or inexperienced cyclists. "Road craft and skills not required" aimed at cyclists appears to be City Hall's mantra. An article in the Toronto Star a Canadian national daily newspaper explains. Posted June 27, 2018


WHERE AND WHY: CYCLIST ON-ROAD POSITIONING - A GREAT VIDEO
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Although targeted at police enforcement agencies, this video by top cycling instructors of the American Bicycling Education Association is a "must watch" for everyone but especially motorists, cyclists, members of the media, politicians, and transportation bureaucrats.


GETTING ACTION ON WEBSITES BUT THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO REMAINS OBSTINATELY NON-RESPONSIVE -
Last October we reported on official and quasi-official websites which misrepresent Ontario traffic law as applied to cyclists. picSince then the City of Ottawa, the City of Toronto, and Cycle Toronto, an advocacy group, have responded by removing inaccurate interpretations of the law from their web pages. As of this date, the CAA has indicated it is reviewing the material on its website. This leaves only the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario as the odd one out and continues to give comfort to those drivers who abuse cyclists and try to run them off the roadway as they ride legally. Cyclists are drivers of a vehicle with the same rights as drivers of other vehicles and are better off when they are treated as such. The Province's government needs to get on side.

CITY OF OTTAWA CAVES. AMENDS WEBSITE. After being harangued for over four years, City of Ottawa bureaucrats finally buckled picto pressure and pulled a false interpretation of the Province of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA) from the City's website. The offending passage appeared under the heading of "Rules of the road". It stated that cyclists were to ride as close as practicable (i.e., no closer than 1.0 metre) to the right curb of the roadway. It was followed by a handful of exceptions, one of which was that cyclists could ride two abreast as long as they weren't impeding traffic. All of this of course was made up. Nowhere in the HTA is there such a rule and therefore none of the exceptions are relevant, particularly the suggestion that cyclists can impede traffic. Under Ontario law, only motor vehicles can impede traffic. Cyclists are defined as drivers of a vehicle with the same rights and same duties as other drivers of a vehicle. Here is the current page as amended.

MUNICIPAL CYCLING POLICY DRIVEN BY INCOMPETENTS, LEADING TO INCREASED RISKS AND LIMITED FREEDOM OF ROAD-WORTHY CYCLISTS picsays journalist in Canadian national newspaper.
Has the inevitable backlash against entitled activists started? The article raises many issues which need to be taken seriously. More in
the National Post


WEBSITES MISREPRESENT ONTARIO LAW
- If Ontario's cyclists wonder why motorists get away with blasting horns, pichurling verbal abuse, and deliberately buzzing them while they are legally occupying a lane, they need look no further than official websites. Such behaviour is legitimized by government messaging. The Vehicular Cyclist carried out an audit.
More ...


HEADGEAR PROTECTS SKULL NOT BRAIN Although talking about sports headgear, Australian concussion expert, pic Dr. Alan Pearce states, "All the peer-reviewed scientific research has shown helmets don't protect the brain from a concussion injury". Instead, headgear just protects the skull. "What happens with an impact is that the brain sits within a sack of fluid and that still moves and stretches and causes shearing to the nerve cells underneath the skull," he said. "So any impact is still going to have an impact on the nerves, so helmets don't stop the brain from moving."
More at ...


AUSTRALIAN STATE GETS AGGRESSIVE IN ENFORCING HELMET LAW, CYCLIST NUMBERS DOWN

The Australian state of New South Wales has become very aggressive in pic enforcing its bicycle helmet law. This follows last year's quadrupling of the fine for a helmet infraction from $71 to $319 (Aus). According to a national survey, cycling has declined in NSW by about 1/3rd compared to 2015 although caution should be exercised in blaming one specific factor for any change in participation rates. More ...


NOW OTTAWA PROVIDES EVIDENCE THAT BIKEWAYS MAKE INTERSECTIONS MORE COMPLICATED FOR ALL ROAD USERS The City of Victoria, British Columbia was first. It demonstrated with a video why segregated bike lanes make intersections more complicated and risky, specially for inexperienced riders attracted by bike lanes (see May 2017). Canada's capital, Ottawa, also feels it's intersection design requires it to offer a lesson on how to make a right turn from the City's new left-side two way bike lane.

May 2017

pic

See October 2010
Radio interview with Franklin

CITY VIDEO UNINTENTIALLY DEMONSTRATES FAILINGS OF SEGREGATED CYCLING FACILITIES - The City of Victoria, British Columbia demonstrates with a video on Youtube why segregated bike lanes make turning more complicated and risky, specially for inexperienced riders attracted by bike lanes. Just that the City felt it necessary to offer a lesson is an admission that bike lanes need a greater level of cycling skill than is needed on the road with traffic.


pic NO HELMET LAW FOR WINNIPEG - A report prepared for the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) states that it finds little in the way of conclusive evidence to advocate for mandatory bike helmet legislation. Local activist, Mark Cohoe said, “helmets aren’t really going to provide a huge amount of benefit once you start colliding with vehicles. The key is to prevent the collision in the first place. We think that that is the message that is important to get out there.”
More ...


picCITY IN ALABAMA GUTS HELMET LAW - The City of Anniston, Alabama (US) has amended its universal bicycle helmet law and eliminated the requirement for adults to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. More ...


BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA REPEALS BICYCLE HELMET LAW - Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small republic of over 3.5 million people on the Balkan Peninsula. picIt has a small stretch of coastline giving it access to the Adriatic Sea facing Italy to the West. An ecstatic Tihomir Dakic of the Centre for Environment who had spent six years fighting the law said, "Citizens can now choose whether or not they want to wear a safety helmet". More can be found on the Centre's website.

November 2016


!!!OTTAWA BIKEWAY UPDATE!!! THREE WEEKS AND THREE CRASHES - It's purely luck that nobody has been killed yet, but within three weeks after opening it, there have been three crashes involving cyclists and motor vehicles on the City of Ottawa's new downtown, segregated bikeway. pic The two way bikeway has been constructed on the east side of a south bound one way street. North to south it covers over 15 blocks with many private driveways. At its south end the one way street turns into a two way street with single tracks on each side. Two crashes have occurred at non-signalized intersections involving left hooks against southbound cyclists, and one at a driveway where a northbound cyclist was hit by a car exiting a private parking lot. Following the third crash it was revealed that Dutch consultants had warned City staff that they had chosen a "less safe" option.
The consultant's preferred option was one that would have removed parking on the west side of the street and affected rush hour traffic flow. The host of The Vehicular Cyclist was interviewed on local radio November 10th at 2 mins. and again on November 17th at 10 mins.

October 2016


picCYCLIST INJURED ON FIRST DAY OF OTTAWA'S NEW BIKEWAY - Just a couple of hours after the Mayor and councillors of Ottawa, Ontario cut the ribbon on a new two way segregated bike lane on a one way street in Canada's capital, a cyclist was seriously injured when hit by a car attempting to turn left across the bike lane.
CBC Report ... and in the Ottawa Citizen, diagrams with an opinion piece.

September 2016


picCITY OF OTTAWA COUNCILLOR ATTACKS A STRAW MAN VERSION OF VEHICULAR CYCLING AND THEN GETS PERSONAL. In appearances on two phone-in radio stations following the death of a cyclist while navigating an intersection in a segregated bike lane, Councillor Jeff Leiper claimed that the vehicular cycling (VC) approach was a discredited theory which assured no one but the fittest, most confident riders would dare take to the streets. His words in describing VC were almost identical to the mantra of bike infrastructure activists who likewise claim VC is for "hardcore" cyclists only. In
an e-mail to Leiper expressing disappointment, the host of the Vehicualr Cyclist website suggested that the councillor had bought into the propaganda of the activists whose lobbying had resulted in the segregated bike lane where a fatality had occurred the day before. The exchange went downhill from there with Leiper doing what politicians do when confronted with a falsehood - he refused to admit his error and instead launched a personal attack.


CITY WAS WARNED SEGREGATED BIKE LANE A DEATH TRAP - A young Ottawa cyclist was killed in a collision with a truck at a downtown intersection, Thursday morning (September 1). Reports say the pic truck was making a right turn across a segregated bike lane and the cyclist was travelling straight through the intersection when the collision occurred
more ... The segregated bike lane on Laurier Avenue was considered to be the crown jewel of the City's bikeway program when introduced four years ago as a pilot project against warnings at the time by some in the Ottawa cycling community. Despite there being a low accident rate on the stretch of the road in the previous five years (24 crashes/18 injuries) with as many as 1000 cyclists counted on summer days, City politicians pressed ahead anyway.

August 2016


LICENCE TO RIDE A BICYCLE? BICYCLE REGISTRATION? These old canards pop up every year or so almost everywhere in North America. Essentially picsuch proposals are initated by motorists and motivated by a hatred of cyclists. There's not much new in
Bikebiz's article for those of us who have had to respond to the same ole, same ole, over the years, but it's a reminder of the facetious arguments that regularly get regurgitated and used to attack cyclists.


pic CALGARY HERALD OPINION on helmet laws. Unusual expression of common sense by mainstream media.


More...

February 2016


CAREFREE CYCLING TO BE PERMITTED IN AUSTRALIA'S CAPITAL? The Australian Capital Territory's Road Safety Minister, Shane Rattenbury, has announced pic a proposed plan that allows for the possibility of bareheaded cycling. This is in order to encourage more people to ride their bicycles. The proposal no doubt will be controversial since it runs counter to some Australian states' aggressive enforcement of helmet laws. The Australian Capital Territory is geographically situated in one of these states, New South Wales, whose fine for not wearing a helmet will rise by 350% in March.
More ...


CYCLIST CRASH DEMONSTRATES INHERENT DANGER OF SEGREGATED BIKE LANES - this dash camera video of a cyclist crashing into the side of a van at a UK intersection clearly shows that the channeling of cyclists in conflict with turning traffic is inherently dangerous. The mirror image of this in right side driving countries is an example of the inherent risk of passing slow moving or stationary vehicles on the right, with or without the presence of a bike lane. Cyclists doing so are riding straight into the blind spot of motorists. (Click on "icon Van ..." for YouTube video)


picAUSTRALIAN HELMET FARCE - helmets purchased off the Internet or outside of Australia that much of the rest of the world accepts as providing adequate protection in case of a crash do not meet Australian legal requirements. As a result many Australian cyclists are potentially subject to the same fine as a cyclist riding without a helmet. More ...


HELMET USE AFFECTS BEHAVIOR - study suggests we unconsciously adjust our behavior based on our perceptions of safety. picFor this reason, protective gear might work to our disadvantage, a University of Bath (UK) research team says. Wearing a helmet is likely to increase our sensation-seeking and risk-taking, making us less safe overall. More at Medical Daily ...

December 2015

picHOCKEY HELMET MANUFACTURERS TOLD TO CEASE CONCUSSION CLAIMS - Reebok-CCM have been told it can't claim that hockey helmets protect against concussion. Although this order against the manufacturer is in respect of ice hockey helmets, it likely applies to bicycle and other sports helmets. A study earlier this year by Virginia Tech's biomedical engineering and mechanics department found there are no helmets on the market that prevent concussions. Canada's Competition Bureau warned Reebok-CCM that the science behind concussions in sports is still in its infancy and the role of helmets remains unclear. More ... and more ...

logoLETTERS TO A DRIVING NATION - a new book with messages aimed at drivers written as a series of letters ... this book will also be of interest to cyclists who will surely recognize the negative situations they often face when interacting with aggressive motorists.
A good inexpensive read. Available from Amazon, Chapters, Kobo, etc - $2.17 to $4.00.
More on Facebook page

November 2015

logoNO CORRELATION BETWEEN CANADIAN HELMET LAWS AND HEAD INJURIES - A British Medical Journal study has found no link between helmet laws in Canadian provinces with hospitalization rates for brain, head, scalp, skull, face or neck injuries. The authors showed that hospitalization rates did not differ between provinces with helmet laws and those without. See study ...

October 2015

logoCONCLUSIONS FROM HELMET RESEARCH BASED ON FAULTY STATISTICAL METHODS. MORE EVIDENCE - for twenty years this website has highlighted problems and errors in helmet research, particularly case/control studies that are subject to multiple confounding factors. A new report, prepared for the European Cycling Federation and submitted for peer review publication explains why such studies are unreliable. More ...

July 2015

logoHELMET USE UP AND SO ARE BRAIN INJURIES - As helmet wearing has increased, so have brain injuries among cyclists. From 1997 to 2011, bike-related concussions increased 67 percent in the US, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). More ...

June 2014

logoADULT DALLAS CYCLISTS NO LONGER REQUIRED TO WEAR HELMETS - City of Dallas drops bike helmet law for adults. All but three council members voted in favour of the amendment to the city's "all cyclists" helmet law. More ...

December 2013

logoCANADA'S CYCLING FATALITIES TREND NOW FLAT - After steadily dropping for 25 years, the number of cyclists dying on Canada's roads has stabilized at around 55 per year. The Vehicular Cyclist has updated it's analysis of cyclist fatalities and has found the trend for pedestrians remains almost identical to the one for cyclists.

June 2013

picDEATH & BURIAL OF THE 85% MYTH? - "Feds will stop hyping effectiveness of bike helmets" is the heading on the website of a Washington, DC community group. In response to lobbying by Washington, DC advocate Jim Titus, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have agreed to remove language that claims bicycle helmets reduce head injury risk by 85%. More ...

picBMJ UPDATE - EDITORIAL "LATEST HELMET LAW REPORT USED SUPERIOR METHODOLOGY ... " - An editorial in June 12, 2013 edition of the BMJ says the study that found helmet laws have had minimal effect on hospital admission for cycling head injuries used a superior methodology compared to other helmet studies. The report states "case control" studies (for example, that produce results like "85% reduction in risk") are subject to, " ... confounding variables that are generally unmeasured and perhaps even unmeasurable." Editorial summary and commentary.

May 2013

pic CONFIRMED - CANADIAN HELMET LAWS FAIL TO REDUCE HEAD INJURIES - In June 2012, The Vehicular Cyclist reported that a study was pending that would find Canadian bicycle helmet legislation had no measurable affect on hospitalization levels for cyclist head injuries. The study has now been published in - the British Medical Journal

This latest study confirms an admission by Canadian helmet law activist, Alison MacPherson, that a decline in head injuries is not due to Canadian helmet laws as she had previously claimed in a number of related studies. See Sept 2010 letter to the journal Injury Prevention.

BICYCLING MAGAZINE SAYS NO ONE KNOWS FOR CERTAIN IF A HELMET pic PREVENTS GETTING HURT - in a long article in its June 2013 edition, Bicycling Magazine says that current bicycle helmets haven't been designed to prevent injuries like concussions and other brain injuries. It states that "none of us—not you, not me, not the helmet manufacturers or even the testing agencies—know for certain whether your helmet will prevent you from getting hurt". Many concussions don't even get recorded in injury statistics because delayed symptoms often lead victims to go home rather than report for medical attention.

The article exposes the serious shortcomings in the design of current bicycle helmets along with the political and commercial interests preventing change. Bicycling Magazine, which has in the past had a naïve and uncritical acceptance of bicycle helmet use, has finally come around to say what The Vehicular Cyclist has been saying for 20 years - bicycle helmets are not all they are cracked up to be.

A short version of the full article can be found on the magazine's website

April 2013

HELMET DEBATE CONTINUES ON US RADIO - pic Listen to a discussion on the question of how much helmets count in bike safety. It features yours truly, Avery Burdett, the host of the Vehicular Cyclist website. It was produced by Radio Health Journal a weekly US-based health and medical news magazine that broadcasts on over 450 US stations.
Click on
Podcast Archives and scroll to April 2013.

TWO US LEGISLATURES SAY, "NO" TO HELMET LAWS - pic the states of Arkansas and Oregon recently rejected bills to mandate or to expand the scope of mandating bicycle helmet use.


See report for Arkansas ... and report for Oregon


SEGREGATED BIKE LANES IN "CYCLE FRIENDLY" CITIES KILLpic - in April 2011 we reported how a segregated bike lane contributed to the death of a skateboarder in Montreal. We have just come across a 2009 report that three years earlier in the city of Amsterdam four cyclists were killed at intersections while using segregated bike lanes. Also reported are similar fatalities in four other so called "cycling friendly" cities - Portland (as posted November 2012 below), Seattle, Minnesota and Washington DC. Source: Limeport Consulting

January 2013

WHY HELMETS PROBABLY MAKE HEAD INJURIES WORSE - an article in the current edition of the US magazine, pic Popular Science discusses at length problems with helmets used in American football. Particular emphasis is on the design of helmets and the absence of an adequate test model that simulates rotational force, the principal factor in concussion and other brain injuries. The problems raised could just have easily been written about bicycle helmets and their certification model, since it involves a drop test virtually identical to the one used for football helmets. Our FAQ items 5 and 6 point out the problems with design of bicycle helmets. These problems have been known of years (our FAQ has been on line for 15 years) but advocates and authorities around the world have chosen to turn a blind eye to anything that doesn't coincide with their own prejudices about the shortcomings of bicycle helmets. More ...

CYCLING SAFER THAN MOST PEOPLE PERCEIVE - High profile, picout of context, coverage of cycling fatalities do much damage to cycling, making it appear dangerous when it is not. This frequently leads to inappropriate public policies being implemented. Researchers from City College London (UK) have published a report showing ordinary cycling to be in the range of risk similar to walking and driving. It is lower than for pedestrians who face a higher fatality rate when measured by kilometre travelled. See full report


Past news announcements