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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Bicycle commuters
Old 10-04-2016   #1
Roger Hicks
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Bicycle commuters

Some bicycle commuters may recognize themselves here. Rather more will recognize other people. Far more still, though not bicyclists themselves, will see an echo of people they know who do commute by bicycle.

Don't get me wrong. I love bicycles. It's just that I have a problem with a small proportion of bicyclists.

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R.
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Old 10-04-2016   #2
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Are the the people who also harp about their right to share the road but then cross with red lights and ignore stop signs?
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Old 10-04-2016   #3
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Its pretty simple. All classes of road users hate each other and each think the other is in the wrong. In reality there are stupid pedestrians, motorists and cyclists. The only thing is that two tonnes of car has a lot more kinetic energy than either a pedestrian or cyclist. Although i have had occasion to point out to errant pedestrians that being hit by sixty kilos of cyclist travelling at 30 plus kph is not pleasant either. That said, my pet hate of the moment is cyclists wearing closed back circum aural headphones in city traffic - neither big nor clever.
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Old 10-04-2016   #4
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Are the the people who also harp about their right to share the road but then cross with red lights and ignore stop signs?
Yes and pass between your car and curb when you are stopped at a light.

I will not say what happens the second time I have to pass them.
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Old 10-04-2016   #5
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I almost got run over by an SUV and by a COE Semi truck with no trailer in the very same intersection one month apart while I was riding my bicycle.

Both times I had the right of way and both times the drivers of these motorized vehicles ran the posted stop sign. (aka failed to stop.)
Now I wisely avoid that same intersection.
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Old 10-04-2016   #6
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Cyclists are aggressive, arrogant law breaking jerks; probably on a "program". Motorists are brain dead, soft-tissue creatures who have no form and die quickly if removed from their shells. Everyone yells about their "right" to the road as once nice cities are slowly strangled by the automobile and American drivers are never told that the early paving of dirt roads in the US was in part because of heavy lobbying by the League of American Wheelmen.

This is not a balanced situation; the 'misery' caused by cyclists is a rounding error compared to the death, destruction, and filth produced by the automobile. Look into the superblocks being tested in Barcelona, Spain for one example of people trying to pull the post-war needle full of oil out of their arms.

Threads like this are pointless because (at least in the US) the car is sacred and above reproach, thus dialog is stillborn. Empiricism never does well against belief.

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Old 10-04-2016   #7
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As a driver and cyclist and walker I need to call out the drivers as the problem in my town. More drivers looking at either their cell phones or their manhood (or womanhood) and running stop signs or not seeing me while walking or biking than I can count. Just yesterday I was walking toward an intersection at 8am and a woman made a left turn through an intersection with a VERY obvious Stop sign without even slowing down. She lives in the neighborhood (just around the next corner, she must know there is a fecking stop sign there). I was not the only pedestrian who shouted at her. I used to carry rocks in my pockets when I walked my dog (now dead, not through any fault of a sh!thed driver)) to hurl at cars that did this sort of thing. As a cyclist I cede ROW, as I well understand that I stand no chance against even a Hundai, as a walker I am just as often foolishly given deference in VT. If I am near an intersection cars may screech to a halt, in case I might be considering crossing the street. I've seen many near collisions, and been in many near collisions due to drivers being simply stupid and slamming on the brakes as they see me or some random pedestrian on the sidewalk near a crosswalk. Common sense is long lost in the US, the notion that I as a pedestrian must not be wary of simply walking out into the street without looking is accepted as normal here in VT. Craziness. Cars and bikes are legitimate road users, a pedestrian belongs on the sidewalk.
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Old 10-04-2016   #8
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On the whole, people are arrogant selfish jerks. The added feeling of security offered by being inside a car just adds to this.

No one has a right to use the roads. It is a privilege.
No one owns the roads. They are shared.

Stupid comments like "I will not say what happens the second time I have to pass them" are fueled by ignorance and overblown self-importance. This is just the same as saying "if you cut me off I will shoot you". Grow up everybody, get over yourselves, and share.

While some people might say that cyclist are annoying how they overtake you when you're stopped, or you are held up by them. Boo hoo. Would you prefer that they were in front of you in their car, adding to the traffic, taking an extra parking space?

Some cyclists break the law, so do motorists and pedestrians. When caught, all are punished similarly, at least they are where I live, and should be everywhere.
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Old 10-04-2016   #9
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Some cyclists break the law, so do motorists and pedestrians. When caught, all are punished similarly, at least they are where I live, and should be everywhere.
Should be indeed. I have taken to hitting my horn hard and long whenever I see another driver looking at their cellphone or private parts. The police never bother with this stuff, as it can't be proved so becomes a waste of their time.

The running of stop signs is common practice in VT, I see it every single day more than once. A momentary release of the gas pedal suffices for the 'full stop'. Completely ignored as a problem by the police here, they do it as well.
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Old 10-04-2016   #10
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Should be indeed. I have taken to hitting my horn hard and long whenever I see another driver looking at their cellphone or private parts. The police never bother with this stuff, as it can't be proved so becomes a waste of their time.

The running of stop signs is common practice in VT, I see it every single day more than once. A momentary release of the gas pedal suffices for the 'full stop'. Completely ignored as a problem by the police here, they do it as well.
Should be indeed. The difference is when some people think they have the "right" to physically harm or intimidate another road user because of this.

For example: a cyclist overtakes you at a red light (they're allowed to here), and then the motorist intentionally drives close to the cyclist (or even clips them, or thows something at them) in order to intimidate them because they somehow feel that they've been wronged. Not cool.

I have never suffered more abuse from fellow "humans" than when cycling on the roads, obeying the law.

The worst of people comes when they feel like they are in a position of power and safety - such as in a car or sitting at a keyboard. It is a sad reflection on society. My take is never say or do anything from within a car (or at a keyboard) that you wouldn't do as a pedestrian (or face to face). A smile goes a lot further than a frown.
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Old 10-04-2016   #11
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As someone who rides their bike a little, 100km per week min., I see idiot drivers, idiot cyclists, and idiot pedestrians. I will say cyclists probably have a bit more to lose. If they are the idiot, then they pay the price. If someone else is the idiot, then they still pay a price. I have almost been hit on many occasions- just by being on the road. I have never endangered a motorist or pedestrian by the act of pedaling a bike. Be aware. All the time.

I will also say there are many (most?) courteous drivers that share the road without swearing or honking!

However, I avoid rush hour like the plague.
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Old 10-04-2016   #12
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Yes and pass between your car and curb when you are stopped at a light.

I will not say what happens the second time I have to pass them.
In Greater London, at least, this is expected behaviour. There are cycle lanes and bike-only boxes at the lights in front of other traffic. Whether you like it or not, arseholes in cars cause far more problems than arseholes on bicycles.
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Old 10-04-2016   #13
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I installed an electric motor on my bike two days ago, cut the commute in half, while lowering my risky behaviour.
I'm not in the aggressive lycra clad, carbon fibre framed racing to work posse. I ride in my normal wear at a leisure pace on a rusty old bike. It's just my laziness that puts me at risk as the Stockholm terrain is not quite as flat as I'd like..
With the electric assist, I have less an issue to loose momentum in hills, and I now stop where I'd usually try to speed up!
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Old 10-04-2016   #14
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While it's true that overcrowding stands in the way of courteous behavior on the road, the main point of Roger's essay seems to be the zealousness of the cyclists who think that everybody should live by their standards.

It's something that I seem to see more and more, and it's not limited to just whether you commute to work by bike or not. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and what strikes me as the main difference about then and now, is the sense of freedom in those days. And that's not just about wearing long hair, or laws against underage drinking. There's so much more pressure to conform and live up to expectations nowadays. Everything has become target driven instead of experience oriented. This apparently carries over to how we behave towards another; everyone has to conform to everyone's targets and ideals..

Whatever happened to live and let live? Call me nostalgic, but I certainly miss the 60s and 70s..
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Old 10-04-2016   #15
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Quote:
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Yes and pass between your car and curb when you are stopped at a light.

I will not say what happens the second time I have to pass them.
You try to kill them?
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Old 10-04-2016   #16
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While it's true that overcrowding stands in the way of courteous behavior on the road, the main point of Roger's essay seems to be the zealousness of the cyclists who think that everybody should live by their standards.

It's something that I seem to see more and more, and it's not limited to just whether you commute to work by bike or not. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and what strikes me as the main difference about then and now, is the sense of freedom in those days. And that's not just about wearing long hair, or laws against underage drinking. There's so much more pressure to conform and live up to expectations nowadays. Everything has become target driven instead of experience oriented. This apparently carries over to how we behave towards another; everyone has to conform to everyone's targets and ideals..

Whatever happened to live and let live? Call me nostalgic, but I certainly miss the 60s and 70s..
Dear Peter,

Exactly. The kind of cyclists I was writing about are like militant vegetarians in this respect. They seem to believe that they, and they only, are in the realms of the Righteous and the Saved, and that everyone else s damned eternally because they either own a car or eat meat (or worse still, both). Then, especially in the Guardian, you get the militant vegetarian sanctimonious cyclists.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-04-2016   #17
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. . . The worst of people comes when they feel like they are in a position of power and safety - such as in a car or sitting at a keyboard. It is a sad reflection on society. My take is never say or do anything from within a car (or at a keyboard) that you wouldn't do as a pedestrian (or face to face). A smile goes a lot further than a frown.
Dear Michael,

An excellent equivalence; and as you say, a sad reflection on society.

I have to say that I pretty much gave up riding a bicycle in the UK because of the incessant simmering aggression of so many road users. Here in rural France, people are a lot more laid back and considerate.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-05-2016   #18
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. . . The running of stop signs is common practice in VT, I see it every single day more than once. A momentary release of the gas pedal suffices for the 'full stop'. Completely ignored as a problem by the police here, they do it as well.
Possibly because it isn't always a problem? There's one stop sign between my house and the bakers. It's on a T-junction with a road where you can see in the direction of oncoming traffic for maybe half a mile. If the road is empty, as it almost invariably is, I certainly don't come to a full stop. It's at the foot of a hill, too, so any momentum I can carry over when I'm on the 'bike is welcome!

The purpose of road signs is to make the roads safer, not to impose rules for the sake of it, or to allow the raising of money from fines. Some people seem to forget this.

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Old 10-05-2016   #19
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Yes and pass between your car and curb when you are stopped at a light.

I will not say what happens the second time I have to pass them.
I don't know where you live, but you might be treading very thin ice there. Passing between cars and the curb at traffic lights is the legal way cyclists are supposed to behave in Germany and most of Europe.
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Old 10-05-2016   #20
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As a cyclist (not that often), a motorcyclist (fairly often) and a car driver (often) I see the foolish acts each class makes and tend to try and avoid making the same mistakes. However, when on two wheels, self-preservation does tend to make me give way when needed. Being in the right is no consolation if you suffer injury or worse!

The plain fact is that the transport system here in the UK (along with many other places) is designed around the car, bus and lorry (truck). Only in certain places are cyclists considered and in most places the motorcyclist is invisible - both to motorists and planners.

Some examples. There is a road close by me, about a mile long, with each end controlled by traffic signals. At both ends this road is the minor road and the traffic signals, at night, leave the main road on green and the side-road on red until triggered by a car - not a motorcycle or cycle. So the hapless cyclist or motorcyclist is trapped there unless they wait for morning or pass the lights illegally. I've complained to the authority, they promise to investigate but nothing changes.

My local hospital's A&E department has, within 100m of its entrance, covered, secured cycle parking for 50 cycles, usually containing no more than 4. No doubt this was not cheap. How many folk are likely to visit A&E on a cycle? Clearly not many! At the same time, said hospital has zero allocated motorcycle parking and car parking that can only be described as traumatic.
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Old 10-05-2016   #21
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Look into the superblocks being tested in Barcelona, Spain for one example of people trying to pull the post-war needle full of oil out of their arms.
Interesting to see such a close example discussed here. I am in the camp of saying that Spain is not that good example for infrastructure planning.

I did not frequent the area but I have recollections of acquitances (and the media) of it causing heaps of trouble. Nearby an industrial area plus they had to divert the traffic of an important and wide street.
That adds up to the diversions caused by the construction site of a tunnel in Pl. Glories, which is an intersection of 3 main avenues of the city.

There were a lot of incidents and discussions about how cycling commuters can be integrated in the city. For one, the city is not planned properly for such.

I don't commute on bike, although in my town it is a good way to make longer distances short. My nearest "big town" to run errands is 12km away, 45-60min each way. However, there is not much practical parking for the bicycle around here. Lest it may be lifted, not to be seen again.

In Sweden I did to, during my semester abroad where I lived in a 150k pop city in the middle of the country. The city planning was made to accomodate cycling lanes, plus plenty of parking sites everywhere and it was easy and unthreatening for a cycling commuter. Traffic is much lighter though, both road and pedestrian.

I am/was a railroad commuter, as Barcelona is the city that has everything. University, jobs, major shopping, etc. However our government did not prioritise the commuter and regional railroads and now it holds rather sadly, with constant problems, delays and inneficiencies. Some peoples -students- resort to rent and live in the city, but as much as I may like Barcelona, living in it does not attract me.

Commuting by car to Barcelona from my town is rather expensive. First, take a highway with one of the steepest toll rates, then, get into the city (with heavy traffic depending on the time) and park (pay up). I've had driving license for 3 years but never bothered to drive into the ciy.
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Old 10-05-2016   #22
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Possibly because it isn't always a problem?...
We have a very busy intersection in town, where eastern avenue and Main Street meet at a T. There are no stop signs here, everyone moves through at a steady pace. Not all stops are necessary (especially in VT where many people feel the need to just stop) the ignored stop signs I find frustrating are the ones where visibility can be difficult, and where stop signs are used to slow traffic down as people move through a residential area.

Not to imply that traffic control is well thought through here, it seems mostly haphazard, where not designed to confuse or destroy the landscape. One way streets would be a godsend here, and would help immensely, but change of that magnitude would be unacceptable to most. They'd rather just remove all the trees and make the roads wider. People are indeed the problem
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Old 10-05-2016   #23
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We have a very busy intersection in town, where eastern avenue and Main Street meet at a T. There are no stop signs here, everyone moves through at a steady pace. Not all stops are necessary (especially in VT where many people feel the need to just stop) the ignored stop signs I find frustrating are the ones where visibility can be difficult, and where stop signs are used to slow traffic down as people move through a residential area.

Not to imply that traffic control is well thought through here, it seems mostly haphazard, where not designed to confuse or destroy the landscape. One way streets would be a godsend here, and would help immensely, but change of that magnitude would be unacceptable to most. They'd rather just remove all the trees and make the roads wider. People are indeed the problem
Sure. Stop signs in the right places are invaluable and should be obeyed. It's just that some cops (especially in California) seem to rejoice in enforcing the most pointless rules, such as 15mph limits outside schools at three in the morning. And I've had people (always Americans) tell me that you should ALWAYS stop at ALL stop signs AT ALL TIMES.

An interesting piece here on "shared space" in Drachten.

Cheers,

R.
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