How To Drive Your Bicycle

Here’s how it works for bicycle drivers.

You don’t need bicycle lanes to drive your bicycle safely in traffic.

Check out these videos by CyclingSavvy.

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Comments 24

  1. Tim Beadle wrote:

    *You* don’t need a bike lane, but my daughter, nearly 8, and my dad, nearly 80, do.

    The world doesn’t revolve around you, or even me, who *do* ride in traffic.

    Posted 05 Nov 2012 at 5:28 am
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Tim… What do they need the lane for? Bicycle lanes all too often create conflicts with other traffic (similar to riding on sidewalks). So you’re more than likely putting your child and father in more danger. Further, bicyclists should only use those streets appropriate to their skill level.

    Posted 05 Nov 2012 at 7:26 am
  3. Tim Beadle wrote:

    That’s the thing: my daughter doesn’t ride unaccompanied. If she lived in the Netherlands, she would.

    I get the impression you’re not interested in that sort of thing, though, so I shall bow out of this discussion.

    Posted 05 Nov 2012 at 7:34 am
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    I am VERY interested in people learning how to drive their bicycles because it is safest way to go in the U.S. Some towns in the Netherlands do have some excellent, separate bicycle roads — but not all. Amsterdam, for example, is a nightmare of lanes and tracks. I saw very few children riding alone there.

    But my question stands and is one no one has ever been able to adequately answer for me. What do we need lanes for? Another way to put it: What traffic problem do they solve?

    I’ll take a stab at an answer if you won’t: Lanes are for increasing participation, not solving traffic problems.

    My problem with that is: It’s a potential increase in participation at the expense of safety and (traffic) knowledge.

    Posted 05 Nov 2012 at 9:29 am
  5. Fred wrote:

    I applaud one’s efforts at riding in a hostile environment though this is very dangerous.

    About 5 million collisions occur between autos and other autos. Over 2 million of those are rear ending. The thing keeping people alive is the metal box.

    Riding in a road over 30 MPH is suicide.

    Try doing that up hill at 50 MPH on a bicycle.

    Hint nobody does this.

    We don’t need lanes, but they are being built. You don’t get a say in this just as you didn’t lay out the existing road conditions which are so deadly to cyclists and motorists alike.

    Just as you have learned to cope with the hostile road conditions, your go getter attitude will help you to learn to ride in safer and more intelligently designed infrastrucute

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 9:24 am
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Fred… I must be incompetent. I’ve been riding a bicycle for basic transportation (i.e. everyday) for 8 years without mishap. What keeps me safe is knowledge of traffic and the bicycle’s place in traffic. And, yes, I do get a say as any citizen does. I’m just sayin’ 😉

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 3:20 pm
  7. Fred Ollinger wrote:

    No, Andy, it’s luck. Study stats.

    A super slow vehicle is not a “normal part of traffic”. It’s foolish and dangerous.

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 3:57 pm
  8. fred_dot_u wrote:

    I think there’s an important piece of information that is too often overlooked in discussions of this sort. A cyclist should control the lane when the lane is of sub-standard width. Sub-standard width is defined in most states as a lane of insufficient width to enable a cyclist and motorist to occupy side-by-side. Some states (Texas?) specify fourteen feet in the statutes, while others offer up somewhat vague references. Florida DOT states the fourteen foot figure in the construction manual, but it’s not stated in the statutes.

    If the lanes are sub-standard width, too many drivers are incapable of recognizing the safety impact on cyclists about to be overtaken unless the cyclist is operating in control of the lane.

    A cyclist at any speed is a normal part of traffic because a cyclist is operating as other traffic. The drivers who are incapable of recognizing this are foolish and dangerous. Unfortunately these dangerous misconceptions are passed from generation to generation unless somewhere along the sequence a rider becomes educated and breaks the chain.

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 6:03 pm
  9. Andy Cline wrote:

    Fred… Don’t troll my blog. The stats are very clear about the relative safety of vehicular cycling. It’s a slam dunk, man.

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 6:53 pm
  10. Fred Ollinger wrote:

    Trolling is giving an opinion that one does not believe in order to get an emotional reaction.

    Sharing information of crash studies is NOT trolling.

    Please post some data which shows that cycling fatalities and serious injury coorelates inversely with education.

    After studying the data, the ONLY variable that matters is speed limit. The higher the speed limit the more deadly the road.

    Here’s the author of VC:

    Here’s the actual study:

    “The fear of overtaking accidents and the assumption that this type
    of accident occurs with great frequency are among the main reasons why
    on-street bicycle lanes have been so appealing to persons concerned with
    bicycle safety. ”

    Forrester lied to you.

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 7:25 pm
  11. Andy Cline wrote:

    Fred… You’ve got to be kidding me 🙂

    Posted 06 Nov 2012 at 8:35 pm
  12. Fred Ollinger wrote:

    OK, I win.

    I was polite and I got insulted.

    I gave data to support my statements–the original data that VC and Saavy Cycling is based upon.

    This shows that Ken Cross had the exact opposite attitude of Forrester. Read the paper for your own sake.

    All the data shows that these videos teach highly unsafe behavior. Please post a study which says otherwise…

    Domination again!

    Posted 07 Nov 2012 at 10:30 am
  13. Angelo Dolce wrote:

    My experience doesn’t fit with Fred’s (or Tim’s) comments at all. I find the local facilities(PA, DE; MD must be also) are designed by motorists that don’t bicycle for transportation. They don’t do this because they think it is extremely difficult and as dangerous as Fred implies. As a result, their facilities (door zone, right RTOL, etc.) create problems that do not have to exist. Their facilities are praised by advocates who say that bad facilities are better than no facilities.

    To address Tim’s comment, I agree that I would not let an 8 year old bicycle on 40mph roads without a bike lane, but I will also note that parents here will not let 10 years olds cross these streets by themselves. (Drivers here rarely yield at cross walks unless police are present.) I believe your point is that pedestrians and bicyclists should have the right to use streets and roads too. I agree, but I don’t see how installing poorly designed bike lanes helps this. Drivers are rarely cited for hitting other cars, and even less often for hitting pedestrians or bicyclists. Until planners, police and local JP judges admit that motorists sometimes have to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists (not very common here), bike lanes won’t help an 8 year old or any other bicyclist.

    I haven’t seen your particular traffic, but it certainly sounds very different from anything I’ve ever experienced on the East Coast or even the Mid west. Bicycling in 30mph traffic is far from suicidal anywhere I’ve ridden – all the 30mph traffic I’ve seen has intersections, lights, and breaks in traffic. Drivers see bicyclists in front of them in these situations; frequently the bicyclist is waiting for the cars in front of him. The roads with 50mph speed limits all have good sight lines (so it’s not suicidal for motorists) and most have multiple lanes – my experience is that motorists use them to pass slower traffic (including bicyclists, since destinations on these roads aren’t accessible from other roads). These roads typically are overdesigned and can easily handle bicycles in addition to the cars.

    I’m not saying I consider this ideal suburban planning or my choice for the ideal road. I am saying I have problems with bicycle “advocates” claiming that bicycling is too dangerous without bicycle lanes – we already have enough motorists and individual police saying we should not be allowed to ride on roads without bike lanes (so we can’t ride to the library, supermarkets, post office, etc.) Over 95% of the bike lanes that I have seen installed are not intelligently designed – this is why motorists and city councils need to make them mandatory.

    Given the ratio of motorists to bicyclists, I think the real support for bike lanes locally is coming from motorists that want to use them to remove bicyclists from “real” traffic. If they were meant to help bicyclist, they would be designed well enough that they would not need to be mandatory.



    Posted 07 Nov 2012 at 10:17 pm
  14. Kevin Love wrote:


    If you want a recent study, I recommend The American Journal of Public Health’s article, “Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study”

    An excerpt from this study:

    Results. Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure.


    Posted 07 Nov 2012 at 10:21 pm
  15. Kevin Love wrote:


    Please do not stereotype all of Amsterdam based upon part of the downtown. Yes, that part of the City has problems. But that’s like saying “Driving a car in downtown New York or Toronto is a nightmare. Therefore all car infrastructure is bad.” That simply does not follow.

    Here is a video of Amsterdam showing quite excellent cycle infrastructure.

    Note, for example the parked car with the open door at seconds 45-50. No possibility of dooring here! The parked cars are kept far enough away from the cycle path to prevent dooring.

    Notice also the intersection protections. The cycle path has priority at minor intersections and major intersections have the protective barriers described in this video:

    Posted 07 Nov 2012 at 10:50 pm
  16. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… Yes, I did see some really nice stuff in the more suburban areas. I’m not anti-infrastructure. I am against the kinds of lanes we generally paint in the U.S. And I think the people of Amsterdam did accept too little space on the streets in exchange for infrastructure.

    What I’m fighting here is not an attempt to design and implement intelligent infrastructure (e.g. Springfield’s growing system of sharrows marking the bicycle route system). I’m fighting the mindless spilling of paint for the (hopeless) purpose of increasing participation.

    Angelo et. al. … Please do not engage Fred Ollinger on this blog. Thanks in advance.

    Posted 08 Nov 2012 at 1:13 pm
  17. Fred Ollinger wrote:

    Angelo, thanks for the study. That’s precisely what I was looking for.

    Why can’t we post data to back up all our claims?

    Right now it seems like it is more dangerous than driving a car which is the most deadly (aka kills the most young people both inside and outside a year) form of transportation.

    “In 1999, the most recent year for which data are available, more than 6 million crashes occurred on U.S. highways, killing over 41,000 people and injuring nearly 3.4 million others. Rear-end collisions accounted for almost one-third of these crashes1 ”

    Posted 08 Nov 2012 at 1:36 pm
  18. Kevin Love wrote:


    I too am against poor cycle infrastructure and am definitely not a fan of spilling paint on roads to create something that is substandard.

    Driving cars for transportation is very foolish. We have to stop doing this. It was disturbing reading the above link showing how car drivers in the USA kill over 41,000 people per year by crashes and injure almost 3.4 million people. That’s almost 1% of the entire US population!

    Of course, car drivers kill rather more people with the lethal poisons in car pollution. I see that, according to Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, in that one city alone,

    Car drivers poison and kill 440 people per year.
    Car drivers poison 1,700 people so seriously that they have to be hospitalized.

    Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to being poisoned by car drivers. Every year in Toronto,

    Children have 1,200 acute bronchitis episodes due to being poisoned by car drivers.
    Children experience a whopping 68,000 asthma symptom days due to being poisoned by car drivers.


    Conclusion: Car driving has got to stop. Poisoning innocent children is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

    Cities like Groningen provide a good model for effectively eliminating child poisoning car driving. The downtown is car-free and the rest of the city uses a “sector” strategy that ensures cycling is the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of travelling from A to B for virtually all destinations.

    See the video at:

    This strategy can be followed by Springfield and almost any other city to progressively eliminate car driving.

    Posted 09 Nov 2012 at 7:03 pm
  19. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… You’ll get no argument from me re: the danger of cars.

    David Hembrow’s videos of Groningen are interesting. Much of the infrastructure there appears to be independent of the the main road system.

    The problem is the US will never do this, at least not in my lifetime. We won’t even pay to educate our children, or feed the poor, or maintain the roads and bridges we have. That’s why we have to educate bicyclists to use the streets we have.

    Posted 10 Nov 2012 at 9:54 am
  20. Kevin Love wrote:

    Andy wrote: “The problem is the US will never do this, at least not in my lifetime.”

    Kevin’s comment: I’ve heard this defeatest thinking over and over again. Nothing will ever change… until it does. Let’s look at the times I’ve heard the exact same things:

    “Ban smoking in bars and restaurants? You must be crazy! That will never happen. And if it does, businesses will all fail in the Entertainment District”

    But it did happen. And the Entertainment District seems to be thriving.

    Here’s a video about how attitudes and laws about so many things have changed:

    So cheer up! A revolution in Saudi Arabia will change attitudes overnight as cars become playthings for the ultra-rich.

    Posted 10 Nov 2012 at 10:11 pm
  21. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… So, I’ll put it this way. I would rather we spend money to educate our children, or feed the poor, and maintain the roads and bridges we have long before we spend it on dedicated bicycle infrastructure. those needs are far more important and pressing. I have no problem using the streets we have.

    Posted 11 Nov 2012 at 11:17 am
  22. Fred wrote:

    Again, why the allergy to data?

    Seems like we have to cover all the anti-infrastructure myths one by one.

    5 minutes of google shows that they are all false:

    “The Fietsberaad reports that Dutch government expenditure on cycling has now reached an annual level of 487 million euros per year. Given the Dutch population of around 16 million people, that’s approximately 30 euros per person per year, over the entire country, all cities, towns and villages, and out in the countryside.”

    Seems like a small amount of money to make our streets seven times safer.

    And yes, politicians are willing to spend that, but instead “cycling advocates” have been spending decades lying to them.

    Educate your readers instead of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    Posted 11 Nov 2012 at 11:52 am
  23. Kevin Love wrote:


    I will certainly agree with you that the USA needs to spend a lot more money on education. American schoolchildren tend to perform very poorly by international standards. When the Bulgarian educational system turns in better performance than that of the USA, the future does not look good.

    One way of freeing up vast sums of money is to note that bicycle infrastructure is hugely cheaper than car infrastructure. As Fred pointed out, even the excellent Dutch infrastructure costs only 30 Euros per person per year.

    The USA spends a lot more than that on car infrastructure. I note that one car project alone, Boston’s “Big Dig,” cost an eye-popping $24 billion. Thanks to the phenomenon of induced demand, many Boston car commutes were longer after the project than before. What a waste!

    For another example, I note that the annual health-care costs due to the lethal poisons in car pollution are $2.2 billion for people in the city of Toronto.

    These two examples of only two of many. Note how much of this money is not being paid by car drivers but instead by the hard-working taxpayers. This directly competes with and takes away from spending on education and other priorities.

    In short, if you really want to free up money for education spending, the way to do that is to build bicycle infrastructure, not car intrastructure.


    For cost of “Big Dig”:

    For futility of “Big Dig”:

    For health-care costs due to car pollution poisoning in Toronto:

    Posted 11 Nov 2012 at 8:40 pm
  24. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… Yes. No argument. But this is the US, not some place where citizens make logical decisions based on careful analysis and thinking about the issues 😉

    Posted 11 Nov 2012 at 10:25 pm