I Like To Watch And Listen

Every now and then I like to go to YouTube and watch traffic crash videos. You’ll find plenty of them because many people in Russia (and a few other countries out that way) run dash cams — I assume for insurance reasons. The following video is typical:

You can also find many videos showing pedestrians getting plowed by motor vehicles. Here’s an example:

I find it curious, however, that you can’t find many videos showing bicycle collisions with motor vehicles. There are the occasional single-accident videos, but I have yet to find a traffic bicycling compilation. Bicycle racing makes up the vast majority of bicycle crash compilations. I wonder why.

Be that as it may, I like to watch these kinds of things every once in a while to remind myself what can happen when things go wrong. But I also like seeing how crashes set up, i.e. what choices drivers make and how those choices affect the eventual collision.

These videos constantly reinforce for me the idea that danger is ahead — mostly at intersections — and not so much behind. So, yeah, I stop when traffic controls indicate that I must do so. I watch. I listen. I take responsibility for my own safety.

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Comments 42

  1. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    I can’t watch compilation videos anymore – they make me too angry. I watched the first few seconds of the second one you posted and after four crashes I’d had more than enough. I mean how hard can it be for pedestrians to look for cars and for motorists to look in front of them? The third crash was especially upsetting – I mean, the pedestrian was clearly crossing the road with no obstructions – visibility and field of view were fine. All I can think is that the motorist was looking at something in his/her car and not looking where he/she was going.

    Today I had a similar incident – a truck had maneuvered into a parking space on the opposite side of a narrow neighborhood road. I’d been approaching for a good few seconds and I’d even stopped at the intersection not twenty yards from him while he pottered about next to the car, then he got in the car and I carried on along the road. As I approached he just pulled right out towards me despite the fact that with parked cars there was only room for one vehicle. He just wasn’t paying any attention to what might have been in front of his car.

    I mean, it’s job number 1 – look where you’re fricken well going, yet motorists often seem to fail at it. This is why I think we need mandatory retesting every 5 years for motorists.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 7:07 am
  2. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Made myself watch the whole video. The last crash (where the peds are in a crosswalk right before the video goes black) is disgusting! That motorist should go to jail and have his license taken away for life. I just hope all the victims survived and were not too badly injured.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 7:15 am
  3. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    One more thing I have to get off my chest: I’m finding it really tough to do safety advocacy anymore. The more I learn and the more I experience, the more it strikes me that the road is full of incompetent fools who shouldn’t be driving. Yet government isn’t going to help – no motorist on a jury or as a lawmaker in government is going to do what’s necessary to make road users competent on the roads, because they’re all thinking “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. We need mandatory retesting, better and unbiased law enforcement and far harsher penalties for those who cause accidents, but while 90% or more of the people who make and oversee traffic laws are motorists it’s just not going to happen.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 7:25 am
  4. robert wrote:

    One of the hottest viral videos right now show two bicyclists getting hit by behind from a motorcyclists in California.


    Here is one that I asked you to review a while back. This one is interesting because of the “bicyclist may use full lane” signage.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 8:35 am
  5. RANTWICK wrote:

    You watch these things too, huh? I agree that watching how things develop is a great tool for informing how one rides and an excellent reminder that simply staying awake is key.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 8:38 am
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Ian… I suspect that alcohol plays a big role in much of what we’re seeing — given most of the videos are from Russia. Not to stereotype or anything 😉

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 8:41 am
  7. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… Yes, I remember that one. Did I not mention it? I would assert that signs, like lines, have no power to hold back multi-ton vehicles. Nor do signs, like lines, have the power to focus the attention of drivers or cure assholery. If signs and lines could do that, then vehicle drivers of all kinds wouldn’t rear-end each other.

    That’s exactly the kind of video for which I am not finding compilations — just occasional singe crash videos. I wonder why. It may have something to do with mode share in Russia et. al.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 8:51 am
  8. robert wrote:


    No but the concrete barrier between the pedestrian portion and the bridge does……lol

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 8:56 am
  9. Khal Spencer wrote:

    We have a similar bridge with a protected ped sidewalk. During off peak, I ride the lane. During morning rush hour, I use the sidewalk because its an uphill. Far fewer pedestrians and I just slow down and take my time. At night, I take the lane and can buzz along at almost the speed limit, 35 mph. Yeah, its got a slope.

    I found a lot of video of motorcyclists crashing on Mulholland. That stretch is apparently called “the snake” due to its sinewy nature. Motorcyclists and their camera crews are apparently drawn to it like moths to a flame, with similar results. Darwin Award territory.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 9:44 am
  10. Michael wrote:

    This one has been making the rounds:

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 10:07 am
  11. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… Your point is what? I can’t read your mind.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 11:42 am
  12. robert wrote:

    My point is that there are other types of infrastructure besides “none” and “bike lanes” and one is featured in the video.

    Even though the particular one in the video is crowded with pedestrians and we can’t see the intersection treatments (or lackthereof) it’s an option that you didn’t respond to in your comments (paint & signage, etc.)

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 12:12 pm
  13. Khal Spencer wrote:

    See my #9. To be honest, I can take the uphill southbound lane in the morning and would certainly slow down traffic flow. Rather than do that, I use the pedestrian/mixed us sidepath crossing, which is lightly used and provides an option that is more peaceful and doesn’t bottle up others. Religious purity to vehicular cycling is not required, and to be sure, I ride as a vehicle on the sidepath, making sure I overtake properly and do not put pedestrians at risk.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 12:47 pm
  14. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:


    A general traffic lane is not ‘none’ – it is cycling infrastructure and the rightmost lane that serves the cyclist’s destination is the bike lane. It has intersection treatments that have been proven over more than a century to work just fine for all road users.

    Sorry, but it pisses me off when people assume the general traffic lane is not a cycling facility.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 1:01 pm
  15. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… A careful reading of CT demonstrates that I am well aware of the many kinds of traffic infrastructure for bicyclists 😉 In fact, I have praised many kinds of separated infrastructure — including kinds that I have actually used here and in Europe.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 4:48 pm
  16. Robert wrote:

    Ian – sorry that I angered you. Rest assured that I’ve ridden 30-miles of highway without any special bicycle facilities today. I understand that bicycles are legally entitled to ride on roadways even if they were or weren’t considered in the design

    Andy – not everything is an attack. Me searching the website has nothing to do with discussing that video. lol. You said you couldn’t find many overtaking crash videos so I posted two. In one the bicyclists was very educated and was “taking the lane.” Thought it warranted discussion. Especially when there is a protected bike/ped way nearby.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 5:08 pm
  17. Robert wrote:

    If you don’t agree. That’s cool. No biggie

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 5:09 pm
  18. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… I said I can’t find any bicycle crash compilations. There are certainly singles out there. If you find any compilations that are not race related, please let me know.

    Perhaps we ought to begin identifying the singles and create a compilation.

    I agree that video merits discussion.

    What would you like to say about it besides the observation you just made?

    Perhaps we ought to look at the protected path on Google Earth to see if we can discover why the bicyclist isn’t using it. Perhaps the intersections a both ends are handled poorly.

    Given just what I see here, I might choose that path at certain times of the day.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 6:47 pm
  19. Khal Spencer wrote:

    It looks to me like the sidepath is about four feet wide, i.e. far too narrow for an AASHTO approved multiuse path, the minimum acceptable width being eight feet. There were also several clots of people on the sidepath making it difficult to ride a bike through in a reasonable fashion. In such a situation, I doubt I would use it either.

    The sidepath on the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge, which I referred to earlier, is seven feet wide and passage is much more negotiable. Further widening to AASHTO standards would require considerable funding to rebuild the cantilevering. I’ve bitched and screamed to the Dept of Energy about it, but no money available. I’ve also recommended prohibiting northbound (downslope) cycling on the sidepath. That will happen after a good crash into a pedestrian.

    Posted 08 May 2013 at 7:39 pm
  20. Robert wrote:

    *Typed on phone

    Here is a video of a bicyclist who is knowledgable and confident and clearly not a “gutter bunny” who gets smacked from behind while choosing to not use a “protected” sidepath.

    When I first suggested that Andy discuss this video it was because it’s practically the exact opposite of videos that Keri and others have created showing a confident bicyclist controlling the lane without issue. For that reason alone it’s interesting to discuss, I think.

    I don’t think that this facility in particular is worth discussing. It is clearly too narrow and has the fortunate problem of too many pedestrians to be shared effectively. However, it could have been built more effectively.

    I wonder, however, if some VC proponents would argue against such a facility because no matter how it was built it would be unsafe, inconvenient and would cause bicyclists choosing not to use it would be harassed? Another possible discussion topic.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 6:01 am
  21. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Yes Robert, people do get hit from behind when taking the lane. People get struck by lightning too, and die in air crashes, and get eaten by bears, and get electrocuted, and get killed in accidents with combine harvesters. The thing is, these are all extremely rare occurrences – far rarer than the chances of being struck in an intersection while cycling in the gutter, or on segregated bike facilities.

    Sane people do not avoid going outside for fear of being struck by lightning or bear attack, nor do they avoid the road for fear of being rear-ended.

    If we want to use the road, we must accept a particle of risk. But in doing so, we don’t just throw caution to the wind and ride in ways we know increase risk (or at least I don’t). We find ways to reduce risk to its lowest level – that is what vehicular cycling is all about.

    This is the fundamental difference between integrated cycling advocacy and bike facility advocacy: facility advocates put proselytizing first, while integration advocates put safety first.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 7:02 am
  22. Robert wrote:

    Example from my life from yesterday. My wife and I were taking our tandem to a medical appointment 7-miles from home. We turned and got onto a two-lane highway with 45-MPH traffic with an estimated >1-second between vehicles. (No common sense 3-second intervals here) I thanked god for the 4-foot shoulder that was present. Wasnt ideal but I certainly don’t think that it made me less safe. Can I prove that? No.

    I’m not sure how any of you would have ridden it, but I’m hard pressed to believe that any of you would have taken the lane in that situation. Imagine if that was your daily commute and you had to ride 3-miles of that everyday. Would have been brutal. No “catch and release” on that roadway because there’s likely never a break in traffic for two hours every morning and evening.

    Bicycle facilities can be more dangerous, Ian, but not always. Sometimes they can improve safety. Do you agree or disagree?

    Regardless, I would like to see a discussion on here with some nuance. We aren’t in a political debate where you can never leave your position for even a second for fear the opponent thinks your weak.

    For example – Andy assuming you’ve crossed the Missouri River in Booneville, Jefferson City or Hermann did you enjoy the separated facilities on those bridges? If so, why wouldn’t you enjoy separated facilities along other large arterials if the intersection issues were addressed? Do you think most VC advocates would agree or not be in favor of those segregated facilities?

    Andy I use you because it’s your blog and you live in Missouri. Im not because I’m attacking you. I’d use Khal but I cant point out separated bridge facilities in NM.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 7:56 am
  23. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I think the standard engineering treatment, when possible, on a 45 mph road is a separate bike lane or wide, well maintained shoulder. That works as long as the road is not festooned with side streets and curb cuts. We did that on Diamond Drive in Los Alamos, which has a very useful bike lane UNTIL you get into the urban “core”, where we have had numerous hits and near misses. In that area, I wish we just discontinued the bike lane because I think our crash and near miss rate has gone up, but that is an educated hunch.

    My understanding of that bus on bridge incident was that it was deliberate and not an accidental hit. Does anyone recall? In any urban area, you have street crime, so to speak. This seemed to be more a case of street crime than an honest foulup.

    I have to agree with Robert here–we sometimes forget nuance and get into dogmatic opposition to each other. I’d rather read a discussion that justifies a particular type of facility based on data like crash rates and an engineering study of how best to efficiently and safely mix traffic than listen to anyone’s religion, even my own.

    Warning: soapbox dead ahead. There is an old expression, “The perfect is the enemy of the good”. I fear that some cycling advocates clamor for absolute safety rather than accepting what is usually a pretty decent situation in terms of fatals per exposure hour and in so doing, set unobtainable goals. We see that elsewhere in U.S. society, often resulting in us doing nothing to solve problems because there are no perfect solutions. ALL traffic needs to be calmed, and cyclists need to stop acting like special victims spoiling for our own turf. We should instead be arguing for safer roads and calmed cities rather than abandoning same to our own cozy niche. That is my fundamental, philosophical objection to the Streetsblog mentality. Ok, off the soap box.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 9:14 am
  24. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Robert, here is a picture, from the archives, of the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge.

    It was built in the early fifties with no sidewalk.

    Later, a sidewalk was cantilevered over the eastern deck.


    So far, suggestions to add an underbridge for cyclists or further cantilever the sidepath have been floated. With sequestration and tight budgets, nothing has been done so far. West Road drops into the Canyon and provides a long and steep path alternative. I sometimes ride that way in the summer just for the added exercise.

    The existing system works fine as long as people behave themselves. Biggest losers in that regard are the northbound cyclists who take the sidepath at high speed. I call them the SUVs of the sidewalk. They are too cowardly to take the lane northbound, but willfully endanger others.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 9:22 am
  25. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Sorry, that was the western side of the deck!

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 9:23 am
  26. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… I’m not against separate facilities in the way I am generally against bicycle lanes. I agree that much depends on context and mitigation of traffic conflicts. Add to that not creating conflicts where they do not already exist.

    The situation you describe sounds like one I would choose either to use the shoulder or plan a different route if possible. I do not go out of my way looking for ways to insert myself into heavy traffic 🙂 My opinion on a facility on such a road would depend entirely on the quality of the engineering and the mitigation of conflicts.

    Nuance is a wonderful thing. We academics love it.

    My problem is that nuance will not help the situation in Springfield. The city has recently built a significant length of lanes that are either out of AASHTO compliance or otherwise dangerous (e.g. door-zone lanes). I’m finding that any criticism of any new paint is met with screams of “extremism” and “VC” used as a pejorative. The few of us who have complained have been told publicly that “we must take the bad with the good.”

    What if the bad hurts people or teaches them bad traffic habits? Well, no one wants to answer that question.

    The fact of the matter is we cannot have any discussion in Springfield whatsoever because one cannot get the powers that be to admit what simple measurements so ably demonstrate: we’re building too many “shit” lanes — to use your expression 😉 — in Springfield. We cannot have any discussion because what’s expected is cheer leading, not critical thinking (or even simple standards-checking for that matter).

    Your opinion carries a lot of weight hereabouts. So when you comment here *seemingly* promoting, or being OK with, those “shit” lanes, you make my job all that much more difficult. Hence my touchy reactions of late to your comments here.

    Morally, I cannot and will not compromise on “shit” lanes. But I’m willing to remain silent on other lanes and praise the good stuff (as I have always done). And I have always been on board with our greenways. I have donated a few thousand dollars to that cause in the 9 years I’ve lived here.

    Unfortunately that’s not good enough for some people hereabouts. Hence, I am no longer a STAR Team member and will mostly be focusing my advocacy on the national level from here on through I Am Traffic.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 9:47 am
  27. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Good points, Andy.

    This is a very good place to discuss stuff. Sometimes I get the impression that nerves are getting frayed. Let’s not lose sight of one good goal–we can all learn from each other here and use it as a decent seminar series, to use another academic expression.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 10:16 am
  28. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… Yes.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 10:19 am
  29. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Speaking of bicycle lanes. Someone on the Albuquerque bike list forwarded a link to a Chicago paper saying proudly that the city and Mayor are raising the fines on dooring collisions to 1000 dollars against a motorist. The article goes on to say “…Last year, there were 1,675 bicycle crashes in Chicago, 250 of them so-called “dooring” accidents.”


    What bugs me is that rather than eliminate door zone bike lanes, the city paints a dangerous facility and then raises fines on those who commit serious but predictable errors. Its as though we would paint passing zones on blind curves and then fine people who cause head-on crashes. Is it not better to build a good design rather than fine people for misusing a bad design? Those one grand fines will not magically undo the damage to a dead or injured cyclist.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 11:12 am
  30. robert wrote:


    Very nice comments. I know that you and Ian and probably others have become frustrated with me on here. What has frustrated me is that I often feel that you write a definitive statement and every one of your readers comments about how dead-on right you are. There is little actual discussion and seemingly almost no nuance in these discussions. If anything it’s people making observations about how right you are.

    Just like when I listen to conservative talk radio I wonder how anyone could learn anything listening to someone give bold statements and everyone else just repeating the same message. Mega Dittos, Andy!

    Of course, this blog is read by people who are very passionate and almost everyone has exactly the same view point, so I’m not sure what could be done about it.

    However, the world of bicycle infrastructure is moving very quickly and definitive statements like Ian’s, “facility advocates put proselytizing first, while integration advocates put safety first,” is hard for me to swallow as an absolute truth.


    Most streets in Chicago lack bicycle lanes so it would be hard to figure out what % of those dooring crashes occured in bicycle lanes.

    Chicago is also looking beyond the old bike lane design by developing “protected bike lanes” with a floating parking lane between the lane and the traffic flow.

    All that said: I’m going purely by memory and what I’ve occasionally observed staring out a train window. I’ve never actually ridden or studied any of these new lanes, so if someone wants to hold my feet to the fire on this….I readily admit that I know very little about Chicago’s “protected” bicycle lanes.

    I just happen to live about 30-miles from Chicago.

    Maybe I’ll make it down for the Naked Bike Ride on June 13th and give you a full report on the infrastructure that I encounter.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 11:42 am
  31. robert wrote:

    Khal –

    You might find this interesting.

    The City of Chicago sold the rights to all of it’s on-street parking for 1.157 billion dollars. Now the fear is that the City will not be able to reduce on-street parking to make room for bicycle infrastructure for 99-years.

    Basically you have a private company owning the rights along the curb of nearly every public street in Chicago!

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 11:46 am
  32. Khal Spencer wrote:


    I don’t know either what portion of those 250 door zone crashes were in bike lanes vs. those not. My point would be one should not officially sanction poor riding practice by putting instructions for it in paint. Point taken, though.

    Selling public space is a horrible example of privatization and locking one’s self into short term thinking for 99 years. Frankly, that space was paid for by the public. I guess if the public’s representatives legally sold it, you are screwed. Perhaps if gasoline gets to ten or fifteen bucks a gallon, there will be little demand for parking and the city can buy it back for 0.1157 billion dollars 😉

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 12:24 pm
  33. Michael wrote:


    Five years of Seattle bicycle collision data makes case for cycle tracks

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 12:31 pm
  34. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Michael, all your link shows is that collisions happen. I think we already knew that. It does not make the case for cycle tracks at all.

    What does make a case is 4 years of Washington DC collision data – it makes the case AGAINST cycle tracks:


    And 40 years of studies of all kinds of bicycle facilities in Europe and the US confirms the fact that cycling on the road is safest:


    Posted 09 May 2013 at 12:58 pm
  35. Michael wrote:

    “all your link shows is that collisions happen.”

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, but hadn’t quite made up my mind yet. That’s why I my comment on it was “Hmm…” Thanks for the conformation.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 1:01 pm
  36. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… Well, yes, that is sometimes how the blogging world rolls 🙂

    As you know, I do have some things regarding bicycle infrastructure that I am very sure about — either because the data is there to back me up or the logic is there.

    That said, I have plenty still to learn (as we all do).

    I don’t want you to agree with me. I only want you to agree with me when I know that you actually do agree with me! 🙂 e.g. those “shit” lanes.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 1:11 pm
  37. Khal Spencer wrote:

    By the way, Andy. I keep meaning to ask you. Was there an intentional double entendre in that title?

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 1:36 pm
  38. Michael wrote:

    Ha, ha, Khal. My forst thoughts when I read that were along the lines of: OMG, TMI, TMI.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 2:56 pm
  39. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal … Well, yes 🙂 I enjoy messing around with language.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 4:56 pm
  40. Khal Spencer wrote:

    In your business, Andy? I’m shocked! 😉

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 5:01 pm
  41. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… There’s a commonplace in online media circles that says you build audience by writing a good post and putting a headline on it that says what it’s about. Well, poppycock. I agree re: content. But I reserve the right to have fun with my headlines 🙂

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 5:15 pm
  42. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Double entendre and other creative uses of language are signs of intelligent life on earth in spite of constant evidence to the contrary. I consider the liberal arts as well as the sciences the twin bedrocks of civilization. Recent news of the decline of higher ed in TX notwithstanding.

    Posted 09 May 2013 at 8:49 pm