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When will I learn?

Despite past experience, I've once again gotten suckered into arguing with a sub-group of zealot mostly counter-culture exclusive-cyclists at Michael Bluejay's list that cyclists do, in fact, disobey traffic signals much more often than do motorists, a position which is commonly understood by the 99.5% of the population that is not clinically insane.

I was somewhat enheartened (?) to see that there are guys like me all over the country as well as in other countries making this same case: running red lights and stop signs hurts the cause of transportation bicyclists.

Want to maintain the reasonable right to ride without a bicycle helmet? Want to get bicycle facilities? Want to be taken seriously when you try to get the cops to enforce the laws against bad motorists? BEHAVE LIKE A GROWN-UP FIRST.

PS: Every time this comes up on Michael's e-mail list, I'm alone out there fighting the good fight. This has allowed the conventional wisdom among these folks to be: "car drivers run red lights more than bicyclists do; and you're making up all this stuff about how drivers see so many cyclists breaking the law that it causes them to lose respect for cycling as transportation". If you're reading this, and you're on that list, and you don't chime in, you're part of the problem.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Bicycle Commuting , Bicycling in Austin , I Told You So , Transportation


Here again, the desire to punish somehow outweighs the aims of traffic safety.

Is it possible that bicyclists commit more traffic offenses, as you say, but ALSO that many things they want would improve traffic and reduce problems with car/bike interactions? Indeed, perhaps the lack of infrastructure investment for bikes even contributes to why bicyclists more frequently violate some traffic laws.

Does that fact that you can point to someone and say "J'accuse! You have violated a traffic law," automatically disqualify their opinion? On this and the red light cameras both, to me, that seems to be a common thread in your positions.

Oh, come on. That's just a load of crap.

Scott, I nearly wrecked my car once swerving to avoid a cyclist who ran a red light (across 24th). Not only can a cyclist who breaks the law cause motorist injury (contrary to popular belief); they can lead motorists to disobey the laws that keep cyclists safe as well.

Yes, in general, I think it's good to prosecute traffic laws. Otherwise, why have them? But that's not the common thread here; in this case, the POLITICAL damage to the cause of transportation cycling is my primary concern.

Oh, hi, Scott - fancy meeting you here... ;)

Hi, M1EK. I didn't see an email link on your site. But I wanted to let you know I had read your comments on the Austinist regarding the Northcross issue and appreciate the points you made. It is a little confusing to me that on one hand you seem to favor the type of redevelopment we desire, but on the other hand you focus only on the challenges it presents and sort of write the whole thing off as ridiculous to even contemplate. However, I have to thank you, because you have helped educate me to a degree about the things we need to think about as we try to flesh out our vision for the area.

For what its worth, I have always supported light rail, although the rail line is literally across the street from my house. And I drive Shoal Creek every single day but have always supported modifying that street in whatever way will encourage and protect cyclists.



Thanks very much for the kind words. I'm pleasantly surprised and flattered.

I really should write a full posting on this issue but lack the time -- in short, I'd really like to see urban development there, but do not want to see the plot remain empty for the next ten years as people finally realize that urban developers aren't interested in serving such a low-density automobile-dependent neighborhood.

I don't want Wal-Mart either, but nobody else has expressed any interest. (This is always glossed over by the neigborhood folks - the property owners said they tried to get HEB to move in, for instance). I dislike Wal-Mart for the typical set of reasons - but to vigorously fight to maintain 1950s suburban sprawl residential development and then complain that you only get served with low-density garbage retail is kind of like having your cake and wanting to eat it too.

So, the way I see it, the choice is effectively Wal-Mart, nobody (continued decline), or somehow vastly increasing residential density nearby to provide enough customers to make urban retail feasible.

As I said somewhere else, if you've found a vein of untapped urbanists up there who would actually support redeveloping Northcross with high-density residential ("like the Triangle", which would then allow for the aforementioned higher quality urban walkable retail) then you've really done an amazing service. I've never found anybody in these 1950s-era neighborhoods to be anything but unrelentingly hostile to multi-family development of any kind.

The statements about HEB being approached may not be accurate.

We are actively promoting something like the Triangle and so far we have heard nothing but agreement from neighbors. I am unfamiliar with the hostility you describe, I'm sure some are but it appears from my vantage point that there is significant support in the area.

I don't want Northcross to sit for a decade before it changes. My husband and I have been planning an addition and remodel to our house, which our family has totally outgrown. Our plan is only financially feasible if this area continues to grow. I believe a mixed-use plan has much higher long-term positives for this area than any big box or old-style mall could possibly bring. Plus I believe that type of growth is good public policy and will protect and enhance the surrounding neighborhoods. This area is going to change, it needs to change, and Northcross Mall, done right, is going to be an engine for driving that change in the right direction.

Thanks again for your insights!

Of course, M1EK's suspicions are correct. Hope, you may not realize with whom you have joined.

For many (not all) of those anti-redevelopment people I've seen speak at meetings thus far, you don't have to scratch very deep beneath all the classic code words before you find the racism and elitism. Just look on the site to see all the code words about fears of the people going to WalMart causing increased crime, loitering, etc. The statements made at public meetings and on neighborhood lists have been even more explicit and shameful - and not just by a stray crank or two, but by many.

I am amused by the attempt to claim that the anti-revitalisation group isn't reactionary and is interested in real mixed-use development: ask them what these anti-development neighbors have said thus far about Lincoln's desire to rezone the extended-stay suites (between the planned dense-commercial and the bus transit center) and build a dense multifamily residential project there...

Alas, too many cyclists disobey the law. It is true. I am a diehard transportation cyclist and see it every day. And it DOES hurt the cause of cycling.

Extreme case: riding through a South Austin neighborhood, I prepared to pass through an intersection. I had no light or stop sign, but the cross street had stop signs. Good thing I looked both ways and proceeded with caution: Another cyclist sailed through the stop sign of the cross street just as I was about to enter the intersection. I called out, "You just ran that stop sign!" She yelled back, "Mind your own business!"

[sound of head banging against wall]


nice blog M1EK, keep up the good work!

What I don't get are the cyclists who talk on their cellphones while cycling the Drag and North Lamar.That's so stupid. Hello!