Vehicular Cycling is the practice of riding bikes in traffic in a manner that’s visible, predictable and in accordances with principles for driving. Theory is that you are safer because you are more predictable. Seems reasonable enough no? Do things in a visible, predictable manner, don’t get hurt. In automotive traffic, riding like a car drives. Taking a full lane and sticking to your guns.
VC is an advanced way to handle yourself in traffic and you should not attempt to do so if you are wet behind the ears. It can be safe in certain situations if you are experienced and know exactly what you are doing. But there are lots of cases where behaving like a car is not in your best interests. Here are three things to think about before you decide you are going to exercise your rights to the road and ride like a car drives.
Who Promotes VC?
Experienced riders are a great source of information if you have questions. But be careful if one advises you to be more VCish than you are comfortable with. I have no issue with an experienced rider practicing VC. I do it from time to time. But they should not be preaching to the newly converted, or to the about to be converted. I’m new enough that I can still remember how intimidating cars, trucks, buses were at first. If a sage rider told me in my formative days that the way to turn left was from the vehicle left turn lane, I may not have ever started.
Is It Really Safe To Claim Your Rights
Another thing that you should consider before doing too much VC is that the road is not always a welcoming place for cyclists. I’ll tell you a story. On occasion, I claim the lane to make a left turn. Very VC. Once, when I claimed the lane, made my signal and waited for oncoming traffic to clear, a motorist behind me got impatient. I’m not sure why since he was also turning left and would have had to wait anyway. As I rounded the turn, he came up on my left in the oncoming traffic lane. He drove beside me for a few hundred meters. Once I looked over he accelerated as hard as he could and cut into the lane in front of me. With his exhaust and his noise (it was a damn loud Trans AM), he was ‘teaching me a lesson’. I did everything right, but it could have turned out very badly for me. I blame the tenets of VC for this. It’s not a position I’ll put myself in again.
Collisions Still Happen
Also, before you decide that cyclists always belong in traffic, remember, sometimes collisions happen. Vocal VCer’s love to compare collision stats with automobiles. They often claim that the risks of competent VC are comparable to that of driving. I agree that if you are well seen and you are competent at VC, then probability of collisions are comparable to driving. But risk involves two factors, probability and penalty. I’ve been involved in two rear end collisions in my life. Both were while I was stopped in a left turn lane waiting to make a left, both would have killed me if I was on my bike. In a car, it’s an inconvenience, on a bike, it’s a funeral. There’s going to be a time when you couldn’t anticipate, couldn’t react fast enough.
So, any VC’ers who have made it to the end of this post without closing the browser in disgust, I’ll offer this olive branch. I think it’s fine what you are doing. Hell, do whatever you want. Myself? I’m going to pull my bike off the road when I’m waiting at a busy intersection. On occasion I’ll bike on the sidewalk if I think road conditions are too dangerous.
Another thing, let’s leave the VC stuff off the recruitment poster OK? It’s not going to win us new recruits.