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Posted by on Oct 12, 2008 in Uncategorized | 13 comments

Take the Red Pill

I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

—Morpheus, from The Matrix

Thursday afternoon, I had the honor of riding with Brian DeSousa of Dual Chase Productions. We rode a pre-planned 10 mile route around urban Orlando, then improvised for an additional 11 miles … much of which we rode in the pouring rain.

It will take me a while to edit and optimize the all of the video, but I must say, it is amazing! It is the Dance on video. The Redpill cyclist’s view of the road.

Here’s an overview:

In loop 1, we rode an average speed of 15.5 mph. Our total time was a little over 52 minutes, 13 minutes of that was spent waiting at red lights (and one Amtrak train). The motorists spent more time than us waiting at red lights because they drove faster between them. We had the road to ourselves for at least half, maybe more, of the time. It’s funny how much more noticeable that is when you’re shooting video for the purpose of capturing motorist interactions. Traffic seems to come in 40-second waves. We did not have a single honk or close pass for the entire route (you can hear honking on Colonial, but it’s not at us; it’s motorists honking at each other).

In loop 2, we started out to do the same route with the camera facing backwards. We stopped to visit Mighk Wilson, whose Metroplan Orlando office is near the route. Then the sky opened up. Brian didn’t think the video would work with raindrops on the lens, so we headed back to my office on Edgewater Drive. We encountered some bad motorist behavior near South Ivanhoe—impatient drivers passing on the right in the caution-stripe and making it difficult to merge. They do this to me in my car, too! Motorists think they are on I-4 already and routinely ignore the 25 mph speed limit. And we got a honk on Lakeview Dr., which seemed odd until we looked at the video. The motorist behind us chose not to pass and a pick-up truck driver behind that car got pissed off about it. It’s not clear if he was honking at us or the driver behind us. The center turn lane was wide open for passing.

After looking at the video, we discovered that the rain was not causing problems for the image, so we decided to improvise and add some more miles. This put us on the road in rush hour traffic. We were able to film good intersection position at Edgewater and Princeton Sts., while another cyclist caught up from behind, demonstrating bad position and skimming the parked cars in the block between Princeton and Smith. We almost ran into him as he passed us on the right as we were preparing to turn right on Vassar St.

Just like on the first loop, we spent a lot of time on the road alone. Even though traffic was a little more dense in the waves, they were still spaced with long intervals of empty road. We claimed the lane everywhere and motorists changed lanes to pass or waited behind us to turn right. There were no honks and no close passes. It was beautiful. And it was exactly what I experience every day, with only occasional exceptions. Now, thanks to Brian, I can show it to you.

I’ve replaced the original embedded video with a more refined version edited by Brian (this one has sound). This is from loop 2, Orange Avenue North from Winter Park St. to 17-92. A few notes:

  • There is a transition after we stop at the light at 17-92, Brian cut out some waiting time. We actually stayed in the queue for one light cycle, advanced with the queue and then decided to filter forward (something I rarely do because it makes me nervous). We were turning right on 17-92 (and there’s zero risk of being hooked there). Passing a queue should be done with caution and consideration.
  • If the box truck behind me (at the beginning) seems intimidating, imagine the alternative: He could have squeezed past us in the narrow lane and right-hooked us.
  • Also take note of the white van. He is the first vehicle to pass us at the corner of Clay and Orange Aves. We pass him in the queue at 17-92 (he’s been there 2 light cycles and he’s still four cars back from the intersection). So, the 22 seconds he waited to pass us made zero difference in his trip.
  • Notice how long the gap is between waves of traffic. Yet, it’s peak rush hour and traffic is stacked up at the light.

Take the red pill. Free yourself from the mythologies of danger and delay that keep cyclists in the gutter. Leaving the matrix gives you access to the world.

See more Dual Chase videos here.

13 Comments

  1. Great video! What you’ve posted is exactly what I see in my mirror for almost all of my riding. Even the video I collect resembles yours, except I’m not in the video and not nearly as good looking.

    Your riding route certainly defines a narrow lane. I cannot envision riding this roadway as a gutter bunny and surviving. Some of the lanes on which I ride are perhaps two feet wider, but that doesn’t change the narrow-lane designation, although it does promote stripe-riding by non-vc folk, unfortunately.

    Well done! As always, it looks like you had fun, and isn’t that what counts?

  2. Thanks, Fred.

    This is what confident cyclists experience, and what we try to share. Dan & Brian have given cycling educators a huge gift with their videos.

    When we turned right on 17-92, we continued using enough lane to encourage motorists to change lanes. The outside lane is 15ft, but the traffic was never heavy enough to warrant sharing it. And there are good (practicable!) reasons not to ride that far right in light traffic.

  3. Cool video!! When you say you are averaging 15.5, would you say that was the normal pedaling speed? The video makes it look like you are going much faster!!

  4. I think it’s the wide angle lens that makes it appear as though we are riding faster. Brian told me about that effect before we started. And it really does look faster than we are going. Another thing is the speed differentials of passing cars are fairly low, even riding 15 mph on a 30 mph road. And a fair percentage of motorists slow down when passing. That creates an appearance of speed, too.

    I usually ride at a constant effort that allows me to breathe out of my nose (zone 1-2 heart-rate). This is 14-17 mph on a flat road, slower going up a grade (or into the wind) and faster going downhill/downwind.

  5. I really like the two-way bike lane, with the double yellow stripe down the middle, at the start of the video.

  6. That appears to be a shared-use lane, even without the markings, as motor vehicles seem to be allowed to use it as well. In this video, the operator of the following motor vehicle is well mannered.
    :-)

  7. Good work Keri, the stark backlighting in some ways makes observing road position easier. Thank you and Brian!

  8. Glad to stop by Orlando with my video rig during my Florida travels!

  9. Yikes, that’s a scary video. I thought that big bad semi-truck at the beginning was going to eat you. Glad you’re still alive. :P

  10. What does the law in Florida say about lane splitting/riding alongside the cars, as you did at the end of the video? Is that a legal maneuver?

  11. Personally I would not pass on the right in such a narrow space as they did in the video unless I was sure that all the vehicles would be held in position by the light and I was riding a bike that allows me to jump the curb in case traffic starts moving and I get squeezed. I normally ride recumbents and the past year a Velomobile. In the Velo, you cue up behind motorists, because motorists will never see you sneaking up on the side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQeOrGaDWag

    • This isn’t something I do very often. In fact, I doubt I’ve done it since this video. It was a bit tight for my comfort. But I did know the cars would not be moving. I also knew that there was almost no chance of anyone turning right at the intersection (because Orange runs parallel to Mills all the way from downtown until it angles over at that point. We had already sat through one long light cycle and probably would have been there 2 more if we hadn’t filtered.

      I would never filter forward on a recumbent trike (or velomobile) for the reason you noted.