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Posted by on Jan 12, 2013 in General | 8 comments

Two Terrific Videos for Law Enforcement

These are from Seidler Productions. They were produced under an FDOT grant for law enforcement training.

A lot of the footage in this first one was shot here in Orlando. You may recognize some familiar faces. This is a sweet introduction to the many types of bicycles and purposes of bicycling.

This one is to inform officers of our needs for space on the road and explains why the law allows us to use the full lane on many roads.

8 Comments

  1. The second video surprised me by including the 2013 change in the law, previously and comprehensively discussed. There are some good points in that video. The first one was fun to watch, especially (hi, Rodney!) when there are folk I recognize.

    Officer Narrator did get a couple things a-kilter, in my opinion, and sort of verified that in the second video. He suggests that a trike needs more room than a bicycle, but in vid 2, says that 3 to 5 feet is needed for a bicycle. I agree with that figure and suggest that a trike can operate easily in 5 feet of clear lane. I liked that reference in video 2 about roadways in good condition being a valid consideration for safe operation.

    The second error is regarding electric assist bikes. Florida statutes require that the bicycle be incapable of exceeding 20 mph on flat ground by electric motor power alone. It does not restrict the operator from exceeding 20 mph on flat ground with electric assist. Some states do require that the motor has some form of cut-out that takes effect at 20 mph, but not Florida. Considering how few e-assist bikes are on the roads (and more on the sidewalk, in violation), I doubt that the police have much interaction with that type of bike.

    The talking head effect at the beginning of the video is a bit spooky! (grin)

  2. The videos generally send a good message, but some of the cycling practices shown in the video are, in my view, unsafe. Both videos show door zone cycling and gutter riding. Sadly, I suspect that such practices are so common that it’s difficult to find cyclists who don’t engage in such dangerous behavior.

    I generally like the second video better than the first, as it gets to the point of educating officers in terms of what the law actually says, and in terms of safe cycling practices that are often the victim of overzealous law enforcement. A couple of criticisms:

    1. Although the cyclist’s right to take the lane is clearly explained, I think the necessity of doing so could be emphasized more. The problem, I think, is that taking the lane is still legal only in terms of exceptions to the rule of riding far right, and in attempting to respect that standpoint, the video fails to explain that the exceptions are so many and so common that, for a safety conscious cyclist, taking the lane is more like a default position. Although the narrator says at one point that a 14ft lane is the minimum that can be safely shared, the point is not driven home by saying that such lanes are rare, or by explaining that the more common standard width lane cannot be safely shared, or by explaining that cyclists should always take the lane if it is less than 14ft wide.

    2. In my view, 3 to 5ft is nowhere near enough room for a bicyclist. In other discussions I’ve suggested that, due to the need to avoid debris, surface irregularities, manhole covers, and to be as visible as possible, the optimum safe distance from the curb that a cyclist should operate is 5ft. Assuming that the same applies on the cyclist’s left, that means that the cyclist is safest if he has a clear lane width of ten feet. It may seem like a lot, but I think that motorists and cyclists alike tend to grossly underestimate the room a cyclist truly needs.

    • I agree that three feet is definitely not enough operating space for even a standard upright bicycle. Five feet is closer to the minimum that I need.

      My bike is 30 inches wide; three feet of space gives me three inches of wiggle room on either side — too close.

      • The handlebars on my Big Dummy are 30in, also. When I have a trailer or the x wideloaders the physical profile is 32in (or more if the x is loaded). The AASHTO 2012 guide has increased the “minimum operating space” (which represents wobble, it does not include shy clearance from fixed or moving objects) from 40in to 48in. And added a “preferred operating space” of 5ft.

        Yet still, the minimum bike lane width is 5ft, which offers no shy clearance unless vehicles in the adjacent lane move over to provide it. NO other traffic lane works that way.

        • Keri and others:

          Do you know if this “minimum operating space” required in any meanngful way?

          I ask for two reasons:

          Bicycle facilities that have already been installed or even designed are not usually changed in my experience – if it is designed with 3′ it will not be upgraded to 5′. My impression from other comments is that AASHTO does not want to require changes to previously allowed bicycle facilities, so the DZBL are still allowed and still installed. (Updates to lanes for general traffc/motor vehicles seem to be done at least occasionally).

          Are AASHTO standards for bicycle facilities actually required or only recommended? I’ve periodically commented to DelDOT on bike lane plans striped to intersections or to the right of RTOL or right turn arrows. DelDOT agrees that they don’t follow AASHTO standards and ay they will change the plan, but the designs have been installed as originally designed (i.e. don’t seem to comply with AASHTO, standards are not required even for new facilities).

          I’m curious if others have different observations.

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          This leaves me with the impression that the AASHTO bicycle standards say “should” because they consider these designs preferred but for bicycle facilities there are no required standards.

  3. I wish we could get to a point where police were stopping cyclists for ACTUAL unsafe conduct – i.e. for gutter and door zone riding – and urging them to ride well into the lane for safety’s sake. Until we get to that point, police have a lot of learning to do, and videos like the above show we have a long way to go before police are truly on the side of ‘protecting and serving’ when it comes to cycling issues cyclists.

  4. I appreciate that I saw Orange County sherrif’s office at the begining of the first video. That particular branch of law enforcement has seemed to be the main one harrassing cyclists who try to ride safely (taking the lane etc). Our local advocacy groups have made great strides with OPD and I’m not nervous when I have an OPD car on the road with me. I still get nervous about being stopped unnecessarily when OC officers are on the raod with me. I hope this is a mandatory video for all officers with Orange County. Next target FHP. Great work!!!

  5. My absolutely favorite part of the videos was of the high school students in the first video. They get it!