Perhaps The Alderman Is Right, ‘Urban Cyclists’ Really Do Need Training


This is a terrific quiz.

My thanks to the LIB. I did very well and many thanks to T who for some years did a great job of teaching ride leaders.


Chicago's Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

Chicago’s Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

The email above crossed by desktop today. I was quite happy to see it! I have long been a staunch advocate of training for all cyclists. And I will go on record hoping that one day everyone who hopes to “drive a bike” has the opportunity to take a written test and a bit of classroom instruction not unlike Traffic 101 from the LAB.

Much of what passes as “experience” amongst Urban Cyclists is anecdotal. In fact not knowing that the proper technique (taught to virtually every bicycle cop in the nation) is to slide your weigh to the rear (behind your saddle on an upright) should be evidence enough that we cyclists are not as well versed in good technique and practical knowledge as we need to be.

I know that what has been known as Vehicular Cycling is past years is suddenly passé. But I find this a dangerous trend. Nothing and I repeat nothing takes the place of the proper training when taking to the roadways. I have yet to see a protected bike lane that answers all the questions a newbie might have. And yet we are churning out lanes by the mile on the off chance that we will never have to train anyone on how to navigate our city streets.

The worst thing is that people who make their living plying the streets (often as pedicab drivers) are among the worst offenders. I understand why the city is eager to get them off the roadway. But perhaps the real strategy is training. Not just for these drivers but everyone. I would not hesitate to wager (were I a betting man) that most automobile drivers are clueless about the nature of the protected bike lanes too.

So we have virtually all of the road traffic using designs that are new to them and very few have any idea of how to negotiate with them. This is sad!

I have had ChainLinkers get irate at the notion that avoiding the Door Zone was a solution to the Door Zone Collision problem. Part of this is the need of cyclists to be framed as Vulnerable Users of a system that leaves them perpetual victims. And in that atmosphere there are no scarcity of people who make their money off of lawsuits who are eager to continue this hoax.

It ends up cheapening the honest and sincere efforts of people who through no fault of their own were injured. And instead we see numerous instances on the ChainLink where people are cautioned about being circumspect in their questions and reporting of situations on the forum. Sorry, but that is sometimes tantamount to helping cyclists fleece insurance companies.

Thanks too to the LIB for having the guts to offer this kind of instrument in the betterment of cycling. We need organizations far less interested in currying favor with Urban Cyclists who are anti-automobile instead of trying to insure that cyclists and motorists alike understand their rights and responsibilities and are brought together to seek mutual respect and cooperation.

I for one am more than tired of the constant drumbeat of the Chicago Urban Cycling Radicals. The fact is that unless what was once called the Silent Majority speaks out we will always have this rift between motorists and cyclists. And like the Hatfields and the McCoys we will one day look back and ask the question why exactly do we hate one another? Of course by that time automobiles will be smart enough that collisions have been reduced to a scant 1% of what they are today.

I look forward to that day. By then all the “fear mongers” will have to find another way to drive cyclists into their arms with ready cash contributions. And frankly that will be another good thing. Perhaps then we can find ways to solve some very real problems that face society instead of having them manufactured by folks whose livelihoods rest on our being enemies for as long as possible.

New Bicycle Quiz from the League of Illinois Bicyclists–What’s Your Score?
Posted by Thunder Snow on June 23, 2013 at 8:08am

The LIB is about to release a new online bike quiz on June 27th, but it’s available online now.  33 questions, broken up into 3 parts: a Bronze, Silver & Gold series of multiple choice tests.  If you get something wrong, it tells you, then gives you two more chances to get it right after you’re done.
The quiz is HERE.
I took all three parts of the “Adult Bicyclist” version.  I’ll eventually get back to take the “Motorists” and “Child Bicyclist” tests just to see how I’ll do.
My scores were not spectacular; maybe not even very good:
Bronze–4 wrong (though I’d debate the “correct” answer with the League on the question of what’s most visible to a motorist)
Silver–only 1 wrong (Whoohoo!)
Gold–3 wrong (ugh; two were bike-handling quick stop & quick turn questions, which makes me think I need to study this)
Of course, I got 100% on the “second pass” on the incorrects, but who wouldn’t?
Good luck!
Kickoff event:…

Reply by peter moormann on June 23, 2013 at 9:40am
I disagree with many answers on this quiz…..
“How visible are cyclists?”
It states that of 4 riding positions at an intersection, riding in the right side separated bike lane is the least visible while salmoning from the other direction against traffic is more visible.
B.S. Wrong answer!
On riding on narrow roads:
“If you hold up traffic more than a short time, pull aside when it is safe and let traffic pass.”
B.S. Wrong answer!

Reply by peter moormann on June 23, 2013 at 10:14am
Thanks for posting this.
I flunked .
But, it was a good refresher on some simple safetey issues.
Everyone should do this quiz its fun.

Reply by Thunder Snow on June 23, 2013 at 2:28pm
Yeah, it never would have occurred to me to throw my weight back behind the saddle in a quick stop. It seems to me that would unweight the front tire and you’d pop a wheelie rather than stop faster. I’ll have to try it, if I can figure out how to not fall off the back of the bike.

Reply by S on June 23, 2013 at 5:35pm
Hmm, I’d take the position that just like cars are supposed to share the roads, cyclists should also reciprocate. So, if you’re holding up traffic, instead of forcing drivers to try to drive around you or just wait, it’s better to pull off to the side when it’s safe and letting them pass. Note, I take this to mean among other things, just pulling into a bunch of contiguous empty parking spaces and slowing down to let the cars go by.

Reply by S on June 23, 2013 at 5:44pm
Nah, most of your braking power comes from the front and when you brake hard, your body’s momentum tries to keep you going in a straight line leading to potentially endoing. If you slide back on the saddle a bit, that applies more force on the back and counteracts the tendency for you and the bike to rotate around the front tire when you brake hard on the front. If you’re braking really hard, you can slide your butt off the back (almost like you’re trying to do a wheelie) and let the braking forces keep your front tire on the ground.

Reply by Jeff Schneider on June 23, 2013 at 5:45pm
I missed the question about where to ride in the bike lane. I *like* to ride on the left side, as they say is correct. But sometimes I go a *little* closer to the parked cars on the right, to make it less attractive for inconsiderate cyclists to pass me on the right, sandwiching me between them and passing cars.
Also, I thought it odd that knowledge of hand signals wasn’t tested until the silver level. To me, that’s the very most basic requirement for riding in traffic. Even if you sometimes make a mistake about where you should be in the roadway, drivers can deal with it if they know what you intend to do.

Reply by Thunder Snow on June 23, 2013 at 6:05pm
Thanks for the explanation, S. I learned something new today.

Reply by Thunder Snow on June 23, 2013 at 6:15pm
For me, the LIB’s answer was partially incorrect. From car driving experience in the past, if I were the motorist in the picture, first I’d look at the car directly ahead of me, which is turning into my street–but that wasn’t one of the options given. Then I’d look left down the street, as cars coming at me from the left could crash into me as I made the right turn. Then I’d glance to the right side of the street, to make sure a car wasn’t coming at me in the passing lane–yeah, they’d have to be nuts to pass a left turning car on the left, but I’d probably look there anyway. Then I’d glance over at the sidewalk on the right, as cyclists or pedestrians on my side of the road might just get in front of me as I began to turn. Finally, I’d probably ignore the cyclist on the left sidewalk, as they’d have to cross half my street before affecting me in any way.

Reply by Thunder Snow on June 23, 2013 at 6:19pm
Jeff, if you’re within 4 or 5 feet of the parked cars, you’re in the dangerous door zone. If that means riding outside the bike lane, so be it, that’s really the only safe place to ride along parked cars so you don’t get doored.
And I agree with you about the importance of the hand signal. I am glad they put that one in though, to try to weed out some of the weird signals we see on the streets.

Reply by David Barish on June 23, 2013 at 6:53pm
The ones that I missed iniitially were because I can’t read. I thought the tire pressure question read funny. I know low pressure is wrong but read the question to lead me to point to the obviously wrong one. I found the question with the salmoning rider weird. I looked for the answer that had that guy in the worst position and got it wrong. He was in the second worst position according to the question. Once you could re answer it was not hard to figure out all the correct answers.I grade it as follows: Still alive, A+. Still it was a fun and often informative test.

Reply by Bill Savage on June 23, 2013 at 7:28pm
Whoever designed this quiz is bad at it; I could not even understand how to answer the second question, so I tried to move on, and was told I had to answer that question. So I just stopped. And then was congratulated for taking the quiz. Very poorly designed.

Reply by peter moormann on June 23, 2013 at 7:43pm
I think the salmon in the road is the least visible. Test states otherwise.
My opinion, as a driver: Any vehicle, bike or person traveling in the wrong lane is not expected, thus unsafe.
Personally, if I feel I am holding up traffic I wave people past,they are happy to squeezze by.
Most roads have a broken yellow line in between the left and right bound lanes.
This line shows motor vehicles that they may pull into the opposing lane to pass a slower moving vehicle in their lane.
I have noticed that in Chicago this is rarely done and people prefer to pass in the parking/bike lane instead.

Reply by Jeff Schneider on June 23, 2013 at 9:32pm
I well understand the door zone. I only move right a *little* when a hipster with earbuds (OK, I apologize for the stereotype) is riding my rear wheel and threatening to try to squeeze through on my right.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on June 23, 2013 at 10:33pm
Most riders have enough breaking force to do an endo before they skid the front wheel. Therefore moving their weight back to prevent an endo will allow them to apply the front brake harder. Additionally, shifting more weight to the rear will allow them to apply the rear brake harder before skidding.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on June 23, 2013 at 11:14pm
I struggled with that question a bit. I agree with LIB’s listing of the cyclist with traffic as the most visible and the cyclist on the side path moving in the direction of traffic as the second most visible but disagree with the order of the bottom rankings. Both the salmon in the road in the cyclist on the contraflow part of the side path are in a terrible position. However, the cyclist in the contraflow side path is in a legally correct place and someplace the drivers experienced with side paths or pedestrian heavy areas would be trained to look. Therefore I would argue that the side path is slightly better than the salmon in the road.
I’d agree with the notion that share the road means everyone. Also LIB is a statewide organization and most of these images looked like standard rural two lanes. On these types of roads it’s very common for slower vehicles of all types, whether they be farm machinery, cyclists, horses, or even slow drivers to periodically pull over and let faster vehicles pass.

Reply by Liz on June 24, 2013 at 9:39am
I got 1 answer wrong on the “silver” quiz and then when it had me go back, it changed the order and I got it wrong again and it made me “retake it” which also changed the order of all the answers and I got bored of re-reading the questions and quit the quiz. THIS IS NOT A GOOD WAY TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO TAKE YOUR QUIZ!!!!!!

Reply by Liz on June 24, 2013 at 9:55am
Also on the gold (I eventually regained enough patience to go back through) the question on braking is

  1. poorly and confusingly worded
  2. doesn’t actually give a “correct” answer, since you never want to brake so hard as to skid. Skidding puts you into dynamic coefficient of friction which is lower than the static coefficient of friction (present on moving wheels). Therefore you want to brake until you start to skid and ease off of both brakes and pump to maintain static coefficient of friction, while braking slightly harder on the rear. This is what anti-lock brakes do for you in a car.

Reply by Kevin C on June 24, 2013 at 10:12am
Just so you know, this is all going on your permanent record.

Reply by Adam Herstein on June 24, 2013 at 10:12am
Yeah, I thought that was a very subjective answer. I am not required by law to pull over and allow motor traffic through. Plus, swerving back and forth constantly is not safe.

Reply by Kevin C on June 24, 2013 at 10:17am
This fact has been well-documented by you.

Reply by Adam Herstein on June 24, 2013 at 10:27am
Oh thanks, I forgot I posted that.

Reply by Ed Barsotti on June 24, 2013 at 11:52am
LIB-Logo(From Ed Barsotti, LIB, main developer of the quizzes)
Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Seeing your concerns will help us improve the quiz questions and explanations. Most of you know much more than the vast majority of the people we hope to reach.
For background: we developed this resource to help bridge a big gap in knowledge of these issues in the general public and in what is being taught to young bicyclists and new motorists (not much, right now). From years in advocacy, I know that this is a serious obstacle to improving bicycling in Illinois, and that it leads to a lot of extra tension between bicyclists and motorists.
As a statewide organization, we’ve tried to create a resource that can be used throughout Illinois. Some questions/illustrations deal with heavily urban (e.g. Chicago) issues, some with rural riding, and others with suburban-style (no/little on-street parking) roads common in the ‘burbs, smaller metro areas, and even mid-sized towns.
Responses to some of the specific comments:

  1. Adult Bicyclist – Bronze #2, most-to-least visible cyclists at an intersection: the ordering used is based on aggregate crash data studies, which show that contraflow off-road (sidewalk, sidepath) cyclists are involved in the most crashes with cars. Perhaps the numbers may be different when restricted to dense urban areas where motorists are accustomed to stopping at the stop line and to seeing crosswalk traffic. However, in less dense areas, motorists see far fewer crosswalk users – so they aren’t looking there as much or stopping at the stop line. Because of this disparity, there are not two answer choices only differing in the ordering of the two contraflow users.
  2. Adult Bicyclist – Bronze #4, “if you hold up traffic more than a short time, pull aside when it is safe and let traffic pass”. It’s true, the law doesn’t require this. And we’re definitely NOT suggesting one should swerve constantly or allow a motorist to “squeeze by” unsafely. We’re only suggesting that IF traffic behind you has been unable to pass for awhile due to a constant stream of oncoming cars, and IF there’s a safe and convenient opportunity to do so (e.g., as S says, “…among other things, just pulling into a bunch of contiguous empty parking spaces and slowing down to let the cars go by.”), to do the polite thing. A little kindness (by both bicyclists and motorists) can go a long way. Still – we might look at re-wording to clarify.
  3. Re-ordering answer choices on the second and third pass (Liz’ comment): we’ve provided easy-to-use functionality for school teachers and driver ed instructors to assign their students the appropriate quizzes. One main reason for randomizing the answer choice order is to help reduce student cheating.

We look forward to further feedback. The quiz has important info to get out to the public, and we want it to be the best it can be.
ALSO – we hope many of you will come to the website launch press conference this Thursday, 9:15am, Thompson Center – to better leave an impression with the state officials who are attending!

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on June 24, 2013 at 12:14pm
I just wanted to say that I think education is a very important component of improving road safety for everyone and thank LIB for creating education resources and trying to improve education for all road users. I hope that these do make it into drivers ed. programs.

Reply by Lisa Curcio 4.1 mi on June 24, 2013 at 12:24pm
Would love to attend, but I will be at work! Unfortunately, that time is probably a difficult time for many of us to duck out of the workplace.
And thanks for trying to educate!

Reply by Liz on June 24, 2013 at 12:48pm
Ok that makes some more sense if its for actual students, I would recommend having a passing criteria (like 80%) to not re-take the quiz, since each of the questions are reviewed immediately after answer.

Reply by David Barish on June 24, 2013 at 12:54pm
Will do my best to show up at the press conference. I am in the building that morning and will hope to get out for a few minutes. Will you be in the auditorium? Main floor?

Reply by Ed Barsotti on June 24, 2013 at 1:05pm
Thanks, David. Outside of the main door, in the plaza, with podium and chairs set up. Crossing our fingers for no rain.