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Examining the 'Vehicular Cycling' vs. 'Segregated Cycling' Debate

Joseph Stromberg provides an explainer post detailing both sides, and the common ground, of the "vehicular cycling" versus "segregated cycling" debate.
September 20, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Following the approval of a three-foot passing law for bikers in California this week, Joseph Stromberg examines the ongoing debate about the best way for cars and bikes to coexist on streets. For instance, writes Stromberg, some advocates think the befits of such laws are overblown: "These advocates point to a general lack of enforcement of the rules — but they also argue, more broadly, that making slight concessions for cyclists as part of a system designed entirely for cars is no way to make city biking safe and accessible to the casual rider."

"This disagreement is part of a broader disagreement amongst cyclists: whether bikers should simply share the road with cars, obeying all of the same rules (a philosophy commonly called 'vehicular cycling'), or whether cities should be investing in specialized infrastructure so that bikes and cars don't have to mingle (a position often called 'segregated cycling')."

One the side of vehicular cycling, Stromberg makes the follwing point (among many other points) that surprises many non-biker or novice biker members of the public: "…many proponents of vehicular cycling are actually against measures like protected bike lanes and separated trails. One reason, they argue, is that these lanes are more dangerous at intersections than just riding in the road — because cars turning in front of these lanes don't expect bikes to ride through."

On the side of segregated cycling, Stromberg also voices a large number of arguments posed by people who believe vehicular cycling is a vestige of a time when less bike infrastructure existed.

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Published on Friday, September 19, 2014 in Vox
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