Sensor Rig Finds Out If Motorists Are Sharing The Road With Cyclists

Apparently there’s some cause for concern when it comes to bikes and automobiles sharing the roads in Austin, Texas. [Christopher Stanton] wrote in to tell us there’s a law on the books now that requires motorists to give three feet of space when passing a cyclist. This is pretty difficult to enforce as there’s no solid proof like the radar gun provides when it comes to speed limits. The hardware above is seeking to help by collecting data on passing habits. It measures and records the distance of each vehicle that passes you while on the bike. The goal isn’t to ticket more drivers, it’s to collect statistical data that might help change dangerous driving habits.

As you can see, a front equipment rack hosts the hardware for easy installation on a bike. It has an arm that extends to the side the same distance as the handle bars. The HD camera with wide-angle lens is set to snap a photo which can be used to determine the bike and vehicle positions in the lanes, along with the distance readout from the sensor.

We’d certainly be interested in seeing the numbers for average passing clearance in a heavily traveled urban environment. Even with bike lanes, things can feel pretty tight on a busy day!

120 thoughts on “Sensor Rig Finds Out If Motorists Are Sharing The Road With Cyclists

  1. Hum, there is a lens that SCUBA divers use to snap above/below split air/water shots. I am wondering if such an lens in employed here to give good focus of both the near distance-measurement-display and the far auto. Or, if not, would it help?

    1. I read the article but don’t think it mentioned this… I think it’s begging for an Arduino to log the data for graphing later. Also if it had a longer range sensor pointing behind the bike, it could start recording only when cars approached.

      Another idea for the camera could be to do it like Google makes the Street View. Point the camera up into a mirrored ball to get a 360° view around the bike, but tilt it slightly so it gets the bike in the frame as well. With this type of setup, you could calibrate where 3 feet is on video and just superimpose a red line there.

      As for the 3 foot measurement, how about a sticker dispenser on the end of a 3 foot arm. The stickers can say “Because I’m mean, or because I’m an idiot, I BREAK THE LAW!”

    1. FUCK motorists like you. Youre behind the wheel of a 2 ton machine with the ability to KILL. Its YOUR responsibility (not RIGHT or PRIVILEGE) to be safe on the road. I pay taxes too for the streets, and have every right to be there. Get off your fucking high horses, anti-cyclists. Shits getting REALLY old.

      1. Wow… way to be civil.

        Simple solution? Stay off difficult roads at peak traffic times. Where I live is a popular area for cyclists and for some reason they all insist on going for rides on narrow roads during weekday rush hour. Putting their safety and that of passing motorists at risk by not better planning their ride plans.

        Fuck you and your ‘It’s my road too!’ attitude.

        1. So I should not ride to work during commuting hours? Why do you believe that? Sure, I could drive too. . . but then you’d be stuck behind my car as I wait forever to make that damned left turn.

          What I am getting at is that by riding a bike I am taking my car off the road; which in fact reduces that traffic that other drivers experience.

          – Robot

          1. Yes, by riding a bike you do remove one car, and add one mobile obstacle. Cars all travel at about the same speed, and if that is over 15-20MPH, a bike is a slow moving thing to avoid. It would be better for traffic flow if the obstacle wasn’t there, so you remove one car, but slow everyone else in the process.

      2. Way to be civil? Sorry, sick of the online threats to run over or injure cyclists because people in vehicles have small (or no) penis and need to be macho-man Randy Savage about shit.

        It IS my road too, despite what you think my optimal route should be. I don’t have to avoid shit if I don’t want to.

        YOU deal with it.
        its YOUR responsibility to not hit cyclists.

      3. Responsibility or not the harsher of the consequences rest with the cyclist.

        For the record I always give cyclists several feet of room. How fast the air wash hits will be determined based on past cyclist behavior. Ex. a particular cyclist chose to drive between my 50 ton truck and the curb in a construction zone every morning. His head was lower than my window. Later when I chose to pass him, I gave as little room as legally required and did not slow down. that 40 mph wash blew him off the road into a ditch. I am not ashamed of the outcome.

        1. Would you push an elderly woman, if she was taking too much space while walking downstairs? The consequences would be with her, wouldn’t they? It would make sense if you behaved same way outside of your truck, wouldn’t it?

      4. Then you need to pay better attention to who you are replying to. Your comment is under the one saying he should hook a camera up to ensure cyclists are acting the way they should.

        Doesn’t change the fact that you’re still not being at all civil about it.

        1. @Saul_Goode – I think comment nesting is broken. I’m replying to your comment (Saul_Goode says:
          March 7, 2012 at 11:53 am) but I’m expecting it to go to the end of the page, like my last 2 replies did.

      5. If a cyclist blows through a stop sign or red light, and I’m in a car coming perpendicular to them… I would say they are at fault. I should not have to stop at a green light just because there might be a cyclist breaking the law. The same rule applies to cars, and I could just as easily kill someone in a car.

        I do give joggers and cyclists tons of room when I drive around them though. I’ll slow down, and NOT try to pass when there is oncoming traffic making it more difficult to give them room. I always imagine them falling over right as I’m passing and running them over… I don’t want that on my conscience, so I give them tons of room as if they were a car.

        Everyone needs to use the roads defensively, not offensively. It’s not MY road and it’s not YOUR road… it’s OUR road.

        1. Agreed.

          If people drive or ride defensively, there is no problem. Cyclists or drivers.

          I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been run over when I stop my bicycle at a stop sign or red light.

          (Worse… red lights do not change for bikes). To be safe, you DO need to roll a bike through a stop light… but only if you are completely certain that would not interrupt traffic which has the green light, and by “rolling through” I mean coasting slowly, not cycling through the light at top speed.

      6. Well then FUCK bicyclists like you. Glynn was clearly referring to cyclists that run stop signs and lights. It’s a cyclist’s “responsibility (not RIGHT or PRIVILEGE)” to obey the laws and be safe. You might have a point that some motorists don’t watch for cyclists but please read the words before you freak the hell out for no good reason.

      7. You pay taxes to use the road??? Then show me the registration for your bike! I have to pay to use the road on both my motorcycle and car. Why are you BIcyclists exempt?

        The bikers here are the worst in expecting consideration from motorist yet failing to obey the basic traffic laws themselves, i.e. failure to stop at signs or lights, riding 3 or more side-by-side, failure to yield to right-of-way, etc etc etc.

      8. And this type of response, from Dxt3r, shows how
        cyclist act while on the road. The thing
        to do is to restrict bicycles to side roads.
        The argument that cyclist pay taxes is
        not valid. Pedestrians also pay taxes but they can’t walk in the street. Every cyclist I have met, and I have met many, are elitist anal openings. There are laws on the books that say a slow vehicle has to give the right of way to faster vehicles. Cyclist don’t do this, for the most part. They give the same self center view as this poster.

        I ride a Cannondale KillerV500 with tandem rims and Phil Wood hubs, along with a bunch of other strong as hell stuff. I have ridden it a lot for many years. When I lived in the SF Bay area I rode all the time. But I rode alone. The cycling community are a bunch of holier the thou aholes. Why is there no sensor project to show how cyclist treat motorists???

      9. Slow bikers are the danger in the road. Bikers are much closer to pedestrians than automobiles and should be treated that way. This is how many places in Europe treat this problem.

        Putting a slow moving object that is hard to see on a road with multi-ton vehicles going orders of magnitude faster than the bike creates unjustified liability for the motorist and a death trap for bikers. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people biking more and driving less, but wake up and smell the f’ing coffee, the reality is that if you are biking in a lane with a speed limit much more than you are going, you are a f’ing idiot.

    2. As a warm-weather cyclist commuter, I’d say your idea is fair game.

      I’ll blow a stop sign… but when I do it is coasting through, and only IF I have full view of all of the roads and I know the way is clear.

      I have no problem getting off my bike and walking it through the crosswalk (when there is one here in New Hampshire it’s very bike-unfriendly… and not a lot of crosswalks either. Attempting a left hand road turn on bike will anger a truck driver enough to throw his beer bottle at you).

      The cyclists who race through stopsigns are not “commuting” – they’re racing – which is illegal in any vehicle. (Yes, fellow cyclists, you can race against yourself. That’s still racing).

      Wrong-way bikers are the absolute worst. They never yield which compounds the problem, forcing cyclist who ride right-way out into the road.

      1. Its my road.. plan and simple…the roads are supposed to be paid for out of fuel taxes or use fees. A bicycle pays neither of these, so get heck off my road…

        In my misspent youth I road a ten speed all the time, I never rode on the curb, I took up the road and forced people to properly pass me…its a wonder I am alive today…

      2. @Mad Maxx – Your statement is a complete falsehood.

        You may delude yourself into believing that the road SHOULD be yours to not share, but the law is against you.

        Additionally, roads are NOT paid for by gas taxes – roads are paid for by INCOME tax, via the general fund. This is quite easily Google-able if you should wish to irritate yourself with facts.

    3. It’s the responsibility of both the cyclists and the drivers, really. I always make sure I’m courteous to car drivers – I usually let them pass by hopping on the pavement if I can (if there’s no pedestrians), and I stop at junctions and traffic lights with all the other cars. I indicate and follow the highway code just like the cars do. I acknowledge that some cyclists don’t do this, some cyclists are morons and should probably stay off the roads.

      But it REALLY pisses me off when car drivers are jerks to cyclists like myself. You get the occasional cyclist being a douche, but from my experiences it’s always the motorists who are worse douchebags. Some people have deliberately put me in perilous positions just because they don’t like seeing cyclists on ‘their’ road! Sometimes motorists forget just how dangerous their Speeding Metal Box Of Death can be.

      Bit of courtesy from both sides = Less risk of crashing into each other.

  2. Just a couple of points on that one. This rig provides a pysical extension to the cyclist that would also create a larger psychological extension to the cyclist, I suspect this rig will actually make the problem seem better than it is because drivers will tend to steer around a cyclist with “bits sticking out”. Secondly, there’s been a report done in the UK on this (where there’s no law on distance, other than “safe” and it found that wearing a helmet made car drivers drive more closely, assuming you were more able to deal with being squeezed. Nuts!

    1. @James,

      I think the idea here is that it extends only as far as the handle bars… I don’t think that piece is designed to be sticking out much further then the edge of the handle bars (if at all).

      1. from the article:

        “… the sensor boom will be modified so that it may be adjusted, rather than being static, to match the outside edge of the handlebar or riders shoulder, whichever is further from the mid-line of the bicycle”

        so it’s intended to be mounted at the center, the boom is created because attaching to the camera/sensor to the handle bars would complicate actually sensing (since the bars are moving relative to the frame of the bike)

      2. Right. The boom is only extended to the edge of the handlebars. It is true, if the driver sees a bunch of sensors sticking out from your bike (or a camera) there is a good chance that their behavior during the pass will be modified (and not what we want since we want real world data). One design option that was considered, and not implemented (yet) due to it complicating the electronics a bit more, is the ability to set a sensor offset and mount the sensor to the bike rack rather than the boom. The offset would be the distance from the sensor to the edge of the bar or rider. We would also need to insure that the sensor’s “field of vision” is restricted sufficiently to not pickup parts of the bike or rider.

    2. I’ve met people who attach poodle noodles to the back of their bike. They’re cut to the same width as the handlebars.
      It’s for this psychological reason of cars veering away from a highly visible, wide object.

  3. It looks like this produces a lot of video to be manually skimmed through, a version with triggered capture would be interesting. But the problem is, that you’ll only see the number plate before the car has passed you (possibly too close), so it would probably need a special buffering camera (like high-speed cameras that record to a ring buffer and just dump that when you trigger it). Or logging the distance data, and using that to cut the interesting pieces out of the full video.

  4. This is a good idea. Though tighter integration would obviously be better for future generations… instead of having an off the shelf camera which attempts to capture both the vehicle and the distance display, it might be better to get the digital image into a processor then super impose your distance data on the image (and possibly add as EXIF data, etc?). I can see a lot of ways to make this a very useful “dash cam” for bikes.

    Also, just to say, I’m not a cyclist, but I respect that the roads need to be shared with them and pedestrians, and I can’t stand it when I see some idiot in a car, who is upset over some slight inconvenience, passing a cyclist or walker with mere inches to spare…

    If you think about it, in these situations a car is like a 400lb line-backer, in full padded uniform, carrying a metal shield, rushing passed an elderly lady or a 5-year old… sure if you don’t hit them then maybe you can claim no one is harmed so what’s the big deal, but if you do hit them you’ll probably kill or severely injure them… yet it seems like a lot of drivers just don’t seem to make the connection…

    1. In order for your analogy to be complete, the 5 year olds and elderly folks would have to be walking on the field during play and be offended that the folks who are supposed to be there, paid for the field, and have no other place to do what they are doing are rushing past them.

      It is arrogant and stupid.

      1. Exactly. Arrogant bike riders who think they own the road and don’t even PAY to be there.

        To angry bike riders: go register your bike, pay your taxes, put the plate on the back of your bike so I can report you when you break the law, or simply obey the law and be aware that the cars have the right of way if you are riding an unregistered bike ILLEGALLY in a public road. It is NOT your road unless you have a license plate on your bike.

      2. I don’t pay? Bitch please. It’s my TAXES which pay for your roads. All your registration payments cover are the massive cleanup effort involved when two fuckwits on the road think the laws don’t apply to them.

        A 2 second googling will show you that the combined registration income from the country barely covers the cost of maintaining one highway.

      3. I’m truly saddened at the responses. People on both sides seem to be no more intelligent than at best a 5 year old child throwing a tantrum.

        Everyone should just chill the hell out and if they have complaint take it up with the town planners. They are the ones at fault. I live in a city where the bikelanes are poor, and I am not legally allowed to cycle on the footpath. A few hundred km away there’s a city with an awesome network of lanes dedicated to bicycles and they are allowed to cycle on the footpath as well. Funny enough road rage barely exists at all there.

        But no it’s far more productive to proclaim that the one with the penis on the road should have right of way. … Honestly I don’t know how we actually got this far as a species. Especially since I thought us Hackers are supposed to represent some of the more intelligent people in the world.

        Guess I was wrong.

        p.s. cyclists suck.
        p.p.s cars suck just as much, catch a bus.

    2. The point is that a slow biker creates UNJUSTIFIED LIABILITY for the motorist if the car were to hit a biker. A motorist is supposed to be aware of any obstacle in the road and try to avoid them, but most motorists are not expecting a hard to see slow moving object around every turn. It seems very arrogant and ignorant for a biker to think all motorists will avoid them.

      How many of you have gotten into an automobile accident? Probably everyone. If that was a biker, you could be sued. That is not fair at all. UNJUSTIFIED LIABILITY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I would definitely want the camera arm to have some sort of hinge so I didn’t get knocked over by a car that would have just been way too close for comfort…

  6. I think it’s time that cyclist give 3 feet to motorists who pay the taxes to be there. We have signs all over Mississippi saying “3 feet, it’s the law” but not saying who yields…and those jerks ride right out in the middle of the lanes of highway traffic creating an enormous hazard. I mean, self preservation says that the little 30 pound bike is no match for 3000lbs of steel. Then again, common sense is the second rarest element in the known universe.

    1. I agree that cyclists need to pay better attention when on the road. In Maine it’s a 10ft law so it makes it that much harder. Also the ones who ride 2 or 3 wide regardless of traffic just irritate me. There should be additional rules for the bikers as well, mostly saying stay as far to the side of the road as possible, and no more than 1 wide, and if they violate it the police should ticket them too.

      1. In NYC they have bike lines and yes, cops have been hitting them from time to time with tickets for driving outside them. I think they should hit them harder and enforce the registration laws as well. No license plate, heavy fine and impounding until you register.

    2. The issue is that motorists commonly ignore cyclists altogether, when by law (at least in CA) a bicycle is considered a vehicle and must be driven on the street and not on the sidewalk.

      I recall riding my bike through a school zone on my way to work in my old town. Parents and commuters were flying through there at 50 mph, rather than the declared 25. I was way out in the (muddy) shoulder and still struggled to stay upright due to the backdraft. If I had been IN the lane as I was legally entitled to do, I could easily have been run over.

      1. One of the reasons stated for motor vehicle registration was for road improvements. In many State what it costs to register a vehicle is determined by the weight of the vehicle. There are those cities who require bicycles to be registered. Most likely to have a serial number on file if stolen bikes are ever recovered, but I really don’t know why. Any cost to register a bicycle would be a low token amount considering their impact on the roadway

    3. Rule of thumb for who yields that I was taught as a new driver:

      Imagine you don’t yield to a bike and have an accident, who is more likely to survive? If you are more likely to live, then you have to yield.

      True, the other guy should have some sense of self-preservation, but if you drive without regard for the squishier party, you’re being a dick.

    4. Most cyclists, like most motorists, do pay taxes. If you mean taxes through the DMV, well I think it’s pretty fair that motorists pay more.

      Who is damaging the road more:
      1) approx. 1-200lb 2 wheel vehicle going 3-25MPH
      2) approx. 2-6000lb 4 wheel vehicle going 20-80MPH

      And registering bicycles? Really? I can ram you full speed with my bicycle and at worse break one of your bones. I can pedal my hardest into the side of a building and only hurt myself. The person in the 2-ton armored womb however would cause serious damage in both cases. Okay, well maybe I’d concede to registering bicycles, but only if motorists are required by law to wear helmets.

      1. You don’t set the rules, the DMV does. If they require bike riders to wear helmets, so be it. Take it with them. Cars do not require it.

        And yes, registration laws should be enforced for bikes. If I drive an unregistered car, no insurance, etc. I’d be stopped, heavily ticketed (or arrested) and the vehicle would be impounded. It should be the same for bikes (equality of the law). Bike riders get away with breaking all traffic laws but are the first to cry when they get “offended” when someone passed them close and the draft destabilizes them on the road, when they were riding like idiots, weaving in and out, running stop signs, etc.

  7. To bad I’m interested in the project. Following the link takes me to a site that says they are “Working to enhance cycling and expand the cycling community through project based initiatives”, but is just full of ads for generic drugs.

    1. This is the study we hope to “duplicate” is Austin, TX using this equipment. Rather than being based on helmet vs no-helmet, the plan is to target specific roads and traffic conditions and then varying the bicycle speed and lane position. We have an on-bike GPS unit with speed sensors which we will use to overlay bike speed data onto the captured video.

      In the UK study, if you didn’t have a helmet or had long hair, you were given more space during a pass. It has also been shown (in another study I believe) that if you look unstable on the bike when riding cars pass you at a greater distance.

  8. Here’s an idea.. we drop this silly concept that bicyclists even TRY to be on the same road as vehicles moving up to 5 times faster than they are. Cars drifting to the left to avoid cyclists drift right into the path of oncoming traffic. Personally, I’m opting to drift RIGHT when faced with a tight squeeze.

    1. I drive a lot more than I cycle anymore, but this is just absurd. How about we close local streets to motor traffic and only allow cars on the highway? Sidewalks are similarly unsafe to share between cyclists and pedestrians.

      Maybe a better idea would be paying attention while driving, and slowing down when safety demands it, rather than stuffing your face with fast food, talking on the phone, putting on makeup and changing diapers while driving, eh?

      I don’t care that you’re late for work because you left with 30 seconds to spare.

      1. (1) Motor traffic needs local streets to GET to the highway. Or do we park our cars on the freeway shoulder and ride folding bikes home?

        (2) A cyclist and pedestrian meeting isn’t going to be the same as a combined 4000 lbs of metal at 80mph. Pedestrian vs cyclist is nothing like vehicle vs vehicle or vehicle vs cyclist.

        An even better idea would be not riding a bike at a place and time that isn’t defined as ‘peak traffic’. I don’t eat while driving, I ignore calls I can’t pull over for, don’t have a kid and don’t wear makeup. I have one CD that lives in my radio so I don’t need to fidget with that. I still have to deal with cyclists riding on roads with no shoulder, barely wide enough for traffic as it is yet cyclists insist on routing along at 4:30pm traveling 1/2 to 1/3 of the POSTED limit.

    2. Woodrow Ave, here in Austin in my neighborhood, has been repainted to give a rather wide bike lane on both sides, and even an extra lane for parking in some places = 5 lanes. Woodrow is really a 2-lane street, somewhat winding, and is part of the #5 bus route.
      Between one thing and the other, whatever is left for “cars” is really narrow. When a bus is coming to you from the other direction, it starts to be scary, since they are no longer close to the curb, there’s the bike lane on their side, you know. Then you need to get out, to your right, into the bike lane, to make room. If a cyclist would be silly enough to think he is “safe” in his lane, he’s in for the evening news.
      Maybe good intentions, but rather bad design. We have several other streets going through the neighborhood that have little or no traffic. Why did they have to do the bike lanes on the bus route?

    3. I guess that bike registration – with a visible plate, would facilitate following up with bicyclists that do not follow the law. That might help make all of us safer, I hope.

      I do agree it would be a better world if bicycling were safer and more widespread.

      Interesting -and sad- that research mentioned above that would have shown car drivers are less respectful of bicyclists that have helmets. I for one feel more connected as a fellow human with those who do.

      To my perception, helmets show the person carrying them is taking reasonable steps to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

  9. Bicycles do not belong on the road!!!
    They do not ever follow the laws!
    Stop signs, yield signs, stop lights etc…
    They ride as is they own the road!!
    Where I live in FL there are sidewalks everywhere.
    That is where the bicycles belong!!
    Get them off the road and stuff the 3 feet law where the sun don’t shine!

    1. You stupid shit. SideWALKS are for WALKING PEDESTRIANS.

      A bicycle BELONGS on the road, whether your tiny brain can believe it or not.


      SHUT. UP. AND ENJOY YOUR VEHICLE. some people cant afford one and need to bike. Or sometimes, and stay with me on this, its just MORE EFFICIENT to bike a couple blocks instead of getting in your Hummer H3 SUV EXTREME Crossover with 50 BUCKET SEATS AND 30″ VIEWING SCREEN and wasting gas and SPACE and then wasting time looking for parking, etc ,etc.

      Fuck you motorists. Seriously spoiled, idiotic little shits.

    2. I’ve seen cars hit each other and blow stop signs and blow red lights. I’m all for eliminating cars off the roads, they almost never follow the rules either.

      Idiots sit in the left lane of the road and don’t let faster traffic pass. That’s breaking the rules. Get these cars off the roads and our lives will improve greatly.

      Stupid fat american fuck, go eat more mcdonalds. bike for life.

      1. Calm down buddy.
        I am neither “American” nor fat so maybe things are different for me. I am Canadian; originally from a fairly rural area. So I know that things like ATVs are not allowed on roads. Why? Too slow, dangerous, impedes traffic. Tractors are not allowed on roads. Why? Too slow, dangerous, impedes traffic (farmers are permitted to cross short lengths of road to adjacent fields). Are we seeing a pattern here?

        So why do bicycles get a free pass on the road when they are: reallyslow, really dangerous and really impede traffic?

        There are a great number of personal vehicles that are not street legal due to safety concerns. personal vehicles that share a lot of properties with bicycles. Pedestrians do not get to run around a busy street because there is no sidewalk. Likewise I do not think bicycles should be allowed on roads which do not have a lane for them. I am sorry that that would be inconvenient for you but it would make everyone safer.

        1. “Likewise I do not think bicycles should be allowed on roads which do not have a lane for them.”

          That statement would narrow down your whereabouts from “Canada” to Toronto, specifically.

          Tractors and bikes are allowed to use the road, at least in the USA. Pedestrians are also allowed to walk along the road edge if there is no paved shoulder or sidewalk. The roads are a common transportation resource to be shared by all.

          Attempting to rationalize that bikes and pedestrians are not allowed because they are too slow.. that is just a short step from believing it to be true, then acting/enforcing your fantasy.

    3. You see, the word “sidewalk” refers to something on the ‘side’ of the road on which one may ‘walk’. It isn’t a sideride, or a sidedrive. Vehicles (including bicycles) belong on the road.

      Both cars that hit me (on different occasions) while I was riding a bike weren’t obeying the laws. The driver of the car that obliterated my wife’s car wasn’t obeying the laws.

      In fact, there are so many drivers that don’t obey the laws that morning and afternoon radio shows have time dedicated every day to telling you where people didn’t obey the law and hurt someone else (or at the very least damaged their property) because of it.

      1. …Probably due to the driver having to swerve around a pack of cyclists out for an early-morning commute, riding three-wide on a narrow, shoulder-less road into the sun…

      2. Or, more likely and more common, they were texting and/or fiddling with their radio and/or in a hurry and/or incompetent and/or yelling at their kids in the back seat and/or talking on their cell phone and/or they were someone who posted to this thread who believed that the road was theirs and to hell with everyone else.

  10. Well since this seems to have turned into a debate about the issue at hand, instead of the project, here’s my $0.02

    I think both the drivers and the cyclists need to use common sense and share the road. There also need to be laws (and tickets) to deal with those who don’t, again for both sides. Drivers need to stop being dicks about it, and cyclists need to ride single wide and stay to the right side as much as safely possible. This isn’t rocket science.

  11. My point, originally, was that the beam/boom simply creates the illusion of width, which will give false results, even if it’s just bar width (speaking from experience passing bikes with such attachments).

    Ultimately cyclists and cars can get on perfectly well in the same spaces, it just takes patience and care on both sides, and following the rules. Unfortunately more often than not neither side either takes the time required or follows the rules expected and so both sides have valid gripes. At the end of the day many motorists think they own the roads and many cyclists think the rules don’t apply to them. But that will always be teh case, acting like a moron does no-one any favours.

    It takes an extra 10 seconds to overtake a cyclist properly, does that really affect your day that much (even if you do it 10 times on the way to work)? If you can’t overtake a cyclist cleanly you should shouldn’t be driving, full stop. And cyclists should follow the rules everyone else follows, if they expect car drivers to treat them properly they should not pull stunts like red light jumping.

    James(long term cyclist and petrolhead, who has no problems with cyclists or drivers who follow the rules).

  12. FWIW Alex, cyclists in the UK are urged by road safety folk and the government to take central location in the lane, not squeeze over to the side. They have equal right to take that space and should be overtaken cleanly. They can choose to move left to help cars overtake if it’s safe to do so but a tight spot isn’t a safe spot to allow overtakes. So apparently it is rocket science.

    1. The issue in Austin is the desire to ride on posted 55MPH 2 lane roads, often without a shoulder (Hamilton Pool Road, Old Lockhart Road). With blind hills and lots of curves, a bike traveling at 15MPH is simply a safety hazard to a car closing at 40MPH. The fact that the riders intentionally hold up traffic is part of the problem, it’s not hard to figure out a car is behind, and can’t see over the hills, yet the bike rider is generally oblivious to this, or takes pleasure in holding up traffic. In downtown, a large percentage of the riders have no respect for the road laws, weaving through stopped traffic, much closer than the allowed 3 feet. In that case who is ticketed? The stopped car, or the bike that encroached on the 3 foot gap?

  13. As a motorcyclist, I find bolts in the windshield makes the idiot car drivers back off. One time I had to smash the passenger window of a car trying to run me off the road.

      1. Let me get this straight…

        …you’re going to start shit with someone in a four-wheeled metal bubble while you are exposed on a two-wheel balancing act?

        …and the nominees for this years Darwin Award is…

  14. I don’t understand why there even needs to be a camera as you could just log the data on with an arduino uno and sd card shield ( and then you have a much easier, cheaper, and anonymous data source to process rather than review tape for forever.

    As I live in Colorado I have passed many a road biker before and have found that it is many times a combination between both biker and driver. As you have the stupid drivers that are distracted or don’t understand how to pass a biker. And then you have the inconsiderate bikers that ride multiple abreast as well as the look-backers that look back and most of the time swerve. Educating both drivers and bikers is what is needed to make the road a safer place. People having common sense is what is going to make road biking safer… But that is just my two cents :)

    1. Because we want to capture additional data points such as as road design and installed facilities, weather and visibility conditions, rider in-lane position and behavior, motorized vehicle distance during pass, make, model, and post pass behavior.

  15. Break all clocks on board your car. Use your brakes first. Unless you have the appropriate flashing coloured light on your car turned on, you have no right to be in a hurry or to any expectations of normalcy in your use of the road.
    I would like to have a head camera to doc some of the worst I have seen.
    Late night no traffic I am on the center-line (double line) to turn left, truck passes on my LEFT just tapped my handlebar! He had 10feet. That’s to close. I think motorists should be confident at passing objects on the far side @ 6 inches or less. I find that people that weave all the way over to the other side of the road to pass as poorly skilled, but at least they slow down till they can.

  16. Cars and bikes are not compatible. The size, weight, and speed differences are too far apart to mesh safely.

    Motorist pay anywhere from $200-$500 a year in gasoline taxes, which go to road construction and maintenance. Bicyclists pay nothing.

    Perhaps if bike owners in urban areas paid road use taxes, the local government could afford to build enough bike paths to keep them off the road. $300 a year would seem like a good place to start. There are fewer bicyclists but then again, the bike paths would be cheaper than freeways to build.

    Then you could dispense with the bike mounted nanny cam, which I guarantee will be used to prosecute drivers, eventually.

  17. It’s amazing how this issue seems to be bringing out zealots on both sides…

    There are clearly some very frustrated drivers out there, it’s a bit frightening to think we’re all sharing the road… but it does explain why accidents are a nightly occurrence on the local highways–car drivers go too fast, follow too closely and have frequent fits of inattention.

    I don’t walk anywhere. I don’t even own a bike. I drive 25,000 miles per year. So don’t blame me for recognizing that my fellow motorists are typically poor operators with very little common courtesy or respect for potential damage that can be caused by the vehicle they are piloting. The only place a car driver should reasonably expect to not encounter a cyclist or a pedestrian is on an interstate (except in the event of a breakdown), but everywhere else you need to be watching and aware, as well as accommodating… I’m sorry if that bothers or angers you, I’m not exactly sure why it’s such a problem to be bothered to actually pay attention while you drive, or lose an additional 60-90 seconds from your 30-45 minute commute by slowing down or safely passing cyclists and pedestrians (or your fellow motorists in many cases).

    …and another thing, for the love of Pete will you fellow car drivers please attempt to put yourself in the shoes of other people? If it’s pouring rain try to avoid riding in the gutter next to sidewalks with people… stop for them at cross walks–just because you’re already going over 25 that’s no excuse… slow down & take it easy!

    1. Thank you for your level headed response. It is interesting to me as a life long dedicated cyclist how has recently started driving how my perspective has changed.

      As you point out; most people just suck at driving, car or bike. Pair that with a lack of enforcement of existing traffic laws and you get our current situation of needless death and injury. Personally I thing enforcing traffic law would go a long way to improving my experience on the road on my bike or in my car.

      To those who say that scofflaw cyclists should be ticketed; I totally agree. To those who say distracted and aggressive drivers should be ticketed (or arrested); I totally agree. It seems to me that both ends of the road sharing debate are asking for the same thing; that the existing laws be enforced. It’s too bad that this obvious middle ground is lost in the egoist idea that one should not have to modify one’s own behavior for the sake of others. Like it or not the wild west of rugged individualism is long gone and we are a nation of laws.

      – Robot

  18. I drive a huge truck, i basically eat up the whole road, yellow line to white line.

    If there is no on coming traffic, yeah i will move over a tad bit.

    If there is oncoming traffic, im not moving.

    The squishy little lance Armstrong wannabe can get off the damn fog line and move into the ditch.

    Most cases the only way a cyclist is ever going to get 3 feet of passing space near me is if he hears a 18 wheeler big rig coming up behind him and moves his own damn ass over 3 feet.

    1. I am guessing you are a commercial truck driver? It seems to me that you probably put up with a ton of stupid, stupid BS from drivers who do things like cut you off or divers who get mad because you’re taking too long to pass another truck. Also I bet you’re dealing with a ton of regulation about what loads you can carry, how many hours you can drive, etc.

      If that is so; what exactly is your problem with the few cyclists you encounter on the road? Also; are you driving on highways with big shoulders or country roads with noting but a ditch? Maybe you can justify not giving any room if there is more than a ditch for a cyclist to ride in but if not then I can’t understand your position at all. Perhaps it is you who should get off the road.

      – Robot

      1. yes i am a commercial truck driver, dump truck and usually with a trailer attached.

        90% of my driving is on country roads without a shoulder, the other 10% is on city roads with a shoulder and a bike lane.

        One thing i can understand is most cyclists cant/wont ride in the gravel most of the time, but if an oncoming car/truck/suv/school bus is coming at me, and the cyclist who is riding the car side of the fog line isnt moving over, despite me using the horn far in advance to give said individual time to “move or die” and they baulk and stay put, all i can do is slow down and try not to clip em.

        But for the city driving, that big old empty bike lane, its just that, its big and its empty.
        Where is the cyclist?

        On the fog line again.

        At this point, when there is much ample room for the individual to be out of the damn road… they are just stupid.

        I dont move over for those people, i dont slow down, i give them the usual horn warning to grab their attention of impending doom, and then lay on the second much much louder air horn as i pass.

        I haven’t hit or killed anyone, yet.
        But cyclists, stop trying to commit suicide.

        This 20 ton behemoth isn’t a ballerina, it don’t stop on a dime.

        More like, 1000+ feet stopping distance.

      1. Probably still will have the same attitude.

        I probably wouldn’t even notice if i did hit or kill someone. Due to the sheer size and MASS of a commercial truck.

        Hell i barely even felt an F-150 T-Boning me last year.

        You see a big rig, you do one thing, you move.

      2. This is probably one of the best arguments for a return to a rail-based freight system. As nick concedes, trucks lack maneuverability expected of other road vehicles… and that’s when they’re empty. Loaded with cargo, the inertia makes the case they simply are not made to share the road.

  19. I have seen the suggestions of bolts, ball bearings, sparkplugs, etc… to be tossed at cars by bicyclists on just about every thread on this subject.

    All I have to say is that if you toss something at MY windshield… at best you will wind up in the hospital. I will drag your sorry ass of your bike or motorcycle, dismantle it and beat you to within an inch of your life with it. That’s what happens when you start a fight. You get beat.

    If you do this kind of shit, you deserve to be run over. Are you really that fucking stupid?

  20. Stating the obvious roadways where there to first serve human foot traffic, vehicles pulled by beasts of burden, and in time bicycles, long before motorized vehicles came along,one could say it’s the motorized vehicle that are incompatible. Perhaps that should pay for their exclusive use elevated roadways while also paying for surface roadways for lower speed, lower impact vehicles at the ground level? As gas fuel prices rise the conflict can only grow larger. Something has to give petroleum is to valuable for other things to piss it away like we have been on personal transportation. Not that I’m not doing things any better than others.

    1. That does sound like a very reasonable solution or even simply a separate “sidewalk” type path for bikes.

      However, regarding your first point… times have changed. Modern roads are not designed for pedestrian traffic and bikes. I can’t drive my car 15mph in a 35mph zone without getting pulled over so why should a bike be allowed in the traffic lanes? It’s dangerous for all involved.

      I support any solution to this. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

  21. Where do so many cyclists get the idea they’re supposed to ride against traffic? From young kids to grand old geezers, the majority of cyclists I see are going the wrong way.

    Solution? Police departments should make it part of their officers regular duty to give bicycle safety instruction in grade schools twice a year. It would not cost one penny extra because it would be part of regular work time. Police departments either already have some traffic cones or other markers or could borrow them from their city public works department.

    No extra cost, but lives saved, so why do many police departments refuse to do this?

    1. @Galane – What you are describing is community outreach and education. This is “extra work” for the police, and most will refuse the task (unless it is assigned only as an “overtime pay” job).

      This is unfortunate not only because police do enjoy patrolling ON bicycles, they know the law, and they have the ability to see multiple perspectives on the issues (which their overweight cage driving counterparts can not).

      In 2 small cities near me, the bike mounted police don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to pull over cars who show no respect for bicycle vehicles. Instead of bicycling according to the law – which might expose them to “dooring” or “t boning”, the police ride their bikes on the sidewalk and through the crosswalks. You can forget about plainclothes police on unmarked bicycles either.

      It’s all such a wasted opportunity.

    1. Alternatively, @wowme, we could have a movement where bike users carry loaded firearms.

      If you are incapable of respecting the rule of law and you are unwilling to share the road voluntarily, there isnt much left for you to respect except to accept the outcomes of your not driving defensively.

      1. You’d better be a VERY good aim to hit an 80mph 3,000lb+ moving target heading directly for you and your firearm.

        Where do you morons get your stupid ideas from? Really? I have yet to see a single driver threatening to kill a bicyclist, but you are all one angry bunch. It looks very pathetic and powerless. I’d say that’s reason enough to simply ban you all from the roads.

        You point a gun at me and the last thing you will see is my grill. Up close.

      2. You do that…

        I am legally licensed by my state to carry a concealed firearm on my person at all times, and I have had to pull it on three occasions while waiting for the police to arrive.

        My point is, sure let cyclists START packing when they ride. I already pack a 10mil comp’ed Glock when I drive and I can turn around for a second pass faster then you.

  22. After reading some of the commentary above I can conclude I’m sure glad I don’t live in Texas. No wonder Lance Armstrong and Chann McRae grew up tough! What a coterie of Neanderthals!

  23. If you don’t like the laws that allow cyclists on the public road, then get the laws changed.

    However, as it is now, in every state, cyclists are allowed on most public roads.

    As for requiring registration for cyclists, IIRC in most cases it was found to cost MORE than not requiring registration, and reduced rates of cycling (increasing healthcare costs for everyone).

    Also, road repair costs are almost none with bicycles, but cars cause a lot of wear, requiring far more ongoing repair, which costs a lot more money.

    Myself, I try to avoid interacting with vehicle traffic, but sometimes it’s necessary. When I do have to interact with vehicle traffic, I stop at signs, and at least come to a complete stop at red lights (sometimes I then treat them as malfunctioning, and ride away, if there’s no cars to trip them, or a camera to detect me, assuming it’s safe to do so, but I do stop). Also, I try to pull out of the way of traffic if there’s a long line behind me.

    I do, however, “take the lane” when I’m riding in traffic – I find that it reduces cars passing me unsafely, and allows me an escape route when a car does pass me unsafely. (Especially given that I ride a recumbent trike, which is wider than your average bicycle.) But, when I see an opening for a vehicle to pass, I’ll work with them to get them past me with minimal trouble.

  24. I’m truly saddened at the responses. People on both sides seem to be no more intelligent than at best a 5 year old child throwing a tantrum.

    Everyone should just chill the hell out and if they have complaint take it up with the town planners. They are the ones at fault. I live in a city where the bikelanes are poor, and I am not legally allowed to cycle on the footpath. A few hundred km away there’s a city with an awesome network of lanes dedicated to bicycles and they are allowed to cycle on the footpath as well. Funny enough road rage barely exists at all there.

    But no it’s far more productive to proclaim that the one with the penis on the road should have right of way. … Honestly I don’t know how we actually got this far as a species. Especially since I thought us Hackers are supposed to represent some of the more intelligent people in the world.

    Guess I was wrong.

    p.s. cyclists suck.
    p.p.s cars suck just as much, catch a bus.

    1. Don’t be sad by the quality of posts here… this is the minority of the hacker community. These are the people that have no common sense, and are probably no good at hacking anyway. If you take offense to that, well that’s too damn bad. You really NEED common sense to be a hacker, don’t cha think?

      What you should REALLY be sad about, is that pretty soon… this topic will have more comments than the “Raspberry Pi launched” topic.

  25. If the pants that most cyclists wear weren’t so tight they wouldn’t have such nasty attitudes. Roads are for cars / trucks / motorcycles. NORBA trails are for real bikes.

    Get off the road.

  26. As a diehard distance runner, who has logger 12k+ miles on the shoulders of various roads, I’d like to second the scorn for law breakering cyclists. Having been nearly taken out by cyclists blasting through red lights in Boston dozens of times, I’ve rehearsed bracing myself and knocking the SOB to the ground as I blitz across crosswalks at night. Even better are those who race along the sidewalks, rather than the parallel bike lanes. I know not all cyclists are this way, but in an urban environments, it would seems that obeying traffic laws is unbearable for most cyclists.

  27. Wow, I didn’t realize that there were so many a__hats on Hack-A-Day! They may drive a car, or they may ride a bike, but they have one trait in common…

    My experience has been mixed: Drive a car too long, you get the cager mentality (F you, get out of my way! –this applies to squirrels, little old ladies, anything that causes them a microsecond of inconvenience, and bicyclists of all stripes). Ride a bike too long, you either get killed by a cager too busy to give an F about anyone but themselves and their 4 wheeled penis, you learn to hate the lycra billboard-clad Lance wannabes, the wrong way cyclists (really, pedestrians who happen to be on a bicycle-shaped object), or the weavers that don’t hold a line or know when to take the lane for their own safety.

    Bicycles have just as much right to be on the road as a motor vehicle. Bicyclists generally have to follow the same laws as motor vehicles. Some states let bicyclists treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stops. Nobody likes an a__hat whether they’re in a car or riding a bike, don’t be one. Oh, special note to bicyclists: physics are not in your favor. Neither are the courts, the police, or insurance companies. Be smart– have a helmet mounted camera or two with a good enough resolution to make out faces and license plates.

    None of this has anything to do with the project.

    Neat project, but as noted somewhere among the rants (mine included), it should be made less obvious to limit biasing the results. Studies have shown that wide, horizontal profiles filter into drivers’ awareness more than tall profiles. The stranger the visual appearance, the more likely the driver’s awareness will shift to noticing you (having a higher profile in a driver’s awareness does not always produce a positive response).

    Here’s a fun experiment: get a rear-mounted camera and bike a normal route for a week or two saving the footage, then for the next week or two, bike the same route with a child seat on the rear with a child or child substitute (mannequin, sack of potatoes, angry cat, happy dog, blow up doll, et cetera). Compare the footage and write up your findings.

  28. Here in perth, western australia – people are required to leave a meter between us and the cyclist (just over 3 feet), but no one does.

    People just share the lane with them, rather than moving over. If you lived here, you’d realise how impatient people are on our roads.

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