Cyclists are without a doubt the worst people on earth and deserve to be harassed, frightened, cursed at and or run off the roads, that by the way, were made for cars and nothing else!
This is how it seems to us who are out and about on two wheels – whether for recreation or commuting. I have been the victim of all of the above. There is something about wrapping a couple thousand pounds of steel and glass around some folks that turns otherwise nice peoples into intolerant jerks.
First – some facts. Bicycles are considered a vehicle and have all the same rights as automobiles on the road – including the right take a whole lane if the cyclist believes this to be the safest option – this is the law. Law requires that cyclists ride to the right as far as they feel safe. Debris, potholes, puddles etcetera often make riding too far right dangerous. It is not the automobile driver’s decision where a cyclist should feel safe. In Ohio – where I live – it is also the law that when one passes a cyclist on the road one must give at least three feet space when doing so – and one may cross a solid double line in the road to do so as long as it is safe. Again, this is the law. If drivers cared to be educated enough about this a whole lot of frustration could be avoided.
So shouting at cyclists that they should be on the sidewalk is not only dangerous – but it is legally wrong and only proves that the shouter does not know what they are yelling about. Similarly, buzzing a rider at less than three feet is not only dangerous, but also illegal.
Let’s go back to shouting at cyclists for a bit. It doesn’t work – most of the time we cannot understand what you are shouting. It’s called the Doppler effect – your irate bellowing just sounds like a dog’s bark. It’s jarring, but communicates no information other than that you are impatient. It does startle a rider though and can cause them to swerve or overreact – shouting at cyclists has been documented as a cause of death. Is it what one is hoping to accomplish when screaming or laying on the horn of an automobile? Do you want that cyclist dead? Because that is one outcome that is possible.
I know the arguments that cyclists don’t follow all the road rules – they don’t come to complete stops at lights etc. etc. This is true – not all cyclists follow every rule of the road all the time when they are out on the roads. Neither do all drivers. Does either deserve to die because of it? Let’s unpack this a little. First off, a cyclist is on a two wheeled conveyance that weighs around twenty pounds – has no protection other than a helmet. Do you think maybe they might have a vested interest in weighing the safety of bending a traffic rule? One of the reasons a cyclist might not come to a complete stop at a stop sign or red light is that they are using clipped-in pedals and biking specific shoes. That means that their feet are actually mechanically attached to their pedals a complete stop requires them to unhook their shoes.
This takes time – it also means if a cyclist in front of automobile driver comes to that complete stop and unclips – their starting up again requires re-clipping and reacquiring the motion to get rolling again – this will take a longer amount of time – time that is so often the reason cited by drivers that they are so afraid of losing behind a cyclist. The goal of a cyclist is to keep rolling. In some states it is legal for a rolling stop for just these reasons. Another reason bicyclists may roll through a red light is because many of them – especially in rural areas – are triggered by the weight of the waiting vehicle – a cyclist and their bike is not heavy enough to trip the light.
There is also the complaint that cyclists do not pay road taxes. This is simply not true – most cyclists also have cars so yes they pay road taxes. Another consideration is that road taxes are rated by the amount of wear and tear a vehicle will impart on the road. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a bicycle does absolutely no harm to roads. Also – a big portion of road upkeep is funded though property and sales tax. Relatively speaking then, cyclist most probably pays more than their fair share of road taxes. So this argument is invalid.
Another complaint is lost time – to which I reply, really? The thirty seconds or so (and this is a estimate way, way, way, on the high end) it might take to wait to safely pass cyclists is worth risking their life? What destination or appointment is so important that it merits killing someone?
So here are some suggestions:
- I’ll admit that cyclists don’t always follow all the rules if drivers admit that they too don’t always follow all the rules. Let’s just leave the enforcement up to the police and call this one a wash – okay?
- Give the cyclists three feet when you pass – imagine that the rider is a member of your family.
- Do not shout at, blow your horn at, throw things, or buzz too closely by cyclists – again, imagine that the rider is a member of your family.
- At an intersection, if a cyclist is stopped do not ask them to go ahead of you or out of turn. You do not know what is on other driver’s minds – let the cyclists decide when they think it is safe to continue. This also goes back to the clipped in shoe thing and the fact that the cyclists are the ones who decides what they consider safe at the time. I know this is a gesture of goodwill but it isn’t really helpful.
- At a red light if a cyclists motions for a driver behind them to move forward it’s because it is weight triggered light and the automobile will cause it to switch.
- Take a deep breath – think about it. How much time is a driver really losing? What is there really to be so upset about, a couple seconds added on to a drive to ensure the safety of another human being?
Remember – my life as well as your steering wheel is in your hands.