Photo by Province
When I ride my bicycle, I follow all of the applicable rules of the road, per the State Vehicle Code. Really, I do. And, since I am doing my part to be a sane user of our shared roads, I felt it was time to put forth some thoughts on why motorists have the disdain for us cyclists that they do. In short, IT IS OUR OWN, DAMN FAULT. So, where do I get such a notion some may ask? Well, read the following regarding a ride I took the other day, which just compounded what I already suspected.
Just how bad is the behavior of cyclists? When I have a pedestrian tell me I am the first “Bike Rider” to stop for them while they are in a cross walk, that is sad. Sadder still, that was the fourth pedestrian to tell me so within the past six months. Soon thereafter, I saw a vehicle, which had the green light, stop and wait, and wait, and wait. Turns out the driver had indeed seen me, and was actually waiting for me (a cyclist) to blow the red light. This happened when I was descending Glendora Mountain Road, and the driver was a resident of the area. She explained “Cyclists never stop for the light.” I discovered this while I was stopped and asked her what she was doing and if she were OK. You should have seen the driver's shock when I came to a complete stop at that light. But wait, there’s more. After that incident, two cyclists blew by me while I was slowing for a stop sign. They both then ran it. At least one of them called out “On your left” before they both broke the law. Shortly thereafter, and just for good measure, another cyclist turned out right in front of me from a side street without even looking. When I passed that bonehead, you should have seen the look on his face when he realized someone else was there.
And, that was during just one, short training ride. Sadly, it is getting much worse.
Truth be told, there will always be motorists that hate cyclists, and they will always be cyclists which hate motorists. This is a constant of the universe which will not be undone by anyone, anytime soon. We can have all of the Biking Coalitions and Awareness Programs under the sun, but there will always be assholes, on both two and four wheels (sometime more) that ruin it for everybody else. Yet, time and again, there are news stories of motorist-on-cyclist violence, or worse yet, a fatal hit-and-run. This wanton, vehicular behavior needs to stop. And, additionally, cyclists also need to step up, be responsible citizens, and stop challenging death via irresponsible riding, and finally; JUST QUIT BREAKING THE DAMN LAW, PEOPLE!
In a previous article (Cycling Dynamics, 04-22-2014) I pointed out that riding had become so much more than just me exercising and enjoying the great outdoors. The bike has, for better or worse, also become a rolling laboratory of Human Nature - A kind of Human Behavioral Sciences Rolling Laboratory, so to speak. After watching cyclist, after cyclist break the law, I began to seriously observe the passing scene, which, in turn, led me to the following observations about us cyclists.
- I don’t hog the lane and force others to swerve to avoid me. Neither should you.
- I announce my intentions via hand signals, lane positioning, and call-outs. So should you.
- I stop at stop signs, behind the limit line. So should you.
- I understand how a traffic light works and what the three colors mean. So should you.
- I don’t talk on my phone or text while I am on the road. Neither should you
- I understand what traffic signs and pavement markings mean. So should you.
- I don’t antagonize motorists, other cyclists, and pedestrians. I am aware of, and courteous to, others with whom I share the road. So should you.
- I understand I am not the only human on the road at any given time. So should you.
- I am always at the ready to offer assistance to anyone in need on the road. So should you.
- I am fully capable of operating, and understand the bicycle I am riding. So should you.
- I understand there are serious, severe consequences if I misbehave on the road. So should you.
- And finally, a question for Law Enforcement: After viewing
the Cycling Public for a significant amount of time, it is clear we deserve the
scrutiny we are receiving. And, we need
In summation, we are indeed our own worst enemy. While there will always be motorists that piss us off, the number of cyclist doing the same is growing significantly.
The Vehicle Code is the law. It is not a collection of suggestions. I do my part. YOU DO YOURS!