Cyclists need to get off of the Road!

By | January 14, 2016

Cyclists need to get off of the Road!

Some people are never happy!

Some people are never happy!

You have heard it or some derivative yelled from the windows of a passing car.  People have asked why, ‘you people’ insist on riding in the road.  Hell I have even read a woman’s dating profile which list cyclists riding in the roads as her biggest pet peeve.  For obvious reasons I would never date someone with such an abhorrent attitude, but I cannot always avoid it at work or at a party.  In these instances, I have no choice but to talk to these people.  This post will follow in the line of other posts is the, ‘Talking to bike haters’ series.  This series includes such classics as ‘Cyclists don’t pay for the roads,’ ‘Cyclists should register their bikes’ and ‘Cyclist should have insurance.’  Like the rest of the posts in this series, it will be written as in a conversational format.  The bike hater’s comments will be in italics.  My reasoned response will be bold.  Additional notes will be in plain text.

Cyclists are always in the way!  They need to get off the road!

Patience grasshopper!  The vast majority of cyclists also drive.  As drivers, we have all been annoyed by some Sunday Driver crawling along at 15 mph.  It is hypocritical to condemn drivers for this same behavior.  Cycling may have changed your attitude, but it should be easy to remember how frustrating life can be stuck behind the wheel of your rolling cage.  Instead of the frustration, I think it is better to focus on the law, visibility and safety than frustration.  This doesn’t mean that I will be the wilting flower in the discussion.

Cyclists are in YOUR way?  I was not aware that since you own a car, you also own the road.

Oh come on.  That is not what I meant.  Cyclists cannot do the speed limit.  They should not be allowed on the road. 

Now we get into the legal arguments.  As cyclists, the law is on our side.

It is a speed limit not a minimum.  Most roads do not have a minimum speed.  The roads that do have a minimum allowed speed are freeways.  Bicycles are not allowed on most freeways.

A minimum speed does not matter.  They are holding up traffic.  They should not ride on the roads!  They should ride on the sidewalk. 

It doesn’t matter where you ride, someone will not like it.  As a rule, if you ride one place, people will suggest you ride somewhere else.  It is best to pay attention to the law.

In many locations, it is not legal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalks.  It is much safer for everyone involved for cyclists to ride on the road. 

Cyclists should not be on the road.  They have no right to ride there!

Actually the road is the public domain.  The law states that cyclists have every right to ride on public roads.

Cyclists ride in the middle of the road!  That is against the law.  

All this anger from our car driving friends comes down to a perceived delay caused by cyclists.  It amazes me that some drivers are willing to sacrifice people’s safety in the name of gaining a few seconds.

The law states that cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of any vehicle on the public road.  Cyclists should ride as far to the right as is practical and should ride in the right lane when there are two or more lanes traveling in the same direction.  This means that I have to ride to the right, unless it is unsafe to do so. 

They never ride on the right.  They will ride in the road when there is a perfectly good shoulder or bike lane.  They also ride two wide.  That is not legal!

This narrow shoulder is not a good place to ride.

This narrow shoulder is not a good place to ride.

I like bike lanes and I like adequate shoulders, but they are not always the safest places to ride.  The shoulder of the road is often littered with debris and potholes which can damage your bike and cause a crash.  In fact, the shoulder is usually the roughest part of the road.  Another problem with the shoulder is that it I am not always visible to approaching drivers when I ride on the shoulder.  When I ride there, drivers often pass dangerously close.  I don’t necessarily like taking lane control, but it is often the safest option.

bad bike lane

No one wants to win a door prize!

There are problems with bike lanes too.  They too are often littered with debris pot, holes and tire grabbing storm grates.  Sometimes drivers decide that since they own the road, it is fine to park in the bike lane too.  Cities mean well when installing bike lanes, but they are not always well executed.  Sometimes they cross intersections in an unsafe manor.  Other bike lanes are directly adjacent to parking lanes meaning you are apt to be hit with an opening car door.    Even with bike lanes, the road is often the safest option. 

Riding two abreast is legal in many locations including Washington state.  Taking this position means that you are maximizing your visibility.  With a large group of cyclists, riding two wide reduces the length of the group of cyclists.  This means that it takes far less time to safely pass the group of cyclists.  Generally, I prefer not to ride two abreast in the traffic lane, but sometimes it is the safest option. 

They do not do it for safety, they get in the way to annoy drivers. 

I never understood this rationale.  Why on earth would you intentionally piss people off for no reason?  Especially when they are driving a killing machine.  Time to bring it home with a nice summary.  Sometimes talking with bike haters will not yield any positive results.  The best you can do is say your piece and not let the jerk take too much of your time.

Why on earth would you intentionally provoke someone driving a 2-ton car?  That sounds like a terrible idea.  You as a driver need to understand cyclists are just trying to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ safely without being harassed.  Like any road user, I am constantly on the lookout for obstacles and unsafe conditions on my bike.  In order to make myself safer, avoid obstacles or if I am riding close to the speed limit I can legally take lane control.  I have heard that it takes a driver anywhere 5 to 20 seconds on average to safely pass a cyclist on the road.  Is 5 to 20 seconds really worth getting angry over.  Is 5 to 20 seconds worth jeopardizing someone else’s safety?  Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go talk to more interesting people. 

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