Why cyclists ride in the road

I’m going to make two assumptions. Firstly, I assume you have driven a car. Secondly, I assume that, at some point as a driver, you have encountered a cyclist on the road who blocked your way.

Before I go any further, let me offer a genuine apology on behalf of my cycling brethren. We truly do not block you on purpose. Furthermore, we are beholden to you, the pilot of a large automobile, to keep our fragile bodies intact. We seek a peaceful coexistence, not war.

I want to use this post to explain some common reasons cyclists ride in the road (a.k.a “take up the lane”). I realize there are some idiot cyclists who ride carelessly and ignore road etiquette. I also realize there are ignorant, small drivers who hate cyclists for no particular reason. Consider this a post for the middle ground. I want to tell you, the average, compassionate American driver why we, the average, compassionate American cyclist, are often forced to take up your driving space.

Sometimes we have no choice

American roads are notoriously bike unfriendly. Sometimes we literally have no place to go except in the road. This can be because there is no shoulder, or because there is no safe lane for the bike to use. If we decide there is no safe way for a car to pass on the left, we will sometimes ride in the lane. This is our way of being visible to drivers. We are saying, “Hey, I know I’m blocking you by being in the lane, but even if I was as far right as possible, we still couldn’t fit side-by-side. I’m just in the lane so that you see me better and don’t crush me against the guard rail.”

Shoulders are often dangerous

Few motorists get to see the true character of the road shoulder. I recommend taking a close look at the shoulder of a well-traveled road, if you have never stopped the car and seen it. Shoulders are often full of glass, ruts, rocks, and assorted debris that wreak havoc on us. Our tires are 23mm wide and contact the road in about a square inch of area. We can be knocked over by hitting a dime-sized rock the wrong way.

Additionally, the shoulder is also home to car doors and unaware pedestrians. We will often take the lane if we see a parked car with a person inside as insurance against being broadsided by their door.

We descend faster than cars

This one is surprising to most drivers: a bicycle can descend faster than cars. We do not go faster on a straight downhill, but the bike can take turns much faster than any 4-wheeled vehicle on the road. I have experienced many times when a driver has passed me around blind turns on a descent, only to feel stupid when I catch them (and pass, if it’s safe) and ride away.

Cyclists also take up the lane for safety reasons when descending. This allows us to pick safe lines through turns and gives us freedom to steer around obstacles at high speed. Again, our 23mm tires at 40 miles/hour afford us little room for error. If we are pinned in the shoulder, we are forced to ride over sand, rocks, and potholes that will pull our wheels right out from under.

We make left turns, too

It’s much more safe for all of us if the bicycle occupies the lane to make a left turn. There’s no way to avoid this and we promise it will only take a moment of your time to let us into the lane to turn. With proper hand signals and reasonable warning, we can usually make lefts without any disruption to your motoring experience.

We are vehicles

The bicycle is a vehicle in the law’s eye. We are legally entitled to use of the road (with certain stipulations) as much as the car you drive. That said, 99% of the cycling community does its best to keep clear of traffic and let cars have free reign. We want you to be happy to share the road with cyclists and (99% of us) actively refrain from provocation, even if treated unfairly.

And what are you to make of that other 1%, the cyclists who disobey traffic laws? I can only offer my apologies on their behalf. You, as a motorist, should feel free to reprimand (in a safe, civil manner) a rider who thinks traffic laws do not apply. I am a racer and so are many of my friends. Racers have big heads and log many hours on the road. This sometimes gives them the impression they are above the rules. I’ll add that honking is not a helpful way to reprimand. We get honked at by any number of gun-totin’, buck-toothed idiots in the course of a ride. Your cause for honking may be legitimate, but too many have cried wolf for a honk to be meaningful. Far more effective would be a rational conversation at a stop light or, if the rider is wearing a jersey, a letter/email to the team/club for which they ride.

Thanks for reading. We cyclists look forward to sharing the road with you this summer and appreciate your patience.

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~ by wcuk on June 2, 2008.

52 Responses to “Why cyclists ride in the road”

  1. Disappointing. Your whole premise seems to be that bicycles belong on the shoulder when it’s available, and that we reluctantly take the lane. The exact opposite is true. Bicycles belong in the lane as a legal user of the roadways, and should only move right to allow faster traffic to overtake when conditions permit. Stop apologizing for exercising our right of way. It’s precisely this attitude that makes automobile drivers believe that they have an exclusive right to the road.

    • “Bicycles belong in the lane as a legal user of the roadways, and should only move right to allow faster traffic to overtake when conditions permit. Stop apologizing for exercising our right of way.”

      I’m sorry to say this biker brah, but riding your bike in the middle of a lane intended for vehicles going much faster than you is insanely dangerous and dickish. I’ve known bikers that have been hit riding down 45mph+ roads. I really don’t even understand how it’s even legal for you guys to do this. I mean hell, I can’t take a scooter out there that doesn’t do a certain minimum speed, should be no different for bikes.

  2. Bicycles belong in the road when they can maintain the speed limit. If they can not do the LEGAL speed and there is not a safe place for riding out of the way of traffic, then there are often bike trails that follow main roadways that are safe and made explicitly because the main road is dangerous.

    You may think you are saving the environment by riding your bicycle everywhere, but every time someone in a car has to slow down to pass you and then speed up again uses up extra gas. By the time you have ridden your bike 10 miles, you have done this to 500(total guess) which could easily use up more gas than had you just driven yourself.

    • First, if you can read, the speed limit signs say “Maximum Speed” and not “Minimum Speed” as you seem to think.

      Second, there is lots of slow traffic in the roads and most of it is not bicycles. There are buses and garbage trucks and taxis and people slowing to turn and people stopping to parallel park. If you can move over to pass these vehicles, then you can move over to pass a bicycle.

      Third, I’ve driven over a half million miles in the past three decades and it’s been extremely rare that I’ve had to slow down for a bicycle. When I see a bicycle in the lane, I change lanes at the first opportunity and usually don’t even have to slow down. Furthermore, 500 in 10 miles? Are you insane? Can you even count? You’re grasping at straws trying to rationalize your irrational belief that you shouldn’t have to share the road with bicycles. It’s a trivial inconvenience. Get over it crybaby. It’s not that tough to share the road with bicyclists.

  3. VA Cyclist: actually in most states cyclists are required to ride on the shoulder when it’s available. Unfortunately it usually is not safe and we inevitably move to the left a few feet.

    Realist: At some point a line has to be drawn. As more and more people take to bikes fewer and fewer will be using up extra gas to pass us. I hope a critical mass (no pun intended) is reached and everyone begins cycling for reasonable commutes. (and fyi, slowing for a cyclist “consumes” less gas than a stop sign, and over a 20 mile commute, there’s no way this will use more gas than a cyclist just driving. Additionally, cars get better mileage at lower speeds so it’s possible by making cars slow down we’re actually improving their gas mileage.)

    All in all, great article.

    • Actually, even where shoulder riding is required (it isn’t in my state), there are always exceptions to avoid debris and dangerous surface defects as well as passing anything blocking the shoulder. Bicyclists are not required to ride in a manner that is unsafe.

  4. Realist, you betray your moniker.

    The reality is the law. The law is not on your side. The speed limit is just that, a LIMIT. Perhaps not in practice, but to the letter of the law, it is so. Bicycles belong on the road ALWAYS as they are of a vehicle class and thus prohibited from all non-roadways with the exception of multi-use paths.

    Your second point is well-taken, yet spurious. This post is about safety, not environmentalism. Our purposes for bicycling are our own. Further, your guesstimate of 50 cars / mile demonstrates your own woeful lack of awareness while conducting vehicular travel on all but the very most-travelled roads (i.e. limited-access highways and main thoroughfares), the very roads that cyclists are prohibited by law from entering.

    Now, for an ad hominem: I am not sorry that I slowed your fat ass down on your way to/from McDonald’s and that you are five minutes late to little Johnny’s soccer practice. Had you considered your lifestyle choices a bit more carefully, we would not have found ourselves in this 4000 pound weapon vs. 150 pound human predicament. By the time you drive your car 1 mile (round trip) to the grocery store to get a half gallon of highly-processed sugar water, you have killed 7 kittens and 2 angels have lost their wings. In the meantime, I’ve been riding my bicycle in the middle lane of the high road, all the while smugly sneering down at you and flipping you the bird while your toxin-belching essuvee eats away at my clean air and your pocketbook.

    Perhaps you’d consider selling your motor vehicle and using the proceeds to finance your Juris Doctor so that next time you come to wcuk, you can actually bring a thoughtful and cogent argument to the table.

  5. p.s. the little Johnny to which I referred bears no relation to poster johnny (that I know of).

  6. While I never get angry with cyclists, I do get very frustrated sometimes when I have an appt or somewhere I need to be in the next 10-15 minutes and I’m stuck behind a cyclist for the next 2-3 miles. Some say to themselves that, since you don’t buy gasoline, you don’t pay the tax on the gasoline that goes to repairing the roads, you don’t really have the same privileges as motorists do. But then I think that when it comes to wear-and-tear on the roads that require the repairs, cars and trucks cause more than their fair share, so motorists should be responsible for them anyway. The reality is that the road is for everybody to share it, whether you drive a car or whether you don’t.

    I also try to appreciate that when it comes to problems on the road, cyclists have many more to contend with. My bf rides his bike to and from work everyday, and the problems that he has encountered with motorists would make your head spin. The behavior of a lot of motorists in our area is shameful. He has had more than one occasion of someone trying to hit him on purpose, someone running down the street chasing him down, even people threatening to pull out weapons. This brutish, uncivilized behavior of course is in addition to motorists routine carelessness he has to deal with every day, a general disregard of their driving by cutting him off and not paying attention to how close they are driving to him. Coping with this kind of behavior is much more dangerous on a bike than in a car.

    When he told me of these stories, it gave me more appreciation for the cyclists, pedestrians, and others who share the road with all of us. It also serves to make me even more aware of my own behavior when I’m driving. Next time I’m “stuck” behind a cyclist, I will counter my frustration by remembering that they have just as much right to be there as I do, and that my time is not more important than everybody else’s.

    • I have a hard time believing that you get stuck behind bicyclists for 2-3 miles. Is it really that hard to find a safe passing point? Do safe turnouts never occur in that distance? I don’t think I’ve seen a road like that in a populated area. Roads like that tend to be in remote areas. In most well populated areas that I’ve been in, most roads have multiple lanes or at least a ridable shoulder.

      As far as taxes, fuel taxes mostly go to state and federal highways. The regular streets that you find most bicyclists on most of the time are primarily paid for by general fund taxes. Bicyclists pay those the same as everyone else. As you noted, they put a lot less stress on the roads too. As you also noted, the roads are for everyone. The law says so.

  7. I love it when people write articles/comments defending cyclists behavior on the road and cite laws. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a cyclist honor a stop sign or red light.

    • I see cyclists stopped at stop signs and stop lights every day. Every day I also see drivers speeding, rolling stop signs, rolling right turn on red, pushing yellow well past red and numerous other violations. Bicyclists are no less likely to obey the law than drivers. People who say otherwise are either lying or delusional.

  8. Cylists have a right to be on the roads, cars only have a licence.

  9. Ira: I’m a cyclist, and I religiously obey red lights (we don’t have many stop signs where I live, but I’d obey them too). So do most of the cyclists I know. This in spite of the fact that stopping is much more of an inconvenience for us than for you, as we have to *work* to regain that lost momentum, and (because we’re not travelling at the speed of cars) we tend to get out of sync with the carefully-planned traffic light schedules and hit red lights continually. Just because the idiots are more noticeable, doesn’t mean that responsible cyclists aren’t out there.

  10. How much did you pay for your bicycling license? How often do you have to renew and how much does it cost? How much does your inspection sticker cost? How often do you have to renew your bike registration and how much does it cost? Is your mandatory bike insurance very expensive?

    When you start paying for the road you can have the same rights.

    • How paternalistic of you. The law says that bicyclists have the right to the road and you don’t personally have the authority to grant or deny that right to us.

      How completely ignorant of you. Bicyclists pay plenty for the roads. Your use fees don’t even come close to paying all of the cost of the roads. Most of your fuel taxes go to state and federal highways. The regular surface roads get paid for by general fund taxes, which everyone pays.

      As far as insurance, bicyclists almost never kill anyone and injure a lot few people and injure them a lot less severely and do a few orders of magnitude less property damage than motorists. Motorists have to pay that much because they are a lot more dangerous and do a lot more damage in every way.

      Bicyclists have a right to be in the road. Get over it crybaby.

  11. @burlinw

    The cost of your license, inspection, registration and insurance does not go to paying for the roads. Taxes pay for the roads. We pay taxes just like you do.

    In addition, if you would have read the post, you would know we have the same legal rights already. Pray tell, what rights are you going to grant us when we start “paying”?

    • Most people do pay taxes for their cars-read up before you speak. If we need a license, registration and inspection of our cars you should also do the same-what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. When you start paying we will give the rights-all’s fair in love and war as they say.

      • On another note-it’s time for the drivers of cars to start a petition in all States to have bicyclists start paying as we do. I’ve seen a couple of bike accidents and one was severe-the bicyclists hit a person and they feel to the ground and hit their head on cement and guess what that person ending up in a coma for three weeks-where’s the responsibility? READERS START A PETITION FOR OUR RIGHTS AND HAVE THEM PAY LIKE WE DO-THEIR NOT ANY DIFFERENT THEN US AS I AM READING SO START PAYING ALL THE FEES AND THEN YOU CAN ENJOY THE ROAD. And guess what, isn’t the sidewalk safer than the road for you little guys?

  12. Whenever I’m driving and there’s a biker on the road, even if they’re on the shoulder, I get so pissed and yell and swear. I don’t know why. I’m sorry cyclists, I will try and be more understanding.

  13. @wcuk

    My point is that the car driver has to pay for the right to use the road, and the bicycle rider doesn’t. I realize that bikes already have the same rights under the law, and I treat them as such. What I want to see is a bicyclist pulled over for running a stop sign, getting a $100 ticket and having their insurance rates go up hundreds of dollars for several years. At that point I’ll start considering them equals on the road.

  14. Always interesting to bring the discussion up from every angle. . . I write a weekly blog about cycling, and this one, about cyclists and traffic, received a tremendous, passionate response: http://sittingin.bicycling.com/2008/01/confronting-the.html

    Bill

  15. hey burlinw…

    perhaps you should pay as much as a semi-truck does…they pay a whole lot more than you do in license/etc…or do they have more of a right to the road than you in your little car…?

  16. This is a great article. I’m starting to take up cycling and this was really informative. It let me know that as a cyclist I do have rights that others should respect. Thank You wcuk.

  17. Thank you!

    I just got back from a short 15-mile ride around the local roads, and I definitely ran into all of those situations (unsafe shoulders, twisty descents, etc.). I was passed by massive Ford F450s and speeding Corvettes, and my only consolation came at the 10-mile mark when I crossed paths with a fellow cyclist. He was pinned down in the shoulder by a convoy of tractor trailers and terrified for his life. Once they passed, we exchanged a knowing look and went about our merry way.

  18. @burlinw

    I completely understand, now. Motorcycles don’t pay the same taxes, licensing, inspection rates so they aren’t equal either, right? Or, since tractor trailers, construction vehicles, and fleet vehicles are taxed and levied MORE than your vehicle, they should actually have MORE rights on the road than your automobile? Slippery slope when you start talking about who pays/doesn’t pay what amount.

    It isn’t a cyclists vehicle insurance that goes up when something happens, it is our HEALTH insurance. Guess who wins in a car hits someone on a bicycle – every time?

    I hope you have a son or a daughter and can imagine what it would be like if someone in a car decided they didn’t feel the need to give them any room to ride so, instead, they ran him or her off the road. We are someone’s son or daughter and we just want to ride…

  19. Spring has arrived and the bicyclists are coming out around here. I am personally a little shocked by a few of the commenter’s apparent disdain for bicyclists. Most that I’ve encountered are very safe and have every regard for those driving cars. Aside from the few who ride on the sidewalk (I HATE that) or ride on the wrong side of the road, bicyclists are for the most part peaceful beings.

    This post was very helpful to me as a driver! Thank you!

  20. @burlinw
    First of all, I have been pulled over for riding through stop lights. Since then I have been much more conscious of them, but remarkably it doesn’t seem to have changed how drivers act toward me. The simple consideration of using a turn signal would be nice to avoid hitting me as they turn (that’s happened twice as I legally continued straight).

    One reason we don’t have to pay insurance by law is that we don’t ride in deadly weapons. Once the death rates for bike accidents reaches the death rate (or accident to accident) of cars, I’ll start being okay with paying insurance for riding my bike.

    As for other fees, the inspection fee is for safety of the vehicle and it’s environmental damage. Since we have no blinkers, exhaust, and don’t weight over a ton that’s not an issue. City and state registration is to know who has what vehicle parked where (as can be seen from registration by where a vehicle is normally parked). Again, I keep mine in the living room, so not an issue. The license issue could be debatable, but the most important thing is that we don’t have irresponsible, incapable people driving deadly weapons, so I guess that debate is over.

    The drivers commenting here seem to assume that the majority of riders don’t also own cars. I’d guess that most who are adults do. I do and pay all those fees, so please tell me why I have less right to the road when I choose to ride my bike instead of drive my car.

  21. Great post. Wish you would’ve addressed the floor it to turn right in front of the cyclist issue but still, fantastic work.

    Oh and by the way, burlinw, I got a ticket for “running” a stop sign while trying to avoid a van attempting to run me off the street. $120 ticket to me and nothing for the guy endangering my life. Equal enough for you? Not to mention that we already have the “rights” by law. You don’t get to decide when we get them.

  22. @Burlinw,

    You maintain that when cyclists “start paying for the road [they] can have the same rights”, while admitting that bicyclists “have the same rights under the law”.

    You go on to say that after you see a bicyclist get fined, you’ll “start considering them equals on the road”.

    First you contradict yourself as blatantly as possible. Then you sob, and make a gracious offer to actually obey the law (forget about simple human decency, such matters must always be reduced to the capital-L Law with your kind) — but only if some magical police officer who represents all police officers gives a ticket to some magical bicyclist who represents all bicyclists.

    People like you should sequester themselves in their homes. And. Never. Leave. And the reason behind this has nothing to do with bicycles or automobiles or driving. The reason behind this is — simply — you are a troglodyte.

    Perhaps a Homo erectus, you are responsible for a wide gamut of social issues, the least of which include: the war in Iraq, inadequate health insurance coverage, and the increasingly unethical pricing policies of big business.

  23. In Japan, cyclists ride every damn where they want. Roads, sidewalks, the midle of the road, the park, inside the train station, on the wrong side of the road. And they also run the light on a regular basis….WITHOUT LOOKING. Which is pretty darn scary considering that most corners are blind and you can not tell from a distance whether or not a car is comming. They also don’t use hand signals, so you don’t know where they are going (straight or turning) and like pedestrians, they seem almost incapable of moving (riding) in a straight line…all of which makes it pretty difficult to pass grandma or grandpa when they are moving slower than the local cockroaches. Oh, and the people who walk out of buildings and don’t look before they step in front of you, when everyone knows that cyclists ride on the sidewalk….and then sue you when they get a broken leg…yeah, the pedestrians are great…!

    You motorists should be thankful that a cyclist’s behaviour on the road is at least somewhat predictable. Try driving in Japan..and then shut the **** up.

    And you cyclists, please pity a poor North American who misses the luxury of road rules. If I didn’t hate the hot crowded subways and trains so much, I would use my bike less. AS it is I ride everywhere and it’s faster and cheaper than using the trains. So I have to contend with all the crap. sigh!

  24. Cyclists must maintain the speed limit. And they have to understand that when they ride in traffic they have to follow the common rules.

    Im one of those that hate cyclists, ive hurt a couple of them. And i quite enjoy it.. The main problem is the police, but as long as i can prove that the cycelist was the one to blame im free. And i got to hurt one of you suicidal dumbasses.

    • If you can read, try reading a speed limit sign some time. It says “Maximum Speed” and not “Minimum Speed” as you seem to think. Bicyclists are not required to maintain the speed limit. The law says no such thing and the few cops stupid enough to try to write tickets for that have seen those tickets thrown out by the courts.

      By law, bicyclists have a right to be in the road and they cannot be required to maintain a speed higher than they are capable of maintaining.

      What is so difficult about moving over to pass a bicyclist safely? It’s the most trivially easy thing to do in driving but you throw a hissyfit over it and hurt other people over it? Could you be a bigger crybaby?

  25. First off, I realize bikes have the same rights. I am VERY safety conscious around bikers on the road. I give bikes on the road more respect than 99% of other drivers. I’ve lost 2 friends in bike accidents, and have plenty of friends that ride on a daily basis. I’m not advocating hitting riders, or giving them less room on the road, or looking for anyone to get hurt.

    My problem is that bikes have the rights of the road with NO responsibilities. Cause an accident? Damage another vehicle? Injure another rider/driver/pedestrian? Keep riding!

    That said, I find these responses hysterical. I think bikers should have the same responsibilities as all other vehicle drivers, so I’m to blame for the Iraq war?

  26. I am not a cyclist and never will be (despite my boyfriends best attempts). Before I was dating a cyclist, I hated them on the road. As a driver you will find a large number of people on bikes who piss you off, swerve in front of your car, block the road (even when there is a clear shoulder or ride in huge packs), and disobey traffic laws. I now understand the trials of cycling on the road with cars. However, I still get throughly pissed off at a majority of people on bikes; the ones who don’t obey the common courtesies or laws of the road. Roads were not built for bicycles, I will share them with you so long as you are following the rules of the road.

  27. I’ll accept your “responsibilities” as soon as my tax dollars no longer subsidize your gasoline. Also, it’s hard for a cyclist to “damage another vehicle”, but really easy for a car to damage 10 cyclists. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080603/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/mexico_bikers_hit

  28. I run stop signs in residential neighborhoods if they are all-way and I am the first or only person there. It’s not legal, but neither is speeding. Do you honor stop signs when walking? Would they even be there if cars didn’t use the neighborhood as a thoroughfare? The point of stop signs in residential neighborhoods is traffic management
    of motor vehicles. Some of the stops signs are on cul de sacs.

    There are three lights on my commute that don’t pick up the metal in my bike. I cross on red because it’s legal if I wait an appropriate amount of time. It is scary as hell, but I have to do it. The most that a driver has ever been behind me is 30 seconds; If he can’t wait 30 seconds, he left too late.

    It is illegal for me to ride on the sidewalk. The sideWALK is for people who are WALKing.

    I own four cars. I wish that more drivers would ride. They never smile. I might come off as a smug prick, but I get up two hours earlier than I used to, I have a four month old son and a 12 mile ride. You can do this. Other than that, I just want to live. Please don’t kill me

    • Pedestrians are not required to obey stop signs in most, if not all states. It doesn’t make sense.

      You should stop for stop signs and red lights on a bike. It’s the law. You also just give more ammo to all of the bike hating morons when you do it.

  29. Speed limit? It’s not illegal to go under the limit (unless it’s the highway and it’s a minimum) for cars or bicyclists. It is illegal for cars and technically bicyclists to go above the posted limit. Where people get the idea that you have to be at the speed limit makes me curious where they learned to drive.

    I find it funny and true that cars will accelerate past a bicycle only to get caught back up to on a downhill — or only to both get stopped at the the same stoplight. Car drivers should learn that passing/speeding angrily isn’t worth it only to wait at the next traffic light.

  30. FWIW Anders, as Stephen says it’s a limit, not a target. Sometimes even driving at the limit could be dangerous considering road conditions, weather, other traffic etc.

    I’ve taken a slightly different stance on riding in the road on a cycling community blog, regarding road positioning and why the cyclist isn’t placed in the gutter. It’s written with a UK audience in mind, but if you switch the lefts for rights I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

    http://www.cyclechat.co.uk/blog/2008/08/why-do-cyclists-ride-in-the-middle-of-the-road/

  31. Id first off like to inform the people whom think that cyclists have no rights to use the road. WRONG. We have every right to use any public roadway exceptions being Interstate highways..limited access roads and other roadways that prohibit bicycle riding. Secondly..if you come upon any biker that is in the middle of the road..they are not there to piss you off..we ride in the center of the lane because alot of people think they can squeeze in between us and the car in the other lane..it doesent work like that. You are required to leave at least 3 feet distance from our bike to your car..example pass us like you would pass another car..SAFTLEY..and not in an unsafe and dangerous manor..like only leaving 2 inches from us to your car..that does not work. Thats an unsafe pass..and one wrong move from us or you at that distance can result in us being seriously hurt or worse. Thirdly…dont be tailgating us or riding very close as to being soo impactient ..waiting for us to move out of your way..that doesent work either. 3 feet is the minimum distance that you are required to leave us from all sides and from the rear. I especially dont like being followed in a dangerous and and in an unsafe manor. Most motorists are polite..but few do not be polite. Lastly, some of us may run stop lights or stop signs..its perfectly fine and legal if we look and slow down to a reasonable speed. Now everyone please read about bike laws before making any dumb assumptions becauase believe me..alot of us are tired of hearing about it.

  32. To Stacey…I am a daily commuter by bicycle. Your comment on riding on shoulders has me wondering. If you read the top portion of this blog..it mentions that shoulders are quite dangerous to be riding on sometimes. A shoulder that is only 6 inches wide is not safe to be riding on. I really do not appreciate being squeezed onto the side of the road by some speeding car that doesen’t seem to care about a cyclists safety. We ride twoards the center of the road even when there are shoulders present. They are often filled with broken glass or sharp objects like sharp stones or debris..which can puncture a bikes tire instantly. We have legal rights to be riding on the road. As I said in my previous post..please dont be making any stupid or just plain dumb assumptions without first educating yourself with bicycle laws…its just that simple.

  33. Anders..hey man. If you even as much as try to run me off the road or injure me in any way..I will make your world a living hell..as I have already done to sevreal motorists who have done the same shit you say you do to cyclists. Treat them as you would anyone else. Im pretty sure you wouldnt want someone hitting you and leaving a 1,000 dent on your precious car..the same as when we are riding and enjoying ourselves. Please watch waht you say..one of us will take it the wrong way and you will find out the hard way what that means someday. Peace out!

  34. Yes, Bicycles ARE automobiles, by law. THerefore, you are not permitted to run red lights, dart across 4 lanes of traffic at will, make illegal turns, etc. And I venture that is MUCH higher than 1% of bicyclists. At least in the Denver Metro area. I see fewer than 10 % EVER obey actual traffic laws. As for bikes going downhill faster than cars, that is due in part to cars obeying speed limits, which cyclists often ignore, on a down hill.

    I agree the bike paths are terrible, and need to be improved. But in absence of a decent and safe path, you must either behave like a vehicle, or expect to stay out of the roadways.

    One last thing: Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not Tour de France wannabes. Please don’t run over my small children whilst we are walking on the sidewalk. EVER, for ANY reason. Else you may teach them to express the “stick in the spokes” instinct I am teaching them to repress.

    • Bicycles are not automobiles. They are vehicles (except in some states, where they are devices, but in those states bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists).

      Bicyclists are no worse about obeying the law than drivers. Most drivers speed most of the time that they can. Every day I see lots of drivers rolling stop signs, rolling right turn on red, pushing yellow well past red and all sorts of other violations.

      I also see plenty of bicyclists who do stop. You just don’t notice them. Bicyclists are no worse than drivers when it comes to obeying the law.

  35. @Anders: Cyclists nor any other vehicle have to “maintain the speed limit.” If you want to go 20 mph down a rural US highway with a 55mph speed limit in your car, you are free to do so unless a minimum speed limit is explicitly stated (as in the 40 mph speed limit on US Interstates). Speed limits only tell you that you may not go FASTER than the posted limit, but you may certainly go any speed below it.

    P.S. I actually have received a speeding ticket– 32 mph in a 25 mph zone.

  36. @John: “I run stop signs in residential neighborhoods if they are all-way and I am the first or only person there. It’s not legal, but neither is speeding.”

    Actually in some jurisdictions it is OK for cyclists to only yield through all-way stops.

    • As far as I know, only Idaho allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. There have been a few other places where the same law was proposed but I so far, to my knowledge, they’ve all failed to pass.

      The Idaho stop law is safety neutral (doesn’t help or hurt safety) but it does make life a little easier on bicyclists since full stops are a bit hard and it’s nice to be able to avoid them when there is no cross traffic. It also takes a little bit of ammo away from the bike hating morons who are just trying to rationalize their delusion that they shouldn’t have to share the road with bicyclists.

  37. While both and vehicles, they are vastly different in terms of mass, inertia and potential damage… rules should be different for bikes and motorized arm chairs, i.e. cars. Common sense and courtesy can prevail…
    As a cyclist, I have to say that drivers need to chill out… you already own the roads and have plenty of space. You could just as easily get stuck behind construction equipment or a grandma as a cyclist… difference being that a cyclist is much easier to pass. Also, keep in mind that the League of American Cyclists was instrumental in the creation of a continuous system of paved roads in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. That rage you have against a cyclist reflects an unhealthy and insane attitude that has been allowed to breed in an oil-consuming world beneath a glass and steel carapace. It is the same attitude that makes the roads unsafe for motorists and pedestrians. Share the road. That includes you, cyclists, who have been burdened with attempting to change a market-reinforced, long standing culture that is also unfriendly to public transportation, etc. A steel and rubber energy guzzling chariot for ever lasts citizen of the globe is unsustainable and insane.

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