Warning: I’m cranky.
The pink line on the photo above is the course taken by a bike rider this morning. He rode the wrong way on Virginia (I’m not sure how far), then crossed into the Brian’s parking lot, wiggled through the parked cars—intermittently with one, or no, hands on the handlebars—swooped across Orange and onto the sidewalk. This is what is known as a garbage rider move. Just at the one little intersection, he created numerous opportunities for himself to be hit by cars… most-likely because he’s afraid of being hit by cars.
To be fair, there is a segment of the bike-riding population that is just completely ignorant of safe cycling practices. These are often people who have no other form of transportation and they’re trying to get around as best they can with no idea how to do it safely. We need a way to reach them and I’m not sure what it is.
OTOH, there is also a segment of transportation cyclists who do know better but seem to think it’s cool to act like they don’t give a damn.
Yesterday afternoon on Lake Howell Road (the speed-bump section), there was a cyclist riding 6 inches from the curb with no hands on the handlebars, swinging his arms as if he hadn’t a care in the world, with a line of cars behind him. I always ride in an assertive position there and sometimes it means cars can’t pass. That’s OK. There is really no need for cars to pass on that stretch of road, the speed differential is less than 5mph. What was interesting was that despite his bad lane position, the motorists behind him waited until they could give him a wide berth, probably because he wasn’t actively controlling his bicycle.
The cavalier ‘tude was annoying, but here’s the big rub. The motorists waited patiently (there was no honking) and passed him safely. But when he reached the small queue at the 4-way stop, he put his hands on the handlebars, squeezed past the 2 cars in front of him and ran the stop sign! Then he swooped across the lane into the center turn lane and rode to the Howell Branch intersection with no hands on the handlebars.
These people reinforce, for every motorist that sees them, the belief that cyclists are incompetent scofflaws that don’t belong on the road. I’m always appalled at the anti-cyclist vitriol when I read the comment sections of newspaper articles about cycling. But it’s hard to argue when I witness this type of cycling day after day. I see more garbage riders and scofflaw jokers than I do competent, law-abiding cyclists. Sadly, it’s not a mystery why so many people hate us and DOTs want to shove us out of the way.
I see a common thread in cycling advocacy forums that cyclists can do no wrong—we’re all helpless victims of oppression by the “kar kulture.” Car dominance and speed-centric culture does make things hard for us, but we need to clean our own house before we have a defensible position on this issue.