Recently I had the idea of compiling a list of “urban legends” — maybe there is a better word or phrase — that many motorists tend to think or say about seeing us cycling on the road.
I was thinking … maybe to organize this into some kind of pamphlet that could be given out (stocked at bike shops, given out during Bike Week, maybe even placed at DMV offices!!). I’d keep something like this in my bike bag to hand to a motorist who uttered any of these “legends”.
Want to help out? Here are the six most often heard “legends” (my top 6 anyway) that need to be dispelled, along with a rough outline of some ideas for answers. Help me flesh these out with ideas (please link* sources for good text if you know of any!) and see if there is anything missing, or other “legends” you can come up with.
The Six Urban Legends of Cycling Held by Motorists
(as most often yelled or expressed in newspaper comments)…
1) “What are cyclists doing on the road anyway?”
- FL statutes — bicycles are vehicles
2) “They are so slow — why don’t they move over?”
- FL statutes do not require cyclists to move over in MOST cases
- Safety reasons why a cyclist should not move over
- Share-the-Road Philosophy: First Come First Served (be patient!)
- The onus is on the PASSING vehicle to pass safely (3 foot law)
- It is legal to cross double-yellow to pass
3) “They should ride on the sidewalks!”
- Safety issues with riding on sidewalks (pedestrians, driveways, intersections)
- Local City Ordinances against riding on sidewalks (sometimes actually illegal)
4) “Well, if they want to ride on the road, they should be licensed and pay road taxes like motorists do!”
- Tax monies for roadwork do not come from licensing of autos
- Testing and licensing of heavy/fast vehicle operators is done for public safety (not to pay for roads)
- Local roads are paid for with sales or property taxes, which all citizens pay
- Bicycles cause very little wear and tear on roadways (for example when compared to heavy trucks)
- Fuel taxes pay for limited access highways where bicycles are often prohibited
5) “Why aren’t they using the Bike Lane?”
- Fl statutes do not require use of a bike lane
- Safety issues with bike lanes (debris, car doors, intersections)
- Not all space to the right of a white line is a bike lane (legal definition of shoulder vs bike lane)
6) “Why do cyclists ignore traffic laws?”
- running red lights (not all cyclists do)
- riding the wrong way on a road (not all cyclists do… most do so out of fear of motorists)
- no lights or reflectors at night (not all cyclists do… some cannot afford proper equipment)
- not all motorists follow traffic laws 100% of the time either!
I want the tone of this to be educational, not confrontational. For instance, relating to licensing a bicycle I do not want to say “Sure — let’s pay by the pound per year. I’ll pay $20 for my 20lb bike, and you can pay $3,000 for your one and a half ton SUV.” I’d rather point out (educationally) that road taxes don’t come from licensing anyway.