No safety in THESE numbers

So my wife and I are driving the other day and within 2 miles of our house, we see nine cyclists. “Gosh! I say to myself this is really great!” But then I notice that not a single one of them was riding in a logical, law abiding manner.

Four of them, separately, at two different lights blew through red lights without even slowing down OR EVEN TURNING THEIR HEADS! Four of them, two groups of two, were riding facing traffic and one was weaving on and off the sidewalk in and out of the traffic lane going the wrong direction.

After observing two or three of these cyclists, I understood that I must assume that the cyclist will not stop for stop signs or traffic lights. That I must assume the adult will ride like a child and ignore cars around him, just as a child chases a ball across the street. As long as I make those assumptions, no one will be hurt.

It’s no wonder that drivers are bewildered when I “drive” my bike like I drive a car.

12 replies
  1. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Yes, one of my biggest frustrations is stopping at a stop sign and having a motorist wave me to continue. Hard to say how much of it is well-intentioned courtesy versus expectation of cyclists running stop signs. The funniest thing is when they wave me to go ahead (which I usually decline), then they turn onto the lane that I was in or turning into. So if I had accepted his/her invitation, the driver would have had to pass me, and possibly be delayed if there was on-coming traffic.

  2. Chris
    Chris says:

    Let me venture a guess. These “cyclists” were riding fixies or single-speeds, sneakers, jeans, loss fitting overshirt with a white undershirt, and no helmets.

  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    “Let me venture a guess.”

    You would guess wrong. None of these are from that crowd. These were just ordinary folk out for a ride on a Saturday on Corrine Drive.

  4. acline
    acline says:

    I see this kind of cyclist a lot in Springfield. And these days– many of them appear to me to be the working poor trying to save money.

  5. rodney
    rodney says:

    In regards to operating a bicycle on the road, bike lane, sidewalk, or bike path, I find that a majority of these individuals are either “ignorant to the fact” or just “genetically ignorant”.

    Maybe I am incorrect in my thinking, doesn’t the sign say STOP? Why would one assume that since I am not in a motor vehicle I am not required to obey the laws?

    This behavior is seen on the personal level from time to time. A group of co-workers and I do road rides once a month and two “subscribe” to the theory that bikes own the road. One ride, in particular, nearly resulted in an accident.

    I was caught by the red light and awaiting the signal to turn left on a one way street. My friend doubled back to urge me to travel through the light chanting ” Come on man, You’re killing me!” He obviously didn’t have my vantage point and failed to see the right hand turning traffic opposite of my path of travel that was fast approaching.

    He was kind of embarrassed when I told him he almost got ME killed. I believe his behavior is ingrained and most likely NOT be altered.

    Both co-workers are great guys, but I am ultimately responsible for MY safety, so I will follow the rules.

    Commuting at night increases the perceived level of difficulty in sharing the road with motorists. Learning the skills I have to date has not only made me a better cyclist, but motorist as well.

    How do we get the general public to understand our reasoning for what we do? I have many ideas, some far fetched, some not, but for now I am trying to lead by example.

  6. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Y’all took the bloom off my experience today. THREE more “nice” drivers which matches the total for all of December. Now I’m wondering if they were being nice just because they were afraid I was just another flaky, unpredictable cyclist. One even would have gotten a “double nice” had such a rating been possible, going at a four way after I declined her offer to go ahead at a 4 way stop – and in such a way that I KNEW she was doing it to keep things flowing smoothly.

    No cyclists sighted today in 28 miles so things are quiet here in North Texas. Even been pretty quiet on PM Summer’s blog…

  7. PM Summer
    PM Summer says:

    I find it interesting that the guesses about who these cyclists are have been Fashion-Cyclists, and Immigrant-Working Poor Cyclists. I would have guessed “Club Spandex Cyclists” (based upon what I see around here). Basically, what we are seeing is an encouraged perpetuation of the BikeFed/Wilkinson-Clarke/FHWA “Class C” cyclist as the norm.

    I am coming to believe that some sort of “bicycle drivers license” may indeed be a requirement for public road use in the USofA.

    Yes, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare, a huge expense (to somebody), and if the PnP Police got control of it, a disaster.

    Steve A, CycleDallas was ordered shut down under threat of loss of job. I was able to “keep it live”, but I’m not allowed to post anymore. Legal? Doubtful. But the reality of employment differs greatly from what Civil Service regulations state.

    The Alta/Portland-fetish/PnP Police had me removed from my position of the last 18 years, but I kept a job (I’m currently working out of a cardboard box in the basement). I have been banned from ANY work involving bicycles for the City of Dallas. I crossed the line, in their eyes. I told the truth (damn bad habit I inherited from my dad and grandfather… stiff-necked, square-headed Germans and all).

  8. Keri
    Keri says:

    I see a lot of wrong way riding on Corrine. The parking lane is seen by many cyclists as a safe haven to ride the wrong way rather than cross the street. These are usually casual cyclists, some of the working poor variety, but more appear to be a comfort-bike recreational type. There is one middle school student I see frequently. He rides against traffic on Corrine to the sidepath on Glenridge.

    Similarly, I see a lot of wrongway riding on Edgewater and other bike lanes because they feel it is a safe haven. It’s a fundamental ignorance of how things work… not limited to the working poor.

    Disregard of traffic control devices seems to cut across all cycling “types.” Our traffic laws treat bicycles as vehicles, our CULTURE does not. I think, until our culture treats bicycles as vehicles, most people who get on bicycles are going to operate outside the rules for vehicle drivers by default.

  9. Andrewp
    Andrewp says:

    Eric: bang!! That hit it on the head, and is exactly how a car driver feels. They can’t trust us — can’t differenciate at a glance if someone is a good vehicular cyclist, or someone who looks the part but could do something crazy at any moment …

    Keri: Well put. Sadly, “we” (cyclists in general) are our own worst enemies when it comes to reinforcing this culture. I can’t see us changing the minds of other non-cyclists when “we” can’t even get our own act together ….

  10. Keri
    Keri says:

    “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.” —John Forester

    Andrew points out that we are our own worst enemy. I agree. Cyclists not acting like vehicle drivers is a self-reinforcing, negative feedback loop. It reinforces both the cyclists’ negative experiences and the culture as a whole.

    Cyclists acting as drivers is a positive feedback loop. Act and you will be treated. It works for individual cyclists even in our imperfect culture.

    While we have to address the cultural issues, cyclists need to proactively break the cycle… for themselves and for all of us. The question is, how do we convince individual cyclists to break the cycle?

  11. tbm
    tbm says:

    “Let me venture a guess.”

    “You would guess wrong. None of these are from that crowd.”

    This is why I love this blog. Thnx for keeping this on topic as opposed to it turning in to a “it’s all the fixed gear riders fault” debate… 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

Comments are closed.