It all started on my ride to my mom’s house. Someone yelled at me from their car, “GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!” I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t breaking a law or doing anything illegal – the driver was just upset because they wanted to take a right turn while I was crossing the street (apparently not fast enough for them). The yelling scared me (despite it not being the first time) and caught me by surprise but I kept on pedaling. When I posted my workout to Facebook I added the following comment:
……and then the comments started coming in.
J.G.: That’s like saying sharks share the ocean with swimmers. Its a nice idea that bikes have the right of way, but the truth is you have to bike defensively. People are bad enough at sharing the road with other cars.
J.S.: Plus Seattle byclist are asshole and don’t think the rules apply to them.
Shelli Martineau (Me): Trust me, I ride defensively. My problem is with people who yell at me for being on the road. I’m not sorry. Its my road too. So, I’m an asshole?
N.W.: I agree with J.G. Aside from that, I’ll add that I’ve seen many roads that were narrow to begin with that were made even more narrow to include a bike path. So now you’ve got cars whizzing past a cyclist at 45 miles per hour trying to keep their distance from cars coming toward them at 45 miles an hour. India has adopted the traffic law that “Might is Right”. In essence, the bigger the car, the more right-of-way.
Shelli Martineau (Me): I don’t take up any part of the road that I’m not legally allowed to. I don’t break rules. I don’t block traffic or take up room and I certainly don’t harass motorists but people in cars feel they can squeeze me onto the shoulder, yell at me, chuck stuff at me. how is that ok? If I ride on the sidewalk its illegal. I could hit pedestrians. So, where is the middle ground? In India they’ll also let you die in the street.
N.W.: It’s not about the rider, it’s about the stupid notion that cyclists who wear little more than a helmet think the law offers them some form of magical protection from 1000+ pounds of rolling death. It’s like saying you’re legally allowed to walk through a construction site. Yes the workers will be careful if they see you, but if someone is carrying a long 2X4 and decides to make a sudden turn, you’re going to get a good knock in the head regardless of the law.You bring up a good point though, Shelli. They won’t let bikes onto sidewalks because a pedestrian who isn’t paying attention could step out in front of a bike. So now we’re on a larger sidewalk with bikes and vehicles. I think less pedestrians have been killed by bikes than bikers killed by cars. I may be wrong. At any rate, that doesn’t excuse rudeness by motorists who throw things or berate you from their window. Might be a good reason to get a license plate number.
J.S.: Eh your not an asshole unless you bike like most of the bicyclist in Seattle. Like uh red lights and stop signs don’t apply to them. Pedding 5 miles an hour in first gear down Aurora is maddening. I’m way nice to the ones that follow the rules but they’re few and far out.
P.M.: I can’t believe people throw stuff at you. Christ, people- just share the fucking road- is it that difficult?
A.H.: This should be a part of Driver’s Ed and the driving test. Just because a car is bigger and faster doesn’t mean the driver has the right to not pay attention or give bicyclists space.
N.W.: It doesn’t have anything to do with giving cyclists attention and space. They simply don’t make any noise and aren’t always easy to spot. It doesn’t matter how much it’s rammed down the public’s throat, riding a bicycle around cars is dangerous.
Shelli Martineau (Me): I guess by “ramming it down people’s throats” you mean “reminding people we share the road” and “asking drivers to be mindful of bikes”? My problem is that people flat out harass and endanger cyclists. I’m aware of the danger and I take the risk BC all of the benefits to my health (ironically) and wallet. I wish more people were out there with me – it’d be amazing for everyone. That won’t happen until conditions improve.
P.M.: N.W.- joggers/ walkers are small and don’t make any noise either. Does that mean we should be running them off the road as well?
N.W.: There’s a difference between running people off the road intentionally and doing it because you slowed down to make a right-hand turn and didn’t see a cyclist coming up behind you.
A.H.: Drivers seem to be the more aggressive party when dealing with bicyclists – I’ve had people lay on their horn as they change lanes (when there is plenty of space to the side, in front and behind them) to get around me on my bike. I ignore them, despite how much I want to flip them off and tell them to read up on the actual laws of the road. I think the drivers who act like that are ignorant and arrogant, possibly with some underlying anger that they are reminded they aren’t getting the exercise they need.
N.W.: I think more angst is coming from people who have a genuine need to get where they’re going without worrying about the soft, fleshy meatbags on wheels that feel their recreational habits take precedence over their desire not to incur an awful lawsuit should you float out of the bicycle lane and get hit.
I’d LOVE to hear what you have to say, Dear Readers. What do you think?