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Are cyclists to blame for cyclist-hating motorists?(23 posts)

Are cyclists to blame for cyclist-hating motorists?Quack
Sep 17, 2002 12:43 PM
Seeing the numerous posts come across this board relating to motorists' hatred for cyclists, I thought I would bounce a question off the board. Of all of the NORMAL motorists (a.k.a. Not genetically predisposed to hating because they are lazy, jealous, etc.) that I have spoken with, nearly all of them dislike sharing the road with bikes because of a negative experience they've had with a group ride situation, impeding traffic, blowing stop signs and red lights, etc.

You know the drill: 15-25 cyclists taking up an entire lane of a two-lane road while they could've been working a double paceline and taking up half the space. And to further compound the problem, the riders are exhibiting their pack mentality and refusing to move over even though they are under the speed limit by 10-20 MPH and impeding the flow of traffic.

How does a cyclist rationalize riding to the left of the shoulder line further than one bike length out?

How is it OK to blow through a red light just because it's clear when cars are waiting to go?

Why do you not have to even slow down at a stop sign because you know that stop signs cut too deeply into average speed numbers?

Everytime I see a cyclist exhibit this type of behavior, I wan't to chase them down and thank them for causing motorists to hate me because I ride a bike. I ride about 6000 miles a year doing a 17 mile one-way commute to work through basically all of your typical road situations, and have had fewer than 5 incidents in two years. Always riding to the right of the shoulder lines when they are present and trying to match speed with traffic when making left turns has served me well.

So to all of you hard-core riders out there that blow stop signs and lights and ride in the middle of a traffic lane, let's hear your side. I think that much of the hatred we experience is brought on by the irresponsible riding habits of others that look like us.

Bad cyclists=bad reputationenclavecat
Sep 17, 2002 1:02 PM
We have regularly tried to educate and correct the actions and attitude of riders that end up in our group rides. We have even gone as far as expelling two of them for frequent and unrepentent infractions of traffic laws and common sense. I agree that motorists are at fault on frequent occasion but as my Daddy always said, "Be the bigger man/woman." Constantly breaking the laws that we expect all motorists to abide by is...well...stupid.

Do we really need to explain that to our own community. Sadly, YES.
No (most of the time)ms
Sep 17, 2002 1:06 PM
I think that the fundamental issue between motorists and cyclists is that motorists do not want to "share the road." I will concede that some cyclists occasionally engage in boorish behavior that gives motorists good cause to dislike us. But, most of the time, I think that motorists don't like us just because we are on the roads.

Insofar as your questions are concerned, my responses are as follows:

Riding to the left of the shoulder line -- my distance from the shoulder line (most of the roads upon which I ride do not have shoulders or bike lanes) depends on the condition of the road and whether I think that cars are going to pass too close and effectively shove me off of the road. In other words, where it is appropriate, I have no problem taking the lane. I have as much right to be in the lane as a car. I am not going to pull off of the road or vacate my lane for a car.

Blowing through red lights -- I always stop at red lights. However, if there is no traffic, I will do through the light. My justification is that if I can start up and clear the intersection, the cars that are waiting will not have to wait longer for me once the light turns green (i.e., the cars behind me).

Stop signs -- I slow down for them.
you got it, MS...Fredrico
Sep 18, 2002 7:32 AM
I've successfully avoided accidents for almost 20 years by riding in traffic exactly as you describe. No driver wants to hit a cyclist. That's why they hate us presenting that possibility, often confusing them as to how to deal with us. So I always try to be predictable, and if I'm doing a quick move, like darting across traffic, I'll use hand signals and be 100% sure I'll make it.

In other words, motorists don't like us because too many of us are unpredictable and/or do stupid or arrogant moves, impossible for them to predict or accomodate without a great deal of stress.

Good points well put, MS.

Why follow the laws for motorists?No_sprint
Sep 17, 2002 1:14 PM
when motorists themselves break them most often? I don't think we should talk of cyclists or motorists, I believe that most if not all of us here are cyclists sometimes and motorists other times. When I'm in my car speeding I'm really not bummed if some dude on a Dale doesn't put his foot down at a stop sign.

When I do some local training rides, yes, hardcores, pros, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, non-racers, in groups well into the 200s, lights aren't blown unless it's a small and empty street other times the tail end of the huge pack takes a little *red* to get through. Empty stop signs are mostly blown, the front of the pack is typically interested in chancing death if there is another car there appearing to exert his right of way.

No big deal, standard procedure.
Ask what they think of other motoristsMel Erickson
Sep 17, 2002 1:25 PM
and they'll probably give you the same answer. Motorists pull just as many dumb stunts as cyclists and good drivers are fed up with them too. That's why police departments do yellow and red light running patrols and put up those little radar trailers that tell you what speed you're going. Sometimes they even crack down on cyclists, deserved or not. I think we're all bozos on this bus!
Ask what they think of other motoristsZyzbot
Sep 17, 2002 2:13 PM
"I think we're all bozos on this bus!"

Man, I have not heard that recording in years. Really took me back!
regnaD kciNMel Erickson
Sep 17, 2002 5:15 PM
Sep 17, 2002 1:27 PM
Road fatalities decrease as speed decreases. Those motorists should be thanking cyclists for slowing them down. : Þ

Other than that, cyclists are bound by just about every rule regarding road signs and signals that applies to cars. Anyone (in a car, on a bike, or otherwise) who disregards a stop sign or red light has no one but themselves to blame for any unfortunate consequences.

In defense of cyclists, generally the results of their stupidity are limited to their own ranks. Other than some superficial damage to the car, a motorist has little to fear (in most cases). Cars on the other hand are more dangerous to others than to themselves. Thus, while I think that everyone should obey the rules of the road, I hold idiot drivers in greater comtempt.
irrational rationalizationmr_spin
Sep 17, 2002 1:33 PM
I'm so sick of this topic. I'm tired of the rationalizations made. So motorists hate cyclists because one time they got stuck behind a group ride, or saw one run a red light, etc.

Bull! It just doesn't happen that often.

With the exception of riding the wrong way on the street, everything motorists claim they hate about cyclists is done by other motoristsevery day on their commute. For many, infractions by other motorists occur more often by several orders of magnitude.

A motorist gets stuck behind grandpa going 10 mph and never seems to make the connection that grandpa is no more annoying than waiting for the group ride. They both suck, but somehow cyclists are worse?

A motorist witnesses a car run a red light, or as happens dozens of times during their commute (probably by said motorist), a car rolls through a stop sign. Somehow a cyclist rolling through that same stop sign is worse?

Sorry folks, we are no more the enemy than anyone else is. Sure, it pisses me off when I see cyclists doing stupid things, but all the jerks on the freeway piss me off even more. And there's nothing I can do about either. The standard for cyclists has been raised to impossible levels for no rational reason. Motorists hate cyclists for the simple reason that they hate anything that presents an annoyance to their drive.
I think you're being a too generous. I agree with thebill
Sep 17, 2002 1:49 PM
original post (to a point -- I also am quite sure that you are correct to, I would have to say, a lesser point).
I think that that primary reason motorists get worked up about cyclists is because cyclists make motorists nervous. Period. Nervous because they really don't want to kill anyone, and even responsible cyclist behavior (staying to the right, taking a spot in line at the stop light) makes the motorist leery of hearing a little scraping sound and looking in the rear view mirror only to see a tangled mess of lycra, 853 tubing, and intestines. We are annoying, because they don't like being responsible for our vulnerability, and I don't entirely blame them.
That's on a good day. Add to that the all too common BAD cyclist behavior, and it's an incendiary mix.
I think that a certain amount of friction (excuse the word) is unavoidable even when both parties are behaving, a certain amount is unavoidable by cyclists because of motorist jackass behavior and attiitude, and, to a far too great extent, avoidable by cyclists because we don't behave well enough, often enough, and visibly enough.
Some cyclists are bad, but ALL SUV drivers are bad? (nm)brider
Sep 17, 2002 1:59 PM
We all ride for different reasons!tmotz
Sep 17, 2002 2:24 PM
No one can control what others think and eventually do,society hates itself and we're just another way for people to vent their anger.
Many drivers hate anyone in THEIR wayTig
Sep 17, 2002 2:52 PM
Someone driving 65 in a 55 zone will get the same lack of respect we get by the rushing driver behind them who wants to go 75+. The biggest difference is that we are easier to bully around since we are vulnerable and exposed on bikes, and will do less damage to their vehicles than another car. The growing attitude of drivers who have the "its MY road" mentality makes it more dangerous for all of us, be it in a car or on the bike.
Using a public road is simple...NJRoad
Sep 17, 2002 5:07 PM
If someone wants to get past you...let them.

If the rule tells you to stop...stop.

As often as this thread is posted no one has given any socially acceptable reason for cyclists not following the rules of the road.
re: Using a public road is simple...tao
Sep 17, 2002 9:05 PM
I believe/practice following the law but there are morally and socially acceptable reasons not to.

1) Cyclists aren't afforded any protection by the law, not when the money really counts in the US. When out of pocket costs exceed some threshold, I'm guessing on the order of 50 - 100 grand usd for the other party (city or insurance or other) they will fight to the end and win, the precedent is on their side. The Circuit Court containing Illinois ruled a few years ago that since cyclists are permitted but not intended users of the road that the city/state is not responsible civilly for any injury to a cyclist in any instance. This includes its employees, e.g., a bus driver driving over you or a road worker hitting you with a jackhammer.

The Supreme Court declined review effectively making this the law of the land, even though the precedent before this decesion was on the cyclist's side becasue roads were originally built for bicycles and cited as such in a 1905 case. Since then the case has been cited by insurance companies as well. (Can't remember the name of the case offhand, ran across it on findlaw last summer when bored, I'm no lawologist {intended use} but nearly positive I have the findings accurate, PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong!)

2) Given 1 is true, it's morally and socially responsible (on top of acceptable) to protect yourself as much as possible in order to reduce the chance/cost to yourself and society of/in the event of a major accident, even at the expense of the law (which in this case doesn't protect/serve you on the large scale).

That is, if you're stopped at a red light on a major rode with one block to go before you'll be turning and several cars line up behind you it may be in the best interest of everyone, including society at large, for you to go through the red light when it's clear to do so. Why? It's faster and cheaper for everyone. Cheaper because staying there increases the very small chance that someone will run you over and incur $1 million dollars of medical expenses from a 3 month coma that the state (read the citizens) ends up paying for when your estate loses in court and defaults. Thereby increasing the chance that you'll continue to be a productive citizen, your only real societal obligation, instead of a tax draining vegetable. Interestingly this argument doesn't work for impatient drivers because they increase the chance of damage to society and pedestrians already have the benefit of the law.

Again I don't endorse such behavior, but how can you argue against someone who has the best interest of themselves and society at large at heart when the law doesn't protect them of life/property in a rather narrow scope, relatively? Would you rather have them serve some other interest as a proper citizen?
The REAL issuefiltersweep
Sep 18, 2002 4:19 AM
"...following the law but there are morally and socially acceptable reasons not to"

It sounds like you are merely rationalizing/justifying your behavior...

Your logic would quickly break down if the magnitude of cyclists who followed your logic increased. One might argue that it is "socially responsible" to run a red light in a CAR if the intersection is clear in order to save fuel, reduce overall emissions, etc...

THE REAL PROBLEM is that in the US we have a "Wild West" mentality- that cars, like GUNS are a GOD-GIVEN right- and that we do not hold drivers even remotely ACCOUNTABLE for their behaviors. We have very laid-back DWI laws, and we are all too FORGIVING of "preventable" accidents... we sharply differentiate between negligent driving and "intent" to cause harm. It is entirely realistic for a driver to wipe out an entire group ride by drifting onto the shoulder, killing numerous people, and serving no time by merely saying the sun was in his/her eyes.... and to be on the road again.

Contrast the driving issue to smoking cigarettes... "everybody" speeds, but very few people violate "no smoking" signs. We mutually consent to follow smoking policies, yet driving is a chaotic endeavor. I know of one individual who needs to make a court appearance AND pay a relatively heavy fine for smoking in a bus stop...
There is no "right" to drivekenyee
Sep 18, 2002 6:43 AM
Driving is a privilege given to you by the state. It's not in the Constitution or the Bill Of Individual Rights (as firearms ownership clearly is).

But our lousy teachers do a bad job at teaching kids what the Constitution means anyways. When they installed video cameras and added metal detectors and random locker searches, the kids they interviewed on TV couldn't even cite the correct Bill Of Rights Amendments to say why it was wrong...just made up stuff about "right to privacy" :-)
Not just drivers...pedestrians as wellkenyee
Sep 17, 2002 7:45 PM
It's becoming a personal satisfaction society. Just check out how some of them will walk blithely into the street and assume you (driver or cyclist) see them and will stop. It just doesn't enter their minds that they might get maimed by being hit at 20mph by a 200lb mass (cyclist) or by a car (30mph w/ 3500lb mass). It's their "right of way" as the police and media have been telling them...

This attitude no doubt carries into other parts of their lives. Everyone should get out of *their* way...
are nuns to blame for militant athiests?hycobob
Sep 18, 2002 12:58 AM
who knows?
YES!!...Damn nuns...nmLeisure
Sep 18, 2002 4:04 AM
Rules to help everyone get alongbigrider
Sep 18, 2002 4:06 AM
1. Stop at red lights
2. Wave and smile at car drivers that DON'T pull out in front of you or wait until you get around the curve to pass or the ones that you hold up on a group ride that you pissed off because they are 5 minutes late to an appt.
3. Don't yell and cuss at anyone when you are on a bike.
The ones that are messing with you love it and the ones that made a dumb mistake just learn to hate all cyclist.
4. Don't give cars an opportunity to make a bad choice, ie. like passing on a curve because your hugging the side of the road without a shoulder.
5. Clearly state your intentions with hand signals.

The one thing that has saved my bacon more than anything is the car that somehow doesn't see you and begins to pull out or just keeps looking past you and you know he doesn't see you. I yell Hut like a football quarterback until they see me then wave and smile.
amen, my brother. nmbill
Sep 18, 2002 5:30 AM