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The bigotry against bicyclists...(11 posts)

The bigotry against bicyclists...Breakfast
Dec 29, 2002 8:41 PM
...is no different than the bigotry aimed at SUV's.

Whenever someone decides that the other does not belong, or is not entitled to the same rights as they are for whatever reason you have bigotry. It's a curious thing that motorists do not have very strong opinions against the drivers of huge eighteen wheelers. They probably understand them to be quite necessary on the road, that and the fact a rig that big could crush them like a bug.

But the SUV, being driven by a person who is somewhat the social and economic equal of most motorists, is offensive to some because of the isolation of the it's driver in a vehicle that's bigger and it's implied dominance on the road. Being a gas guzzler and an expensive luxury item is another justification for scorn.

The bicyclist feels the motorist's rage for quite different reasons but, due to his size, has the misfortune of getting bullied or run off the road since retaliation is not likely from such a slow and insignificant victim. It's natural for cowardly people to vent on such easy targets as bicyclists.
re: Huh?crosscut
Dec 29, 2002 10:06 PM
I "think" I see your point, but the 18 wheeler/SUV/bycicle relativity notion and how it equates to "bigotry" is a little confusing the way you present it.

A motorist, I suppose, is defined by you as someone who drives a normal size car. Your points were:
#1 Motorists somehow accept the 18 wheeler's precense because they deem them as necessary for commerce, even though the 18 wheeler is more likely to kill them.
#2 Motorists are threatened and scorn SUV drivers because SUVs are larger and more dominant than the average car.
#3 Motorists scorn bikers because they are small, slow, and easy to pick on.

I see the IRONY you're trying to point out, but I'm not sure about the cause-effect about why motorists pick on bikers. It IS ironic they scorn SUVs as threats to their safety, but not the 18 wheelers which could squash them like bugs. But I'm not sure how you get to a THEREFORE, motorists pick on bikers arguement. Are you saying since they are powerless against SUVs, they TRANSFER their frustrations to defenseless bicylists?

My take? It all goes back to the peculiar American cultural phenomena of the car (or SUV, Pick-up, it doesn't matter) equating to status and freedom ("See the USA in a Chevrolet" Dinah Shore sang many years ago). Cars rank higher than telephones, television, computers and a myriad of other technological accomplisments. Simple questions: What would you rather do without? A car or television? A car or telephone? A car or even electricity? Most (but not all - many NYC residents, for example, being an acception) couldn't imagine their lives without an automobile.

Bikes in the US, on the other hand, have always been considered toys. Bikes are things kids ride on sidewalks with. So when we take up space on the roads, we are out of our element. We belong, most motorist think, on the sidewalk where the other kids "play." It's a cultural thing, perhaps related to bigotry, I suppose.
don't include 18-wheelers with SUV's!Alexx
Dec 30, 2002 4:42 AM
Due to a recent bout of unemployment, I have been driving 18 wheelers again as a temporary means of staving off homelessness. I have never used a large truck to bully another motorist, nor do I engage in the same typically sloppy driving often seen in the operation of SUV's. Few other professional drivers would, either.
In order to operate an 18-wheeler, you must pass a difficult written test, a difficult road test, and a physical, including a drug test. Fines for bad driving are more for large trucks, inspections are harder, and the limit on alcohol in a driver's system is much more severe than for an automobile driver. In fact, 18-wheelers have a MUCH lower incidence of accidents per mile than any car, truck, suv, etc.
As a cyclist, I often go out of my way to give a lot of room for my fellow cyclist when I am driving a truck. Unfortunately, when the trailer is 8.5' wide, and the lane is only 10' wide, oncoming traffic makes that hard to accomplish.
All users share a responsibility to othersBreakfast
Dec 30, 2002 8:24 AM
I've always thought that the most knowledgeable drivers on the road are the most experienced, and that experience ought to include having spent time in various modes of transport.

Until one has been a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, a bicyclist, a motorist, a trucker, and a driver of an SUV or limo (or a similar large vehicle) they cannot know how the other expects to be treated or what special problems exists for each. Just having done each once or twice is not enough either, you'd have to actually spend time and encounter difficulties and consider the perspectives of each.

Of course, it's not practical that everyone who uses the road will get that kind of experience so people need to understand everybody deserves respect and their own responsibility includes watching out for others.

If a person's has only the perspective of the typical motorist it's a good chance they are looking out more for themselves than they are for others. Is it bigotry to see everybody on a bike as one who doesn't belong? Or, to rail against SUV's cause they bigger? That's the problem of spending a lifetime driving a car and never walking or riding a bike.

And is it fear that makes some motorists give 18 wheelers wide berth and ignorance that they pass them like they're just another car?
Don't get me wrong, Alexxcrosscut
Dec 30, 2002 10:34 AM
All of your points are well taken, and I agree with them. However, even though professional drivers have an excellent safety record, it doesn't preclude the fact that when a 18 wheel DOES collide with a car, it usually doesn't bode well for the car occupants. When I'm on the interstate, I'm in mortal fear of the big trucks, regardless of the safety record of the particular driver in the big rig. The very size and speed (many times they travel too fast) of the 18 wheeler represents a significant threat to me. Much moreso than a SUV. As a biker, on the other hand, I'm threatened by ALL motorized vehicles. The original poster more or less tried to offer an explanation to the question: "Why do motorists dislike bicyclists?" All I'm saying is that, as drivers, our fears are relative. I fear big rigs, someone in a Ford Focus might fear pick-up trucks, my wife fears $7 an hour school bus drivers, etc, and everybody fears the PIZZA DELIVERY GUY!

As I said before, Americans are generally unaccepting of bikes on the street. There are many exceptions, like yourself, but I would bet that if a poll were taken, a very high percentage would say bikes only belong on sidewalks and bike trails. In fact, many walkers and joggers on multi-use bike trails also resent the presence of bicycles. I've had as many slurs thrown at me from walkers on a multi-use trail where I live than from motorists out on the street, even though I was riding responsibly. No data to back any of this up, but just impressions.
don't include 18-wheelers with SUV's!Bike Nut
Dec 30, 2002 12:56 PM
Alexx, as the operator of an 18-wheeler, maybe you can explain something to me. Over the years I have been passed by numerous 18-wheelers where we have been the only two vehicles on the road. They have blown their air-horns from the time they come into view until they pass me with scant room to spare. My question is, do they do this because they think they are driving "Stealth Trucks" and i won't hear their approach without the horn or do they think the horn will cause the berm to become suddenly rideable so I can get off their road?
a bit off topic...husker
Dec 30, 2002 4:59 AM
I have driven a lot of interstate miles in the past month. Lots of 8-10 hour drives. The most recent thing that bugs me about the SUV commando vehicles are that you can not see around them or through them to see what the road ahead has to offer. Way back in drivers ed classes, one of the lessons was to look through the cars windows in front of you to see the traffic. That is damn near impossible with the SUV sitting way above your windshield. Added to this difficulty is looking through the tinted glass that many SUVs have. The SUV just seems so unsafe to the other drivers on the road.

As for 18 wheelers, truckers have a clue how to drive. To compare the two isn't even close. Perhaps drivers of SUVs should have a seperate driving test much like motorcyclists need to take.
Yeah, but how do you test for courtesy?Spoke Wrench
Dec 30, 2002 5:54 AM
When I got my school bus driver's license, Among other things I had to parallel park that monster on both sides and show that I could do an "alley dock" maneuver. I guess those are OK skills to test for, but they really don't get to the heart of the safe driving issue which is awareness and courtesy.

If you want to insult a semi driver, call him "unprofessional." "Professional," to a driver, covers a lot more than just maneuvering ability or knowing and, to a degree, obeying the law. Courtesy and avoiding the bad situations that are in your power to avoid are also parts of driving "professionally."

I think that most road cyclists are more aware than the average road user if just out of self defense. I'd guess courtesy among bicyclists as a whole is about average for single riders and somewhat below average for riders in a group. I doubt we are going to get much respect until we find ways to address some of our brother's "lack of professionalism."
Didn't mean to indict ALL school bus drivers, SWcrosscut
Dec 30, 2002 8:55 PM
Spoke Wrench,
I apologize in advance for my comments about school bus drivers in my post above. Where I live in a large metropolitan area in the midwest, there are two distinct school bus drivers - those who operate in the burbs and those who somehow get jobs driving school busses in the city. In the city school system, they hire terribly unqualified and uneducated people who can't find work anywhere else, give them almost no training, and pay them just slightly above minimum wage, and then stick them behind the wheel of a school bus. These folks are neither courteous or professional. How do I know this? The main school bus terminal/maintenance shed is located next to our offices. I take walks at lunch time and often stop to BS with the drivers. I also see them speed, run stop signs, cut other drivers off, and generally drive recklessly through the city. Not all of them, but most. This is a classic case of getting what you're paying for, I guess.

I'm sure the negative image I've painted of our city school bus drivers doesn't apply to you. From your posts I can tell you are intelligent, responsible, and courteous. I just wish our local drivers would be so.
It's OK, Crosscut.Spoke Wrench
Jan 1, 2003 9:58 AM
"Speed, run stop signs, cut other drivers off and generally drive/ride recklessly." I belong to at least a couple of different groups that get accused of those things all the time. I'm used to it.

I'm sure not going to attempt to defend all of the school bus drivers just as I won't defend every road cyclist that I know, but I know this for sure: There are heros and assholes living on every block in the US. If you just scratch the surface, you'll probably find whichever you expected. Look a little deeper and you might be surprised.
SUV's and Big Rigs arn't the problemAmbishawn
Dec 30, 2002 8:49 PM
I'ts local government that's the problem. I happen to own an SUV myself and enjoy the moderate off road capibilty and foul-weather saftey of the all-wheel-drive. It's great for camping trips with the family and driving up to the snow. I don't see an SUV anymore a threat than a Honda Civc. I think that 16 year old drivers, drunk drivers are much more of a problem than SUV's or Big Rigs.

Your never gonna get rid of bigrigs and SUV's. Theyr'e just too useful. What you can do is get together with your local bike club and contact mass transit agencies and local government about making more bike lanes and providing a way to allow more bicycles on trains and busses.