Both Sides of the Windshield

08.26.2005 | 10:59 pm

About a month ago, I wrote a little something called "An Open Letter to the Passenger in the Green SUV Who Screamed as He Went By Yesterday." Basically, it was my reaction to some guy who — as a prank — screamed at me from his car as he went by. This post clicked with a lot of riders, and it still gets comments from time to time, most of them from people sharing similar experiences, as well as outrage that someone would do something so dangerous.

Yesterday, though, I got a different kind of comment on that post:

I live in Colorado and every weekend (when the weather is nice) there are cyclists EVERYWHERE!!!! The area I live in has only two-lane roads and NONE of the cyclists are going anywhere near the speed limit much less the speed of traffic. They do not follow the traffic laws, they do not ride near the side of the road, and they do not even move over to the side of the road when there is a line of cars behind them. However, they do weave in and out of cars waiting at stop signals, they do impede the flow of traffic, they do cause drivers to tale unnecessary and sometimes dangerous ‘evasive action’ just to get past them, in short they’re RUDE… I don’t condone any violence or retaliatory action… but please, please FIND A F$%*@ING trail or a bike path and get the hell out of my way.   — Becky, August 25, 9:53 AM

My initial reaction was to completely tear Becky apart, line by line. It would be easy; Becky leaves herself wide open. I mean, calling cyclists "RUDE" right before you say "FIND A F$%*@ING trail or a bike path and get the hell out of my way" is one of the most beautiful examples of irony I have ever seen.

OK, I guess I still intend to bust Becky’s chops a little. But that’s not all I’m going to do. I’m also going to acknowledge that she has some valid points, and try to see both sides of the story. I’m going to do my best to look through both sides of the windshield.


What Becky (and Other People in Cars) Needs to Understand About Cyclists

Becky might not be such a strong candidate for anger management counseling if she considered the following:

  • You’ll see things differently if you try riding a bike. Most cyclists have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in drivers’ heads, because most cyclists are drivers sometimes. The reverse isn’t true, however. Becky, your perspective might change a little bit if you got out of your car and onto a bike. You might notice different things about the road. You might perceive speed differently. You might even find that cars break laws and endanger cyclists as often as (or maybe more often than) cyclists break laws and endanger cars.
  • Some people act stupidly, whether in a car or on a bike. The people who do stupid things on bikes — and yes, Becky, I know they’re out there, because I’ve seen them too — also do stupid things when they’re in cars. Or when they’re at work. Or whatever. Some people are just stupid. Don’t go applying the specific to the general, OK, Becky? Saying no cyclist obeys traffic laws because some idiot nearly got himself killed by shooting out in front of you is like me saying all SUVs are populated by teenage homicidal idiots because one tried to startle me into the guardrail. Or like me saying all pickups are populated by homicidal cowboys because a few have tried to swipe me with their side mirrors. Or like me saying that all cars are populated by homicidal drunk idiots because a couple have thrown beer bottles in front of my bike as they go by.
  • Sometimes we have a good reason for being out in the road instead of hugging the side. It’s possible — make that probable — there’s glass or scattered nails on the edge of the road. You can’t see all the crud from your car, but it’s there.
  • Cyclists have a right to be on the road. We have a legal right to be there, and moreover, it’s the right place for us to be from a common sense point of view. If a road cyclist gets on a bike path, he’s a danger to pedestrians and cyclists on cruiser bikes — we’re just going too fast for foot and slow bike traffic. Try to stop thinking of cyclists as being on "your" road. We’re all paying taxes.
  • We are afraid you aren’t looking for us, and that you’ll kill us. My friend dug has been hit twice by people in cars who weren’t looking. I’ve known two cyclists who have been killed by people in cars who weren’t looking. So, some cyclists have adopted the tactic of riding right in the middle of the road, where you can’t miss them. You may be inconvenienced, but you won’t sideswipe and kill someone. Isn’t that nice?
  • We’re not causing you to take "unnecessary and sometimes dangerous evasive action." If it’s unnecessary, it’s optional. You’re doing it because you want to. Guess what: your unnecessary evasive action you’re blaming on the cyclist is really just you being a poor driver. Sorry about that.

What Cyclists Need to Understand about Becky (and Other People in Cars)

I believe every cyclist already knows the following, so this is mostly just a reminder. And I should be clear: I don’t think the below list is true of every driver. In fact, it’s not true of most drivers. But you’ve got to assume it’s true of every driver anyway, because you never know which car is being driven by Becky.

  • People in cars remember every stupid thing they have ever seen a cyclist do, then assume every cyclist does that all the time. Becky here has clearly seen some cyclists do some stupid, illegal things, and now — right or wrong — she’s got it in her head that all cyclists do illegal things all the time. So, those of you doing stupid, illegal things: cut it out. You’re building up road rage in people like Becky, and they aren’t really careful about who they vent their anger at. And I’ll take it one step further: those of us who have friends who take stupid, illegal risks while riding need to tell them to cut it out; they’re souring the automotive world on bikes (That’s big talk for me; I have a couple riding friends who I’d need to lecture; so far I never have).
  • People in cars are bugged when cyclists ride right on the line of the shoulder. And rightly so. I see this all the time when I’m driving — cyclists have a nice wide shoulder, but they ride right on the line. If you can get over, do.
  • People in cars think you’re much wider than you actually are. They think they can’t pass you, even if they can. Signal them forward to let them know they have room.
  • People in cars expect you to adhere to laws much more closely than they do themselves. Cars roll stop signs all the time, but they resent bikes doing it. And they hate seeing bikes worm their way through traffic — it reminds them that they’re just sitting there, and that the $45 they just spent on gasoline is just floating up into the atmosphere, not actually moving them anywhere.
  • People in cars look where they’re used to looking for things they’re used to looking at. Cyclists aren’t where they expect, aren’t what they expect, and aren’t going at a rate they expect. If you haven’t made eye contact, assume you have not been seen. Seriously.
  • People in cars aren’t enjoying the ride like you are. They’re in a hurry. They resent being delayed even for a few seconds. If you can get out of the way and let them pass, do.
  • People in cars convert their worry about being in an accident into anger. Lots of people in cars have had near misses with cyclists. That scares them — most of them don’t want to kill us, after all — and then that fright turns into anger.

OK, I see my attempt to be even-handed about Becky’s post wound up a little bit lopsided. Maybe I should have just said, "Hey, we’ve all got to do our best to get along. You chill out, and I’ll do my best to be safe and legal."

Maybe you’d like to try your hand at replying to Becky yourself.

And Becky: by all means, please join in the conversation.


Today’s Weight: 165.0


  1. Comment by Mike | 08.26.2005 | 11:37 pm

    Bicyclists and Cagers both do stupid things. There are a few things riders & drivers can do to make things better.Drivers:1) Understand that they have every right to be on the road2) Try not to honk or make quick jestures around them, they’re freaked out more so by a 3000 pound vehicle making weird movements than you are by a 150lb cyclist3) Use your blinker to let others noCyclists:1) When riding in traffic, and coming to a stop light, wait your turn in line. It annoys drivers when they see you over and over again. Yeah, I know it sucks to stop in the middle of a ride2) Pick a set of rules and follow them. I see a lot of bicyclists use pedestrian rules when they suit them, and vehicle rules when it is in their favor.3) If you have two arms, use one to signal the drivers and others your intentions. You know, left, right, stop.-mike

  2. Comment by fatcat1111 | 08.27.2005 | 12:30 am

    Just a note on:2) Pick a set of rules and follow them. I see a lot of bicyclists use pedestrian rules when they suit them, and vehicle rules when it is in their favor.I’ve tried this but found that since many roads were developed for cars and/or pedestrians, but not bicycles, I have no choice but to select car rules for some situations and pedestrian rules for others.

  3. Comment by Tommy | 08.27.2005 | 1:53 am

    On the comment about hand signals: I signal left and right turns but I’ve found that most people — even many casual cyclists — don’t recognize the stop signal (upper left arm parallel to road, elbow bent 90 degrees, hand towards ground) and I’ve stopped using it.I also agree with Mike about rule (1) for cyclists. It’s not that big a deal to stop in line with the cars, it reinforces the idea that you’re a vehicle following the same rules, with the same rights, and it’s a lot safer than trying to slip by the parked cars.I’m lucky enough not to have to ride in a lot of congestion so those of you in those situations may disagree with me.

  4. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 2:56 am

    Dang. Fat Cyclist, you and I weigh almost the same. For me, that is very, very wrong as I am a 5′7" woman.Because my morning weight is 2lbs lighter than my evening weight, I’m going with 162 (today) and will weigh myself every Friday morning. I’m going for a pound a week.Your public shame idea is brilliant. I don’t have the time to start my own website because I will literally be working my ass off, but the e-mail address is legit. I will happily fork over a $75 Amazon gift certificate to the first person to contact me if I don’t make at least a pound a week.Fat Cyclist. You are a genius.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 3:01 am

    hey fatty,I was way into bicycling 95-97, had several unpleasant experiences with baltimore motorists and finally decided that I would actually live longer if I didn’t bike on the road because my organs would have a higher probability or remaining intact. Nowadays, I do my workouts in a very, very boring gym with as many distractions as possible to keep me from paying attention to the pain I am in.congrats on the weight loss and the great job at leadville. Man, I don’t know how you dealt with the altitude there, I get headachy and miserable at altitude. I made the mistake of visiting cousins in Evergreen colorodo (8000) feet a couple f years ago, decided to go out for a short run, and felt like curling up in my bed for the next 4 days. great blog, BTW

  6. Comment by Bill | 08.27.2005 | 3:34 am

    "I live in Colorado and every weekend (when the weather is nice) there are cyclists EVERYWHERE!!!! The area I live in has only two-lane roads and NONE of the cyclists are going anywhere near the speed limit much less the speed of traffic."I live in Colorado and am one of those riders. I think the obvious thing we should do for the future is to encourage the city, county and state road department to start building the new roads with the right lane wider to acomadate cyclist and runners without having to crowd each other. No bike lanes please on the busier roads because all these do is collect glass, nails, gravel, etc. Wider lanes will still be used by vehicles to keep the garbage off but will still alow safe passage of cyclist and runners.Where I live they still build 6 lane roads with the right lane the same width as the others. I think all road design engineers should be required to go on road rides with some cycling groups to experiance what all users of the roads the design deal with.Please all road users contact your road department to stress the need for wider right lanes.-bill

  7. Comment by Heather | 08.27.2005 | 6:45 am

    Great entry. I’m sorry I don’t have much to add about this though. I am an occasional biker, and a few blocks from our house is a place for us to bike and walk along the water. There is a designated area for the people on bikes. After reading this entry though I hope you all keep safe, and that all the drivers out there stop driving to their destination on mental auto pilot. It would save a lot of close calls and accidents. xoxoxo Heather

  8. Comment by Daniel | 08.27.2005 | 6:59 am

    Bah, humbug.I say to y’all, pay this waste of oxygen, ‘Becky’, no heed. Cage drivers are to be loathed and feared in equal measure. Any attempt to empathise with the reasons for their reckless and homicidal behaviour merely risks corrupting one’s two-wheeled mental purity.Safety Tip #1: Always remember, when you’re out there on the road, the boxed-in self-loathing conformists are trying to kill you.

  9. Comment by Daniel | 08.27.2005 | 7:11 am

    The ‘filtering up to the front at intersections’ question is a good one, though. I mean, *everyone* does it. There’s always that "maybe if I just sort of creep along for a bit here I won’t have to shift down and get my shoes out of the clips before the light goes green" feeling.I dunno. I felt better doing it when I was on my MTB with fat slicks and disc brakes and wide bars than I do on my road bike with tyres that I have to squint to see and crappy side-pull V-brakes that only convey a gentle suggestion to the wheels about slowing down. Sometimes I just sit in traffic and try to figure out how efficiently the bus in front of me is burning its diesel from the smell.

  10. Comment by Michael | 08.27.2005 | 7:22 am

    Sometimes I purposely ride further into the middle of the road for the following reasons. Firstly it makes Becky’s wait until it is safe to pass me instead of squeezing past at high speed. Second Becky has to slow down a bit to pass which makes it a bit safer. Further more even if Becky does have to wait a minute to pass she’s likely to just be a bit delayed in getting to that next red light anyway and not increase her total journey time. I almost feel like giving up on riding on the road because there are so many hopeless and idiotic drivers and I’m starting to wonder when my number is going to be up. I’m not sure if it is worth it to be in a wheel chair or worse. People are just so angry these days.

  11. Comment by tayfuryagci | 08.27.2005 | 9:09 am

    motor vehicles must be outlawed thats all I have to say as another fat cyclist (5 6 and 185 pounds).great blog fatso ;)

  12. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 12:22 pm

    It’s amazing to me the extent to which people’s civility deteriorates when they get inside a car. I’ve seen people behave in ways as drivers that they would never resort to in one-on-one interaction. Can you imagine giving the finger and screaming obscenities at someone who beat you to the checkout lane at the supermarket? Threatening to run over them with your shopping cart? But you know what? Cyclists are nearly as bad (myself included), we just feel entitled to the high road because the stakes are a little higher on our end of the equation.Like you, FC, I’ve seen both groups act like self-righteous children. I commute to work by bicycle about half the time, and ride for fun as much as I can. The thing that amazes me is that both groups feel entitled to do whatever they want at whatever time suits them, and that the other group is reprehensible for having the same notion. Human nature, I guess.Regarding "filtering up through traffic," at a red signal though; maybe it’s different elsewhere, but in the state where I live, it’s specifically allowed for a cyclist to do so. Why would I not do so? It would be like asking a driver to not take a right on red where allowed.Becky’s right, though, riding 3 abreast, chatting on a busy road IS rude, and asking for a confrontation, or worse. I’ve been caught out doing this before, but I try to keep it on the less traveled back roads.Becky, next time you see those guys, remember that they were jerks before they got on a bike, & the bike didn’t make them a jerk.

  13. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 12:32 pm

    Yeah, the old bike/car thing. I’ve been hit, threatened, and confronted. My approach is take non-busy roads and do it early in the morning when there is less tension in the cars. Good luck.

  14. Comment by Christina | 08.27.2005 | 5:43 pm

    I think both parties have equal rights to be on the road, following the rules of the road. But no matter what the literal "rights" of bicyclists are, bicyclists will ALWAYS lose in a car/bike collision. That’s what I remind my husband of since he regularly commutes by bike in fast moving traffic. Bicyclists will ALWAYS have to be the more "defensive driver" so to speak. They will never have more mass than an automobile, no matter how fat the rider is! All you cyclists out there, remember this, please. As a driver, the wife of an avid cyclist, and periodic cyclist myself, I do my best to give cyclists lots of space when I drive, b/c I know you are someone’s husband, dad, girlfriend, daughter, son, AND b/c I know cyclists will automatically lose in even a minor collision for a car. I think biking is an excellent lifestyle. But I worry that cyclists think more in terms of their "rights" and forget about the reality of physics, no matter what the letter of the law says.In Seattle, we have a pedestrian "rights" law that says pedestrians always have the right of way– cars must stop at crosswalks even when there’s no traffic light, etc. This law is far more generous about "rights" for walkers than cyclists currently have. But, what this law has mostly accomplished is pedestrians foolishly stepping into oncoming traffic, b/c all they focus on is their "right" to be on the road, on roads that move as fast as 50mph, not legally required to be concerned if a two ton truck has enough time to stop for them. Walkers foolishly don’t even look both ways before crossing streets in this town anymore. Such a big mistake. Several people have died. Pedestrians, b/c they too will ALWAYS lose in a collision w/ a car, MUST be the more defensive, cautious party no matter how generously our state laws provide "rights" to them. We can legally make our cycling rights more generous, just like pedestrian rights, but it will never change the fact that cyclists lose in a car/bike collision. Just some thoughts…The Beast Mom

  15. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 5:56 pm

    I am enjoying your blog and have been inspired to start commuting to work on my bike. I too have some weight loss issues so I am with you all the way.The only incident I’ve experienced personally is a carload of drunken teenage boys honking and hooting at me as I rode my bike along a quiet road, back from the beach where they had been getting pissed all afternoon. It only bothered me because I had my son who was then about two years old in the bike carrier. To paraphrase George Carlin, think about how stupid the average person is. And then consider the fact the half of the population is stupider than that.Oh, as far as filtering through traffic stopped at a light is concerned, that is one of the perq’s of cycling. It goes with being morally superior.Poor Becky. I hope she replies.ellrod

  16. Comment by mark | 08.27.2005 | 6:09 pm

    Ride like you are invisible. They can’t see you, so watch out. They can’t see you, so do whatever you want. They can’t see you, so if you’re hit, it is your fault.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 08.27.2005 | 6:58 pm

    Of course I meant I had my two year old son in the kis seat on my bike. E.

  18. Comment by Ariane | 08.28.2005 | 1:19 am

    Dunno. Doesn’t seem to matter how closely I try to adhere to the rules for autos (signaling, stopping at stops signs, etc.), I still get a definite sense of hostility at least several times a day, as well as an attempt made on my life a couple times per month . Of course, like I said once, this area is not too cycle friendly…I suppose it’ll just take a few cyclists getting smooshed before the city here does something like putting in more bike lanes or at least not letting the shoulders turn into a wasteland of twisted, rusty bits of cars, loose asphalt, and, apparently, all the broken glass in the state of New York.

  19. Comment by Norm | 08.28.2005 | 6:15 am

    I used to commute to work on a bike every day. I did not sprint to work but I went along at a good clip. I had several people at the place of employment come too close to me and one who was a boyfriend of a worker do all kinds of things to let me know he did not like me on the road.In Kansas, our drivers licence renewal booklet specifically states that drivers are expected to encounter bicycles an the road and to give them right of way. When passing a bicycle (when it is safe to do so) pass to the left at least four feet from the bicycle. Bicycles are to ride two feet from the edge of the road (white line, not the shoulder) and most bicycles are at least two feet wide that means a distance of eight feet from the edge of the road (the maximum width of an average vehicle). This means the driver MUST cross the center line and go into the other lane. To emphasize the point I cut a piece of clothesline wire and put an orange marker on the end of it so they could see it. By the way I only stuck three feet out to the left and received all kinds of remarks. I told the other people that the wire was only three feet, showed them the law and most of them shut up. One said if you scratch my truck… I finished by saying I will call the police and let tham know you were only three feet from me. He shut up as well. I only used the wire for a week. About the jerk, I’m sorry, the boyfriend of a female worker. I think she dumped him (because he was a jerk) or he went to prison (not because of me). I called our local law enforcement office to see if I could do anything about his behaviour. About his behaviour, he would honk his horn, flash his lights, scream, yell, and if he decided to go around, wave at me with only one finger getting as close as he could to me. The police officer who came out to my house told me he would have a little talk with this fellow. I gave the officer the tag number from the vehicle. He did change his behaviour but let me know he did not like me. Reporting repeat offenders is a good way to end the harrassment.I feel like if we have rights we have to defend them, within reason, especially if others refuse to ackowledge them. It’s one thing to have rights taken away from us, it’s totally another for us to give them up. It is hard to get them back once you loose them. Where I live, I believe it is general opinion that bicylces are toys and toys do not belong on the streets. Most people do not know the laws concerning bicycles and rely on other people’s opinions for information. Opinions are like rectums, everyone has one and they all stink. Once the facts or laws are made known it gives everyone a set of guidelines to follow, cycleists and motorist alike. Since that time a few years ago everyone respects me now whenever I cycle to work and there are no bitter feelings.Since there is a lot of bicycles in and around Topeka, our capitol, and Manhattan and Lawerence our two big colleges, our latest driver’s test has encluded the question about bicycles, do bicycles have the same right to the road as vehicles. The answer is yes, so hopefully Kansas motorist are more bicycleist friendly because of the state is making the driveres more aware of us cycleist.BTW – Keep up the good work! I have a simular story. 5′ – 6" almost 200 pounds and decided I need to be about 150 pounds. I’m down to 160 and feel like the last ten will take divine intervention to acheive it. You’re an inspiration. Thanks for the BLOG.- Norm (kansas_storm_chaser) not on the bike, I use the SUV for that!

  20. Comment by Unknown | 08.28.2005 | 6:16 am

    [flame suit on] I wonder if she is talking about Crested Butte? [flame suit off]Scoty

  21. Comment by Andy | 08.28.2005 | 6:25 pm

    FC, love your open letter and your response to Becky. I find myself wasting time over your blog on a regular basis. Laughter is definitely the best medicine.About this topic…I ride to work every day, and this is what works for me:-I always use very bright lights, even in the middle of summer, during my commute. The headlight definitely makes me more visible to oncoming traffic. The taillight is not one of those anemic flashers, but 16 super-bright LEDs that can be seen very well in the middle of the day. The batteries add weight, but I don’t care. [My competitive side requires me to never use lights when I’m out on a group ride. Go figure.]-We are extremely lucky in Seattle. The drivers are more friendly than SoCal, Atlanta, Charleston SC, or Austin…the only places I have much experience in. There are quite a few well-marked bike routes and many nice bike paths. When I’m commuting to work, I use the “They can’t see me” approach and ride in a nice wide shoulder amongst the glass, nails and metal fragments. I feel that many cars want to kill me, so I’d rather just stay out of their way. I’ve starting using the Panaracer tires with flat protection, and so far haven’t been stranded the way I was with normal tires.-On the topic of moving to the front of the line at lights, here’s my advice. If you’re in a nice wide shoulder, go ahead. It’s not hurting anyone and wont slow down drivers. If it’s a single lane with no shoulder, wait your turn. I have found that making a driver pass you again on a single lane road pisses them off. -Avoid pissing off drivers.-Because it makes me feel good, I stop completely at all stop signs and red lights. This gives me time to practice track stands and makes me feel righteous when I see cars not stopping. -Follow the rules if you can, but not if they’re going to get you killed. I ride in the road on the way to work, since the shoulders are wide when I’m on the flats or going uphill. I ride part of my route home on the sidewalk, which is illegal. This is because it is a steep hill with no shoulder. If I ride in the street, I’ll be slowing traffic, pissing off drivers and endangering myself. Police have seen me doing this and don’t bother stopping me.-Always ride as fast as you can. First, it’s more fun. Second, it’s safer. I usually hammer to and from work. Last Wednesday, I gave blood, which made me very light-headed and weak on the way home, so I was going much slower. Man, was that scary! It was much more scary going slower, and having the cars pass me that much faster. I was also less stable going uphill slowly, which made the cars passing me that much more intimidating. I also have found that a cyclist riding fast and aggressively gets more space and respect from drivers.-Although it’s not technically a “finger,” avoid the “back of the hand, five finger salute.” Technicalities are often lost on mad drivers, and they will still try to run you over, no matter how may fingers you use.

  22. Comment by TODD | 08.28.2005 | 6:25 pm

    I must ride a bike as I am Legally Blind and thus, not able to drive a car. I am unable to see people gesturing at me or if they are aware of me. I have learned that many people on the roads are rude and impatient. I always assume drivers don’t see me or don’t care if they do. I obey all traffic laws at all times. Despite the fact that I pay my taxes just like all the "Drivers" out there. I am not welcome on the roads. I use the sidewalk, shoulder, bikepath or even the grass when I can. But sometimes I must use the roads as there is no other choice. I don’t have the luxury to only ride for sport. I am a 265 pound weight lifter who does not accept rude behavior from drivers. You’d be suprised how much damage a set of keys, a kryptonite lock or even parts of the human body can do to the body of a car. As a Martial Artist my code is simple, I will not strike unless it is in self defense. Everybody is in such a hurry! Why can’t people drive in the same manner they walk through the mall? Yes, we are all under stress and in a hurry. That 3,000lb plus automobile you are driving is like a weapon when you are ticked off or not paying attention. As human bodies go, I am bigger and stronger than most. Does this mean it is ok for me to go around pushing and intimmidating people, just because I can? Where would that get me? They say, "absolute power corrupts absolutely". I guess when behind the wheel many people feel powerfull. If a "Cyclist" can’t obey the rules of the road they don’t belong out there. If an "Adult Cyclist" blows a stop sign and gets hit by a car that’s their reward for stupidity, but the odds are they are the only one who will get hurt. When a "Driver" is not paying attention or impatient, other people die too. When you turn the key in that ignition, remember the golden rule and try not be in such a hurry to get to that next "Red Light".

  23. Comment by JESSIE | 08.29.2005 | 3:04 am

    Interesting that this is the conversation, on my blog today I also wrote about Car/cyclists in Oregon.. and on here as in life.. each one points the finger at the other. The worse part is no matter who’s pointing at who the cyclists will lose when car meets bike.. That is a big price to pay because two groups can’t agree or won’t work togather to make it better for both. I know I don’t want to ever be the one standing outside my car looking at a young man or women who I hit.

  24. Comment by Unknown | 08.29.2005 | 11:50 am

    Both sides of this issue annoy me…people not knowing the width of their cars is the first problem. Even in my neighborhood which has very wide shoulders, if I am all the way on the shoulder people will still pass me by crossing over the double yellow line and into on coming traffic as if i’m like 3 inches away from their side. Yeah I know they are just trying to give me plenty of room, but it’s like an unecessary insulting amount of room, like i’m just gonna freak out and tumble into them. But by the same token, as a driver it makes me nuts when cyclists ride like 6 abreast and refuse to get in line…yes, bikes have a right to the road, but even slow CARS pull over when they are going way under the speed limit, all I ask is that everyone make an attempt to be courteous.

  25. Comment by BikerMom36 | 08.29.2005 | 2:21 pm

    I feel your pain! This also happens to those of us who travel by motorbike. It never fails, I get some moron right on my back tire at a stop sign, or tailgating me as I’m driving (and 9 times out of 10 I am doing more than the speed limit, so why tailgate?). As soon as people see you on two wheels, motorized or not, they treat you as though you are infringing on their space. I suggest a big piece of cardboard attached to your back seat with neon letters – BACK OFF – CRAZY PERSON DRIVING! Personally, I tend to drop my gears quickly, which causes my bike to backfire – scares the snot out of the tailgaters every time!!

  26. Comment by Karen | 08.29.2005 | 4:29 pm

    I have seen and experienced the bikers that Becky is complaining of. We all have. The ones who ride against the center line, the ones who ride three across, the ones who flip off every car that goes by. I’ve seen them, but I am not one of them and do not deserve the kind of pigeon-holing that drivers like her tend to do. And although I would rather just tie these drivers behind my mountain bike and drag them through the trails of Vermont by their necks, only after shoving a porcupine down their pants for good measure, I applaud your attempt at mapping out a rational respsonse. Too bad that it is probably wasted on people who are socially stunted, with long prison records.Too many people have died on the roads at the hands of these morons.

  27. Comment by Bill | 08.29.2005 | 4:33 pm

    I thought this was an extremely good POV for both sides of the argument. I’m fairly new to cycling, but I see both sides of this coin all the time…I’ve had drivers pull out in front (and across my path) of me while they were looking me in the eye, as well as the numbskull cyclists who shimmy around traffic and cross intersections without stopping.I forwarded this entry to my local bike coalition…thought it was very good reading for the cycling community.THANKS! :)

  28. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 08.29.2005 | 4:47 pm

    wow, lots of thinking has gone into the responses here. seems like we have consensus around a couple of things: – cyclists who ride 2- and especially 3-abreast in traffic need to cut it out. right now. – cyclists and anti-cyclists aren’t going to see this issue eye-to-eye, ever. which means cyclists have to watch out, because bikes always lose in a physical confrontation. unless the car is a yugo (remember those?), in which case all bets are off.

  29. Comment by Zed | 08.29.2005 | 7:05 pm

    The comments on here might just frighten me away from riding on the roads again … or not. I have a hard time with any motorist who thinks he or she has a monopoly on the road. I’ve been yelled at by a motorist for riding on the sidewalk (because he almost killed me when didn’t even blink, let alone stop, at my crosswalk) and I’ve been flipped off by motorists on open farm roads (the roads where you see one car every half hour), though I think my neighborhood is better than most.I think that kind of treatment is ridiculous, and I’d like motorists to know how talented we cyclists are at memorizing license plate numbers. It isn’t optional for cyclists to ride on the road, IT’S REQUIRED!!! We don’t have a choice (at least not in the great state of Idaho). I get ticked off when I have to drive at sub-speed limit speeds as well, so I really do understand, but unless there’s some huge emergency, get over it!!! One motorist particularly cheezed me off after yelling at me for riding down the street beside my apartment. If you don’t like it, take a different route–it’s MY residence you’re driving past. Believe me, we’d be riding faster if we could. I, for one, would love to be able to pedal my bike at 50 mph just to keep up with traffic. Sorry, but I’m trying my best.Municipal governments need to allot greater funding to striping bike lanes (IT’S JUST PAINT!!!!) and drivers need to get more in the habit of obeying traffic laws (because they really do exist for good reason!!!). Kudos to my municipality, the group who striped their first two bike lanes this past year.You know the situation’s dire when the most well-known cyclist in the world (Mr. Armstrong) still has to deal with being swerved at and cussed out. I have a hard time siding with any motorist who points a finger at people for staying fit and having harmless fun. I hope my children enjoy more bike freedom and safety than I do.

  30. Comment by Unknown | 08.30.2005 | 1:24 am

    Very interesting discussion. Timely, too. Look what showed up in today’s (8/29) Seattle P-I: over there reading your blog?

  31. Comment by Unknown | 08.30.2005 | 4:38 am

    I have heard that it is illegal in GA (my home state) for cyclists to ride more than two wide on any road. I haven’t actually looked it up, but it seems like a pretty common sense idea to me. Unless you’re trying to avoid debris or potholes, why give motorists a reason to get mad. Being a relatively new cyclist, I have yet to encounter much of the nightmarish aggressive behavior that others have. I do make it a habit to stay on lightly traveled rural roads, though. Of course the last person to buzz me on a group ride got quite a surprise. What the absurdly fat woman in the minivan didn’t realize was that we had an honest to goodness pro cyclist in the group that could chase her down. I’m guessing that she was pretty surprised to learn that she couldn’t drop him even when she was topping 45 mph!

  32. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 7:39 pm

    I don’t hate cyclists, I hate people. Well, not all people. I was driving in Ft. Collins the other day and had a run in with a cyclist. We were both in cars. I was in my Honda and he in his Range Rover. A bright yellow Range Rover with a bright yellow bike on a rack. I turned into traffic and had one block in heavy traffic to take the left that I wanted to take, I saw a big enough space in front of the range rover and went for it. Fort Collins has become a bit over populated in the past couple years and driving has changed a bit. People are starting to accept the fact that sometimes you have to let people in front of your car from time to time. If you are in a hurry and someone cuts in front of you, you can except it or loose your mind. This guy waited for a solid 30 seconds before making a big deal about where I had positioned my car. He passed and gave me the evil eye. I think he brought his cyclist attitude to the car. That’s okay. I just wish that all drivers remembered the last mistake they made behind the wheel (unless the make no mistakes behind the wheel) the next time they loose it when someone else makes a mistake or a lane change in front of them. I don’t think that all cyclists are idiots. I imagine that those cyclists that drive crazy on bikes probably drive crazy in cars too. A truck once hit me when I was on a motorcycle; it wrecked my summer, and the bike. I try to be nice to people when I’m driving or not, some people can’t be nice in either situation.

  33. Comment by Unknown | 03.10.2006 | 9:48 pm

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  34. Comment by Jeff | 08.27.2006 | 1:15 pm

    I’m a roadie who lives in Madison, WI and over the years I have had all sorts of encounters with drivers.  Some of my favorites are the swerve towards me (intentional) followed by the finger.  Nowadays this move has largely been replaced by the swerve (unintentional) while the driver talks away on his/her cell.  Few drivers have mastered the needed dexterity to pull off the swerve (intentional) with finger, while on the cell, for this we can be grateful.I have also had all sorts of derogatory comments yelled at me.  Often it is something like "Get off the  *%@&* road you &*%#! or simply @$$+0!* which translated I think means "Nice pants".  By far the most curious comment I had directed my way while riding my bike was during an extended out of the saddle climb in the hilly roads to the SW of our city.  Two young bucks in a pickup yelled "Get a horse!" In a larger context with the lyrics from the country song "Save a horse, ride a cowboy", given the choice of the three, I would rather ride my bike, YMMV. I have contemplated all sorts of revenge scenarios or other expression of my "rights" but come back to a passive attitude based on kindness.  This comes mostly from the conclusion that it is the actions of  a few @$$&0*$ on both sides of the windshield that make the situation worse for all of us.I think the problem, here in the States, is largely compounded by the relative emminent domain on the roads that the automobile has enjoyed.  I will assert that the problem of road rage will only get worse if we don’t all strive hard to get along as we have more cars on the roads with drivers who have longer commutes (housing prices, Baby) and more individuals chosing cycling as an excellent form of recreation.  These country roads we enjoy here now in Madison won’t be in the middle of nowhere forever.We travelled in Europe last year and I remember one situation (amongst many) in Italy where remarkable cycling tolerance was demonstrated.  We were on the road to visit Sienna and a cyclist was in front of two or three cars waiting patiently to pass.  The road was only two lanes and quite winding as we travrsed the Tuscan countryside.  I took us a a good 10 minutes or so to finally get our turn to pass.  No one yelled nasty insults adressing the riders choice of clothing or possible  questionable sexual preference.  It was a pleasant surprise.  But boy, do those Italian drivers know exactly how wide their cars are from years of driving on narrow roads.  Two feet clearance max!I have an idea to improve cycling relations in our area, but it has met lackluster approval amongst my cycling friends.  I suggest that we coerce a peloton of coeds on mopeds (we have lots and lots here in Madison) to cruise en mass on the well travelled country roads that the cyclists use as their main routes.  Imagine, a group fifty or so strong, no helmets, cell phone in one hand, cruising and gabbing at 25mph all the while leaving a nasty cloud of exhaust behind from their inefficient two stoke engines.  Kinda like a "Critical Mass" for mopeds. Perhaps we should entice them all to perform this activity with an Ann Taylor Loft gift certificate?  I think the effect would be dramatic.  "Well, we used to hate the cyclists who would ride in a group 3 or 4 wide and not let us pass.  But compared to these damn mopeds!"I think the main point of my coffee fueled diatribe is we have to all work hard to get along, share the road, and try extra hard to ameliorate the actions of the few who make things worse on both sides.jw


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