Both Sides of the Windshield

08.26.2005 | 8:45 am

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.


  1. Comment by Anonymous | 02.9.2008 | 8:11 am

    Don’t judge a cyclist until you’ve ridden 10 miles in her wheels.
    We’re not out there to annoy you, impede your commute, or cause you to get in an accident. We’re mothers on our way to our kid’s school, or fathers trying to lose weight after a heart scare- we’re all out there for many more good reasons than annoying you. So take a ride with us and find out what it’s all about. And know that rude cyclists annoy even other cyclists, but to lump everyone into the same category is just wrong.
    On the bike you’ll see exactly how vulnerable you are, which whill show you why we ride to the left or stop someone from passing us when it’s not safe to do so.
    OR, lobby for wider roads with properly designed and installed bike lanes. Yes, let’s all do that. It’s just not practical to go on bike paths because, well, a loop around the lake won’t get me to work.
    C’mon, let’s ride.

  2. Comment by Jenni | 02.9.2008 | 8:12 am

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to be anonymous. That was from Jenni.

  3. Comment by Steve | 02.9.2008 | 8:25 am

    Fatty (and Becky),

    Glad to see this reposted, because it speaks to something I see a lot of bicyclists in my fairly bike friendly midwestern university town doing.

    Bicyclists need to obey traffic laws — I am amazed every day by my fellow bike commuters who blow red lights, swerve in front of cars, and generally disrespect traffic law. The thing is, they’re usually gone too fast for me to say anything to.

    Once in awhile while commuting I have to take the whole lane, riding in the middle, for safety’s sake. When I do so, it’s actually as much for motorist’s safety as my own; most of the road riding I have to do for my commute is in no-passing zones which are conveniently ignored whenever my rate of speed (in a 25MPH zone) is deemed too slow… it can be downright dangerous for everyone if I ride the shoulder, so I do not.

    Again, thanks for posting this. I hope at least one wayward cyclist takes your advice to heart!


  4. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.9.2008 | 8:43 am

    Still valid–it happens every day from both sides. BUT, in many staes cyclist have as nuch right to ALL of the road as a car. We’ll stay as far right as we can, but give us three feet of leeway when you pass!

  5. Comment by Don ( | 02.9.2008 | 10:06 am

    Fatty: First off, let me start with I LOVE the Green SUV Open Letter. I just reread it a few weeks ago and was rolling yet again. That was pretty old, no?

    Why can’t we just all get along? I’ve thrown out a few posts on account I live in 35+ MPH, 2 lane, no shoulder, hilly road heaven! I have actually thrown wave at drivers when they pass right, and they usually oblige with a wave back. But, there are those idiots who think they need to get within two and a half inches of your back tire, gun the engine as hard as they could, and pass within two inches on the side. You know, when their mirror hits your arm. I think Fatty said it best when he said “some people act stupidly”. I hate to say it as a cyclist, but I’d argue that there are “certain advocacy groups” that hurt these situations more than they help.
    Bottom line is w have as much RIGHT on the road as we do RESPONSIBILITY. It’s easy to cast stones at an idiot, but you need to look in the mirror before you do. We need to educate drivers, and do our best to keep our names clean.
    (Sorry if this was a bit all over the place, I’m kinda flighty today.)

  6. Comment by Amit | 02.9.2008 | 10:45 am

    Fatty, I am sure you have read/heard a lot of great things about your blog already :) but one more is always good.

    I am only a “recreational” biker but I still love reading your blog. You are a very, very good writer. Even if you were blogging about anything else, you would have been great and interesting.

    Ever considered getting stuff published? :)

  7. Comment by eunicesara | 02.9.2008 | 11:05 am

    Wierd timing. I just came back from my weekly feed run, in a pick-up truck, thank you, and I slowed waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down for the two bicycle riders taking up the lane ahead of me on the narrow country black top (posted speed limit 45mph max – tell that to the locals!) Since there were two of them I’m guessing that neither was hearing impaired from having an MP3 player cranked to maximum volume blasting away at their hearing inheritance. I didn’t see the slightest glint of mirror on either bike or rider, so they were either oblivious or calloused. I did have a bigger truck breathing down MY tailgate. I’m guessing the one on the right was actually a cyclist. There was that steady rythem to the pedaling. The one on the left was a poseur – wearing the costume, but not the role. Stand up and pedal, pedal, pedal (excue me! crank, crank, crank) coast. Gesture wildly with right hand while chattering at steadily pedalling/cranking rider on right. Stand up and pedal, pedal, pedal, coast. Etc ad nauseum.
    THE ROAD IS FLAT YOU TWIT, JUST PEDAL! I’ve ridden it, and with company, and we clear a path for the local rednecks. I’m not a redneck. I don’t have anywhere to be before I have to be back at work at 8:30 Monday morning. I can ride my brakes.

  8. Comment by scank | 02.9.2008 | 12:52 pm

    Totally agree, cyclists and cars need to get along, we should be more tolerant of each other.
    Living in the U.K, I have noticed a decline in respect and road manners from both parties over the last few years.
    On my daily commute, I follow the rules of the highway code, I set a good example, it makes me feel good when a driver waves in appreciation to my cycling manners/courtesy.
    However, I would add, the number of cyclist who go through red lights,cycle on the pavements and cycle in the dark without lights just makes me feel sad and frustrated. (just providing the ammunition to other to thow right back at us all).
    Making eye contact is really important, and come on cyclist nod and say hi to your fellow riders when we pass each other. Remember it’s fun and not some battle!

    Can someone explain ‘ride the shoulder’, thanks

  9. Comment by Buddah on a Bicycle | 02.9.2008 | 1:28 pm

    Even though I am a commuter and do alot of recreational riding in the non winter months I have to agree with Becky. To often I see cyclists making excuses for their behavior and saying we need to get along rather then trying to modify it so we will. for my local commute there are 3 or 4 routes I can take to get to work. Only one involves traveling on a busy road with no shoulder or bike lane. The problem is this is the route alot of cyclists prefer to take since there are no stop signs. The other thing I notice is that alot of recreational riders refuse to change their route. I used to have a 25 mile ride I took my less experienced friends on. This ride involved a 5 mile stretch of road that had no shoulder and was fairly busy. After riding this route 4 or 5 times we changed to one where we werent impeding traffic. This involved us making a choice between a 15 mile or 40 mile ride if we still wanted to go through some of the same areas. Needless to say we dont go riding out that way very much anymore. I know a few cyclists also who enjoy going on training rides. They will purposly try to incorporate certain hills and roads in their rides. The problem with this is that it often ivolves them using some of the busier country roads, but they refuse to change routes on the grounds that they need those paricular hills/roads.

    I guess I would just like to see my fellow cyclists trying to make concessions in order to imrpove relations rather then making demands. I understand if theirs only one route to your destination, or all routes have safety issues, I’ve been in those situations myself, but I still try to make sure I don’t interfere with others rights on the road.

    meh thats my 2 cents. I know its not well written, but I hope I made my point

  10. Comment by Debamundo | 02.9.2008 | 2:05 pm

    Well said. I enjoyed this post today as much as I did the first time you posted it.

  11. Comment by CLBlood | 02.9.2008 | 2:34 pm

    I gave up cycling my 4 miles to work. With the drivers in this town, it was just a question of time until the charity auction to cover my medical bills. Not interested in martyrdom, thanks.

  12. Comment by Paul | 02.9.2008 | 2:36 pm

    I’ll actually agree with Becky on one point that you dispute. If I’m driving along then there’s no need for me to brake suddenly. If, however, a cyclist swerves into my path then suddenly I have to brake, even though with a little thought from the cyclist I wouldn’t need to. Or to put it another way, my braking was unnecessary IF everyone had played nicely.

    Having said that, I always try to obey the rules as a cyclist (and as a driver) so as not to take the edge off my righteous indignation.

  13. Comment by Dobovedo | 02.9.2008 | 2:53 pm

    If only Becky had made her argument with honey instead of vinegar… because, like others, she did make valid points, once you stripped all the bitterness and insistence on using absolutes.

    This is an age old issue that has been around since cars and bikes were invented. At roughly the same time, by the way… guess it was those rubber tires and asphalt paving.

    I just do my part to get along with whatever entities are sharing the road with me at any given moment. I’m slowly training myself to realize I can’t do anything about the stupid people, on bikes, in cars, or anywhere else for that matter.

  14. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 02.9.2008 | 3:22 pm

    SurlyCommuter rule #1 – Assume no one sees you. Even if they are looking at me I slow up and get ready for them to pull out.
    SurlyCommuter rule #2 – Pay attention. I see folks flying up the side of the road thats backed up and then get all defrosted (american flyers reference) when someone pulls out in front of them or cuts them off. Review rule #1.
    SurlyCommuter rule #3 – If its sketchy, get in the road. The last thing you want in a high traffic area is to do something unexpected – like changing lanes or swerving into the lane to avoid some nasty bits. Get in the road and hammer till you can safely take the shoulder again.
    SurlyCommuter rule #4 – Ride Straight. Is anything more terrifying than coming up on a group of cyclists and one of them is all over the place? If you can’t hold a line, get back on the bike path and practice until you can.
    SurlyCommuter rule #6 – Enjoy yourself. You’re on a bike ride and the world is your oyster. Every time I commute by bike I’m happier than when I ride the bus or drive my car.

  15. Comment by J.LeBowski | 02.9.2008 | 3:58 pm

    Learning to ride in rural area in small groups, we would only ride 2 abreast until we heard a car coming. But now I ride with a group of guys that refuse to move out of the double pace line, when we are clearly impeading traffic on a busy road.

    I know the law saws we can ride 2 abreast. But, at times I fear for my safety.

    I also know that this ticks motorists off. They may not know or care that we can ride into the lane. I have been in cars with people that know I am a cyclist, but they just go off when they see a bike rider on the road in the lane.

    Sometimes even what we think is our right, makes a bad name for us. Even more when we are slowing down traffic.

    I would rather go the extra mile, and at times give the person in the car the right of way, so that they can see that cyclists are not a problem and will not inhibit their chaotic car dirvin lives.

  16. Comment by Donut | 02.9.2008 | 4:19 pm

    Excellent statement of both sides of the issue, Fatty. Mutual understanding is key; many of us ride bikes on well traveled auto routes because it’s just convenient. My city is not bicycle friendly. There are few bike paths, and those that do exist are cluttered with dog walkers, rollerbladers and other slow moving humans who do not look over their shoulders before moving to the left or right. Several times I’ve put down massive skid trails trying to avoid some runner or jerk on skates – with dogs too – who just drift all over the lane randomly.
    Out on the streets, most of us do in fact try to obey traffic laws. We have to be in the street in the first place – it’s illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. Thing is, I don’t always ride all the way to the right on the shoulder, because that’s where all the broken glass and other debris piles up. But I do move when I’m obstructing people. We cyclists have to make more of an effort reduce the likelihood that we’ll be hit. But at the same time, motorists need to be aware that we have to be on the road, and therefore they need to take the necessary precautions.

  17. Comment by Grump | 02.9.2008 | 5:43 pm

    Becky, when I get my Hummer H1, I’m coming to Colorado and treat your little car like a bicycle. I don’t mean to be rude, but if you don’t get out of my way, I will squash your little car, like a bug.

    (sorry, but it’s time to take my medication)

  18. Comment by Madisonian | 02.9.2008 | 6:36 pm

    Very good article as always, Fatty. I feel that it is all too common for cyclists to pass off drivers as the ones with the problem, when in reality there is just as much that cyclists can do to reach a point of mutual understanding. Being a student at the UW, we are gifted with a dedicated bike lane on many of the busier roads on campus, which makes getting from Point A to Point B much easier for everyone.

    Nevertheless, I constantly find that motorists still don’t think to look for bikers, (an instance where I was nearly sideswiped by a moving truck comes to mind) and I think that much of it comes down to visibility. Though it may inconvenience drivers, I try to make it a point to get in the middle of the lane (like others here) so I can’t be missed. In addition, I am going to be taking a class on road biking this spring, and I’m hoping I’ll learn more about proper etiquette and how to share the road in a responsible way. I think if more cyclists took this approach, drivers would be more aware not only of their physical presence, but their recognition of the rights of everyone who uses public roads.

  19. Comment by System6 | 02.9.2008 | 7:33 pm

    scank, in the US, we sometimes have 3-4′ wide areas of the road that are marked off by a white line, and these portions of the road we call “shoulders.” They are kind of a multipurpose area for a) cyclists to ride outside the flow of traffic; b) an emergency lane should an auto have mechanical problems, or c) an area cars can use to begin a right turn off the road while moving out of the way of traffic.

    Roads that have these set-aside areas are super for cycling, because you have room for a double paceline while being completely out of traffic.

    The downside of these areas is that often that’s where all the rubbish accumulates. Therefore, you need Kevlar tires if you’re going to ride down this section of the road.

    As for the Becky’s of the road, I just love-love-love when they hotly shoot profanity out their windows then race off in anonymity and safety of their 2 ton metal fortress — only to get stuck at the next red light. Let’s call it shrinkage factor when that cyclist they just dis’sed pulls up to them and offers to discuss their issues LIKE ADULTS. It is absolutely surprising how often people enjoy the opportunity to race away from their bad manners and immaturity — only to find the victim of their vitriol comes riding up along side them.

    There is justice in the world.

  20. Comment by cricketk | 02.9.2008 | 8:07 pm

    As I lounge here with my cracked ribs and blossoming bruises – don’t assume that because you’ve seen their eyes looking at you that you’ve successfully made eye contact. You’ve just been categorised as not a car, therefore not to worry about.

  21. Comment by ibisss | 02.9.2008 | 8:34 pm

    The runners who insist on ‘taking a lane’ even though there is a perfectly good sidewalk there remind me that it is the person, not the medium of transportation, that is the problem. Yeah, yeah, we get it–you are a competitive runner, and you are training for some Really Important road race, and need to practice running in the middle of the road. The downside of the relative popularity of cycling these days is that we sometimes get doorknobs in our midst.
    These doorknobs aren’t always riding fixed gear bikes, either.
    M Burdge

  22. Comment by Chris in Boulder | 02.9.2008 | 10:39 pm

    Hey Fatty, I didn’t see your open letter to the guy in the green SUV letter on the first go around, but I just read it and it reminded me of an incident I had with a car full of kids a few years back. One of the kids, a teenage gal in the back seat of the car, pulled the always hilarious yell-at-the-biker-while-we-pass stunt on me on Jay Road here in fabulous Boulder. I got a look at her and the car and I gave chase. My pursuit was rewarded when they made the turn for the Boulder Reservoir and I was actually able to catch up with them after she and her party had cleared the entrance station and parked their car.

    The beautiful thing was that they had not noticed me giving chase and they had completely lost track of me. So I was able to quietly roll up on my bicycle and play the same classic sneak up from behind and yell as loud as you can joke on my young female nemesis. She nearly jumped out of her skin. She was pretty upset with me, but I explaind to her that it was her idea in the first place and that she was right: It was a pretty damned funny trick. Her friends laughed. I know I thought it was funny.

    As to my fellow Coloradan Becky’s letter, I make it a point not to argue with the adamantly anti-bike crowd. It’s like arguing with 9-11 conspiracy theorists or crazies who maintain that the lunar landings were all hoaxes. They’re never going to come around to a consensous with bicyclists on what might be fair or reasonable. Her “get the hell out of my way” comment tells us how amenable she would be to civil discourse on the idea of shared use of Colorado highways by bikes and cars. If she’s in such a rush to get to town she ought to live in town. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about chance encounters on the backroads of Colorado with bicyclists, farm equipment, school buses, deer, or anyone else that isn’t moving along at an A. J. Foyt-like pace and thus impedes her in her never ending rush to her next thing, be it Starbucks or yoga class.

    Maybe we should all chip in and buy Becky one of Colorado’s new ‘Share the Roads’ license plates. Chris

  23. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.10.2008 | 1:06 am

    For approximately 7 hours now I’ve been responsible for the wellbeing of my 150+ member club. Part of my job as publicity officer is to periodically throw reminders at them about their responsibilities as road using citizens. Then while I was out riding this afternoon I was thinking that I should try and find some of your more insightful posts and reproduce them on my club website (with appropriate APA referencing). We have a Saturday morning group ride that’s getting out of control with 100 riders running red lights and using both sides of roundabouts among other things. This exact post is probably a good wake up call for them.

  24. Comment by Primal | 02.10.2008 | 1:50 am

    Not sure if I’ve plugged this before but as this is a road safety anti cyclist comment. Fatty and all your readers… I have personally lost friends to road accidents whilst out cycling. Furthermore my closest friend and training mate was hit by a car while out running. Not only did he spend weeks in ICU and lost a kidney and is now classified as 10% handicapped. As a cyclist in a large city of Brisbane, Australia that has been verbally abused, had projectiles thrown at and had motorist stop and threatened me. There is no doubt in my mind that action has to be taken. Brisbane is a cyclist friendly city with bike paths and lanes but the general motorist do not understand the road rules based around cyclist. Fear not as there is a website you can submit a report on and print it off and use as a written statement to hand into the police. Be safe on the roads people, your family want us all to come home. Regards Primal.

  25. Comment by Freddy | 02.10.2008 | 6:25 am

    I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation…

    It’s a very simple equation. Cars weigh between many hundreds to several thousand pounds. The heaviest bikes weigh 30 pounds. The worst a driver can expect after a collision with a bike is a moderate dent. The worst a cyclist can expect after a collision with a car is a visit to the morgue.

    As a driver and cyclist, I can say without a doubt that I see more stupid and dangerous behavior on the highway every day than I do on any 5-hour group rides. I’ve been hit twice due to driver incompetence, and have been rewarded with a trip to the hospital each time.

    No driver EVER feels in danger for their lives when approaching a cyclist from behind. Therefore, to frame the argument as “can’t we all just get along” places an unfair burden upon cyclists. The onus must be upon drivers to avoid running cyclists down. It’s inconceivable to me that waiting 30 seconds for a decent spot to pass a cyclist is actually an inconvenience. It really has zero impact on a driver’s schedule.

    Disclaimer: I drive WAY too fast to be safe, myself.

  26. Comment by Dawn | 02.10.2008 | 10:02 am

    In response to the comment about runners on the road…

    Running on the sidewalk is actually quite painful and lots of sidewalk running often results in injuries. The concrete is much harder than the asphalt, that’s why people run on the road not because they think they’re amazing runners. I’ll run on a sidewalk if it’s a busy road, but in my neighborhood I will run on the side of the road facing traffic.

    As to biking, I’ve often pointed out to my non-biking friends what the laws are. They are surprised to discover that it is legal for us to ride 2 abreast (although I don’t do that). I think a lot of the animosity from drivers is that they just don’t understand why we don’t ride on the edge of the road or the sidewalk. Once I explain why we ride the way we do, they become a lot more understanding.

    Sometimes I really wish I could chase down the teenagers and explain that they can kill me when I’m descending down the canyon and they try to scare me. I honestly don’t think it occurs to them that if I wreck at those speeds, that I’m at the least gonna get seriously hurt.

  27. Comment by eunicesara | 02.10.2008 | 10:52 am

    Another thought, a day late and a dollar short. Where do the SUV drivers’s kids ride their bicycles? In the cul de sac?
    What if y’all had to wear slow moving vehicle triangles on your backs like we farmers and carriage drivers have to have on our “might block traffic” vehicles. What if bicycle riders had to have licenses to ride on public streets, and valid license plates on their bikes. What if you quit wearing black and wore something visible? That would be a change. I haven’t seen a pair of bike shorts, bibs or tights in blaze orange – but you won’t see many construction workers decked out in dark, invisible colors while they’re exposed to traffic. Even on a bicycle you’d tell the pedestrian who wasn’t wearing white at night and bright in the day time to dress for safety. Why, then, are bicycle clothes BLACK?
    I’d love to ride my bicycle to work in decent weather. Twelve miles is a cruise, except for the fact that the shortest route between point A and point B is a U.S. highway; the alternate route being approximately twice the distance because there are no straight connecting roads between here and there other than the two-lane U.S. highway. I just don’t want to die on the way to work. So I drive. Live another day.

  28. Comment by bechey | 02.10.2008 | 2:10 pm

    My name is Becky – I live in Texas – I’m so embarrassed that someone who shares my name could be such a putz. Good response, tho, Fatty.

  29. Comment by SusieJ | 02.10.2008 | 7:08 pm

    I do wish the cyclists who want to ride in the road would learn that they need to obey the rules of the road, meaning: stop on red, don’t ride against traffic, stop on red, signal, STOP ON RED, don’t stop and then blow the light, don’t weave through traffic, and, oh yeah, stop for the stinking red light. Between my house and the train I bike, but between my office and the train I walk through West Philly, and I’ve been nearly hit three times by idiots blowing lights (including one dipstick who complained I stepped in front of her but wasn’t in the crosswalk when she tried to run the red). Thanks for making it harder for the rest of us.

  30. Comment by Eddie B | 02.10.2008 | 7:11 pm

    Fatty, I love your suggestions. However there may be liability issues when waving a motorist around you. A cyclist who negligently waves a driver by and causes an accident may be considered liable. Even though its frustrating for drivers, I typically let them make their own decisions.

    Becky’s behavior is just another example of the lack of respect and decency towards another human being that’s become commonplace in today’s society. I wish that she was the exception and not the rule but I just don’t see it that way. Maybe I’m being cynical but I’m not sure that any amount of discourse or driver’s education is going to affect this issue. My theory is that there’s no way to change the attitude of drivers like Becky without actually physically putting them on a bike and sending them into traffic with cars cruising by at 45 mph.

    Frankly thats not going to happen, so its the rider’s responsibility to minimize their risk as much as possible. This means that cyclists need to be smart and ride cautiously when that behavior is warranted by the situation. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean the most cautious rider will not have a run-in with an angry or irresponsible driver but thats the risk we all take when we ride a bike.

  31. Comment by Dudley | 02.10.2008 | 9:32 pm

    This article recently appeared in my hometown newspaper. Unfortuantely this is a great area to ride and the easement which allows these rides was intended to be permanent. It is really scary to read the comments after the article. People who wrote in from the view of motor vehicle operator are frightening to me.

    ‘Speeding’ bicyclists anger homeowners

  32. Pingback by Good Advice for Drivers and Cyclists « Very Important Stuff | 02.11.2008 | 7:20 am

    [...] 2008 by Rodney Dunning Now that the fire is out, it’s time to get back to cycling. Fat Cyclist has some excellent advice for drivers and cyclists. Read it. Learn it. Live it. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t hit me while [...]


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