We (cyclists) are our own worst enemies

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We cyclists talk a good game. We insist in being treated like any other traffic on streets and highways. Many of us have bumper stickers on our cars saying: “Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules” or some variation of that theme to remind others that bicycles are allowed on thoroughfares and should be treated in a courteous manner.

But, then what do the collective we of the cycling community do? We cross intersections during a red light, we pass cars on the left and right as they sit in traffic, and we disobey a plethora of other traffic laws. So, if we have the same rules, why do so many of us violate them? Seems like we insist on having our cake and eating it too.
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If cyclists wish to be respected by more motorists, then we need to respect the rules of the road (like them or not). Once we start making our own rules we are no better than those drivers who curse and criticize us.
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8 thoughts on “We (cyclists) are our own worst enemies

  1. LeRoy Harvey says:

    I agree with part of your logic here: Respect. It’s like the golden rule of biking – if you want respect… treat people respectfully. Unfortunately, most of the laws and policies related to “roads” and traffic, were not designed to serve bicyclists. While that is changing – thanks to efforts like yours – I regularly find myself in situations along the way where technically I may be breaking the law, but I’m causing no harm, offending no one, and not willing to wait another 30 years for laws and policies to give me permission.

  2. Absolutely agree! I hear the common response to this, that the laws are not designed with us in mind – and it’s a fair point! – However, I don’t think it’s a convincing one. Think of it this way – on the road, what is the real danger to my life? Some laws that don’t properly consider my vehicle, or the rage driven by lack of education and understanding from motorists? In my experience, the latter is by FAR the more dangerous. And in my experience with drivers, the thing that most easily converts a reasonable driver into an enraged lunatic is dealing with the unexpected. Since they’re not educated about what to expect from bicycles, they get angry to start with just seeing us, but then when they can’t predict what we’re going to do, they completely go off.
    Now I know that if every cyclist became entirely law-compliant, all the time, immediately, it still wouldn’t fix the problem. But it would *help*. and over time, as drivers learn that we have the same rights and follow the same rules as they do, some (not all) of that rage would be reduced.

    Sure there are still ‘cagers’ that are going to fly off the handle just because we delayed them once for 17 seconds. But I think cyclists should realize that more of the anger we face is rooted in a lack of understanding than entitlement – and lack of understanding can, slowly, over time, be addressed.

    • Thank you, Richard. We are not going to win over the hearts and minds of the “general public” by flaunting the rules, particularly on a five lane state highway in rush hour traffic, as I witnessed yesterday – BTW the cyclist didn’t have a helmet on either.

  3. It’s very hard to obey the “rules of the road” since those are created for cars. We don’t have shared streets unless you’re lucky enough to live in a place like Portland. Most sidewalks are inadequate for riding a bike and if you come across anyone else on the narrow path for anything other than a car, it becomes dangerous.

    I’ve gotten mad at myself for getting caught in that no-return point at intersections while on my bike, or crossing at inappropriate times. If bikers and/or pedestrians have to play by the same rules and on same playing field as cars we are never going to have an equal share. That’s like running a track meet during a NASCAR race.

  4. DavyG says:

    Agree – to a point. I’m pretty strict (anal?) about stop signs, red lights, and signaling, but if motor traffic is backed up, I’m not going to wait if I can go around.

  5. Marjolein says:

    Does the sticker “same road, same right, same rules” also include that cyclists want to have decent facilities on the road, like there are for cars? Parking, proper lanes, etc? Or am I using profane language here? (sorry, I’m not US living)

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