Dave Moulton’s post today is about arrogant, rude cyclists who run stop signs and red lights without so much as slowing down. I could not agree with him more. As a law-abiding cyclist, it makes me furious when cyclists behave like this. I try my best to be friendly and courteous with motorists, always thanking them when they stop to let me cross a road or whatever. I see it as building positive relationships, one motorist at a time.
However, cyclists who ignore the laws are very noticeable. As a result, there are motorists out there who hate all of us, based on the bad behaviors of a few.
For example, a really good friend of mine was having a bad day: she was depressed because it was her 40th birthday, and she was cycling home from the job she hated. As usual, she was being law-abiding, and was in a left-turning lane, taking the lane. A motorist behind her revved menacingly and started edging closer and closer to her back wheel. Shaken up, she asked him if there was a problem. He starting screaming at her about how cyclists made him crazy because of the way they thought they owned the roads and could bike however they wanted, ignoring the laws.
My friend was left crying at the side of the road, as the furious motorist roared off. Granted, the man was a bully and a jerk. Presumably too cowardly to pick on the cyclists who behave badly, he picked instead on a law-abiding woman who happened to be in his way. However, the starting point was badly behaved cyclists.
Bottom line: cyclists who behave badly give us all a bad name, and we all have to deal with the negative consequences and the hatred they provoke. How can we rein them in?
I couldn’t agree more. I wonder, though, how much is arrogance and how much is plain ignorance.
There is a lot of solid information out there for those that want to learn good cycling practices, but I think there are just a lot of people who think they know enough already, and their knowledge base supports things like riding on sidewalks and in crosswalks, riding against the flow of automobile traffic, helmets being optional, traffic signals being only advisory, etc. They basically see cycling as a faster alternative to walking, and safety concerns–for themselves or for others–never enter their heads.
I’m very happy to see cycling instruction coming to P.E. classes in some secondary schools. Perhaps someday safe cycling can be promoted in the lower grades as well.
Yeah, I am actually planning to do the Can Bike courses sometime. I think those are the ones that teach you Basic and Advanced cycling skills? Although I have been bike commuting for years, I am really not sure that I know what I am actually supposed to be doing in certain situations. Like if there is a traffic line up at lights, I usually take my place in the line up. But other cyclists scoot past me, and I feel like a bit of an idiot standing back that way. On the other hand, those cyclists get to the front of the line, only to have all the cars immediately pass them once the light is green. It’s not fun having a line up of impatient cars scoot by, so why create the situation?
Oh, and also, I am happy to hear about that cycling instruction – I had not heard of it till now. I believe they have that a lot in Europe, and that may be part of the reason why fatalities are less for cyclists there.