Thursday, August 20, 2009

Us vs. Them

Yesterday's blog by the The Bike Noob touches on a rather volatile subject regarding cyclists and traffic laws. Let's face it, most motorist HATE cyclist with a capital "H". As a cyclist and motorist I've seen the situation from both sides of the fence. Motorist hate cyclist for running red lights/stop signs, blocking traffic and the like. Cyclist see motorist as antagonists and are often assaulted verbally and physically by them. That's why I'm a mountain biker. My only concern is angry land owners (huh? no trespassing? I didn't see any sign, I swear), the occasional militant hiker and over zealous parks police. I do ride on the road from time to time and spend lots of time at the veloway, which is closed to traffic.

On the road (and thus in my car) I drive the speed limit. Ok, maybe I'll drive like 5mph above the limit on the freeway, but only on the freeway. I stop at stop signs and come to a complete stop before turning right on red. And, believe it or not, I'll actually stop when the light turns yellow instead of speeding up, well, usually, unless it means stopping so abruptly I'm afraid of getting rear-ended, or it causes everything to go flying forward (ie, crap on seats and in the floorboards.) So when I'm on my bike I naturally tend to follow the same rules. I just ingrained and I don't even think twice about it.

I'm not a prude so I think my tempered driving habits stem from my younger days of hotrodding - which usually meant doing things we weren't supposed to be doing and therefore not wanting to attract any unnecessary attention to ourselves. I've gotten two tickets in my entire life: one for running a red light downtown (but not on purpose), and one for an expired/non-existent inspection sticker (in regards to said hotrod). Like I said though, I'm not a prude. Heck, I've been hauled to jail more than once, but I've just learned over the years to "minimize my risks" by not doing deliberately stupid things.

I think the biggest issue concerning cyclist vs. motorist is just that, one vs. the other. I'm amazed at how many people just don't understand it's not an "either or" type of thing. I'd guess probably 99% of the cyclist you see also on vehicles and drive on a daily basis. Likewise, 99% of the red-faced, angry motorist a cyclist encounters are probably his next door neighbors and Sunday school teachers - and are probably some the nicest people you could ever meet.

1 comment:

  1. "hauled to jail more than once"

    Sounds like blog post material! :)

    We have tons of bicylists up here; I try to go incredibly slowly around them, because I know they must be feeling like they're about to be blown off the road, that close to speeding traffic. Scary.

    I know they often need to use the main roads in order to get to the less-used and safer roads, but I can't imagine doing it myself. It worries me just to WALK on the side of the highway.

    And people think MY sport is hazardous.