Monday, September 27, 2010

What Are Bicyclists Thinking?!

Usually I'm a pretty calm and sedate person.  But one of my very serious pet peeves comes out loud and clear when I'm driving.  Bicyclists who don't think they need to follow the rules of the road.

I saw it today.  Pulling up to a 4-way stop, I noticed a cyclist tailing the car in front of it through the intersection.  No stop.  Not even a pause.  Good thing the bus driver noticed him and didn't clip his back wheel as he slipped past.  I see people on bikes fly through yellow lights, weave in through heavy traffic to get to the front of the left turn line at a light, change lanes without signaling and regularly ignore stop signs.

All this cycling behavior really ticks me off.  Because I REALLY don't want to be the driver that hits them.  Traveling at 35 miles per hour, my minivan can do some serious damage to a person, especially one whose speed approaches 25 mph.  Being responsible for the death of another human being and living with the sadness and horror of such an atrocity is not something I care to experience.

Not surprisingly, I treat maneuvering two tons of metal through the streets at un-human speeds seriously.  I'm trained to be a careful driver. I had hours of driving under my belt driving with my dad by early puberty and a good high school drivers ed teacher.  As an adult, I scored high in a motorcycle safety course and graduated from a mini-truck driving course. All of these drilled safe car handling into my head.  I do my best to be attentive, present and aware of the entire driving scene around me.  But there is little I can do to help protect people who don't play by the rules of the road.

In case the idea that bicyclist are required to follow the same rules of the road as car drivers is a surprise to you, here is the City of Seattle regulation:

Section 11.44.020 RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF RIDER.  Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle, except as to the special regulation of this chapter and except as to those provisions of the Traffic Code which by their nature can have no application.

Carless people putting me at risk of endangering their lives tend to turn up my volume.  So, if you're out driving around town and hear some manic yelling, "My car can squash your head like a watermelon!!!", smile and wave.  It's just me expressing my safety concerns to a near-by cyclist.


Sharon said...

Within fifteen minutes of arriving in Seattle for the very first time, I noticed the cyclists being jerks. It's one of the reasons we moved to Portland instead!

(Not that Portland cyclists are saints, and don't get me started on our stupid green traffic boxes.)

The Bug said...

I hear you on this one - you're either a bicycle or a pedestrian - you can't be both. And you can't be a ninja who can defy ALL the rules of the road.

My dad doesn't think that bicycles should be allowed on the road at all - he lives in the land of two lane roads with no shoulder so it can be dangerous trying to get around them (or, you know, you could just drive 25 miles an hour - if they're even going that fast).

poobail said...

I agree! In Denver we have many cyclists who abide by the laws, I saw a man with his kids walking their bikes across the street, I thought, good for you, teaching them correctly! Then on the same day I saw a helmet-less man just cruise through an intersection disregarding all safety laws. They are putting many people at risk, their own lives, and those of us who may hit them, or swerve to avoid them and end up hitting another car. It's very sad that they won't follow the rules of the road.

Conrad R. said...

Most of the time, I am thinking "hey, don't crowd me, hey, respect my place in traffic, hey don't cut me off when you make a right turn, hey don't open your door into my path"
I'm not excusing poor cyclists, been known to yell at them myself, but motorists need to respect the same laws and slow down until it is safe to pass on the two lane roasd, to look more often and to not startle, lest we lose control right under you. Speaking from my own experience of being shouted at, for kicks, and having things hurled at me from cars while being a pedestrian AND biking, there is plenty of bad behavior to go around.

Sara said...

Conrad, I hear you on horrible car driver behavior. I lived near an intersection where ghost bikes appeared regularly throughout the year.

I wish we'd all be more careful for ourselves and each other.