OK. I’m angry and I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute. (Again its my blog. Also I am listening to the Repo Man soundtrack, so I am juiced on punk music right now ;))

A friend of mine posted a link to the following picture:

And the following was posted as a reply (not edited): “I love bikes and cycling but the “i have the right” argument is westboro baptist territory. I espouse a polite sharing model, not a righteous one.”

This is where reality and “lets all play nice” diverge.

This was my reply (edited to remove names):

“Have you ever had a car play chicken with you on a bike? Cross lanes of traffic and accelerate towards you? I have. Seven of us almost died when the guy in the truck almost lost control of his truck (getting back into his lane). I am all for polite sharing of the road. I bike on the edge when possible. I obey traffic rules. But the reality is that as a biker I have to be alert and defensive with ALL cars. I have to be alert when a car comes up from behind. Will he/she give me enough room? What about that pothole on the shoulder, do I have enough room to go around it? Are they passing me going up a hill? What will I do if a car comes from the other direction at the same time? If I make a mistake OR the person in the car makes a mistake, I get hurt. Plain simple fact. The car driver may have a bad day, but I have a bad rest of my life.”

Yes, there are inconsiderate bikers out there. Yes there are careful drivers out there. But I am tired of having to defend my right to be on the road biking. The reality is that it is dangerous to bike on the roads. The reality is that the consequences are not the same for a driver and a biker. All it takes is one careless moment from a driver to really ruin things while you are on a bike. Here is the thing that I don’t think people who drive, but don’t bike miss:

It doesn’t even require a malicious act. Just a careless one.

Car drivers are surrounded by steel and airbags. Bikers are surrounded by pavement and high speed steel objects that fly past.

I bike the way I do to try to protect myself from cars. Maybe that comes across as inconsiderate to drivers sometimes. And maybe I need to look at myself. (This also may be why I have been so drawn to mountain biking. Fewer cars, more nature. Even though I crash more often, it is in a way more relaxing.)

So how about this? Let’s all take a deep breath. I will try to be as predictable and careful as I can. I will continue to call out my fellow riders who bike unsafely. I will try to give you room to get by. In return, slow down if you need to pass. Wait if there is no room. It will open up and you will be able to get by and resume a normal speed. Wait till we crest the hill to pass so you can see if the oncoming lane is clear. Realize that I am not trying to slow you down, I am just trying to stay whole.

You are still going to get to where you need to go.

And I will get home, safely.


2 thoughts on “Cars

  1. Oh, I won’t go deep into the car vs bike territory. I hate that it is a “vs” kind of discussion anyway. But what really irks me is that drivers behave as if they have a right to pass at any time, that they have a right to go as fast as they want all the time, and that they have a right to ignore me because I’m not in a car.

    You’ve got to be hyper-vigilant out there.

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