All Riled Up

I was feeling pretty calm this morning, until I read an article linked to by Cycle Dog. In this Opinion column in the DCist, the author discusses his right to all of the privileges of an automobile on the roads, and his right to ignore all of the laws governing the operation of automobiles when his mood dictates. This is followed by many, mostly angry comments.

I’ll say up front that I have run a few stop signs and red lights in my day. However, I don’t feel that I was right to do so, and I do it much less now than I used to. (I still have trouble at intersections where the lights are controlled by sensors. It seems that I don’t trigger them, so after a while, I just go.)

If we want bicycles to be accepted as rightful users of the road, we have to follow all of the rules AND be cautious and courteous at all times. It only takes one self-absorbed rider to give the wrong impression that the rest of us have to live with. (And the bike delivery boys from Jimmy John’s are pissing off enough drivers for all of us!)

My favorite quote from the comments is:

My question is, how should drivers react to someone on a bike who wants to take up a whole lane, but is going 10mph down say Key Bridge or Wisconsin Ave during rush hour?

I’d like to direct the commenter to this post.

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4 Responses to All Riled Up

  1. budda43 says:

    I agree that all riders should obey traffic laws whenever possible but I have to disagree with the notion that one self-absorbed rider ruins it for the rest of us.

    I get buzzed by self-absorbed drivers all the time and I don’t hold it against any of the other drivers whom I see obeying the laws and treating me with respect.

    If a driver wants to generalize all riders because he sees one dope running a red-light or riding the wrong way on a one way street, that falls under the category of his problem, not ours.

    The truth is, motorists who have that attitude are going to have that attitude regardless of how many law-abiding cyclists they see.

  2. Dan says:

    You’re probably right. I guess I’m the optimistic sort that thinks we can change the world.

  3. Tom Stormcrowe says:

    Some of the drivers over on my side of town leave a LOT to be desired! Your side of the river is a lot more cycle friendly, believe me!

  4. Caloi-Rider says:

    I think the frustration stems largely from a lack of awarness with regard to the laws. Fixing that awareness problem is going to be incredibly difficult given that most traffic laws change from state to state and city to city. For example, in Idaho, cyclists are permitted to not stop at stop signs, but in Salmon, Idaho, you’re not even allowed to ride your bike on the road.
    Personally, I’m okay with cars passing me, as long as they give due clearance–none of that six inches stuff from the passing dumptrucks and diesels.
    My psychologist stepdad would probably want me to mention that people who are pushing their physical extremes are more prone to express their emotions–say things they wouldn’t otherwise say because of social constraints (I don’t recall the name of this particular psychological phenomenon)–and it would probably help if drivers were aware of that before they lip off to a cyclist.
    So don’t feel too bad about what you said to the sheriff’s deputy that one day.

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