Motorists Should Know

Millions of people bicycle safely on public roads. But many are scared away because motorists sometimes pass too closely, honk, or tell cyclists to get off the road. Though these behaviors are not the most common source of injuries to cyclists, they are unsafe and illegal. The traffic law says that drivers must pass at a safe distance. When a travel lane is not wide enough to share, safe bicyclists move to the middle of the lane to insure that motorists use the next lane over to pass or wait until it is safe.

Cyclists who ride too close to the edge of the road are risk colliding with suddenly-opening doors of parked cars or falling due to hazards such as sand, poor pavement, or debris. Motorists can help prevent crashes with cyclists by taking care to follow the rules on yielding and turning. Make sure to yield to cyclists when turning left or entering the road from a side street, driveway, or parking lane. Merge completely to the far right edge of the road in advance of making a right turn. Wait for any bicyclist ahead to clear the intersection before you make a right turn — do not turn across the path of the cyclist. Even if there is a bike lane, you should merge into the bike lane before turning right.

Cyclists, in turn, can make themselves safer and respected. Competent cyclists politely cooperate with other drivers by yielding when required, choosing the correct lane at intersections, using lights at night, and otherwise following the same traffic laws as motorists. Such cyclists are far safer than inexperienced cyclists.

Sadly, police and courts don’t always protect cyclists and their right to safe travel. All cyclists are often blamed because some cyclists break rules. The traffic laws apply to individuals, not groups, and protect even those who have previously broken laws. Please ask the police to enforce the traffic laws to protect the public: from cyclists who ride unlawfully and from motorists who use their vehicle to harass or threaten, or who violate the rules on safe passing, turning, or yielding.

The Selfish Motorist Thinks The Wise Cyclist Replies
Bicyclists don’t belong on the road. Bicyclists are considered drivers of vehicles and therefore have the same rights to the road as motorists.
Bicyclists belong on the sidewalk. Bicycling on the sidewalk is dangerous to both pedestrians and bicyclists, and is frequently illegal.
Bicyclists aren’t licensed so they shouldn’t be on the road. There is a common law right for anyone to use the public roads. Driving a motor vehicle can create a public danger and therefore is a privilege that can be revoked.
Bicyclists don’t pay fuel taxes so they don’t belong on the road. Paying fuel taxes does not give you the right to use the roads. Moreover, local road work is chiefly funded out of general tax revenues. Almost all bicyclists, or their parents, also drive cars and therefore pay fuel taxes. The cost of bicyclists using the road is minimal compared to the congestion and road damage created by cars and trucks.
Bicyclists delay traffic. Most traffic delay is caused by cars. Bicyclists on a narrow road with traffic volumes close to capacity can create delay. Often the delay may be more apparent than real, as motorists catch up to where they would have been in the wait at traffic lights. Widening narrow roads by a few feet can eliminate the potential delay caused by bicyclists. It is impossible for anyone to use the roads without occasionally causing delay to others.
Bicyclists don’t belong on the road because they ignore traffic signals and other road rules. Just because some bicyclists ignore the rules doesn’t change the law, which says that bicyclists may use the road. The law does also say that bicyclists must follow the traffic rules. Doing so makes bicycling much safer, and increases bicycling’s public esteem.
Engineers should design roads for motor vehicles. Roads should be designed with all legal vehicles in mind, including bicycles.
Accounting for bicycles in designing roads is difficult and expensive. All bicyclists require is smooth and well-maintained pavement, drain grates which are outside of the travel way or otherwise do not prevent a hazard, loop detectors which are sensitive to bicycles, and either smooth shoulders or slightly wider lanes, or both, on arterial and major collector roads.
We built bicycle paths so bicyclists should stay off the roads. Bicyclists who know how to operate in traffic can ride safely almost anywhere; those who do not get hurt everywhere. Some bikeway designs make bicycling slower, more dangerous, or both for bicyclists who want to get some place. Every road is a bikeway.


  1. While a bicycle can be technically considered a “vehicle”, the real issue is the weight class, speed capabilities, and inertia of the two “vehicles”, and how they compare to the average weight, speed, and inertia of pedestrians.

    A bicyclist will rarely exceed (or even reach) 20mph, and a person walking will generally walk between 2 and 5 mph. The only difference in weight between a bicyclist and a pedestrian is the weight of the actual bicycle – 10 pounds, maybe 15? Neither one belongs in the car-sized lane with the multi-ton machinery of automobiles, capable of much higher speeds and consequently unable to stop as quickly.

    Simply put, if it’s between the sidewalk and the road, bikes belong on the sidewalk. Speed, weight, and simple likelihood of FATALITY should be the deciding factor, not “whether one considers a bicycle a ‘vehicle'”. Lives are at stake here, over a ridiculous misjudgment of literalism.

    All the right of way laws in the world do not override inertia; a bike is not likely to kill a pedestrian; a car is very likely to kill a bicyclist; accidents happen.

  2. In response to “Selfish Motorist”: following your logic, why should we permit motorcycles, Smart cars or Minis on roads with SUVs on them? Or for that matter, why should we permit SUVs on roads with cement trucks and 18-wheelers? In all of these cases, in the event of a collision the larger vehicle will obliterate the smaller one. You can’t overcome inertia. Lives are at stake. Accidents happen. Keep all but the 18-wheelers and cement trucks off the road. I guarantee you we will save lives.

  3. Motorcycles are most hazardous to those who ride them (with the exception of the maniac kamikaze ninja riders who weave between the lanes of traffic at 100mph on the highways).

    However once again, I assert that the standard of safety we should be considering FIRST is the likelihood of FATALITY resulting from a vehicle.

    Motorcycles, Smart Cars, Mini’s, Pickup Trucks, Minivans, Sedans, SUV’s, Tractor Trailers, and Buses (did I forget any motorized, high-speed vehicles whose weight and potential speed could hinder their ability to stop quickly?) are all far more likely to kill the unseen bicyclist than that same bicyclist is likely to do much harm, if any, to a pedestrian. Pedestrians and bicycles belong together far more than motorized vehicles and bicycles. Peds and Bikes alike, allow for better reaction time by coexisting on sidewalks. Automobiles typically travel at the speed limit, which is usually above the capabilities of a bicycle, which is one more reason bikes do not belong in the lane.

    Worse yet, is that the bicyclist in the road poses a danger to more than just him/herself; suddenly braking to avoid hitting a bicyclist in a lane built to fit the width of cars can cause a deadly multi-car pile-up. Even if I as a driver am cautious enough to look out for bicyclists, should I have to risk being rear ended?

    Automobiles – all motor-driven vehicles – exceed the natural speeds that human reaction time was originally designed to respond efficiently to, and are thus in what I would call the “deadly” class. Bicycles aren’t likely to cause much injury than someone running at full speed without watching where they’re going.

    (As for tractor-trailers and other gigantic vehicles, that’s a much worse danger all on its own. I don’t disagree with you; it’s just that our economy would virtually shut down without them. I’ve always thought, idealistically, that a separate road system should be built for those types of vehicles to protect the other drivers who wouldn’t stand a chance. But then again, this is the same line of thinking that makes me think that bikes should be off the roads altogether: safety for the one who doesn’t stand a chance in an accident.)

  4. You assume that motorists must inevitably run into bicyclists because they are going more slowly. To avoid a collision with a same direction bicyclist the motorist must either:

    Case 1. Do nothing but steer slightly to the left because the lane is wide enough to safely share.

    Case 2. Make a partial or full lane change. This requires that there be enough time, base on the speed differential and the sight distance, to check that it is safe to move left.

    Case 3. Slow down to the bicyclist’s speed. The sight distance to the bicycle must be greater than the braking distance.

    Calculations and experience have shown that Cases 1 and 2 cover most situations. In case 3, collisions are generally avoided except when:
    – the bicyclist is not detected soon enough (e.g., no lights at night) (this applies to cases 1 and 2 as well).
    – the motorist is traveling much faster than is safe (generally well in excess of the posted speed limit)
    – the motorist is inattentive (texting, etc.)

    In other words, collisions occur because of illegal and dangerous behavior by one or more parties, not because bicyclists cannot safely co-exist on public roads.

    I have yet to hear of one case of sudden braking to avoid bicyclist causing a multi-car pile-up. And there is a good reason: such crashes occur when motorists are following other motorists too closely. Motorists generally do not follow bicyclists — they pass at the first opportunity. When they do follow, it is at such a slow speed that there is no risk of collision due to sudden braking.

  5. Case 1 – The last direction that I would ever want to swerve as a motorist is toward the left, toward oncoming traffic. Just for the convenience of a bicyclist to have waaaay more space than he/she needs, I’m expected to steer toward oncoming motor vehicle traffic? You assume there actually IS room for both a bike’s and car’s width in the lane, which there rarely is. The lane is built to accommodate the width of one motor vehicle, only.

    Case 2 – Yes, as you said, this is dependent upon the circumstances working out in the motorist’s favor.

    Case 3 – This is the aforementioned pile-up waiting to happen. You seem to assume that a motorist going a normal motor vehicle speed is going to have PLENTY of time to see a bicycle in the lane ahead, but this is ideal at best. Much more often, when driving the car that comes up directly behind the bicycle in a lane, it is more of a surprise and calls for fast reaction and braking, and cars behind that car often cannot see the bicyclist through that car.

    The circumstances you use as reference place all of the burden of responsibility on the motorist, and do so in excess. In actual practice, most of the times that I’ve personally seen a bicyclist in traffic, they are happy to accept the privilege of being allowed to use the lane while ignoring all of the traffic rules they, themselves, are expected to adhere to.

    Laws regarding safety should not be based on ideals unless they’re going to be enforced, and as you and I both know, they rarely are on the part of the bicyclist. They run stop signs, neglect to signal turns, and any other violation that they feel like doing on a moment’s notice, with almost complete impunity. When the laws of nature occasionally do kick in and they are injured because of it, it is the motorist who is blamed and suffers for it.

    This general mindset of bicyclists’ denial that they are causing any risk is part of the problem here. It’s always either the fault of the motorist behind them, or the fault of the motorist behind the other motorist. But conveniently, never could it be the tiny-framed 2-wheeled slow-moving vehicle riding 15 mph in a 35mph zone in the car-sized lane, paying no attention to the rules save for the one that says that cars have to “share” the road with bikes that essentially monopolize it when they choose to occupy it.

  6. Now, I can foresee us continuing not to see eye to eye on this, which I also foresaw before my last response as well. I do thank you for your respectful and well-thought-out responses, and appreciate you taking the time to make them.

    One of the biggest reasons that bicycle safety and traffic safety in general continue to be an issue for all involved, is that so many people do not follow the laws. If no one follows the laws, the police can’t very well arrest/ticket everyone; they could never keep up. So instead, human as they are, the police overlook very common infractions and drivers continue to do as they always have gotten away with doing.

    This is the biggest reason that despite having several strong points in the sense of “if only everyone did what they were supposed to this would all work out”, I’m opposed to bikes occupying car lanes because I accept and even expect that people WILL definitely continue to ignore rules en masse and will continue to get away with it.

    Cars, buses, trucks, 18-wheelers, trash trucks, etc, are all already taking a gamble with life when they get on the road and reach most speed limits. (eg, 35mph is fast enough to wrap a ribcage around a steering wheel.) For that reason, cars are made to collapse in on themselves to absorb the level of shock that a collision of that class would induce.

    But putting a much slower, more lightweight vehicle that offers no protection to its operator in the same lane with large tonnage of fast-moving machinery only exacerbates the situation.

  7. This is classic… Selfish Motorist is claiming that because some motorists can’t drive safely cyclists should be removed from the equation so that they can hit other cars in peace.

    How about driving safely as an answer? SUDDENLY braking for a bicycle that is directly in front of you? WHY would you have to SUDDENLY brake this high speed vehicle? Can a motorist avoid running into a postal truck? A garbage truck? A stop light? If your looking where you are going, you route around the cyclist. If your not tailgating the car in front of you (2-3 second gap… it’s THAT easy)… you don’t rear end them or run over the bike that the car in front of you went around safely.

    That is why those of us in the know do NOT take “Share the lane” as “Ride in the gutter/glass/stormdrains so that a car can clip you, right hook you, and then claim you must have swerved”. We move further out into the traffic so you can SEE us in FRONT of you at a distance, and you can simply use your turn signal to indicate you are going to pass and either change lanes or plan your pass when safe to do so. It’s the Selfish Drivers that think “Share the Road” means “Get the Hell out of MY Way”. Sharing is actually aimed at the drivers… not the cyclists. When I’m biking instead of driving I might impact your total trip time by almost… 5-10 seconds overall… maybe. More than likely not at all, since drivers with this attitude wind it out when they pass and get caught at a stop light 100 feet down the road. Ones that maintain a safe distance from all traffic in front of them (2-3 second gap in the dry daylight, 6 in rain, 10 in snow), when encountering a cyclist that is riding about where the vehicles right tire track is, rarely find their time effected at all. It’s just those drivers that are doing things besides driving, and driving in a dangerous manner for whatever reason… late for something? To cool to follow the rules? Got that 500hp motor and need to show it off in a 30mph speed zone?

    The motorist is almost ALWAYS at fault and rarely if ever gets as much as a traffic infraction issued when KILLING a cyclist. Often the cyclist is issued one that got hit just to justify NOT charging the motorist, assumed guilty for being in an out group.

    It’s human psychology and it’s ignorance on motorists part that gets cyclists killed. The motorist is the one driving the deadly vehicle, they are the one that should be shouldering the responsibility for their actions when operating it. You don’t blame outlaw Quicky Marts because people rob them… you blame the people committing the act, NOT the victim.

  8. Aptly named “Selfish Motorist” states that the standard to be considered first is the likelihood of a fatality resulting from a vehicle. By this criterion, motor vehicles should be banned because they have a much higher likelihood of causing a fatality than a bicycle. Also, consider that in 2007 there were over 35,000 US motorist fatalities compared to about 700 cyclist fatalities. Again, if fatalities are the main factor then the largest impact is obtained by reducing motor-vehicle use.

    The my-mass-is-bigger-than-your-mass approach to crash dynamics implied by “Selfish Motorist” is also a gross oversimplification. For one thing, a cyclist hit by a car absorbs only a small fraction of the energy originally possessed by the car. The forces and energies involved in two motor vehicles colliding are far higher and mitigate the protective features of the vehicle bodies (which is how you get 35,000 fatalities per year). In addition, the higher mass sometimes works against motorists. Motorists are often crushed between parts of their own vehicle body. Rollovers are a common crash type, and a bicycle rollover is not going to be as serious as a SUV rollover. Although less common, motorists also either burn or drown while trapped in their vehicles.

    Crash data indicate that motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians all have roughly similar fatality rates that fall in the general range between 0.1 and 1.0 fatalities per million hours of travel. Motorcyclists, in contrast, are more like 10-15 fatalities per million hours. For reasons that are clearly not understood by “Selfish Motorist”, crash data also show that cyclists who use sidewalks are actually more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle than those using the road.

    The real problem here is that motorists think a driver’s license is a deed to the roadway when it really is just a permit to operate a piece of hazardous machinery.

  9. There are some uninformed motorists who don’t notice bicycles or believe that their size gives them the right of way. Bikes are small and hard to notice. It might improve over time, but there will always be ignorant people.

    The biker should take responsibility for safety. Motorists should too, but many won’t.

    — know that some of the cars have “Uninformed Motorists” and watch out for them
    — stay off the sidewalk where it is harder to be seen at cross walks, and easy to run over pedestrians.
    — have a mirror and watch out for vehicles passing too closely
    — stay alert, be prepared to stop if you get cut-off, and slow down at intersections.

    When motorists claim that bikes are walking path toys that should stay off the roads they are not selfish. They have not fully considered the benefits of cycling, and don’t realize that bikes are also a practical form of transportation. Bikes are better than cars in some cases. Bikes don’t pollute, are easy to park, are efficient and low cost, and are faster where there is lots of traffic.

    If informed motorists can not be convinced that bicycles should be on the road I suppose that their vehicle makes them feel powerful and putting down bikes helps them feel better about their time spent in traffic jams, pollution, fuel costs and/or obesity.

  10. This is a life and death issue.

    Some bicyclists break laws a lot (and often shouldn’t).

    Most motorists in Minneapolis drive unsafely.

    And then people get upon these message boards and try justifying this stuff. Op- ed pieces are written about how “Bikes should get off the road” and “I’m going to run you over”. Cut it out, damnit. People are dying here (in Minneapolis a biker was killed today May 20; elsewhere in MN a biker was killed May 16, 2009; fatalities happen nearly every month. We who pay attention know people are dying.)

    Motorists who take that cavalier attitude are basically homicides waiting to happen. Your cool intellectual analysis doesn’t clear your blame, and your “get off my roads or else” attitude makes people wish you were dead instead of your next victim. You’re going to kill a human being.

    You should know by now this is not the way, tsk, tsk. If you want to be killing people you’re, um, wrong.

    But who knows, maybe you’re right bicycles don’t belong on the road. Same thing with pedestrians crossing the road, motorcycles, mopeds, subcompact cars, Amish buggies, cops on bikes, joggers, etc. It could be argued that people who might fall to harm or death (ie all people) should be prohibited from being on the road.

    Do bicyclists have to start carrying firearms to protect themselves? Motorists are trying to hit us. Really.

  11. I have no problem with bicycles on the road, AS LONG AS THEY ARE TRAVELING AT THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT, nuff said, end of discussion.

  12. “dude” helpfully points out a frequent misconception: speed limits are maximums, not minimums. In some places the bicyclists might be the only ones obeying the speed rules. Enough said.

  13. If we we go by the logic of motorists we get the assumption that bicyclists don’t belong on the roadways with motor vehicles. I we go by cyclists, then we must allow all vehicles on the roadways including but not limited to Gulf carts, Go carts, Lawn mowers, Segways, Farm equipment such as, tractors, combines, planters, manure spreaders, Bobcats/skidstears, dozers, treaded vehicles, as well as non-treaded vehicles, Aircraft, aircraft maintenance vehicles, and any kind of 4 wheelers, dirt bikes,snowmobiles, as these are all vehicles? Bicycles belong on sidewalks where it is less likely that fatal accidents occur between pedestrians, and bicyclists. The roadways were built for motor vehicles of a specific type, and weight, not for pedestrians, and bicyclists. Bicyclists just want to claim they should have rights to ride whereever they damn well please!Their logic is poor at best! Why should we put both poor drivers, and poor bicyclists together and expect anything less then ideal effects by either one? Why not require bicyclists to be insured, licensed, and registered, and held accountable as the motorists, to help pay for the service that will be required for accident recovery personnel? After all, If they waant equal rights, shouldn’t they have to pay equally, and be held equally responsible? You can’t have it both ways?
    That is called having your cake and eating it too!

  14. That’s why cops give out tickets to motorists driving to slowly its just as dangerous as driving to fast.

  15. As a cyclist and a motor vehicle operator, with a few years of experience, I feel that I must agree with Informed Motorist–
    The biker should take responsibility for safety. Motorists should too, but many won’t.

    – know that some of the cars have “Uninformed Motorists” and watch out for them
    – stay off the sidewalk where it is harder to be seen at cross walks, and easy to run over pedestrians.
    – have a mirror and watch out for vehicles passing too closely
    – stay alert, be prepared to stop if you get cut-off, and slow down at intersections.

    All of which I do. The biggest thing is to USE YOUR MIRROR, to monitor the traffic behind you, just like you would if you were driving.
    I also do anything else I can do to increase my visibility—reflective lighted vest,plenty of lights on my bike.

    I don’t feel that bicycling is any more dangerous than just about anything else a person can do.

    I also feel that most accidents are the result of illegal and dangerous behavior by one or more parties, not because bicyclists cannot safely co-exist on public roads, stated above in one of the previous posts.

  16. Reading comments from ‘Selfish’, ‘Bub’ ‘Dude’ and others shows that our minimal standards for licensing motor vehicle operators are totally inadequate. People, please read your state’s highway traffic act, or at least look at the pictures in the driver’s handbook. You were supposed to know this stuff before you got behind the wheel.

    If you don’t like sharing the road with cyclists, stay on the interstates and controlled access highways. That’s where bicycles aren’t allowed. By your attitudes you’re not fit to drive anywhere else.

  17. it does make it more dangerous on the road when we have to make special rules for certain individuals,on bikes namely,motorist should not be held accountable if a person on a bike gets hurt,same goes for motorcyles ,these people know when you get on a bike or motorcyle in traffic you are putting yourself in more danger than in a regular motor vehicle,PERIOD.ITS A FACT THAT CANNOT BE CHANGED.I AS A REGULAR MOTORIST WILL TRY MY BEST NOT TO HIT SOMEONE BUT WE CANNOT ALWAYS CONTROL EVERYTHING!!!

  18. Living near Seattle, I have to deal with bicyclists nearly everyday. Sadly about a third of them are less than ambassadors to your cause. They cut into crosswalks at lights to avoid the light, completely ignore stop signs, sometimes ride 2-4 riders abreast on a roadway where cars cannot safely pass, and when riding on paths they tend to assume they can just blitz across a roadway without regard for any approaching cars. While in some instances they can have right of way, it needs to be tempered with some wisdom. As a driver, sometimes the only savior is defensive driving. Unfortunately a large percentage of cyclists practice offensive riding. Realistically, there needs to be better education for cyclists and motorists alike in regards to bicycles.

  19. All of these negative comments I have read are just nonsense, and really Stupid. I, myself, am NOT one of those careless cyclists who seem to think they can just do whatever they want and not face any consequences. I ride with traffic, on the Right side of the road, walk across crosswalks and ”Take the lane” when it is too narrow to safely share with a 5 foot wide automobile. Cars don’t kill people, it’s the incompetent, rude and Ignorant,careless driver’s in cars that do kill people.
    Get over yourself’s and share the roadway with other’s, or try riding a bike. Enough said.

  20. CE Benz, I too live in Seattle, and I know what you mean there are A LOT of bicyclists who don’t obey any rules, and it is annoying. However, I don’t think that’s what we’re arguing. Sidewalks are for things without wheels, people. Bike’s were on the roads long before cars. In many areas there aren’t even sidewalks for bikes to be on. Or, have you ever been to new york city? Do you think a bike could make it through the sidewalks there? Also just as an aside, I think some biker’s do register their bike with the city. I think bike’s should be ticketed just the same as cars. However, I think there are a lot of asshole driver’s out there who do force bikes off the road and they deserve tickets for it.

    Dennis, correct me if I’m wrong but I have seen back hoes drive (at probably 5 mph) where cars had to wait to go around. I’m pretty sure a lot of those things can go on the road if they want, most likely they aren’t practical. I have even seen a video of a man driving a lawn mower on a rural road with a beer, and get pulled over and given a DUI.

  21. I had avoided riding my bicycle since moving to a big city. If I rode, I loaded the bikes and kids in the car and we went to a trail somewhere.

    I recently started going to a college that 1) is in biking distance from my home, and 2) half that distance consists of an off-road bike path.

    Great, right? Save $100 a year on parking, and save time sitting in campus traffic and finding a parking spot.

    Problem: the four city blocks I have to travel to get to bike path!!!!

    To all those motorists who think bikes should be on the sidewalk:

    Borrow a bike and ride FOUR CITY BLOCKS on the f***ing SIDEWALK!!!

    1) It’s a lot harder when your holding a bike to jump out of the way of right-turning motorists who aren’t even LOOKING in the direction of the crosswalk!

    2) It’s a lot harder to jump out of the way of cars pulling out of parking lots who aren’t even LOOKING at the sidewalk!

    3) benches

    4) children walking to and from school

    5) old people with groceries

    6) young people with baby strollers

    7) young people with toddlers… toddling

    8) bus stops

    9) people waiting at bus stops

    10) people in wheelchairs

    11) people in wheelchairs waiting at bus stops

    12) telephone poles

    13) powerboxes

    14) what the hell is that & why is it in the middle of the sidewalk??

    15) oh, yeah… it’s ILLEGAL to ride your bike on the sidewalk!

    Anyone who thinks bikes belong on the sidewalk should try riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. It won’t take long for you to admit you were wrong (maybe when you find out that the idiot in the SUV who pulled out of a parking lot without even looking won’t be responsible for your medical bills because you weren’t supposed to be riding your bike on the sidewalk anyway).

    I may get honked at and cussed at by a**hole motorists when I’m in the middle of a lane, but at least they see me, and I’m less likely to get hurt; and I’m not going to hurt someone who DOES belong on the sidewalk.

  22. Are you kidding me? All these colleges and nobody is using them…I don’t drive my Hummer on your bike path,stay off the road which was funded by, built for and licensed for motor vehicles!

  23. I live in Denver, land of the bicyclist… if there is a bike lane, great.. have at it.. but as you all know, most roads are built to have parking on each side, and then room for one car. They simply aren’t constructed for both types of vehicles… unless speed limit maximums are reduced significantly, having a vehicle going less than half the speed of another in the same direction is insanity. Of course it would be a better world if more people rode bikes to work, etc… gas prices are ridiculous and it’s horrible for the planet. But since most drivers are pretty indifferent to bicyclists, and at least a third of bicyclists fail to observe even the most basic rules of the road, having them only ride on safer roads with observed bike lanes makes sense. It isn’t that motorists are being rude, it’s that cars used to much lighter, slower and easier to coexist with bikes. Times change. Roads haven’t. Period.

  24. @Greg — Is it obvious that “having a vehicle going less than half the speed of another in the same direction is insanity”? In your example, with one travel lane and on street parking, how do you get into the parking? You stop (0 mph) and back up (negative mph). So how come it’s perfectly sane to have motorists parallel parking (or double-parking), but somehow insane to have bicyclists traveling much faster?
    Also, bicycles are narrow. If the travel lane and parking lane are a just a few feet wider than the minimums in the design manuals, as is often the case, especially if there is only one travel lane, there is plenty of room for motorists to pass bicyclists just by crowding toward the center of the road, even if the bicyclist is safely outside the door zone.
    If you are concerned about bicyclists breaking the traffic law — as indeed am I — please tell Denver police and politicians that they should enforce the law even-handedly, including ticketing bicyclists. Also make sure they have some plainclothes officers on bikes in case there are still motorists who don’t know that bicyclists have equal rights.

  25. To selfish motorist. I see what you’re trying to say between the lines here. O.K. that’s fine. I’ll say it IN the lines. If you want to try to use a fifty cent word where it doesn’t really apply I’m game. Inertia, often measured in foot pounds of force is indeed on the side of the larger vehicle. Because of thick headed motorists who believe the way you do, (Riding on the sidewalk is Illegal where I live by the way) I have taken to carrying something in my tire bag that greatly evens up the disparity in vehicle weight. If you’re going to try to scare or “graze” me with your car/truck, you had better kill me. If I catch back up to you which is what happens most of the time, my inertia equalizer will be used to make certain you think twice before doing it again.

    I don’t like to come off this way. You must understand however, no matter how you feel about my bicycle being on “YOUR” road, you have no right whether legal, ethical, or moral to use your vehicle as a weapon for your inability to maintain your temper, or, to leave enough time for yourself so that seeing a bicycle riding along is not going to turn your face red and foam to leave your mouth.

    I’ve had too many occasions wherein a man or woman who’s in dire need of anger management classes think it’s perfectly O.K. to throw things out the window at me, honk their horn, screech the tires by dangerous braking, or even to actually hit me with their car. These were all occasions where I was thoroughly obeying all traffic laws pertaining to the jurisdiction I’m riding in.

    Here’s a good rule of thumb no matter how you feel about bike vs motor vehicle laws and venues. Treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself. It’s quite simple actually. And if you’re really that mad because you think that bicycle is going to make you late for work, then you need to learn to leave yourself enough time so that this type of stress ceases to occur. This is as a matter of fact the only thing you have control over in said situation.

    Please! What would you do if it were your child on that bicycle? Remember, DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. It’s an easy one to follow really.

  26. i am frustrated at the bicyclists who choose to ride on a windy country road in westchester NY when there are beautiful bike trails that were created especially for them. there are also roads that are wide enough and straight enough to fit a bike trail along side. why choose a road that has no shoulder??? Do you have some sort of death wish?? I was told by one cyclist that they ride it to get more mileage ?? not very logical. They can ride the bike trail for miles and miles and turn around and ride it again if they haven’t conquered their cyclist goals. I believe that roads are for motor vehicles, especially narrow country roads. I can appreciate their stamina and discipline and hard work it takes to ride up hills and around curves but why put your life at risk as well as mine? I don’t drive my car on your bike path. That would be dangerous too. I don’t want to hit you but i sometimes have to swurve around you to avoid hitting you and then I am in the opposite lane and what if a car is heading around the sharp turn and hits me??? Are you really that selfish?? Yes, I drive around garbage trucks and mail trucks but not one every 2 ft. It’s just dangerous….as if driving itself doesn’t pose enough risks. You can see that i’m sure. So why the debate? Bike trails=bikes. Roads=motor vehicles. It’s safe for us all that way.

  27. I had a similar incident today in Michigan City, IN where a motorist attempted to run me off the road because I was there. I was in the center of the lane of a two lane road which had rough pavement on the edge and numerous crossing streets with poor visibility. He and I were the only two vehicles on the road at that moment, btw.
    He started honking about 1/4 mile away and continued as he passed, brushing me with his car as he went by and shouting obscenities. I’d like to say I turned cheek, but I can’t. Over the next 1/2 mile we had a rather heated exchange, which really didn’t accomplish much, unfortunately. His refrain was that I had no right to be on the road, and I should be hugging the curb, etc. etc.
    Bottom line however, is that he endangered my life by brushing me, and I took extreme offense to that. I have a conceal carry permit, and often do carry, except for when I ride….today’s experience has got me thinking about a new holster, as I will defend my life, should this type of thing happen again.

  28. I had a similar incident today in Michigan City, IN where a motorist attempted to run me off the road because I was there. I was in the center of the lane of a two lane road which had rough pavement on the edge and numerous crossing streets with poor visibility. He and I were the only two vehicles on the road at that moment, btw.
    He started honking about 1/4 mile away and continued as he passed, brushing me with his car as he went by and shouting obscenities. I’d like to say I turned cheek, but I can’t. Over the next 1/2 mile we had a rather heated exchange, which really didn’t accomplish much, unfortunately. His refrain was that I had no right to be on the road, and I should be hugging the curb, etc. etc.
    Bottom line however, is that he endangered my life by brushing me, and I took extreme offense to that. I have a conceal carry permit, and often do carry, except for when I ride….today’s experience has got me thinking about a new holster, as I will defend my life, should this type of thing happen again.

  29. Where i live we have quite a few bicyclist and runners who think that it is smart to run and cycle at night. They also believe that it is perfectly safe to do so on a road that has no shoulders, lots of curves, accidents are never anyones fault due to the narrowness, and best of all a 50mph speed limit. Only one or two of the seasoned cyclist even have lights. I’m not supporting either party but if you are going to cycle then due so smartly and not on roads that are already dangerous for cars. FYI my city built a 16mile greenway that is about 10yd wide, why don’t they use it?

  30. It’s sad that there are so many cars (and more and more, always more) decreasing everyone’s quality of life and polluting our world. I’m thankful that there are many other people besides myself who choose to walk, ride bikes, and use other forms of human-powered transportation whenever possible (and it’s possible far more often than most people know). And ultimately, I agree with Kirk about using that old Golden Rule, no matter what the situation. Keep up the good fight walkers and cyclists and rollerbladers in making our world a better place.

  31. i was ran over by a woman while riding my bike yesterday. i was in my lane and moved over just a smidge to make a banking right hand turn. she thought i was going left and soon as i moved over went to pass me. she following way to close and i actually turned into her not realizing she was right there as she should have waited till i was more than finished with my turn to speed up. her trailblazer sucked my bike under the front wheel and she ran over my foot. think again when you think about passing too closely to a bicyclist. im about to go after her for my extensive hopsital bills..

  32. Look at the accident statistics. Provided a bicycle has adequate visibility, it is relatively rare that they get hit from the rear. Most accidents happen when a vehicle is entering or leaving the stream of traffic. Statistics will show that bicyclists on the sidewalk are more likely to get hit by a car than those on the street are. Sidewalks cross driveways and streets. Drivers are not looking for a rapid vehicle on a sidewalk.

    The important thing for the motorist to realize is that the bicyclist may not know the safest thing to do. The bicyclist may be a child or developmentally disabled. You can no more demand that they perform to rule than you can require safety training for deer.

    When you get behind the wheel of a car, you might as well be putting your finger onto the trigger of a loaded gun. Presumably, you have a license to control the hazard. Please remember what it said in your driver’s manual about slow moving vehicles, like bicycles. “When approaching a slow moving vehicle from the rear, slow down and stay a safe distance behind until there is enough space to safely pass on the left.”

  33. I am a cyclist. I do not belong on the road. It is easier for a cyclist to slow down and go with the flow of pedestrians (or better yet get off the bike in heavily populated areas) then it is for a car to slow down and go the speed of the bike. Code section 316.183 Unlawful Speed which contains this section:

    (5) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

    By that law all bikes are breaking it. We are no where fast enough to keep up with traffic going usually half the speed. Driving slow can be just as dangerous as speeding and bikes had no choice but to drive slow.

  34. One of the first things you learn in driving school is that being “right” doesn’t automatically prevent you from getting into accidents, which is why you have to drive defensively and be smart.

    For example, I might be the first car at a traffic light. When the light turns green, it’s my “right” to proceed into the intersection. I’m following the rules of the road. However, if I notice out of the corner of my eye that someone else is speeding through the intersection and running the red light, I would be wise to wait and let them pass. I might be “right” to proceed, but I might also be dead if I get T-boned by that driver.

    I think bicycles would do well to heed that advice as well. You might be “right” to ride wherever, whenever, but that’s not going to prevent you from getting into an accident.

    Be smart when you ride. Understand that you ARE an obstruction to the faster moving vehicles. So ride courteously and give drivers a good chance to pass you.

    Don’t ride in the middle of the lane, on a busy street, during rush hour. Don’t try to ride in a turn lane during rush hour. Again, you might be “right,” but you’re putting yourself in a position in which you’re more likely to get into an accident or, worse, get killed.

    Be courteous and give vehicles half a chance to pass you safely. Lose the attitude that you can do whatever you want, including running red lights. Show respect for the rules of the road, and you might earn some respect from your fellow drivers.

    You know cars are going faster than you, so why be aggressive in preventing them from passing? You’re only encouraging people to get angry and more aggressive, and that’s when dangerous decisions are made that cause accidents.

    The battle between the car and the bike will almost always end with the car winning. So again, you might be “right,” but you might also be dead.

  35. @ dude

    >>>I have no problem with bicycles on the road, AS LONG AS THEY ARE TRAVELING AT THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT, nuff said, end of discussion.<<<

    Too bad you're wrong. Many states even have statutes specifically excluding bicycling from the 'minimum speed' ordinances. The standard now considers the vehicle and in the case of bicycles that means slower than posted minimum speed is lawful and acceptable.

    It's too damn bad you're wrong and smug about it. That means you're willfully ignorant.

  36. @ greg

    >>>It isn’t that motorists are being rude, it’s that cars used to much lighter, slower and easier to coexist with bikes. Times change. Roads haven’t. Period.<<<

    ^Another totally incorrect (legally) viewpoint.

    There is a common law right for anyone to use the public roads. Driving a motor vehicle can create a public danger and therefore is a privilege that can be revoked. That's why motor vehicle operators are licensed and cyclists and pedestrians are not.

    I have reviewed at least a dozen states' traffic ordinances and statutes and all ***require*** motor vehicles to give adequate way to cyclists, not the other way around. In fact, in my state and several others it is codified that cyclists may ride two abreast and are not required to yield to passing vehicles. It is the passing vehicle operator's responsibility to pass only when it is safe and clear and to give adequate distance.

    Learn the actual codified laws and you won't sound so ignorant when you rant and whine like a little child.

    A driver's license is not a deed to the road but a revokable permit to operate hazardous machinery. The question is – are you capable?

  37. According to law as a motorist I am not suppose to go over a double yellow line in the road.
    I was on my way home and I saw 2 cyclist riding side by side. There IS a bicycle lane clearly marked for them to ride in. I honked my horn at the cyclist that was riding OUTSIDE THEIR LANE just to let him know that I was there because I WAS NOT going to go over the yellow double in and hit the on coming car. He flipped me the bird which I did not deserve which really made me upset. I put on my brakes and told him that he was NOT IN THE CYCLE LANE and that he needed to move over which he replied with yet another FLIPPED BIRD and on purpose surved in front of my car. Good thing I was not that close but I had to slam on my brakes to avoid him. I have 4 cars behind me. I was very tempted to call the police. My response after the 2nd BIRD was to tell him he was an S of a B. While that was not the adult approach he provoked it. My adult children are cyclist and I occaitionally rise as well. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SURVE INTO ON COMING TRAFFIC.
    Plese reinterate the CYCLE LANE policies in your news letters or haow ever you communicate.

  38. I find this article interesting being both a bicyclist and motorist for all of my entire adult life. But I find it curious that cyclists expect the latitude of occupying a lane of traffic regardless of their own speed or the speed of the flow of traffic, whether there are parked or no parked cars on the right (it is unsafe for cyclist to be surprised by a door flung open by not a motorist? Granted a cyclist may be much harder to see…)

    When I was much younger and cycling was pretty much a way of life (even in the city where I lived) when on our bicycles we were expected to obey the traffic laws including not impeding traffic if our lack of speed caused it!

    I would assume that there are many more cyclists today and that may have something to do with it but common sense seems to be absent in this case and even in the case of motorcyclist who are allowed to occupy the same lane at the same position as another vehicle! Well the lobbyists have helped us become devoid of common sense too!

    Bottom line I guess is watch out for bicyclists, just like you would pedestrians regardless of how safe a cyclist they might be!

  39. Mel, you are incorrect about not crossing the double yellow line. When the way is clear and there is an obstruction ahead, including slow moving vehicles, it is permitted to cross and pass safely, at least in FL and many other states in the US.

    Liar, cyclists will occupy an entire lane because motor vehicle operators have displayed and continue to display an inability to operate safely and considerately with other road users. Motor vehicle operators are (barely) controlling thousands of pounds of steel with a minimum skill level and many do not recognize this.

    Operating in a safe position within the lane also enables the cyclist to be seen, and to be seen earlier than an edge-riding cyclist providing an additional level of convenience to the motorist.

  40. Fred_dot_u Mel is correct, at least in most states.
    A bicycle is not an obstruction, but a slow moving vehicle. When the local or state traffic commission has decided that a stretch of roadway in unsuitable for passing, then double yellow lines are painted and crossing them to pass, other for an obstruction is illegal. An obstruction is not a slow moving vehicle, otherwise one going slower than you (whatever the speed) could be considered by you to be an obstruction, and the purpose of the no passing zone is voided. Disabled vehicles, tree limbs, trash cans, etc… are obstructions. Parking would be prohibited in such a stretch of road if the car could not be passed without crossing the line. In the case of a utility crew working on a pole in the street blocking part of the lane, most jurisdictions would require a flag person or officer to direct traffic.
    If you are in farm country and the farmer is moving his tractor at 15mph on the road, you have no legal option to slow and follow until passing is permitted or the farmer pulls off the road to let you by. (Something I have done numerous times driving my RV in the mountains.)
    Fred don’t confuse this with the law the is standard in most states that says cars must drive right except to pass a slower vehicle, a right turning vehicle or on a one way street – this applies in the case there is no center line (local streets) and dates back to when teamsters, operating wagons and teams of horses met on the roads of the day and the roads were barely wide enough for two.

    In my state of CT the there is no provision to cross a double yellow line for a bicycle, which may be going as slow as 6 mph or over 30 mph down a hill. The issue is only an issue if the motorists believes they have the right to operate at the speed LIMIT (a maximum) not a minimum. Now if a cyclists was to take a lane and pile a ton of traffic behind them, the cyclists could be considered to be obstructing traffic which considering we share the road, should motivate the cyclists to pull off for a moment and let the line of cars pass.

  41. Hi,
    I have friends and relatives that are cyclist. I am not a cyclist. I live in a rural area where biking is very popular. It’s a 4 mile commute from my street to the highway and the speed limit is 45mph. It is a newly paved road with a gravel shoulder. In some places the shoulder is so narrow that the edge of the pavement is 2 ft from the woods. I worry that a biker will be killed. It’s not a matter of who is technically right or wrong. It’s not a matter of motorist/cyclist interpretation of the law.
    If the 80-100 cars that need to make the 4 mi. drive to the highway every day are expected to drive 8mph because it’s not safe, for the cyclist to be passed, then the motorist must take a half hour to drive 4 miles. They are going to get frustrated and take chances. So the cyclist need to stay off of rural winding roads with no shoulder even though it’s really pleasant and fun and it’s legal for them to be there. My grandfather has said that he “would rather meet a lion on the road than a kid on a bicycle because you never know what they are going to do and if you ever ran over one of them they would hang you.” …………Just for the sake of discussion, I wonder what the cops would do if a motorist drove that 4 miles going 8 mph and had a line of cars behind him. He would pull the guy over and tell him to get the hell out of the road before he gets killed. That’s what.

    Rick Stanley

  42. rick stanley, if you begin to suggest limiting access to public roads based on arbitrary values, the risk exists to limit others in a similar manner. It’s common for me to hear that the dozen pounds or so of a bicycle is no match for the thousands of pounds of a motor vehicle, therefore cyclists should not operate on the same surface as those motor vehicles.

    By the same logic, motorists should not operate on roadways because multi-ton trucks operate on them and they are more important than those motorists who are only going shopping or to visit friends or to go to work.

    Begin putting conditions on travel and it will not end there.

    Begin by educating motorists. Require a motor vehicle operator to complete properly a cycling safety course, including on-road experience and things will change.

    I don’t expect to see such educated drivers in my lifetime, so I operate in a manner which improves my safety and the likelihood that I will survive another ride. The greatest delay I have imparted to a following motorist has been 30 seconds and only because the motorist elected to not pass.

    Law enforcement is not likely to cite a motorist for overtaking a cyclist on a double line if done safely for all parties. Florida has had court cases in which the charges against the motorist were dismissed based on the obstruction charge.

    Every state, every law enforcement officer is different. Most motorists are no problem, but how to weed out the dangerous ones?

  43. Rick Stanley
    What has been revealed here in this discussion is a failure of motor vehicle to encompass all users of the road in a practical manner. The Ohio Bike Federation is in the process of, or may have accomplished, changing the No Passing Law to provide an exception in the case where the vehicle (include cyclists) are operating at less than one half the posted speed limit, and can safely pass on the section of roadway in question. Passing a vehicle moving faster extends the distance / time a passing vehicle is in the oncoming traffic lane while a cyclists can be passed in a very short distance.

    If farmer Brown is moving his tractor and hay bailer from one field to another, he is well within his rights to travel down the road at 8 mph, same as a cyclist. The fact that the law does not provide relief for traffic under this circumstance is not a failure of the farmer.

    In your example, it would not be prudent for the farmer or the cyclist to hold up traffic for four miles, and common courtesy would suggest that both pull over or stop and allow traffic to pass when reasonable and prudent to do so. The cyclist makes no friends on the road by asserting his / her rights at the expense of others. Share the road – neither claim it as their own.

  44. Rick Stanley,
    By the way, the calculated time delay of traveling 4 miles at 45mph and 4 miles at 15 mph is approximately 11 minutes, not half an hour. If the cyclist or farmer stopped half way thru the trip to let other vehicles pass, the delay would be half that, a little longer than a typical red light traffic signal.

  45. Suggest make your website text accessible to readers of all ages (and not just children, youth, younger age adults) by making all the type/font/text solid black & bold as you’ve done with people’s names [seen preceding posted comments] & with these words, seen above, as examples: The Selfish Motorist Thinks, The Wise Cyclist Replies. Thanks.
    (otherwise you disenfranchise an enormous % of the population: There are 78 million boomers in the US alone; and millions more born prior to 1945. Our eyes don’t read type font/type as well as we could when we were younger. Unreadable websites are all the rage and very trendy, but for practical effect they’re only designed for those who design them and not for the public). Thanks.

  46. Wow I read a lot of comments and I’m impressed by how stupid a lot of these motorists are. Bikes aren’t ment for roads but for the sidewalk? So it’s safe
    For me to ride my road bike 20mph down the sidewalk? What a joke! I also found it funny that because there are bike trails we should be using them. Listen you can’t drive a road bike on a gravel path that’s suicide road bikes ARE MENT FOR THE ROAD! Duh! I’ve probably bicycled over 2300 miles on east bay roads at this point from Berkeley to Fremont. I’ve done this and fallowed every traffic law I know of. I stop at stop signs, red lights, yield. I don’t use the bike lanes even if they are there because bike lanes are stupid and they are only convenient for motorists they are actually dangerous for bikes. I also find it odd that the bike lane is for car parking? Like what idiot came up with that screwed up idea!? Another reason I wouldn’t ride a trail over and over again to reach my desired mileage is because that would be REALLY boring! Why don’t you try driving up and down the same street in your car trust me it gets VERY boring. Also motorists need to stop honking at bicyclists. This used to bother me now it doesn’t phase me and eventually I’m just going to wave and smile at these drivers when they honk at me because I realize it’s kinda the same as when people honk to cheer people on. I mean come on I’m a bike how fast can you go? Up to 100 mph use your car and go around I shouldn’t have to give you hand signals to get you to go around me get off my ass! Another person said that bicyclists should stay on the trails and not roadways. How many roads are there compared to bike trails? Not many is the answer and they may not even be paved or completed because funding is so awful for trails because we are wasting the money on bike lanes and repaving roads and because there is just generally no funding for anything right now. My city has about 11 designated streets that are bicycle boulevards how bout ill stay off your roads when you stay off those 11 streets completely. It’s sad that I probably have better knowledge of the rules of the road than some drivers for instance your turn signals do not give you the magic ability to make a right turn out of a left turn Lane. I almost got in an accident this morning because I was going straight and there was a driver trying to turn right so I made a lane change and almost got hit in the process because I know I can’t trust any drivers to ever give me the right of way like they are supposed to. Also I know this may be surprising but the flashing red lights are stop signs and the yellow ones mean “watch out”. Also don’t honk at me when I’m in the bike lane simply because you want to illegally use the bike lane for your travel. Yes there are many cyclists that don’t fallow the law and that pisses me off too because I also have to deal with them and their dangerous riding which puts me in danger. Wrong way bicyclists are the worse. Now to pedestrians they need to stop jay walking especially in Oakland!(40th and telegraph to be specific). People need to share the road and fallow all traffic laws this includes bicyclist and pedestrians but especially drivers because they have the deadliest potential of the three to kill people. Also the DMV need to do some serious crack down on stupid drivers you should be tested atleast ever 6 months. I do agree with one person who said that bicyclist should be required to take classes and be certified I think this is a fantastic idea that would educate people and save a lot of lives. Someone also said that because bikes don’t pay taxes they can’t use the roads that’s stupid because I pay taxes and therefore I fund the roadways which means you are driving on my roadway. I also find it funny when drivers don’t know about the loops in the roadway and sit at switch controlled intersections like idiots because they don’t know that there car isn’t on the induction loop which triggers green lights. The bike loops at some intersections do the same thing I basically gave a driver a green light at high street and fernside in alameda by running my bike wheels over the loop. This system works for all roads so if you’ve wondered what those octagons and circles that are saw cut into the roadway that’s what they are. And a motorists best defense against hitting cyclists is defensive driving. Always look for hazards and don’t trust anything.

  47. Don’t ever believe that a bicycle is not a very dangerous weapon to a pedestrian.

    The cyclist who hit me admitted she was going at least 20 mph, and saw me over 100 feet away. She said that she did not attempt to brake, but thought screaming hysterically might make me disappear.

    With no light, and her coming down a series of hills, I couldn’t see her. We’re talking about a very busy, small tourist area on a summer night at sunset. She was leaving a bar where she worked. She asked my husband if she could leave the scene even though I was laying unconscious in the middle of street. The deputy just let her go without doing a blood alcohol. He said hey had no training in bicycle/pedestrian accidents. No accident report done.

    I lay in intensive care for days with over 20 rib fractures, a fractured scapula, and required my lung be drained a couple times. Then there was the concussion since she hit me, impalled me on her handle bars, sending me flying over 12 feet. I think she then ran over me. This person knows the area. Why no light, and why didn’t she even try to brake once.

    One idiot is enough on the road be it a motorist or bicyclist. Uninsured motorist does not pay for medical bills. This person was already in debt, and had no money help.

  48. I can’t believe all the anti bike jerks. So I guess what they are saying is that unless you have several thousand dollars to spend every year on an automobile,gas,insurance, registration, maintenance and repairs you should just stay home because the only legitimate form of transportation is the automobile. Should we be forced to work for and buy those things? As if it’s better to be an in-debt, out of shape, sloth, barreling down the road at 80 mph than it is be a healthy, happy, money saving cyclist. Sure some cyclists are jerks, but the ratio of jerks in cars must be at least as high. I’m certainly not against cars, my wife and I own one, but I commute on my bike 21 miles round trip to college everyday. The savings I get riding my bike is one of the things than enables me to go to school. Not only that, I love riding my bike. My commute is one of my favorite times of the day. It’s an awesome feeling arriving someplace and realizing, that you got a workout, some fresh air, saw some stuff that people in cars would never notice, and that the trip didn’t cost any money. Really, it’s absurd to think that one should only be allowed to go somewhere if they are surrounded by 3000 lbs of expensive steel.

  49. I live in a small city (about 1 million people) that’s very spread out with a dense downtown area focused mostly on tourism, so most roads outside this area have adequate shoulders for cyclists to ride in. We also lack any special statutes regarding vehicles on sidewalks, so either the road or sidewalk is legal. Faster/more experienced cyclists tend to take the road despite there being very few bike lanes.

    While I do occasionally disobey red lights at minor roads when I’m in a hurry, I always stop and verify that it’s safe to cross first. I tend to ride in the middle of the shoulders or in the far right of the right lane, and I’m not afraid of running in the gutter for short times. I think the most important thing to do as a cyclist is to make drivers aware that you acknowledge their presence and respect their desire to be left to their own devices.

    Of course this is secondary to being visible, which is why I have bright flashing lights (aimed respectfully, not at the eyes of drivers) front and rear during the day as well as night. My lighting system (2 watt rear, 1 watt front) cost about as much as my cheap rear rack and grocery panniers, a small price to pay for as much visual presence as a motorcycle.

    I ride 200-250 km/week, and dangerous incidents happen about once every 2000 km. Every close call but one so far has been due to cars not playing by the rules, and the exception was a jaywalking pedestrian.

    I tell people interested in biking that the only thing they need to do to be safe is to “ride so drivers see you, but assume that they won’t”. The general advice of “don’t be a dick” is particularly applicable here too. Some people seem hesitant to spend the price of a department store bike on safety equipment (lights, clothing, helmet, and lock) until they’ve had an accident or stolen bike. Live and learn, I guess.

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