By on July 21, 2008

Atlanta cyclist Mike Schatz, while still in Piedmont Hospital\'s Emergency Unit, displays his freshly broken elbows after tumbling from his bike two weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Schatz.Common sense is not so common, Voltaire opined. [FYI, Like Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere, François-Marie Arouet's decision to trade his given name for something a tad more memorable is entirely understandable. That said, God knows what he would have made of the song "Half Breed."] But common sense is also lousy journalism, which TTAC abhors (amost as much as "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves"). So when I spied "Rookie and rusty cyclists hit streets… and hospitals" in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, I looked for some statistical verification for Thomas Stinson's theory that high gas prices have lead to stupid cyclists have lead to more injuries. Silly me. "Hard data aren't available." Aren't they? Never mind, there is some killer anecdotes (so to speak). "Horrified by his first $70 trip to the gas station, Schatz drove to a bike shop last month, plunked down $2,500 on a new touring bicycle and began two-wheel commuting from his Grant Park home to his office in West Midtown… The pluses included conservation and fitness as well as frugality — until the morning he went airborne above traffic on West Marietta Street. Hit by a car, he broke both elbows. Afterward he asked himself, 'This is what I get for trying to save the environment?'" I'm an avid cyclist, but I gotta say it: yes.  

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40 Comments on “High Gas Prices Increasing Bike Accidents. Or Not....”


  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    So journalism (TTAC excepted) doesn’t require that silly fact-checking anymore, eh?

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    i am also an avid cyclist (i didn’t own a car until i was 19 because i spent all my money on bicycles instead of a used car–don’t tell anyone at jalopnik!).

    i’ve been riding for a long time, am experienced in traffic, am young enough to still have good reflexes, am fitter than most, and i’m still amazed and caught off guard by the stupidity/situational unawareness of drivers. it’s always been somewhat bad, but the last five years or so are mind-boggling. i blame cell phones and SUV isolation chambers.

    i am now seeing newbie bicycle commuters every day riding in places that i would view as suicidal. what people will do to save a few bucks on gas astounds me. i won’t be commuting by bike again until the apocolypse sends gas prices so high that the streets are empty. of course by then, we’ll all be jobless, and my bike will weigh 60 pounds kitted out with my mad max gear.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I currently live in a college town (home to the prestigious Northwestern University), and the number of absolutely CLUELESS cyclists amazes me.

    About 95% of them ignore stop signs & red lights. Almost all of them are more interested in listening to their ipod instead of trying to stay alive. Some (not many) ride on the sidewalk instead of the street. Probably 10% ride AGAINST traffic, in violation of the law. Very few signal. The few that DO signal have no clue how to signal a right turn. I have never seen a cyclist signal ‘slowing down’ (equivalent to brake lights). Very few use any sort of protection at all, and the ones that do use protection often use just a helmet. I see open toed shoes/sandals, shorts, etc.

    I don’t own a bicycle, but EVEN if I plan on ONLY riding no more than 15-20mph in traffic on my motorcycle, you better believe I have gloves, helmet (full face snell/dot), jacket, and boots. If it is not hot, I will put on my leather pants as well, otherwise jeans (never shorts).

    I don’t want to play “blame the victim” here, but people really ought to be responsible for their own safety riding rather than blaming cars that can’t see them, especially if “victim” violates traffic laws (listening to headphones while operating a moving vechicle here is illegal but unenforced).

    IMHO, there really should be state sponsored safety classes for bicyclists as well as classes offered similar to MSF courses.

    Not two months ago, I went to turn right on green, and a bicyclist riding against traffic (wrong side of the street) who ran a red light listening to an ipod almost became my fender ornament. If I hit him, I think I would have probably sued him or his estate for damage to my car.

  • avatar

    I’m very grateful to all the people who cycle rather than drive – more space on the road for me! But just as pedestrians don’t share lanes with 30 ton Peterbilts why should cyclists?
    Cyclists should have separate lanes.

  • avatar
    fisher72

    Same goes for the scooters that are becoming numerous and even forming packs on the roads face similar perils.

    Our road systems are/were never built to accommodate pedestrians/scooters/cyclist/runners (except Portland OR), cheap oil ruled. Drive places that you could have walked to faster!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    NICKNICK,

    I call BS.

    “SUV isolation chambers” ??????????????

    You gotta be kidding. The isolation chamber factor correlates with luxury-ness, not SUV-ness.

    Could it be that you are simply more frightened by the SUV’s, their size, and the fact that they appear closer?

    In the end, it’s the driver, not the car, or the cell phone.

  • avatar

    So a $70 fill up necessitated a $2500 bike?

    When I was a college student and had to mothball my ’65 Galaxie, I bought a $150 bike from a guy selling them out of an open wheel trailer. I felt guilty spending THAT much coin for a bike, when he had models with less features for $75 or less.

    Something is wrong with our nation when we buy a horrendously expensive bike to make ourselves feel better for a $70 tank of gas. And let’s hope he didn’t put it on credit.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I have ridden in Europe and Asia as well as the US extensively. I lived in Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo so you can imagine what the traffic was like there. Hong Kong is so anti-cycling they must have used computer modeling to design it that way. Seoul was best navigated from the center of the road away from the sidewalks where buses own the right of way and Tokyo was a study in lane splitting and edge driving alongside cars. Motorbikes used to follow me up the side all the time.

    That being said, I have always looked out for myself and assumed the drivers either didn’t see me or didn’t care. I make it easier on drivers whenever I can by getting out of their way.

    Like Nicknick I had bicycles instead of cars until I was almost 18 years old.

  • avatar
    ret

    “I’m very grateful to all the people who cycle rather than drive – more space on the road for me! But just as pedestrians don’t share lanes with 30 ton Peterbilts why should cyclists?
    Cyclists should have separate lanes.”

    We’d LOVE to have separate lanes wherever we go.

    Fortunately, Little Rock is pretty good about that (in the outlying communities anyway). UNfortunately, the same cannot be said of most cities/towns. I have been cycling seriously for over 20 years and I know what I’m doing. I have gotten so frustrated with the number of cyclists who DON’T (iPods, no helmet, etc.) that I take the time to stop them and berate them for giving the rest of us a bad reputation.

    Good cyclists understand that they are a slight impediment to traffic, and we try to minimize our impact. We only ask that we be given a bit of space and a bit of respect in those cases where we cannot avoid sharing lanes.

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    I used to ride a motorcycle and pretty much what you need to realize whether you ride a bike or a motorcycle: The next time you throw a leg over your bike, it could be your last time.

    Riding is a great experience! Just be prepared to deal with the consequences if something happens and wear your safety equipment..

  • avatar

    Robstar re bicyclists: The few that DO signal have no clue how to signal a right turn. I have never seen a cyclist signal ’slowing down’ (equivalent to brake lights).

    I assume you’re talking about sticking out the right arm, rather than sticking the left arm up and pointing rightward. It is so much more obvious to stick out the right arm when you’re on a bicycle, and (as someone who has ridden literally tens of thousands of miles in the city (mostly Wash. DC, some Boston, some Berkeley) and ridden from Seattle to Boston) I can tell you that obviousness is very important on a bicycle.

    It is also hard to signal slowing down when you need both hands for both brakes. You obviously don’t ride a bike.

    To that end, I never go in traffic without one of those extremely bright lime green vests. I also was one of the first cyclists to wear a hard-shelled helmet (I had Bell serial #7066).

    I also do go through red lights and stop signs when the way is clear. I try to be extremely polite to cars, getting out of their way when it’s easy to do so, and waving them to pass when they can’t see easily and I can.

    I don’t do nearly as much riding as I used to. The car-as-entertainment-and-communications-center scares me. Also, I enjoy my car more than my bicycle.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Robstar Says:
    About 95% of them ignore stop signs & red lights. Almost all of them are more interested in listening to their ipod instead of trying to stay alive. Some (not many) ride on the sidewalk instead of the street. Probably 10% ride AGAINST traffic, in violation of the law. Very few signal.

    And I thought that was only a California thing.

    Oh, something else. There are plenty of narrow mountain roads around here. Every time I drive on one I see bicyclists riding 2-3 wide, making it impossible to pass them.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Actually, a right turn is making a 90 degree angle pointing up with your arm at least in Illinois. Pointing down is slowing down. Also, I don’t see why it’s so difficult to signal slowing down for a few seconds and then hit the other brake. I did used to ride a bicycle & did signal while slowing down, but it was years ago.

    Whoops, I stand corrected about the right turn signal. This changed in Illinois in 2007, and took effect in 2008.

    http://chicagobikelaw.blogspot.com/2007/09/recent-changes-in-illinois-law.html

    You can now point right, legally, to signal a right turn. I still don’t see people signaling that they are slowing down or turning any direction at all.

    Speaking of such: Has anyone seen a setup that adds brake or turn signals onto a standard bicycle that is more like a car or motorcycle? I’m interested in something like this. I have been seriously considering a bicycle (more for health reasons than anything else) and having turn signals & brake lights everyone is used to would be very nice. This would be doubly useful if you could activate the brake lights without actually braking, like on a motorcycle. I use this often when I’m coasting in gear to a light or something and someone is behind me. Most people have no clue how much a motorcycle slows down when you are off the gas and coasting in gear…much so more than a car.

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    When I got hit by a NYC Taxi while riding my bike in May, it had nothing to do with high gas prices, just lousy driving on the cab driver’s part. The driver made a right turn directly in my path – clearly without checking his mirrors – and I hit the side of his cab hard (there was NO way I could stop – scariest seconds of my life, all in slo-mo – and yes, technically i hit him). I was fine (just shaken and really pissed off), but he didn’t bother to get out of the cab, and drove off once I got up off the ground. I filed a complaint with the TLC, but haven’t heard anything. I’m still looking for you 6B60…

    I find it crazy that there are many people who don’t ride with a helmet here in NYC, considering I assume that NOBODY (driver or pedestrian) sees me. And I try to follow traffic laws, but I will give myself a head start at a red light if the intersection is clear of pedestrians. Basically, I try not to do what I would hate others to do. Namely, I hate when bicyclists blow through crosswalks when I’m walking, so I never do that.

    Edit: I realize this is a car website. I’m not anti-car by any means (as I am obsessed with them). But here in NYC, my love of not having a car might equal my love of cars themselves. Bike is the by far the quickest way to travel here.

  • avatar

    Sajeev Mehta: So a $70 fill up necessitated a $2500 bike?

    Same geniuses who take a $8,000 hit on the trade-in of their SUV to buy a hybrid.

    Poor example for the hack journo to use to illustrate a point. A $300 bike rolls down the same [potholed] roads just as well as a $2500 bike. But then again, as RF said… common sense doesn’t seem to be a defining characteristic of these newsroom lackies.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I usually feel bad when I hear about some cyclist getting injured when he/she meets up with a car. However, then I see some idiot on a bike travelling against traffic on the busiest street in our city, running red lights, ignoring stop signs, etc. I’m almost certain that one of these days I’m going to be involved in an “accident” with one of these riders when I look to the left, see it is clear, and make a right hand turn only to have dumb or dumber crash into the side of my car because they seemingly thought they were in England where the left side of the road is the right side, or more likely thought that traffic laws don’t apply to bicyclists.

    By the way, I rode a bike as my primary form of transpostation for a year or so, and I also saw plenty of drivers who seemed to think it was their personal mission in life to rid the world of bike riders. Twice I crashed when a car made a right hand turn in front of me into a parking lot. In one of the cases, the guys in the truck were laughing hysterically as I picked myself up off the pavement and one of them flipped me the bird as they took off. All of this was well before (or after) any gas crisis.

    People need to learn and obey the rules of the road no matter what form of transportation they choose.

  • avatar
    red5

    blah, blah, blah… blame cyclists… blah, blah, blah.

    I am both an avid cyclist AND a car nut. I ride my bike to work three times a week, to save gas, keep fit, and do my part to reduce oil consumption.

    Whenever this cyclist vs. car debate comes up it always boils down to the, “all cyclists are a-holes and don’t follow the law” routine. Angry motorists who are blocked in a lane behind some cyclists for (at most) 20 seconds (seriously, time it) are enraged that they must share this space and insist that cyclists have in coming. Take note, it wasn’t me that ran the stop sign last summer that put me in the hosiptal, it was a delivery van. He told the cops he saw me coming, but thought he had the right of way. Everyone I know who has died or been seriously injured on a bike was the result of a motorist breaking the law.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Sajeev Mehta Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 11:51 am
    So a $70 fill up necessitated a $2500 bike?

    When I was a college student and had to mothball my ‘65 Galaxie, I bought a $150 bike from a guy selling them out of an open wheel trailer. I felt guilty spending THAT much coin for a bike, when he had models with less features for $75 or less.

    Something is wrong with our nation when we buy a horrendously expensive bike to make ourselves feel better for a $70 tank of gas. And let’s hope he didn’t put it on credit.

    I spent $100 on mine and had it stolen after 5 months at college. I lusted after my roommate’s Specialized Rock Hopper, ’cause I couldn’t afford one.

    p.s. That guy selling them out of the open wheel trailer might have been the same guy that stole my bike, if you went to UC Davis. ;-)

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    TwoTwenty is my kindred spirit — a NYC-dweller who bikes but likes cars. There are some of us, it’s true! And believe me, I get a perverse thrill in telling my anti-car friends that gas prices are not going to take away personal automobiles in this country. But biking as a commuting option makes a lot of sense if you’re round trip is 20 miles or less and you know the roads. So how do we all learn how to cope with one another.

    For starters, everyone has to start paying attention! Too many of us aren’t thinking at all about the public space we occupy and the fact that other people need to be in it too. We have a nation of drivers and pedestrians with ADD who are too focused on their cell phones, “crackberries,” iPods, loud sound systems and self-absorbed activities to the point where they simply don’t pay attention. Or who are so angry when anything impedes their “progress” that they instantly go ballistic. Just this AM I had a green light on Broadway and a woman with her iPod walked against the light without even looking at traffic. I screamed at her “pay attention” and she just stared at me like a zombie. I guess God is doing good work to protect the clueless.

    I don’t spare my fellow cyclists. Why do you ride against traffic? Why don’t you have a helmet? Why do you ALWAYS blow through red lights? Why do you automatically assign knee-jerk blame to cars (especially SUVs) when you might have been the dope who caused an accident or near-miss?

    There are two pieces of wisdom I can quote. One is from Ghandi: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” The other is from the beloved desk sargeant on the 1980s TV show “Hill Street Blues” — Hey, let’s be careful out there!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Wow, maybe it might get through to everyone that in addition to BMW’s and SUV’s, bicycles are also driven by idiots.

    Is it too much to hope for folks to realize that idiots also drive the kind of car they do? Sometimes maybe even their car?

    I know that on more than one occasion, I have caught an idiot driving my car. I don’t think it’s because it’s an SUV though.

  • avatar

    I’m going to guess he deserved it.

    These assholes ride *slowly) in the middle of the street (if only way lane, even better in their mind), run stop signs and run red lights, even when there’s a perfectly good bike lane to ride in.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    My car guy credentials are pretty good (first car I bought was a ’66 Lotus Elan), but also have been a serious cyclist for the past 15 years or so. I did an 16-20 mile roundtrip commute 7 mos out of the year for about 10 years and still use my bike for transportation, riding about 3000 miles a year.

    Most serious cyclists don’t impede drivers. I ride about 18″ from the curb in traffic, out of the drivers’ path and also far enough from the curb to not deal with debris, glass or possibly striking a pedal on the curb. For the most part, I try to take routes that avoid busy streets, but that’s sometimes unavoidable. The only time I don’t ride in the curb lane in traffic is while waiting to make a left turn.

    Don’t get me started on the Critical Mass assholes who deliberately tie up traffic. Their poseurs as far as cycling is concerned.

    Cycling is the most dangerous sporting activities in the US. The figures are skewed a bit by kids falling off of bikes, but even for adults it’s dangerous. I’ve been hit by cars three times and had one serious bike to bike collision. Two of the car incidents weren’t my fault, both involved old folks turning unexpectedly into my path, and the other wasn’t legally my fault though I could have avoided it. I ran a very stale crossing signal, there was an Airborne truck at the curb lane and the guy in the SUV next to him didn’t see me. Since I was in the crosswalk, legally I was a pedestrian and drivers have an obligation to make sure that it’s safe to proceed, but I should have stopped. That was the only serious injury – broken knee. The bike to bike wreak was on the sidewalk, on a blind curve, and probably the most violent wreck of the three. Messed up my back something fierce.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Hard data or not, I believe more cyclists are ending up in hospitals.

    Cyclists are, as a group, the worst vehicle operators on the public roads.

    I’ve been a bike commuter since May. I still drive my truck occassionally, when it’s raining, or when I need to do a HD run after work. I’ve almost hit cyclists twice in the past two weeks, both times they were riding where they shouldn’t ride or crossing against the light.

    This morning a woman on a bike is pedaling along in the wrong lane, riding head on into traffic with her blinking headlight on. As I pull out around her I see she has a big grin on her face as if to say “Look at me, I’m a freeking moron!”.

    It’s not motorists who are stupid and careless it’s cyclists. Worst vehicle operators on the roads, bar none.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    A $300 bike rolls down the same [potholed] roads just as well as a $2500 bike. But then again, as RF said… common sense doesn’t seem to be a defining characteristic of these newsroom lackies.

    A $20,000 Corolla rolls down the same roads just as well as a $200,000 Aston Martin, doesn’t it?

    While a $300 bike shop bike is a quantum leap from a department store or big box store bike, even casual riders would notice the difference between an entry level bike shop bike and a high end bike. With that money you get more precision components and better bearings, and you’d definitely feel the difference rolling down the street and pedaling around. Also, the high end bikes have sophisticated frames, made of titanium, carbon fiber, aluminum or chrome-moly steel, that are very stiff in terms of transmitting your power to the wheels, and I think you’d feel that as well.

    At the very least, you’d feel the difference between a 40 lb Huffy and a 21 lb bike shop bike.

  • avatar
    SacredPimento

    cretinx These assholes ride *slowly) in the middle of the street (if only way lane, even better in their mind), run stop signs and run red lights, even when there’s a perfectly good bike lane to ride in.

    Cars run stop signs and red lights too. Not to mention drive IN the bike lane so they don’t have to wait in line to make a right turn. I, too, am an avid biker and I see this all the time.

    I’m one of the very few bikers that actually stops at a stop sign if a car is waiting to go. It blows their mind because they’re expecting me to just run right through it.

    I stick to the bike lane as much as I can and if I need to make a left turn, I make sure there are no cars coming that I would be in the way of. Some might say I’m a little too careful. That’s OK. Getting hit by a car sucks.

    Dynamic88 It’s not motorists who are stupid and careless it’s cyclists. Worst vehicle operators on the roads, bar none.

    Just like everything else, there are those who are aware and careful and there are those who aren’t. Stupidity comes in all shapes and sizes. I see motorists (and pedestrians, rollerbladers, skateboarders, et al.) doing stupid shit all the time, not just cyclists.

  • avatar
    ashtheengineer

    Hello all, first-time commenter, long-time reader.I have to say, the anger at cyclists is pretty extreme, but as a commuting cyclist (3X a week-ish), the anger the other way is just as bad. My commute takes me from the perimeter of Atlanta, all the way into Midtown, and truth is, I see just as much idiotic behavior from drivers as I do from cyclists. This is what I’ve seen in the past 2 weeks:

    – people turning into my lane without signaling, and then flipping me off (huzzah!)
    – lack of signaling for left turns
    – tailgating

    And I’ve seen all the above while traveling both by car and by bike. In my car, it’s cool…I have a tonne or so of metal around me. On my bike?

    Fact is, the gentleman (or lady!) who claimed that we are the worst vehicular group on the road is wrong. It’s just that it looks like your average motorist (not TTAC material, mind) is an idiot, and we expect that. Cataloging errors made by other motorists here make my blood-pressure rise like nothing else can.

    Cyclists on the other hand, are much fewer – whenever one behaves like a dolt (and we do, especially the n00bs), we’re more likely to notice it.

    Remember, the fellow on a road bike, in the spandex, with the helmet, who signals, tracks steady, and follows the rules, isn’t being a douche. Wait your turn and pass. Give us a wave if you like. I notice that with experienced cyclists involved in accidents, it’s almost always a regular joe motorist who’s at fault.

    Of course when it comes to inexperienced cyclists…we’re just people after all, right? If we’re all morons in cars, why’s that different when we’re on bikes? Except for the vastly increased danger, that is.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    So journalism (TTAC excepted) doesn’t require that silly fact-checking anymore, eh?

    I doubt that the stories are inaccurate, but they aren’t based upon much. The emergence of 24-hour news pressures news organizations to have stuff to talk about and to look for stories whereever they can find them. Readers and advertisers don’t care much for blank pages.

    In this case, I would guess that we’re increasing the amount of bike commuting from next to non-existent to almost next to non-existent. I’d be shocked if an additional 1/10th of one percent of the commuting population has jumped on bikes within the last year. Nobody knows, and we’re probably not going to know for quite awhile.

    I hate to rely on anecdotes, but I find that people on bikes tend to ignore stop signs (they don’t want to lose their momentum) and otherwise don’t like to act like vehicle operators, which is what they are when they use the public highways.

    I like bikes, but they don’t mix well with traffic. Without bikepaths kept far apart from roads, I don’t see how anyone can expect these to serve as practical substitutes for cars or public transit.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I have a question for cyclists.

    I mostly don’t see experienced cyclists on main roads during rush hour, though I did have to wait to go around one in Canada on a very busy road that has one of the nicest bike paths. But, that guy was being a jerk. Anyway, is it not in the cyclist culture to avoid the busy streets? I know it is sometimes unavoidable, but when I see cyclists getting angry treatment, it seems it’s when they are on a major road taking up a lane. It may be legal, but I never did it myself. I usually picked roads without traffic and avoided lights.

    Just wondering.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    # Landcrusher Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I have a question for cyclists.

    I mostly don’t see experienced cyclists on main roads during rush hour, though I did have to wait to go around one in Canada on a very busy road that has one of the nicest bike paths. But, that guy was being a jerk. Anyway, is it not in the cyclist culture to avoid the busy streets? I know it is sometimes unavoidable, but when I see cyclists getting angry treatment, it seems it’s when they are on a major road taking up a lane. It may be legal, but I never did it myself. I usually picked roads without traffic and avoided lights.

    Just wondering.

    ******************************************************
    Good question, Landcrusher. It’s not necessarily in the culture of cyclists, but bike commuters are no different than anyone else in looking for the shortest distance between points A and B. And since bicycles are vehicles too, why shouldn’t we do that?

    For instance, I live on the East Side of Manhattan and frequently work near Wall Street. If I take the bike path practically outside my house, it’s 35 minutes. If I go through traffic, it’s 20 minutes. Less pleasant, yes, but faster. Also, I don’t know about other cities, but here in NYC as more people bike and walk to work, the bridges and paths become more crowded and dangerous. Yes, we’re avoiding — bike traffic!

    I agree that bikes can be a momentary distraction on many busy streets, and there are some self-righteous cyclists who feel slowing traffic down is their privilege. It’s not. But how much do cyclists really slow anyone down? 5 seconds? Once the light is green and we’re moving, good cyclists will go off to the side and don’t have to present an obstruction to cars and trucks.

    The only ones who ever seem to feel threatened or offended are the road rage types who want to lay rubber and see anything that costs them half a second as an obstruction. And alhough Land Cruisers, Range Rovers and Hummers seem to be the worst offenders, I don’t automatically see big SUVs as being the culprits. Mostly it’s people who work their cars and trucks for their livelihood (taxis especially). Camcords, small CUVs and the like seem to be pretty easygoing.

    The BMW-Lexus-Merc types get aggressive, I guess because they consider their progress to be more important. Last week I was yelled at by a NY State Supreme Court judge in her Lexus because I wouldn’t let her change into the bike lane in a traffic jam. I guess her court doesn’t focus much on traffic law?

  • avatar
    ashtheengineer

    Landcrusher

    Anyway, is it not in the cyclist culture to avoid the busy streets? I know it is sometimes unavoidable, but when I see cyclists getting angry treatment, it seems it’s when they are on a major road taking up a lane. It may be legal, but I never did it myself.

    It’s the unavoidability that kills us. If you’re going from a suburban housing area to a suburban business park, you should be able to find a traffic-light route, even if you have to go a little further. If you’re going downtown though, at some point you’re going to have to battle it out with the masses.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The only ones who ever seem to feel threatened or offended are the road rage types who want to lay rubber and see anything that costs them half a second as an obstruction. And alhough Land Cruisers, Range Rovers and Hummers seem to be the worst offenders, I don’t automatically see big SUVs as being the culprits. Mostly it’s people who work their cars and trucks for their livelihood (taxis especially). Camcords, small CUVs and the like seem to be pretty easygoing.

    The BMW-Lexus-Merc types get aggressive, I guess because they consider their progress to be more important. Last week I was yelled at by a NY State Supreme Court judge in her Lexus because I wouldn’t let her change into the bike lane in a traffic jam.

    I obviously don’t know you, but here’s a possible thought — if you are routinely pissing off other people, then the problem may very well be with you.

    In life, you tend to get back what you give. If you get a lot of animosity from all sorts of people and not just a particularly personality type, then you really need to question why your behavior tends to work the general public into knots.

    I have no issue with bikes per se, but if you are riding one to prove a point, then you probably try to prove that point often, at the expense of those in cars. I may need to share to road with you, but believe it or not, you are obliged to share it with me, too.

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    I haven’t really encountered any “stereotypical” driver when I’m on my bike (taxi and black cab drivers excepted, as they generally fall toward the “suck” side of the spectrum). I just assume that NOBODY can drive and EVERYONE is oblivious, so it’s all being defensive. I plan my routes accordingly (and go out of my way to find a bike lane if possible), and stick to the bus lane where there is no bike lane (the 5th Avenue bus lane is shockingly almost exclusively inhabited by buses).

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Landcrusher–
    In regard to my comment about SUVs as “isolation chambers,” you are right that luxury has much to do with isolation. What I meant was that many modern SUVs are luxury SUVs, road feel and steering precision are often non-existent (thus isolating the driver from the road), visibility often suffers due to blind spots, and a 5’1″ soccer mom with the window sills at her shoulders is most definitely isolated from her surroundings.

    you are absolutely correct that it’s the driver and not the vehicle. a big problem, though, is that modern drivers suck and are distracted by their phones, and tucking them into SUVs makes it worse.

    i have nothing against SUVs. i used to drive a 4runner…until it was totalled by an inattentive driver in an even larger vehicle not paying attention :/

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Thanks for the input cyclists. I can tell you that in stop and go inner city driving I don’t see the cyclists as being much of a problem Usually they only hold you up for a second or two because then you are at the next light, and off they go. It’s those routes where traffic is busy and going 35 that seem to get folks upset. You get several cars stacked up to get around a guy, then they finally make it only to get to the next light where he lane shares ahead of them. Repeat. That can get folks boiling. Sometimes the adjoining streets offer no parallel course, but other times they do. Here in Houston, the city put up bike lanes in stupid places just to claim they made a lot of bike lanes. The smart cyclists were one or two blocks over on quiet residential streets and in the shade! Still, you would get some guy a couple blocks the other way blocking a lane on the other route, but only rarely.

    New York City is hardly the norm, but I would take the path unless I was REALLY late.

    NICKNICK,

    Absolutely, many SUV’s are just big luxury cars, but have I gone from simply pointing out fallacious SUV attacks to being the self appointed protector of my favorite class of vehicle. Too bad I am not partisan enough to viciously attack the others. (Not that it would really help, folks still wouldn’t wise up).

    :)

    Nice to know you get it.

  • avatar
    thoots

    Oh, it’s very clear to me that some slightly significant percentage of the population has chosen to try cycling to work. And newscasts have since been routinely filled with stories about bicycle/motor vehicle accidents, a number of them fatal to the bicyclist.

    I don’t really blame the cyclists so much — sure, a number of them are doing a number of things wrong. Still, we even see in our comments here how even experienced cyclists have been injured in accidents with motor vehicles.

    To me, the answer is very simple:

    You are risking life and limb if you choose to ride a bicycle in routine traffic.

    It’s like the guy in the article who broke both elbows — how long is that going to keep him off the job? Perhaps enough to lose his job, fail to make payment obligations, and perhaps ruin himself financially?

    Yes, this could happen to you, too.

    Once upon a time, in a college town, I bicycled everywhere. A different age, a different mind-set about sharing the road with bicycles in that town. Hell, in my current location, punks in cars have not only harrassed, but also have SHOT at bicyclists. Add to that all of the motorists who fly into a rage for being held up ten seconds on their commutes, and all of the others who are utterly oblivious to virtually anything around them, and mixing it up with these people — their tonnage versus your blood and bones — and you truly are risking serious injury, even death, in your effort to save a few bucks on gasoline.

    I tried bicycle commuting several years ago, but soon gave up — it just wasn’t worth the risk. I think it’s almost inevitable that any bicycle commuter will get into an accident with a motor vehicle at some point — and then it’ll just be a matter of how bad they’ll get injured. I’m just not going to take that risk again, myself.

  • avatar

    Chalk me up as another car nut/bike nut combo. My current herd: three cars, four bicycles. Each has its purpose.

    Huh? No hard data to back their story up? They call that journalism? Feh.

    It is undeniable that there are many new cyclists out on the road this year (a very good thing), and thus the amateur hour factor is proportionally higher (not so good). That said, I think an equal if not greater problem is drivers who are irritated and cranky that they actually have to pay attention and share the road with cyclists, especially in areas where those new cyclists are still alien objects. To whom I say, please pull your head out of your keister and grow up.

    It isn’t just cars that are hazards for a cyclist. My bike commuting route (15 miles round trip) puts me on neighborhood streets, bike lanes, through thick traffic and onto a mixed-use pathway (other cyclists, LOTS of peds, doublewide baby carriages, oblivious joggers wearing iPods, geese and pigeons, etc.). I get a little taste of everything and there’s plenty of idiocy to go around, along with frequent displays of good manners and common sense. Therein lies the challenge: complete unpredictability. Is that guy in the pickup going to cut me off? Is that little kid going to dart out in front of me? Will that dog pull his leash directly across my path? Will that oncoming cyclist leave enough room for both of us on the bridge? Will the zombie street drinker give me a bad time? Is that goose really going to play chicken with me?

    My bell gets LOTS of use.

    That said, I really like bike commuting despite the problems. I’m in good shape, I get fresh air and sunlight and I save myself about $4 to $5 per round trip… I’ll have my commuter bike paid off in no time.

    My number one survival strategy: Always, always think about the stupidest possible thing that could happen in a given situation and then prepare for it, because 1 time in 3, that’s EXACTLY what will happen. This has saved my bacon countless times.

    Number two: Nobody sees you, nobody loves you and no one will give you a break.

    I find arrogance, posturing and aggressiveness to be just as insufferable from a cyclist or a motorist. It’s the operator, NOT the vehicle, my friends.

    My moment of cyclist militancy: ANY driver who uses their vehicle to willfully endanger a cyclist should be summarily pulled from their seat and beaten within an inch of their life as the cowardly dog that they are. And, uh, they should have their driver’s license permanently revoked.

    (ahem) Apologies for that bit of posturing. Thank you for your indulgence.

    Strange to say it, but following traffic laws while I’m on my bike has turned into a PR effort for me as much as anything else. I’m on a campaign to convince drivers that the majority of cyclists are paying attention and playing by the rules, despite the evidence supplied to the contrary by a few idiots.

    A purely casual observation: On long cycling trips, the vehicles that have consistently endangered me the most are newer flash rides like Bimmers, Benzes, Porkers, Lexii and the like. I won’t speculate here as to why that is. Semis or buses? Not so much as they are piloted by professional drivers who generally give me lots of space and know where the hell the edges of their vehicles are.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    As an addendum to my earlier post, I love it when cyclists obey the rules of the road, even when that means I have a bike in front of me in the left hand turn lane. The problem for me is it seems bicyclists are even more unpredictable with greater consequences than car drivers. I don’t want to hit or get hit by a bicyclist causing great bodily damage to him, and that makes idiots on bikes even more annoying to me than idiots in a car (at least when I’m in a car). In a car accident there’s some property damage, in a bike accident there’s bodily damage or even death.

  • avatar

    I’m genuinely amazed at the amount of emotion and hostility this discussion invokes.

    Disclaimer – I am both cyclist and car nut, and get equally engrossed in both motoring and pedaling. Therefore, I operate on both sides of the dime.

    First, there are not enough bike paths in this country. I happen to be in a city which has the most, but it’s still thin (Minneapolis). I’m thankful, but there’s always room for improvement. Any chance to get out of the way and flow of traffic, while still maintaining efficiency and safety (not having to ride sidewalks, constant stop-go, etc) is welcome. Do you really think cyclists ENJOY getting buzzed by inattentive (or spiteful) drivers?

    Secondly, there are a lot of bad apples out there (Critical Mass, I’m looking at you) that are a**holes just for the sake of being a**holes. They make life hell for the rest of us cyclists, just as well as motorists abhor them too. They need to get it together that they’re not helping ANYTHING. We’re together on this one. But keep in mind, there’s an equal number of road-raging lunatics who are creating just as much chaos in 2-ton wheeled masses.

    The same common sense that evades newbie cyclists is prevalent in the driving community. The best we can do is lead by example, not hurling hateful words. Teach our cyclists AND our motorists to play nice together.

    But I will say that any of you sitting on your pompous high horses pontificating that cyclists have no right on the roads, start doing a little navel-gazing to realize your own anger, hatred, and hypocrisy.

    PS – I’m in complete agreement with Beater.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m on a campaign to convince drivers that the majority of cyclists are paying attention and playing by the rules

    You need to campaign a bit harder. When I see a cyclist and a stop sign, I assume that the cyclist will run it. Virtually every time, that’s exactly what happens.

    I tend to ignore internet forum comments about driving, because people tend to see what they want to see and ignore the rest, so there is no balance. But in the case of cyclists disobeying stop signs, I make an exception, because the prevalence cannot be denied. The compliance rate approaches 0%.

    It seems that cyclists want to have it both ways, given the rights of a vehicle when it suits them, combined with the right of way privileges of a pedestrian. They ride on sidewalks and hiking trails and ignore stop signs as if they are on foot, yet then block lanes while on roadways as if they are slow moving vehicles with the right to set the pace of the traffic flow.

    It comes down to the usual problem — a lot of people are selfish and will seek to rationalize their selfishness by whichever means possible. There isn’t much excuse for blowing through a stop sign, but you can rest assured that humans will come up with one.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    jgholt,

    “But I will say that any of you sitting on your pompous high horses pontificating that cyclists have no right on the roads, start doing a little navel-gazing to realize your own anger, hatred, and hypocrisy.”

    First, I think that would be a straw man? And second, why hypocrisy? Even if someone decided bikes should stay off the roads, how would that make them a hypocrite? Lastly, does it have to be hate and anger driving their decision, or could it just be apathy?

    Personally, I think it’s all about apathy. People always like to put anything THEY prefer not to do in the “useless activity” file, and will even act to destroy it. Of course, they then think how you do about people who don’t support their interests.

    PCH,

    I think that there are just different kinds of cyclists. There seems to be many schools of thought on what is appropriate behavior for folks on bikes. Personally, I will gladly wait at a 4 way stop for someone who is pedaling so they don’t have to reaccelerate. Of course, I live in Houston where 99% of the roads are uphill (by which I mean slightly up hill or flat with high heat and humidity).


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