Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” ~Mark Twain, Taming the Bicycle

 

Warning: This is going to be a bit of a gripe session so feel free to tune out at will (it’s also meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek so don’t get too crazy if you write to me…relax).

One of my biggest pet peeves is the attitude of some bicyclists on the streets of Ahwatukee. Yes, I know how green they all are and they aren’t contributing to higher health insurance costs because they’re so fit!

I’m sorry but those feel-good factors for the positive column don’t come close to balancing out the negative side of the equation. I’ll elaborate and share the things that bug me most about many (not all) city cyclists.

They’re road hogs. Many city streets now have bike lanes designated strictly for their use (and go largely unoccupied because there is a relatively small part of the population using them). However, I frequently have to make dangerous maneuvers into the next lane to avoid the guys who always ride just on the white line. It strikes me as arrogant and inconsiderate. New bumper sticker: Share the road with a car!

They disrupt the flow of movement away from red lights. They take up position in the middle of the street (along with motorized vehicles) at traffic lights. When the light turns green they begin to peddle at speeds much slower than surrounding cars. This presents a hazard for nearby automobiles.

They remain in the bike lane (when it’s convenient) and blast past slow traffic as well as intersecting side streets. It’s really difficult to see them coming when making a right turn and they’re approaching from the rear at a great rate of speed on the right. Blind spot!

Even the goofy bike attire annoys me. It just screams, “I’m a real cyclist…I’m not an amateur…and I’ve got the tacky, pricey clothes to prove it!”

They don’t pay their fair share. Taxes and fees related to driving a car help pay for road maintenance but cyclists use it for free. Drivers pay for accident insurance. Statistics on auto accidents caused by cyclists are sketchy, but based on the many near-misses I’ve witnessed; I’m convinced there have to be a significant number of them.

They disregard traffic signals, often going through red lights and running stop signs. I’m sure it’s inconvenient to come to a stop and have to put the effort into restarting but isn’t the effort and workout a part of the enjoyment? Traffic laws are for everyone, not merely a suggestion.

I know there are drivers who can be total jerks to cyclists as well. They honk and drive too close to the bike lane adding fuel to the flame of discord that already exists. That’s unacceptable, but I’m not one of them. I follow traffic laws as well as rules of common courtesy. I’m working on a kinder attitude about this … but  on my way home recently (once again) a cyclist darted in front of me at an intersection then gave me a one finger salute accompanied by words I won’t mention when I had to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision. I’m hoping God will soften my heart toward this issue (forgive me, biking friends) and will protect me from a cyclist-related accident. Any near-misses you’d like to share or other pet peeves to vent? Comment at www.ahwatukee.com In the spirit of fairness I invited a cyclist to write a rebuttal post on my blog. See it at http://dianemarkins.com/?p=153

 

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Markins can be reached at Diane@DianeMarkins.com. Visit her blog www.DianeMarkins.com.

 

(8) comments

billdav
billdav

>I frequently have to make dangerous maneuvers into the
>next lane to avoid the guys who always ride just on the
>white line.

This is usually caused by bike lanes that either have a damaged road surface or by debris, especially broken glass and rocks in the bike lane. If you want bicyclists to stay in the bike lane, then you should lobby the local government to keep the bike lanes in better shape and free of debris.

>It strikes me as arrogant and inconsiderate.

In most cases, it's just avoiding flat tires and uncomfortable road surfaces. Bike lanes are often much like a ghetto. You wouldn't want to be in a lot of them. Road racing bikes typically have tires that are less than 1" wide and run pressures of 125psi and even higher. They don't have suspensions, so bad road surfaces rattle through a rider's entire body on these bikes.

>They take up position in the middle of the street (along with
>motorized vehicles) at traffic lights.

In the middle of the street, or in the middle of the slow lane? I'm betting it's the middle of the slow lane. Bicyclists do this because they are getting out of the way of drivers making right turns at red lights. It's recommended by most bicycle safety experts, and it makes things easier for drivers if you think about it. I've had many right turning drivers give me a friendly wave as they went by because I was out of their way. Yeah, I'm in the way of the driver going straight, but so is the red light. I'll usually be out of his way a few seconds after the light turns green.

Another reason they may move into the middle of the lane is because the lane is too narrow to safely share. If a lane is too narrow to allow for safe passing distances, then it's safer to take up the lane. It's not arrogant or inconsiderate. It's just dramatically safer if the cars move into the next lane to pass. This is recommended by all of the top bicycle safety experts.

>When the light turns green they begin to peddle at speeds
>much slower than surrounding cars.

If I'm in the middle (or even left) of the slow lane to allow cars to make right turns on a red light, when the light turns green, I head towards the right to get out of the way. If it's because the right lane is narrow, then I stay in it. Drivers can and should change lanes.

On a flat road, from a dead stop, very few drivers beat me across any intersection anyway. Bikes can actually take off (maybe 0-20mph) pretty fast, and a lot of us do. Others don't.

>This presents a hazard for nearby automobiles

Not really. All they need to do is change lanes.

>They remain in the bike lane (when it’s convenient) and
>blast past slow traffic as well as intersecting side streets.
>It’s really difficult to see them coming when making a right
>turn and they’re approaching from the rear at a great rate
>of speed on the right. Blind spot!

Most bicycle safety experts recommend against riders doing this and I generally don't, unless I have very good reason to believe that the drivers will not turn right in front of me. However, it is also not that difficult to check your mirrors and blind spot when you actually bother to think about the fact that there are bikes in the bike lane. If a bike is passing you on the right, it's likely that you passed it not too long before that. As a rider, I don't bet my safety on drivers doing that, but as a driver, I do it, and it's not difficult.

>Even the goofy bike attire annoys me. It just screams, “I’m a
>real cyclist…I’m not an amateur…and I’ve got the tacky,
>pricey clothes to prove it!”

Cycling shorts are designed to reduce chaffing (which is a huge problem with most regular shorts) and manage sweat. All the tight clothing is to reduce wind resistance, which allows riders to ride faster or with less effort. The bright jerseys make riders more visually conspicuous, which makes drivers more aware of us. Cycling clothing is designed for a purpose, much like the clothing of other sports. Some people (not me) also like to wear team jerseys from their favorite teams, much like people wear basketball, football or soccer jerseys from their favorite teams.

Cycling clothes also don't need to be expensive. I mostly buy cheap stuff and it works just fine, but lacks the team logos.

>They don’t pay their fair share.

This is just plain false. While it's true that they don't pay fuel taxes, because their fuel is the food that they eat, and they don't pay registration fees, those things don't even cover all of the maintenance of the roads. Bicyclists still pay income taxes, sales taxes, property and business taxes if applicable. Those taxes pay for most road construction and part of the maintenance. It also takes a lot less road to support a bicycle than a car and bicycles actually reduce traffic congestion, which makes the roads nicer for drivers.

>Traffic laws are for everyone, not merely a suggestion.

While I absolutely agree with that statement, I'd also like to see drivers actually obeying the law. The large majority of drivers speed, and I think a majority don't necessarily come to a complete stop at stop signs if there is no cross traffic. Same goes for right turns on red lights. The large majority of drivers don't seem to see any reason to stop for a pedestrian in a cross-walk, or have a clue what a yield sign means. I could go on and on. People tend to disregard the traffic laws that they think they can safely get away with. Bicyclists are no different than drivers in this regard, and I think it's unfair to pretend that they are.

Giblets
Giblets

Thanks billdave for educating Markins about cycling. Hopefully next time she will write about something she knows and not perpetuate myths. She may have a touch of the “they are not like us“ syndrome with their funny clothes and all. Being a road biker I’ve experienced cars speeding up to make a right turn in front of me causing me to slam on my brakes and an occasional motorist on a cell phone pulling out obliviously in front of me but that’s the minority. Most drivers I encounter are courteous and they seem to know that they are like me. Share the road

enzio
enzio

Diane
You could'nt have put that any better, except you for got to mention the fact that when they ride the white line three abreast (as put because of glass in the roadway..ya right) usually in the mourning when your blinded by the sun heading east on Chandler Blvd.

brianfolts
brianfolts

You stupid bastards. These people you are joking about hitting are human beings. Anyone who agrees with this author should be ashamed of themselves. I have seen many lives ruined by careless and thoughtless drivers. How many near deaths, and deaths, of cyclists is it going to take until Ahwatukee residents realize that they are not god once they get behind the wheel. Ahwatukee police officers need to start enforcing the law that cyclists get 3 feet cushion. Most of the streets in Ahwatukee are not that busy. There is usually plenty of room to move into another lane. I moved to Ahwatukee because of its quiet streets with low traffic. If you don't like us cycling around your neighborhood then move. We aren't going anywhere. There are plenty of neighborhoods with no bike lanes on any of the roads where you can avoid cyclists. You can keep hitting us and trying to kill us, but we will keep coming back out. One of you bastards almost killed my brother on Pecos, the demon is still behind the wheel now without nothing more than a slap on the wrist. If you hit a cyclist you should get jail time, maybe then people would stop just treating it like a game.

kponscrwn
kponscrwn

I have a large truck with extended mirrors for towing. Every time, not most or some of the times, but every time I pass a cyclist I have to cross into the other lane. So far I have refrained from using 120 decibel air horn, maybe nows a good time to start.

enzio
enzio

Easy .. Brianfolts..Did anyone say anything about running over a cyclist..?? Me thinks you been riding in the sun to long..!!

frenchyd
frenchyd

Laws were written in order for both motorists and cyclists to share the road. When citizens don’t like to share, they can change the law. Don’t take it out on cyclists just because you can (example: classy air horn guy with the “doublewide” truck…)
§28-101. (56) "Vehicle" means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power...
§28-730 (A) [Cyclists are exempted from following vehicles too closely altogether, whether it be another bicycle, or anything else. Motorists, however, must follow a bicycle at a "reasonable and prudent" distance]
§28-701(E) [Note that ARS establishes no minimum speed for bicyclists]
§28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties [this entire section was added with the "3-foot passing" legislation of 2000, see HB2625 of the 44th legislature 2nd regular session]
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

Hoof Hearted
Hoof Hearted

To 'kponscrwn' - i have the same problem with fat people, Every time, not most or some of the times, but every time I pass a fat person I have to move a little bit further out of the way......So far I have refrained from using a 120 decibel air horn, BECAUSE ITS COMPLETELY UNECESSARY you idiot!!! why not worry about something a little more important like the people over sea's fighting 2 dumb wars.... or the environment your destroying in your dumb truck.... i so hope you honk at me, cos you better be sure the lights ahead are not going to turn red..... you pathetic individual.

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