Sharing the road isn’t always easy.
On occasion while riding my bicycle, I am yelled at by a person driving by in a passing car who seem to be angry at my mere presence. I have been told to “get on the sidewalk!” or “get off the road” and it made me so mad that I wanted to spit. I yell back with all my asthmatic might, ” I am a vehicle, this where I belong.”
I like to be informative.
It is true, though. Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road. And yes, people riding on bicycles are expected to follow the same laws of the road as those traveling in motorized vehicles. I know, I know, a lot of cyclists don’t. It is maddening and I curse under my breath every time I see a cyclist blow through a red light.
On the other side of it, adults on bicycles have no business riding on sidewalks. The thing is lots of people do not know this either. And faced with being on the road with cars going 10 mph over the posted speed limit, I understand why folks make this choice.
When I have followed all the rules, planned my actions carefully and someone decides to slow down in the middle of an intersection, risk the lives of everyone around, to express their displeasure with my existence on the road, I feel defeated.
I wonder if this person assumes that all people on bicycles are riding for fun. For many cyclists on the road, their bicycle is their only vehicle.
I think it would help if we all do a couple of things.
1) Remember that inside the vehicles are human beings. You know, people, just like the ones you know and love.
This is a daily exercise for me and I often fail miserably.The road is such a tangle of movements and decisions by so many players, it is easy to witness someone doing something completely ridiculous or dangerous or just plain stupid and then react and comment.
So when I make commentary on other people’s driving, whether from the seat of a bicycle or behind the wheel of a sweet Mustang borrowed from an incredibly trusting friend, I try to remind myself to be kind and think of the person inside/ on the vehicle.
And then someone cuts me off and I am back to vocabulary like ”idiot” or “dumb-ass”.
I am a work in progress. As is the whole system.
2) Acceptance of what is.
Look, if cyclists are constantly annoying to you, I understand. But here is the thing, they are here to stay. In many places, like Arlington and DC, riding a bike makes sense on every level – economic, health, time, environment So, it makes sense for us all to learn how to drive around cyclists and cycle around cars and pedestrians. As well as, learn the rules/ laws and follow them.
Learning to get along with a little more yielding and a little less yelling matters. In fact it is a matter of life and death.
Lets think of it the 3 components like rock, paper, scissors.
car = rock
pedestrian = paper
Except in this scenario paper never wins.
Car vs. Bike- Car wins
Car vs. Pedestrian- Car wins
Bike vs. Pedestrian- Bike wins ( seriously you can kill a person with your bike)
So pedestrians always lose in the collision department. They deserve extra care. Is it really so bad to wait for them when they have the right of way?
Some great resources for learning the laws and good habits on the road are: