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Cyclists on roads

Posted: October 08, 2007 in Cycling

As most of you know by now, I'm an avid cyclist. My wife's a cyclist too. We both log quite a few miles per year (in the thousands) and we take care not to booger up traffic too much. We ride single-file, keep to the right as much as possible, and try to avoid roads with lots of traffic or with high speed differentials.

Apparently, for some people, that's not enough. While we usually don't have many problems with motorists, we do occasionally run across a few who have absolutely no business being behind the wheel of a vehicle. These schmucks should be relegated to public transportation, for life. They honk, they swerve, they cuss, and generally exhibit behavior that would get them a hefty fine if a police officer was around to see it.

So, I'd like to pose a few points.

First off, cyclists have by law in most (if not all states) the exact same rights to the road as you do in your car. Period. If you don't like sharing the road with cyclists, take the bus.

The 25mph sign on the side of the road means that's the maximum speed, not the minimum. When I'm doing 25 on my bike (which I can easily do) your desire to do 40 will just have to wait until you have a safe place to pass. Just as if I were a car doing 25. If the sign says 35 or 40, I can still do 25 legally - and so can you.

When you're coming up to a blind curve or hill, and the cyclist takes the middle of the lane, he's doing it for a reason. For one, the lane is legally his (or hers). For another, the cyclist doesn't trust you (for good reason). When a cyclist hugs the shoulder, many motorists will pass immediately, whether it's safe to do so or not - blind curve or hill notwithstanding. If the motorist passes in such a situation, and another car is approaching, what do you think will happen? If you guessed "swerve to the right and knock the bike into the gravel/ditch/fence/cliff then you win a cookie. By taking the lane, the cyclist is forcing you to wait until it's safe to pass. This protects the cyclist, as well as the motorist.

For every bike that's on the road, that's one less car, and cars create a much more annoying traffic situation than any bike will. You can ultimately pass a gaggle of slow-moving cyclists. You can't always pass a parade of cars led by a lone crawler. It takes probably less than 10 seconds to pass a bike, assuming you have to slow down to do so. This is about the same amount of time (or less) than it takes you to get past a driver waiting to turn left against oncoming traffic. You don't throw a rage about waiting behind the car, so why the rage about having to pass a bike? It makes no sense.

If people ride instead of drive, it reduces the demand for gas. If tons of people rode, your gas would eventually get cheaper. What's so bad about that? Bikes also don't tear up the roads like cars and trucks do, so less tax money spent on repairs.

So think about some of these things the next time you're about to fly into a rage about having to slow down for 5 seconds to pass a cyclist. Because honestly, if you have THAT much trouble passing something that only takes up 14" on the road, the problem is not the cyclist.

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