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Bicyclists: Share the Road!

November 23, 2008

When the gas prices skyrocketed this past summer, it seemed like there was a sudden proliferation of bicyclists on the road. I don’t know the rules in other cities, but in St. Louis, you can’t bike on the sidewalk, so the bicyclists were literally on the road.
Problem is, American streets aren’t made for bicyclists. In fact, many city streets in St. Louis are made for two specific things: driving in the left lane and parking in the right lane. That leaves no room for bicylists.
And yet, even with the recent drop in gas prices (I saw regular on sale today for $1.59), the bicyclists persist. They’re stubborn like that. They think they have the same right to the roads that car drivers do. And they’re kinda right–they have every right to used paved infrastructure to get to places. However, if you’re going to bike on the road, you have to at least try to follow the same speed limits as everybody else. Roads aren’t for leisurely bike rides. Bike paths serve that purpose. Roads are for getting from one place to another at the posted speed.
I’ve heard from bicyclists that they’re annoyed that cars don’t share the road with them. Well, bicyclists, the deal goes both ways: You have to share the road with cars. If you’re on the street, you should be moving.

I’m sorry about this rant (hopefully it’s somewhat constructive), but today I literally couldn’t get over to turn onto Lindell because several bicyclists were coasting along in the right lane. In the middle of the right lane, so I couldn’t get over at all. So I missed the turn. That never happens with cars.
So to all bicyclists out there: Please, share the road. There are innocent cars out there trying to get from place to place.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 24, 2008 9:27 pm

    Dear Jamey,
    As a usually responsible biker, I apologize for the sometimes irresponsible behavior of my fellow cyclists. I will be the first to admit (with an apologetic and friendly hand wave) when I break the rules of the road. Fortunately, none of my mistakes will likely kill or even come close to physically harming a driver of a car. Unfortunately, that lady who made the small driving error of not stopping her SUV at the stop sign did physically harm me.
    What it comes down to is that the stakes are different. You encounter a group of inconsiderate cyclists, and you are annoyed and inconvenienced for a few minutes. I encounter an inconsiderate driver and I can’t walk for a few days. My message to drivers (which I often have to explain in a shout when people honk as they pass me within inches of my shoulder) is: chill the fuck out. The world does not revolve around you and your car getting to your destination as unencumbered as possible. Government subsidized car-centric road construction and maintenance instead of support of mass transit and bike lanes may make you think so, but it’s just not true. So chill the fuck out, and while you’re chilling, think about just how cold that person biking must be. Maybe you didn’t realize it was cold since you’re sitting in your underwear in your climate controlled car, but it is. And you probably didn’t notice the fierce headwind or the steep hill, but you can be sure that cyclist did. So maybe she isn’t going the 30mph speed limit (notice, limit- only highways have required minimum speeds), but she also doesn’t have 92 horses helping her out.
    So please, let’s put our differences behind us, recognize that we’re both just people operating different machines of transportation, and learn to get along. I’ll promise to stay in the right lane whenever possible if you promise to use the left lane if you can, or if not, chill the fuck out until you can safely get around me.
    Everyone, share the road.
    With transportative love,
    anonymous

    just kidding
    annemarie

  2. NQL permalink
    November 25, 2008 2:15 pm

    That was a fantastic comment. Just…wow. Fuh-mazing, I say.

  3. Jamey Stegmaier permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:08 pm

    Annemarie–Thanks for the longest comment ever posted on this blog. It’s a dubious honor.

    I feel your pain. And by that I mean I’m sorry that you got hit by a car. I biked a lot in Japan–never got hit by a car, but I fell off a few times. It hurts.

    Despite what I said in my post, there’s no excuse for a car driver to hit a bicyclist. We can be annoyed by you, but if you choose to bike on the road, we need to be considerate of you. I’ll admit that it’s tricky, though–like, if I was merging into a right lane to turn right, but that lane was congested with cars, I’d slow down, put on my blinker, and one of the cars would probably let me in. I doubt a bicyclist would even notice me, much less let me in. The other day when this happened, the bicyclists had no idea I was there–they acted like they owned that lane. That’s not sharing the road.

    Also, I don’t think you should hold it against car drivers that they choose to drive a car. You sound peeved that I have heated seats and climate control and horses under the hood, but all of that is my choice. And it costs me. I pay insurance and gas and loans. Sure, biking is better for the environment, but I try to carpool and arrange carpools as often as possible. Can you give someone a ride on your bike?

    In the end, you’re right, bicyclists and car drivers need to learn to share the road. My solution for the speed limit thing would be to put a minimum speed for bikers on bike-friendly roads. I think car drivers would have a lot more road-respect for bicyclists who had to maintain a min speed, and I think those bicyclists would be a lot safer on the road if they tried to maintain such a speed. In the end, as I said, roads are for getting from one place or another, not leisure or exercise. So there should be rules for everyone who uses the roads to promote that objective.

    Thanks, Annemarie. Good post.
    Jamey

  4. Lorena permalink
    December 14, 2009 12:48 pm

    Sigh, Jamey, you’re so cute and annoyed about something so… Anyway, when I moved from Orlando to Portland, voted the most bike-friendly city in the U.S., I had to relearn how to drive. Narrower roads and cyclist commuters sharing these tiny lanes = “Oh em gee, I almost killed you. I’m so so so sorry!” ::mini freakout during which you may or may not need to pull off the road::
    Then you learn how to actually be aware of your surroundings (I know, it’s hard to think the world doesn’t revolve around you and your amazingly temperature conditioned car, but you pick it up in about a week), and everything goes swimmingly. Until it’s nighttime and the cyclists think that those blinking rear and headlights are a good idea. No, they’re a strobe light that gives the illusion you are super close by, when you’re actually super far away, and perhaps not even on my side of the road. Get a solid light please. I promise, I’ll see you. And maybe try to avoid wearing black clothes, unless you’ve got reflectors on them.
    And when did running a stop sign become only a small driving error?

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