Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You're Welcome...?

Powering up…zap…crackle…

…all right, Igor…

Throw the Switch!

Sarcasm generator ON

Now, maybe it's the fact that I'm a bit under the weather today (which has nothing to do with the fact that it's very cold and rainy so I won't be riding) or maybe I have just reached my annoyance tolerance level, but...

I have heard from a lot of people who don’t think that bikes should have to share the road with cars. I am beginning to think that this is a good idea. Mind you, my solution and their solution may not be identical.

I remember having a conversation with a woman who said, “I think people should be allowed to ride their bicycles all they want, so long as they don’t do it on the road.”

“Where should they do it, then?” I naively asked.

“I don’t know.” The unspoken finish to that comment was, “And I don’t care.”

Lest you think that I’m being unfair by including an unspoken comment, take my word for it. It was hanging in the air will almost bell-like clarity. Here’s a blog I came across where things are spoken very clearly indeed.

It is often suggested that automobile drivers should learn to share the road with bicyclists. In my opinion, it is foolhardy and dangerous for bicyclists to be on the highways with motorists, period. Bicycles no more belong on roadways than autos belong on bike paths.

Well, you can’t ask for much more clarity than that, can you? So, pray tell, why not? I'm sure the writer will enlighten us.

Bicycles are slow, small and difficult to see; autos may weigh tons, and, with their automatic transmissions, are powerful and fast at a light touch of the foot. There is a question of timing and visibility here; and should a tragedy occur, proof of who is at fault would do nothing to mend bodies.

Now, the interesting thing about this comment is that it shows some understanding of the situation. The last line, especially, is the writer speaking the truth. Good for him. And yet…

Too many cyclists are clueless as to rules of the road — either for automobiles or for bicycles. This complicates matters for motorists, who are required to pass a written examination on rules of the road, and pass a road test to obtain a driver’s license. And young teenagers are required to attend a 30-hour driver-ed course, to boot. This is gross and unfair to motorists, whom we expect to share the road with bicyclists.

Well, hold up there, Tex. Does the guy think that cyclists don’t drive cars? As a matter of fact, nearly every single cyclist that I know has a driver’s license and has thus been through the driver’s ed course and has taken the written exam and road test to get that license. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of cyclist do know the rules of the road.

Mind you, they don’t always obey them, but that isn’t because they don’t know them, but that's a whole other post which I probably won't write.

This unfairness is magnified immensely when contrasting the mandatory costs of having the two types of vehicles use our highways. Registration and license fees, taxes and a sensible insurance package with liability and collision coverage may cost in the thousands of dollars for a responsible car owner but perhaps zero for unwitting cyclists. Should a bicyclist be the cause of an accident, there would be no mandatory liability insurance for any injured parties; in all probability too, in court, the cyclist would walk.

Okay, I was spluttering so hard I had to clean up my keyboard after I read this one. (Don't dwell on that picture for your own sake.) The cyclist would walk???!!!!!!! Everybody has their own opinion…but some of us know the facts.

Even drivers of automobiles say they are afraid to drive on the highways. Yet they have the car’s protection and the stability of four wheels. “Driving is no pleasure,” they say. They will even say, “It’s crazy out there — like a racetrack, a war zone.” No one owns the roads; bicyclists are permitted and certainly welcome on them. Still, it is folly and dangerous for them to be out there.

Bicyclists are certainly welcome on them. Well, isn’t that nice.


Are we, in fact, welcome on those roads?

Well, regardless, I intend to keep riding on them. I hope you do, too.

My solution to all of this is to get more drivers on bikes. After all, the vast majority of us know what the road is like from behind a windshield, but there are a lot of drivers out there who have no idea what it's like over the handlebars. Now that's a situation that needs to be rectified!

See you on the road.

Tomorrow I shall be happy and light :-)


  1. There are two things that I think people forget or don't know when they put forth their opinions that bicycles do not belong on the road. First, I always cringe at the "don't belong" sentiment. I've done a little reading on the history of bicycles, and it seems that roads began to be paved so that bikes could travel from place to place more easily. This was before automobiles were even on the road in any great numbers. So actually, bicycles DO belong on the road, and cars are the intruders. I realize that the proportion of car to bike traffic has changed radically since that era, but the "don't belong" idea still bothers me.

    Second, I think people who put forth this argument don't think about how much car drivers forget about the rules of the road over the years. I took my drivers ed course about 15 years ago. I don't remember actually learning anything about bike laws back then. Even if I did, I haven't had much opportunity to use that knowledge since then. There were no cyclists on the road where I grew up. I didn't really learn bike law until I became a cyclist myself. Just like math or foreign language, if you don't use what you've learned, you will forget it over time. As the cycling population begins to grow, motorist knowledge will need to grow, as well.

  2. Yeah, you're right. Have you ever seen a driver who founds out they have to retake the test? They always seem nervous...apparently the rules aren't all that fresh anymore.

    I like your history lesson. The roads are ours...mwahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!