Thursday, August 12, 2010

Should Cyclists vs. Motorists Be Repictured as Patient vs. Impatient?

There's an interesting report today on Treehugger.com that states cyclists are not only likely to be car owners as well (which I think we all knew), but likely to have multiple cars (something that may surprise many of us).  The article goes on to say that perhaps cyclists vs. motorists is the wrong attitude to have, as most cyclists are also motorists.

Photo by Menage a Moi
Given who most cyclists are in this country (recreational cyclists), this doesn't surprise me in the least - but it is a paradigm shift that we need to take.

I suppose this goes along with the idea of cycling being the "new golf" as we've heard so much in the past few years.  Cycling is just about the ultimate techie sport - from the bikes themselves, to the clothes and riding gear to the ride recording gear such as computers and GPS receivers, there is absolutely no dearth of "stuff" to buy if you're a recreational cyclist.  And like most industries, there's more stuff coming out every day.

And the folks who buy bikes like that are also more likely to buy multiple cars - because they can, and because there's something of a materialistic bent to many fitness riders that I know.

But that's neither here nor there - what it says to me is that the issue we need to be fighting isn't so much a bikes vs. cars battle, but rather a battle for patience.  I'm willing to bet that many of those recreational cyclists who fight for cyclists' rights when they're riding turn around and road rage just as badly as any motorist when they get behind the wheel - including raging at cyclists who get in their way.

In fact, I've seen it.  Blogs such as this one and online newspaper stories about cyclists' issues and bike-car collisions inevitably get comments from the guy who says "I ride my bike, but I drive, too, and those cyclists need to stay to the right all the time..." and so forth.

The real issue is patience and tolerance.  Americans have such a heat-on for speed that they get downright irate if anything holds them up - and especially if it's another form of transportation than the one I'm operating.  I'll be honest, I get annoyed when I'm behind a car at a red light turning green and the car doesn't take off - whether I'm driving or riding. And yelling at them doesn't really help too much.

When I'm out there riding, now, I try to take the advice of Paul Kyriazi, a personal improvement guru that I've been following for a couple years now.  He suggests that when we're on the road, we should look at all the other vehicles out there as if they were part of a computer game, and forget entirely that there are other people behind those wheels.  If it's just a game, there's no point in getting angry or upset, you just deal with the obstacles that the game is throwing at you and try to get to the end as quickly as possible while following the rules of the game.

So do you agree with these notions?  Do you have tactics for keeping cool on the road?  What say you?


People, not speed.

8 comments:

  1. I really think it is based on the situation, at least for me, if I am driving and come across bikers, if they are obeying the law (staying far right, using proper signals, wearing a helmet, which should be a law for adults too, not just for kids) I will be as patient as I need to be till it is safe to pass. I think what annoys drivers, including myself is bikers that dont follow the creed of biking, running stop signs without even slowing down is a huge pet peeve of mine, riding 3-4 abreast in stead of 2 per the law. Not signalling their intentions, riding right in the middle of the road, things that seasoned cyclist now better not to do, irk me behind the wheel.

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  2. Coming from the standpoint of someone who understands cycling law, that makes perfect sense.

    But I'm curious as to whether you think some of those driver/cyclist folks get upset at ANY cyclist in their paths, regardless of their behavior. I'm thinking of roads like Henderson, etc. where the speed limit is pretty high but cyclists still have the right to cycle safely there.

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  3. This is one thing that bothers me about bike culture. Everyone is so caught up in the money aspect. I remember reading a post of yours way back talking about how all of these people go out and spend loads and loads of money on bikes and gear, and "train." But they never actually ride their bikes to work, to the grocery store, or just around the neighborhood. I think this is something we should be trying to change. I ride my bike to work, to pick up groceries, to friends houses, just for fun, AND for fitness. A bike is a multi-use tool. It kills me that there is such a divide in bike society. Maybe it's all in our minds? I feel like the older, wealthy, suburban adults look down on me for riding an old trek1000 and jersey shorts when I ride, maybe they think I look down on them? Something's gotta change!

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  4. I try very hard not to judge regarding what people use their bikes for (it's hard, I know!). I'd like to see more people use their bikes for transportation, but I'm also not going to tell people that they shouldn't ride for fun, fitness, competition, etc.

    And I'm not going to tell them that they HAVE to ride for transportation, that goes against everything we're fighting for (which, in my mind, is freedom to get from A to B safely with any form of transportation we desire).

    My major point with that, Anonymous, is that there are so many people who think they CAN'T ride without all that gear. And I make gear suggestions, without a doubt, because I've found some great stuff that works for me and I want to share it. But I try to keep it simple and minimal, and to me that doesn't mean that you HAVE to have all the spandex stuff and clipless pedals and the perfect panniers, etc. If you have an old ten speed and a backpack, and a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, you're good to go.

    And I'll be making a post today that addresses some of those last issues you're discussing.

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  5. Big Daddy Diesel - re-reading your comment, I noticed that you put "riding right in the middle of the road" as one of the things that irks you.

    Cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the road if they think the road isn't wide enough for a car to pass them safely without changing lanes. I do this all the time on my commute up and down High Street each day. There's precisely ONE place on High Street where I feel comfortable letting a car share the lane with me when passing - that's just north of High and Nationwide. And that ends pretty quickly.

    A seasoned cyclist should know this and take advantage of it, otherwise you're putting yourself into a hazardous situation needlessly. I generally tell people who are asking for advice about riding safely to "stop caring if you're holding up traffic. If you ride safely, you're going to do it."

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  6. I agree with you about patient v impatient. Even when I am stopped at a red light and turning right in an auto. I will usually stay put. I'm not in a hurry to chance an accident to save a few seconds. If there are people behind me, I am almost always honked at and told to get a move on. After the light changes, I turn into the correct lane, those people zoom by me, if possible, blaring the horn. I usually catch them at the next light. Life is too short to die to save a few seconds.

    Even when I wasn't biking regularly, I alaways gave plenty of berth when passing bicyclists when safe. Again, no need to die over a few seconds.

    T J O'Keefe

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  7. View our travel as part of a computer game? Heck no! Then "others" become expendable obstacles, and we develop multiple "lives." The "I'm the only one here" attitude will foster, not mitigate, risky and self-centered behavior.

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  8. Bruce, if you take it to an extreme, yes, that's an issue. The point is to not see other drivers as trying to kill you, be rude, etc. You never know when that driver who just cut you off to get to an off-ramp, etc. might be trying to get to a hospital or something of that nature. So just take the situations as they arise and deal with them without getting upset and becoming a road rager yourself.

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