Friday, February 29, 2008

Sharing the Road

It's been a while since I've gotten a good ride in, I've been on jury duty. Nothing like a week long trial to eat up your riding time. All the time off the bike has me thinking and reading about being on the bike.

I’ve been a little shocked lately to see some comments on various sites about bike car interaction.

"I have a real problem with cyclist having the same rights as I do as a motorist."

"It only makes sense to ride on a busy arterial if you can keep pace with traffic.'

"In the meantime you're holding up traffic, wasting a huge amount of other road users' time and gas, and put your life (and others') at risk…"

"…if you can't do the speed limit on a bike down busy arterials with no bike lane, its not a good idea to be there…"

"It is an irresponsible act to attempt to increase ridership when it is impossible to protect either physically or through proper enforcement those you are encouraging to ride"

"Common Sense", would have had you pull over to the side of the road."

"…dude...slide over..stop..let the guys pass and ride on..."

The shocking thing is that all these comments were made by "cyclists" or people who claim to be cyclists. Which got me to thinking…

What does it mean to share the road?

Well the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines share as: to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others.

To me it means everyone on the road follows the rules of the road set forth in the statutes and we all have our piece of the road. Some cyclists, (yes I said cyclists) would have us believe that sharing the road is climbing a snowbank or taking a major detour from our route if there are vehicles behind us who are impatient.

If a cyclist has to leave the roadway to ensure that a motor vehicle can pass by 10 seconds quicker, that by definition is not "sharing" the road it is relinquishing the road. If the cyclist is no longer using the same road as the driver, by definition it cannot be sharing the road with the driver.

Now I’m not advocating riding where you have a right to, even if it’s dangerous to do so. If there is a dangerous vehicle around and you can safely leave the roadway. That’s probably not a bad idea. I’d also call the police once I got off the road as well.

The largers issue is, if we as cyclists don’t act like vehicles, that are entitled to use the road, we will not be treated as such. Whether it’s the scofflaw racer who blows a stop sign or the unsure commuter who apologetically limps onto the ditch, snowbank or shoulder, motorists will expect other cyclists to do the same.

I have heard recently that by "taking" my portion of the road, I’m selfishly hurting the cause of cyclists rights. I’ve also heard that if I anger motorists by pursuing legal action, they will dislike bike riders even more. Of course I’d like for all my interactions with drivers to be positive, but sometimes drivers have other ideas. Based on my interaction with motorists against whom I’ve pursued legal action, these drivers weren’t going to have warm fuzzy feelings toward cyclists any time soon no matter what I did. If whatever reprimand they get as a result of my actions causes them to not buzz cyclists again for fear of the consequences, I’ve succeeded in changing their behavior, and I care more about their behavior than their feelings.


SiouxGeonz said...

So many of the "they'll hate us even more" arguments are used in any fight against oppression. IT doesn't mean it isn't sometimes right... but it's often based on being satisfied with the status quo even if it means being oppressed.
Too many of us get run over with the status quo, and it is accepted, for me to be happy with it.

Anonymous said...

If you were driving a golf cart out in a busy street, going 15 mph, would you feel like a dumbass then? Because it would make the same demands on traffic.

Anonymous said...

So a plow out on the road doing its job, at night on top of it, wouldn't be considered a dangerous vehicle? I steer clear when I'm in my car!

"Now I’m not advocating riding where you have a right to, even if it’s dangerous to do so. If there is a dangerous vehicle around and you can safely leave the roadway. That’s probably not a bad idea." -Posted by you above.

Follow your own advice or else you just look like a hypocrite. Common Sense must prevail at some point.

Jeff said...

Well Mr. Anonymous,
A plow out doing it's job at any time, if the driver obeys the law, is NOT a dangerous vehicle.

It is the drivers illegal behavior that makes him dangerous.

I never knew how many people were named "anonymous"