What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cars Vs. Cyclists – A Brief History Of Vehicular Combat

Yet another tirade spurred by YOU, the Pez reader. You write, we respond….this one is for Howard who wrote in on the subject of 4 vs. 2….

It’s the old addage. Cyclists hate drivers, drivers hate cyclists. Arguing on a weakly mixed pallette of ideas, interpretations, and rules of the road that are twisted to fit each side of the argument, each side takes continual swipes at the other. Cats and dogs, Republicans and Democrats, Oil and Water, Cylons and Humans, it goes on and on. With the exception of Oil and Water, all the rest of these fundamental differences could be solved with some good dialogue, and a little understanding.

Where Does This Come From?
Which came first? The Bianchi or the Ford? It’s my understanding that each side doesn’t understand the other. It’s borne perhaps from the obvious differences between us(man vs. machine, two wheels vs. four), as well a general fear of the unknown. I spend plenty of time on the road both behind the wheel of my “office” and behind my handlebars. I’d like to think I can offer both sides a little leeway.

The Rap Against Cyclists:
We, as cyclists, cannot absolve ourselves of any wrongdoing. I have seen it myself, people that ride with a sense of entitlement, and that do away with common courtesy and and respect for the law. Running lights, blowing through stop signs (both wrong when traffic is present only), drafting, weaving, cutting across lanes, and failing to signal are at the top of the list. It has to be said that some cyclists ride like idiots. I hate to say it, but it’s true. Some. Not all. Most of us seem to know how to handle ourselves, but it’s the “few bad apples spoil the bunch” theory. However, we unequivocally belong.

The Rap against Drivers:
Now, again, the entitlement aspect comes into play, but a slightly inflated version of it is here. I’ve had altercations with drivers that use the argument that “roads were built for cars” and I can see their point, to a certain extent. However, it’s quite obvious, both in theory and in law, that cyclists belong, and we need to share the road. I heard once the retort to a driver who said, “Get off the road, you’re blocking traffic!”, and that retort was, “We’re not blocking traffic, we ARE traffic.” (I think this is a rallying cry for Critical Mass) The poetic nature of the compliment, delivered in even tones on a late autumn day, almost brought tears to my eyes with its eloquence. The driver sat slack jawed and sped away. It was a classic moment indeed. And in drivers defense, there are some that do the right thing, again, the “bad apple” theory. I’ve been shown immeasureable courtesy from time to time, and I am hard pressed not to think these drivers are themselves cyclists in some capacity. Oddly enough, the entitlement sense sometimes leads drivers to be safety advocates. I once heard a driver say to a cyclist, “Where’s your helmet?”, as the cyclist was tooling along the sidewalk, doing maybe 7 mph, at best. The cyclists response was, and I will remember this until the day I die, “Hmmm, I’m doing under 10 mph, on a bike, just three feet from the ground, surrounded by grass. You are doing anywhere from 35 to 65 mph, surrounded by metal and glass, and other cars. I think the question is, where is YOUR helmet?”

What Do We Do?
I implore folks on both sides of the transportation ledger to simply apply a little more common sense and patience. It’s common sense that you have to give a little to get a little, and it holds true in this arena. If left unchecked, sometimes tempers flare beyond the casual flipping of the bird or some heated words, and we get into real trouble. Look at poor old Alex Zulle of late, for an example. And we certainly don’t need the flames fanned by the morons at Clear Channel radio stations, trying to rally motorists to run us off the road. And if it’s 3,000 lb car vs 21 lb bike, the car will win, 100%. Riders – use your signals, and obey the rules of the road you so dearly wish to share. Drivers – realize we are a valid mode of transportation, and we belong, period.

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Below are just a few advocacy sites worth looking at. Share the Road!






and some anti-car aggro with a punk rock tint:

About Dave:
DOB: 6/5/71
Residence: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Category: USCF Road 4
Teams: Project 5 and Evil Cycling
Why I Love Cycling: “Nothing on the planet can hurt me more than my bike.”
Fave Cycling Moment: “Anytime I sit down and trance in front of ‘A Sunday In Hell'”.
Favorite rides: “Any criterium, anyplace, anytime, and of course, Ragbrai.”

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