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BICYCLING RULES OF THE ROAD

 

(originally posted as part of a discussion @ Failure to Detect Sarcasm )

Sorry I'm late, busy week (which I am sure we can all relate to)

couple of points

1 – I had a friend in High School (23 years ago! OMG) who was an avid bicyclist.  After High School he and his father rode across the United States over the summer before he went to College.  Anyway, for many reasons his example always stuck in my head about the cooperation between cars and bicycles.  I always kept that in mind when encountering bicycles on the road and tired to give them the respect they deserve.

2 – I’ve been a motorcyclist since I was 17 (24 years ago! OMG) and I can relate to bicyclist from that perspective. And YES it ticks me off when I see some idiot doing a wheelie or a stopie in the middle of traffic, because it REALLY does give bikers a bad name! (However, I love watching guys and gals do it in the relative safety of a parking lot or back road, THAT is at least trying to be responsible)

3 – Hard life lessons, experience, and knowledge have taught me to try and see things from as many perspectives before passing judgment (don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I’m still Human and get upset from time to time)

However, when I moved to the house I am in now in 2004, I started to become increasingly frustrated with the bicyclists in my area.  Thankfully I was able to remind myself that HEY!, one of these bicyclists could be Mike!  And maybe more importantly there might be some “understandable” reasons for some of the behavior I observed.

I wanted to understand the difference between, as Mike said, the RULES of the road and the REALITY of the road.  As with all conflict in life, obtaining a better understanding helps people with opposing views better cooperate.

You’ll have to trust me when I say I fully understand the difference between the RULES and REALITY.  For example, when I come to a stop sign I DO NOT stop fully if I am able to determine there is no one around.  Now, I assure I don’t take that decision lightly if there is any doubt in my mind that I can’t determine that, I will stop (and stop completely).

I break this type of rule because I am indignant and stubborn about WHY a rule was created.  Rules are often created to “mandate” something obvious, something that most people do naturally but others willingly screw up and mess up life for all the rest of us.  So, I feel if the condition doesn’t exist which requires the rule (some obstruction or right of way issue at a stop sign for example) I don’t follow it.  Yes, I’ve gotten nailed by that and that’s the consequence.  I am NOT indignant about the consequence, I broke the rule and I have to pay the price.

That is all very logical and works for me, action and reaction, balance, etc.

You also have to understand that the road I live on is wonderfully windy, tree lined and shady, has some banking that makes an amateur racer like me drool, and was recently repaved.  It’s hard to resist myself even when I’m driving my truck! (it did break me a few times early in the morning and late at night when I still had my Miata)  But I do resist because I’m not the only one who lives on that road (although it is somewhat sparsely populated).  All of this makes it VERY tempting to treat it like a private road for everyone from motorcyclist to pedestrians.

It also bears mentioning that this road is barely 2 lanes.  There is a steep uphill bank on one side and a guardrail in most places on the other side which prevents you from sliding down the bank into the creek!  There are also several bridges along the way. One that is a single lane and another that should be! And lastly many commuters treat it like a shortcut from one major road to another which causes all kinds of ridiculous traffic at various times.

So when I passed a group of bicyclists on my road who were driving 3 abreast (one literally riding on the double yellow line) I was careful to wait behind them for quite a distance until I could see beyond them far enough to safely pass.  When I did so, as quickly as I could because that window of safety was quickly dwindling as we approached the next curve, and the bikers “indicated that they didn’t approve of my methodology”.  I became… let’s say… disappointed with their behavior… yeah let’s leave it at that!  However, don’t be too concerned I was in no mood for conflict that day and I eventually was able to calm down.

Yes, that was an extreme example, I admit!  I could site many other less extreme but no less annoying examples (not taking your feet out of your toes clips at a stop light and ending up ¼ of the way out into the intersection for example OR cutting across a busy intersection as a GROUP… ok gotta stop!)

So back to the issue, my desire to better understand bicyclists.  Before I simply write it off as simply a situation of a few giving a bad name to the many, I would like to know if there is a “logic” that I am missing.  What is the mindset of a bicyclist, I ride bikes every so often, but I head off to a park as a recreational rider not as part of a “rigorous” pursuit.  I also acknowledge that when I see someone biking or running it reminds me how inadequate I have been to the task of improving my health (I’m working on that).

The basic human psychology of THAT guilt is well demonstrated by groups like the KKK, the Nazi’s, etc. ad naseum!  And I like to think I’ve been successful at recognizing it before it causes me a problem.  All the more reason I want to understand if there is more there than I might realize.

I’ve really tried to whittle the issue down to the ultimate frustration and I think I’ve found it.

It’s the fact that there seems to be no consequence to this behavior!  I’m not saying we should begin a “Judge Dread” style of rule enforcement, but If I have to bear the consequences of breaking the rules, so should bicyclists.

So there you go, that’s a summary of my thinking on the subject.  Please feel free to comment on any aspect.

In the meantime, I’m going to do the best I can to safely avoid bicyclists… AND pedestrians, joggers, runners, kids playing “ball”, turtles, frogs, squirrels, dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, furniture, tire treads, dear, garbage, road-kill (because bones can give you a flat, it happened to me, I know!), potholes, nails, oil slicks from spies, smoke screens, people on their cell phone, drunks, cops J, construction workers, trees, road signs, lawns, puddles that you don’t know how deep they are, etc.

Whilst simultaneously maintaining a safe distance, braking early, coming to a complete stop, using caution at a yellow light, using my turn signals, looking for an “out” at all times, wearing my seatbelt, holding the wheel with both hands (at 10 and 2), obeying the speed limit, yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk, making way for emergency vehicles, passing with caution on a single white line, compensating for weather conditions, avoiding stray cones or barrels, assessing traffic behind me, not letting my mind drift to the stresses of my day, not playing the radio too loud or obstructing my hearing with ear-buds, changing the radio station or CD, resisting the need to pee desperately, etc.

God help us all

M

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