Friday, 25 October 2013

Cletus Asks Cyclists #4

Why are bicyclists so selfish?

Not everyone who bicycles is this selfish, but some are and really need to read this!
I live on a two lane highway with no shoulder AT ALL yet people come from all over to ride on it because it's a beautiful, scenic place. I have numerous times had to put my truck in the ditch because a logging truck was in the other lane and the bicyclist was just pedalling away in the middle of my lane. Bicyclists should ride responsively! It just plain rude and dangerous to ride on this kind of road- dangerous for drivers' as well as the bicycle. Parents: please teach kids to only ride on roads that are appropriate and safe for bicycle traffic.
I'm more than inconvenienced by this- I'm frightened. At the least, I will have expensive repair bills for my truck by flying into ditches. People have already been killed. I'm worried a child will be riding on a bad stretch (in a lot of places, it's big river on one side and steep mountain on the other) and will be killed because a driver can't get out of their way. This is a 70mph road with a lot of big trucks heavily loaded who cannot stop quickly.

My response:

You have "had to put your truck in the ditch because a logging truck was in the other lane and the bicyclist was just pedalling away in the middle of 'your' lane"?

How about instead of acting stupidly, you SLOW DOWN!

The lane is not 'yours'. It's every road user's - including cyclists'. Ownership of the road does not depend on the type of vehicle you choose to use on it. When a cyclist is in front of you, it's technically 'his' lane, by the rule of priority. Didn't you learn this in Driver's Ed before you got your license? You are required by law to slow until it's SAFE to overtake. Attempting to overtake while a logging truck is in the oncoming lane is not safe.

Cyclists use the whole lane when it's not wide enough to share - precisely so that impatient motorists are prevented from overtaking. This is for the cyclist's protection.

The speed limit of the road is irrelevant: if cyclists are allowed on it, they have every right to take measures to increase their safety - one of these is taking a central position in the lane - this makes the cyclist as visible as possible to other road users and prevents unsafe passes. Besides, the speed limit is an upper limit, not a target speed. Speeds are limited by the vehicle in front - another thing you should have learned in Driver's Ed.

For your sake (and for the sake of all the road users who might be unfortunate enough to be using the road around you), read and commit to memory your Driver's Handbook. The rules are in there. It's not rocket science.

By the way, if trucks cannot stop quickly, they should modify their speed so that they are following the vehicle in front at a safe distance so that they have room to stop in an emergency - this is a legal requirement.

The post and all the responses, good and bad, were at Yahoo Answers but as is often the case with questions like this, it was deleted, presumably by the person who posted it. I'm guessing this happens because the questioner either is getting too many answers he doesn't like, or (less likely) he realizes his question/rant makes him look ignorant.


  1. Sounds like NM State Route 4, except for a 50 mph speed limit. Since you live on the East Coast, I assume the 70 mph is leg pulling? Or does Md really have roads with high speed limits?

  2. The question was posted in Canada. I think the questioner is getting confused about miles per hour vs. kilometers per hour (at least I hope so - let's hope he's not doing 70mph on a 70kph road). 70kph is about 45mph - hardly too fast to allow safe road sharing between cyclists and motorists.

  3. 1st- a lot of people use YA canada because it uses the old format. I don't know why someone said east coast- that info wasn't in the question. Montana, where I live, has 70mph speed limits. I know exactly what this poster is feeling. It's not a hatred or dislike of cyclists- it's fear of hurting someone. And if you have a fully loaded logging truck going 70mph behind you, you can't just slam on the brakes as you come around a corner and there's a cyclist in your lane and a car in the other lane (I've had to do exactly what this person had to do- drive my jeep right into the ditch). Maybe a lot of people haven't driven on roads like that very often. I have- it is dangerous for everyone. Just because you CAN legally ride your bike anywhere doesn't mean you should. Safety is more important- for the sake of everyone on the roads. That's what I got from reading the post.

  4. To your first point: the questioner uses the word "pedalling". That's a British or Canadian English spelling of the word. This was not an American using YA Canada.

    For the rest of your response, you might want to read my original response to the question, because clearly its lessons haven't got through to you.

    Even in Montana, the law still requires you to follow at a safe distance and modify your speed for any given situation. If you're approaching a blind turn, you should slow down precisely because there may be a slow-moving vehicle or an accident in front of you. If you run off the road because you couldn't avoid a collision otherwise, YOU WERE GOING TOO FAST! Just because there is a posted speed limit of 70mph does not mean that you should be doing that speed - the speed limit is an upper limit, not a target or a minimum. Use your brain, for crying out loud.

    And in Montana (unlike Canada), the LAW (not just good cycling practice) states that cyclists may use the whole lane if that lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. This is not some arbitrary law - it's for the cyclist's protection.

    As for "riding my bike anywhere", you seem to think that cyclists are just out for a joyride. Some of use do not drive motor vehicles. If I'm on the road on my bike, it's because I HAVE TO BE THERE. Safety is indeed important, which is why motorists SHOULDN'T DRIVE LIKE MANIACS. A cyclist has the same right to the road that you do. A little respect goes a long way.

    Not that riding a bike for pleasure gives a cyclist any less right to the road. Cyclists wouldn't face 50% of the dangers on the road if motorists would take their responsibilities behind the wheel seriously. The road is not a fricken race track.

  5. Hopefully logging trucks are not doing 70 mph. Back when we canoed on the Kipawa River, we often were on back roads with logging trucks bombing down towards us (not at 70 mph) and we DID have to get out of the way.

  6. If motorists driving for pleasure were not there we would also seriously cut down on dangers. Most of the weekend traffic on NM4 is tourist traffic or people going to church on Sunday morning. I have always failed to understand why some motorists think they can relegate cyclists to second class status if we are just out for a bike ride, and not do the same for themselves if they are just out for a Sunday drive.

  7. Ian- I have been in contact with the person who wrote that- he lives in MT. And I repeat: if you have a fully loaded logging truck going 70 mph (and yes- they will go that fast. Maybe they shouldn't but they DO.) behind you, you go 70mph.

    But you didn't answer both my point and the point from the original post. Shouldn't cyclists not be pleasure riding on roads that are this dangerous?

  8. If you have a logging truck behind you going 70mph, your RESPONSIBILITY - a requirement of the LAW - is to go at a speed that's safe. If 70mph is not safe, you modify your speed to one that is safe. Logging trucks are equipped with brakes. As a cyclist, I'm well aware that motorists - even logging truckers - can apply brakes - in my experience, they have done so in every single instance over 40 years of cycling on the road. Maybe you need to learn that lesson. You are not at the mercy of the vehicle behind you.

    Cyclists should ride on every road that they have a right to ride on. Roads are not dangerous. Only people who travel on them are dangerous - and only if they are not following the rules of the road. To urge cyclists off the road when cyclists are not the problem is victim-blaming. The ones who should not be on the road are the ones who are abusing the road - that's not the cyclists.

    If people are so concerned about the safety of cyclists, maybe they should slow down and use the road properly, instead of insisting that the speed limit be a target speed. The road is not a place for ignorant cowboys.

  9. Hmm. I spent a few weeks traveling on logging roads in Germany. I never felt threatened by truckers. Of course, that's a different continent and it's nearly 30 years ago. Still, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would consciously run someone off the road.

  10. I can't help but notice that CR is making a point about safety, yet you are being quite rude and insulting. CR is not. Maybe things are different in other places- oh, that's right you said that but apparently it's only true if it works in your favor. Huh. Interesting.

  11. I'm confused as to why you are so outspokenly, well, mean, when other's are trying to explain potential safety hazards. As you state you've never driven a vehicle, maybe you aren't quite the expert you believe yourself to be. Can't we have an intelligent discussion without you reverting to name calling? Folks in glass houses might be wiser to keep their stones on the ground where they belong.

    Get your driver's license and come drive on a rural MT highway. Once you do that, maybe you would better understand the situation.

  12. CR is not making a point about safety. My point is that he doesn't understand what is safe and what is not. When a motorist is willfully ignorant about traffic laws and unwilling to learn about safe vehicle operation around cyclists, I do tend to become rude and insulting, because those kinds of people are a danger to others and should not be driving a 2+ton vehicle on the road.

  13. You clearly do not understand safety issues where it concerns cyclists. The reason I appear mean is that you are driving a 2+ ton vehicle on the road and you have no idea how to operate it safely - as a result, you are a grave danger to everyone around you, yet you think you are concerned with safety. Read your state's Driver's Handbook once in a while and you might learn something. I may not have a driver's license (and no, I'm never going to get one - I don't ever want the temptation to drive a motor vehicle), but at least I read my state's Driver's Manual regularly, and I keep up to date with local traffic laws as they apply to cyclists. I am sure you do not do the same, yet you feel justified in lecturing me. Maybe you should take some of the medicine you prescribe and go cycle on a rural MT highway, preferably with a LAB cycling instructor who can show you what I don't seem to be able to explain to you. Once you do that, maybe you would better understand the situation.

  14. I'm still absolutely amazed that someone is so fanatical about bicycling. I've ridden a bicycle as my only source of transportation. I rode mine responsibly where there was no danger to others. That's great that you enjoy it but you're STILL totally missing the point. I am concerned for the safety of everyone. You say bicyclists have a responsibilty to ride on every road they have a right to be on- clearly safety is not your concern. You seem to be a zealot determined to do as you like with no care for anyone else.That's too bad. I feel sorry for you. I just hope other cyclists who read this will take into account the safety of everyone as you clearly could not care less.

    I will pray for you to be safe and hope you do not realize I was right when it's too late.

  15. n Wow- I think your blood pressure is getting a bit too high.

    The only bully on my radar is you, Ian. You make a whole LOT of assumptions with no basis at all- You also seem to be the only "creep"!

    If you are so dedicated to cycling, logic says you'd actually care about input from motorists who are simply calling attention to safety issues FOR THE SAKE OF THE CYCLIST! I'm completely lost as to what motive you have for just arguing. I guess that's just the kind of person you are. As for your comment about being married to CR- I'd prefer to be married to him than you. He seems quite civilized in comparison.