Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Motorists' Sense of Entitlement

Yup. It's that time again. Time for the perennial patent pending Desegregated Cyclist anti-motorist rant.

Speaking as a person who has received training as a cycling safety instructor, speaking as a person who knows the laws and rules of the road and puts them into practice every day without fail, and speaking as a person who has been commuting by bike for over 30 years, I have to say it's getting ridiculous for cyclists out on the road these days. Motorists seem to be getting far worse - I estimate 90% or more don't have a clue as to their responsibilities or even the rules of the road (and they talk about "scofflaw cyclists" as if motorists never speed, never talk on the cellphone while driving, never drink, never run red lights or stop signs, etc., etc., etc.). With that overwhelming ignorance comes a sense of entitlement a mile wide and an arrogance that often seems to lead to violence.

I find 90% of motorists to be disgusting and frightening. That's something I would never have thought 20 years ago, but today's motorists appear to be a different breed: they seem to have no consideration for other road users, and they seem to act as if the road is their private property rather than a facility that exists for everyone to use, no matter what vehicle they choose to use on it.

The problem, I think, is that there is nowhere near the same respect for cycling that there was 30 years ago. Today's motorists don't have a grounding in cycling culture - many did not commute to school by bike when they were kids and many now view bicycles as mere toys rather than transportation, so they view cyclists as errant children rather than equals on the road. The prevailing attitude is that cyclists are joyriders, whereas the reality is that we are engaged in the very same commuter activities as motorists. The only difference is that when cyclists disobey the rules, they aren't driving a 2-ton chunk of metal that can easily kill. That difference is why motorists should be held to a higher standard. I think the fact that they are, all too often, NOT held to a higher standard is shameful.


  1. Perhaps it is time to consider a move? Most motorists I encounter are polite and try to be careful even though most do not realize how easy it really is to pass a cyclist operating safely and legally.

  2. "...Today's motorists don't have a grounding in cycling culture..."

    That might be part of it, Ian. My theory is that in addition to cycling having become less common as transportation, cycling as transportation is now being equated to separate but equal by the facility advocates. We now have an official Apartheid problem with cycling.

    Plus, many folks have a chip on his or her shoulder these days. Since a cyclist is "different", we are an easy target for misdirected raging at the machine. For that matter, if you read a lot of the cycling subculture stuff (Streetsblog, etc), cyclists consider motorists the enemy. In a world of Fox News vs. MSNBC, everyone is the enemy. Perhaps it is time to move to somewhere that has not lost its mind.

  3. More likely, a few "bad apples" have distorted things. "Dr Steve" prescribes reading and implementing http://dfwptp.blogspot.com/2009/06/experimental-cycling-1-interactions.html for a couple of days with emphasis on how many stressful versus non stressful interactions there are. Alternately, go to dfwptp.etc and search "interactions." Call me if neither of these help.

  4. Surrender? LOL. I'm not going to move simply because my area's motorists are a bunch of jerks. I don't think it would send a healthy message if I gave up my local roads to those idiots. I was bullied as a school kid, so I'll be damned if I'm going to let the bullies win now I'm an adult.

  5. I just found your blog and I really enjoy reading it.
    I too am a commuting cyclist. I am frustrated by the ignorance of the motor vehicle public and their apparent willingness to endanger my safety.
    Just yesterday, I was right hooked by a driver in a town center I ride through. I was in the middle of the right lane. This driver passed me. Half the car was in my lane and half in the left lane. The driver then made a right in front of me! Fortunately, it was a near miss.
    I just don't understand how these people continue to have a license.