Cycling + Stupidity + Traffic = Potential Darwin Award Nomination

So I’m driving during rush hour yesterday in a little northern suburb of Chicago, in an area that might be somewhat known for a citizenry mildly out of touch with reality, when I notice something interesting not too far ahead in traffic.

Two cyclists are riding side by side, in the right lane, as one might expect to see a pair of motorcyclists doing. Except that these weren’t those kind of bikers, these were the spandex-landen Lance Armstrong hopeful-types, apparently in training for the Tour de Idiocy, rolling along down a four lane road where it’s not uncommon to see cars going even faster than the 45mph posted limit. And yes, there was a shoulder on this road. I have been down both sides of it on my own bicycle many times. Naturally, the traffic in the right lane (myself included) were not all that patient with this circumstance, and were blaring their horns at Lance Armstrong & Co. and slamming the accelerator and flying around them. I watched this all unfold for at least a minute as I came closer up behind them. Horns blasting, cars changing lanes, it was quite a scene …

And they absolutely would not get out of the way. Unbeknownst to the rest of the motoring traffic, these two champions of instinct were apparently entitled to the use of the road as their own pedestrian thoroughfare.

Obviously, I wasn’t the first to blare my horn at them, but I made damn sure they heard mine for at least 6-7 seconds as I flew by them. Not that it mattered at that point, because so far as I could tell, they’d already been honked at a good dozen times in the span of a minute. Mind you, these guys were not going more than 20mph, and despite that being a pretty respectable pace for a cyclist, a cyclist is not a car. These guys weren’t all that young either, in fact, they were in their 40’s or 50’s. As I flew by, the one on the left turned and looked in my direction, and even though I only saw his face for a second, I could almost swear I saw an expression of … disgust?

Now, I’m a cyclist myself, and probably a bit of an idiot for not wearing a helmet most of the time when I ride. I do not, however, ride down the middle of a very busy road with the expectation that traffic will be accomodating to my presence, however fast I may be going. As such, I use the shoulder like 99% of the rest of the cyclists. With the exception of a tailwind and a very steep incline, no cyclist can go 50+ mph, so exactly where the fuck do people of this particular persuasion get off believing that this sort of jackass behavior is their privelege and/or right? Quite frankly, I hope they get what they deserve one day, and I hope it’s something big … like a Peterbilt semi carrying a load of trucks that couldn’t slow down in time. What kind of sympathy would they deserve? Anyone who does this deserves whatever happens to them, and then some.

For that matter, how did the whole “I’m a highly conditioned, sociopathic cyclist who can keep up with traffic up to 20mph, so therefore I will” attitude get to be what it is? Bike messengers in the city are one thing, but bike messengers do not go down 60mph highways. Apparently the rules are changing and nobody told me. I haven’t seen this before, and I’m curious if anyone else has …

Congratulations, you’re an idiot.

I am a biker, and I agree with the OP. Yes, the bikers can act all smug and shit blocking the lane, because they have a right to it too, but I bet you they also could be bothered with the traffic rules cars have to be bothered with, like red lights, stop signs, don’t pass someone in the same lane, don’t weave in between cars…

Cyclists like that want it both ways - they want to block motor vehicles who might want to drive fast, but they don’t want to have to have a license, they don’t expect to be required to produce a driver’s license if a cop pulls them over, and they don’t expect to be ticketed for things that could get a car driver’s license revoked.

In my opinion a cyclist has no business being in the driving lane of a road where the posted limit is 45mph. For whatever it’s worth, I was once a bicycle courier, and have absolutely no compunctions about using a lane on a road with a limit of 30mph. I’m not quite down with wishing them run over by a semi, but I don’t think the OP is an idiot.

Well, yes and no. This isn’t so much an issue of licensure as it is common sense, and moreover, common courtesy. They do seem to want it both ways, but this was an example taken to an extreme. For the record, I wasn’t wishing death upon them, just embellishing on the fact that they’d deserve what they get, and if karma works to their benefit then it would be very bad for them. This was in heavy traffic, in case I wasn’t making that clear. I’m just curious what motivates people to have enough audacity to ride abreast in a traffic lane, at rush hour, at less than half the posted speed limit …

But I guess “Death Ray” answered it for me … the kind of person who does it is probably also the kind of person who contributes what he does to a thread. I can only suppose he does it too.

Yeah sure, fuck off. You will be the one getting smashed flat by the Hummer.

I hope they get what they deserve one day, and I hope it’s something big … like a Peterbilt semi carrying a load of trucks that couldn’t slow down in time.

Preach it, bup. I’m a considerate–nearly paranoid–driver but have scant respect for people who use roadways to work out their personal issues. Road-rage drivers in cars are no less annoying or dangerous than passive aggressive cyclists. Freud on wheels. I don’t damned well care about Penis on Wheels, Greener/Fitter Than Thou, etc. self-expression crap.

It gives a really sick meaning to ‘street theater’.

I hate drivers who hog roads that can be shared with cyclists. But I’m really sick and tired of cyclists who self-righteously demand respect by blowing off common sense courtesy. Slower vehicles move right whenever possible, out of the flow of faster traffic. It applies to cars and it applies to bicyles as well. Cyclists can’t have it both ways. If they want the protections of road protocols (if not specifically posted road laws) then they can’t use their small size and agility to blow through stop lights, pass on the right, etc.

Sure the cyclists may have been idiots. But the OP is also an idiot. They’re an idiot for letting minor distractions on the road annoy them, they’re an idiot for using their horn for 6-7 seconds while passing a couple of people who obviously take no notice of horns (it didn’t work for any of the other drivers did it?) They’re an idiot for ADDING to the general unpleasantness of the roads.

I agree that cyclists shouldn’t expect to have it both ways with regards to the rules, however, two specific cyclists do not represent cyclists in general. There is no way to know whether these particular cyclists are ones who dodge between cars and run red lights etc, unless you’ve seen them do it. It could be that they expect to have all the rights of other road users, and also expect to obey all the road rules as well.

I was about to start a thread myself on a similar topic, but maybe I can just hijack this one instead. I was driving down the street tonight and quickly came upon–and almost hit–a cyclist I could barely see. No lights, no helmet, definitely nothing like a reflective vest, and he was actually wearing headphones while biking in the dark. I came too damn close to having my bumper hitting a moron at 35 MPH.

Not only were the cyclists ignorant, inconsiderate assholes, in Florida they would have been in violation of state traffic laws re: bicycles:

To Death Ray:

Minor distraction on the road? Yeah. Sure.

They’re weren’t taking notice of horns? Right. Okay.

General unpleasantness of the roads? My fault entirely.

What does dodging cars or running red lights have to do with any of this? In case I didn’t make it abundantly clear, they weren’t dodging cars, the cars were dodging them. For the record, I’ll amend the story by saying that they were stopping for red lights, along with the rest of traffic, which was causing both lanes to have to merge into one to get around them. So yes, there is a way to know that those particular cyclists were doing certain things because I saw it all happen, but since the issue of stopping for red lights is ancillary to the fact that they were riding down a very fast and very busy road, I didn’t see it as being an important aspect of the story, and I still don’t. Alas, you say it could be that the cyclists “expect to have all the rights of other road users, and also expect to obey all the road rules as well”, right? Call me stupid – wait, you already did – but I think the horns blaring at them and cars going around them is enough to testify to the fact that cyclists do not have “all the rights of other road users”. This is why there are shoulders, sidewalks, and bike paths for pedestrians, and roads for motor vehicles.

To support this, and to add to what Sharky posted, here is a “quick reference card” of Vehicle Code 625 ILCS for Illinois, pertaining to cyclists. Notice that “cyclists are granted all the rights applicable to the driver of a vehicle, with certain exceptions” … chief among them essentially being: do not ride down a traffic lane unless you are overtaking or passing, preparing to turn, or avoiding an object on the shoulder , which is where you’re supposed to be in the first place. Also note that, more to the point, there is mention that riding two abreast is prohibited if it causes traffic to be impeded. I’m sure now you’ll want to argue that 20mph on a 45mph road doesn’t qualify as an impediment, Death Ray?

But that’s all besides the point. I am an idiot. The cyclists were idiots. Everyone here in agreement with the OP is a potential idiot too, I guess … and you’re the only one who isn’t an idiot, Death Ray, so the congratulations really goes to you. You just call 'em like you see 'em and since you weren’t there, that makes your condescending input all the more valuable. Your acquaintance with American road laws is clearly on the same level as the cyclists in question, so thanks for contributing. I guess someone needs to stand up for them.

And he never said that they did represent cyclists in general. Bolding mine.

He’s pitting only this particular breed of inconsiderate cyclist.

Sorry, that was directed at some other general ranting in this thread about cyclists trying to have it both ways. I was using your particular example to point out that any one or two specific cyclists aren’t necessarily guilty of this.

You were in this particular instance, I have no doubt that you aren’t always, no one is.

Yes they were, I never meant to defend them specifically.

Everyone is a potential idiot.

Nope, I’m an idiot too sometimes, just like you were, though I don’t act like those cyclists did.

Well that’d be because I’ve never visited the place. Like I said, I didn’t mean to defend the cyclists, just pointing out that acting like an idiot in response to others acting like idiots doesn’t make you any less of an idiot.

Try this on for size. You’re driving down the road when you notice a bit of a traffic build up in front of you. There’re cars slowing down, changing lanes, tooting horns etc. You soon see that the culprits are a couple of cyclists who don’t have the common sense and curtesy to ride in single file as far right as practical.

“Fools” you think, “they’d be good candidates for the Darwin Awards.”

You realise there is nothing you can do to personally remedy the situation so you slow down and slip in to the other lane. As you pass the cyclists you note that they have the nerve to even look disgusted at the other drivers tooting at them. You shake your head a little, go back to deciding what you want for dinner tonight, and carry on driving.

By the end of your drive you’ve almost forgotten entirely about the incident.

I just wish more road users drove with some pre-emptive curtesy and remained curteous even when other road users are not. Drivers who react just become part of the problem.

  1. The cyclists are not pedestrians at the moment they’re cycling and therefore they were not using the roadway as a pedestrian thoroughfare.

  2. Now, if the OP meant pedestrian as in “ordinary” instead of “on foot,” then that’s pretty funny.

  3. If the cyclists were disregarding the vehicle code of the locality concerned, then that’s not cool.

  4. I like biking and wish I could do it here without greatly increasing the chances that I won’t see tomorrow.

Sigh. Amen. Bicycling is a wonderful thing and all; in fact, I wish they’d be -more- of road hogs because it’s too squick-enducing to see cars creep by them with only a foot to spare. But occassions like these and the many times I’ve been nearly lawnmowed by a cyclist giving me a dirty look while jogging on the sidewalk (I’m deaf so no way of hearing them) upset me. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that…

Seems to me like there is a clash of egos in most such situations (not casting aspersions at anyone who’s posted here).

  1. Bicyclists have equal right to use the road with motorists. They are under no obligation to have to dive for the shoulder, navigate through six-inch-deep puddles, etc., because someone wants to exercise his right to drive at the speed limit or above right where they are.

  2. Unlike motorists, bicyclists can usually move to the side of the paved lane and permit vehicles to pass in that lane. Those who don’t, and insist on riding abreast and blocking vehicular traffic, are being pricks most of the time. (And I think there are exceptions – for example, a family with parents and kids may need to stay abreast instead of single file at a given point.)

  3. No motorist has the right to drive someone else who has a legal right to use of the road off it. His right to use the road does not trump anyone else’s. At the same time, he has the right not to be unduly impeded by others moving more slowly than he.

  4. Common courtesy is the key here – on the part of both bicyclist and motorist. Unfortunately, that seems to be in short supply the past few years.

Sounds like that isn’t the case for this situation.

I agree. But until the city builds bike lanes or wide outside lanes (wide enough to safely split with a car, i.e. at least 50% wider than inner lanes), I have no choice but to take the lane. As it stands, I can’t get out of my apartment complex without goin on a road with a 45mph speed limit and taking a whole lane.

That isn’t the case here. Your situation may not be favorable for cyclists, but I have ridden down both sides of the road myself, and there are shoulders. These cyclists were not in the situation you are in, and even when I am on a non-shoulder road myself, I still ride as close to the curb as possible because, well, it’s the law, but more importantly, it mostly just seems like the smart and courteous thing to do.

Maybe, maybe not. I’ll just note that many curbs are completely unsafe for a bicycle, even though it may look otherwise from a car.

Actually it’s neither.

The law says you should ride as close to the curb as is practicable or as is safe. So if you decide it’s not safe or feasible to ride close to the curb, you have every right to ride in the middle of the lane.

And riding in the middle of the lane is usually safer. If you ride close to the curb, car drivers will take that as permission to pass you without changing lanes. That usually means only inches of clerance. Definitely not safe.

I don’t think it’s courteous either. It just tempts the driver to pass you dangerously. What’s courteous about that?