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December 15, 2017
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  • AC

    I’ve always wondered why we don’t see more civil lawsuits in these cases. Personally I’d be glad to contribute to an advocacy org that would help victims families sue the bejesus out of negligent drivers. It’s certainly disappointing when a cyclist gets tried for murder for a collision with a pedestrian, while motorists kill cyclists without even a citation (mixing countries, I realize, but the attitudes are universal)

    • ibc

      Usually the police don’t even cite drivers who are at fault in collisions where a cyclist is killed or injured. Without a citation, it’s rare that any lawyer will take the case.

    • jules

      Speaking in the Australian context, a lot of people are fuzzy on the law. There are 2 bodies of law: criminal and civil.

      Criminal law includes penalties for culpable, dangerous, careless (and state-based variants of those terms) driving, down to road rules offences (failure to yield, dooring). Police can issue infringements to motorists for breaking road rules or bring prosecutions for more serious offences (the first ones I listed). So often with cycling/motorist collisions, police fail to do that. There are several likely reasons that can combine to explain why that (fails to) occur.

      Civil law allows victims who have suffered losses to take action from those who may be responsible for those losses – through negligence, acts or omissions. This is the area of law that ordinary people have more control over, as you don’t need police to bring a charge on someone. You can sue them yourself. Except that in Australia, the govt got the bright idea of unilaterally deciding to insure motorists (only motorists) for (not quite, but close to) any and all losses arising from their negligence behind the wheel.

      A key intent behind this govt decision was that victims of drivers’ negligence would not be left out of pocket. 3rd party injury insurers would always have deep enough pockets and (in theory) a willingness to pay up. This is a sensible idea. However, an unintended consequence is that it makes drivers unaccountable for the losses suffered by victims of their driving. That is, other than through criminal law enforcement. Which for cyclists, is very patchy.

      The system basically works to protect drivers in almost all circumstances, other than blatant, gross negligence such as being impaired by drugs or alcohol. I suspect this has contributed to a culture of impunity among drivers.

    • Lou Savastani

      As someone who was severely injured by a negligent motorist, I can tell you this. You can get a civil judgement against a motorist, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll ever see a dime from them. Usually, you can only expect to receive up to what their insurance (and/or your insurance) provides. Unless you’re run over by a government vehicle, a vehicle owned by a large corporation, or by a wealthy individual, one’s ability to recover damages from the average individual motorist is severely limited. What we need are much higher minimums for liability coverage. If you can do hundreds of thousands in damage with a motor vehicle, then you should be required to carry that much insurance. But, like the author said, it’s just another thing we’re up against in this car-first culture.

  • Hank Moravec

    As a fellow LA county resident, that photo says it all: look past the ghost bike. If the traffic is moving at any speed there is only a couple of feet available, and look at the poor quality of the road in that gutter.

    Some roads are simply unsafe, and I feel for any cyclist who needs to ride them to work.

    We do need to educate drivers though. They don’t understand that its is in there enlightened self interest for there to be more cyclists. On my commute to work when I ride my bike, even if a car has to slow down or wait to pass – at least they can pass! If I was in my car they would be behind me the whole way. By riding my bike I have made their trip faster, not slower. Sure, I roll through a stop sign. But again, if I was in a car, stopping at the stop sign, the other drivers would not only have to stop at the stop sign but also wait for me in my car to do it. Again, being on a bike I made their trip faster.

    If tomorrow in Los Angeles a third of the population rode bikes to work the drivers would not believe how open the roads would be.

    At the moment only cyclists appreciate this. We do need much better P.R.

    • Larry @CycleItalia

      Good luck with that! A big ask in a country that put Donald Trump in the White House. As I wrote above, there is no cure for stupid.

      • mnedes

        Yeah, but the nation was smart enough to not put a clinton in the WH either…. no good choices.

        • Larry @CycleItalia

          OK, get back to us all once he’s Made America Great Again.

      • aethyr

        Donald Trump is a complete moron who should never even made it out of the gates of politics. But stupidity can be found everywhere. Don’t think for 1 second there aren’t idiotic liberals, including entitled hobbyists claiming their pastime is a civil rights issue. Its literally insulting to actual minorities who suffer 24×7 from something they have no choice over.

        • Rob Biddlecombe

          The author is pointing out the hate that is contributing to this situation and plaguing this country. So you proceed to demonstrate exactly what he is talking about. No matter what your view is, this makes you part of the problem.

          • aethyr

            If by hate, you mean calling out his stupidity in trying to claim that your hobby is the same thing as being black? Or that mere vulnerability on the road shouldn’t afford you special protections, no more than a motorcycle gets any.

            I know your martyrdom syndrome is overwhelming, but take off your spandex for a minute and think about what you’re saying. You’re saying that because cyclists are vulnerable on the street, no matter what their attitude, no matter how fallacious and outright wrong their words, we can’t call you out or criticize you on anything you say or do, because that constitutes as hatred?

            Haha. You guys really are delicate.

    • CyclingCraze

      I got t-boned in May by a drive who didn’t see me. It was Sunday 10am only me and her on the road, she stopped got a failure to yield ticket and I got the hospital, bike was totaled.
      In NJ my medical bills went thru my auto insurance (thank goodness I drive, too). I got very very lucky, and I’m back riding as good as ever now.

      I’ve started riding with a bright blinking headlight in addition to my usual bright rear blinking light. I’ve noticed more cars (not all) stop and let me pass when I have the right of way now. And I ride with a brighter jersey and bright mid calf socks, hoping the florescent spinning movement helps too.
      Lights and bright seem to help.

      • Tony Franklin

        Sorry but the lights and hi-vis vest are anecdotal. there’s simply no evidence to prove either of these things work. You’re adding confirmation bias to your account, the statisical chances are that those future encounters would be the same with or without. in fact those with more safety aids (including helmets) take sub consciously more risk when cycling, as indeed those around you). hence why helmet wearers are at more risk of impacts/collisions/single person incidents than non wearers and why higher rate wearing countries show no decreases in injry or death rates compared to countries that don’t wear or wear helmets in much lower %. Putting the onus of responsibility onto the vulnerable NEVER works out well for the vulnerable, not just at individual level by population/societal levels too.

        • Graham Austin

          I’m unsure of your point about helmet wearing. Do helmet wearers take more risks? What are you calling a risk? From experience very few crashes result in heads contacting anything and deep bruising or broken bones are much more likely. It may be true that fast/serious cyclists are more likely to wear helmets – some clubs or events insist on it but those are the sorts of cyclists who are more aware of the risks anyway. In Holland few people wear helmets but they mainly pootle about on big slow bikes on designated cycle paths (lucky lot). I wear a helmet and it has only hit anything once – and not hard enough to dent it even. I mainly wear it to make a good example for children and because I’d be cross if I did hit my head without one on. Somewhat like wearing a seat belt in a car. I’m a lot more worried about other more common injuries though – and no helmet will stop a broken wrist or collar bone.

          • Tony Franklin

            yes, helmet wearers do take more risk. This is well known and studies not just in a lab but of the visual observance (have you watched cycle racing/competiton lately, they crash with great regularity, a shit ton more than pre mandatory helmet regs) and overall outcomes statistically of helmet wearing prove this. Australia and NZ both experienced increased incident and injury rates after bringing in helmet laws.
            Have you not read anything on the subject over the last 10, 15, 20 or more years, a subject hotly disputed not just within cycling circles?

            let me put it this way, if I take away a helmet from a pro cyclist I can guarantee you they will ride with more vigilance and care and will crash less often. Do this en-masse and you have fewer incidents not just a person riding a bike but how that influences those around you too.
            If I took away your airbags, seatbelts, traction control, crash protection beams etc on your car and you knew that it had being taken away, would you drive more carefully. the answer is yes by the way.
            The other negative of wearing helmets is that it takes away the responsibility of safety from those doing the harm, it pushes contributary negligence onto the vulnerable for not wearing. The oft used, would you blame a woman who is raped for not wearing an anti rape device even if that device might possibly only prevent rape in a lab tested environment., would you blame someone for being stabbed if they weren’t earing a stab vest?
            Helmets remove freedoms, they aid taking away blame of criminals doing criminal acts, they expose bias in the justice system, they even ensure that participation numbers fall dramatically when forced to wear such. You also get excluded from cycling by not wearing one in many instances, even clubs in the UK are forcing members to wear or they can’t ride, charity rides, sportives and so on all force helmet wearing or you can’t take part. Helmets are a disgusting reaction to the criminality of motorists and the odd single person incident that a helmet would not prevent the (serious) outcome of, not least would it serve to prevent the incident in the first place but make it more likely more often.
            Yes, I’m totally against helmets and hi-vis because they have a hugely negative effect on cycling safety, human rights and justice for people riding bikes, they have a negative effect on the individual and society as a whole.

            • Graham Austin

              “take away a helmet from a pro cyclist” – but aren’t we chiefly talking about helmet wearing by old blokes such as me and children as well as all those other amateur, social and commuter riders? Top Pro’s get paid a lot, and are motivated by competition – they will stop at nothing, with or without helmets – think drugs, blood thickening EPA, and so on. Should down hill skiers be have their helmets taken away? And NFL players? Blokes on building sites? Motorcyclists? Racing drivers?
              The risk of ANY damage to my body makes me careful. I have crashed/ been hit by cars before helmets were invented, and was once knocked out for a few seconds, without hurting my head – so I have no illusions that helmets make me invulnerable. I am more careful now – even though I wear a helmet. However, one day my helmet may earn it’s keep, as it did for my son. It seems to me that the only people who attach huge importance to helmets are the most vociferous critics of cycling. If ever a cyclist is injured they start braying “where was his helmet?”
              Yes I’ve read lots of arguments for and against helmets and car safety features. Some say helmets are intrinsically dangerous if you crash and far from protecting you they will injure you. Some say stick a spike on the steering column of cars – hmm.
              I take your point that unhelmeted cyclists are more likely to be let down by the courts – but are you saying we’ve all got to stop wearing helmets to level the playing field? I think there are huge holes in your hypothesis – even though I agree with some of your points.
              I think we can agree that helmet wearing should never be made compulsory, however.

            • Blistered Dragon

              It’s a shame you don’t ride a shit ton more without your helmet.

            • Wily_Quixote

              More overwrought gibberish from an anti-helmet fanatic.

              Your post is completely unsubstantiated. Cite your assertions, and I mean recent studies, not the drivel on the cherry picking sites (like helmets.org) that you would frequent.

              the evidence for the risk compensation effect is very slender. Using pro-cyclists as an example defeats your own argument. Have a look at the speed and injury rates pre and post helmet introduction in the pro peloton.

              Have a look at the head injury rates in all studies in the last 5 years in helmeted riders.

              Find the evidence to back your assertions. Otherwise you’re just being a blowhard.

              • Tony Franklin

                No, that’s not how it works sonshine, it’s up to you and others to prove something works before applying it to everyone. Unlike the dippy Australians and other backwards nations/people who introduced helmet laws and found that helmets don’t work, we have a system that needs proof something works before we implement it. hi-vis is in the same ball park.
                Please cite your peer reviewed paper and statitical evidence that hi-vis works and that it doesn’t take away the responsibility from those presenting the harm and push the onus of safety onto the vulnerable.
                If you can’t see why it can’t work then more fool you, in fact, it’s people like you advocating hi-vis who are dangerous to everyone. You push for this crap, same as helmets and look where it has got us, precisely nowhere.
                More onus on the vulnerable, victim blaming and less burden on the killers. Even the police are in the victim blaming game, lights not bright enough (despite the law being only 4 candela for the rear), not enough hi-vis, no helmet etc. So when you have your sea of hi-vis as is increasingly so and increases in helmet wearing why have we had a surge in more injuries on UK roads, an increase that is beyond the very small increase in cycling miles covered? How come with more infra, more people cycling (safety in numbers right?) we aren’t reducing the injuries/incididents despite more people than ever wearing hi-vis and helmets?
                Why, because helmets are fooking useless and people take more risk both cycling and those around also and hi-vis is meaningless crap. if you can’t see an ordinary unlit object on the road (never mind one with a light) then you have no business being there in the first place. Pushing the onus of safety onto the vulnerable has NEVER worked in the history of mankind, not ever. hi-vis is no different.

                But lets see your peer reviewed papers sonny.

                • Wily_Quixote

                  So you are prepared to attack others’ comments as anecdotal.
                  But when you make bold assertions as if they are fact you sill not or cannot back them up with evidence.
                  I see.
                  Tell us again why we should listen?
                  And, although it is tu cocque, i will answer your request:
                  as to hi-viz,i never said that it ‘worked’ i stated that it correlated in a wider passing distance which comes from one study that another poster had quoted.
                  You will the study link on this page.
                  Over to you, lets see your evidence, Tony.
                  You’re prepared to make brash statements, back ’em up.
                  Lets see the non- cherry picked ‘peer reviewed papers on how hi viz doesnt work, how injuries increasecwith helmet wearing any causation between injury surges and helmets, hi-viz or whatever pet hate you are rambling about now.
                  Heres a tip. You wont find the evidence i have already looked, but if you cherry pick some you might confirmation bias a way out of this prison of assertions you have put yourself into

                  • Tony Franklin

                    yes, simply because it IS anecdotal and without evidence. You just don’t get it do you!

                    • Wily_Quixote

                      I get that you cannot back up your assertions.
                      Did you make them up?

            • Rob Biddlecombe

              Safety equals danger! Well thought out.

        • CyclingCraze

          My whole post was obviously anecdotal and biased in the first person.
          And you list no statistical evidence (for the human bike riding population) to support your any of your unsourced “statistics”.

        • Larry @CycleItalia

          Agreed. All the visibility requirements play into the old “I never saw him/her” when the motorist hits the cyclist. Would you expect the motorist to say otherwise? The reality is (unless they’re a murderous maniac) they were simply not looking where the hell they were going.
          All the lights and his-viz crap in the world isn’t going to force motorists to watch where they are going or change them into caring sharers of the road. Driverless vehicles are perhaps the only hope in the USA?

        • You are so full of it…. Show some data to support the claims why don’t you?

          • Tony Franklin

            hahaha, no, it’s you who is full of shit. It’s up to you and others to show peer reviewed papers stating that it works to prove that it does. go on, you can’t can you!
            So even with increased injury rates of people on bikes exceeding increases in number of miles travelled in the UK, despite better infra, despite more people wearing helmets and hi-vis you simply can’t accept what logic and indeed the facts show us.

            Why do you think the police still get crashed into with all their hi-vis and blue flashy lights. because people who don’t look/see don’t see shit, and frankly if all you’re looking out for is hi-vis then you miss everything else AND importantly if you can’t see something not lit up or wearing hi-vis you should never hold a license to operate a killing machine. I suppose that fallen log in the road or an animal is at fault if you crash into it going by your thinking, same as if it were a pedestrian, I guess if they were all wearing hi-vis too you’d not crash into it, utterly ludicrous!
            You have a sea of hi-vis, then what, you’re no more distinctive than you were before, you’re utterly clueless sonny but do present
            your thesis on why hi-vis helps with cycling safety.

    • BronsCon

      I’m only going to touch on the stop sign issue here, because it’s the only thing (aside from failure to signal, which you did not mention here) that see bikes doing frequently enought to be a problem in my area. You need to be aware that traffic laws apply to every vehicle on the road, not just motorized ones; when you roll that stop sign (especially when you do so in front of a car with right of way; and moreso when that car has already started moving) YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW. When that car hits you because they were already moving and expected you to stop as the law requires, YOU HAVE NOT MADE MY COMMUTE FASTER. YOU HAVE MADE IT MUCH SLOWER AS I AM NOW STUCK IN TRAFFIC WAITING FOR THE SCENE TO BE CLEANED UP.

      I say this as a cyclist who’s been hit by a drunk driver, ended up under her car, and was miraculously able to pull myself out and literally walk off the road with a cut on my leg requiring only 5 stitches. You do not f with a car, you WILL lose. If it comes down to it, at least ensure that you are in the right legally. Don’t roll stop signs, the law is clear that you also must stop.

      And I actually will touch on signaling after all. If your bike lacks turn signals, as most do, familiarize yourself with the same hand signals drivers must learn and use when their turn signals fail. This, again, is for your own safety. A car doing 35 on a city street can not stop fast enough when a bike doing 30 gets in front of them without signaling, 5ft ahead. This is made worse when you cut in front of a car without signaling, THEN IMMEDIATELY STOP OR SLOW FOR A TURN.

      It is your responsibility to keep PHYSICS AND HUMAN REACTION TIMES in mind, as well as the law. If you do not do this and you get hit, I’m sorry, you are at fault. If you do anything for which you would be at fault for the accident if you were driving a car, you are not magically absolved of fault just because you are on a bike; the very same rules apply to you.

      • will59

        You’ve set up quite the straw man here. I don’t think the majority of the commentors are defending cyclists who take ridiculous risks as you assert. Riders who cruise through intersections in front of vehicles or cut drivers off are asking for it and basically get what they deserve. The majority of the comments are expressing a frustration that many cyclists who abide the rules of the road and do their best to maximize their safety and minimize their intrusion on automobiles are still being struck and injured or killed by inattentive or dangerous drivers. Somehow “I didn’t see them” seems to be an acceptable defense in cases like these.

        • BronsCon

          I’m speaking from experience, here;literally every time I point out that traffic laws apply to cyclists — this one post being the sole exception — I get torn to shreds by the exact type of people you seem to think are a rarity. And I don’t know, maybe they are rare here — I don’t read this site, I got here from Digg — but I assure you they are quite common on other forums.

          At any rate, we are certainly in agreement that “I didn’t see them” should never be an acceptable defense when the cyclist was obeying the law and not being stupid. However, that doesn’t mean it’s *never* a valid defense; plenty of idiots pedal these days.

  • Tim Rowe

    It’s not helped by the fact that the behavior of the general public and their attitudes is considered acceptable, even legal. Imagine if you took the comments you saw thrown at cyclists on social media and simply changed the reference to a cyclist to, say… a black people. “They deserve to be run over”. “They should have to pay rego”. “Hope someone kills them”. Why is that kind of commentary acceptable because of an activity a person participates in, yet not when it’s directed because of a genetic attribute? Simply because one can be changed by not participating? How is that an acceptable train of thought.

    The change that needs to happen is for that kind of hate speech to be made criminal. That people need to start going to jail over the things they say encouraging others to kill people. That will result in only part of, but the start of the change required.

    • jules

      it’s impacticable to criminalise hate speech against cyclists. I think it should be a crime, but you can’t put 10,000 people in jail for writing dumb stuff on the internet.

      an alternative is to put social pressure on people. the Herald Sun had a great editorial yesterday highlighting this issue. the more ‘sensible’ voices we hear advocating for cycling, the better.

      • zosim

        Actually you CAN put people in jail for saying dumb stuff on the internet. It happens. The key point is very rarely does it happen in issues where there isn’t some fuss created by the group impacted by that. Martin Shkreli just went down because of a tweet that broke his bail conditions and there are loads of situations where this happens. However, the first step would be news outlets policing their comments (NOT switching them off) and replacing comments like that with links to their acceptable use policy, banning repeat offenders and/or reporting their comments to the police. Sadly though, this would impact ad revenue and so they’ll never do it.

        Currently, blaming victims is working well as clickbait so it continues unabated.

    • Spider

      I often think that….replace the world bike riders with ‘women, gay or black’ in there and it is hate speak. We are the final allowable 2nd class citizenship in Australia.

      I think it’s part of the some Australian’s psyche that they need to hate (how do we know that we’re number 1 unless there is a number 2) and the political correctness causes them frustration which they are socially allowed to take out on the cyclists. They aren’t allowed to put the other groups down anymore so let’s pick on the cyclists.

    • David P. Graf

      You need to understand that many drivers get scared when they are sharing the roads with bicyclists. They know how badly a biker can be hurt or even killed if their car hit a bike. It raises their anxiety level and they don’t like people or things that cause them to feel that way. And so, it’s easier for them to hate bikers than to admit that they are frightened. There’s also envy. They look at people with bikes that may cost more than their junker and feel bad about themselves and their prospects. Again, it’s easier to hate bikers. There’s also the resentment that many with kids have for those who don’t have them. They can’t use bikes to take their kids to day care or drop them off at school and and dislike gets directed toward presumably childless bikers. Does this make sense factually? No! But, it does make sense emotionally and that’s why facts do not seem to convince many people when it comes to bikes and bicyclists.

      • winkybiker

        I think motorists also feel foolish. Their chosen mode of transport is so often terrible. And they have paid a lot for the privilege.

    • Judah

      It’s not hate. This is exactly the same tizzy the author gets himself in. Driving and riding involve lots of stress and anxiety, which then get released in aggression.

  • While I agree with Peter’s sentiment (however dark a picture it paints), I personally don’t have that much of a problem with drivers on the road. I’ve been riding on the road for 25 years and things have probably gotten better for me, not worse. And I truly believe this comes down to my own experience, awareness and choices on the road that mitigate the risks. There’s not doubt that random things go wrong that are completely out of your control, and I fear that I’m jinxing my own luck by even talking about this. But doing things like designing my route to be the safest possible, paying particular attention to certain vehicles and behavior, avoid riding at certain times of the day, showing some presence on the road, etc. Almost every time I get in a situation that is dangerous, I can think back to a decision I made that brought me here. No, it’s not my fault, but I’m often the one who can control it by my decisions on the road.

    This morning riding to work on the bike path and I see someone riding 10 feet over on a busy road. Why would you do that when there’s a bike path right beside? Yes it’s his right to ride there, but a decision that only increases his risks.

    Not trying to blame the victim at all. I completely understand that things happen out of your control. All I’m saying is that wise decisions can reduce your risks.

    Ride safe folks.

    • winkybiker

      For me it has definitely become better on the roads not worse. The main factor behind that change was my decision to leave Australia, which is perhaps the most cyclist-hating country in the world.

      • Spider

        25 years of economic prosperity, war-free & safe, democratically elected political system….sounds like utopia….that’s why I’m shocked at the anger and stupidity out there.

        Perhaps these fantastic conditions and living in one the greatest countries on earth has spoiled us to the point where we rile about the smallest things?

        Exposure to under-developed or war-town countries may alter people’s attitudes and levels of gratitude.

    • Larry @CycleItalia

      I have a BIG problem with – “All I’m saying is that wise decisions can reduce your risks” because the angry motorist thinks you’ve made an unwise decision to be out there on a bicycle in his/her way (as they say) to start with. No matter where you are cycling, the average dolt behind the wheel of a car (in the USA) thinks you pretty much deserve to be hit, since if you had any sense you’d be stuck in traffic like them. As cyclists know, the roads were paved as a result of cyclists actions but “The road is for cars and trucks, so get out of my way!” idea will be a hard one to put down in the USA where the conventional wisdom says nobody walks or rides a bike unless they’re poor or have lost their driving license for some reason.

      • Wily_Quixote

        I think that there are two sides to the argument – both with some validity.

        I agree that we shouldn’t be deterred from the road as the more assertive cyclists there are, the safer it is for everyone.

        I do unconsciously, though, avoid roundabouts where I can as, in Australia, they funnel competitive drivers, vying for incremental time gains, into a space where they don’t have the skill, care or attention to safely co-exist with cyclists. it’s maddening to think this is the case and they ought to drive with more skill and attention, but my being there will not change their behaviour and only exposes me to increased risk.

        I have also taken to wearing ‘civvies’ on my commute (that is baggies and t-shirts) as lycra is perceived by many pedestrians and drivers as an enemy uniform.

        • marc

          Isn’t it interesting that what you wear while riding can alter a driver’s perception of the rider; that somehow because a rider is in lycra it’s seemingly more acceptable to ‘buzz them’, as if they’re less at risk in same way. Not being sexist, but being male and in lycra definitely increases the chances of being buzzed I’m guessing.

          I believe strongly in reducing the risk as much as possible so will deliberately avoid certain roads in Melbourne, as it’s definitely not worth the risk; the consequence is far too high.

          Does anyone else have those days when you have a funny feeling that something might happen, so you avoid a certain route/road? I find I have this quite a lot, and always go with the gut on these days.

          • Wily_Quixote

            After reading a few studies on the subject I am of the opinion that having the word ‘police’, or even a blue and white checked band, on your jersey is the surest way to be treated with due care and attention.

            it’s amazing how subliminal messages can become liminal.

            • Luke Bartlett

              i like that idea! sneaky blue and white hatch on the jersey

            • Larry @CycleItalia

              Interesting theory. Perhaps that works on OZ but I can remember the “LA Sheriff’s Cycling Team” with a big yellow star on the jersey. Lots of jokes were made about more respect from motorists but there was nothing to it. By the time the motorist would notice any sort of law enforcement identification they’ve already decided “Your narrow, lycra-clad ass is in my way. You obviously are just out here having fun while I am doing something much more important, so get the F-K outta my way!”
              I’ve found the problem to be worse in more economically unequal areas…a cyclist on the road is either in the way of some fat-cat in his overpriced German car speeding on his way to meet with his lawyer or banker or in the way of the poor shlub in the beat-up pickup truck going to clean the guy’s pool. Jealousy creates animosity and cyclists out enjoying the day or avoiding the stop-and-go traffic are an easy target.

          • Daniel

            To add to this… Daily I experience 3 levels of care from motorists:
            1. When riding with my kids, on commuter, in street clothes – motorists and pedestrians give way (in unexpected places), smile, never buzz, etc.
            2. When riding on commuter, in street clothes – motorists rarely buzz but rarely smile or be courteous.
            3. In lycra, etc. – open hate, cut me off, accelerate past aggressively, etc.
            My response to these experiences is what Justin (below) suggests. I try to be courteous, smile, be patient, wave, thank, etc. Basically stuff to humanise me underneath the helmet. It doesn’t always work but I feel better then open warfare.

            • M G

              +1 for riding w kids. W the kid, esp on a tandem…the same people who run me off the road (i live in a small rural community) wave and smile, give me a thumbs up. It’s ironic

          • Tony Franklin

            helmets are the biggest problem, it automatically designates you as a ‘cunt’, ‘wanker’, lycra lout’ and other negative/threatening descriptives. Not only that but both the rider AND those presenting the harm are effective psychologically from the ‘safety’ aid being worn. commonly know as risk compensation (Risk homeostasis to give it its correct term), the effect is usually sub conscious but is shown to be massively detrimental to the overall safety of people on bikes, both of the lycra variety and those just pootling to the shops for a pint of milk.
            All the whilst the onus of safety is pushed onto the vulnerable instead of the authorities putting that responsibility on those presenting the harm. This is akin to telling rape victims it’s their own fault for not wearing an anti rape device or wearing the wrong clothes or walking in the ‘wrong’ area at X time of day. similarly blaming stab or gunshot victims for not wearing a stab/bullet proof vest.

            Yet some people riding bikes who believe that wearing helmets and hi-vis make a difference and indeed the police and government at all levels will place blame onto those vulnerable on our roads and mitigate the actions of those that kill and maim despite no clear evidence those adornments work (the evidence suggests the contrary). Why is that only applied to people riding bicycles?
            I ride on high density traffic roads, I’ll ride on high speed dual carriageways, country roads and wherever I need to go by the most direct route at whatever time I want. Incidents in my circa 190,000 miles (over 30+ years) mainly happen in built up areas during the day when traffic is light. I’ll not be forced from the roads and I won’t be forced to wear XX clothing or plastic hat. I am a human being going to wherever that is, respect me or you are a criminal, it can’t be any simpler.

            • Doug Moore

              I love my helmet.

              It has two large dents that saved me from brain injury when a was “doored” some time ago. I have since started wearing a new one.

              Drivers can label me what they like, but “still alive” will have to be one of them.

        • pedr09

          Wily, it has long been clear to me that being in lycra is tribal and marks you out as fair game for ridicule, abuse and if it should come to pass somehow, serious injury or death. Motorists are always banging on about cyclists breaking the laws but every cyclists knows it’s nothing to do with the laws, it’s all about your tribe and the dehumanisation that takes place in motorist’s minds when they see lycra on two wheels.

        • Rob Biddlecombe

          That’s why I hope roundabouts never get used in the USA.

    • Wade, my experience is generally similar. There are, from time to time, rude and ignorant people who think it’s fun to scare cyclists. There are impatient and distracted drivers everywhere. But as a general rule my experience has been that if I ride defensively, stay aware of hazards, use my lights, wave, nod, say thanks, and so on, it’s a pleasure to ride my bike. (At the moment in Brisbane my biggest issue on the bike is magpies!)

      I think Peter is right to be disturbed – perhaps even outraged – that authorities are so apparently indifferent to the seemingly appalling miscarriage of justice associated with cyclists’ deaths. We all should be. But to me, such an article only creates more furious “in-group” head-nodding and more division and anger at the “others”.

      On a recent trip to the USA I cycled through Utah’s Rocky Mountain areas (the same canyons that the recent Tour of Utah went through). Some of the roads were busy and had no shoulder (like from Logan to Bear Lake, or up past Sundance in Provo Canyon). Others were almost empty (like the top of American Fork Canyon). Regardless, road users were polite and courteous. And yet, others will ride those same roads and feel in fear of their lives.

      Ultimately, we can control our behaviour and our responses to others’ behaviour. That’s about it. We can’t fix the “others”. But by being a courteous and patient cyclist (even when they tick you off), you make yourself a “human” to them, and they might just treat you better.

      • Wily_Quixote

        I wave and smile to drivers when they don’t pull out in front of me at intersections. Humanising cyclists is important I think. behind the mirror shades and lycra is a person you don’t want to kill.

        • spicelab

          I’m really conflicted about doing this, because it often feels like “thanks for not killing me!” and reinforces the unequal hierarchy on the road.

          • BenW

            I do it too, and I wave to people who I’ve “held up” if they’ve had to slow down and then pass me in a sensible place (instead of on a narrow bit of road with a traffic island in the middle.)

            I will admit to a little bit of annoyance at other cyclists “not doing it right”, though. Not like “The Rules” kind of “doing it right”, but basic things. Riding in the dark in all black with no lights, for starters.

          • Wes

            Agreed, on a 1 to 1 level a nice wave or nod to someone doing the right thing feels fine but I never do that in my car or in other situations where people are required to follow standards of conduct to not endanger others.

            It does feel a bit like saying “Thanks for not killing me … this time.” :/

        • I also do this quite often. Sometimes its “thanks”. We all make mistakes and sometimes its “oops…sorry for that dumb thing i just did” and yeah sometimes it’s “thanks for not killing me!”

          If my friendly wave means that that driver will pass by another cyclist carefully with respect, then its a very small price to pay! Just imagine the reputation we cyclists would have if we all did that. Instead of red light runners, and an inconvenience, we might be seen as human beings, saving the environment etc etc etc…

          We should start a campaign right here, to change the way drivers see us by a simple wave. #wavethecar …might need a better hashtag though.

          • Wily_Quixote

            I am more conscious of it now I have posted. Every car on my commute this morning that stopped for me at a roundabout or intersection got a small wave and smile.

            I’d be curious to know if it actually changes driver behaviour or attitudes. It probably can’t hurt.

            i do know, anecdotally, that drivers (myself included) grow to expect the ‘wave’ when you let someone merge in traffic and it (anecdotally) makes one more likely to allow a merge in heavy traffic.

            Perhaps there is something to this courtesy thing after all.

            • Well, lets try it and see what happens. #wavethecar :)

              • Wily_Quixote

                do kangaroos count? I caught myself waving to a kangaroo that gave way on a fire trail on the way home.
                That’s one ‘roo with a new respect for cyclists.

          • Wily_Quixote

            I often think: #moonthecar but, yes, waving is better.

      • Steak

        Hi Justin. Peter (the author) here. Thanks for the note. I think trying to compare your experiences in Utah to a place like Los Angeles is tricky. I used to live in a suburban part of Pennsylvania and I used to think like that. The risk that riders in big U.S cities, particularly one with an ingrained car culture like LA, is off the charts. You may disagree, of course, but I’m not out to create more head-nodding or division — I think cycling enthusiasts need to know what some of us are facing.

    • Jim

      I agree that its better than it was 15 years ago in Melbourne. I find that with a backpack on and therefore obviously a commuter my ride on some of the busiest roads is fine. The weekend is different. I suspect it is because I’m using the road as a recreation space and therefore there is a lack of recognition that we are allowed to use the roads for that purpose – I think it is viewed as if it were a protest march that blocks the road to make a point.

    • I commute on roads and bike paths most days and do all I can to mitigate the risks by choosing quite streets, staying visible etc. Almost 99% of drivers are great. It’s the 1% that really scare me. It’s also somehow become ok to dislike cyclists, and it’s this attitude that really annoys me. An angry driver just won’t understand our point of view unless they get out on the road and experience all that cycling has to offer. My hope is that more drivers become cyclists. I think that’s one of the main reasons it’s got better in recent years. More cyclists = safer cycling, at least where attitudes towards cyclists are concerned.

      Better infrastructure like bike lanes/paths etc (apart from providing a safer riding environment) will hopefully attract more cyclists.

      • laverne_keller

        Speaking as a Canadian who’s seen this from both sides I disagree regarding making the drivers commutes harder than they already are with road space reducing bike lanes as the city council and mayor in my local area seem to be using as their rationale. This in a city that’s under snow and in minus 20 celsius temperatures for six months out of twelve. The problem isn’t the infrastructure it’s the outdated laws that are the problem, the thinking that cyclists are equal to automobiles or even to motorcycles is absolute idiocy, as simple physics and mass comparison between even a compact car and bicycle shows how outclassed we are. So instead of treating cyclists as equal to motor vehicles maybe start seeing us as pedestrians like roller blader’s or parents pushing their child in a stroller. Instead of riding with traffic maybe ride facing the traffic. The incident mentioned in your article sir about the rider hit by a right turning dump truck with the driver stating that the cyclist were in his blind spot is 100% correct as large trucks have a very large blind spot if you can’t see the driver in either side mirror they can’t see you. That is why riding to either side of a large truck is just committing suicide, so don’t do it never be right next to the side of a large truck. That is why the cyclists should be considered pedestrians on routes without sidewalks ride facing the traffic. While I agree many drivers are blind to other users of the roadways, by riding facing the traffic flow would make it easier for us to take evasive action when they make the mistakes they all do. We are the lighter of the vehicular traffic and thus are able to react faster and don’t have the massive inertial disadvantage due to mass and velocity differences, thus we can brake or maneuver around the hazard easier than the driver can. By riding facing the vehicles we can see the danger coming far easier then when riding beside them in the same direction, very few bicycles are equipped with rear view mirrors and don’t really bother to check what’s behind us be honest my friends. So maybe we should be lobbying legislators to change the laws as the current laws date back to the horse and buggy days when often the bicyclist was faster than the other traffic, plus most people walked where they were going in urban settings. That is so outdated considering the larger mass and velocity of the motorized traffic that we are simply out classed and out weighed. That combined with the rarity of bicycle ridership in more northern climes then motorized vehicles makes us just minor statistics compared to the cagers so be smart and work to get the traffic laws changed and updated to modern times..

    • jules

      I agree Wade. As an ‘experienced’ cyclist, I have experienced similar to you. When I talk to inexperienced cyclists about their experiences (that’s 3 times I’ve said ‘experience’) and observe their riding, the most striking thing is how they seem to have more bad luck with motorists, near misses and crashes. Experience (damn) counts for a lot.

      But having said that, it doesn’t help inexperienced cyclists.

      Also, I still have the occasional barney with ‘bad’ motorists. In my assessment, when they’ve done something aggressive or negligent that has placed me in danger.

      • BenW

        Entirely agree. My girlfriend bought her first bike as an adult a couple of months back (Specialized Sirrus Sport Disc – not bad as far as hybrids go) to do a 5-mile-each-way commute on and she has way worse luck on the roads than I do – and this is despite wearing a lot of reflective and bright gear to ride in and having powerful lights. Experience counts for a lot, as does riding confidently and assertively (though not arrogantly) and those two come with time.

    • Luke Bartlett

      bike paths – not the safest place to be either… i find cars more predictable than path-dwellers, especially the old, “this is the exact point at which I have reached half way on this walk and i shall turn around ASAP” move. in saying that, big difference in Kinetic energy :s

      • pedr09

        I get you Luke. I switched from the road to the bike path along Beaconsfield Pde in Melbourne for a week and nearly had 3 serious accidents. Mothers unloading young children from the car right next to the bike path, people wandering from the cafe, texting on their phone right across the bike path without looking (and then abusing you), other riders overtaking each other and misjudging it. The road by comparison had been completely uneventful for 6 years. On the road, cars go forward, that’s about it. On a bike path, all kind of crazy shite happens, all the time.

      • RedMercury

        Take many of motorists complaints about cyclists and you’ll hear cyclists offer the same complaints about pedestrians on shared-use paths.

        Cyclists are unpredictable. They go too slow. They block the lane.
        Pedestrians are unpredictable. They go too slow. They block the lane.

        I’ve seen cyclists do “punishment passes” of pedestrians. I’ve seen cyclists “honk their horn” (eg, ring their bell) as they come up on pedestrians–y’know, just to let them know they’re coming (eg, “Get out of my way!”). And I’ve heard many cyclists complain about pedestrians walking two-or-three abreast and “blocking the lane.”

        And, you know, cyclists could do things like ride slowly and cautiously. “But, hey, I’m commuting here! I gotta get to work!” Or “riding slowly and cautiously could seriously affect my Strava time!” And, of course, when there’s a collision? “The pedestrian stepped right out in front of me!”

        But on the street? “How dare you honk your horn at me! My safety is more important than your convenience! You should be watching out for me!”

        • Wes

          As far as the bell thing, many locales have rules that require audible notification on passing peds on a multi-use trail. Conversely, most locales have the exact opposite type of regulations regarding horn use on cars (i.e. it’s usually illegal to honk your horn just to say “I’m passing you!”)

          You’re right about the other behaviors of bikes and pedestrians in shared areas but bell’s are not the equivalent to car horns in practice or regulation.

        • mnedes

          >I’ve seen cyclists “honk their horn” (eg, ring their bell) as they
          >come up on pedestrians–y’know, just to let them know they’re coming
          (eg, “Get out of my way!”).

          I ring the bell to say I’m coming so don’t do something stupid.

          • RedMercury

            Gee, maybe I should try that with my car…

            • Karl

              Your car has a bell? Interestingly trams in Melbourne have a proper horn as well as a bell, it’s just very rarely used.

              • mnedes

                And evidently in some alternate realities as evidenced here bike bells are as loud or maybe even louder than car horns, plus have all the same obnoxious harmonic content ? I’ve had people thank me for ringing my bell.

        • Brian Mc

          That’s the point of a bell – to let someone know you’re coming. Bikes are almost silent because there’s no engine. Here in Ireland it’s a legal requirement to have a bell on your bike (though frequently ignored).

          A bell on a bike is not equivalent to a horn in a car, think of it as more like an indicator – a means of communicating your intent: either letting everyone know you’re making a turn in a car, or letting everyone know you’re approaching on a bike.

          • RedMercury

            Okay, so I’m approaching a cyclist from behind and I honk my horn to let them know I’m coming. How is this different from ringing a bell?

            • MaxUtil

              Because they already know you’re coming, they can hear the car. Because horns are quite loud and tend to startle someone directly in front of you which can lead to panicked over reactions and swerving on the part of a less experienced cyclist. And finally because for better or worse, we don’t really have an easy way to do a “courtesy” honk. Honking your horn is generally seen as either an aggressive yell (“why are you doing that stupid thing!”) or as a emergency warning (“you’re about to crash in to me!”). You may not mean it that way, but people will take it that way. That is why cyclists tend to react angrily when someone blows a horn right in their ear when it’s not necessary.

              • RedMercury

                Because they already know you’re coming, they can hear the car.

                I’d debate that. Yeah, if I’m driving a Dodge Charger or something, sure. But if I’m driving a typical sedan, not so much. And that’s not to mention electric vehicles.

                As for the “courtesy” honk, again, some cyclist ringing his bell (while still pedaling towards me) is saying, “HEY! GET OUT OF MY WAY!” You can’t tell me that, “Gosh, you shouldn’t interpret it that way,” and then, if I honk my horn to let you know I’m behind you, say, “Well, I didn’t interpret it that way.”

                By the way, though, I will agree that I’ve had cars come right up behind me and blow their horn and it is disconcerting. But sometimes that’s because I didn’t know they were there. After a few times, I bought a mirror so I could see what was going on behind me.

            • Brian Mc

              Well the rules of the road say you should only use your horn to
              * warn other road users of on-coming danger; or
              * make them aware of your presence for safety reasons when reasonably necessary

              So as long as it’s reasonably necessary for safety reasons, there’s no difference.

    • Steak

      Hi Wade, Peter here. I appreciate your point of view and admit I looked at things that way for decades. But then I moved to Los Angeles three years ago and realized that in some big cities, there are many instance where riders have no safe choices. If I want to ride from my house to my office, the best you can do is mitigate risk and be careful…but it’s still unreasonably dangerous. I am not as control of my safety as I should be.

      • Admittedly Melbourne has a very good cycling infrastructure that allows me to make choices. I’m not familiar with LA by bike but it would certainly be a shame to see a cyclist turn into a non-cyclist because of the conditions you describe. I’ll count myself lucky that I live here.

        • Greg Fahy

          Different cities / countries make a huge difference.

          I lived and rode in Melbourne for years (including work commutes) and riding my bike was always the best part of my day. I did apply some of Wade’s tips like picking certain roads at certain times or using bike paths at times when commuting but in general riding there is easy. Even being passed by the car clubs on the road up to Monbulk on a Sunday morning was never an issue.

          I then lived in Sydney for 3 years and cycling became the most stressful thing in my life. By the time I left I’d barely ridden my bike in six months. The amount of animosity towards cyclists by other road users and the lack of options for avoiding that (in the eastern suburbs at least) is both scary and depressing.

          The first part of this year we lived in East Cork in Ireland where there was zero infrastructure for cycling and usually none for pedestrians as well. It was mostly narrow country lanes with plenty of potholes and cracks. Interestingly, I felt completely safe riding there as road users are completely accustomed to have to slow and carefully pass ALL other road users be they pedestrians, cyclists, animals, other cars, school buses and tractors. I experienced the same in backcountry roads in Spain, France and Belgium this year as well.

          My personal experience matches with the theory that slowing traffic improves safety and utility for all road users and the best example of that is our new home in the Netherlands. It’s true that there is amazing cycling infrastructure here, but it’s also quite common to ride on streets and roads where there is no bike path or lane, but where the traffic design ensures that vehicles move slowly. My kids ride to school in all sorts of conditions, and I always emphasise with them the importance of being responsible for their own and others safety as they are now part of the “traffic” but it’s great to live in a place where we don’t need a car and our kids can get about the city safely because the city has been designed for that to happen.

          But back to the author’s point – people assume that the Netherlands has always been a country of cyclists and while it’s true there is a long history and culture of using the bike as transport, it’s also the case that as cars became more affordable and popular in the 70s things could have very easily gone the other way. As roads started to prioritise car traffic, deaths and injuries to cyclists and pedestrians increased.

          Fortunately, Dutch society AND the government saw the threat in this trend and consciously chose to reverse it by prioritising cycling infrastructure over roads designed for cars. The cycling nirvana we have here today exists not because it’s flat here, or the distances are short or that it’s part of the culture. It’s because of a conscious choice and government action to make it so.

          The same needs to happen elsewhere because mother nature knows, we need more people to ride bikes and fewer to drive cars.

    • I think it’s interesting to reflect on whether it has gotten better or worse over the years, having ridden on roads for 20 years. At the same time, I think these simple dichotomies are not useful, but perhaps only serve to reduce my increased sense of mortality salience while riding.

      In general, I feel that things are better. At the same time I also know that this can change in an instant due to driver distraction – my greatest fear is being hit by a car from behind, or one passing close by, rather than failing to pay attention to what’s in front or around me.

      To that end, I feel that this level of uncontrollable accident has increased, due to the number of drivers, distraction, and innatention – irrespective of driver attitudes. As said in other responses, too many gadgets or devices for drivers to play with has changed the landscape. Also, these days it’s too simple to drive a car, that I can see why some drivers can space out – I often do. Driving a manual and matching gears to revs is a thing of the past.

      So personally, I think it’s both. Drivers generally are giving riders (well em) more space, but sadly all it takes is one who doesn’t.

    • Don Cafferty

      Like you Wade, I factor a number of things when I set out to ride that include time of day, day of week, route and whatever. For me and I believe for others, I find the number of factors to be increasing and possibly the amount of riding time that can be attained as a result. Time of year is even a factor. I literally don’t want to be caught “dead” in front of a motorist during Christmas shopping season when for all purposes we should be enjoying a relaxed time of year. Where I live, the roadway has become a free-for-all. Rules are not enforced and users of the road take advantage of it. My point is that it is wise to reduce one’s risk but an awful lot of risk remains and it seems to be increasing.

    • Agreed, Wade. In Los Angeles, there are few places to ride off-road. And the on-street “bike routes” are few and not contiguous. This increases the risk to cyclists, because path and lane options are limited (at least in west and central L.A. where the writer, and I, live).

    • Carly Trish

      I think the issue with this way of thinking is that our problem lies in the way drivers view us, and not the other way around. You could be doing all of the things you just listed (“designing my route to be the safest possible, paying particular attention to certain vehicles and behavior, avoid riding at certain times of the day, showing some presence on the road, etc”), and still be killed by a driver who is not conditioned to look for cyclists on the road. I do see that you acknowledged this, but for me, it is where that reasoning ends. We can’t control it because the culture is not currently on our side.

    • Tony Franklin

      As an experienced road rider of 30+years and circa 190,000 miles in the UK (& plenty in many other countries) it really doesn’t make a huge amount of difference in certain instances where due to those presenting the harm being so out of control, so negligent you cannot avoid collision or being hurt.
      As for you saying don’t ride at certain times of day, that’s like telling women not to walk down xx street in case they get raped.
      Yes you can control some things, however ceding ALL the time only gives the impression that that is acceptable ALL the time.
      And if you are in a motorvehicle and need to be in a certain position on the road because that’s the direction you’re going would you move off the road and onto a side street that doesn’t take you where you want to and would be slower and more convaluted as many cycle lanes are? No you wouldn’t, so why ask people on bikes to do that if you wouldn’t in a car or a van or a lorry? This is exactly the attitude that gets us nowhere, ALWAYS ceding priority, always being forced off the road, always accepting others negligent and dangerous behaviour. And the police just feed from it, because they are motorists primarily and because you suck it up that is the expected norm. KNOW YOUR PLACE, INTHE GUTTER or some shitty cycle lane that doesn’t go anywhere!

    • Jon Thornton

      I choose to do a lot of my riding on quiet country lanes. Sometimes, I’ll ride for hours without seeing a car. In Victoria, we are blessed with a massive network of quiet country roads which are only used by local property owners and adventurous cyclists. Gippsland and the Central Highlands are my favourite quiet regions. Both are only a one hour drive from Melbourne.

    • Doug Moore

      Wade, I like your comment. For every motorist that flips me the bird, there are another 100 that give me courteous room when passing, or other like manners.

      And, yes experience helps so much! Cycling with my nephew, the poor kid has to listen to me go on and on about what to look for as we approach an intersection, even though we have the green light. He’s starting to understand, though. Another cyclist out and about, one less car (when he gets old enough to drive :)

    • exemplary1

      Wade, you may not be blaming the victim, but you are certainly preaching to us. Come ride with us in San Francisco or the Bay Area in general, which has become far more dangerous with the sharp rise in traffic, Uber, increase in driving tourists (from China, India… you name it), Google Maps pointing drivers to what were once safer bikeways, and mobile phones in driver’s faces. As the traffic has gotten heavier, drivers patience has worn thinner. Good for you that you ride safely, but the rest of us see a more ominous reality.

    • Judah

      A really great perspective. Excellent.

  • Curnonsky

    A major factor – at least in L.A. – is that law enforcement will not ticket drivers for endangering cyclists until the cyclist has been injured or killed (and frequently not even then). The subset of motorists that hates cyclists and wants to teach them a lesson knows full well that they won’t pay any price for this – in fact, they are fully convinced they are in the right. And there all too many cops who think cycling is a foolish, risky activity that doesn’t deserve the protection of the law. Entitlement plus impunity equals white bikes all over the city.

    • Larry @CycleItalia

      Exactly! I can still remember the CHP officer’s “Well, I wouldn’t ride a bike on this road” crack when he finally showed up to record details when my wife was “boated” off the road. A cyclist further back on the same road arrived to say the obnoxious prick towing a pleasure boat had tried to take him off the road as well. I don’t know how in the USA one can create the idea that the “roads are for everyone” when so many still yell at cyclists to “Get up on the sidewalk where you belong!” As someone once said, there’s no cure for stupid.

  • VELOcamp

    Great article, if not utterly depressing.

    Unfortunately, I feel that although things on the road have become safer with upgraded infrastructure etc, I also feel that driver attitude has worsened immensely.

    I reckon this can be blamed on the rise of social media and the mob mentality.

    On the one hand, people these days are so desperate to stay on top of their newsfeed that it is becoming more surprising when a driver is NOT on their phone, or doesn’t have it in their lap, whilst driving.

    On the other hand, on social media, access to hate speech is so easy to find. You only need to read the comments on Facebook when a newspaper (rarely) publishes a report on an accident involving a cyclist. Everyone has a voice that they can amplify to other like minded individuals – therefore if you “hate” cyclists, you can find thousands of others who also “hate” cyclists and can rile each other up. This provides people with a perception that their view is the only view, and the view of the masses, which is a dangerous precedent, especially when brought into real life.

    It reminds me of the immediate demise in driver attitude towards cyclists when the new NSW laws came in, massively increasing fines for cyclists for petty misdemeanours. The perception on the driver side was that they had won, and that the state had just given them an excuse to treat cyclists with a massive lack of respect, and effectively treat them like shit. Sad.

  • Doubtful Guest

    When I look at a road like the one pictured, I don’t think to myself “I have a right to ride here.” Instead I think it would be risky and selfish to ride that road and slow down a lane of traffic.

    There’s no easy answer in LA. I used to think road diets were a solution, but in places like Playa Vista and the northeast SF Valley, people are furious at having lanes removed; they despise cyclists for lengthening their commutes.

    Human nature being what it is, I think it’s going to be f*cked until we have widespread driverless cars.

    • Steak

      Worth nöting that on the road pictured (Olympic), the rider was killed just trying to cross the street. I cross this stretch twice a day and it can be bonkers. I think most people in this part of LA aren’t asking for a bike lane on Olympic — they’re hoping for safe passage. But if folks are driving 65mph it’s hard. Thanks. Peter (the author)

  • dllm

    Well said. Same things happening in Hong Kong. The problem is worse as most drivers don’t ride and riders don’t drive. Plus most people are inconsiderate and always put their own right of use at top. No constructive conversation could be made between the camps. No one wants to cooperate with the others. I can’t see things improving in the near future, which is sad.

  • De Mac

    I recently holidayed in California (Anaheim) and Hawaii (Oahu-Waikikii). I didn’t ride in California owing to competing priorities, but rode around 250Km in the week I spent in Waikikii. The motorists there were fantastic towards me as a cyclist, displaying courtesy and consideration – even on limited space roads, in busy traffic periods. I have seen much worse at home in Melbourne – we have some real dills here, who are so engaged in their own self-interest, they have little consideration for ANYONE other than themselves….

    • Tim Rowe

      Yeah, I rode from Hilo to the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island and for the most part motorists were more unsure what to do and how to drive around me more than they were deliberately malicious. They were generally pretty good when I rode between Hilo and Kulani as well.

  • Y arb

    Excellent article which captures my experience of riding in the U.S.

    I think it’s important to distinguish between “leisure cyclists” who don’t ride much in traffic (to and from the group ride, more or less), and everyday people who just want to use bikes to get around. I am both of those, but most people are only one or the other.

    Both groups have bad experiences with drivers, but the leisure cyclists tend to spend much more time not in fear of their lives.

    If we want the benefits that cycling brings to society, it’s the everyday “just get around” riders we need to encourage. Cycling as a whole may be growing, but if all those extra riders are just riding in the burbs or the countryside on weekends, and of course reading Cyclingtips, then it won’t help. And by “encourage” I mean design our built environments, and write and enforce our laws, to protect and safeguard active travel and not sitting in cars.

    I live in Denver, by many measures a fairly “progressive” city, but quite poor for cycling and there has been little or no growth in utility cycling here in the last five years. Sure, lots more weekend riders and mountain bikers and gravel riders… but the roads are as deadly as ever.

  • A handful of studies that may be of interest:

    This one highlights that the presence of an oncoming vehicle was the factor that most influenced the maneuver, whereas neither vehicle speed, lane width, shoulder width nor posted speed limit significantly affected the driver comfort zone or the overtaking dynamics. Note that it’s a small sample of only 145 overtaking maneuvers. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457515301585

    This one suggests whether you wear a helmet or not (and most of us do), cars will pass the same way. How close we ride to the kerb, vehicle size, and location of riding do impact, however. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783373/

    This press release about Walker’s “clothing” study highlights that regardless of what we wear (in response to previous comment from Wily_Quixote), 1-2% of motorists will pass within 50cms of us: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2013/11/26/overtaking-cyclists/

    • Wily_Quixote

      Yes, irrespective of what we wear a percentage of drivers will always pass closely but in high viz or with police written on your jersey in general passing distance is greater.

  • OverIt

    I think everything in this article and the root of most if not all the modern worlds problems can be summed up by 2 words. chronic issues.


    These chronic issues are plaguing all of society, and have turned many people (unknowingly), to varying levels of sociopath like behavior.

    • jules

      yes, indeed. the treatment of cyclists is just a symptom of how people behave when they believe they’re not being judged. humans instinctively believe that mistreating a members of a minority group is more acceptable, as it’s less likely to offend the majority. we’ve evolved to understand the folly of that instinct, but we lapse back into it. I find it amusing to see people with social media profiles of “Equal Love” or “peace” railing against cyclists. way to miss the point..

    • Simon Wile

      All about me me me.

    • Daniel

      I have a slight variation. In Melbourne the combination of road congestion and work, family, and personal, stress means that people are trying to squeeze too much out of their day/ week/ year/ life. They don’t have the capacity to see the big picture i.e., 2 seconds of slowing to give way to a cyclist won’t make any difference but it will be safer for the dad, brother, uncle, son, mate.

      • jules

        I’ve never really bought the argument that it’s about being delayed by cyclists. I’ve always felt it was about the lack of respect implied by drivers having to yield to vulnerable cyclists. The temptation to use their physical advantage is strong.

      • BenW

        “They don’t have the capacity to see the big picture i.e., 2 seconds of
        slowing to give way to a cyclist won’t make any difference but it will
        be safer for the dad, brother, uncle, son, mate.”

        Exactly this. It’s not just cyclists though – these same people’s driving can affect other drivers too. My girlfriend can attest to a common thing I say while driving: “leave five minutes earlier, mate; then you won’t be in such a hurry”.

      • Karl

        I think for some drivers it’s particularly frustrating simply by virtue of the fact they can see past you but not get there immediately.

  • Jon Thornton

    I’ve just returned from a 10 day 1,000km cycling holiday in Far North Queensland. Minimum passing distance laws are in effect in Queensland. Most drivers put two wheels over the centre line to pass me. A lot of drivers put four wheels over the centre line. When it was unsafe to pass, most drivers waited.

    Minimum passing distance laws seem to have a calming effect on drivers. When the law requires drivers to slow down and wait for a safe moment to pass, drivers seem to experience less stress. A reduction in driver stress seems to lead to a reduction in driver anger and cyclist hate. I would never have guessed that forcing drivers to pass safely would make drivers happier and more relaxed, but this seems to have happened in Far North Queensland. I hope Daniel Andrews reads this.

    • BenW

      Interesting. How often did you see the police in Far North Queensland?

      If there was such a law here in the UK, it would basically be unenforcable due to a lack of police around to do anything about it.
      As an (admittedly anecdotal) example: as it stands, you’re supremely unlucky if you’re caught using a mobile while driving. I see several people every day doing that on my half hour driven commute, despite it being 6 points (out of 12 before theoretical* suspension) and £200 fine. I rarely see a police car, yet live round the corner from both the county headquarters and a big police station. There’s studies and figures suggesting people simply don’t care about the phone law over here, and there’s plenty more that are reguarly ignored too (under-taking, tailgating, and so on).

      *theoretical because judges often won’t remove your license if your livelihood depends on it, so there’s drivers long past the suspension amount of 12 who are still on the roads.

      • Jon Thornton

        I didn’t see many police in FNQ.

  • Wookie

    There might be a way to explain how both the author’s point-of view, and Wade’s (articulated below), could BOTH be true, at the same time; There is, I think, this dynamic playing out, across all facets of society, culture politics, etc., but I’ll try to articulate it in the cycling context…
    The people who engage in serious hatred and hate-speech (and violence) toward cyclists, are dwindling, as a percentage of the population overall. But as they dwindle, and edge closer to defeat, they are lashing out harder and more frequently (you can see the same thing happening with climate change deniers, for example, or, in Australia, people who oppose same sex-marriage). Thus you can have a situation where, as Wade described, things ARE getting better overall, but those random, left-field incidents where a cyclist is maimed, murdered, or slaughtered are also getting more frequent, or worse in the level of malice/carelessness involved.
    Broadly, my experience is the same as Wade’s (I also live in Melbourne), but the extremity of some of the incidents I see has become more breathtaking. As mentioned, I suspect this aspect of Cycling is a microcosm of a broader dynamic occurring everywhere… Just a thought/theory.

  • Luke Bartlett

    I don’t know if its 50/50 distracted driving vs intentionally abusing cyclists but either way it presents a huge barrier for entry into the sport. If you’re on the road you deal with cars and if you’re on the shared (pedestrian dominated) cycle ways you’re at the peril of walkers/dogs/prams…

    I think ‘road nouse’ on the part of the cyclist is more important than anything else when it comes to cycling. i do everything i can to keep my safety in my hands, even while riding on the road. be safe, be seen, be as predictable as possible, attempt to predict driver behaviour. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen a car and predict it was going to turn in front of me/pull out/cut me off etc. You develop a gut feel and listen to it because it’s really your brain looking at how the car is moving, how the driver has been responding previously. you get the same thing when driving, you see a car pull up at an intersection and for some reason you feel they’re going to pull out in front and when they do you’ve already started breaking.

    Stay Safe!

    • OverIt

      I agree, and do just you to avoid issues. But sometimes it’s simply exhausting. My ride to/from work is supposed to be part therapy, not mental anguish. Chris Boardman mads good comments to this effect http://road.cc/content/news/228606-boardman-says-cycling-british-roads-mentally-exhausting
      It’s really only on the bike path devoid of any interaction with cars, that one can truly enjoy the ride, but not all of us have a 100% path route available. Mine is perhaps 80-90%, but damn, that stress/danger of that 10% is ridiculas.

  • Roman Pohorecki

    In this country if you want to kill someone, run them over in your car and claim it was an accident. You can kill a cycling mother of two and a get a 2 year sentence in Michigan. Or you can be high as a kite and drive 50mph over an engineer and get 3 years in Washington.

    Drivers have little to fear.

  • Peter Moline

    I suspect that social media has played its part in fostering / encouraging the type of antisocial behaviour that some people display on the roads. Some of the FB pages are echo chambers of derogatory and incendiary language, where anyone who might dare to express a rational counter opinion is soon banned. People can and do share videos of cyclists being hit by cars, and every second comment is “the lycra f*cktard deserved it”.
    Ten or so years ago, someone might have shared a story with their mates after work over a beer, about a crash they saw – but it would soon be forgotten. But today, when it is so easy to share and re-post video, these things have a life of their own. I genuinely don’t understand the people who express this sort of hatred.

  • Frank Kotter

    Great, difficult article and the comments below are insightful. Yes, perspective is very locally based and when I first landed in Europe and started a life here 15 years ago, I felt like I was in heaven after suffering through cycling in the Midwest USA.

    I do have my own perspective to add: for the past 10 years, I have ridden extensively in multiple locations around Europe as I work on a project basis and always bring my commuter and a road bike to each new temporary home. In each and every location, it has gotten worse out there. For anyone not in Europe, you may see it as the nirvana and high water mark, and it is. However, despite vast improvements in infrastructure since I first arrived, drivers have gotten shockingly more aggressive here in addition to being distracted through mobiles.

    And yes, Peter, even here I now have 30s on my road bike and pretty much stick to farm paths and gravel trails. It’s not just LA, man and it’s not us, it’s them….

    • Steak

      Thanks Frank. Appreciate the broader context. -Peter

  • Doug Moore

    Like the author, I too cycle across Los Angles to and from my work. Eagle Rock to USC. And back. We swim with the sharks.

    I have been thinking of this polarization. The drivers vs. anything in their way – not just cyclists. Other slower drivers. Pedestrians. Delivery and construction vehicles. Crosswalks. Even traffic cops.

    Where is this disdain coming from? I think it’s that the car culture has outgrown itself in our city.

    It seems to me – because of the massive urban sprawl, and housing crisis, and lack of sufficient capacity of public transportation, and short-sightedness of our urban planners – there is a VERY REAL DESPERATION when getting behind the wheel.

    Commuters hate their commuting life. The flow of workers in and out of our city is horribly broken:

    – I live too far from work – there’s nothing I can do about that.
    – My work is too far from my home or kids school – there’s nothing I can do about that
    – I wish I could work from home once in a while, but am too afraid to ask my boss
    – I must get there on time, no matter what – it’s just the way it is
    – Going faster is better, no matter what –
    – As long as I don’t actually hit anything, I keep going.
    – Even if I do, I may just keep going
    – I hate my commute so badly, but I won’t actually do anything meaningful to try to change it
    – I am convinced that a long, stressful commute is the only solution for me right now

    Indeed, this is what we’re up against, the way I see it.

    Good article, Mr. Flax.

    • Steak

      I appreciate the note, Doug. Everything you say is spot on. Very articulate. Thanks for taking the time to express that. -Peter

      • Doug Moore

        Thanks, and you know – it’s interesting because I also drive in this city. Sure, I like to think of my life as ‘car-lite’ but still got to get behind the wheel for lots of reasons.

        While in my old 4Runner, the mob mentality of rushing for yellow lights, right turns at high speeds, maneuvering around slower traffic – I become one of the disdained! I too easily get sucked into the mindless driver mentality.

        I have to make a conscious effort to slow down and relax. It starts by leaving home way earlier than I need to. But try telling that to all the commuters out there. :)

        Regards to all they cyclists in our city!

        • Peter Moline

          Everything you say about sprawl and car culture in LA also applies to most of the cities in Australia. I would love to read some research on how people change when they get behind the wheel of a car – and what the effect is of other traffic on their emotions

    • Biker Mark

      Thank you for considering the windshield perspective. Driving is misery. When I ride I try to keep in mind that by the time the driver encounters me he has been in stop and go traffic, he has suffered the stupidity and rudeness of other drivers, and all he’s trying to do is get to work. As a cyclist be visible, be predictable, be fair. If you are itching for a fight you will find one. If you want a more peaceable ride that’s also largely up to you. Stupid shit will happen; expect it.

      • Doug Moore

        Hey Mark, well said.

        A good attitude from the cyclist will go a long way to help you stay out of trouble.

        It’s not easy though, I’ll cop to that.

  • David9482

    Really well put article, and it must be said that the comments below mimic the thought and care that the author put into his piece. I completely agree, the system is completely broken.

    Commuters don’t want to commute, drivers are frustrated/raged for many reasons and it creates a very toxic space on the road – and I (like the author) won’t even mention the environmental implications.

    Imagine for one moment that 50-80% of employees worked 2-5 kilometres from their house. And, imagine that corporations paid a tax penalty for every employee that lived beyond 5km? That tax would be used to fund public transit. These are things I’ve thought of as the solution, but honestly I’m not sure what the real solution would be.

    • Doug Moore

      I like your idea. I wonder if you lived further out, you’d be ‘labeled’ as an expensive employee in the eyes of the employer.

      Another thing I’ve been thinking about: Cycling to the office. Car after car after car is passing you by. I look at the drivers. There are so many different types of people.

      But – out of 100 that I see,

      how many are actually curious about cycling part-way/all the way to work?
      That are physically able?
      And have bike already?

      These are the groups we – as cyclists – have to encourage to act on their interest. There is respect gained from numbers, and cyclists are at a big disadvantage. We need to convert those drivers.

      Cycling fairly
      Cycling predictably
      Cycle with a smile
      Can doing these help reinforce our message?

      Sounds dumb, but eventually, maybe, hopefully more of those drivers will try the bike lane.

      • David9482

        Exactly, so over time, employers would only hire employees that are within that distance. I mean there are already lots of factors that go into new employee hirings anyways, it would just add another layer for environmental concerns. Plus, overall, having an employee that doesn’t have 2+ hours of commuting must also help their mental state.

      • David9482

        Your ideas are definitely part of the solution – need to foster positive feelings about riding. But also need to include other factors to get people to leave vehicles at home and make it feasible to ride to work.

  • Thomas L. Bowden Sr.

    I find the civil rights angle compelling. I would never suggest for a moment that riding a bike is “like” being black in any sense. Once can choose not to ride, but one is born with the skin they must live with. And yet, I have often thought, if you want to get just a taste of what it is like to experience the totally irrational, senseless, and indefensible hate of “otherness” that we call racism feels like, riding a bike on a public street might do it for you.

    • Wily_Quixote

      As an Old White Man in an anglo country I have no concept of what racism is like, but if it is anything like the looks I get from pedestrians when I am on a shared path than I am abashed that I haven’t spent my life campaigning against racism. I have no idea what it would do to a person to receive that vilification, subliminal or overt, every day.

      • Cynara2

        Black people never raced two wheeled vehicles on public streets and sidewalks recording their speeds on STRAVA.

    • Cynara2

      Wow. I simply do not recall black people driving two-wheeled vehicles at eighteen miles an hour around blind corners on a sidewalk, screaming at pedestrians to MOOOOVE and knocking babies out of prams onto the concrete. Nope, not a memory.

  • Hank Moravec

    Great comments all. The experience just varies so much street by street. I was lucky to pick up cycling living in the “foothills” are of Los Angeles (Pasadena, Altadena, Arcadia area). On this side of town there are plenty of wide streets, and the long Rio Hondo and LA river bike paths are within riding distance. On the westside and in the center city its way more to contend with. I am not sure I would have frankly picked up the sport if I would have had to spend any appreciable time on Olympic where the picture was taken.

    But where does that leave commuters? What needs to be built is bike lane infrastructure like the freeways. Every street may not be able to be optimized, but some streets can be. I would hope actual cyclists are making these decisions.

    My sister in law lives near Playa Del Rey, where the whole idea of reducing a lane on a street caused all the discord. You just can’t randomly reduce lanes on streets with the level of traffic already in place.

    • MaxUtil

      I think the point of the PDR road work though was that it was emphatically not ‘random’. It was a redesign to try to make a particularly dangerous stretch of road safer and had virtually nothing to do with bikes. Yet it is often attacked as “slowing down cars to give space to bikes.” People fundamentally don’t feel like tiny, incremental amounts of their time are worth saving people’s lives. As long as that attitude exists, it’s hard to make meaningful change.

  • Brian Howald

    I feel so frustrated and exhausted every time I have have an argument with an educated person over Vision Zero, better bike infrastructure, automated enforcement, or any of the myriad ways our society can make our streets safe for cyclists as well as pedestrians and car occupants.

    It’s depressing to see people for whom understanding the basic elements of social injustices (power imbalances, a history of unequal treatment that even creeps into the the language we use, unpunished homicides, etc.) comes easily, fail so completely in applying a similar logic to the violence on our streets.

    Efforts to raise awareness about these injustices are dismissively referred to as “bike issues,” a clear sign that those who roll their eyes at the mention of the issue merely do so because it hasn’t attained a notable place in the current political conversation. We often think about what we would have done to further the social justice justices of the past had we lived then, and our positions on issues that have not yet garnered national attention are a pretty good indicator.

    • Steak

      Hi Brian, really smart post and I hear and feel your emotion. All we can do is keep fighting to make our voices heard. Thanks. Peter (the author)

  • Ronin

    Wait. You “spent a lot of time thinking about how and why people hate cyclists”, and you concluded that it’s Nazis?

    “The recent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, illuminated how the expression of hate — especially about race but also about religion,
    sexuality, gender and even political orientation — suddenly has been normalized to a disturbing degree. I see a lot of that same hate
    directed toward cyclists . . . ”

    I don’t think we’re going to get very far with this idea. Any others?

    • Steak

      Hi Ronin, pretty sure you know both that I didn’t suggest it’s Nazis and that the story had lots of actual ideas beyond the imagined one you list. Have a great day. -Peter (the author)

    • Judah

      It was a easy rhetorical jump for the writer, who was eager to cloak himself in self-righteousness.

      Bad writing, weak thinking.

  • Jay Shaw

    I am pessimistic about significant improvements in driver behaviour and separate lanes can only take riders so far. I think cycling advocates should really be getting behind autonomous vehicles as this looks likes the best bet for significant safety gains. I am not talking full autonomy here either; incremental stuff like more sensors – especially on large trucks in urban environments – that see riders when drivers don’t. How many young cyclists and pedestrians have been saved by the beeping warnings when reversing cars in driveways?

  • Megan

    I’ve had drivers go aggro on me in my car because I give space to cyclists; it’s crazy and getting crazier. But I don’t like that you included “for riding on the sidewalk” with other complaints against cyclists. Unless you’re a little kid, disabled, or always give way to pedestrians, you don’t belong on the sidewalk if you’re on a bike. I’ve been cut off several times by aggressive, fast cyclists on sidewalks as well as at crosswalks when I’ve had the right-of-way. If cyclists want to be respected as part of normal road traffic (and they should be) they can’t go around being reckless and disrespectful to people on foot. Why do you not recognize complaints about cyclists on sidewalks as legit? Where are people supposed to walk?

    • Steak

      Hi Megan: Here in Los Angeles it is legal to ride on the sidewalk and at times/places it is ONLY safe place for a rider to be. On Olympic Blvd, for instance (shown in the picture at the top of the page and where most recent death occurred here), I only would ride on the sidewalk. It’s not ideal, but it’s legal and the only non-deadly option. I rode in NYC for years and never went on sidewalk but here in LA most experienced riders do it at least a little bit. It’s just one of many ways the city has let down both cyclists and pedestrians. Thanks for the note. — Peter (the author)

      • Cynara2

        We pedestrians get it Peter. You basically just said F U. And that is exactly how we see cyclists on the sidewalk. We get that you have contempt for us, and more importantly, for our lives.

        • Tom Sherman

          the transportation system is poorly designed for all vehicles-so the rules don’t work-so they need to be disobeyed. motorists hardly every follow the law-partly cause they can’t and partly they don’t care. when i use the sidewalk i’m doing the same thing drivers are doing in the first case. if bicyclists are reckless on the sidewalk as in my second example then enforce the law.

      • Megan

        Oh dear, only bike where it is non-lethal. Or, as non-lethal as possible! I think I thought you were from my city (Baltimore) bc I followed a link from a local friend. It’s illegal here, for bikes to use sidewalks, although I mostly don’t mind cyclists on sidewalks; my city is extremely hazardous to bike in!! So that’s why I responded as I did. I can’t understand why we’re all of us, walkers, bikers, drivers, not doing our level best to get everyone there safely! I’d say that Baltimore drivers are extremely unfriendly toward bikes (my husband and my 16 yr. old son have had drivers go out of there way to mess with them) but that we also have a bike culture that is entitled and discourteous. It’s frustrating. I walk most places in my city so I want more people to bike so I don’t have to suck up exhaust gasses, but I also think our bike infrastructure is poorly designed, our bike culture arrogant and disrespectful, and our drivers just totally insane. The worst way to get anywhere in B’more City is to walk. Unless you never have to cross a street!

  • LukeSiragusa

    I wonder that the author mischaracterizes the issue.

    Consider this: a quick google revealed that in 2014 281 pedestrians were killed by automobile crashes in Los Angeles county. Are these pedestrian killings prompted by hate? I hardly think so. They’re the predictable consequences of a culture that elevates the prerogatives of drivers and driving while dismissing their costs — not least by minimizing the punishments meted out to those that kill and maim while behind the wheel.

    When you build a society and foster a culture that subordinates civility to the primacy of machines and their operators it shouldn’t be surprising when attitudes reflect that reality and vest in that order. Approx. 3000 Americans died on 9/11/2001 and the U.S. waged multiple wars lasting to this day; in 2015, 35,092 Americans died at the hands of their fellow drivers (Wikipedia) and the country collectively yawns, turns over, and goes to sleep.

    Just collateral damage in the march of progress. And nothing says progress like a new car in every driveway.

    • Steak

      Hi, this is Peter (the author). You raise a good point and I’ll try to address my point of view on it. I’m pretty involved these days in the pedestrian advocacy situation here in LA, and I think the issues have some overlap — some key similarities and some key differences. Of course, both pedestrians and cyclists wind up as collateral damage in a city overrun with speeding cars. Both cyclist fatalities I mentioned in the story involved riders trying to cross the street and people on foot face the same hazards.

      Also, pedestrians are facing increasing institutionalized hate. I’m seeing a rise in anger about “jaywalking,” which is often not even reflecting the law. And now, the narrative about “distracted walking” is becoming more angry, as drivers (and car companies) try to shift more blame for collisions toward people walking.

      But I don’t see the same kind of hate. Cyclists often dress different and bike lanes compete for space with car lanes and riders spend far more time in the road — and frankly, while most people who drive do at least some walking, most of them don’t ride a bike. Here in LA there is an actual war going on over bike lanes, and many drivers look at cyclists and their advocates as political adversaries. It’s ugly.

      Thanks for writing and sharing your point of view.

      • LukeSiragusa

        Peter, thank you for your thought provoking, excellent articles. Your tackling a contentious issue (for the mainstream) only because it touches on so many widely held biases, misconceptions and myths. Bikes and their place are just a proxy for a wider debate that *needs* to take place about the nature of our streets and public spaces, the disposition of our neighbourhoods and what comprises intelligent, efficient transportation policies.

        That you should engage this debate in LA, where the auto-gods first blessed humanity with the full scope of their vision…well you have your work cut out for you. :-)

      • Judah

        “… and many drivers look at cyclists and their advocates as political adversaries.” When political issues arise pitting the desires of drivers against those of cyclists, they ARE political adversaries. Isn’t that how politics works?

        And carelessly throwing around the word “hate” undercuts your argument. It’s a lazy college-student buzzword. As a professional writer you are called upon to employ quantifiable terms. How do you know it is “hate”? Why can’t opponents of bike lanes, for instance, be motivated by self interest, just as cyclists are?

        • Steak

          On Twitter, I’ve posted hundreds of comments — tweets, FB posts, news comments, emails, etc — in which people literally say they hate cyclists. They explicitly use the word hate. I agree that many bike-lane opponents are motivated by other emotions, but to discount the presence of a hatred toward an “other” requires a deliberate ignorance.

          • Judah

            But you’re just putting it, IMO, on the wrong level. Its not a deep and personal principalled loathing for those on two legs or wheels. Today we throw that word around absurdly. Makes it easy for some to feel virtuous if they can ascribe someone’s difference of opinion to “hate.” We ahould reserve true hatred for uneven pavement and a flat at 11pm 60 miles in and 60 miles from home.

        • Tom Sherman

          well i hate cars. as designed and used they should not be allowed. they should mostly be in the form of shared commuter cars and then only used if bikes or buses weren’t a reasonable alternative and if the trip was necessary. if car drivers had to pay their real costs cars as we know and use them they would cease to exist. they destroy the water supply with chemicals off their engine block and pollute the air and etc as do their suppliers the oil, steel, and plastics industry etc. bikes don’t maim or injure others or take up 1/3 of the land area of a city. any problems bikes cause cars is for the good. actually facilitating more bike use to the extent it causes more bike use probably provides more space for cars unfortunately. driving is a contemptible activity done by the fat, lazy, and stupid .

  • Pete

    A common theme struck me reading this article that has confirmed my suspicions over the past 7 years working within emergency services here. Of the many car accidents I’ve attended – I would say a grand total of 1 has been caused exclusively by excessive speed (ie. was not drunk and speeding due to lack of judgement). The largest cause of accidents – alcohol – the second, distracted drivers (ie. mobile phone use). 2 recommendations… both unpopular but:
    #1 – make the BAC limit for drivers 0.0 and increase the number of booze buses and drug tests
    #2 – increase the speed limits on freeways… 80 and 100km/h zones on our very straight, long and ‘safety cable’ seperated freeways is ridiculously slow. Our cars have improved exceptionally over the past 20 years, yet the speed limits continue to think we are driving Kingwoods. These speed limits should be 130km/h with greater enforcement of keeping left unless overtaking. Our drivers are fast becoming the worst in the developed world when it comes to situational awareness and driver skill.

    • LukeSiragusa

      You encourage greater highway speed limits while observing that drivers increasingly display abysmal skills and awareness? Better engineered autos diminish crash injuries but do next to nothing diminish the likelihood of crashes when driven by irresponsible, reckless drivers.

      Here in Ontario, Canada, “There have been 138 deaths on the network of highways patrolled by the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police]….39 fatalities this year caused by speeding, 20 involving impaired driving, and 37 caused by distracted driving. (Toronto Sun, July 24, 2017).

      In short, 70% of deaths were caused by criminal or irresponsible behaviour. Note: these are provincial highways ONLY, not congested city or suburban streets, i.e., these are the ‘easier’ routes for drivers. I’ll take the slow poke in the Winnebago any day over the harried, multitasking moron at the helm of an often unguided missile.

      Where it concerns suggested reforms, there’s always one conspicuous by its absence and it reveals how perversely habituated we are to auto-centric entitlements. Here’s my recommendation:
      # 3. If you’re found to cause a serious crash or serious injury or death while impaired or distracted you lose your license for life. Period.

      In other words, you’re entitled to the privilege of driving until it’s determined you abused it, then the privilege is revoked. Done. Over. If you consider that too draconian, read the linked article, (written previously by Peter Flax). If the incipient killer were dealt with seriously at the time of her first DUI, it would’ve prevented a needless death and the destruction of a family.


      • Pete

        Yes, I am suggesting that. Our speed limits are too low; and drivers are quickly getting angry if forced to go even a little slower by any user group, bicycles or otherwise. If drivers are allowed to travel faster on roads that do not allow bicycles (I mentioned freeways) and with a lesser focus on speed then they would both feel less frustrated and be able to spend more time identifying road hazards and positioning themselves on the road better.

        A recent university study that had 3 groups of drivers all made to drive at the same speed. Group 1 had a tolerance of 2kmh before they would get a ‘ticket’, group 2 – 5km/h and group 3 – 10km/h. The group with the largest tolerance (10km/h) before they received a ‘ticket’ also spotted the greatest number of road hazards and signage and the result was linear back to the 2km/h group. It’s not surprising that our over focus on speed/speeding is taking away from our ability to identify road hazards and put ourselves into positions that would be safer, even if it meant we should travel a little faster for a short period of time.

        Better engineered cars can and do reduce crash injuries and the likelihood of a crash. Most new cars come with plenty of ‘electronic-nanny’s’ that prevent crashes happening and alert drivers to the imminent danger. Cars are also designed to ‘hit’ a pedestrian more safely than they once did, maybe designed to hit isn’t the best terminology but it is taken into account in safety design. I promise you my current 2015 model car significantly out-handles and out-brakes my first car which was built in 1982. And whilst I miss the steel bumpers of my first car, most recently in a shopping centre car park where a shopper decided to ‘return’ the cart from 300m up the hill, I’m sure a pedestrian would appreciate the newer vehicle if they were to jump in front of my current car vs my old one. But yes, I will agree an idiot is an idiot and you cannot completely prevent determined stupidity.

        My comments are by no means a comprehensive study on road safety, and I agree completely with the what you suggested as #3. Ideally I would like to see licences being issued to people who have proved a high level of proficiency through far more stringent licence testing procedures. With the attitude that not everyone is ‘designed’ to drive, rather than anyone can get a licence through a series of slow speed testing protocols, my hope being that very good drivers crash less because they make less mistakes.

        Very quickly, whilst my opinion is unpopular with the nannies, drivers should be taught to drive at high speeds as well, on closed circuits in both the dry and wet before being issued a licence (maybe with a minimum lap time requirement). My theory is that driving slowly teaches a driver nothing about throttle control, braking modulation and ultimate grip or vehicle dynamics when rapid steering and weight shifts occur (or need to occur). Whilst appropriate speed limits need to exist to allow time to observe hazards and react, driving slowly through testing and then all the time on the road does nothing for a drivers skill when it comes time to have to react rapidly to a hazard, especially when the dynamic of the vehicle shifts to something the driver has never experienced before. Too many times I hear “it just slid out all of a sudden”… from drivers that have clearly have had no experience feeling the feedback a vehicle gives, well before, you approach the edge of adhesion.

  • I once listen to a car complainer about having to pass a bike, which then passed him at a light and he had to pass it again. And because of the traffic, it passed him again at the next light.

    It never occurred to him that the bike had to pass him, again and again and again – without the benefit of an internal combustion engine, power steering and brakes, automatic transmission, radio, and a Starbucks.

  • 2wheelsandme

    I have been feeling much safer since Zwift. I have replaced 4 rides a week with Zwift in my basement where it is less likely to experience an automobile..my other rides are designated to the weekends, where as, I get up very early to avoid the cars. Although I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the U.S. that has a large Mennonite/Amish population with most of them commuting exclusively by bikes and scooters. Not to many incidents with drivers in the last 15 years that I have lived here. Are people aware and courteous to the cyclists because they are always there? There is plenty of traffic…Or because of my communities general respect for the Mennonites and Amish? They are kind peaceful farming folk and are a joy to live around. It is not unusual to see bunches of riders at any given time day or night, they own the road! and no one seems to be bothered by it. So I am able to glean off of their existence it would seem.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Why don’t we ever see Amish ‘Bikes from the Bunch?’

      • 2wheelsandme

        LOl…Some do have decent carbon rides and the males ride road bike exclusively…I live within a couple miles from where Floyd Landis grew up, too bad his story went south, he was of Mennonite heritage, they get lots of Time in the saddle riding everywhere, probably have some good threshold numbers…

        • Wily_Quixote

          Nice to see a community eschewing the motor vehicle.

  • Mark Cantrell

    I think it may come down to a matter of timing. Right now, we still have to pilot our own vehicles, but before long, I think autonomous cars will be the norm. They will be able to identify and avoid bike riders and other vehicles that are still captained by humans much more efficiently than people can. In the meantime, we’ll still have drunk people, tired people, distracted people and just plain incompetent drivers on the road. I appreciate all the incidents you posted above, but the truth is, you will always have a certain percentage of folks who fall into the categories I mentioned on the road. There is nothing you or I can do about that. The fact they exist makes them, for all intents and purposes, a force of nature like a hurricane or tornado. Do we write about how tornadoes and hurricanes shouldn’t exist? No, we find ways to avoid them and prepare for them. The way I avoid distracted drivers is not to ride a bike. I don’t hate bikers or look upon them as a lower form of life, but when I see one trying to share the road with a four thousand pound automobile, I fear for his/her life. Why? I have an understanding of basic physics. The plain fact is, bicycles and cars should never be in close proximity. This seems to be very difficult for bike riders to accept because they insist that their rights should allow it. But why? Why would you willingly put your life in danger because of a “right” that ignores the laws of physics and the fact that many human beings just plain suck at driving? To be inches away from a car going 50-60 mph while you tool along at 10 to 20 is, to me, just not worth it. And please bear in mind that I bear no ill will toward bicyclists, and feel terrible every time I hear of one being killed on the highway, because I know how preventable it all is. I wish governments everywhere would recognize the need and install bike lanes everywhere. If that happened, I would buy a bicycle and avail myself. But to me, the danger right now is just too great. And I’m truly sorry that’s the case.

    • Steak

      Hey Mark: I’m not out to change your mind, but I don’t think the problem is basic physics. Not by a longshot. I wouldn’t expect you to feel like I do, because it sounds like you’re far from passionate about cycling, but I believe that our right to ride safely on the road is worth fighting for. No one is simply going to give us better infrastructure or safer laws or more stringent enforcement unless we’re out there riding and advocating and pushing for more. Riding a bike is too much fun, too brilliantly useful, too beautiful to just give up. Also, dangerous drivers are NOT like hurricanes — they’re human and preventable and prosecutable. I appreciate you sharing your POV, but there’s no way I’m going to stop riding or advocating. All the best, Peter (the author)

  • Mister Furley

    Go to Denmark. They have such respect for cycling that they have dedicated bike lanes with curbs and lines and lights. But the cyclists also have respect for the cars and pedestrians. Pedestrians don’t cross streets unless walk signs indicate to do so. They have an elevated sense of respect for common commuters that’s just not found in many other places, especially the US.

    • Steak

      I’ve not been to Denmark, but to other countries in the region — and, yeah, it’s beautiful how the roads and the overall sense of respect is on all sides. My experience is that if riders are given enough safe infrastructure to stop riding like rebel fighters, they stop acting like rebel fighters. Thanks for the note. — Peter (the author)

      • Judah

        Simply make some changes to the infrastructure and LA becomes Amsterdam. Any other factors possibly at work?

    • Cynara2

      In point of fact, both motorists and pedestrians are disturbed by the behaviour of cyclists in Denmark. It is pretty much the same everywhere. “Cyclists that ride on the sidewalk or pedestrian street, don’t stop for passengers stepping out of busses, and ride in the dark without lights.” Pedestrians in Denmark still have to deal, very uncomfortably, with cyclists on the sidewalk and in pedestrianized areas. And with cyclists who refuse to STOP for pedestrians or even notice bus stops. The same problems occur everywhere. Why is it that cyclists are their own worst enemies and refuse to listen to consistent complaints about the same behaviours, yet insist on making it worse?

  • David P. Graf

    Our roads were designed for cars not bicycles and to continue to pretend otherwise just exposes others to danger and death. I do not write this because I hate bicyclists. I write this because I’ve seen what happens with my own eyes in Chicago where a bicyclist was hit by a car and I had to call 911 for help. No – I was not the one who hit him. Whoever did that just took off and left him there. It was shameful of that driver to do so but it is also shameful to continue saying that cars and bicycles can share the same roads with with bike lanes. I now live in a community where there are paths just for use by bicyclists and I no longer have to regularly read about bikers getting maimed and killed just going to work or out for some fun. I do not understand why with all the millions and millions of dollars being wasted that we can’t put some of that toward providing safe paths for bikers in the city and country.

    • Steak

      Actually, many of our roads were originally designed and paved for bicycles. You can look it up if you want. Cheers. — Peter (the author)

    • jules

      the roads make up a substantial proportion of public real estate. they belong to the public, not cars. if you are saying that cars cannot safely share the roads with other users, e.g. cyclists, then it’s clearly cars and motorists that are the problem. the roads were not ‘designed for cars’ – that is just untrue.

      • Tom Sherman

        you’ll never be able to plan a decent transportation system so long as you have cars as we know and use them. as a bicyclist i’ll pay for my road construction, environmental side effects, police costs etc if car drivers pay for theirs. if this happens the car with its enormous subsidies will disappear.

  • Alejandro Gabriel Argerich

    Wah, wah, wah. Get off the road or move to China. Riding a bike in the street like a car and complaining about making people angry or getting hit is like putting your hand in a shredder and complaining about losing fingers. Your schwinn isn’t going to change the world and your fancy outfit won’t get you to the finish at the next Tour de France.

    You’re putting yourself at danger and you’re inconveniencing hundreds of busy people trying to provide for themselves and their families. So cry me a river.

    • Steak

      Thanks for helping prove my point, Alejandro! The one thing my story had been missing was a good old fashioned hateful threat! Much obliged! — Peter (the author)

      • Alejandro Gabriel Argerich

        There’s nothing hateful about it, it’s simply factual. Certainly I should make my point clear, that your attitude of smugness is reminiscent of a certain South Park episode where Prius drivers are depicted to enjoy their own flatulence. But that aside, facts are facts, despite your propensity towards ignoring them.

        The fact is, cyclists pedaling on motorways choose to place themselves and others around them in danger by virtue of simple physics, such as speed differential and vehicle weight disproportionality. This holds true of any comparison of vehicle classes, whether it’s bicycles vs automobiles, automobiles vs semi trucks, or semi trucks vs freight trains. When two of either class of vehicles operate in close proximity to each other, it creates an inherently dangerous situation which often does not bode well for the vehicle with the lower weight and more limited speed response.

        Now, the fact cyclists choose to place themselves on the losing side of that equation speaks volumes about the rationality of your viewpoint. I don’t condone those that wish for your death, but I also don’t condone your viewpoint either. Neither is praiseworthy, both warrant condemnation, but while “theirs” might be excused as an emotional reaction, YOURS seems quite calm and resolute in promoting an inherently dangerous use of public roadways; further, that smugness to which I referred earlier is clearly a way for you to establish the narrative of self-sacrifice for betterment of the environment. The fact is, cyclists have a negligible impact on the environment given the weight of industrial carbon emissions compared to vehicular.

        It’s stands to reason, therefore, that in contrast to the pro-cyclist narratives such as yours there is in truth no self-sacrifice…only self-righteousness, in making roadways less safe, by virtue of the fact that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. That doesn’t even cover the overwhelming tendency of cyclists using the road while habitually and purposefully ignoring the rules of the road, i.e. stop signs, red lights, and generally anything requiring the loss of forward momentum (thus compounding the dangers). Not to mention the countless displays of wantonly irritating, disrespectful, or purposefully aggravating behavior openly expressed as having a traffic-disruptive goal, from the individual cyclist obnoxiously riding in the middle of the lane, to the wantonly-rude critical mass events, keeping the frayed nerves of working commuters sharp with emotions raging from despair to blood-boiling anger.

        In short, you guys are all a bunch of d-bags.

        And no…I don’t think you should all die a horrible, mangled death, anymore than I wish such a death on someone who stupidly decides to try and beat the train. So I’m not saying you all should be killed…but I understand.

        • jules

          you don’t hear truck drivers telling car drivers they take to the roads at their own peril. why? ‘cos car drivers are in the majority. you’re not hiding behind your weight advantage as a motorist, you’re hiding behind your majority status. if you were 1 motorist to 1000 cyclists, you wouldn’t dare make that argument.

          there are rules of the road that apply equally to all users. and it’s not about quietly blowing a stop sign with no one around. their objective is to protect the safety of road users. this is what you and other car-splainers refuse to acknowledge – you have an obligation to drive/ride to protect yourself and other road users. arguing that “you take the risk if you join me on the road” is a refusal to acknowledge that, or ignorance of your responsibility. you should have your licence revoked. you won’t, due to again – safety in numbers. without invoking Godwin’s law, being a lemming is not justified or a good idea.

          • Alejandro Gabriel Argerich

            Truck drivers complain about irresponsible car drivers every single day. When you’re in a car and you swerve and cut off an 18-wheeler, you better believe the trucker’s reaction is “do so at your own risk”. The fact that car drivers are in the majority only means you don’t hear about it in mainstream or social media – but if you look for it, you’ll find it.

            I’m not hiding behind anything, whether majority/minority status or weight advantage/disadvantage. If I were 1 motorist to 1k cyclists the same rationale would apply. Last year a video came out where one driver of a subcompact car in Brazil perpetrated a road rage incident against a critical mass ride with hundreds of bikers. Ran them right over, it was all over social media. The argument works despite the numbers, if you wantonly aggravate people, obstruct them whether on purpose or by carelessness, generally irritate them and preclude them from meeting their obligations, etc, eventually you’re going to get one specimen in the population sample who can be off his rocker, unaware, inebriated, imbalanced, or has just as large an antisocial attitude as you do, and he’ll be in a motor vehicle and the cyclists he runs over will fall like flies regardless of their numbers.

            The rules of the road argument would work, if cyclists by and large followed them as well. They don’t. Anything that has to do with losing forward momentum, i.e. stop signs, red lights, etc, is ignored. Hand turn signals, also, largely ignored. One way street rules, ignored. Slower traffic keep right, ignored. The list goes on and on. Cyclists using the “rules of the road” argument is laughably hypocritical, and that’s not even considering these are
            mostly turn-of-the-century rules where motor vehicles were still a rarity and horse-drawn vehicles were also a common sight.

            It’s not “you take the risk if you join me on the road”. It’s “you take the risk if you join me on the road STUPIDLY”. That holds true across the entire roadway food chain.

            The train conductor says to the semi trucker “you take the risk (of my train slicing your truck in two) if you try to beat me across the tracks”. Are they trainsplaining?

            The semi trucker says to the car driver “you take the risk (of my jack-knifing and flattening your car) if you swerve and cut me off on a wet or icy road. Are they trucksplaining?

            So by the same token, you, the cyclist, take the risk if you join me on the motorway and do any of the million crazy stupid, insane or downright rude and inconsiderate things you do every single day, ALL of which are inherently unsafe.

            (Like riding a bike on an interstate freeway, something I see EVERY FRIGGIN DAY.)

            Being a lemming is fine. Being a lemming on an open field with freshly cut grass on a bright sunny day with 5 or 6 brown eagles circling overhead is a bad idea. Which is why they don’t do it.

        • Judah

          I’m a cyclist – and I completely agree. Well said. I can try and justify my presence on the road all day long, but there are moments during my commute when it is just obvious– I don’t belong there on a 20lb bike.

          Take responsibility, cyclists.

          Love your Prius analogy.

        • “…keeping the frayed nerves of working commuters sharp with emotions raging from despair to blood-boiling anger.”

          If every bicycle disappeared from the face of the earth in a flash, this ^^ statement would still hold true. Your nerves will be frayed regardless, because you are traffic.

      • Judah

        Peter, is the issue of cycling on american roads truly a “civil rights” issue? As a fellow cyclist, you lose me there. And is there nothing in all of the many “con” arguments in these comments that you are willing to see as legitimate? Too many activists will concede the smugness and anger of their presentation without ever coming to grips with how it makes them appear to the rest of the world.

        • Wily_Quixote

          You are not a ‘fellow cyclist’.

          You are just someone who rides sometimes.

          • Judah

            600 miles a month, bud, for the last 3 years. Feels pretty “fellow cyclist” to me when I’m out there. And over half in the shittiest parts of East LA. Hit 3x in the last 2 years. I just don’t ascribe evil intent to every car that squeezes close by me on streets where i know its just going to be tight.

            • Wily_Quixote

              you’re not showing any fellowship, so you can take that ‘fellow cyclist’ label right off yourself.

              You’re just another advocate for the status quo.

              Like I stated, you ain’t no Cyclist. You just ride sometimes.


              • Judah

                Breathe, bud. It’s just a different opinion. The feeling of shock that someone disagrees with you will pass, you’ll be ok.

                • Wily_Quixote

                  Oh No, I quite like disagreement.

                  It’s hypocrisy I cannot stand.

    • mnedes

      Hatred or Jealousy of the fancy outfit ? Wow, you need to see a shrink !

    • Travis Major

      I was just about to comment “wow this comment thread is shockingly mature”… then, this fucking guy.

  • canoelover

    Driving and cycling in Italy is delightful. If you come across a peleton, you just wait a little, they adjust, you pass. They wave, we wave. No anger or madness. Maybe that’s because they’re most used to it or it’s part of Italian culture. Either way, they do it right. My favorite Sicilian traffic jam Was on Easter morning outside Prizzi. 30 cyclists, 3 cars, and about a hundred sheep. The sheep were the ones causing the problem. We just crept along, waiting. We waved and yelled “Buona Pasqua” as we passed. Talk about pastoral…

    • Cynara2

      And then vacation ended and you came back to real life. It happens to all of us.

  • exemplary1

    Last summer I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Paris with my road bike, and it was a delight. Not once was I honked out, yelled at, or even stared down — and this in a city with exponentially more density than L.A. Bikers in Paris share mostly-empty bus lanes cutting through the city and ride on bike lanes that had an actual curb divider from traffic rather than being a default double parking lane. The largest park, Bois du Boulogne, has a dedicated 2.2 kilometer oval for cyclists used 7 days a week, yet I can remember when authorities in Griffith Park were doing their darnest to shutdown rides with hundreds of cyclists there.

    • Judah

      Social welfare works wonderfully in sweden. Everyone uses the subway in Manhattan. Biking in Paris is a delight. But … LA isn’t Paris, Americans aren’t the French, and biking here is different than it is in western Europe. Stomping ones feet and insisting that it should be doesn’t make it so.

      • Steak

        40 years ago a lot of European cities were dangerous to ride in just like L.A. They got safer because a lot of people stomped their feet. Your premise that social welfare works in Europe and NYC but not here is bizarre.

        • Judah

          NYC was another analogy. Architects of many of LBJ’S Great Society social programs were nlown away by the stunning success of Scandinavian social welfare programs in the 60’s. They instituted the same models here, which simply didnt work. The programs worked there in large part due to a very high degree of cultural homogeneity in Scandies, and failed in communities here with little shared experience, values. Re bike culture …Americans are different — we work longer hours, have less vibrant social lives, in more of a hurry … There are reasons things work on some plaes and not in others…

  • Dward Fardbark

    Quote: “Surely my life would be more tranquil if I muted this acrimony, but when people threaten my way of life I find that watching funny cat videos or simply celebrating the awesomeness of cycling isn’t enough. I need to know what we’re up against.”

    Answer: “..when people threaten my way of life..”. There the answer right there that says why you will never understand .. you immediately make it about you and only you and only what you want/think/feel .. not about putting yourself in the mindset of others.

    The short answer, about what people driving cars/trucks/semi have against bicycles (i.e. sharing a road made for vehicles), think ‘running of the bulls’. Smaller, slower, weaker, harder to see beings sharing road with larger, faster, heavier, stronger, and easy to see beings … folks the bicyclist’s blindness to this is simply darwinian.

    Vehicle driving folks see the fallacy right out of the gate. And bicyclist fail to ever see it .. because ‘it is fun’ .. ‘it is their right’ .. ‘it is what THEY want to do’ .. etc, etc, etc. They will never get to a place of seeing that it does not make sense and is an activity containing an ever present component of avoidable danger.

    There is a class of bicyclist that are flat militant about sharing street with vehicles. Their wish is that cars were restricted from even being on the road. In SF they actually invade streets in mass on monthly basis and subvert, hold up and snarl traffic, lay across hoods of cars, jeer and curse drivers. And the feeling becomes that all avid bicyclist share some of these same feelings.

    • Wily_Quixote

      You will find that bicycles do have a right on public roads. This right is not self stated but a legislated right.
      It is not asserting a sense of self privilege to demand to be able to exercise this right of access without injury.

    • Stanley Rich

      The greatest fallacy is in your divisive language. Road users are not separable into distinct and opposed constituencies. I realise it’s a tendency of human beings to create “them and us” situations where none really exists, and you’re a prime example.

      Simple fact: practically all cyclists are also car drivers. We are all one constituency of road users.
      Simple fact 2: Incompetent drivers hurt all of us road users.

      So this is a matter of public incompetence on the part of some drivers, reflecting an inadequate system of training and low licensing standards.

      As for San Francisco. Driving in SF totally sucks, and that sure isn’t caused by the cyclists. “You’re not in traffic. You are the traffic”.

  • aethyr

    This is why you guys are hated. Equating bicycling to civil rights, as if riding a bike is equivalent to being born black or gay? Hahahaha. As if the dangers while biking in your spandex shorts up hills for your weekend workout is the same as being discriminated against in your neighborhoods, workplace, and law enforcement every single day, the moment you are born. You do know that driving is a privilege, not a right. Which means that biking is a privilege, not a right. People can’t choose to stop being black or gay. You can choose to get off your high horse bike. I don’t advocate violence against bikes for any reason, but holy hell, articles like these aren’t going to help your cause. Civil rights, LOL. Please make that your slogan because you’re SURE to win over people with that one.

    Secondly, cars are dangerous to everyone, period. Congrats on listing a few people on bikes getting injured/killed by cars. Now, guess how many car drivers are also killed by other cars…its over 40,000. The deaths you list on 1 hand is paltry in comparison to the deaths in general by cars. Yes, I understand the irony here, that if more people rode bikes, there might be less deaths. That’s certainly a true. But then again, there were fewer deaths when everyone rode horse and buggy too. So something about modern advancements and stuff.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Using a public space is a civil right. Freedom from harm from others is also a right.

      Just because drivers seem to enjoy killing themselves and others in crashes doesn’t mean that cyclists shouldn’t assert their rights.

      Your post is just one long non-sequitur.

      • aethyr

        You’re free to use the designated public space for what it was intended – roads were built and designed for cars, not for fake advertiser adored spandex cyclists on a weekend hill climb. That means I can’t just unilaterally take a piece of the road and decide it’s mine and do what I want with it. Road use has always balanced safety with efficiency. Otherwise all the speed limits would be 15mph to ensure nobody dies. So no, once you’re on the road, nobody has any right to 100% safety. There is a reasonable level of safety, but an assumption of great risk when you’re on the road. And now you guys come along, and decide your safety is paramount to absolutely everyone and everything else. This is the problem I have with you guys – you want all the rights of a vehicle, but at the same time, want special treatment, special preference, priorities over other vehicles. You list a few bike accidents like the world is out to get you, when its a small drop in the bucket of total traffic fatalities.

        There are no safety “rights” to assert when it comes to the road – being on the road is a dangerous thing for EVERYONE. I get that you’re more vulnerable on the road, but so is a pedestrian. That’s why you don’t walk on the road. You don’t belong on the road with a car BECAUSE you are so much more vulnerable. But if you want to be on the road in a more vulnerable vehicle, then that is your choice and YOU assume that risk. Motorcycles and scooters are just as vulnerable than you, but are in greater danger because of the increased speeds they can attain. Yet every single motorcycle rider will tell you that it is their own responsibility to avoid cars/situations/conditions that are dangerous. They don’t go whining and crying about how they need special treatment because of their vulnerability.

        And that is the crux of the matter – You don’t deserve any more special treatment than another vehicle, as long as you claim you’re a vehicle. You want all the rights of a vehicle, you assume all the risks involved of operating that vehicle, along with everyone else.

        And my point of bringing up traffic fatalities was to prove there is no pattern of people out to get bikes – but that being on roads is simply a dangerous thing. There is no joy in traffic fatalities by anyone, but you would know that, because I’m sure you drive too and have been a passenger in a car.

        • Wily_Quixote

          Roads aren’t designed and built for cars. They are designed to avcommodate cars and all other vehicles.
          I stopped reading at that first error.

          • aethyr

            Sure they are. Cars/trucks/semis/MOTOR vehicles are the primary driving force behind the many roads we build and design. They’re car width. They’re engineered to handle the load of cars and trucks. Even train cargo are designed to be the width of a semi trailer so they can fit on a standard road. Everything about roads are designed for cars and trucks. Gas tax, you know, the fuel that powers cars, pay for roads. The fact that bikes CAN be on the road doesn’t mean that roads are designed FOR them. EVERYTHING about roads were designed for cars, not bikes. Just because a bike is able to be on a road doesn’t mean it was designed for them, anymore than a pedestrian walking on one doesn’t mean it was designed for them.

            And I’m going to assume since you constantly come up with lame excuses not to answer my other points, you can’t argue them. Sack up and just accept the dangers of being on the road, since you insist on being there, like every other true vehicle.

            • Wily_Quixote

              Roads are designed for all legal road going vehicles which includes bicycles, horse drawn vehicles, tricycles amd hand cycles.

              All road users are obliged to operate their vehicles safely.

              The road does not belong to cars over bicycles any more than trucks have primacy over cars.

              Your argument failed at its first premise.

              • aethyr

                The modern paved road came into existence because of cars. Horse and buggy and wagons and bikes and tricycles all used dirt roads in the past. Its only the advent of high speed of motorized vehicles that drove the mass construction of the extensive road network we have today. I’m not talking about the cobblestone streets of cities used to control mud and dust, but the vast network of road building occurred as society realized that high speed motorized vehicles needed smooth roads. These roads didn’t come about because horses and bikes needed them. They came about because of motorized vehicles. The laws made allowances for the older, non-motorized means of transportation because there will always be a small group of stragglers who wouldn’t have a motor vehicle and thus still needed to use the road. To make exceptions for you bikes is a far cry from saying the roads are designed and built for you. Imagine if thousands of people in your city decided to use horse and wagon and clogged up the streets. That friendly allowance for horses on the streets would be quickly rescinded.

                I’m not saying bikes can’t use roads. Sure, use them. But bikes need to realize they’re outclassed on the roads and accept the inherent dangers that come with it, like everyone else. I’m actually a proponent of dedicated bike lanes where bikes belong. And cars in their lane where they belong.

                • Wily_Quixote

                  No, again you are wrong. Cyclists don’t have to accept the current dangers that come with sharing the road. That’s what this article is about.
                  If you want to accept the road toll on all road users, go for your life.

                  • aethyr

                    Uh, duh – I AM debating the article and why the arguments presented in the article are wrong. And you come a long and simply say, “no, you’re wrong”? Do you not understand how debate works? You have to say WHY my points are wrong, not simply say nope, bikes don’t have to accept the inherent dangers of that all vehicles experience. But of course, you’ve had nothing but 2 line responses so I suppose its not surprising how weak your points are.

                    Have you considered a career as a trial lawyer? Your honor, our client pleads, not guilty. And we present the following argument: “the prosecution is wrong, our client is innocent. We rest our case.”

                    • Wily_Quixote

                      I am a lawyer. But that’s not why you’re wrong. The premises of your argument are incorrect.
                      Come back when you have better arguments or, better still, go to an echo chamber where fellow misanthropes will cheer your bellicose opinions.

                    • aethyr

                      You’re a lawyer, spending all this time during prime work hours claiming how entitled you are to special privileges? Yeah, right. Either you aren’t or you’re so bad, you have no clients and can waste time on this lame site.

                      Once again, all you’re saying is my arguments suck without actually providing any counter argument. My point is proven.

                    • Wily_Quixote

                      ‘…wast(ing) time on this lame site’

                      Oh the irony.

                      maybe, but you have been out-trolled. It takes me about 5 seconds to type a line that will have you frothing at the mouth and constructing a 10 minute (perhaps 20 minutes for a one handed typist) rant to bash out.

                      My work here is complete.

                    • aethyr

                      My arguments are not just for you, but for all who would read here. Otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted my time with what was clearly a weak minded individual on the other end. You’ve accomplished nothing but prove once again that cyclists have no argument and at best run tail-between-the-legs with the claim they were just trolling. My frothy mouth notwithstanding, know that I gain little pleasure in knowing one day, you’re going to be hit by a car and it will be you actually frothing at the mouth in pain. That is not something I take pleasure in, but I know your entitled attitude will take you there, unfortunately.

                    • Guy Ross

                      Hi AETHYR. Just saw this. I’m one of the ‘all who would read here’. You display weak logic communicated through shaky delivery to an audience who disagrees with the very premise of your argument.

                      You are indeed wasting your time.

            • jules

              the roads are also designed for trucks. I doubt you’ll be repeating that mantra if you get run over by one in your precious car. but that’s because you’re a hypocrite.

              • aethyr

                I see reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. I literally wrote: “Cars/trucks/semis/MOTOR vehicles are the primary driving force behind the many roads we build and design…” in the second sentence, first line line. If you had actually read the 5th word of what I wrote, you’d see that.

          • Judah

            Most american roads were built PRECISELY for cars.

            • Wily_Quixote

              Unlucky you. In Oceania and Europe roads are designed for heavy vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians as well as cars.

              They are designed to accommodate high speed motorised traffic but not built ‘precisely’ for them.

      • Judah

        Obviously using a public space in any way you please is not a civil right, and freedom from harm is a conditional reality. I can’t barrel down a busy street on just anything. This is where the cycling activists get silly.

        • Wily_Quixote

          I never stated anything about ‘using a public space in any way you please. ‘ The article and all my comments, and the comment in the thread I replied to, are about cycling on public roads.

          Had you taken the care to read the rest of the thread you will see where I have written:
          ‘You will find that bicycles do have a right on public roads. This right is not self stated but a legislated right.
          It is not asserting a sense of self privilege to demand to be able to exercise this right of access without injury.’

          How you could I imply that I meant that the public has some kind of liberty to use roads for purposes other than as a carriageway is mystifying.

  • Richard Pereira

    Imagine if a football player showed up to a professional football game and wanted to play with no helmet and no pads. Would that be ok? The reason bicycles and motorcycles should not be on the road with cars is because they cannot pass a crash safety test. Drivers are bad. They hit eachother all the time. This is why cars have to be so incredibly good at saving lives. If bikes and motorcycles want to share the road then they also need to be good at this. If a kid who has been driving for 3 weeks on his own hits another car, there may be money involved, but likely no loss of life. If that same kid hits a cyclist now they are a murderer for the rest of their life. It’s not fair to others on the road for people to be out there with no protection.

    • Steak

      You realize how strange your last sentence sounds? That it’s not fair to drivers of 4,000 pound vehicles that they have to worry about the consequences of killing vulnerable people? That’s actually pretty messed up, Richard.

      • Cynara2

        When have there ever been any consequences for cyclists killing vulnerable pedestrians? Not a single cyclist who has killed a pedestrian has ever spent one single day in forced confinement.

      • aethyr

        That’s why they shouldn’t be on the road. A car’s mass and speeds are many orders of magnitude higher than a bike and a bike is simply too vulnerable. From a car’s mass, a bike and a regular pedestrian have very little difference, since a typical bike is under 30lbs.

    • Frank Kotter

      Without pads and helmets? You mean like rugby? Yeah, that would be totally ludicrous…. Let’s not move on to the rest of your post; it goes downhill from there.

  • Blistered Dragon

    I rode for 10 years up and down the same road before I got hit and run from behind. The driver went off the road onto the shoulder 6 feet to hit me. Texting? On purpose? I will never know. He and no one else stopped. Side view mirror hit me in the back, bumper hit me in the calf, handlebar hit me in the face. Collision threw me up into the air. I came down on my back. Helmet saved my head. Back back full of lunch and clothes somewhat cushioned my landing. Bike totaled. Lunch totaled. Called my own ambulance. Miraculously no broken bones. Ambulance gave me a ride to work.

  • Josh

    Although riders are smaller than a car we are not invisible. I feel like drivers need to be trained to explicitly look out for cyclists as well as cars. Maybe compulsory driving as learners in major cycling areas such as Beach Rd, Melbourne. Many drivers turn across bike lanes because they believe they are superior and bikes should stop for them. This article was very well written. What shocked me the most is the quotes of the drivers saying that they just never saw the bike. This appalls me and makes me worry about heading out on roads in a society like this.

  • undisclosed location

    Wow, depressing article. Your description of the current treatment of cyclists mirrors my own when I was commuting by bicycle in the mid-1980s.

    It’s stories like these and my own experience writing on urban streets that make me think that cyclists need their own roadway. Not just bicycle lanes but physically separated traffic lanes.

    Every time separate traffic lanes are suggested, the general response is “nice idea”. You can move it out of the nice idea range if you can find a way to pay for it. If you can fund the effort then the government can get behind it.

    I would suggest using the general tax base because doing so would only raise the irritation factor that drives people to hate cyclists. It might be better to build a general-purpose transportation funding plan that raises usage fees on all modes of transportation so that for any given mode, the users pay for their required infrastructure.

    Such a funding mechanism would help reduce the infighting between different modes of transportation. No longer could you justify complaints about automotive needs sucking dry the transportation fund or the perpetual debt of mass transit systems like the MBTA (and the $3 billion 6 mile extension to the green line with the concomitant reduction in affordable housing).

    As a rough baseline, four-lane urban roadway cost roughly $4 million per mile ( http://blog.midwestind.com/cost-of-building-road/ ). If you take out one lane from the system the cyclists share of the roadway cost would be approximately $1 million per mile. Would be an appropriate funding mechanism for getting them to pay for their share? Transponder? License plates? Annual fees? Increased insurance premiums?

  • Bill McC

    Really, a thoughtful piece. As someone who cycles to work each and every day all year, I think it’s important to point out the toll on the 1-4% of commuters in most American cities who bike to work each day and have somewhere between 1X/week and 1X/calendar quarter-death defying experiences on account of drivers texting/cellphoning, drivers DWI, drivers who really are plain incompetent, or drivers who are entitled narcissists. If you’re a driver mad at a cyclist for yelling at you blocking a bike lane as you swerve to the right without a blinker or the least evidence of even looking, remember that the cyclist has legitimately just seen his or her life flash before his or her eyes on account of your carelessness whereas you have your steel shell, air bag, no fault insurance, and the ability (sometimes) to hit and run and claim the cyclist ‘came out of nowhere’ to rely on. If our sidewalks had as uneven a set of priorities as our streets, every pedestrian would wear a suit of armor and carry a grenade launcher.

  • Mark Ginnetty

    I lived in Boston and biked and skated around town for 20+ years, though I have to admit that over time I restricted myself to as many one way streets and dedicated biking trails as I could find. I recently moved to the quiet mountains of New Hampshire and tried the roads up here, they seem great ,quiet, not alot of cars and absolutely no traffic ! But after a couple of days I realized that even with these great conditions, being on the road with cars is still dangerous, cars go fast, they are big and any mistake could mean I get crushed :(

    Our road system is designed around cars and sadly cars and their drivers are imperfect. even with the best intentions, drivers test,etc…the Auto Insurance industry estimates that EVERY DRIVER will be involved in an automobile accident during their lifetime, some older drivers with even more accidents. ( average of one accident every 17.9 years) The chance of accidents are so high the Automobile industry has spent decades designing Cars to protect the drivers and passengers from the INEVITABLE accident. Air bags, tempered glass, crumple zones, roll bars, structural supports,etc. Most states require Automobile insurance to drive, the insurance is to protect you financially for WHEN you get in accident, the amount you pay for insurance goes when for each accident you have.

    Basically driving a car on the roadway assumes that you will be in accident eventually and at the end of the day physics is working against pedestrians and bikes when they are in accidents with cars. That’s why sidewalks were invented to protect pedestrians and maybe someday we will get separate protected bike lanes that let us enjoy the roads as well, until then I won’t temp fate and enjoy biking and skating far away from cars.

  • Somebody_Else

    I’m in Eugene Oregon, and this year has been an exception to the usual in that about half of the bicyclists are not following the rules/laws. Usually it’s more like 98% that aren’t.
    They commonly go the wrong direction in the lane, change lanes or turn without signaling, go through red lights and stop signs, have no reflectors or lights at night, jump into traffic in the middle of a block from between parked vehicles, etc. They’re not so much bicyclists, but warmups for the Darwin Awards!
    I’ve been a bicyclist, and I still ride occasionally, but most of the ones around here are stupidly suicidal !!! Something that makes no sense as if there’s a collision, the car driver has around a half ton or more of armor, and the bike rider is squishy when struck with huge metal objects.

  • Flash

    This is a topic close to my heart, having ridden on Melb’s rode for the last 34yrs (I am now 51), and I ride every week.
    The amt of traffic has exploded along with the population, and whilst I may not like, I have been forced to change the way I ride etc.
    Some roads are now too dangerous, so I don’t ride on them. Simple really. Maybe not fair, but that’s life.
    I don’t see any benefit getting into the view of “its my right to be on this road or whatever”. I simply don’t care – I want to be safe.
    And guess what – the motorists don’t care either, they will win in a crash.

    I now do my weekday rides on an indoor trainer, and go on the road only on the weekend.
    Yes indoor training is very boring – but safe.

    I have never had a major accident, and I believe (as Wade suggests) experience makes a huge difference.
    For yrs I used ride an ave of 400km a week on the roads, but not these days (the world has changed).
    I know when to be firm with decisions and when not to. I thank motorists with a wave etc, and you know what generally we co-exist well.
    I could still run off a long list of incidents that have occurred, but you know what, the good rides still out number the bad ones 100 to 1.

    My wife was run off the road (a quiet country rd close to Melb) by a convicted rapist etc, and was only saved by a guy driving the other way who thought there was something wrong. So a driver ran her off the rd, and another driver saved her. Not all drivers are bad.

    It’s just a fact of life, that I need to adjust my riding to be safe. Yes, its a shame, but coming home alive to my family is the number one priority.
    Yes, you could argue I am soft, but at least I am safe.
    I think it is all about being prepared to adapt and change as the world changes around us.
    Yeah, sure there are some bad drivers, who are distracted by technology. But I am not going to change that in a hurry.
    Just wait til driverless cars start popping up the rd !!!!!

    I ride with a defensive mind set, and take the safest route.

    I hope we can all stay safe and ride for ever.

  • Dirk Dierickx

    strange, this hatred against cyclists seems to be a world wide thing. i’m from Belgium, and we are known for our cycling races/competitions and some of the best and most famous pro-cyclists in the history of the sport. however, you face daily insults and dangers when cycling on the road.

  • norview

    As long as drivers and cyclists obey road signs, markings, and aren’t distracted (using their phones, eating, rubber necking, etc.), then I have no problem with the sharing of the road.
    Unfortunately, there are a number of people on both sides of the aisle that need to (re)learn the basics.

    I must say though, you cyclists are brave (nuts?), as I would have trust issues when it comes to drivers passing me without hitting me.

  • cnccnc

    Drivers are often bad. They’re eating, talking on the phone, texting, drunk. Even if it’s only one in 500, that’s enough to kill a cyclist. That’s primarily why I won’t ride a bike in my flat, mid-sized city with a street grid, bike lanes and a high cycling participation rate. I don’t trust idiot drivers, and it only takes one.

    There’s another side to that story however, and it unfortunately isn’t false equivalence. Where I live, I see cyclists constantly ride dangerously, and riding that way makes up a way too large a proportion of people riding bikes. I commute a total of about five miles on city streets to work, and I probably see 30 cyclists per day each way. I see:

    * The article talks about “Cyclists slowly riding through stop signs.” That’s laughable. If I had to put percentages on it, I’d say <2% of cyclists stop at a stop sign. Maybe 15% actually slow down (<5mph) through a stop sign, and the rest are split between blowing through at a leisurely (~10mph?) pace and blasting through at 15-20 mph.
    * I see cyclists pass cars turning right, on the right, with their blinkers on, *all the time.* Yeah, the car should pull over to the far right to turn right. But sometimes they don't, and you can tell they're turning right. Cyclists pass on the right anyway. You've got to be insane to do this.
    * I often see cyclists blow red lights on main thoroughfares, where two lanes of one way traffic perpendicular to the red light are at 35mph or so normally and where 50mph isn't unusual. I've seen a woman do this at this type of intersection, from a stop, while riding with a toddler on her bike. This isn't in the middle of the night where you can't trigger the sensor. It's at 7:45 AM, where you have to wait 60 seconds. What are you thinking?
    * I see people ride the wrong way, on the sidewalk or in the bike lane (but usually the sidewalk) down one way streets, where a driver turning on to the street isn't looking the wrong way for an object cutting in front of their car 10-plus MPH, because all of the traffic goes the other way. Even worse, I've seen cyclists going the wrong way cut in front of cars turning in front of them at an intersection. Again, what are you thinking?

    I get that drivers are often irresponsible and distracted. But the other problem is that those people then get on bikes and ride the same way. I also understand that people on the Internet are the worst kind of assholes, who have no sympathy for someone's dead brother, or mom, or kid.

    But for me, it's not about breaking the rules. It's that I see cyclists ride stupidly and dangerously, *almost every day* of my work life. There ought to be an exam and licensure for cycling, and cyclists ought to be ticketed for doing stupid things. If you roll a stop sign at a few MPH, waiting your turn for cars with right of way to go, so what? If you blast through a stop sign at 15mph, especially when it's a two way stop, and you almost get killed, that's *your* fault.

    This happened to me, and we both slammed on our brakes. He was 20 feet into the intersection and maybe 10 feet from my car by the time we both stopped. He was *ten* feet from getting killed, and he wanted to fight *me.* I was going the speed limit of 25mph, paying attention, and saw him in time to stop. Next time he does that, he might not be as lucky. It's not about being right. It's about not killing someone and not getting yourself killed.

    Here's the thing. We all acknowledge that stupid and dangerous behavior by cars is a problem. But stupid and dangerous cyclists make it worse for the people who ride responsibly. The cars are the ones with the death machines. But cyclists need to, *MUST* do a better job of riding responsibly. I DO NOT want to hit a cyclist, and I just see so many things happen so often where someone does something dumb, and it would get them run over if it were done a few seconds earlier or later.

    Now, you can ignore me, or flame me, or since we're making wildly inappropriate analogies to civil rights movements, call me the Donald Trump of the cycling accident discussion, and that's…whatever. I don't care what you call me. But that doesn't change the fact that people are both driving *and* riding stupidly, and both things need to be addressed.

    Drive better . Ride better.

    • Wily_Quixote

      How many cyclists put others at risk by their ‘stupid and dangerous behaviour’? I have researched the statistics of road injuries and fatalities in western countries so if you are going to claim some kind of equivalence, then back this up with statistics.

      If you claim that the groups most at risk of injury and death (pedestrians and cyclists) need to display moral superiority to be taken seriously please explain how this isn’t victim blaming behaviour.

  • D Man

    “I believe religiously that bikes are the greatest invention on Earth,” “cyclists are engaged in a civil-rights battle” “Much as in the Black Lives Matter movement” Craaaazzzyyyy.

    • Steak

      Awesome to look on Disqus and see that you have 111 comments, every single one of them anti-bike. Way to go, D Man.

      • Judah

        I think he’s just pointing out the overreaching, messianic, posturing tone of the article.

        Bikes are great. Transportation. Hobbies are the best. Urban cycling is not a civil rights issue. If you say it is, then perhaps a trip outside the bubble is in order.

        • Steak

          You and I should grab a cup of coffee so we can discuss this off-line.

          • Judah

            I’d like that!

          • Judah

            Checked out your twitter feed. Punch in the face mad? That’s all it took to bring out the crazy?! Think I’ll pass on the coffee!

            • Steak

              I posted that Tweet before you and I exchanged 10+ comments. Your original couple of comments were infuriating to me. Your call about coffee. Obviously.

              • Judah

                I’ll pass on the coffee, obviously. But before you write another piece bemoaning baeless “hate” again, reflect back on that time you mused publicly about wanting to punch a complete stranger in the face — for expressing his opinion. And how you gleefully tweeted your violent desire to thousands of followers.

                Peter, meet mirror. You extraordinary hypocrite.

  • Iain Marshall

    Great – but grim – read.

  • partain

    I own a bike . I live in a college town with many bikers.
    The problem though , is that bicycles enjoyed huge success in the late 1800s and early 1900s , yep , right when cars were becoming popular as well. The bicycle craze faded away and the car love never did.
    80 years of advancement in automobiles and designing cities for cars occur.
    Then , bikes are popular again , the antiquated laws equate them with cars in the view of the law.
    What a joke.
    Only a fool would take a bike out on most of our roads today. The biggest factor in whether accidents are fatal is differential of speeds , slow bikes , fast cars.
    We need to put in as many dedicated ( separated from traffic ) bike lanes as possible , of course , but to expect to integrate cars and bikes on the same roads is inane.
    Keep to safe streets if you bike , and watch it even then. It’s nice to be right about the law , but dead -right ? Not so much.

  • Ned Kozlowski

    I am a pedestrian. Cyclists are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks in my city unless they are under age 16. I see an awful lot of adult cyclists putting me in danger and breaking the law. What goes on in the road isn’t my problem but I don’t get why cyclists wouldn’t want a nice relationship with pedestrians instead of disrespecting them.

  • Judah

    I live in West LA, and bike Wilshire and most of the worst roads for cyclists every day. Flax is of course correct, it is incredibly hazardous to be on your bike on these roads at almost any time of day. I also recognize that as a proportion of the population almost nobody else does what I am doing. Flax is overflowing with righteous indignation: “Why won’t all these people perfectly accomodate my lifestyle-dictated mode of transportation?!!” Instead, I look around, acknowledge that I’m making an inherently risky choice, that I could easily be in my car, and i try to ride with an abundance of vigilance.

    Flax isn’t riding a beat up old mountain bike on Wilshire blvd because its his only way of getting to his minimum wage job. He’s likely riding an expensive road bike because it’s fun and cool. And it will remain very risky to do so, especially where he rides, no matter his endless moralizing. How about just dealing with the real-world consequences of his lifestyle choice, instead of forever insisting that real world change to accomodate him?

    • Steak

      Awesome Judah, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back. You bet your f—king ass I’m righteously indignant. People who are criminally negligent — drunk, distracted, speeding — are killing cyclists…and you want me to just “deal” with that? Seriously, man, eff that.

      • Judah

        Here’s what gets me. I head out on olympic or wilshire knowing full well that, whatever my convictions about how drivers should be watching and careful, i know that some regular guy with no evil in his heart is going to lose focus for a second. Law of averages. I also know that I had a choice that morning, that i could have taken my car. I have a child i love and am responsible for. When i have a close call on a street i know is dicy, or when i’ve been hit badly, i instantly regret the transportation choice i made. And thats my problem with overzealous activists. They really do put bike stuff on the same level as voting rights and access to housing and their life with their kids. And it aint.

      • Judah

        Don’t know if u have kids. But if yes, knowing that, however aggravating or unjust, biking down wilshire at a certain time of day carries alot more risk to body — dont you ever question your choice of the riskier option? Not to be mordant, but is asserting your bike’s right to the lane that important when you have kids at home?

      • Judah

        Last one – ur never gonna rid the roads of drunk drivers and maniacs. You’ll be shaking your fist at the problem when ur 80 — and for what?

        • Steak

          God, I hope it’s the last one.

          • Judah

            But … still interested in your answer to the question! Happy New Year, will hit you up after RH.

            • Steak

              Yes I have kids. Yes, I understand we can’t eliminate drunk drivers or maniacs. But there are a million things we can do to make the roads safer. We can make it impossible to use a smart phone when you drive. We can make it harder for an impaired person to get behind the wheel. We can pass better laws and create better infrastructure. We can better train cops to enforce the existing laws. We can press the judicial system to enforce those laws, too. We can lower speeds on dangerous roadways. And so on. We do not have to sit on our hands and accept things as they are.

              • Judah

                Gokd answer. Thank you.

              • Judah

                Good answer.

  • Judah

    PS — cyclists are NOT involved in a “civil rights” battle. At stake is not the right to vote, or own property, to receive decent education or a fair shot at housing. The author wants to ride his $2K road bike down car-clogged boulevards in Los Angeles instead of riding a car. To try and paint this lifestyle preference as a civil rights struggle is the height of 1%er, Santa Monica delusion.

    • Steak

      By your definition — out of your junior high textbook? — transgender people getting told what bathroom to use aren’t in a civil rights battle. Nor women getting paid 60% of what men get paid to do the same job. Or gay people facing threats of hatred and violence. Or people in various disenfranchised groups trying to fix historical problems of how police and the judicial systems don’t protect them as much as others. If you think I’m in a bubble because I want people who kill other people to be held responsible, so be it.

      • Judah

        What a weird straw man jump. No, specific choice of transportation is not a civil right. Why the silly presumptions about my perspective on transgender, gay, etc…?

        • Steak

          I’m not making assumptions about your perspectives, but you did define civil rights as being about “the right to vote, or own property, to receive decent education or a fair shot at housing.” I think the issue isn’t your feelings about transgender, gender, etc but that your definition of civil rights is too limited. I’m not saying choice of transportation is a civil right; I’m saying that all road users have basic rights. Your contention that vulnerable users simply need to “deal” with systematic injustice is unacceptable.

          Anyway, if you want to talk IRL hit me at @pflax1 on Twitter.

  • Paul Moat

    Want to get political? The author inserted some blm lies and how that compares to the real problem we face as bicyclists really cheapens our cause.

    • Steak

      Paul, with your comment history you should stick to Drudge. Not going to worry about what a guy who called Obama a “Muslim Trojan Horse” says about anything.

      • Paul Moat

        I’d debate you on the politics but this isn’t the forum for it. My point is that we face very real dangers every day biking on the road. Using such an important article like this to make a loony left group seem like a “goal” for our cause cheapens it. A publication like this should shy away from that IMO. I’m not going to be a creepy stalker and look up your history though. Mmmmmk?

      • Judah

        But he’s completely right, politics do muddy your message. Bikes don’t come with a party card. If you are going to liken bike safety activism to BLM, which is decidedly not politically neutral, you are making an inherently political statement. Which is your right. But surely you must see that that linkage is not going to sit well with every cyclist on the planet. The Obama shtick aside, I don’t get your tagging this commentator as beyond the pale because he is conservative. Do you really want to cordon off from your cycling reading audience everyone who doesn’t see the political world exactly as you do?

  • R P

    We’ve been legislating and penalizing and educating all kinds of malignant behavior for decades and none of it has made a dent. The reason is because none of these measures address the core of the issue: Cultural & Behavior. Adults are no different from children when it comes to learning or changing. They will continue to touch the hot stove until the lesson is seared into their brain, or the stove is placed out of reach. If we were really serious about change and not just wanting to whine about something we would change the physical environment to separate two obviously incompatible activities, in the U.S. at least. This means realizing that marching and carrying signs doesn’t change a damn thing. People are who they are. No laws or attempts at education or jail time will change that. Jail time MAY change one offender, but what about the other couple hundred thousand or million in your town? What’s the end goal? Organizing and running or placing officials in your local government who will follow through on infrastructure changes under the threat of removal from office and replacement is the essential first step. Nothing will change until you get your hands of the levers of power, ie: Government.

    Peter; it’s sad that your bike industry friend has such a pathetic attitude, but again, knowing the bicycle industry, not surprising. More than 50% of Americans are 50-percenters and that is where the problem and the proverbial brick wall lies. But that is also an opportunity; you only have to sway 26% to get what you want.

  • Jasuki

    Drivers have become so used to monopolise the streets that they have forgotten they are a public good. I agree that constructive activism is probably the way forward. Have seen an interesting example connecting with urban wayfinding at http://www.takebikethecity.xyz

  • Amen brother!

  • Sissy Wheeler

    It’s just not worth it anymore. The tides are turning and not in cyclist favor. Everyday more and more people are hating on cyclist. I stopped telling people I was a cyclist because of all the nasty things they would say about us. I’m getting out of it. It’s simply become to dangerous for me. Many of my friends have sold their bikes stating it isn’t cool anymore and it is no longer fun. We have started hiking instead. Plenty of trails and people are so much nicer.

  • Judah

    Hey Peter, I don’t know if you are still checking these comments. So disturbing reading all those tweets after the las vegas slaughter full of violent talk towards political opponents. It reminded me that you tweeted a while ago about wanting to punch someone in the face because their opinion made you mad. Given all the accusations of hate flying everywhere i thought you might want to delete that one.

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