Bicyclists

How do we get them to obey traffic laws?

I almost hit a guy in my neighborhood this week driving Patricia to the bus stop. I was in a four-way stop intersection, about to pull out, when I catch him coming from the left out of the corner of my eye. He didn’t even slow down for the stop sign, let alone stop. It would have been Darwinian if I’d hit him, but I’d still feel terrible.

49 thoughts on “Bicyclists”

  1. Probably best solution is to prosecute and jail motorists who hit bicyclists. Then when you avoid hitting a bicyclist, rather than feeling annoyed the bicyclist got in your way, you feel happy you’re not in jail.

    1. I’m a cyclist and I’ve gotten to the point I f***ing hate cyclists when I’m driving. There are a higher percentage of self-entitled scofflaws on bicycles than any other population on the road. Catch and prosecute those a**holes weaving through lanes, hopping on and off sidewalks, and blowing through red lights and stop signs. Issue and use net guns to take them down, if necessary. Put full-sized license plates on bicycles along with headlights, turn signals, and brake lights just as large and visible as motorcycles have. Require a license and liability insurance, too, just like any other vehicle on the road (with juvenile versions and rates available). The idiots out there HAVE to learn that the rules of the road apply just as much to them as anyone else.

    2. My “solution”, although sarcastic, is actually serious. Bicyclists are injured/killed by motorists every day, not because the bicyclist did anything wrong, but because the motorist “didn’t see him”. Ooops, sorry – I didn’t see you – you OK?
      Then there’s the general annoyance every motorist has when a bicyclist appears in the road – we don’t want to hit them but we don’t want to go to the effort of carefully passing them at a distance. The bicyclist is pissing us off by just being there. He has slowed us down, just like the speed-limit sign (which we ignore). We don’t like to see the bicyclist, and we don’t like to see the speed-limit sign. One we can indignantly complain about, the other we can’t.

      The solution is to require motorists to commute to work on a bicycle twice a month. If they survive – they’ll learn how reckless so many motorists are near bicycles. (I’ve done this – commuted to work. Woke up in the ICU unit after a hit-and-run. I learned empathy for bicyclsts that way)

      1. You merely reiterate that cycling is nothing to do with an efficient means of travel, but just another form of CLASS WAR!

        And I don’t know about the US, but when I lived in the UK the number of people killed per passenger mile by cars and bikes was approximately the same. The cyclists there couldn’t give a damn about hitting pedestrians because ‘it’s only a bike, innit?’

      2. For two years I commuted by bicycle on city streets that were de facto highways without bike lanes. The mixture of carelessness and aggression from motorists made every trip harrowing. I would have ridden my mountain bike on the verges but they were all strewn with fragments of beer bottles that had been thrown from moving cars.

        I now live in a city where drivers almost never look for cyclists or pedestrians at intersections, or yield when the law requires.

        Motorists and cyclists deserve each other and are a hazard to law-abiding runners like me.

      3. It doesn’t help that bike lanes are set up to channel bike riders into driver’s blind spots.

        What we really need to do is outlaw riding bikes on any road without a bike lane, tax bike sales, require a license to ride a bike, require a license for the bike with a yearly renewal, and require passing an initial safety class and then semi-annually after that. There should be additional requirements for riding a bike on public lands.

    3. So, when that female cyclist in New York City pulled out in front of a cement mixer that had the right of way, it’s the truck driver’s fault? She did a stupid thing and died a stupid, horrible death. It was 100% her fault.

      It’s time to start giving tickets to cyclists who don’t obey traffic laws. They should also pay registration fees that go to highway maintenance, especially bike lanes. No more free riders.

  2. Well you’ve tickled one of my pet peeves:

    Many bicyclists behave in such a manner as to deeply endanger themselves and others.

    The rolling stop MUST end. I have not one single darn to give regarding their momentum. All Traffic laws must be obeyed.

    Three examples:

    1) Entrance to my workplace is a 4 way light. I approach in such a way that to enter the workplace I have to go straight. Most people in my position turn left or right…but not all. Bicyclists blow that red light without missing a beat. I watch for them coming from the right, while waiting for the light to turn green and if one is speeding towards the (red for him) light I go – laying on the horn if he hasn’t slowed down and is near the light.

    2) This happens constantly:

    Stopped at a red light and in the right hand lane. I’m turning right. Light turns green, I look in the right hand side view mirror and see a bicyclist several car lengths back. I’m in the middle of the turn looking where I’m supposed to look – forward and around the curve because that’s where I’m headed, and the fargin icehole is standing on his pedals pumping as hard as he can and cuts me off…goes around me to my right.

    3) Stopped in a two lane (i.e. going the same way) 4 way red light stop. I’m in the right hand lane a few cars back. Left side view mirror shows a bicyclist RACING as hard as he can between the two lanes of cars.

    Meanwhile a woman on the curb to my right gets the Walk signal and steps off the curb…in the crosswalk, walking (to my left) in front of the car at the head of my lane. Lucky for her she caught the crazed cyclist int he corner of her eye because she was about to take the step in front of the gap. He would have seriously hurt her.

    Boston traffic it terrible enough but it has been made 2 orders of magnitude worse because the already narrow streets have been made more narrow – 2 lanes roads turned into 1 lane and a bike lane.

    I don’t care what they think they are doing for the environment.

    I don’t care whether or not they can afford a car.

    I don’t care AT ALL about their momentum.

    Obey the traffic laws. Ride in tandem if the bike lane is narrow.

    Ticket them to Perdition.

    1. Your example 1 is good – using your horn to rebuke the cyclist for illegal/dangerous riding is probably effective.
      Your example 2 not so good – bicyclists have the right of way in the cycling lane (in California). You turn across the cycling lane to crush them = you should go to jail. If the bicyclist is going straight through an intersection they should move left out of the bicycle lane to avoid YOU CUTTING THEM OFF as YOU turn right, but most bicyclists have learned to be terrified of motorists and don’t attempt to ride in traffic lanes because when they do the motorists lay on their horns to “get out of my way!”
      Your example 3 – Many bicyclists are reckless. But please realize they don’t last long out there. They will learn the hard way. You don’t need to be their teacher.

      1. “Your example 1 is good – using your horn to rebuke the cyclist for illegal/dangerous riding is probably effective.
        Your example 2 not so good – bicyclists have the right of way in the cycling lane (in California). You turn across the cycling lane to crush them = you should go to jail. ”

        But I didn’t turn across their lane to crush them. When I started my turn they were several car lengths behind me. The cyclist poured on the coal and came up faster. I saw him stand on his pedals when I first looked back to see if I was clear.

        “If the bicyclist is going straight through an intersection they should move left out of the bicycle lane to avoid YOU CUTTING THEM OFF as YOU turn right, but most bicyclists have learned to be terrified of motorists and don’t attempt to ride in traffic lanes because when they do the motorists lay on their horns to “get out of my way!”

        I had the right of way because he was too far back to be a factor had he kept his speed.

        “Your example 3 – Many bicyclists are reckless. But please realize they don’t last long out there. They will learn the hard way. You don’t need to be their teacher.”

        It was the pedestrian who would not have lasted long out there.

        And I see things like this every single day when I go to work.

        1. The problem with Boston and Cambridge bike lanes is they come and go and often share the right traffic lane with no sign indicating so. In other words a bike lane will merge into the right traffic lane with no advance warning other than (sometimes) a painted green logo on the pavement.

          The one thing I give Cambridge credit for is moving the bike lane to the right of parked cars, with a cross hatch area between the cars and the bike lane so passengers opening doors won’t block a bike lane. It does make it harder when making a right turn but looking carefully before proceeding seems a better choice than side swiping a cyclist.

          But yes I’d prefer cyclists consider they drive within a virtual box the size of a car and behave accordingly, keeping to the right as much as possible when in a regular car lane.

          I have yet to see a squad car with blues flashing behind a cyclist. Wish I saw more of it…

          1. I have seen two instances (while cycling) when police actively tried to enforce traffic regulations on cyclists. It might have been as little as one officer working a single corner for a few hours, issuing tickets. Both times the word spread to other cyclists PDQ and cyclist behavior improved markedly.

          2. I’ve seen several instances where bicycle-mounted policemen sitting at stop signs ignore cyclists running the signs on Ohio Drive in East and West Potomac Park.

      2. There was no cycling lane in this case. It was a four-way stop in a residential neighborhood (a couple blocks from the house).

        That reminds me that most accidents happen within 25 miles of home so, to be safe, I supposed I should move.

      3. Passing on the right when someone has their turn signals on and is turning right isn’t just stupid, it’s ILLEGAL in most places. Most places other than apparently California, land of idiot lawmakers. That a**hole should’ve been ticketed. Trying to crush them, my a**.

      4. “Your example 2 not so good – bicyclists have the right of way in the cycling lane (in California).” If the law says this and means that cyclists can pass on the right in intersections, well then the law is an ass, and dangerous. We teach everyone not to pass on the right and to move over as far right as possible before making a right turn. So throwing in a special case requiring drivers to know check for a much smaller vehicle that can easily hide on a blind spot when making right turns is just asking for trouble. And of course, it leads to cyclists behavior like above, trying race by instead of just waiting for the car to turn and then go.

    2. Re scenario 2; a similar situation happened in college. Except it was a bus and a left turn. Fair enough, the bus moved into the cycle lane (then they were just 2 feet of painted payment near the curb) to exchange passengers. But the bus was also at an intersection with stop signs, so the cyclist should stop anyway (also lots of pedestrians cross the intersection).

      The cyclist instead decided to pass on the left of the bus, which no car would do on this road due to lack of clearance even with the bus in the bike lane. The bus had already finished the stop. The bus not expecting someone passing on the left made its turn. The cyclist went under the rear tire and was in a coma for about a month but ultimately survived.

      It was a big debate on campus, but more people sympathized with the bus than the cyclist. Primary issue was any other traffic would have stopped, whether they were a motor vehicle or pedestrian. Had the cyclist stopped, as required by law, nothing would have happened. Outside the silly student debate, the law is the law, so the bus driver broke no law, and therefore nothing happened to him.

        1. I think the University did. The bus driver was an University employee and it happened on campus. So essentially the other students and donors.

  3. As someone who commutes to work on a bicycle, I agree completely. Most bicyclists ignore all traffic laws so consistently that when I come to a stop at a stop sign prepared to take turns going, drivers are completely confused. They don’t know what to do! They’ve never seen this before or know what’s happening and chaos ensues. It is infuriating.

  4. If they want to be treated like vehicles, then, at a minimum, cyclists need to display license plates (like motorcycles) and have a “bicycle” endorsement (again, like motorcycles) on their driving license.

    Driver’s license? Don’t drive a car, you say? Just ride the bike? Well, you should still be fully aware of what rules the cars around you are following, so you know what expect and what is expected of you by those killer machines. And drivers should have the expectation that you’ve agreed to abide by those rules.

    As for the “right of way” of cyclists passing cars on the right–
    The one question I failed on my first driver’s test was a trick question about “taking the right-of-way”. No one can “take” it. You have it or you don’t, and even if you do, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies.

    And “momentum” is not a defense against a speeding ticket, so it shouldn’t be one for cyclists running lights, stop signs and other traffic control signals.

    (I know Berkeley, Calif. had plates on their bikes way back when, because a friend of mine had one on his bike as a college souvenir.)

  5. And I’d agree that there are too many stop signs in this country. After five weeks in New Zealand, I came to appreciate how rare they were there. Most intersections, were simply marked “give way”, unless there was a good reason for a stop. And that included all the one lane bridges.

  6. I would think twice before cycling on roadways in any case. I had the unfortunate experience about a year ago of rendering first aid to a cyclist that apparently hit a pothole front wheel first and went head over handlebars face first into the pavement. His “helmet”, one of those half head jobs, appeared to slide to one side as the crown of his head came into contact with the roadway resulting in a broken nose, skull fracture and a concussion. He was quite out of it and bleeding profusely. He kept trying to stand up and we kept him down (one the of drivers who stopped was an ER nurse thank goodness) and I kept repeating the truth. “Sir, you have a skull fracture you need to stay still. Help is on the way”. I held his helmet in place by hand to hold the skull fragment in place until the paramedics arrived and took over. As I was leaving I heard over one of the police officer’s hand-helds that a medivac helo was on its way. I do not know the final outcome, but the paramedics got there within 10 minutes of when I stopped, so I am hopeful it had a good resolution.

  7. I’m don’t spend much time thinking about them because driverless cars will get bicyclists off the roads pretty quickly, one way or another. When they put on that slick Olympic racing suit, composite helmet, and hop on their carbon fiber frame with the fancy rims, they’re probably invisible on radar.

  8. Thanks for this topic… it’s been on my mind a lot lately. The reason is my SUV almost had a collision with a bicyclist.

    I was at a 4 way traffic light at a sort-of rural intersection of 4-lane roads. I was turning right, and had my turn signal on, and was in the right turn lane all the way to the right. There was no bike lane. The light was green in my direction (right turn arrow). So, I began to turn as I reached the corner.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed fast movement, and slammed on the brakes before I was even conscious of what it was. Good thing I did, because it was a bicyclist, moving really fast (At least 30mph, it was downhill. Maybe closer to 40mph) who missed my front bumper by inches, and raced across the intersection against the red light.
    Had I not braked in time, he’d have hit my passenger side at rather high speed. And wasn’t wearing a helmet.

    I had no idea the bicyclist was around; I hadn’t passed him, and I had been driving at was driving at 35mph (the speed limit there), and I hadn’t noticed him via my rearview mirror, either.

    To be honest, I hadn’t been checking for bicyclists coming fast on my right like that, I only tend to do that when there’s a bike lane around or if I’ve seen them (such as via overtaking them). I tend to be more focused on looking for cross-traffic (green light or not) than behind and to my right.

    Roaring across an intersection against a red light puts the bicyclist in the wrong, but I’m very glad I didn’t hit him (or he hit me). On the other hand, I don’t think it’s practical or safe for me to turn and look over my right shoulder while turning, so a glance in the side and rear mirror is all I can really do. Bicyclists, like all vehicle operators, need to have some common sense. Most do, but a few don’t.

    1. Why should you be looking for a vehicle passing you on the right hand side when there isn’t a lane? This is the infuriating part with cyclist that complain about “I hadn’t been checking for bicyclists coming fast on my right like that”, because why would you? You did that check when you got into that lane. Now you were turning into a new lane, and reasonably should be looking at the lane in which you are turning.

      Besides, any good traffic school will teach not to pass on the right.

      1. Leland,

        More to the point., if you are making a right hand turn your focus NEEDS to be ahead and to the right as you round the curve because you can’t see around the turn and things may pop up.

        To require you to apply attention BEHIND you is ludicrous.,

        1. @ Gregg;

          I was scanning to my left (as I usually do, in case someone is blowing through a red light – a habit that’s saved my life) ahead, and to my right. I think it was during the glance to my right that I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye.

          This was an open area, not like a city block; pretty much unobstructed lines of sight. I was all the way over in the lane, but to the right was flat, so the bicyclist was able to try to pass me on the right as I turned.

          I have no problem with most bicyclists, but a few seem to think that “share the road” means they get to do whatever they want, while the rest of us need to stay out of their way. (I do bike occasionally, so I know how different some bicyclists are).

      2. @ Leland,

        Exactly; it wasn’t a lane at all to my right – it was dirt and gravel. And indeed, my vision was mostly focused to my left, looking for any oncoming traffic (I had a green arrow, but that’s no guarantee someone won’t blast through the intersection anyway). I also check my rearview mirror a lot.

        The only reason I can think of that I didn’t see the bicyclist as I approached the intersection (at 35mph) is he was moving faster than me (it’s a slight downhill) and overtaking me from my right rear quarter. It’s open land, low traffic, no parked cars or sidewalks.

  9. These days when I have to make a turn to the right I pull the car all the way to the right to prevent the cyclists from whizzing by me on my right when I’m in the middle of the turn. One or two of them get annoyed but they are still living today and are not paraplegics.

  10. Some bicyclists have developed a sense of legal impunity and entitlement, because whenever one of their number is hurt or killed as a result of their lawless behavior, they descend on city hall and the local media demanding still more deference and impunity — knowing they’ll get sympathetic treatment because they’re bicyclists.

    Fortunately, here in my semi-rural neighborhood, bicyclists are rare and fully aware of the likely consequences of entitled behavior on our narrow, twisty roads with high posted speed limits.

  11. As a bicyclist, I hate motorists, and as a motorist, I hate bicyclists. Then again, as a bicyclist, I hate the other bicyclists, and as a motorist, I hate the other motorists. Perhaps it would be best if you lot would stay home when I’m out and about.

    1. As a driver, I hate bicyclers and as a walker/hiker I also hate them. How is it the people who complain so much about cars then turn around and treat walkers/hikers the way they do? Having a bike rider go whizzing by you from behind at 35 mph a couple inches from your elbow isn’t pleasant. Nor is it nice for packs of bikies to force people off the path.

      It is even worse when walking/hiking off pavement where trails are even narrower. Pedestrians have the right of way but bike riders can’t be bothered to share the trail or stop for a few moments to let people pass.

      Do they not realize that buzzing dogs triggers a chase response?

      However bad the relationship between drivers and riders is, it is even worse between riders and walkers. Its got to the point where I think bikes need banned for anyone over the age of 18.

  12. I commute by bike when the weather is under 100°F. (Meaning, not for the last month here in Tucson!)

    I ride as if every automobile is driven by a murderous psychopath with diplomatic plates. I’ve never even come close to being hit by one of them.

    I freely admit to doing “Idaho stops” at stop signs on small residential intersections, since I value the conservation of my personal momentum. But if there’s a car anywhere NEAR the intersection, I stop. And at both of the two signaled intersections that I cross, I stop and wait for the green light.

  13. The other day, I was over in the medical district, which is on a hill. The roads are narrow and twisty with a lot of even smaller crossroads and parking lots dumping people out. I was walking down the sidewalk and ahead of me this young stoner lady on a escooter, because I’m pretty sure only stoners use these things, comes speeding down a hill out of a parking lot and into the side street, which is itself a hill perpendicular to the other and views are obstructed by crowded multistory medical buildings all around. She doesn’t stop before entering the road, isn’t wearing a helmet, is wearing a shit eating grin, and almost got t-boned by a cop car.

    I don’t know why the cop didn’t pull her over but he didn’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if they got a stand down order to let the ebike and escooter riders break all the laws that they weren’t legislatively waved for them, like wearing helmets. I guess when money, special interests, and progressive ideology intersect rules and regulations that normally apply to everyone else go out the window.

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