Sunday, April 13, 2008

What to do?

Ask anyone who rides a bike on the road in any amount and they'll most likely tell you that there is a problem with the way drivers treat cyclists on the road. Most cyclists would agree that drivers are primarily the problem. Most drivers who aren't also cyclists would agree that cyclists are the problem. That statement, made by me, no matter how speculative is where the problem lies. Drivers, unfortunately view cyclists and cycling as a problem...

So what exactly is the problem? A while back in an Arizona newspaper that will remain nameless, a commentary was published by a reader who lambasted cyclists for being "slower" than traffic, and thus deserving whatever "end" they met when "going up against" traffic. Now, this guy's opinion is obviously outside of the norm (or is it?) and most motorists don't believe that cyclists deserve a tragic ending for venturing out onto public roads.

Although most drivers don't think that cyclists should die, there are a number of beliefs that most motorists hold that are not only incorrect but dangerously wrong. Here are some basics.

1. Cyclists don't belong on the road, thus take their lives in their own hands each time they go out on public roads.

2. Cyclists give up basic human rights on public roads

3. Since there are bike lanes in some places, that's only where cyclists belong

4. Cyclists are pedestrians and not vehicles.

We obviously know these are completely wrong, and I think if most motorists stopped and thought about things for a few seconds they would feel the same way. Pedestrians are called that because they walk. Cyclists are called that because they cycle, or ride a cycle, often a bicycle, which is a type of vehicle.

So what can be done? What should be done about motorists who just don't seem to get it? Someone told me once that you can't change anyone but yourself, and this is true. I think the first step is to ride politely when we go out on the road as cyclists. Kill 'em with kindness someone told me once. As a cyclist, you're obviously not going to give lectures to drivers at 20 miles an hour, but there are other steps that can be taken.

As gas prices go up, more and more people are riding bikes to take care of they're daily chores. Don't be a jerk to new riders. We can also work to exact more legal change. Currently there are cities nation wide that are taking many steps to make their roads more friendly for cyclists, whether they be recreational riders or commuters. When laws come up for review, or there are public debates, make sure to get involved. My personal feeling is that more needs to be done in the arena of Driver education and punishment. That is something I've chosen to make a push for in local meetings.

I know there isn't much to this, and I hope this gets you the reader thinking. What can you do to make some change?

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