Blogging Cyclist Calls for Truce in Car v Bike Culture Wars

8_11_08_gary.jpg

It seems like everywhere you turn these days, you can find a news story about the growing cultural war between bicyclists and car drivers.  Locally, the Mandeville Canyon Crash has shed a startling light on the violent attitudes some motorists have towards the two-wheeled users of the road, and similar stories have been reported in Seattle, Park City, Utah, Portland and New York City.  For their part, cyclists explain their issues with bike riders by pointing at scores of bike riders who ride the wrong way against traffic, run red lights and stop signs or blocking traffic.

Seeking to cool down the somewhat super-heated rhetoric, some cyclists are calling for a truce in the daily street fight over road space.  Realizing the best place to iron out differences probably isn’t on the road, especially since most verbal exchanges between cyclists and drivers is after some sort of dangerous or bothersome incident, the conversation has moved to the Internet.  We’ve already discussed some efforts by cyclists in Long Beach to help cyclists ride safer and today we’ll focus on a blog called Gary Rides Bikes which is hoping to explain to cyclists and drivers how best to safely coexist.

Last month, Gary Rides Bikes  announced  "Coexistence," a series of articles that explains why many bike riders do things that may irk drivers but do so for safety’s sake and with the full blessing of the law.  What makes Gary’s writing so useful beyond the hallelujah chorus of
other cyclists is it doesn’t lay blame at the feet of motorists for the
problems on the road

For example, the second piece in the series, entitled, "Bicycles Taking The Lane," looks at why cyclists don’t always "ride to the right," as some wish riders would.  Gary points out why the right isn’t always the safest place for a rider to be.:

 

The right shoulder of the road is often in the worst condition.
Although cyclists are generally expected to ride there, often times
when roads are repaved the right shoulder is skipped over. Large
potholes, deep cracks, broken glass, and storm grates with openings
wide enough to swallow bike tires are some of the things that can force
cyclists further to the center of the lane. Bike tires are much thinner
and at higher pressure then car tires so more care must be taken to
avoid such obstacles when cycling. In a nutshell, when the road gets
rough, cyclists need more clearance then usual to avoid hazards.

 

Bravo!  I couldn’t have said it any better myself.  As more and more cyclists take to the road in the era of $4 gasoline, Gary’s writings could be a useful guide for all street users, and are worth checking out no matter your commuting choice.

If anyone knows of a website or blog that focuses on how drivers should behave around cyclists that is both constructive and from a driver’s point of view, please pass it along to damien@streetsblog.org.  I haven’t been able to find one in my own searches.

Image: Gary Rides Bikes 

9 thoughts on Blogging Cyclist Calls for Truce in Car v Bike Culture Wars

  1. What I suggest for cyclists –
    use REAR-VIEW MIRRORS!
    This helps to avoid major accidents, and even save lives.
    I’ve used a rear-rive mirror for my entire 20 years of biking, mirror is a necessity for bikes as it is for cars, and other vehicles.
    Don’t be stubborn, folks: if you ride on city streets, you must get a rear=view mirror. You’ll feel much-much safer.

  2. I can understand a rear view mirror being helpful – but it isn’t neccessary (unless you’re on a recumbent).

    I ride almost exclusively on city streets – and it is a convenience I have been able to saely do without.

    What is next – a recommendation to “WEAR A HELMET. OR BETTER YET WHY RIDE A BIKE AT ALL IT IS DANGEROUS”?

  3. Thanks for helping expand readership for this. It’s only two posts right now, but I want to keep adding to it in the coming weeks.

    For these posts I want to talk about safe cycling and encourage safety and understanding amongst motorists, and not get into the often heated debate about what equipment is necessary for cyclists. Not every cyclists is going to have a mirror, so I’m not going to assume they do or that they will rush out and buy one. I personally do not have a mirror and bike in heavy traffic, doing quite fine with over the shoulder glances and other senses.

    I always wear a helmet, but I don’t want to harp on that excessively because studies have shown mandatory helmet use always corresponds with drops in ridership. For bikes there is safety in numbers, and I don’t want to sacrifice ridership for equipment requirements that should be personal choice.

  4. I think a fun counter-point to the “wear a helmet” canard is an insistence that drivers do the same. Race car drivers wear helmets, gloves, and a flame retardent suit, therefore all car drivers and passengers ought to as well. It is “safer” that way, right?

  5. Bravo Mr. Kavanagh.

    Both drivers and cyclists need to be considerate in order to share the road.

    The only problem is, when one cyclist is inconsiderate or reckless, all cyclists are labeled as such. Whereas, while many drivers speed, turn without signaling, etc, the same labels do not seem to apply to them.

  6. Thanks for mentioning Gary’s series of articles. This is something every beginning cyclist — and a lot of more experienced riders — should read. And the more drivers we can get to read it, the better they’ll understand why we do what we do, and hopefully, drive a little more safely around us.

    As for a mirror, I’ve found that experience gives you a 6th sense in traffic; I usually know when there’s a car coming up behind me long before I look. And I wouldn’t be typing this now if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet during a freak accident last fall. Grownups are free to make their own choice, but I will never again get on two wheels without one.

  7. Great article, and I love your art. As you noted Seattle has it’s fare share of motorists/cyclists animosity. We’re doing our part to try and moderate that at http://www.ridecivil.com. It’d be great to get riders up from LA, but i’m not expecting many — regardless, our next ride is Sept 12. Visit the site for details on meeting up, expectations, etc.

  8. Всем привет, смотрю что тут все такие подхалимы, что не коммент , то лесть полная….

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