Living Car Free - Guys On Bikes
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08-20-05, 06:35 PM
The dominant group I see when I'm out riding are the "Guys On Bikes." I learned this term here on Bike Forums from this thread (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=86190&referrerid=24981). The Guys on Bikes are the ultimate utility cyclists. These men (and sometimes women) use their bicycles for everything and don't waste time on message boards discussing it. I suspect most are Guys on Bikes because of financial reasons, but others may have legal and medical problems that prevent them from driving. In other words, these folks are not car free by choice. But they are car free.
Unfortunately, the Guys on Bikes engage in very risky behavior that endangers themselves, other cyclists and pedestrians: They ride at night without lights, blow through intersections, ride against traffic and ride on sidewalks. In the most recent fatal bicycle/car encounter in my city, the victim was riding at night with no lights. Although I have not seen the police incident report, I'd bet good money he was also riding against traffic.
Today I ran some errands and racked up a about 10 miles. I saw a dozen or so cyclists while I was riding. They were all Guys on Bikes. To a man (and they were all men) each was riding against traffic. Every single one of them. One was riding the wrong way down a one way street.
Some of you might suggest that this is a thread better suited for the Safety and Advocacy forum, but I'm posting it here for two reasons: 1. Since this forum spun off of Safety and Advocacy, it's pretty much the only one I visit. 2. The Guys on Bikes are truly living car free, so they are in a way, part of our little community. I'm interested in how other folks here view the Guys on Bikes and how they affect people who have chosen to become fully- or partially-car free. Is there any way to reach out to the Guys on Bikes to help make them (and us) a little safer?
08-20-05, 08:49 PM
In my area a lot of the lower income and day workers ride bikes for transportation, which is great, I think. However, as you discussed, many of them obviously never learned that bicycles are supposed to follow traffic laws, or for that matter, maybe they don't know the traffic laws. They ride more like pedestrians with wheels - going along sidewalks, facing traffic, no helmets, etc. Very dangerous, as you say, but I suppose I'm glad they're not behind the wheel of a car...
Maybe those guys are the real cyclists. The rest of us, with our identities all wrapped up in "being a cyclist" with our gear, gadgets, oufits and shoes, lingo and our materialism around our bikes and components, are just over-compensating for our inadequacies. Those guys just get on their bikes and go, getting to wherever it is that they go to live their real lives. They probably laugh at us.
That being said, I'm just a guy on a bike gettin' from A to B however I can.
cabana 4 life
08-20-05, 11:34 PM
there is a A.A. meeting next to were i work almost all of these people ride bikes and look pissed about it.
08-21-05, 10:42 AM
I would say i'm a "guy on a bike" altho i don't fit the stereotype being discussed here. I bike for utility purposes & have no special gear except a helmet. I don't own a car. I have lights but normally don't ride at night. I enjoy reading about "bike stuff" on the forum even though i don't really "belong" in the way most members seem to. :)
I will say that other "guys on bikes" i've seen in town have almost always been adhering scrupulously to the rules of the road & so on. The occasional violator seems to generally be a teenage (rogue?) male (Riding on the wrong side, etc.) I recently saw a cop ticketing an older man who was pulling a trailer with his balloon bike, but i don't know what he did.
08-21-05, 10:56 AM
I will say that other "guys on bikes" i've seen in town have almost always been adhering scrupulously to the rules of the road & so on.
I can believe it. I was in your town a couple weeks back and was shocked to see motorists actually stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. That doesn't happen here, nor do the Guys on Bikes adhere to the rules of the road. What accounts for the difference?
08-21-05, 11:04 AM
Well, state law requires motor vehicles to stop for pedestrians in cross walks (its still nice anyway) :) Different locales have different attitudes - as i've said, when i was living in Eastern Conn. i was hassled frequently on the road. Here, never.
Maybe people in Conn. were just frustrated, it's an area with a lot of poverty, altho i was sometimes harrassed by guys driving some pretty pricey pickups....
08-21-05, 11:08 AM
Actually state law requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
As for why some locales are so cycle-hating, i don't know - economics may play a part, Eastern Conn is largely poor & hopeless & i was harrassed on the road all the time out there. Also while walking! But the aggressors were sometimes driving some fairly pricy pickups....they even speed up when they see someone crossing the street...i'm glad i'm gone!
08-21-05, 11:12 AM
Sorry for double post - i tried to delete the first one but would not go....
08-21-05, 11:22 AM
I'm a guy on a bike, and I'm also a cyclist. I both cannot afford a car (not easy in NYC), and I ride for pleasure. I'm also a graduate students studying global warming, so I have a natural antipathy towards cars.
Now, when you guys talk about following the rules of the road, are you talking about John Forrester's anal-retentive, overly thick bike manifesto? Please. If you are going to stop your bicycle at every single red light--even when there is nobody coming and you have a clear field of view--you may as well drill holes in your new ultegra hubs and fill them with typewriter oil, as is recommended in Effective Cycling.
I'm not saying that cyclists shouldn't behave in a safe, predictable manner. I'm simply saying that applying the same rules to bikes as are in effect for cars is in many cases absurd. Legally speaking, one probably should not endorse running reds, but when was the last time any of you gave a damn when a pedestrian j-walked? What I'm saying is, the rules are the rules, and they are meant to be broken, slightly. If someone acts like a jerk, its up to others in the community to bring him/her into line. Given that, complaining about day laborers on Magna's in bike forums is almost like telling starving peasants to eat cake. They can't hear you, but if they did, they'd think that you were a jerk.
Lastly, about many of those day-laborers on bikes: would YOU ride a roadmaster in traffic? I sure as hell wouldn't.
08-21-05, 11:30 AM
Actually state law requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Same here. But you would never know it from watching motorists.
08-21-05, 11:46 AM
Given that, complaining about day laborers on Magna's in bike forums is almost like telling starving peasants to eat cake. They can't hear you, but if they did, they'd think that you were a jerk.
Of course. Last time I nearly had a head on collision with a wrong way cyclist, I'd say "Hey, you're on the wrong side of the street." And you're right, I'm certain she thought I was a jerk. If she even heard me (she was wearing headphones).
I'm not really concerned about following the rules of the road just because they are rules. But a dude riding on the wrong side of the street at night with no lights is doing more than bending the rules. There's an organization in my town that sometimes distributes helmets to kids who can't afford them. I wonder if anyone has ever tried anything like that for adult cyclists.
would YOU ride a roadmaster in traffic? I sure as hell wouldn't.
08-21-05, 11:55 AM
I own a truck a car and a motorcycle, and use the truck for work mostly, sometimes I'll just take the truck in on monday, unload the tools and ride in the rest of the week, everything else is done on a bike, visiting, stores etc, just because I like riding, I don't use a helmet, and most of my riding is done on the sidewalks, up here though there are few pedestrians until you get downtown, then I hit the road and follow the rules. When you have a completely empty doublewide sidewalk, and the cagers are morons, I'll ride the sidewalk any day. along 28th street, they put all new sidewalks in, and I -may- have seen 10 people walking them in the last two years, people just don't walk here.
08-21-05, 03:50 PM
We're fortunate here, Chocula, motorists actually DO stop at the crosswalks, altho some act as tho they might not (usually pickups & SUVs in my experience).
I was very lightly sideswiped by a car turning left into me as i was walking my bike across one of these crosswalks at an intersection. I yelled something like "What the hell!!??"
The lady parked, got out, came over to see if i was OK & apologised profusely, giving me her phone # just in case. This is a very bad 4-way (stop signs only) that has fender-benders all the time. Too many people in too big a hurry. I just avoid that intersection now.
I noticed in a couple of the posts above a comment about riding on sidewalks. I get the impression that the consensus may be that cyclists should ride in the street and stay off the sidewalks. Where I live you wouldn't last until you got to work if you rode in the street.
Most drivers here are brain dead and automatically assume if you are an adult riding a bicycle you must be homeless or ********. Bike paths are virtually unheard of. There has been noise in the past about making bike trails and more bike friendly traffic but nothing has come of it. The highlight or lowlight was during the discussion of bike paths being built between local parks, a concerned group of citizens complained the trail would pass to close to a school playground. Thus exposing the playground to molesters. I was amazed there was a problem with bike mounted pedophiles in our community.
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