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Old 06-23-06, 09:54 AM   #1
geog_dash
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Politely stating the case

Last night at the fitness club a kid told me "if you can't maintain the speed limit, you shouldn't be on the road." In the same conversation, he confessed to being enraged when a bike appears in front of him "next to a perfectly good sidewalk." His position is essentially that he has a right to drive at the speed limit, or faster, and anyone going slower is denying him his right. This was hardly a news flash. I know this is dominant attitude in our society, but this was the first time I've literally come face to face with it.

Odd thing is that this came from a pretty laid back, mellow kid. I like him. He doesn't at all fit the stereotype of the bug eyed, red faced, fat, stupid speed demon. I was in my cycling kit, literally standing next to my bike, but it never occurred to him he was being obnoxious. We were making small talk. Once I stopped gaping, I said something to the effect of "it's a free country" and pedalled away - frustrated at my lack of eloquence. I'd like to tell this kid I'm a legitimate road user. The thing is, I don't want to be preachy about it. Just telling him he has to "share the road", and that "I have the same rights and responsibilities on the road" he has, seems pretty shallow.

Has anyone stated the case for cycling to non-cyclists in a way that provokes thought instead of confrontation? Baldly stating the legal argument won't change anyone's culture. What kind of argument might gently lead an intelligent person to a different view of what a road is?
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Old 06-23-06, 10:04 AM   #2
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Some talking points:

First of all, the bike he sees on the road, that puts him in a rage, is a lot less of a threat to him than the bike he doesn't see, on the sidewalk. That's because those sidewalk riders still have to cross intersections and are more likely to come "out of nowhere" into his path. Riding on the sidewalk is twice as dangerous as the street for the cyclist, causes more crashes with cars, and also puts pedestrians in unecessary danger.

Secondly there is no obligation for anyone to maintain the speed limit on the street. Street sweepers, farm tractors, house-moving trucks, and elderly people shorter than the seat back, all drive slower than the speed limit - and thank God they do.

Thirdly, he's far more likely to be held up by other cars...North Americans each waste 100's of hours every year in gridlock, which is not due to bikes. If half the cars on the roads were replaced by buses (replace 50-80 cars each) and bikes (use much narrower strip of pavement) it would be a lot more wide open on the road.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:22 AM   #3
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Another approach-ask him/her if he has kids (or nieces or nephews) and how would he feel about a car going ballistic on them when they are riding their bikes in the street.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geog_dash
Last night at the fitness club a kid told me "if you can't maintain the speed limit, you shouldn't be on the road." In the same conversation, he confessed to being enraged when a bike appears in front of him "next to a perfectly good sidewalk." His position is essentially that he has a right to drive at the speed limit, or faster, and anyone going slower is denying him his right. This was hardly a news flash. I know this is dominant attitude in our society, but this was the first time I've literally come face to face with it.

Odd thing is that this came from a pretty laid back, mellow kid. I like him. He doesn't at all fit the stereotype of the bug eyed, red faced, fat, stupid speed demon. I was in my cycling kit, literally standing next to my bike, but it never occurred to him he was being obnoxious. We were making small talk. Once I stopped gaping, I said something to the effect of "it's a free country" and pedalled away - frustrated at my lack of eloquence. I'd like to tell this kid I'm a legitimate road user. The thing is, I don't want to be preachy about it. Just telling him he has to "share the road", and that "I have the same rights and responsibilities on the road" he has, seems pretty shallow.

Has anyone stated the case for cycling to non-cyclists in a way that provokes thought instead of confrontation? Baldly stating the legal argument won't change anyone's culture. What kind of argument might gently lead an intelligent person to a different view of what a road is?
Good question, and I'm sure you'll get everything from really good advice to really outrageous advice, but you might be better to post this in the advocacy and safety forum where this topic might be more apt to attract those who spend more of their time arguing about riding than riding and are therefore experts in these matters.

IMHO you did a perfectly appropriate thing in stating that "it's a free country" and riding away. Lecturing him may have done no good. If he's going to change you can't make him change. Maybe when you next see him you might have a conversation about cycling and take the time in a calmer moment (when you've had some time to process your response) to explain cyclists' rights to the road. Or, as outrageous as this might seem, invite him to go for a ride and let him see how illogical his advice is and how much safer it is for a cyclist to share the road. Since he's someone you know from a fitness club your tactic could be how cycling to the club is a great warm up or how great it is for cardio vascular health (a little tough to get your heartrate up on the side walk so gotta get out there with the cars). And a little healthy competition might be useful- make him work a bit on the bike and he might appreciate the next cyclist he sees pounding up a hill.

Again, I'm no expert but my experience has shown me that letting people know that cycling is really fun, practical, safe and is a great way to stay in shape is better than going on any kind of preaching tirade replete with laws, statistics and holier than thou pronouncements.

Good luck and let us all know if you make any progress with this guy.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:30 AM   #5
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I hate when I think up a bunch of good come back remarks after the fact! Sounded like you should have been a bit preachy with the guy. I don't think he meant any harm, but definitely could have been educated to the fact that we all need to share the road.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:34 AM   #6
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I haven't had the pleasure yet, but I am rehearsing my response in my mind. Mine would be a shrug of helplessness followed by the comment that it is against the law to ride on the sidewalk (which it is where I ride; I went in person to the police department and asked them).

If I had to follow up, I would say that I am not required to break the law and ride on the sidewalk just because a private citizen wants me to, any more than that private citizen would be required to run a red light if I wanted him to.

I also really like the above idea, that if a farm implement was going down the road below the speed limit you wouldn't insist that it move to the sidewalk; you just would wait for an opening and go around it. It is a lot easier to get around a bike than a tractor. In fact, on a four-lane street (two each direction) you can pass a bike with the required three feet of clearance and not actually leave the right lane (or so it seems to me when I have done so in my car).
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Old 06-23-06, 10:43 AM   #7
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Just remind them that roads are public rights-of-way, not public carways. They are there to serve all the traveling public, not just the ones that own and drive cars. Public roads have been around much longer than cars or speed limits, and are available to anyone who needs to travel whether it is by car, bus, bike, walking or haywagon.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:46 AM   #8
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Laugh and say, "Good luck with that."
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Old 06-23-06, 11:05 AM   #9
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The local paper has a driving forum where people can vent/complain/give kudos to/etc. about anything driving-related and one of the many topics involve people who drive the speed limit or slower in the "fast lane" (the very left lane of a freeway). Those who drive in that lane at a slower speed than most say that they have every right to do so because they are, for a fact, going the speed limit and that the other bozos are breaking the law by exceeding it. One email that stuck out in my mind was from a highway patrol officer. He said that no one has "the right" to do anything because driving is a previlege, not a right. He said everyone has a right to apply for a license but you're only given the privilge to drive legally. And by abusing that privilge by taking on a self-righteous attitude and driving slower than the flow of traffic will, in his book, land them a ticket. He wanted everyone to understand that no one has the right to drive at whatever speed they wish to. He says it's hardest to convey that message to newly licensed kids cuz they think they own the world once they're behind the wheel. So talking to that mouthy kid probably wouldn't have done any good since even a uniformed officer can't get that point through to them.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenbreezer
The local paper has a driving forum where people can vent/complain/give kudos to/etc. about anything driving-related and one of the many topics involve people who drive the speed limit or slower in the "fast lane" (the very left lane of a freeway). Those who drive in that lane at a slower speed than most say that they have every right to do so because they are, for a fact, going the speed limit and that the other bozos are breaking the law by exceeding it. One email that stuck out in my mind was from a highway patrol officer. He said that no one has "the right" to do anything because driving is a previlege, not a right. He said everyone has a right to apply for a license but you're only given the privilge to drive legally. And by abusing that privilge by taking on a self-righteous attitude and driving slower than the flow of traffic will, in his book, land them a ticket. He wanted everyone to understand that no one has the right to drive at whatever speed they wish to. He says it's hardest to convey that message to newly licensed kids cuz they think they own the world once they're behind the wheel. So talking to that mouthy kid probably wouldn't have done any good since even a uniformed officer can't get that point through to them.
Great point! I still hate it when people poke in the passing lane though!
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Old 06-23-06, 11:21 AM   #11
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Might try humor -Say things like It ain't safe on the sidewalk - some grandma with a walker cut me off the other day. Or tried hit me with her 40-pound purse - yelling at me to slow down. Or Man I just can't get a break - whenever I get on the sidewalk the pedestrians yell at me to get on the street. Or You kidding? The skate punks would have my scrawny a$$ for lunch if I got on the sidewalk. Subtly lets them know there are hazards on the sidewalk in a non-confrontational way. And everyone like s good laugh. If they like you, you'll be tolerated a lot more when they come up behind you.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:28 AM   #12
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just say it's not up to him to decide who gets to use the road, you have a legal right to the road and he can look up the law if he wants.
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Old 06-23-06, 12:10 PM   #13
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Did you try punching him in the head? Followed by a "Yo, dipstick! Talk to me when you've learned not to be such an a$$."

On a little more serious note, I had one of my wife's friends tell me how much she despises seeing bicycles on the road. She was completely aware that I am one of those cyclists, yet she didn't realize she was being obnoxious, either.

I laughed and said, "It's a damn good thing I don't commute past your neighborhood."
She shot me a quizzical look and I continued, "I used to ride on the sidewalk, but after numerous near-misses, I finally had a car hit me, at a cross street. That's when I learned that bicycles are allowed on the road for a reason; it's the safest place to ride."

Not sure if I changed her thinking at all, but she hasn't mentioned cycling since that conversation.
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Old 06-23-06, 12:18 PM   #14
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I usually point out that the sign says "speed limit" limit in this case referring to "maximum allowed speed" Therefore slower speeds are allowed.

On another note...it's called a sideWALK for a reason.

Finally....if my bike is causing that much stress in your life, you have issues well beyond some guy on a bike....I'm far from slow as far as riders go, and I get faster every week. I think 16-20mph is perfectly fine.

Really this is just a case of drivers not seeing the whole picture....roads are for more than just cars. Learn to lay off the horn and relax. Any delay caused by me is probably no more than 30 seconds at the worst.
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Old 06-23-06, 12:21 PM   #15
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See that round thingy in front of you? It's a steering wheel. Rotate it leftward and like magic you'll find yourself in a lane that doesn't have a bike in it. Neato!
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Old 06-23-06, 12:49 PM   #16
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. Rotate it leftward and like magic you'll find yourself in a lane that doesn't have a bike in it. Neato!
And, depending on the road, a possible head-on collision, but hey, you win some, you lose some.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:14 PM   #17
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Ahh yes, I've had the same comment delivered to me. My reply? No different than previous replies, but a good opportunity for me to vent.
1. That speed limit sign is the maximum legal speed limit. There is no minimum speed limit on most public roads.
2. The next time you (the antagonistic cager) pull up to a stop sign or stop light, look at where you stopped in relation to the sidewalk.....that's why it's not safe to bike on sidewalks.
3. Almost all public roadways are legal for most any mode of transport...pedestrians, bikes, horses, cars, trucks, tractors....etc...
4. How would you pass a bike being ridden by your mother, sister, neice, etc???? That's how you should treat all cyclists on the road
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Old 06-23-06, 01:17 PM   #18
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Just simply state, " Its illegal for me to ride on sidewalks." If thats the case where you live. It will peak his interest and he'll likely ask questions and then you can educate without preaching.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:18 PM   #19
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This guy is lost, don't even bother wasting any time thinking about it. Go ride your bike.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:27 PM   #20
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This might be a good time to point out that people and their attitudes can change. For the past several years I have begun exposing myself to many activities that were completely new to me. Many of these, including cycling, backpacking, and skiing I had either never done or had not done in ages. I can vividly remember laughing at people using trekking poles while hiking to higher elevations. I laughed until I used them and realized the legitimate scientific benefit of the poles and how they were helping to preserve my knees! I can also vividly remember poking fun at cyclists in their "road" get ups and impatiently waiting for them to get "out of my way" so I could speed to where I was going. After all it is a damn road for cars, right? Well, as you might have gathered by now, I am viewing things in a much different way at this point. I suppose it comes down to becoming more open minded in my advancing years rather than retreating into extreme closed mindedness as some do. I am grateful for that and I intend to ride on the roads and hike into the mountains until they carry me away. Hopefully that young man will "get it" someday.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:31 PM   #21
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The average speed that people walk is 3-4 mph. If you ride your bike on the sidewalk at say 18-20mph, you are travelling 5-6 times as fast as people walking. I can't think of a road that bikes are allowed on that the average travelling speed of cars is 90mph (18x5).
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Old 06-23-06, 01:36 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catatonic
I usually point out that the sign says "speed limit" limit in this case referring to "maximum allowed speed" Therefore slower speeds are allowed.
Bam. That would be my point.

Interesting article I found:
http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/9826.0.html
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Old 06-23-06, 01:51 PM   #23
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I usually point out that the sign says "speed limit" limit in this case referring to "maximum allowed speed" Therefore slower speeds are allowed.
Exactly. For to long we have tolerated law breakers. Drive below the speed limit, bike below the speed limit. Do it in any lane. If the police aren't going to enforce our traffic laws and make the criminals slow down then we have to do it ourselves.
This is part of an ungoing argument with my wife about how I drive.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:54 PM   #24
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I was curious so I googled:
http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/9772.0.html

There was a case in Ohio where a bicyclist was given a ticket for failing to adhere to a posted minimum speed limit. The court decided that the cyclist was traveling at a reasonable and safe speed for a bicycle so no worries.

I'm not sure how you're going to answer a kid... other than to simply state that bicycles are traffic and he needs to learn to live with it. People aren't going to be convinced if they don't want to be convinced. All you can do is assert your rights.
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Old 06-23-06, 01:58 PM   #25
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If he says he has a right to drive at or ABOVE the speed LIMIT, ask him what he thinks the definition of LIMIT is. I had to take traffic school for speeding once, and I had to laugh when the teacher said something to the effect of someone walking 101' onto a 100' long pier. There's also trucks that can't get up to speed, etc. so he's being ignorant.

I had a similar case where a car blew through a stop sign in front of me. I yelled out "HELLO!" and a passenger yelled something out to me. It being a small side street, I figured they must live there and rode back until I saw their car parked. 3 teenagers of course. I simply said "did you notice the stop sign back there?" and the passenger kid told me I was a smaller vehicle and should watch out. He said this while standing on his skateboard in the middle of the road. The driver, however, apologized and said he'd be more careful.
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