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Old 12-04-07, 11:05 AM   #1
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Transportational Cyclist = Less Respect?

I've been riding my 13 mile round trip commute nearly every day for the past 2 years. For most of that time I was riding a fairly high end road bike, and carrying nothing but my cell phone and wallet (I transported clothing and food back and forth using my car a couple of times per week).

In that time, I've had very few problems with drivers.

But, for the last month, I've been commuting on my new Surly LHT. It's outfitted with full fenders, rack, and panniers. It also has very bright headlights and taillights (Dinotte for both, plus two PB Superflash). I wear cycling-specific clothing (bibs, tights, etc.), and ride pretty fast...so, presumably, I don't look like a "DUI cyclist".


It may be coincidence, but in the last week or so I've been yelled at several times for no particular reason. I was called "******" by a carload of kids, and told to "get off the road" by a guy last night.

And this morning I was yelled at to "get in the bike lane" - this happened in a spot where the bike lane ends at a freeway on-ramp. It's a 4-lane road, so I just move over and take the right lane across the bridge over the freeway. I caught up to the guy a third of a mile later and asked him if we had a problem. He said I should not be riding in the road - I responded that I was an experienced cyclist who knew the laws, and was riding where it was safest for me. He said he was a police officer, and that I shouldn't be riding where I was...then the light changed and he drove off.


Has anyone else experienced this? I would have thought that my appearance as a "transportational" cyclist would earn me less flak than if I appeared to be a "recreational" cyclist during rush hour. But, it seems to be just the opposite.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:18 AM   #2
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I think these things just go in cycles, and it's probably assuming too much to say your appearance is the cause. Maybe it's the holiday season and people are cranky, maybe it's just your week, who knows? But I don't think the type of people who yell at cyclists really pay attention to the details.

Heck, I ride a commuter setup too (rack, trunk, panniers, lights, etc.) and had a guy tell me I shouldn't be slowing him from getting to work when I'm just "out for a joy ride". Yeah, that's what I do on Tuesday mornings at 7 am in the middle of a research park when it's 40 degrees.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:20 AM   #3
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I'm not sure. It may be a coincidence. Or it could be the change in the seasons. Jackassery seems to go in cycles and I'm not sure it correlates to the way I'm dressed or the bike I'm riding. At least in my experience.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:24 AM   #4
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^^^^^^
Good points.

Perhaps it's just holiday stress kicking in.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:28 AM   #5
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Heck, I ride a commuter setup too (rack, trunk, panniers, lights, etc.) and had a guy tell me I shouldn't be slowing him from getting to work when I'm just "out for a joy ride". Yeah, that's what I do on Tuesday mornings at 7 am in the middle of a research park when it's 40 degrees.
That's funny!

Whenever I confront a motorist, I try to be respectful, but firm.

But, if they fail the Attitude Test, my standard reply is "Bite Me" (or, if the shoe fits, "Bite Me, Fattie" ).
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Old 12-04-07, 11:37 AM   #6
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It could be that you changed from an athlete to a dork? Not calling names.... but general public opinion of a bike with fenders and lit up with lights. Dunno.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:03 PM   #7
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See? That's the problem with riding where there's good weather--people will roll their windows down.

Around here, it's much too cold for drivers to even think of doing that. It could chill their latté. Thus, we don't get yelled at this time of year.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:19 PM   #8
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As my bike has built up with fenders,racks and bags, more lights, more reflectors, cars seem
to give me more room. So I see the inverse.
As a driver I too say to myself "get off the road" if somebody is out in the dark with no lights and no proper reflective clothing. I have only been commuting for a year but am amazed at the number of bikes out at night, often Friday and Saturday, that I see, or sorta see..lord help them..
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Old 12-04-07, 12:20 PM   #9
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I don't think most people readily distinguish between one "drop bar" bike and another, especially if the rider is "kitted" at all. The differences between an Orbea and LHT might be obvious to most members of this forum, but not to the general public. I vote coincidence.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl
See? That's the problem with riding where there's good weather--people will roll their windows down.

Around here, it's much too cold for drivers to even think of doing that. It could chill their latté. Thus, we don't get yelled at this time of year.
Ha! How funny (and true). However, I feel that instead of yelling they just drive dumber and closer to me...

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I don't think most people readily istinguish between one "drop bar" bike and another, especially if the rider is "kitted" at all. The differences between an Orbea and LHT might be obvious to most members of this forum, but not to the general public. I vote coincidence.
+1 I would venture to say that ppl have no real clue the difference between one setup and another.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:32 PM   #11
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I think coincidence too. Even as a cyclist when I'm driving I don't pay much attention to what kind of bikes people are riding... unless they're really nice bikes ;-)
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Old 12-04-07, 12:44 PM   #12
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My vote: Random flow of life
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Old 12-04-07, 12:49 PM   #13
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I find the flak I get depends on my speed. When I'm moving fast, I experience less "get off the road" b.s., probably because motorists feel less inconvenienced and/or have less opportunity to pull alongside and say anything. Clearly not a hard-and-fast rule, as I've had plenty of encounters when I'm well up to speed with traffic, but it seems to be the trend in my experience. It may just be you're moving a little more slowly when weighed down and the same thing is happening.

BTW, I seriously doubt the guy was a cop. Sounds like a made-up "I know better than you, so there" moment. I can't believe the sort of crap motorists dish out when I've confronted them. Once a driver explained the nifty "you have to leave enough room for a car to pass" law to me and I proceeded to correct her. She proceeded to tell me that, regardless of the law, she rides her bike up and down into the potholes along the far right edge of the road in order to stay out of traffic, and I should do the same. The comic imagery of this woman on her bicycle was too much -- her physical attributes suggested the last bike ride may have been on training wheels. And it's a good thing, too, or those potholes might have become much larger.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:57 PM   #14
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These problems do seem to run is cycles, but they also depend on what part of town you are in. When I'm in a neighborhood full of young guys driving pickup trucks with KKK flag decals and "Bush 04" bumper stickers, I know there is gonna be trouble.

I learned to ride with a heavy u-lock on my handlebars in those areas. If a redneck in a pickup truck trys to use his passenger door mirror to nudge me over the curb, I can usually catch up to him at the next red light. I knock on the driver's window with my u-lock, and invite him out for a "discussion" of manners.

Guess what? None of these guys want to get out of their trucks. Rednecks are only "brave" when they are in a trucks.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:01 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bikingtoteach View Post
... if somebody is out in the dark with no lights and no proper reflective clothing. I have only been commuting for a year but am amazed at the number of bikes out at night, often Friday and Saturday, that I see, or sorta see..lord help them..
It's encouraging to see them, because they soak up a lot of the accident statistics, making it safer for the rest of us.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:25 PM   #16
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It's encouraging to see them, because they soak up a lot of the accident statistics, making it safer for the rest of us.
That's an interesting way to look at it. And hilarious.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:34 PM   #17
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I don't seem to get a lot of problems around here, but there are a lot of commuters up this way. During the week it's less common to see a bike without panniers or a rack trunk or a milk crate strapped to the rack.
I find that among the local shopkeeps and employees, I get more respect because I'm always on my bike. Just the other day a new kid at the grocery said "you're riding your bike with all that?" (It was one bag of stuff, maybe 15 pounds.) The guy at the register piped up before I could answer and told him "this is nothing. I saw him ride off with a 30 pound bag of dog food, a bag of groceries and 2 cases of beer once."
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Old 12-04-07, 01:43 PM   #18
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a 30 pound bag of dog food, a bag of groceries and 2 cases of beer
Photos?
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Old 12-04-07, 01:53 PM   #19
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Try commuting in Deluxe Suburbia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf,_Maryland

Bike lanes? Ha!
Shoulders? Ha!
A single road uncongested? Ha!


I am forced to ride within the road on my six mile commute, hovering over the solid white line on the ride side of the road. The shoulder is minimal and full of entrance/exits to franchises; completely unrideable.
I get the insulting yell multiple times a day. Some try to push me off the road, some even drive close enough to smack my elbow with their side mirrior. I have had numorous physical conflicts with SUV's full of brahs thugging it out. This is all, of course, on purpose. I am after all slowing their commute to the one of six McDonalds in Waldorf. Route-301 spans eight miles through the heart of Waldorf. We have sixteen car dealerships, two Taco Bells, six McDonalds, two Jerrys Subs and Pizza, and three KFC's; all within eight miles.

We have a wonderful Hispanic condensation though. The only other commuters I make conversation with on the way to work. It makes commuting by bicycle worth it when I can help push an elderly man on a Huffy up a steep hill with his Daughter sitting on the top tube.

I could rant for an indefinite amount of time.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:54 PM   #20
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Because of Lance Armstrong's influence, ppl give more respect to someone who looks like a professional racer, someone who's in serious training and must not be disturbed because he might be the next TDF winner.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:58 PM   #21
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Anyone who is on the leading edge of change will garner the ire of
the public who will resist change at all cost. This is especially
true of the American public who are still addicted to cheap oil.

So it is with "Transportational Cyclist" & "Utility Cyclist" today.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:09 PM   #22
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These problems do seem to run is cycles, but they also depend on what part of town you are in. When I'm in a neighborhood full of young guys driving pickup trucks with KKK flag decals and "Bush 04" bumper stickers, I know there is gonna be trouble.

I learned to ride with a heavy u-lock on my handlebars in those areas. If a redneck in a pickup truck trys to use his passenger door mirror to nudge me over the curb, I can usually catch up to him at the next red light. I knock on the driver's window with my u-lock, and invite him out for a "discussion" of manners.

Guess what? None of these guys want to get out of their trucks. Rednecks are only "brave" when they are in a trucks.
Sounds to me like you may be contributing to your own problems by carrying a poor attitude around with you. I have lived all of my life in and around the South, my wife and her family are from a tiny rural town outside San Antonio, Texas... and I very very rarely see these "KKK flag decals" that you talk about. In my 44 years, I literally can count these decal sightings on one hand. I suspect that you have some preconceived notions that color your assessment of those around you.

Maybe you should give people a little more of a chance. If you spoke to me... heard my accent... you'd probably identify me as a card carrying KKK freak... but that's far from the case. I've rescued many people whom I found stranded on the road, and I help anyone who needs it. I don't care if they're white, black, brown, or purple. Hell, I'll even talk to people from New Jersey!

I've ridden the roads since the early 80's, and the vast majority of my run ins have been with irate morning cagers running a few minutes late for work... followed closely by joyriding teenagers of all stripes. I don't seem to get harassed by people from any particular race or social strata.

Lighten up a little, and maybe your neighbors will too.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:17 PM   #23
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Photos?
Didn't take any because it wasn't really difficult.

Drape the bag of dogfood over the rear rack like a garment pannier. Bungee front to back, because side to side it's not going anywhere. Place first case (12 bottles) of beer on front rack and strap down with cargo net, place sack of groceries on top. Run bungees from front of rack, over the grocery bag, up to handlebars. Strap second case of beer on top of dog food.

It's only through the parking lot and across the street to get to the store from my apartment. Under 1 mile r/t. I wouldn't dare go farther than that for fear of collapsing both my rims!
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Old 12-04-07, 02:17 PM   #24
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I think these things just go in cycles, and it's probably assuming too much to say your appearance is the cause. Maybe it's the holiday season and people are cranky, maybe it's just your week, who knows? But I don't think the type of people who yell at cyclists really pay attention to the details.
Yep, it's just a cyclical thing. Give it a few weeks and you'll know for sure.

I actually find drivers give me more space when I'm wearing the panniers than when I'm not. It's the old theory of "riding big" which is discussed in more detail in an article somewhere on the Internet.

That said, I know for a fact that transportational cyclists generally get less respect from people who call themselves cycling "advocates".
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Old 12-04-07, 02:34 PM   #25
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When I'm in a neighborhood full of young guys driving pickup trucks with KKK flag decals and "Bush 04" bumper stickers, I know there is gonna be trouble.
I guess you find what you expect *shrug* I haven't noticed any correlation between vehicle style and bumpers stickers with driving behavior, though to be honest I haven't recorded such correlations either. I've been buzzed and honked at aplenty by Volvos and Audis sporting "Kerry/Edwards" bumper stickers. Of the handful of times where I've needed some roadside assistance, the people who stop have always been Bubba (or his wife, in one instance) driving a pickup truck, oft times complete with beer cans rolling around in the back with the fishing poles.
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