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  1. #1
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    Why motorists get upset at bicyclists taking the lane

    Looking around these forums and elsewhere, it seems clear that bicyclists generally believe that motorists become irate when they have to slow down, and it is due to this inherent impatience that bicyclists are often scorned.

    I don't think that's actually true.

    I am a new bicyclist myself. I think I have a different perspective on it than someone who has been riding a bicycle all of their life.

    I drive a Corvette. I drive quite fast at times. I don't like to slow down. And before I started bicycling myself recently, I had a pretty dim view of bicyclists riding on the street.

    It wasn't because I'd have to slow down for them. It was because I thought they were doing something they shouldn't be doing _and_ inconveniencing me while they were at it. I don't like to slow down in my Corvette, but I don't mind it when it is justified. It bothers me only when I feel that it isn't justified.

    I've noticed, for example, that motorists don't seem to get upset at stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk. I can't think of when I've ever seen a motorist yell at a pedestrian to get off the street in this sort of circumstance.

    Yet if I inconvenience a motorist even slightly while taking the lane in my bicycle, they're liable to be irritated and honk their horn or yell. Bicyclists clearly get treated very differently. That much is obvious to me already.

    I believe the real cause is that most motorists (myself included) only ever used bicycles as children before they got a car. Parents teach their children to ride bicycles on the sidewalks as if they were pedestrians. So whatever the law actually says, most motorists know that you aren't supposed to ride a bicycle in the street where the cars go.

    They think that because they were raised to think that. They probably even got spanked if they did otherwise.

    And the state does very little to teach them what the law actually is when they get their licenses.

    I didn't even know taking the lane was legal myself until a few days ago.

    Motorists get irate at bicyclists primarily because they believe bicyclists aren't supposed to be riding in the street where the cars are at all. Forcing a motorist to slow down amplifies that irritation, but it's not actually the root cause.

    I can see where this is a difficult situation that's hard to untangle. Even if a motorist is told the actual law, it conflicts with how they were raised. So the typical reaction is going to be skepticism rather than acceptance. They'll think it's one of those weird outdated laws everybody ignores.

    So how do you fix that? Should parents have their children ride in the street in vehicular lanes so they can be raised to ride bicycles correctly according to the law? A 12 year old on a 35mph street surrounded by SUVs? Not very likely!

    I don't know what the answer is. But I think it's a positive step to understand what is actually going on rather than reflecting anger back at motorists and blaming it on them. It's not really their fault. The situation is the result of a complex issue, not a character flaw of the motorist (or the bicyclist).

    I hope for more progress on these sharing the road issues because I'm loving riding my bike.
    Last edited by SargonDragon; 05-22-14 at 08:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SargonDragon View Post
    Looking around these forums and elsewhere, it seems clear that bicyclists generally believe that motorists become irate when they have to slow down, and it is due to this inherent impatience that bicyclists are often scorned.

    I don't think that's actually true.

    I am a new bicyclist myself. I think I have a different perspective on it than someone who has been riding a bicycle all of their life.

    I drive a Corvette. I drive quite fast at times. I don't like to slow down. And before I started bicycling myself recently, I had a pretty dim view of bicyclists riding on the street.

    It wasn't because I'd have to slow down for them. It was because I thought they were doing something they shouldn't be doing _and_ inconveniencing me while they were at it. I don't like to slow down in my Corvette, but I don't mind it when it is justified. It bothers me only when I feel that it isn't justified.

    I've noticed, for example, that motorists don't seem to get upset at stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk. I can't think of when I've ever seen a motorist yell at a pedestrian to get off the street in this sort of circumstance.

    Yet if I inconvenience a motorist even slightly while taking the lane in my bicycle, they're liable to be irritated and honk their horn or yell. Bicyclists clearly get treated very differently. That much is obvious to me already.

    I believe the real cause is that most motorists (myself included) only ever used bicycles as children before they got a car. Parents teach their children to ride bicycles on the sidewalks as if they were pedestrians. So whatever the law actually says, most motorists know that you aren't supposed to ride a bicycle in the street where the cars go.

    They think that because they were raised to think that. They probably even got spanked if they did otherwise.

    And the state does very little to teach them what the law actually is when they get their licenses.

    I didn't even know taking the lane was legal myself until a few days ago.

    Motorists get irate at bicyclists primarily because they believe bicyclists aren't supposed to be riding in the street where the cars are at all. Forcing a motorist to slow down amplifies that irritation, but it's not actually the root cause.

    I can see where this is a difficult situation that's hard to untangle. Even if a motorist is told the actual law, it conflicts with how they were raised. So the typical reaction is going to be skepticism rather than acceptance. They'll think it's one of those weird outdated laws everybody ignores.

    So how do you fix that? Should parents have their children ride in the street in vehicular lanes so they can be raised to ride bicycles correctly according to the law? A 12 year old on a 35mph street surrounded by SUVs? Not very likely!

    I don't know what the answer is. But I think it's a positive step to understand what is actually going on rather than reflecting anger back at motorists and blaming it on them. It's not really their fault. The situation is the result of a complex issue, not a character flaw of the motorist (or the bicyclist).
    so I guess you are saying that an operator of a vehicle that weighs about 2000 lbs, and is licensed by the state they reside in, that they don't know that cyclists belong in the road... I guess, my feeling is if that is the case, they really shouldn't have a license to drive to begin with... also, I have thought that some activism should make sure the rights and responsibilities of bicycles should be mandatory on a drivers test so that drivers know what is expected.

    so also are there any bicycle lanes where you live? if so, wouldn't a driver get an idea that cyclists belong in the road?

    I actually think a driver that harasses a cyclist really does have a character flaw...

    not really their fault? don't you think that someone that controls a vehicle that can kill others should be a bit more in control of themselves? shouldn't they be held to a higher standard? I think what you are saying is just a bunch of psycho-babble... wonder if you are trying to justify your own problem of control while driving a car...

    now, a lot of my difficulties on the road, is usually not impatient drivers, I actually think its tied more to "timing" during an encounter.... drivers tend to misjudge the cyclists speed so they try to out run them before making a turn... or the road is a bit busy when a cyclist arrives at an intersection, where a driver is trying to make a left turn, doesn't see cyclist until the last second... that kind of thing.

  3. #3
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    In short, you got upset in your Corvette because you didn't know better. That's not really any different from what any of these experienced cyclists will tell you.

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    Some portion of every state’s driver license test should be dedicated to questions asked about cars and bicycles coexisting on the roadways however, such likely isn’t the case.

    When I obtained my driver’s license back in 1973, nothing was asked about bicycles coexisting with cars on roadways. THERE’S where the problem originates; inappropriate teaching and testing to obtain a driver’s license for a combustion engine vehicle.

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    I agree with some of what your saying... I think the lack of education truly effects the way some perceive cyclists... My boss, on one hand, in some ways, lacks the education but, on the other hand, he's just a jerk.

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    I talked yesterday with a guy that is only a driver and he didn't understand why cyclists were taking the lane.
    I explained him why and i believe he's started to understand the reasons.

    Communication is probably the best way to solve this problem. There are things that drivers don't understand about cyclists and vice versa.
    Everybody is getting upset on something that makes no sense the fact that 2-tons fast and relatively impact proof vehicles must share the road with 20 times lighter much slower and fragile vehicles. But since there is not much alternative solutions for the time being in most places... what is left is..
    Last edited by erig007; 05-22-14 at 09:17 PM.

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    Senior Member jpatkinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SargonDragon View Post
    Looking around these forums and elsewhere, it seems clear that bicyclists generally believe that motorists become irate when they have to slow down, and it is due to this inherent impatience that bicyclists are often scorned. I don't think that's actually true.
    Actually, I think motorists are more impatient than ignorant. And, FWIW, so are most cyclists and pedestrians. Humans are just impatient creatures, and the ones in the heaviest, most powerful conveyance win any given encounter. It really isn't that complicated.

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    Why has no one yet observed that there is a big difference between a motorist being upset at the mere presence of a bicycle 'on their road', and the obstacle, of a bicycle 'in their way!'. Seriously, do most motorists lose it over the sight of a cyclist who is riding FRAP? Maybe in Michigan, but not in any city remotely considered 'bike friendly'. In Portland, besides dedicated bike lanes, there are streets that have the entire right hand lane designated as a shared car/bike travel lane. Bikes can indeed "take the lane" and hold it, indefinitely, on these routes. Not even a Corvette averages more than any other kind of vehicle, including a bicycle in the Downtown Grid. So why use a Corvette as an example of anything. On roads where a Corvette might reasonably want to stretch its legs, a bicycle is not legally empowered to hold a vehicle lane for more time than is necessary to get clear of a road hazard. The o.p. IMO was a too long exercise in FAIL. The entire thread might be also, except for a couple of thoughtful posts that followed up. American drivers do indeed need more education about bicycles and they need to be disincentivised to act aggressively towards both bicycles and pedestrians in many parts of the country. Cyclists, however, can help the process by becoming confident bike handlers that do not need 3' of passing distance from cars, and also become mentally tough enough so as not to need 1/4 mile to recover sufficiently from the shock of finding a dead squirrel in the bike lane, so that they can return to it expediently, and leave the vehicle lane clear for faster traffic.

    H

  9. #9
    Senior Member Duane Behrens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    Why has no one yet observed that there is a big difference between a motorist being upset at the mere presence of a bicycle 'on their road', and the obstacle, of a bicycle 'in their way!'. Seriously, do most motorists lose it over the sight of a cyclist who is riding FRAP? Maybe in Michigan, but not in any city remotely considered 'bike friendly'. In Portland, besides dedicated bike lanes, there are streets that have the entire right hand lane designated as a shared car/bike travel lane. Bikes can indeed "take the lane" and hold it, indefinitely, on these routes. Not even a Corvette averages more than any other kind of vehicle, including a bicycle in the Downtown Grid. So why use a Corvette as an example of anything. On roads where a Corvette might reasonably want to stretch its legs, a bicycle is not legally empowered to hold a vehicle lane for more time than is necessary to get clear of a road hazard. The o.p. IMO was a too long exercise in FAIL. The entire thread might be also, except for a couple of thoughtful posts that followed up. American drivers do indeed need more education about bicycles and they need to be disincentivised to act aggressively towards both bicycles and pedestrians in many parts of the country. Cyclists, however, can help the process by becoming confident bike handlers that do not need 3' of passing distance from cars, and also become mentally tough enough so as not to need 1/4 mile to recover sufficiently from the shock of finding a dead squirrel in the bike lane, so that they can return to it expediently, and leave the vehicle lane clear for faster traffic.

    H
    Eff 'em. Give us dedicated 5-foot-wide bike lanes on each side and parallel to the highway . . . . and then watch us go all quiet, and polite, and faster than gridlock.

    It's not that difficult.

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    The dollar bill. It's the new penny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
    so also are there any bicycle lanes where you live? if so, wouldn't a driver get an idea that cyclists belong in the road?
    Not exactly. They get the idea that cyclists belong in the bike lane... which is on the shoulder away from the vehicle lanes just like side walks for pedestrians.

    I actually think a driver that harasses a cyclist really does have a character flaw...
    I do agree with that actually. My point is that the irritation that they're acting upon is not actually caused by a character flaw. When they do something hostile toward another person as a result of their irritation... yes, that is certainly a character flaw.

    I think what you are saying is just a bunch of psycho-babble... wonder if you are trying to justify your own problem of control while driving a car...
    That's an interesting response. And quite hostile.

    It seems likely that you're venting anger at me for what other motorists have done to you. I have never harassed a bicyclist. Not even a little.

  11. #11
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    Buddy, you just opened a can of worms on this forum ha ha (Least it was here and not the 41 or 33...)

    I drive and bike a fair bit, and I really do agree that it isn't a case of drivers just being impatient (although sometimes it is). There is a perception among some that we have no RIGHT to be on the road, whether it be because we don't have a motor, only two wheels, etc. In Ohio, in order to have a licence, the written test does cover cyclists law in brief, but I still get buzzed, honked at, sworn at, and periodically have thing thrown at me. Even when I'm in the bike lane. I think it sometimes comes down to us being more vulnerable and more personal targets that draws drivers ire compared to another car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
    Some portion of every state’s driver license test should be dedicated to questions asked about cars and bicycles coexisting on the roadways however, such likely isn’t the case.

    When I obtained my driver’s license back in 1973, nothing was asked about bicycles coexisting with cars on roadways. THERE’S where the problem originates; inappropriate teaching and testing to obtain a driver’s license for a combustion engine vehicle.
    I agree that this is definitely part of the problem.

    However, I suspect that just getting it into the drivers education and license testing wouldn't actually help all that much. By the time people are getting their drivers licenses, it's too late for that information to really be absorbed. It's hard for it to stick because it's the reverse of how they were raised to think bicycles should be ridden growing up.

    In order for the general populace to really get it, they need to learn and have exposure early.

    I'm suggesting that the problem at its core is that they actually do learn and have exposure early... to the wrong way! And it's hard to undo that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by erig007 View Post
    I talked yesterday with a guy that is only a driver and he didn't understand why cyclists were taking the lane.
    I explained him why and i believe he's started to understand the reasons.

    Communication is probably the best way to solve this problem. There are things that drivers don't understand about cyclists and vice versa.
    I've been talking with my friends lately about this, too. And I had similar results. Some knew about it already, many didn't.

    Some were pretty shocked and didn't seem to believe that it was really true. I hope I managed to get through to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    On roads where a Corvette might reasonably want to stretch its legs
    Actually, I take my Corvette to race tracks and autocross events to stretch its legs, not the public roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpcleary View Post
    Buddy, you just opened a can of worms on this forum ha ha (Least it was here and not the 41 or 33...)
    Ha! Apparently so!

    I only just joined this forum, and my reception has been generally less than friendly so far. I probably won't be staying long.

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    To be fair, drivers are always pissed at each other, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hummingbird Cyb View Post
    To be fair, drivers are always pissed at each other, too.
    Favorite observation I've ever heard: "You ever notice how cyclists are always smiling? Drivers and Joggers never smile!"

    They're cooped up inside a box, not getting the endorphins!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    This type of thread always reminds me of this humorous video about a motorist that hates to slow down.
    Why do people hate cyclists? - YouTube

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    In just about every conversation I have with a non-cyclist when they learn I do a lot of riding they say something like "why do you guys all wear those tight pants and ride two abreast in the middle of the road?"

    It's actually a good question because quite often I see that myself around here. In these cases, there's no reason at all to "take the lane" they're just being obnoxious - they have a clear bike lane and just choose to ride like that. In fact I ride with a guy from time to time who chooses to ride outside the bike lane a lot. Cars are forced to navigate around him and it's aggravating watching it. People get pissed but there's a big biking culture around here so people tend to put up with it.

    Anyway, I believe much of the reason motorists get upset over this is because many cyclists take advantage and abuse it.

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    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
    It's actually a good question because quite often I see that myself around here. In these cases, there's no reason at all to "take the lane" they're just being obnoxious - they have a clear bike lane and just choose to ride like that. In fact I ride with a guy from time to time who chooses to ride outside the bike lane a lot. Cars are forced to navigate around him and it's aggravating watching it. People get pissed but there's a big biking culture around here so people tend to put up with.
    Do we actually need a reason to take the lane? The only thing that comes to my mind is the FRAP law - you must ride on the far right of the lane unless it is unsafe to do so. We have protected bike lanes in some parts of the city, but I often choose to ride on the main road to avoid people on wheelchair and pedestrian who "mistakenly" use the bike lanes. And it is legal.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    Quote Originally Posted by SargonDragon View Post
    Looking around these forums and elsewhere, it seems clear that bicyclists generally believe that motorists become irate when they have to slow down, and it is due to this inherent impatience that bicyclists are often scorned.

    I don't think that's actually true.

    I am a new bicyclist myself. I think I have a different perspective on it than someone who has been riding a bicycle all of their life.

    I drive a Corvette. I drive quite fast at times. I don't like to slow down. And before I started bicycling myself recently, I had a pretty dim view of bicyclists riding on the street.

    It wasn't because I'd have to slow down for them. It was because I thought they were doing something they shouldn't be doing _and_ inconveniencing me while they were at it. I don't like to slow down in my Corvette, but I don't mind it when it is justified. It bothers me only when I feel that it isn't justified.

    I've noticed, for example, that motorists don't seem to get upset at stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk. I can't think of when I've ever seen a motorist yell at a pedestrian to get off the street in this sort of circumstance.

    Yet if I inconvenience a motorist even slightly while taking the lane in my bicycle, they're liable to be irritated and honk their horn or yell. Bicyclists clearly get treated very differently. That much is obvious to me already.

    I believe the real cause is that most motorists (myself included) only ever used bicycles as children before they got a car. Parents teach their children to ride bicycles on the sidewalks as if they were pedestrians. So whatever the law actually says, most motorists know that you aren't supposed to ride a bicycle in the street where the cars go.

    They think that because they were raised to think that. They probably even got spanked if they did otherwise.

    And the state does very little to teach them what the law actually is when they get their licenses.

    I didn't even know taking the lane was legal myself until a few days ago.

    Motorists get irate at bicyclists primarily because they believe bicyclists aren't supposed to be riding in the street where the cars are at all. Forcing a motorist to slow down amplifies that irritation, but it's not actually the root cause.

    I can see where this is a difficult situation that's hard to untangle. Even if a motorist is told the actual law, it conflicts with how they were raised. So the typical reaction is going to be skepticism rather than acceptance. They'll think it's one of those weird outdated laws everybody ignores.

    So how do you fix that? Should parents have their children ride in the street in vehicular lanes so they can be raised to ride bicycles correctly according to the law? A 12 year old on a 35mph street surrounded by SUVs? Not very likely!

    I don't know what the answer is. But I think it's a positive step to understand what is actually going on rather than reflecting anger back at motorists and blaming it on them. It's not really their fault. The situation is the result of a complex issue, not a character flaw of the motorist (or the bicyclist).

    I hope for more progress on these sharing the road issues because I'm loving riding my bike.
    i don't see any problem here... pretty fair assessment of the situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Do we actually need a reason to take the lane? The only thing that comes to my mind is the FRAP law - you must ride on the far right of the lane unless it is unsafe to do so. We have protected bike lanes in some parts of the city, but I often choose to ride on the main road to avoid people on wheelchair and pedestrian who "mistakenly" use the bike lanes. And it is legal.
    not in oregon. ef the mandatory sidepath law.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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    Today I saw somebody honk at, then "storm" by a car that was parking, even though they had their signal out and were allowed to park where they were parking.

    I think drivers are more annoyed when they have to slow down for something they didn't expect, than for any other reason. You expect to have to stop for a stop sign. You expect to have to stop for peds on a cross walk. But you might not count on being held up for a few seconds behind somebody parking their car, or a cyclist, even though there's nothing unusual about those sorts of things, other than that they don't happen constantly every day. It's not that you don't know people are allowed to park cars or ride bikes, it's that you don't want them to when you want to keep driving.

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    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    not in oregon. ef the mandatory sidepath law.
    That stinks. Glad Washington State has no such ridiculous law.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Do we actually need a reason to take the lane? The only thing that comes to my mind is the FRAP law - you must ride on the far right of the lane unless it is unsafe to do so. We have protected bike lanes in some parts of the city, but I often choose to ride on the main road to avoid people on wheelchair and pedestrian who "mistakenly" use the bike lanes. And it is legal.
    We have really good bike lanes here. And I've never personally experienced a wheelchair in the bike lane. The occasional jogger - yes.

    If there's a completely clear, perfectly good bike lane, yes we actually need a reason to take the lane.

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