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Old 06-05-09, 12:56 PM   #1
cyclezen
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Why are So Many American Drivers Anti-cycling?

the recent thread about favorite place to cycle - Paradise Visited - prompted this musing...

Why are so many American cagers SOOOO anti-cycling?
Most of Europe respects and appreciates 'cycling' (with the usually provisos and exceptions).
The rest of the world mostly couldn't subsist without the large transport and movment element cycling still provides.
So why are American drivers so hateful of cyclists? Spitefulness because someone else has joy in their lives? Big screen LCD still tooo small? what is it?

Yesterday, while on my weekly local bimble across the open coastal land tracts in the area, I passed many walkers, some horseback riders, a few other mtb'rs. All were courteous, to a fault. Where I expected to ride off into the high grass to circumnavigate a walkin pair with 2 dogs, they saw me and stepped off the trail AND then apologized for getting in my way. I was gonna apologize for having to make them vary their walk...
Why is it so different on a roadway, where cagers could easily 'avoid' issue or slow for what might be a milli-fraction of a second and have everyone be on their way without fuss, insult or injury?
Why the Drama, Macho (even from women...) chest-puffing and 'outta my way biker scum' attitude?
It strikes me that of all the people I passed yesterday while on the trails, with smiles given both ways; many of these same people would also be the vicious snipers on the road.
How ***?

You Canadians, howzit up there? Your thoughts?

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Old 06-05-09, 01:06 PM   #2
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I believe it is because we have an over inflated view of liberty. That is, we have been taught that liberty is worth, defending, protecting, dying for, etc. At the same time we have not been taught in equal measure that responsibility to others should be equally valued. Hence, when the typical cager climbs into his or her two ton monster, they believe (not think, but believe) they have a God given right to the road, and that anything that interferes with this is wrong, disdainful, evil, etc. Remember this is a nation that has in it's history the notion of manifest destiny.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:09 PM   #3
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We also live life at a more frentic pace than most of the world. Anything that slows us down as we rush towards our heart attacks is an irritant.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:15 PM   #4
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It's pretty simple, really. It's the same reason that there's not only a maximum, but also a minimum speed on the freeways in many places. People view their travel from point A to point B without any disruption for any reason as a right and not a privilege. Anything that represents a potential impingement on that right is viewed not only with disrespect, but often with active hatred. It's not just bikes that are representative, but things like speed limits, stop signs and lights, pedestrian crosswalks, etc.

I remember seeing a movie during my drivers training. It was, if I recall correctly, Goofy as a driver. Behind the wheel he was an aggressive, speeding jerk. Outside the car, he was a bewhildered pedestrian. Conditions have not changed.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:24 PM   #5
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Read the book 'Traffic' by Tom Vanderbilt. In short, his theory is that once we travel too fast to be able to see each others faces and recognize one another as human beings, civility goes out the window. You cease to be a person and you are just something that is in the way. Our brains evolved to be able to negotiate interactions with one another at a much slower pace than is demanded when you are travelling at 20mph or faster.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:38 PM   #6
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Why do so many bicycle riders refer to automobile drivers as "cagers"?

Either way it's simply showing distain for people who are different from you. It's just one more thing to add to the religious, racial, and ethnic bigotry that I see every day. Why does it surprise you?
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Old 06-05-09, 01:47 PM   #7
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How many cyclists also own cars? I'd bet a lot more of us are BOTH cyclists and "cagers." If I drive my bike to meet other riders, what am I?

Are all cyclists in cager mode courteous to cyclists? Are all cagers in cyclist mode hostile and resentful of cagers? Why even use the term "cagers?"

Cars are a fact of life. No matter how vitriolic cyclists get, cars will remain, and drivers will need to improve. Our lot when we are cyclists is to become better at dealing with cars safely, by constant vigilance, understanding the needs of drivers, doing our part to share the road, and exercising careful judgment. And, when drivers, to exercise the same virtues.

I think Vanderbilt has it right, but since we are aware of the problem, it's up to us to each resolve it for ourselves.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:50 PM   #8
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Why do so many bicycle riders refer to automobile drivers as "cagers"?

Either way it's simply showing distain for people who are different from you. It's just one more thing to add to the religious, racial, and ethnic bigotry that I see every day. Why does it surprise you?
My use of the word "cagers" was not meant in a disdainful way. Rather, much like calling myself a "rider" (instead of bicycle rider) or "hop head" (instead of one who appreciates the floral aroma of hops) it is simply a slang term used with a body of individuals who understand it's meaning (those who ride in vehicle that form a cage around them as opposed to those that ride in a more exposed manner, i.e., cyclist). BTW, I become a "cager" when I drive my own car and would refer to myself as such.
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Old 06-05-09, 02:10 PM   #9
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Here in the UK- There has been a change of attitude towards cyclists over the past 5 years or so. It seemed to start with a re-surgence of people realisg that they ought to get fit. Go to the Gym- Start Jogging- Start cycling. This has given a change of attitude to "Most" car drivers in that either cycle themselves- or have friends and family that cycle.

And those that still do not respect cyclist's- you report to the Police and with Luck- The officer you report to- either cycles or have Friends and family that do.

Then on top of that- We have cycle lanes all over the place. Not just the MUP's for everyone- Dedicated cycle lanes in all the major towns and cities. Cyclists get respect from everyone.
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Old 06-05-09, 02:13 PM   #10
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NOS88, you might just use it as a term, but I bet there are a lot of others who use it in a much more pejorative sense. If I'm a driver, I'm as unique as a driver as I am as a person. But if when a driver I'm a cager, then all the generalizations (99% negative) about cagers that I read on this forum and others, becomes implicitly applied to me. If I feel that way, why wouldn't other drivers feel that way, and not being cyclists, show an order of magnitude less sympathy?

I think it should not be used.
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Old 06-05-09, 02:15 PM   #11
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It's pretty simple, really. It's the same reason that there's not only a maximum, but also a minimum speed on the freeways in many places. People view their travel from point A to point B without any disruption for any reason as a right and not a privilege. Anything that represents a potential impingement on that right is viewed not only with disrespect, but often with active hatred.
+1

When people, even friends, find out I'm an active cyclist, it doesn't take long for them to comment, "gosh, I hope you're not like the ones that ride two abreast/slow me down/etc."
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Old 06-05-09, 02:23 PM   #12
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"Cagers" ...good...it's a little more specific to me and indicates a certain "type" of driver...maybe one who shouldn't BE driving in the first place. Cager speeds, drinks and drives, flips other drivers off, buzzes riders, lays on the horn and maybe doesn't even have a license and/or insurance. Cager might text or use their phone illegally.

You get the idea...
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Old 06-05-09, 02:24 PM   #13
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<...>
You Canadians, howzit up there? Your thoughts?
Having had the privilege of living in Marin Co., CA for 6.5 years before returning to central Canada, I feel I am in a position to compare a bit... and unfortunately there's not much difference I can pick out!

In my more generous moments, I try to rationalize this seemingly malignant attitude to cyclists as simply the result of a subconscious adaptation to the speed the cars travel at (certainly nothing as lofty as conscious views of liberty and so forth!) It's possible car drivers steadily get used to their rate of speed and then they come upon a "relatively" slow bicycle - with a greater speed differential than the fellow cyclists, horseback riders, and pedestrians cyclezen passed - and they are suddenly faced with too many decisions to be made in too short a time w/o it causing them distress. They may manage to lift off the throttle, even swerve aside a tad and touch the brakes, and out of shock and fear, like Goofy, the thumb immediately reacts by squeezing the horn. (the middle finger may also react in a different manner)

An average driver likely doesn't look far enough ahead to take sufficient cues to prevent this sense of being harried ( remember Lucille Ball on the bakery assembly line?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wp3m1vg06Q ) I put it down to a state of complacency and lack of proficiency more than deliberate hate of cyclists.

That's me being generous though. I still hate handing over my life and welfare to anyone blowing past me. Hate it.
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Old 06-05-09, 03:07 PM   #14
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I saw a special on TV a few years back that showed a study measuring physical stress levels in individuals from all walks of life going through different daily experiences in the workplace and in their personal lives. Across the board being stuck in traffic scored highest. It's not a coincidence that people prone to anxiety attacks often find that driving in heavy traffic is a "trigger".

So...put simply, driving is not an enjoyable thing for many American people to do to start with. On the other hand, most cyclists enjoy biking. Mix these two groups together on the road...
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Old 06-05-09, 04:09 PM   #15
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Frankly, I think it goes both ways. Yes, I have problems with the occasional driver, but then I see a lot of riders who have absolutely no interest in the law either. Both groups have a much smaller subset that, with good reason, irritate the other group. Unfortunately, we are known by our radical co riders/drivers.
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Old 06-05-09, 05:37 PM   #16
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... Across the board being stuck in traffic scored highest. It's not a coincidence that people prone to anxiety attacks often find that driving in heavy traffic is a "trigger".

So...put simply, driving is not an enjoyable thing for many American people to do to start with. On the other hand, most cyclists enjoy biking. Mix these two groups together on the road...
We love our cars but hate typical urban or suburban rush hour driving. In a normal economic situation, an easy, low-stress commute is a significant factor in my job search. I am currently working only two days per week until the company can get some real funding, but the commute is a mostly-delightful 7 miles each way, easily done via various combinations of bicycle, running shoes, buses, and trains.
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Old 06-05-09, 06:14 PM   #17
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"Cagers" ...good...it's a little more specific to me and indicates a certain "type" of driver...maybe one who shouldn't BE driving in the first place. Cager speeds, drinks and drives, flips other drivers off, buzzes riders, lays on the horn and maybe doesn't even have a license and/or insurance. Cager might text or use their phone illegally.

You get the idea...
But if as NOS88 claims "cager" is just a slang term for a driver and it carries no pejorative intent, then you've just accused all drivers of drinking and driving, speeding, and buzzing cyclists, et cetera. Do you do these things when you drive a car? I only do a few of them, speeding and phoning. Phoning, btw, is not illegal yet in my state.

If this is not you, I would think you'd want to refrain from using it and proliferating more separation.

Cars on roads are a fact of life. First, if you own a car, them is us. We need to learn to live with them, not attempt to browbeat them out of existence. That will fail.
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Old 06-05-09, 06:24 PM   #18
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Frankly, I think it goes both ways. Yes, I have problems with the occasional driver, but then I see a lot of riders who have absolutely no interest in the law either. Both groups have a much smaller subset that, with good reason, irritate the other group. Unfortunately, we are known by our radical co riders/drivers.
That's what I think too.

There's another thread regarding a 3' rule. My comment on that one was that it doesn't impact the majority of drivers because the huge majority of drivers try to give us 3' anyway. Unfortunately, there exists a minority of drivers who are jerks and try to pass us as closely as possible. Put those same people on bicycles and they'd still be jerks.

Unfortunately, those folks, rather than the huge polite majority, are the ones who tend to stick out in our minds.
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Old 06-05-09, 07:35 PM   #19
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Could it be the environment

HI,
I was very lucky to live in Southern Spain for 5+ years , and I noticed a difference in Mentality from Americans to Spanish People.
They are more Kicked Back and are very understanding, they value your freindship,they go out of their way to stop and help each other even strangers.
They don't kill people in rage they may shrug and walk away .
I was a nervous wreck when I first arrived back in the USA the traffic was more aggresive, and you had to wonder if someone was going to mug .
I ve seen alot of that road rage Locally it starts as soon as they get in the car, and if the light turns green they honk at you to get going. Most people are not leaving their homes on time so they are trying to catch up by speeding and beating lights. How many people get enough sleep...
I believe that many Americans are pretty stressed out from day to day time constraints and our life style maybe to fast for our own good ,with very little down time .
Its something we are accustomed too, but it may not be good.
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Old 06-05-09, 08:06 PM   #20
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I don't think they are anti-cyclist, I just don't think they have a clue.
Up here is NY I only come across a brain dead motorist a few times/yr - actually less often when cycling then when driving. The worst drivers are those puling big trailers - they give some room for the vehicle and then pull the trailer over on top of you.
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Old 06-05-09, 09:57 PM   #21
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Around this neck of the woods, the Cager crowd seems to develop a respect for you if you follow the Rules of the Road. I take the same route to work when I ride the 12 mile route to the office. I stop at all of the stop signs and lights, use the hand signals. Other people travel along the same route, at roughly the same time. When they see how you ride, the give you the space you need and the right-of-way you deserve.

I have seen plenty of other riders who blow right through a stop light or sign and don't think a thing of it. Then there are the ones who ride on the wrong side of the pavement. They need to review the Rules of the Road! Unfortunately they are the ones who give the rest of us a bad name.

For the most part, the drivers in the Midwest are courteous.

I'm a cager myself. Sometimes a cager with an attached bike!
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Old 06-06-09, 12:13 AM   #22
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would like to just let this take its own way around the block
but soz not to have deflection/redirection happen and since I was 1st to use 'cager'.
yes, alicestrong and I are in the same place on this 'term'
really, does anyone think that any of us (who write here) hold ALL auto/motor vehicle drivers to this term?
lets be real
the cager element is a segment of the whole, as are cyclists who ignore the good sense of following traffic laws and good sense.
all comments about the thread subject are valid, since they are a POV. But gettin all huffy about the term 'cagers' is a little like being friends with Bruce the shark...
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Old 06-06-09, 03:49 AM   #23
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"Cagers" ...good...it's a little more specific to me and indicates a certain "type" of driver...maybe one who shouldn't BE driving in the first place. Cager speeds, drinks and drives, flips other drivers off, buzzes riders, lays on the horn and maybe doesn't even have a license and/or insurance. Cager might text or use their phone illegally.

You get the idea...
The term "cager" might also imply some pity for those entrapped in their car; kind of like a roadie calling a fellow cyclist a "Fred."
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Old 06-06-09, 03:55 AM   #24
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I saw a special on TV a few years back that showed a study measuring physical stress levels in individuals from all walks of life going through different daily experiences in the workplace and in their personal lives. Across the board being stuck in traffic scored highest. It's not a coincidence that people prone to anxiety attacks often find that driving in heavy traffic is a "trigger".

So...put simply, driving is not an enjoyable thing for many American people to do to start with. On the other hand, most cyclists enjoy biking. Mix these two groups together on the road...
I once attended a lecture on stress and the psychiatrist speaking said immobilization was, as I recall, the most potent stressor. So even traveling at a high rate of speed, a cager is still physically immobile. IMO, the stress is even worse when stuck in traffic. Just note how many BF threads are devoted to riding through intersections ahead of stopped traffic.
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Old 06-06-09, 04:11 AM   #25
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would like to just let this take its own way around the block
but soz not to have deflection/redirection happen and since I was 1st to use 'cager'.
yes, alicestrong and I are in the same place on this 'term'
really, does anyone think that any of us (who write here) hold ALL auto/motor vehicle drivers to this term?
lets be real
the cager element is a segment of the whole, as are cyclists who ignore the good sense of following traffic laws and good sense.
all comments about the thread subject are valid, since they are a POV. But gettin all huffy about the term 'cagers' is a little like being friends with Bruce the shark...
The message can be spoiled by the delivery. There are common descriptors in the american language that are ment first a formost to denigrate. Doughtnut Dolly, Redneck, Cager, ****** and others to many to mention. When a discussion is started using one of these part of the message is drowned in the background noise. Many may assume these words to just be a part of normal everyday language but they are not. They project an attitude from the messenger to the listener that convey's as much information as the message itself.

We live in a polorizing world where issues become black or white, us or them, rational or stupid. Beware of those phrases in your everyday language that separate and isolate. They close the mind............on both sides of a discussion. After all, you wouldn't want to hear around the water cooler a discussion about the "arrogant" bicyclists that one of my coworkers encountered 3 wide on his drive last weekend.

This is in no way ment to be an attack on anyone. We all use phrases that at times are less than optimum to our message. It's just my opinion.


edit: I guess you can't use that word here in the forums but is was an example of what some might call members of the gay community, and it still serves as a good example.
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