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General perception....

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General perception....

Old 09-11-07, 04:43 PM
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barndoor
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General perception....

When I talk to people about my commuting, I always hear the bad things about cyclists in return...

"I almost ran over a guy"....or "Some idiot filtered up beside me and fell over at the light" , or "I got caught behind a big group of you cyclists on so and so road and they wouldn't let me pass"..... it's always the negative I hear......

They also always seem to mention the clothing....the spandex, the helmet, the gloves , the shoes, etc.....
Seems there is a general "uppity" , sweeping generalization of cyclists when I talk to non-cyclists. Very hard to overcome and very disheartening.....

It makes me VERY defensive when I'm on the road.... I try to not wear gaudy clothing or "ignore" motorists that I know are riding right behind me....I usually acknowledge their presense by waving them by me when it's safe....or sometimes I just pull over and let them pass.....they'll usually wave a friendly wave in return....usually...

I hate being lumped into a group to which I don't really belong...

*rant over*
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Old 09-11-07, 04:51 PM
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Hmmmm. Everyone I talk to is really positive. In fact, they are often ashamed that they don't ride. I further shame them by explaining how I ride all winter.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:06 PM
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My reactions are more like pinkrobe's than barndoor's. (Now there's a sentence you won't read very often ) Co-workers say stuff like, "I wish I was in good shape like you are." Or they'll talk about how much money I must be saving with high gas prices. But we don't have very many spandex riders around here, so I think their perception of cyclists is more the commuter and utility riders.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:38 PM
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reaction? 1/2 the team I work with rides their bicycles in. It's generally "cool, how was YOUR commute"

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Old 09-11-07, 05:43 PM
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Why are you so concerned what some driver thinks? Ride your bike.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
I hate being lumped into a group to which I don't really belong...
You people are all the same.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:21 PM
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Just human nature, just look at this forum for examples.
Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
When I talk to people about my commuting, I always hear the bad things about cyclists in return...

"I almost ran over a guy"....or "Some idiot filtered up beside me and fell over at the light" , or "I got caught behind a big group of you cyclists on so and so road and they wouldn't let me pass"..... it's always the negative I hear......

They also always seem to mention the clothing....the spandex, the helmet, the gloves , the shoes, etc.....
Seems there is a general "uppity" , sweeping generalization of cyclists when I talk to non-cyclists. Very hard to overcome and very disheartening.....

It makes me VERY defensive when I'm on the road.... I try to not wear gaudy clothing or "ignore" motorists that I know are riding right behind me....I usually acknowledge their presense by waving them by me when it's safe....or sometimes I just pull over and let them pass.....they'll usually wave a friendly wave in return....usually...

I hate being lumped into a group to which I don't really belong...

*rant over*
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Old 09-11-07, 07:32 PM
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"Why are you so concerned what some driver thinks? Ride your bike."
Nice. I don't know what your commute is, but mine is 54 miles round trip...I get passed by quite a few vehicles on narrow roads...so I think I should be concerned just a bit, don't you think? .... but thanks for the advice...

Don't get me wrong....not everyone is this way....it just seems moreso lately....I think it might be the "racers" that train in this manner....

Anyway.....I try to be a "good" commuter....staying as far to the right as possible, not blocking traffic, using the "golden rule" .... I'm doing what I can to be a good example and not piss drivers off..... but It's starting to get to me when someone relates a negative story about an inconsiderate cyclist/cyclists ... it feels like I'm always defending cyclists....and it gets old....I hate to not say anything...but when I don't defend, I start to get a little ticked off....
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Old 09-11-07, 08:02 PM
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You are right it is just a perception issue.

When confronted with issues like those presented in your quotes I quickly ask how many bad car drivers did they see on the way to where ever. Generally they complain about a few bad merges and someone who cut a stop sign or blocked the entire street making a left turn when they shouldn't have.

I'd estimate there are fewer bad cyclists than there are bad drivers, but cyclists being rarer stand out more in memory. Ask a bit about highway traffic and whoever thought negatively about bike commuters before will love them relatively to car drivers.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:25 PM
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Don't your drivers hate each other too?
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Old 09-11-07, 08:59 PM
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Ask them this. How often is it that you find yourself taking that very last parking spot and consider yourself lucky? Well, whenever that happens you have a cyclist to thank somewhere and that more than makes up for any inconvenience you might suffer on the road.
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Old 09-12-07, 05:14 AM
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I'm not terribly concerned what others think. I don't really talk to people about how I get to work. I didn't talk about how my drive was when I was using a car unless something interesting happened. Riding to work was kind of a topic of conversation for a while, but after a couple of years, people get tired of talking about it, and after a handful of car drivers in the building have been injured in accidents and you haven't, they stop telling you you're going to get hurt out there.

The drivers around here are exceptional. They give me no hassles and I try to be as visible, predictable and consistent as possible, I obey all the laws and I'm courteous to the other road users. I'm out there every day, and I've had people say they see me nearly every day. I doubt the drivers around here see most other riders as consistently. So hopefully they at least realize that there are some riders that are not road-hogging idiots (I've seen those types around too). But in the end I don't care that much as long as they continue to be good drivers.

I see from other posts here that there are idiots right around where I live, and I'm sure I'll encounter one someday, but they're very rare exceptions.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:47 AM
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I think it's like anything else - well behaved cyclists blend in with traffic, while morons stand out, get noticed, and form perceptions in people's minds. Additionally, cyclists (I include myself) do often ride "selfishly", not sharing narrow lanes and the like, although the "selfish" motivation is often one of wanting to stay alive, and drivers don't always see the rationale.

To address some of your points:

1) The guy who falls over while filtering: could be he was taking evasive maneuvers from a motorist? Could be he doesn't know how to ride well? Everybody has to begin somewhere.

2) The guy they almost hit: OK...don't hit him? Depends what the cyclist did. Motorists always think we're at fault for simply being there.

3) The line of riders who won't pull over: I see the point here, if you have a narrow 2-lane road and you're riding way under the speed limit I think it's incumbent upon a line to help out the ambient traffic. If you don't support that behavior, don't feel compelled to deffend it. Mention that, like any group, ours has bad apples too.

4) The clothing: Point out that not everybody feels the need for OCP-ness, or that some of the clothing and such is purely functional. It's not always a fashion statement.

In the end, some people admire us, some people hate us. Best thing you can do to better the perception of cyclists is to ride predictably, assertively, and cooperatively with traffic. And if you can clear up some misconceptions among your friends, that's cool too, because it might make them less likely to hit somebody else.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:04 AM
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The first comment I get in the elevator after getting to work is "How far do you ride?". I say "It's only 4.5miles". They make a face like they've never heard of someone riding that far before. I wouldn't say my comments are negative. Just not overly positive either.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:09 AM
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I think your defense should be something along the lines of yea, jerks are jerks no matter if they are on a bike or in a car ... and then relate your latest story of a JAM for them.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
3) The line of riders who won't pull over: I see the point here, if you have a narrow 2-lane road and you're riding way under the speed limit I think it's incumbent upon a line to help out the ambient traffic. If you don't support that behavior, don't feel compelled to deffend it. Mention that, like any group, ours has bad apples too.
I'm not sure I'd call these guys bad apples without more information, any more than I'd call a car driver a bad apple if he didn't pull off the road to "allow" a pass. If they were taking up the entire roadway, then yeah they "didn't let him pass" but I expect what the motorist really meant is "they didn't get out of my way as soon as I came up behind them."

It's the responsibility of the overtaking driver to wait for a safe opportunity and then pull around the slower vehicle(s). It's not the responsibility of all road users to make way for people who want to go faster than them.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:56 AM
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Act proficiently and be treated as such 90% of the time.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
When I talk to people about my commuting, I always hear the bad things about cyclists in return...

"I almost ran over a guy"....or "Some idiot filtered up beside me and fell over at the light" , or "I got caught behind a big group of you cyclists on so and so road and they wouldn't let me pass"..... it's always the negative I hear......

They also always seem to mention the clothing....the spandex, the helmet, the gloves , the shoes, etc.....
Seems there is a general "uppity" , sweeping generalization of cyclists when I talk to non-cyclists. Very hard to overcome and very disheartening.....

It makes me VERY defensive when I'm on the road.... I try to not wear gaudy clothing or "ignore" motorists that I know are riding right behind me....I usually acknowledge their presense by waving them by me when it's safe....or sometimes I just pull over and let them pass.....they'll usually wave a friendly wave in return....usually...

I hate being lumped into a group to which I don't really belong...

*rant over*
Hi Barndoor,

I'm sorry your co-workers are so negative. I work in a department filled with non-cyclists, aside from a roadie who is not a commuter. Aside from looking at me as if I were nuts, I don't get that negativity. Of course I don't "push" cycling into conversation unless someone else brings it up.

As for being part of a group, you DO belong to one. You are a cyclist. Just because there are cyclists that ride recklessly or - God forbid! - slow a motorist doesn't mean you shouldn't be proud to be one.

Some folks always assume the worst of people who devote time, energy, and money to a specialization. Notice all the nasty names for doctors, lawyers, writers, teachers, computer programmers, etc. And the same style of disparagement applies to hobbies. I once had someone tell me to my face that I "must hate all people who don't play chess." The 'uppity' comments on cycling strike me as a different song but the same note.

As for not wearing gaudy clothing, I'd hate to give up my pink and black Fat Cyclist jersey. :-)

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Old 09-12-07, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
"Why are you so concerned what some driver thinks? Ride your bike."
Nice. I don't know what your commute is, but mine is 54 miles round trip...I get passed by quite a few vehicles on narrow roads...so I think I should be concerned just a bit, don't you think? .... but thanks for the advice...
Er, well, see, there's the thing -- and your opening rant really illustrated this well, I thought. You can be concerned about what they think if you want to...but you don't control what they think, nor (to be honest) do you greatly influence it. You "interact" with them for a few seconds and that's it.

Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
Don't get me wrong....not everyone is this way....it just seems moreso lately....I think it might be the "racers" that train in this manner....
What are you talking about?

Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
Anyway.....I try to be a "good" commuter....staying as far to the right as possible, not blocking traffic, using the "golden rule" .... I'm doing what I can to be a good example and not piss drivers off..... but It's starting to get to me when someone relates a negative story about an inconsiderate cyclist/cyclists ... it feels like I'm always defending cyclists....and it gets old....I hate to not say anything...but when I don't defend, I start to get a little ticked off....
At who, and why? Look. You don't own other people's behavior, and you don't own other people's reactions. Defensiveness, being an apologist for others, feeling that a single negative example of cyclist behavior validates a bad attitude towards cyclists, and responding to what are, I have no doubt, exaggerated anecdotes are all a waste of time, IMO. However, it's your time to waste, so if it gives you pleasure, go for it.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
I think it's like anything else - well behaved cyclists blend in with traffic, while morons stand out, get noticed, and form perceptions in people's minds.
...
In the end, some people admire us, some people hate us. Best thing you can do to better the perception of cyclists is to ride predictably, assertively, and cooperatively with traffic. ...
+1, but obviously the difficulty is finding the right compromise. Some cyclists stand out as morons or jerks, others stand out in order to get noticed and not get hit. You don't want to blend in so well that nobody sees you. Similarly finding the right compromise between riding "predictably, assertively, and cooperatively with traffic" is largely a matter of experience and judgment and intuition. There are situations where the cyclist must take the lane, and there are situations where the cyclist must not take the lane, and a driver may not be aware of the cyclist's situation.

For example: there is a spot on my commute where I prefer to take the lane even though there is a wide shoulder; I do this because there is a deep but virtually invisible dip in the surface of the shoulder, and I've hit it enough times to dread it. Drivers don't know why I need so much road right there; and why should they?

There is another spot where, given the chance, I always run a red light to get ahead of a line of cars; it probably looks erratic and dangerous, but doing so gets me through a short and very potholed section of road well before the cars reach it, allowing to navigate the potholes safely. My behavior probably looks erratic and unsafe from the drivers' view; but... well, I'm not riding for their benefit.
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Old 09-12-07, 11:02 AM
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I used to work with an older fat guy that just had heart surgery a few weeks before I started bike commuting a whole 1.5 miles. He used to always tell me things like "Don't get yourself killed", "You're going to die on that thing", etc. I think he meant well, but he was killing himself with his lifestyle, but apparently it's not ok for me to take different risks. It's more acceptable (to him) to sit on your ass, get fat, and die prematurely from poor health than to slice a little traffic and live your life. (Keep in mind that I was very safe, wore a helmet, blinkies, and even the nerd-o-matic reflective vest... I was no dare devil)

This is why I work with a bunch of guys that ride now. My boss rides, most of the employees ride, and the bikes outnumber the cars on most days.

Oddly enough, no one there has needed heart surgery yet.

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Old 09-12-07, 11:31 AM
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Well when I see what some of the guys I commute with do(including me occasionally), I can see why some people are negative when it comes to cyclists, but at the same time, I've had cagers compliment me on waiting at a light, or a stop sign. SO I guess it's really just what the majority of their experiences are based off of.

And with wrong way cyclists and the such as prevalent as they are around me, I'm not suprised some cagers are anti-cyclists.
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Old 09-12-07, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by barndoor View Post
"Don't get me wrong....not everyone is this way....it just seems moreso lately....I think it might be the "racers" that train in this manner....

Anyway.....I try to be a "good" commuter....staying as far to the right as possible, not blocking traffic, using the "golden rule" .... I'm doing what I can to be a good example and not piss drivers off..... but It's starting to get to me when someone relates a negative story about an inconsiderate cyclist/cyclists ... it feels like I'm always defending cyclists....and it gets old....I hate to not say anything...but when I don't defend, I start to get a little ticked off....
I remember when the weather got into the summer outdoor sports seasons and all the fair weather exercise bicyclists got out that was a discussion on an increase in cyclist hate from it. I have to say it is true. I think in addition to the nicer weather in the winter it is a nicer climate because there are less cyclists on the road. This swings the car hated cyclists vs car ignored/tolerated cyclists towards the tolerated side.

I think the best thing that you can do is not defend crappy cyclists, if they were crappy. Find out what they did to annoy the driver in an attempt to improve your own riding or suggest a way for the driver to handle the situation or how changing lanes to pass really isn't a huge chore.
Most of the complaints I hear are completely justified. Filtering riders (in areas where it is dangerous/inconsiderate to do so), blocking traffic for miles and causing huge backups, ignoring signage/lights, wrong way, wearing all black with no lights/reflectors at night, on and on.
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Old 09-12-07, 12:09 PM
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Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions...I truly appreciate them!

I guess I'll just get used to it while doing the best I can to promote cycling where I live and ride ... that's pretty much what it boils down to ... I agree with Lil Brown Bat regarding that I can't really "control" what other people think of cyclists... I'll do the best I can when given an opportunity ... I just hope some jerk driver doesn't take it out on me "next week" because a cyclist wouldn't let him over in the past or somthing like that ... My wife doesn't like me doing such a long commute in the first place and she always worries about some guy in a pickup truck ....

I really think a lot of it has to do with spandex ... seems I hear a lot about that in the course of a conversation ...
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Old 09-12-07, 12:21 PM
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I really don't bring up commuting to my work folks unless they actually ask about route, rain, cars, danger, squirrels, or falling pianos. Don't feel obligated to explain or justify why you live or choose to live a certain way. If you're asked why you bike just say "I enjoy it and it makes me happy."

Other cyclists aren't you. Tell people they can answer for themselves. (if they didn't filter past them.)
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