General Question

jcs007's avatar

Why don't bicyclists follow the rules of the road for other people's safety?

Asked by jcs007 (1765points) April 6th, 2008

Since they get to share the road with other people, shouldn’t they play it safe and follow the rules of the road, too? I’ve seen bicyclists run a red light when they don’t see anyone coming. As far as I know, a car has much better acceleration than a bike… So if every vehicle on the road did the same, isn’t that a hazard to other people’s safety?

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30 Answers

delirium's avatar

I’ll get my cyclist boyfriend to answer this later.

Perchik's avatar

If other cars would treat me as a car [on a bicycle] then I might follow the rules. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Allie's avatar

oh my gosh.. have you ever been to Davis, CA? UCD doesn’t allow college freshmen or sophomores to have cars (or use them on campus at least) and its a pretty eco-friendly community so there are so many people that ride bikes. in the beginning of 1st quarter there are tons of accidents cause new students are getting used to the rules. but bikes don’t stop – they don’t even slow down. and sometimes they don’t even look. its frustrating, but if you’re a driver you’re just expected to watch for them. annoying.

they should be forced to follow the rules of the road. and for as many bicyclers that i’ve seen breaking the rules, i’ve seen very few actually get reprimanded for them by the five-ohs.

brenden's avatar

I was just thinking about this yesterday when I was at a stop sign and saw a cyclist almost get hit by a car because he failed to stop with the rest if traffic.

As far as I know, a lot of cyclists complain about drivers not sharing the road, but if they expect “equal treatment” then they should abide by existing traffic laws as well.

Response moderated
muddyh2o's avatar

because we’re smarter than car drivers!

sndfreQ's avatar

They should be treated equally as motorists, and if through their negligence they get hit then they’re at fault.

If they cause an accident they should be charged the same as motorists with a reckless driving charge. If they flee the scene of an accident they should also be charged with felony hit-and-run.

I believe in most stated this is already the case, but the distinction between “motorist” and “pedestrian” is somewhat blurred.

Response moderated
paulc's avatar

Where I live, cars are king and the tables are completely reversed which is depressing. Anyway, I’d say that there’s way more hazardous drivers than cyclists simply for the fact that most senior citizens don’t commute with their bicycles. Besides I know tons of very careful cyclists so its hard to drop a blanket statement like that.

monsoon's avatar

@allie, I’ve head of Davis being cyclist heaven. My brother went there and I remeber going to his graduation and seeing like mountains of bike parked everywhere. Weird.

Allie's avatar

monsoon: so true. bikes are everywhere. davis is definitely a cyclists heaven. on the campus theres a “bike barn” where you can get a bike for like 3 bucks. there are more bike racks than parking spaces at some places (like the Davis high school for example). at some intersections like Russell and Sycamore, there are bicycle stop lights (so they have to stop.. HA!). at Russell and Anderson there is a huge old-fashioned statue of a bicycle. so yeah.. Davis + bicycles = love.

Perchik's avatar

Please don’t lump “all cyclists” together.

I slow down for stop signs, but I usually do not stop unless there is another vehicle in the vicinity. The problem with coming to a complete stop on a bike, is that it’s much harder to regain acceleration. The roads I bike on have a stop sign nearly every block. It would be absolute torture for me to stop at every single one, just for the sake of stopping [ie if there’s no cars.] For me at least, if there’s a car even coming towards the stop sign, I’ll stop and let them go. I understand that cars are massive and can kill me.

Allie's avatar

perchik: my apologies. =] i know not all cyclists are reckless. a lot of cyclists are safe and watch where they go, but when you see even one cyclists breaking rules doesn’t it kind of stick out in your mind? i guess that’s true for a lot of things though. anyways.. i don’t think anyone meant to clump all bike riders together.

Perchik's avatar

Oh I wasn’t talking to you in particular, I was just throwing that out there.

Response moderated
sndfreQ's avatar

@hairypalm LOL! I have the same fantasies…is that wrong.

btw-that obnoxious dude that looks like the fifth Baldwin brother on TV, that sells the OxyClean (Billy Mays) should be able to help with those stains!

El_Cadejo's avatar

Why is it cyclists have to go with traffic? This always bothered me when i road a bike, im sorry but id rather be riding against traffic so i can see the cars coming instead of having me wizz by from behind.

Robby's avatar

@Perchik lmao at the fact you said I understand cars are massive and could kill you. Anyway in alot of states there are laws for bicyclist out there. Some follow the rules and some do not. I’m from Boston, Ma and drivers here are not called mass holes for nothing. They couldn’t care less untill after the fact. I’d also feel like everyone was staring at me if I were at the corner waiting for a light…Lol

Lightlyseared's avatar

because they like giving their money to max-fax surgeons to fix up their faces and put their teeth back in

susanc's avatar

I have been removed by moderators! I feel so with-it now!
But let me try again. I am passionately afraid of sharing the road with
the kind of (!) cyclists we often see where I live: pompous, self-righteous,
entitled, p.c., don’t follow rules, scream at drivers who “get in their way”, would rather get injured and sue than be safe and/or cooperative.
There, no bad words.
Obviously there are many many sensible cyclists too but it is very difficult for two kinds of vehicles to integrate according to one set of rules (see Perckik on stops signs, above) but we TRY.
And people who would rather be dead than follow the rules that exist to
protect them – too scary, therefore too maddening..

susanc's avatar

I should have said “faux-p.c.”.

susanc's avatar

Or maybe “wannabe-p.c.”.

brownlemur's avatar

There are many cyclists who adhere to the same rules as motorists, and just as many who do not. The problem has been mentioned in this thread already – even when we cyclists obey traffic rules, oftentimes motorists are quite ignorant of them. “Share the Road” doesn’t mean passing a cyclist at 45mph with a berth of 6 inches.

Sometimes cyclists need to break the rules a bit in order to not die. In many cities bikes are not allowed on the sidewalk. But I’ve had to jump curbs to get off of the road at times when giant SUVs driven by cell-phone-jabbering-muffin-eating-coffee-drinkers aren’t paying attention and come within inches of my wheel. So am I at fault if I am forced to the curb and run over someone? Probably, and that doesn’t feel right to me.

I agree that if cyclists want the respect that cars get, then cyclists should follow the rules. However, if it’s 3am and I come to a stop sign on my bike and see no cars, I’m going to keep on going. If I’m biking on the road with cars, I obey traffic signals and such.

As for biking against traffic – that is an awful idea. Few things aggravate me more than pedaling down a bike lane and seeing some newbie racing towards me on his Mongoose with his head down. That scenario is a horrible accident waiting to happen. If you can’t look over your shoulder to see when cars are coming, please do not be on the road.

hairypalm's avatar

if it was 3am and I saw no cars I would obey the law. There should be no double standards. I“m going to mail you a ticket. :p

buster's avatar

i always wear my blinky and roll my pant cuff up.

bassist_king1's avatar

I thought they were considered pedestrians?

Response moderated
rolandbrunault's avatar

i live in bosotn, mass., and when you ride a bike here most of the time you are trying to avoid being killed by our lovely motorists, plus i’m not sure about other cities but it is difficult to enforce and in boston the police usually have other thing to do.

fedupwitcaddys's avatar

because they think they got bumpers on their asses!

billdsd's avatar

Most drivers speed most of the time that they can. Most drivers roll stop signs when they think they can get away with it. Most drivers roll through right turn on red when they think they can get away with it. Most drivers won’t yield right of way to pedestrians at an uncontrolled intersection or even a crosswalk if that crosswalk doesn’t also have a red light or stop sign to make them stop. Most drivers don’t seem to know what a yield sign means. Every day I see drivers pushing yellow well past red. Every day I see drivers holding cell phones up to their ear even though that has been illegal here for a couple of years. Most drivers don’t signal all the times that they should. I regularly see drivers turn across multiple lanes. I regularly see news stories about DUI drivers.

Exactly how is it that anyone thinks that drivers are good about obeying the rules of the road? Drivers aren’t any better than bicyclists. Furthermore, in 2009 drivers killed an average of almost 90 people a day in the U.S. (including themselves a lot of the time). Bicyclists rarely kill anyone.

Bicyclists are not considered pedestrians in any state in the U.S. Bicycles are considered vehicles in most states and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle operators even in the ones where they are not considered vehicles.

Bicycle safety and obeying the rules of the road are not mutually exclusive. You should never have to break the rules to be safe. If you take the Traffic Skills 101 course from the League of American Bicyclists, then you will learn about real bicycle safety. If you can’t take the class, at least read the booklet Bicycling Street Smarts which is available for free online.

Riding against traffic is one of the leading causes of collisions in which the bicyclist is at fault. People who do this try to claim that it’s because they can see traffic but the reality is that there usually is not time to do anything about an errant driver in this situation. There usually is no place to go and things happen very fast. Going against traffic also makes it go faster. If cars are going 35mph, and you are riding at 15mph with traffic, then the speed differential is 20mph. If you are riding 15mph against traffic, the speed differential is 50mph. How’s that for reducing reaction time? Most collisions with wrong way riders occur at driveways and intersections. This is because drivers making right turns into the road do not look to their right for bicyclists coming the wrong way. Why should they? They’re not supposed to be there. Actually, they should look to their right for pedestrians, but they usually don’t. Riding against traffic is monumentally stupid, not to mention illegal, and condemned by every bicycle safety expert around.

As far as acceleration, I’m 47 years old, have mild asthma and arthritis, and I commute on a cheap touring bike that weighs over 30 pounds and I beat most cars off the line across most intersections when the light turns green. Of course, they usually pass me not long after that. I’m pretty fast getting from 0–20mph but after that, my acceleration capability kind of levels off. A young rider in good shape with a fast bike will leave me in the dust.

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