Social Question

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Should motorists "share the road" with bicyclists?

Asked by shpadoinkle_sue (7188points) February 25th, 2010

Bicyclists have different responsibilities and expectations when they are on the road than motorists. Should they be allocated the same privileges as motorists or should they have their own set of “road rules”? Why? Any personal experiences?

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35 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I think bicyclists should be given their own roads to use, similar to sidewalks for pedestrians.

DarkScribe's avatar

Yes, they should share unless they want to end up with a criminal record. There are more and more road rage incidents regarding cyclists, and they are unnecessary. Anyone who cannot drive without feeling rage at any obstruction or frustration, at anything that impedes their usually not particularly swift progress through traffic is to some degree a sociopath. It would be nice, but simply not practical for cyclists to have their own bike paths as in some cities, it costs too much and requires land to be taken from other purposes – often a road lane.

nope's avatar

Well, because it is legal for bicyclists to use the road, YES, motorists need to share. That said, I disagree that there are different responsibilities & expectations. From what I’ve learned, they are the same, motorist or cyclist, and there are not any rules specific to one or the other…for instance, in our area, I believe cyclists are required to make hand signals to turn, same as a car would be required to either put on their turn signal, or make a hand signal. Of course, most cyclists do not adhere to the rules of the ROAD, and perhaps that’s your real question. :)

davidbetterman's avatar

Many motorists are themselves bicyclists from time to time. There is often no bike lanes in many parts of the US. It would behoove the motorist to make room for the bikers, and slow down near them and go around them.

ratboy's avatar

Cyclists who ride three abreast on narrow winding roads should be fair game for motorists.

TheJoker's avatar

I think cyclists should have to pay a form of road tax as motorists have to. Either that or motorists should be allowed to run over 1 cyclist per week… Either ways good!

stevenelliottjr's avatar

Where I live is very hilly with narrow two lane roads. There are a ton of cyclists here and they are assholes. These “men” get all gussied up in their spandex outfits and sit their asses down on tiny seats and block the road on my way to work. My favorite is when you have three of these douchebags that right three-abreast in the middle of the lane and then give you the finger when you’re trying to go around them. Every time I pass one I throw the windsheid washer fluid into effect and give them a nice bath. Go ride your bike somewhere else. Oh, and lose the sponsored spandx outfit—you are NOT Lance Armstrong. You’re larry the middle-aged accountant whose physique does not warrant excessive tightness and spillage of your love handles out the side of your new blue Trek spandex outfit.

TheJoker's avatar

@stevenelliottjr You paint one unpleasant image there :)

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

I dont think I should have to share the road. I have an urge to run their asses off…not because Im a “sociopath” as @DarkScribe stated, but because it’s frustrating (in my neck of the woods atleast) when these douche bags ride IN FRONT of you during rush hour, endangering the people all around them because of people having to slam on their brakes and swirving to avoid them causing a potential chain reaction all because it seems some of them (again…Im speaking about MY area) go out of their way to ride on the narrowest and dangerous of streets when there are bike paths close by that would keep them and other motorists out of danger. OR if they HAVE to ride in the middle of the damn road, what in the world compels them to do it when everyone is leaving work. THEY do cause an obstruction and that is not okay. Roads were made for CARS and unless they can speed it up and keep up with the flow of traffic, I think they need to get the hell out of my way!

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

@stevenelliottjr Ahahahahahahahaha…I love it!!!

john65pennington's avatar

In my state, bike riders have to obey the same traffic laws as motorists. this means giving turning signals and stopping for stop signs and red lights. bike riders should have their own bike lane for travel. they do in my city and this eliminates many of the problems as stated above. the only difference in a motor vehicle and a bicycle is the lack of an engine and registration. bicycyles do not require a plate registration. in a way, i agree with Tila ABs NoMore. some bike riders take advantage of the laws and ride in the middle of the road. this causes havoc in some cities. i do not believe the speed laws pertain to bicycles. i will have to look that up.

liminal's avatar

When I was working I commuted through downtown chicago on bicycle. It was clear to me that both motorists and cyclists can be assholes. They both have the same rules of the road to adhere to and they both sometimes forget to honor them.

The kids and I continue to commute around on our bikes. I am hyper conscious about teaching them proper etiquette and choosing safe travel routes. If a cyclist cannot ride predictably and in a straight line they need to get off the road.

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

@liminal Agreed. I dont want to run over all cyclists :-) Just the ones who are irresponsible and endanger themselves and others because they feel that they should have the right of way. Good for you for teaching your kids how to do it the right way!

gorillapaws's avatar

Someone needs to invent a “cyclist plow” that gently forces middle-aged duchebag cyclists off the road and into the ditch where they belong.

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

@gorillapaws See…effective AND humane!

PacificRimjob's avatar


It was bicyclists, not motorists, that first lobbied for paved roads.

You’re welcome.

DarkScribe's avatar

@PacificRimjob It was bicyclists, not motorists, that first lobbied for paved roads.

That was funny – ludicrous, but funny. Do you have any more like it?

(Paved roads have existed since early Greek and Roman times. )

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe It could very well be true, “according to this“ I wouldn’t just dismiss it without further research.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY I wouldn’t just dismiss it without further research.

Well, I have walked on paved roads that existed in Biblical times – and I am pretty sure that Christ didn’t ride a push-bike – so I’ll keep my existing opinion. ;)

That link is a just to one of the tens of millions of blogs existing online and there are already people there disputing it. It is also American, and contrary to some opinion the world is not contained within America’s borders. Without having to go back to Greek and Roman road building, there were paved roads in all the major cities of Europe well before the first Penny-Farthing bicycle. It is a ludicrous concept. Coaches, trade wagons, people on foot and horseback all used paved roads or they became impassable in winter.

There are several encyclopedias including Wiki that make note of paved roads dating back 4000 years. No bicycles then unless one fell out of the Tardis.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe I took it to mean the asphalt paved roads in the US streets and road, not the origin of paved roads. Nothing you said changes the possibility that bicyclists in the US were primarily responsible for the pavement we take for granted.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY I took it to mean the asphalt paved roads in the US streets and road, not the origin of paved roads.

Fair enough, if you regard it simply as influencing the use of asphalt (known here as Bitumen) in the US – that might well be so. I regarded as quoted – paved roads. (Although I can’t see how it influenced Highways – the greater bulk of asphalt/bitumen paved road – bicycles are not long distance transport, then or now.)

billdsd's avatar

@ratboy Are you really suggesting that it should be OK to kill or maim someone because you don’t want to change lanes? Do you think that you have a reasonable sense of proportion? You are a sociopath. Moving over to pass a bicyclist safely is trivially easy. The law says that bicyclists have a right to be in the road and that you have to make sure that when you pass, you do so safely. It’s time you got over it.

gorillapaws's avatar

@billdsd in recent years, bicyclists have been the #1 cause for near-accidents for me. They’re riding around on 2 lane roads where people are going 50mph with blind curves, forcing you to slam on your breaks or go into oncoming traffic to avoid them. There are many nice bike paths around my area, I don’t see why cyclists don’t stick to those. I’ve even seen people jogging in the street near me, and there’s literally a freaking bike-path right next to the road. I feel like their sense of personal entitlement is unnecessarily risking the lives of people on the road.

billdsd's avatar

@stevenelliottjr Moving over to pass a bicyclist safely is trivially easy. I’ve done it hundreds of times in over three decades of driving over a half million miles. People who act like it’s difficult or a violation of their rights are nothing but drama queens.

By law, bicyclists have a right to use the roads. They’ve been in the roads since bicycles were invented in the 1800’s. It’s time you got used to it.

billdsd's avatar

@TILA_ABs_NoMore Bicyclists don’t endanger anyone by being in the road. You should not have to swerve or slam on your brakes. When you see bicyclists in the road you should either move over or slow down. You should not wait until the last second and change abruptly. If you do, then it is you who is driving dangerously. Is that how you drive around buses and garbage trucks?

Bicyclists have a right to use the roads to travel. It’s the law. It’s time you got used to it and stopped pretending that you are entitled to not have to deal with them. Moving over to pass a bicyclist safely is trivially easy. Why do you think it’s so hard? Why do you think that you shouldn’t have to do it?

billdsd's avatar

@john65pennington Minimum speed laws do not apply to bicycles. Some ignorant cops have written tickets for it, but they get thrown out by the courts. It comes down to the fact that bicyclists have a right to travel in the road and they cannot be expected to travel at a speed higher than they can reasonably maintain.

There is lots of slow traffic in the roads. There are buses and garbage trucks and people slowing to turn and people stopping to parallel park. People only get angry about having to move over for bicyclists because they cling to the delusion that they shouldn’t have to do so. The law guarantees no such entitlement. In fact, it says the opposite. Motorists have to share the road with slower traffic. It’s not difficult to do. I don’t understand why people think that it’s such a terrible burden.

billdsd's avatar

@gorillapaws You are a sociopath. What is so difficult about moving over to pass a bicyclist that you would think it’s reasonable to threaten them? What is so important about driving fast in the slow lane?

billdsd's avatar

@gorillapaws Bicycle paths often don’t go where bicyclists want to go. A lot of bicyclists are commuters. They are trying to get to work or school or home or visit friends or even go shopping. They have as much right to be in the road as anyone else.

If you are going around blind curves so fast that you cannot stop within the distance that you can see, then you should have your driver’s license taken away. That is unsafe driving. It is also a violation of the basic speed law. You should have learned that in driver’s education class. I did.

billdsd's avatar

It is true that around 1880–1905 or so, cars were rare and bicycles gained great popularity, especially after the introduction of chain drives and pneumatic bicycle tires in the late 1880’s. Bicycling groups began lobbying for smooth paved roads, as opposed to cobble/brick roads that were more common in cities at the time. They got a lot of roads paved smooth before cars were even vaguely common. It’s largely irrelevant though. In any case, bicyclists have always been in the roads. People need to let go of this delusion that bicyclists are invading the space of cars. Roads are a shared right of way, and always have been. It’s the law.

billdsd's avatar

@gorillapaws Do you really think that you’re entitled to drive without having to deal with bicyclists in the road? The law says the opposite. It is you that has a delusional sense of entitlement.

Bicyclists don’t endanger drivers. People who say that are drama queens. People in cars are hardly ever hurt in collisions with bicyclists.

gorillapaws's avatar

@billdsd I was almost hit by another car swerving into my lane head on to avoid hitting a cyclist. I did nothing wrong. Believe it or not, there are many dangerous 2-lane country roads that aren’t very wide, have blind curves and drivers that go 55+ mph. Cyclists have no business on these. Just because they are legally allowed to do something doesn’t mean it’s the smart or appropriate thing to do. I can think of thousands of things that are legally permissible, but really shitty to other people in my community.

I’m all for bike lanes and that kind of thing for commuters, but these are middle-aged douchebags in spandex cruising around, pretending to be Lance Armstrong, endangering others, when there are other excellent and safe alternatives available. In my book, they suck.

billdsd's avatar

So you blame the cyclist rather than the driver who swerved illegally and dangerously? Really?

Anyone who is driving too fast to stop within the distance that they can see is violating the basic speed law. It is the law. You can be ticketed for violating it. It’s also very dangerous and irresponsible to drive like that. If you think that it’s OK, then your license should be taken away. Did you pay attention in driver’s education class at all?

I simply will not accept the notion that bicyclists have to give up the rights we’ve had since the 1800’s because drivers can’t be bothered to obey the law.

I’ve been riding seriously since the mid 80’s. Lance Armstrong was a kid at the time. He didn’t even become famous to hardcore cycling fans until 1993 and regular people didn’t know who he was until he first won the Tour in 1999. Those of us who’ve been riding a long time laugh at the ignorance of people who call us “Lance Armstrong wannabes”. We are cycling enthusiasts and we love riding. Most guys my age that I know that ride do not like Armstrong all that much, because most of us suspect him of cheating.

As far as safety, have you taken the Traffic Skills 101 course from the League of American Bicyclists? Have you read Effective Cycling, Cyclecraft or Bicycling Street Smarts? Have you studied numerous safety studies showing the statistics and causes of collisions involving bicycles on the road? Have you spent time discussing bicycle safety with some of the top bicycle safety experts in the country? Have you spent time discussing bicycle law with some of the top bicycle lawyers in the country? I have. I actually know bicycle safety and law. Bicycle safety is not intuitive. If you haven’t studied it, then you don’t know it. Most people assume that they can just eyeball it and get it right. People who do that invariably get it wrong. The fact is that riding in the road is not unsafe.

I’ve driven all sorts of motor vehicles for a total of over a half a million miles since 1979. I’ve never once found it necessary to swerve for a bicyclist. I’ve never had difficulty slowing down or moving over to pass a bicyclist safely. My drivers education teacher taught me that bicyclists have a right to be in the road, and that I am responsible to pass safely. As a result, I was never under the impression that I shouldn’t have to. When you see a bicyclist in your lane, you should either move over, or if you can’t do that, you slow down. There is no need for emergency braking or swerving if you start planning as soon as you see them.

billdsd's avatar

Just curious, what do you do when you see a bus going slow in front of you? Do you swerve dangerously into oncoming traffic to get around it? Do you drive fast until the last second and then slam on your brakes risking slamming into the back of it? I’m guessing that you don’t. Why can’t you do the same thing for bicyclists that you do for a bus?

gorillapaws's avatar

@billdsd I’m convinced you’ve never driven on narrow curvy country roads. They are already inherently dangerous. People die on these all of the time because of cars turning out on blind curves, deer jumping out, and other hazards. Guys on bikes aren’t very visible (You can see a bus coming across a rise because their roof is pretty damn visible) but a yuppie in spandex puffing along at 15 mph, is not much different than a deer jumping out in many cases.

Also, if I were driving a car that could only travel 15 mph, I would have my flashers on and stop and pull over to let people pass when they got behind me. It’s called being courteous. Despite your critique of my driving skills, I’ve never caused an accident, nor been issued a ticket for a moving violaiton and am considered a safe driver by everyone I know.

billdsd's avatar

I said nothing about your skills. I question your attitude and grasp of proper safety practices. Forget about bicycles. If you are driving around so fast that you can’t stop within the distance that you can see then you are breaking the law, plain and simple. If a car breaks down and is stopped around that blind corner, then you’re going to slam into another car because you were driving dangerously and illegally; not to mention doing the opposite of what your driver’s education teacher should have taught you.

Most states have laws that require slow traffic to use safe turnouts when available to let faster traffic pass on roads with a single lane in the given direction where passing is difficult, though it usually requires a certain amount of people to be stuck behind them before that law kicks in. In my state that number is five. I almost never ride my bike on such roads. The handful of times that I have, I’ll turn out for even one if there’s a safe turnout. However most of the time drivers just move into the oncoming lane and pass when there’s a safe opening. It’s not tough to pass a bicycle safely.

It’s unusual that I drive on narrow country roads but it’s not like I’ve never done it. I’ve done it maybe a few hundred times. Yeah, lots of drivers violate the law on those roads. That doesn’t make it OK. They don’t just violate the basic speed law. They violate the posted speed limits quite a lot. For some reason, a lot of people in this country don’t think it’s breaking the law if your you’re only speeding by a little. That is ridiculous. Those collisions are caused by drivers driving illegally and dangerously. We need to stop the dangerous drivers operating two ton killing machines.

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