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They Call It A ROAD Bike For A Reason

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August 2012
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A Note To Motorists, Bureaucrats, Public Planners and Fellow Cyclists…and Jerks

Ladies, gentlemen, cyclists and miscreants,

We road bikers don’t want to be on the road any more than some motorists want us there but they call it a road bike for a reason.  I’ve had to deal with being buzzed (where a driver in his/her vehicle purposely tries to get as close to a cyclist as possible without actually hitting them), I’ve been yelled at, heck I’ve even had a 2-liter bottle of soda thrown at me (fortunately the punk kid wasn’t a very good shot – he led my by about 5′ too much, just missing my front wheel at 20 mph – and I was in a bike lane).  Beyond that, even following the rules of the road, it’s a dangerous hobby and it certainly is nerve-racking at times.

To stay as safe as I can be I choose very specific routes to ride.  Where possible I ride on road-side bike paths – considering that I’ve only got about three miles in my home town that’s not much, and where it isn’t possible I limit myself to roads where the traffic isn’t dense with the exception of one road.  Technically it should be one of the more dangerous roads to ride on – Old US-23, the service road to the expressway that stretches from Ohio all the way to the tip of the Michigan mitten (and southward as well).  In Livingston and Genesee counties the service drive has a 55 mph speed limit and is highly travelled which means it would normally be off my list of roads to ride on – but it’s got 3′ shoulders.  I can travel for miles without ever having to cross the solid white line separating the driving surface from the shoulder.  It’s one of the safest roads I’ve ever ridden on, next to Miller road which has a bike path on the section I ride, it’s also the busiest road in Genesee County.

The roads that I have had problems on only have a 6″ shoulder.  I’m forced to ride as far right as practicable but on the driving surface, which I gladly do, but that puts me in traffic.  Cars are therefore forced to navigate around me, dodging in between oncoming traffic.  As their speed is between 35 and 45 mph and mine is between 20 and 25, this can make for difficulties and frayed nerves.

So, to the policy makers and public planners and bureaucrats alike, you want us to be fit and active – to stay out of the medical system as much as possible, yet we are greatly limited in doing this because drivers have a tendency to lose their minds a bit when they see a cyclist on “their road”.  Please help us by giving us a shoulder when new roads are built.  We don’t even need three feet – two would be great.  This gives us (and traffic) a little bit of a safe zone so that vehicles don’t have to cross over the yellow to get around us.  We don’t need the dedicated bike lane painting, we don’t need the signs letting us know we’re indeed in a bike lane, we just need a couple of feet so we don’t have to interact with traffic so much.

To the cyclists, please follow the laws of the road.  Travel on the proper side of the road (that’s going WITH traffic).  I realize you think it’s safer to see the cars coming, but that’s because you are naive and/or ignorant.  It’s far more dangerous to ride against traffic – by an order of magnitude.  Stop it.  Stop at stop lights – they should never be run.  I happen to be a proponent of rolling stop signs – but only if I’ll have the right-of-way, or if there is no other traffic present because it’s far faster to get through a stop sign and get out of the way of traffic to do a slow roll rather than unclip, stop for a three-count and get going again…but follow the law and use your head (to avoid accidents, not to field test your helmet).  If you’re riding alone or in a group of less than three, don’t ride two-abreast on a busy road please.  The rule/law is “as far right as is practicable” – if you’re riding solo, anything left of the first four feet of road is not “as practicable”, it’s self-centered and rude – you’re doing your part to piss vehicle drivers off for the rest of us – please cut it out.  Finally, if you cut someone off or almost run a pedestrian over, you’re the jerk, not them – especially the pedestrian (no matter how stupid they are).

As a final note to the bureaucrats…  Now that some states have begun limiting or banning mountain biking trails, you will be pushing more and more of us out onto the roads.  Call that an unintended consequence, call it whatever you want, but we have a desire to maintain our fitness.  Please help us do this by giving us a couple of feet on each side of newly topped roads and new roads so we can, if we follow the law in our state, make it home to kiss our wive’s, husbands, sons and daughters.

Oh, I almost forgot – to the miscreants…  You do have a license plate you dope.

Thanks,

Big Daddy Jim.


5 Comments

  1. elisariva says:

    Hoot hoot hoot! If I can get a traffic ticket while on my bike (haven’t yet, only been threatened once) I am entitled to the road! I agree with your four feet suggestion unless pot holes or road kill prevent safe riding in those four feet. Well written and great post.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks. I won’t lie, I was hoping for a speeding ticket in North Carolina but didn’t get stopped. I would have framed it. I learned to bunny-hop pot holes if I’ve got a car in the rear-view – best “geek” bike purchase I ever made – the bar end rear view mirror.

  2. CultFit says:

    Great topic that really resonates with me. Over the summer I have resorted to putting my bike on the car and driving to a trail head. This really bothers me and I feel bad anytime I have to drive my bike anywhere. My last breathe on this earth is not going to be in a ditch after getting hit by a txting teen or yoga mom/dad. I thought about going all Road Warrior and wrecking havoc … Just a thought.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I know what you mean – I hate driving my bike too, but you’re right about the texting kids. Fortunately, I’m willing to break one rule of cool on a bike… I have a flashing tail light – and if I’m not in a group I use it. It’s enough that I haven’t had a close call since I started using it. That and I live in the boon-docks so the roads I travel on – especially after doing those two centuries, which gave me an incredible pool of roads to choose from – have minimal traffic or wide shoulders… I don’t live in a very pretty area for cycling, but I DO live in a very safe area for it.

      I wonder if you could mount a bazooka or a .50 cal machine gun on a road bike – that might be worth looking into! The road-warrior bike – never worry about crossing through the bad part of town on your bike again! That’s got legs.

  3. I agree with you completely! Here’s a post about my similar experiences in Scotland http://wp.me/p23ass-S 🙂

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