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Cyclist Culture: Pedaling Attitude

“Bicycle culture” with BikeSnobNYC, a Portland biking maven, and Bicycling Magazine.

New York City Bicycles (onesevenone & pocketmonsterd/flickr)

New York City Bicycles (onesevenone & pocketmonsterd/flickr)

American is car country, but bicycles and bicyclists are making their play for the roads.

There’s been a big surge in bicycle commuting. Maybe it’s you or your workmate rolling freshly-exercised into the office.

And then there’s the weekend distance rider and the off-to-the-market rider.

All the tribes: the roadie, the mountain biker, the messenger. And all the attitudes: the righteous cyclist, the lone wolf, the captains of contraption.

We’re talking this hour with New York’s famous “Bike Snob” blogger and a biking maven from Portland, Oregon.

Guests:

Loren Mooney is editor-in-chief of Bicycling Magazine. Their May issue ranks America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.

Eben Weiss blogs at BikeSnobNYC.blogspot.com. He’s a racer, daily commuter, and former bike messenger. His new book is “Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling.”

Heidi Swift is a freelance writer. She writes the “Everyday Cyclist” column for The Oregonian. She blogs at GritandGlimmer.com.

More:

Here’s “Performance,” a rap music video by Portland-based road racers Robin Moore and Jake Salcone, a.k.a. “MC SpandX.”

Learn more about the video at OregonLive.com

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Jon W.

    A better feel for pdx Cycling is this Video: Commuter Dreams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI7T2iuGjjc

  • Jon W.

    OR for the Performance Cyclist check out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbvQqssD_jI

    Portland’s Ronde De Portlandia

  • Hackneyed Sojourn

    Tom, if Bike Snob phones in his interview without experiencing the joys of our bike paths, it’s up to you to mercilessly degrease him.

  • Viv

    I love bicycling and bicyclists! However I wish to make another point. There are those bikers who abuse the rules. Just yesterday I’m stopped at a red light and a biker blows through it and almost gets hit by two cars. As this happens he sort of looks at both the cars as if they were in the wrong for almost hitting him. I don’t understand this mentality. It happens quite often and so I thought I’d mention it.

  • John

    Cyclists need to stay off the sidewalks and obey traffic laws.

  • Hackneyed Sojourn

    Sure is nice hearing others make the same correct bicycle riding points Snob and nearly every other bike blogger has been making to the community for years– a-yup.

  • shannon

    It is hard to cycle in Boston.No one looks out for bikes. Pedestrians look only for cars/trucks and cars only look for pedestrians. Car drivers think we belong on sidewalks which is clearly not safe. Pedestrians seem to feel like the don’t have to abide by laws because they have ultimate protection under the law with fines levied against any vehicle that doesn’t stop when a person is crossing the street. I have had pedestrians walk right out in front of me even if I have a green light and then yell at me. There is really no space on the road for bikes with cars and trucks. Bike lanes offer a false sense of security. They provide a better buffer between traffic and parked cars but people just open their car doors into the space without looking for cyclists.
    Traffic and pedestrians don’t wait for signals or follow laws which endangers me. Because of this I feel the safer option is to also not wait for a signal. I stop at reds but if I see a clear path I will proceed. If I wait for a signal I often have cars turning right or suddenly changing lanes into me. I have biked other places where everyone follows the rules. It is a safer place to bike.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Thanks in advance for doing this show! I’m bike commuting in Iowa City in snow and rain and heat–if I can do it here, it can be done anywhere! With my bike trailer, i’m even doing routine grocery shopping. I still have a car, but it goes for days without moving; currently it’s sitting in my driveway covered with oak seeds.

  • ThresherK

    Cyclists need to stay off the sidewalks and obey traffic laws.

    Cars first. Shall I tell you of every car I saw blow a light or stop sign this week?

    And remember the rule of the (four wheel) road: Any excuse will serve a tyrant.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    In our small town every so often someone gets hit and killed on their bike. I ride on the LEFT side of the road on purpose, I would like to be able to see what’s going to hit me and get out of the way. I realize it would look odd to see bikers go on the left but I think you would not have the accidents that we have now. Namely, a car hits a biker and that’s it for the biker. If there were bike lanes it would a different matter, but there ARE NONE. If I am riding without a bike lane, I will be on the left.

  • ThresherK

    Our host’s false equivalency instinct is well-tuned: NYC cabs are spat upon or hit by (horrors) 30-lb bikes, which is just as bad as a two-ton vehicle hitting a bike. Yup, same threat there.

  • Tom G

    Europeans have a higher tolerance for body odor. We Americans are snobs about BO, so we can’t risk the sniffing approbation of our peers and supervisors at work.

  • BHA

    I’m sure I am no different than many listeners – I would commute on my bike if I didn’t fear for my life. I could do part of it on a bike/recreation path but the rest would be on roads with no bike lanes, no shoulders and all the debris that lands on the road blown on to the edge where bikers are expected to ride.

    Even the bike/recreation paths are a problem for bike commuters. People going for a walk are 2, 3 or 4 abreast, blocking up the entire ‘road’.

    Unfortunately there is no way we will get separate car roads, bike roads and pedestrian roads.

  • Doug Benjamin

    I spent 13 riding my bike around Austin, TX and while I’ll always advocate for cyclists and cyclist rights, I definitely saw a lot of them abusing and ignoring the laws of the road. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists and respect them, but when cyclists ride wherever they want, run red lights and stop signs, and don’t respect the drivers back, it creates a major disconnect. We all have to do our part to make the roads safe for cyclists, and that we includes the cyclists themselves.

  • John

    Cyclists need to stay off the sidewalks and obey traffic laws. – Cars first. Shall I tell you of every car I saw blow a light or stop sign this week? And remember the rule of the (four wheel) road: Any excuse will serve a tyrant. – Posted by ThresherK — The cars do stay off the sidewalks.

  • Rob

    I’ve lived in several major cities and grew up in a rural area. I currently live in New York and while I support the idea of commuting to work it doesn’t work in very congested areas.

    There is not just a fight between cyclists and drivers, there’s a fight between cyclists and pedestrians. Anyone who has ever walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at rush hour knows this. Cyclists for the most part do not obey traffic signals in this city and it makes things dangerous. Even when people cross the street here when they’re supposed to, its not uncommon to see a cyclist weave through trying to break the land speed record.

  • RvnPhnx

    In my experience I have found that asking drivers to give bike riders plenty of space can often be counterproductive. A driver sloppily jumping completely into the lane of oncoming traffic is far more likely to get me killed than the guy who passes me smoothly and without flinching 6 inches off my left handlebar. (This is especially true on narrow country roads.)
    We need to be careful and specific in what we ask drivers for. I have to admit that I’m getting very tired listening to city folk preach to country bicyclists and drivers about what they should be doing to get along. City solutions will not always work in more sparsely populated regions. When appropriate guidance isn’t available drivers will guess at what they are being really asked to do any may come up with solutions more dangerous than the original problem, as I noted above.

  • Todd

    Motorists would be more inclined to “share the road” with bicycles if bicyclists would be more inclined to share the RULES of the road with motorists.

  • yikesbikes

    This is great. Commuting to and from work by bike is by far the best part of my day. On the days I need to drive to work that time becomes the my least favorite part. I think the reason cycling is so great is that it is the intersection of fitness, practicality and pure joy.

  • ThresherK

    (John, I goofed: I didn’t mean to quote that part about sidewalks to make a point about cars driving on the sidewalks in any meaningful numbers. Not even in Boston.)

  • Tom G

    Most bike vs. car accidents happen at intersections where a car is making a turn across the trajectory of a bicycle, or where a bicycle’s trajectory carries it into the side of a turning car. Cars and intersections could have warning systems for two-wheeled and pedestrian proximity.

  • Joe

    Tom,

    Would you ask BSNYC to comment on Sheldon Brown’s influence on promoting fixed gear bicycles beyond bicycle messengers? I’ve read BSNYC’s blog since he began writing but was reading Sheldon’s website for longer and would like to hear his comments on Sheldon Brown.

  • Bret Van Ausdall

    For people who want to bike but dont want to get as sweaty or are afraid of getting to work late because they get tired halfway through the ride at work, they need the ultimate electric vehicle: http://optibike.com/

    Im just a grad student at the university of utah, not even a rep for the company. Electric bicycles, the ultimate form of urban transportation.

  • http://www.STtrainer.com STtrainer

    I am an endurance coach fitness trainer and there are two points I would like to add to the conversation:

    1) The most important thing for a cyclist on the road is to ride in a PREDICTABLE manner. A motorist is not expecting someone to be riding towards them on the left side of the road, or weaving from sidewalk to road and back again. Ride with the flow of traffic and generally observe the traffic signals. Don’t blow a light if there are several motorists sitting there waiting patiently.

    2) Cycling has numerous fitness benefits. It can be done for longer durations and with much less impact than running. Also, I have found that choosing an event goal is very motivational. Select a 30-, 50-, or 100 mile bike tour, and it will get you out of bed and exercising on a Saturday morning.

    Thanks for having this.

  • Joan

    The greatest impediment to my using my bike for transportation is bike thieves! It is the omnipresent threat that even the best most expensive most complex bike lock cannot prevent. When you buy a bike, the lock is 1/4 the cost of the bike! And even the police seem to have accepted this as inevitable.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    My biggest problem with drivers, and I have few problems here in this small city in which I live, are the drivers who feel and demonstrate that attitude of privilege, the drivers who feel the speed limit is the minimum speed by which they might negotiate a violation with a police officer.

    The speed limit, in fact, is the maximum–the idea that it should be anything else is foisted on us by the junk science of the traffic engineers’ 85% rule; the idea that reasonable speed should be determined by the speed at which 85% of drivers drive. This is allowing the inmates to run the asylum of our roads.

  • Kelvin W

    Tom,
    I would like to make a point that casual cyclists need to be educated as much as motorists.

    I am a long distance recreational cyclist, but I get enraged when I see the errant occasional cyclist that not only endanger their lives, the lives of motorists and also are the ones that bring a bad name to more resonsible cyclists. People on bicycles need to know to wear helmets, at least slow down at stop signs/lights and don’t hog the entire lane riding 3 or 4 abreast when going at 5mph.

    Thanks for shedding light on the subject!

  • Pat Pruyne

    http://blog.travelwithbread.com/

    Another bike triumph from Portland!

    I wish I knew this show was coming up, I would have had Jenny call in from South Africa.

  • BHA

    Bikes doing maybe 15 MPH on a 35 MPH road are just as much a problem as pedestrians doing 3 MPH on a bike/recreation path with the bikes coming on at 15 MPH.

    It only works when there is enough space for both ‘vehicles’ to go at their speed and all parties make room as best they can.

  • Henry

    Biking is great; Im a cyclist myself. But to think that it will ever have a real impact on commuting – except maybe a couple of cities – is unrealistic. Most parts of the US are too hot in summer and too cold in winter for biking, so the good weather window is narrow. And it is dangerous – especially with more idiots text messaging & cellphoning in their cars.

  • laurance

    I have recently assemebled and have been happily using a bicycle with a trailer and a cooler for trips to the grocery store.
    Along the 5 of so miles to the store I get numerous smiles and generally positive reactions from drivers, cyclists and neighbors along the way.
    This is much different from when I’m training and all spandexed up, but it seems like with all the energy issues swirling, Americans may be ready to embrace the utility, logic and economy of cycling.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Take the lane, drivers will pass you when it’s safe to do so in the opposite or adjacent lane–riding any other way risks the safety of cyclists as drivers of varying degrees of skill (usually in inverse proportion to the width and length of their vehicles) try to squeeze past you. My priority is my own safety, giving way to drivers is down the list of priorities.

  • S. Nellis

    If drivers don’t believe that bicyclists should be on the road, and cyclists fear for their lives on the streets, why not create an infrastructure to satisfy both? Germany has done this. The cars have the road. The cyclists have designated bike paths that are separate from the road and pedestrians. Most cyclists as well as automobile drivers respect the rules of the road. Those that don’t risk getting a ticket.

  • Erin

    As a Salt Laker who does a lot of her commuting on foot, I’m tired of bullying from BOTH cyclists and motorists. For the record, bike commuters: you’re actually in MORE danger on the sidewalk if you’re going any faster than walking speed. Cars can’t anticipate you crossing driveways or intersections; heck, they’re barely looking out for us walkers!

    There’s some great info about this, and other ways to avoid being killed, at bicyclesafe.com.

  • irwin

    Doctor sentenced to 5 years in prison for assaulting bicyclists in … Jan 8, 2010 … Christopher Thompson, wearing dark blue jail scrubs, wept as he apologized to the injured cyclists shortly before he was sentenced. …
    latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/…/cyclist-sentenced.html – Cached -

  • David

    I recently removed the training wheels from my son’s first bike. He has mastered this simple machine and the grin on his face was priceless. It made me contemplate what a milestone this is in every kids’ life. I wish him a lifetime of riding enjoyment.

  • Steve

    53 years old.
    Former 10,000 mile/year cyclist.

    Commuted to work until last year.

    Riding home, SUV came off of freeway ramp onto surface street and was late spotting me in the curb lane.

    At last minute screeched to a halt, nearly tapping my handlebar on right side.

    If you are on a bike and are by a car at 55 mph…

    The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is for the most part a poor place to ride a bike except for trails through parks. Commuting in all but a few locations is dangerous.

  • Glenn Hunsberger

    How can a cyclist justify taking up the entire lane or riding 2 or 3 abreast when their speed maybe 15 or 20 miles an hour? A vehicle, going at sub-speed, would be ticketed for creating a road hazard.

    Running traffic lights and getting ahead of cars that have passed you more than once in transit, creates tension.

    No cyclist honors the rules of the road. They consider being on the bike a way to dismiss those rules and then, complain when drivers react.

    Thank you.

  • http://space.mit.edu/~kcooksey Kathy Cooksey

    I think that making learning to bicycle on city streets a requirement of obtaining a driver’s license would improve the general state of driving in the U.S. as well as help ease the tension between motorists and cyclists. I think motorist who get most mad at cyclists don’t understand their perspective or how bad their driving really is. In addition, I hope cyclists, who likely also drive occasionally, remember that it is sometimes difficult to see cyclists, so they should judge any “near miss” in light of what they were doing too.

  • Luther

    I’d just like to say that it is sometimes safer for cyclist not to follow the “rules of the road” as a car would.

  • Pam

    It’s really hard to like bikers in Boston when nine out of ten times I see them running red lights at busy intersections. I can’t remember the last time I saw a biker stop at a red light. Deathwish? Are bikers not aware of the laws? Unless something has drastically changed, they are subject to the same rules of the road as cars. Also I have gotten mixed up in bike club rides through Cambridge/Belmont that consist of spandex-clad riders weaving in and out of traffic and running red lights en masse. Great ambassadors for the culture!

    And lest you think I’m anti-biker, I am equally annoyed at drivers who think bike lanes are an alternate lane for cars!

  • Justin

    I’ve been commuting to work in Marlborough (from Southborough) since ’94. Besides the weather (I cycle year-round as long as road is snow-free), the biggest challenge is poor road surfaces and drivers who insist on driving close to right side of the road. For me, besides saving gas, the greatest benefit is regular exercise and being able to enjoy the world around me.

  • gerhard

    Bicyclists on the road by right, motorists on the road by license..

  • matt savage

    Portland is NOT bike friendly, it’s bike COMMUTER friendly… It does nothing to support the rest of the cycling community.

    Commuters are the worst of the lot. They have no concept of rules of the road and traffic laws, possess no bike handling skills, and have this arrogance that leads them to believe the world owes them something. They have no concept of reality or common sense by riding on roads that they have no business being on due to speed and traffic volume, yet they take up the entire lane…

    I’m a cyclist and an auto driver. I ride all bikes; mtn., road, track, DJ, all over the city day and night… I propose a bicycle license (with written and ridden test) and tax for commuters and non racing products, mandatory helmet and light law 24 hours (like motorcycles).

    If Portland is truly a “cycling” city, it would take all steps to provide a safe and enjoyable cycling experience. Lane stripes and green boxes don’t do this. Education does and legislation does.

  • http://michaeltinstman.blogspot.com Michael

    Eben, what have you tried any of the new electric bicycles, like Optibike? A bit nerdy, but I think it might pull even more people into the culture.

    I love cycling to work, but my commute is 28 miles round trip. Can only manage it 1-2 days a week. I call it my virtual hybrid car, because the rest of the time I drive. It certainly takes the pain out of gasoline costs (when they are high).

  • Maureen Wilson

    Used to ride many road miles 10 years ago or so, what has changed for me now is the presence of drivers with cell phones and very large vehicles. It’s obvious to me that some of them have no idea how close they come to the bike! We could stand to learn something from the Europeans.

  • Anne Cataldo

    I live in Albany, NY and am a small person… I love riding my bike recreationally, but am terrified of riding on “real” roads because of the traffic… what can I do to overcome this fear? Albany is not a partically “Bike-Friendly” city.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Glenn writes:

    How can a cyclist justify taking up the entire lane or riding 2 or 3 abreast when their speed maybe 15 or 20 miles an hour? A vehicle, going at sub-speed, would be ticketed for creating a road hazard.

    Running traffic lights and getting ahead of cars that have passed you more than once in transit, creates tension.

    No cyclist honors the rules of the road. They consider being on the bike a way to dismiss those rules and then, complain when drivers react.

    Thank you.
    Posted by Glenn Hunsberger

    —-

    In my town, the speed limit is 25mph almost everywhere (and drivers willfully violate this severely)–I catch up to most drivers who passed me because all they accomplish is getting to a red traffic light sooner.

  • Yvonne

    I live in New Haven, CT and have enjoyed being able to bike to work most days. I’m about to move to Los Angeles, though, and although I spent a lot of time looking for a place to live within biking distance of work, I’m worried that LA is so anti-bike that I will end up driving even that short distance.

    Do any of your guests have any information about Los Angeles, and if they are making any efforts towards making the city more bike-friendly?

  • Anne Cataldo

    *particularly (typo!)

  • ANITA HALL

    COMMUTER CYCLISTS ARE DIFFERENT THAN THOSE OUT ON “RIDES”. COMMUTER CYCLISTS IN VERMONT OBEY LAWS OF THE ROAD AND ARE SINGULAR RIDERS AND USUALLY RIDE ON THE APRON/SHOULDER OF THE ROAD WHEN WE ACTUALLY BY LAW HAVE THE RIGHT TO RIDE ON THE ROAD IT SELF…THIS IS ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE SOLID WHITE LINE. I GET TIRED OF FOLKS LUMPING LEISURE RIDERS IN WITH SERIOUS COMMUTERS. I COMMUTE 20 MILES A DAY ON RURAL HIGHWAY ROAD.

  • http://aguystudio.com Allan Guy

    I live in Manassas Virginia, in horse country. Not a few miles away at my girlfriends, HORSES-the traditional recreational mode of travel, have been forced off the road by cyclists! People from the city want city roads and so have lanes which take up valuable black top…yet these same jerks think they ARE in the city, ride 3, 4, 5-8! abreast on BAD country roads, and basically act like there are NO rules since they are “in the country.”

    Jerks.

    (And in Old Town Manassas where I live…i use a bike for my chores, so I don’t hate bikes, in their place.)

  • KKirsch

    I have been riding my bike since 71 on the same bike, don’t have spandex and do just about everything from shopping to just touring. Bikers should obey the traffic laws (it is only safe). Drivers should give bikers a break (look at the price of gas every biker you see keeps that price down). I have been hit by cars 3 times 2 on purpose. I also drive a car.

  • Tom Newcomb

    As a cyclist and a former bike shop owner, i have a lot of issues with cyclists’ behavior. But seriously, requiring registration or bicycles or lisences? So will the police be stopping the six year old girl with training wheels for a lane violation?

  • David Henry

    NYC is actually turning into a great bike city, lots of new paths have opened up. The biggest problem is the bus drivers, they will run you down and not think twice.

  • Pat Pruyne

    I am shocked at the quantity of animosity I am hearing toward bicyclists.

    We don’t pollute.

    We don’t take parking spaces from cars.

    We are silent as we pass through your community.

    Our troops are not “defending” our oil under the Arabian peninsula.

    We are lowering the national BMI.

    We don’t use the sidewalks so to the roads we go.

    The roads are not just for people who have wrapped themselves in 3,000 lbs of glass, steel and plastic. My taxes paid for them, too.

  • Y.T.

    Tom & Team – Disappointed that a local chopper bicycle gang (http://www.scul.org) was not part of this discussion – it has been around for 15 years!
    Have not yet heard today’s program, though (just found this via Tweet), am keeping my fingers crossed that SCUL was at least mentioned in passing.
    Otherwise – thank you for OnPoint.

  • http://Cambridge,MA Mike

    As a bicycling commuter and a driver, I have been put at risk by bicyclists in both forms of transportation. When bikers who do not follow the rules of the road around me, it puts me at risk from cars who need to avoid swerving bikes. My rearview mirror in my car was broken off by a biker who did not stop and just kept riding. The problem without having registration for bikes is that there is no responsibility, and no way to report a hit and run or erratic biking as a witness. I know it is a fiscal liability, but if you don’t make the effort to get bikers to follow the rules of the road, it won’t happen.

  • Michael [Wellesley, MA]

    I have three points:

    1) Yes, I believe that cities should be investing considerably more in bicycle lanes and other support for increased bicycling.

    2) However, the level of law breaking by bicyclists in many cities is relatively high, which requires also significantly more public investment in education and enforcement. [Incidentally, my casual observation is that Portland cyclists are significantly more law-abiding than in (say) Boston or DC, which suggests that greater infrastructure investment may help improve cyclist behavior.]

    3) By far the greatest safety problem in connection with bicycle usage is bicycles at night without lights or reflectors. In my opinion, there’s an urgent need for national standards for bicycle lights (size, color, location on the vehicle, etc.), as I believe there are in several European countries.

    I’m with Mr Weiss in saying that many bicyclists are drivers, but I cannot believe that any cyclist who also drives would cycle at night without lights — they just cannot be seen.

  • Christina

    while living the allston/cambridge area, I have encountered many bike riders (particularly ‘hipsters’ the kids with the tattoos, mohawks, carabeeners and messenger bags) who often come across as hating those who do drive cars. I know for a fact that there is a subculture of cyclists who think motorists are bad, stupid, ignorant etc. I also know that many bikers feel that they are ‘above’ those who drive cars. They feel that they don’t have to follow the rules of the road, they often play games involving swerving in and out of cars, trying to beat cars and drivers through red lights (which they often run). Additionally, in response to the speaker who suggested that wearing a helmet does not differentiate between responsible and irresponsible cyclists, I have to disagree, I have found that those with helmets are almost ALWAYS more responsible in not only how they ride but how they view others on the road. Again, this sub-culture of elitist ‘hipsters’ who think biking is a means of transportation reserved for the intellectual and more ‘cultured’ individuals in society, is the group of cyclists I view as being the largest part of any cyclist/motorist conflicts.
    And just to add to the confusion, what about those longboarders who use the long skateboards to travel and very often DO take up most of the road?! It’s scary, as a motorist too, to almost hit someone, (for me it is traumatic to have to weave around people whom I could potentially seriously injure and whom automatically assume I am ‘out to get them’ and often seem to look for excuses to hate me because I am driving a car) just as it is scary to cyclists/boarders etc. to almost be hit!
    I have cycled in cambridge also, and I have never had a problem with automobiles or drivers, so I don’t know what the hate is about.

  • matt

    “But seriously, requiring registration or bicycles or lisences? So will the police be stopping the six year old girl with training wheels for a lane violation?”

    A six year old girl on training wheels has no business riding in the road… their parent should be jailed for negligence.

  • http://space.mit.edu/~kcooksey Kathy Cooksey

    I have a second comment based on the caller who just suggested that cyclists maybe break the vehicular laws in ignorance. (For my part, I’m quite aware I’m breaking the law when I turn stop signs into yields, etc.) The fact is that cyclists are taking their own life in their hands when they chose to stop or go. Motorists risk other peoples’ lives when they chose to stop or go. I forgive cyclists more in that case.

    Also, anyone have a suggestion of how to inform motorists that they almost just killed you? Motorists can almost hit you on a bike and it’s nearly impossible to let them know that. I sort of want a suction-cup gun with notes like “You nearly killed a cyclist” that I can shoot at the cars. Otherwise they never learn to drive better.

  • John Bickelhaupt

    As someone who has been commuting since the early seventies, I would like to point out that when a cyclist violates a traffic law, he becomes an example of “those cyclists” but when a driver does the same thing, he’s just a generic idiot. I’m so glad you’re doing a show on this.
    Regards,
    John Bickelhaupt

  • Julie

    One of the guests was dead on. We don’t have to pit bikes against cars. It’s the irresponsible/inconsiderate drivers and the irresponsible/inconsiderate riders that are the problem. Etiquette and laws are not taught. There should be education programs in the schools. Public schools have driver’s ed, but they don’t cover etiquette and laws with cyclists. At the same time, there is NO education program about how to be responsible cyclists. The assumption is that cycling is easy so who needs to be educated? But how people behave on the road is established early on, once children start to ride. Education won’t solve the problem completey because there will always be rude people, but at least it would bring road sharing awareness at an early age.

  • ThresherK

    Tom Newcomb, they really don’t mean it. It’s part of the continuum, along with the fantasy that every square foot of public thoroughfare is paid for by DMV fees, car property tax and gasoline taxes.

    On my bike I’m not stuck in a “car jam”. So they’re angry at me. (which leads easily to…)

    On my bike I’m not concerned about gas prices, DMV fees, insurance and other bits, just my own hide. So they’re angry at me.

  • matt

    “Our troops are not “defending” our oil under the Arabian peninsula.”

    What are your tires, grips, cable housing, bags, etc made out of?

  • BHA

    Tom -
    The value of recumbents:
    1) no bent back, no back pain
    2) easier on the knees
    3) no pressure on the wrists

    ALL these make recumbents a much better machine for the rider.

  • Todd

    “I’d just like to say that it is sometimes safer for cyclist not to follow the “rules of the road” as a car would.”
    Posted by Luther

    Excellent point!

  • Joan Dalton

    My mother has a great saying about helmets.
    “If you think your hairdo is more important than your brain, you’re probably right”.

  • Kathryn

    REWARD Cyclist who commute! After over 25 years of riding to work on bikes, my husband and I still pay car insurance policies that equal those who commute to work by car…We are so much healthier and aware of ourselves, our surroundings, the aggressive drivers that whiz by us dangerously…Are these drivers jealous?

  • Tim

    Tom,
    I started carrying a gun while cycling after someone threw an axe at me from a passing logging truck.

    I’m a lifelong cyclist, have commuted, ridden across North America, and still ride regularly for fun and fitness.

    Unfortunately, too many non cyclists think it’s funny to use us for target practice, whether it’s a soft drink container, kids with rocks, or some idiot with an axe.

    Tim.

  • Stefan Sage

    you can’t take on responsibility until you have a respect for each other, for the existing laws. As the kindergartener ask Obama — are we being nice to each other

  • JohnK

    I rode a bike to work for a couple of years. After a few weeks I realized that the only way I would survive is to be “flexible” when it came to traffic lights. The problem for bicyclists is not cross traffic, it’s cars turning in front of you as they make left turns, and over you as they make right turns, at intersections. I decided that I would rather break the rules than die. Until we invest in a bicycle-friendly infrastructure, as I’ve seen in many European countries, that’s the reality!

  • Brian Copeland

    I bike to work in New Orleans. While there are a number of bicyclists around, the conditions are rather horrendous. The drivers are somewhat courteous, but the roads are the worst problem of all. Did road conditions factor into any of the city’s rankings? And then too, what have you done any research into the facilities at workplaces, schools, etc for cyclists to wash up after a hot humid ride?

  • ThresherK

    Matt, my bar grips, 700×35 tires, and other assorted bits weight a heck of a lot less than one car seat.

    This is opposed to everything you mentioned on a car, which is made of…organically sourced renewable native pine bark waste, I guess.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    For any driver who sees a cyclist as someone who believes he or she is holding the higher moral ground, they’re right. This is because, we do.

  • Tim

    +1 on the recumbent bikes. It took 2 months to recover full feeling in my fingers, after riding cross country on MTB style handlebars. Recumbents require a little retraining, but all the pains go away.

    On the issue of traffic laws, I only believe in stopping for stop signs and red lights, if running it would cause an accident, or scare a driver, or if the sight line is so bad I can’t see what’s coming.

    We waste a lot of fossil fuel by requiring cars to stop when it’s not really necessary, including “slow-me-down” signs, and places where a YIELD would be sufficient. Since I am going so much slower than a car, I am a lower threat, and have a much shorter stopping distance, there is no real public safety reason for me to stop and waste the human energy I have put into my forward motion. While this may anger motorists who feel “the rules are the rules”, some rules are stupid, pointless, and wasteful, and SHOULD be ignored as a matter of civil disobedience.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    I was 5 months pregnant with our last son when a driver went through a stop sign and knocked me onto the road. I was ok but had to go to the hospital. Later, I got served papers from our local hospital and had to pay 1,000 for the hospital bill. This was years ago but now I think back and wish I had at least refused not to pay it. There was only one stop sign and no dispute over who was in the wrong, I was riding through on the right. This show just triggered the memory, oh yea, I ended up paying for that bill.

  • Rob

    I am an avid cyclyst, runner, and ironman triathlete who lives and works in the NYC area. As a busy professional and entrpeneur, I find cycling to be a great way to relieve stress (and far less stressful than sitting in traffic when driving my car). While I would love to ride to work, I generally do not based on NYC traffic and I ride much more for leisure prior to work in either Central Park or Route 9W during the week, or out on Long Island over the weekend, etc…

    The bottom line is that many motorists in large cities refuse to treat cyclsts with respect and endanger our lives with poor driving. It amazes how some motorists will swerve to avoid a squirrel, but became livid at the thought of momentarily slowing down when a bike is on the right side of the road traveling at +-20 to 25 mph. I mean heaven forbid, they lose 30 seconds out of their precious day.

    Here is a simple rule that can satisy everyone. Both cyclsts and motorists should treat bikes as slower moving vehicles. Motorists should treat the bike lane as a normal lane of traffic (and not make hard right turns in front of us, but instead let bikes pass prior to turning). Cyclysts should actually stop at red lights and try when possible to stay to the right.

  • Paul

    People wonder why cyclists have attitudes when the have an encounter? Maybe it could be that they have already been yelled at to get off a marked and designated bike route/street or had an object thrown at them or almost hit while crossing an intersection, in the crosswalk and crossing with the light! All of these tend to put a rider on edge. Those commuters in their vehicles can be worried about many things, but I bike commuter is mostly concerned with staying alive! I normally love my ride to work. This morning that silver Interpid was too close!

  • Marc

    I cycle a lot.

    I can’t stand self-righteous cyclists who don’t make it easy for cars to pass, or signal what they’re doing, or yell at a driver who makes an innocent mistake. I also can’t stand the drivers who just don’t seem to like sharing the road with cyclists, yell at nothing, purposely drive close, that sort of thing. There will always be jerks on both sides, but I blame cyclists more. You’re irritating someone who outweighs you by 2000 pounds and moves a lot faster. Even if he doesn’t go after you, he builds up this image in his mind of cyclists as obnoxious jerks – maybe next time a cyclist makes a mistake, he’ll take it out on this person.

    A wave if a driver does something nice, a quick “sorry” if you make a mistake, a polite reminder if they do something that indicates they’re clueless. And for god’s sake, if it’s hard to get by you, don’t take up the entire lane while you’re only going 20mph.

    BTW, in some states, you don’t have to stop for a stop sign. But you have to slow down and check for traffic.
    I’ve heard it’s safer this way and I believe it.

  • Matt

    I went to college at OSU in Corvallis, OR. It has an intricate system of bike paths throughout every road in the city, allowing bikers to be integrated into the actual road with other vehicles while being safe, and conforming to the laws of the road. I think if a city makes the effort to make bike paths available, making biking to and from your destination easier, it will promote a larger biking culture. I would say that upwards of 60% of OSU students bike or walk to the campus, and about 40% of commuters in the city commute by bike.

  • luigi

    Pat Pruyne: . . . and we are really, really self-important. Aren’t we?

  • Jamey Rawstron

    Thanks for helping to bridge the wide gulf of understanding about cycling in America today.

    To speak to the caller who expressed angst about the snootiness of the road cyclist, one thing that should be understood is that riding at speed is an inherently dangerous activity. As such, those who are riding in groups want to know that everyone they’re riding with has skills and understands how it works – smoothly and safely yet speedily. This is where the inexperienced rider becomes a real threat; because this rider doesn’t know how to ride fast and in a group setting, it gets exponentially more dangerous very quickly. To protect themselves, these cyclists are reluctant to engage with other riders until they are a proven entity.

    When broken bones and hideous road rash are on the line, it’s understandable why it is like this. In this way, cycling is nearly unique in the world of human powered activity – almost nothing else carries this level of risk. Of course, a certain amount of stoicism is required to ride a road bike like this, and it can feel like coldness but it is really introversion.

  • Rob SMyser

    I’m convinced that the use of fixed gears and clipped pedals impels those cyclists through red lights because it is so much easier to keep moving somehow than to stop and clip out until the light changes. If you can’t track stand, then you’ll probably run the light.

  • Perplexed Pedestrian

    Cycling is a great sport, a healthy hobby, and a pollution reducing form of transportation.

    With so much going for it, why do cyclists casue so much animosity by the car driving public?

    I suggest it’s due to their arrogant bearing of bikers.

    When driving the narrow backroads of the towns on the South Shore it’s not usual for to have to contend with cyclists riding side-by-side to converse. (They can’t wait until they take a break?)

    I especially can’t understand on weekends, when bikers are all over, and within a couple of miles of Wampatuck State Park that they are riding the main streest of Scituate, Cohasset and Hingham on the east and Norwell ?Hanover to the west.

    If they ever bothered to venture into the park they’d discover miles and miles of carless roads, virtually empty of pedestrians, car pollution and BICYCLISTS!!!

    Do everyone a favor and try it out, bikers, and you’d lower the tension between drivers and your packs.

  • Jemimah

    I bike almost everywhere and almost every day of the year in Boston. I’ve never gotten hit/doored and while there may be some luck involved, I think it’s mostly that I’m careful and never, ever take my mind off what I’m doing, the fact that I’m in an extremely vulnerable position, and I don’t ride as fast as I can go. I admit, I don’t always wait for a green light. But I NEVER fly through an intersection, and frankly, neither do the majority of bike riders. You may, in your car, think we’re not looking but in order to survive the street, a biker has to use all her–or his–senses: be alert, anticipate, listen! But I’ve noticed that if people are startled, they get angry. They exaggerate the circumstances. One of the reasnons I ride a bike instead of driving is so I don’t HAVE to follow the same rules as cars. I will say, too, that many bikers are just dumb. First, just because you’re wearing a helmet, doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention. Also, when you’re going past a person, announce yourself for goodness sake! How hard is it to say, “Passing on your left!”? Be courteous to cars, pedestrians and your fellow bike riders. It’s such a fun thing to do…a privilege really. Enjoy it, don’t abuse it, and do it well. If you’re fearful, stay off the city streets. If you’re in a car, stop being mad at us. We’re helping lessen your traffic jams, we’re doing our bit to make the environment a little cleaner. We’re just trying to get somewhere, same as you. Every morning I get on my bike and smile because it’s such a cool way to get around this gorgeous city.

  • Richard

    I’m an immigrant, and something I dearly miss from my home country are dedicated bicycle lanes. In my US city (Champaign IL), the ground is perfectly flat, quite nice for bicycle lanes, but instead out of fear of getting hit by cars, many bikers come onto the sidewalk, which is where I am (75 minute commute each way via walking, walkers represent!)

    If bicycles were given the ability to ride on safe, dedicated lanes, it would be a better thing for everyone involved.

  • Margaret

    I used to ride a lot and fully agree that cyclists need to obey the laws, for legal reasons, reasons of personal safety and for social reasons (building good will).

    But, I get really, really sick of the INEVITABLE stream of comments from drivers on blogs like this re: “how cyclists ought to obey the laws yada yada yada…”

    And here’s why: in my car (which I mostly use now), I probably have a close call or scary driving moment with another vehicle every three months or so. On a bike, as a daily commuter, I probably had about three close calls a week with vehicles, and I can’t remember it being my fault more than a few times. Drivers on cell phones, drivers blowing lights, drivers passing me with four inches of clearance, drivers pissed about their job/wife/kid/who knows what and deciding to use me as target practice because it’s always fun to intimidate someone who is small and vulnerable…

    There is just no comparison between the two experiences.

    So yes, cyclists DO need to obey the laws – no argument with that! But the actions of many drivers are completely and totally unacceptable, and until more drivers get on these blogs and yap about how their “peers” need to be more responsible (because drivers are just one big monolithic self-policing happy community like cyclists, right?), I don’t want to hear opinions on cyclists’ manners (or lack thereof).

  • Bill Pierce, Plymouth CT

    I enjoyed today’s program. I especially enjoyed how people who ride fixed gear bikes were categorized as youngsters. I’ve spent over 30 years safely riding a “fixie” and it was nice being lumped with 20-somethings instead of AARPers. Seriously speaking though, motorists and cyclists alike along with pedestrians need to be equally alert about road conditions and rules of the road.

  • Mary-Claire Krebs

    Point of information for Mr. Weiss: Lots of Amish people wear sneakers. ;-)

  • Addi, Madison, WI

    I LOVE my commute. I ride 6 miles each way. Every year as my legs get stronger and my bike gets lighter my commute actually gets SHORTER. Each Spring it takes me about 35 minutes to bike to work and by the Fall, I’m down to 22 minutes tops.

  • Jamin (jay-min)

    I’ve biked to school in Santa cruz and to work in SF and in both places have witnesses a phenomenon of large groups of bikers taking up whole two lanes of traffic and purposefully blocking multiple lanes of traffic. I was in a car and late so found it really upsetting it gives bikers a bad name and upsets people. Is this normal elsewhere?

  • Gary

    Re: cyclist registration and learning/understanding the rules of the road – my experience tells me that it’s not so much the cyclist, but rather the motorist that needs to learn the rules of the road. Here in Rhode Island those obnoxious, arrogant drivers yell, “Ride on the sidewalk.” Those motorists want you to be riding on the sidewalk or in the ditch at the side of the road and keep all of the lane clear for them and their too-fat cars. SHARE THE FREAKIN’ ROAD!

  • Mari McAvenia

    “You must be in great shape, man.” T. Ashbrook

    Yes, we are, man.

    At least I am.

    Ride a bike. What do you do, again?

  • Brian

    Re “rules of the road,” keep in mind these were never developed with bikers in mind. Trucks have lower speed limits than passenger cars. Buses can make turns that passenger cars cannot make, but there are few allowances for bikes where it would make sense. (Such as cautiously proceeding through a red light when appropriate.)

  • Mari McAvenia

    Sounds like too many M-ass-ho-les on the narrow streets for the many of us. They drive cars. Kill us. Peace?

  • Icebiker3

    I used to always take the insults and attacks from motorists personally…until I saw a Lincoln Navigator that lost an argument with a loaded dump truck. Perspective: 55 years on 2 wheels, and I am still out there. Whooooooooo!!!

  • luigi

    Jamin: SF used to be bike friendly 15 years ago but the BAD attitudes of under 40′s have spoiled it for all.

  • everydaybikes

    As a daily commuter and long distance cyclist its amazing the arrogance of motorists and ignorance of other bike riders. I’ve had all manner of things thrown at me as well as near head-on collisons with other riders on the wrong side of the road. And yes, I follow the rules of the road, I even stop for stop signs. But there are two items that need to be addressed here. One is that as cyclists we see things in/on the road that drivers don’t see, pot holes, broken glass, suvs etc. If motorists would allow us a few minutes to get around these road hazards I would glady let them pass and we can go on our merry ways. Secondly, I think one of the safest items you can put on your bike is a mirror I’ve had one on my commuter bike for sometime now and just recently added on to my road bike and it makes life so much easier.

  • John

    The most predictable thing you read whenever there’s a bike story is “cyclists don’t obey laws.” In L.A., I can say that nearly all cyclists do obey lights but some do roll stop signs slowly when there’s no one there.

    Stop signs were created with cars in mind. A car rolling a stop can really hurt or kill someone. Also, it’s much harder to see what’s going on a car with the glass and pillars. Complete stops make sense for a car.

    It’s silly to always trot out the few cyclists rolling a stop sign at 5 mph when there are drunk or distracted motorists and people going 25 over the speed limit. Simply put, wreckless motorists are far more dangerous. The outrage seems pretty disproportional.

  • John

    Tom, you keep mentioning the carbon and pollution benefits. Those are important but to me the main advantages of emphasizing walking, transit, and bikes over private cars is better use of land. We use a tremendous amount of public space on pavement and parking. To deal with congestion we convert even more land for roads, which only serves to move people far away and basically force them to drive and creates even more sprawl.

  • Burdock

    Door Zone-See youtube video -”avoiding the door zone”-. Cyclists need to ride at least 5 feet out to avoid being doored. Bicycle lanes are only 5 feet wide. So to ride safely in a bike lane you need to ride on the outer edge. Where there are no bike lanes riding that far out means that you are in the center of the traffic lane. It may feel uncomfortable but cars will drive around you, at least here in Boston, and you will avoid being doored. Cars may honk at you or gesture at you but you need to look out for your safety! In the Netherlands bike lanes are at least 8 ft 3in wide for each direction. The configuration should be sidewalk, bike lane, buffer zone, parked cars, traffic lane. In the US it is sidewalk, parked cars, bike lane, traffic lane. That configuration creates a lot of tension between drivers and cyclists.They have worked at what to do about bicycle paths & intersections in the Netherlands- see David Hembrow’s blog “ A View from The Cycle Path” . http://hembrow.blogspot.com/
    Speed Limit- On main roads in cities and towns traffic should go no faster than 20 mph as they do in the Netherlands where it is actually 18mph. That is a speed that eye contact can be made between the driver and cyclists & a speed where fatalities are unlikely to occur if a cyclist is hit by a car. It also gives a driver more response time. On quiet neighborhood streets the speed limit there is 6mph!
    Helmets. We have a helmet hysteria in this country. People are quick to point a finger at a non-helmet user. Many, many people wear helmets incorrectly. Even though they wear helmets with straps that are not snug, or wear their helmets tilted back on their heads instead of squarely on top of their heads or wear a helmet that is not a snug fit so that it easily moves around on the head are quick to question a non-helmet user. It is unsafe to wear a helmet incorrectly. Helmets will not keep you from getting into an accident. Being very attentive and not riding in the door zone will help you avoid accidents. Ever since Australia made helmets mandatory for everyone bicycle ridership plummeted. In 2006 helmets became mandatory in Denmark for children under 15 and cycle use in that age group made a rapid decline. 99 % of dutch adults and children do not wear helmets and they have a very low accident rate for the # of miles traveled by bicycle per person. See – http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/?–
    Bicycle speed- 20 -25 mph is a very fast speed for a cyclist. 12 mph is a more typical speed. I probably go 10 mph. Too bad if a driver things I’m too slow. The most important thing is my safety.
    Scofflaws- Often bicyclist go through a red light after ascertaining there are no cars coming in order to get a head start on cars so they won’t be in the way of cars. All cars at least in Boston do not stop for a yellow even if it is safe to do so as the law states & in fact will speed up to get through the yellow light before it changes to red & at least one additional car will follow the first running a yellow light. Pedestrians cross at intersections when they don’t have the walk signal and in fact follow the herd and don’t even notice if they have the light. They cross in the middle of the street which I think is OK though not if they cause cars & bikes- to come to a screeching halt. The problem is not cars or bikes or pedestrians but the infrastructure! With good infrastructure all of this conflict would be resolved.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where I live there used to be a city ordinance requiring bikes to be licensed, and mine was. However, it was stolen (locked but at a downtown park), and I was without a bicycle for a few years. Then I saw an notice in the newspaper that the police were selling bicycles that had been picked up around town, and they were auctioning them off. I went and hunted around. There I found the remains of my bicycle, sans wheels. In those days all bikes were three-speeds, but I knew mine well. I tried to claim it, pointing out I had registered it. Well, they had ceased to keep track. Oh, how mournful.
    Nowadays, people tend to have fancy bicycles, and I have an old sixth-generation jalopy. I don’t lock it; I just tie the cord with a square knot. In a decade no one has stolen it.
    For signaling I use little bells on both right and left that jingle over bumps. This is because there is a law that says one must signal on turning, but if I do so, I am very likely to fall right over; I usually have to dismount. But I use my ears to tell what’s coming for the most part.
    I will coast on the sidewalks (with both feet on one side, ready to walk at an instant) if no pedestrians are around if there is no road space; but I would never bike on the left side of a road; I think that would jinx certain drivers; for intersections, I make eye contact whenever possible.
    I’ve been doored many times. (I bought the two bells after the last occasion; not that people listen.)
    I can’t find a helmet that fits over my hairstyle, which has hairsticks poking out four ways.
    I object to bike paths that head toward the country when where I need to go would be all the busiest places in town. I object to bike paths that DO go across town but are not plowed in the winter, when the roads are narrower because of rows of piled snow on the shoulders, rutty, slippery, all that, and at these times the sidewalks might be plowed for one house and not for the next. That’s when you find the bike path entrance is being used as the dumping spot for all the plow trucks, a sort of grand terminus, Mt. Winter 2009. The only advantage to biking in winter is it is far less slippery than walking; the tires collect a huge amount of sand and grip very well even on sheer ice.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In my area we have a “ghost bicycle,” one painted entirely white, that was left by a tree where one bicyclist was hit and killed a few years back. A truck was turning right up a steep corner and didn’t realize she was coming up behind it, and she didn’t realize it was turning, I guess.
    Now the ghost bike has reappeared two towns over, where a bicyclist was hit more recently. It makes quite a statement, because it is very photogenic, more than a tombstone.
    About smelliness. Try bathing in very hot water first to kill bacteria; I sweat mostly afterwards, or so it seems, so I’m always in for a chill. Try bathing in very hot water after as well. Commuters? I see the problem. The more I bicycle the fatter I get; no brainer. It makes you hungry (thirsty?) for hours.

  • joshua

    to all you motorists angry about bikes-who say cyclists don’t obey the traffic rules, you have a huge beam in your eye–why are you worried about my splinter? When will motorists start obeying the law and stop polluting MY air?!

  • Monk

    I bicycle or walk everywhere I go. The reason bicyclists don’t obey traffic laws is because they are not traffic (don’t care what the law says because it was written for cars, not bikes).

    Another reason the concerns of drivers fall on deaf ears in the bicycling community is because bikes don’t pollute people’s lungs and they don’t kill on a daily basis. However, bicyclists are forced to breathe the pollution spewed by the lazy in society and they are threatened with the possibility of injury every time one of the death machines drives by them.

    One would think that because cars are able to travel from one place to another so much more quickly than bicycles, common courtesy would dictate that bicycle ALWAYS have the right-of-way. By the same token, bicycles should always relinquish the right-of-way to pedestrians. There should be no exceptions and any driver who injures a bicyclist should be arrested and jailed, and the same should happen to a bicyclist that hits a pedestrian. NO EXCEPTIONS.

    If any of you drivers don’t like it, I suggest you drive your car into your garage and keep the car running, shut all the doors and windows, then sit down in the garage for an hour or so and when you come out, if you come out, I’ll be more than happy to discuss the matter with you. I doubt I’ll have to do very much talking at that point.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Intersection etiquette. Drivers hate, I’m sure, if bicyclist dismounts, pushes the “Walk” button, and makes the cars in all directions stop for embarrassingly long while the bicyclist pushes the bike across. If I were a driver, I’d say do ANYTHING at rush hour to avoid holding up the flow of traffic unnecessarily. It is far less disruptive to make eye contact with cars in all directions and coordinate, by hand signals, a best time to scoot across. I’m thinking now more of intersections without lights, but the theory holds.
    Then, once you decide it’s safe to cross, do you think all the traffic in both directions would rather you WALK the bike across (legal), or BIKE the bike across (MUCH faster).
    Basically, a bicyclist can decide to become a pedestrian by jumping off the bike and pushing, and whereas a bicyclist follows automobile rules at intersections, sometimes it is safer and more convenient for everybody for that bicyclist to morph into a pedestrian. If you value your life, you make eye contact all over the place.

  • Burdock

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TQ7aID1jHs
    youtube video about avoiding the door zone

  • Tim

    Tom,
    I did not hear in your program, or read in these comments, any mention of John Forester, Effective Cycling, or the principles of vehicular cycling.

    Forester is an advocate of bicycles using the roads as a car would use them, and an opponent of bikeways and multi-use trails, where cyclists are endangered by crossing traffic and unpredictable, clueless pedestrians. He also opposes dedicated bike lanes, which have problems with crossing traffic, as well as concentrating hazardous debris such as sand and broken glass.

    On the other side, I had an excellent experience using the dedicated bike paths in Montreal, in April of 2008.

    I would like to hear more debate on these issues.

    Tim in Connecticut.

    • labann

      Exchanged email with Forester. Vehicular cycling has fundamental flaws, since for most cyclists bikes are more like sneakers than vehicles and should be considered a conveyance. The key to good interaction among all road users is space; keeping an empty shoulder allows cyclists to be courteous, but stealing for automotive turning lanes inspires retaliation.

  • Mark

    Thinking about cars vs bikes. I heard a good quote – “Cars make you fat – bikes run on fat.”

    Face it, riding a bike is good for you – if you ride in a safe area. I combine both car and bike on my daily commute. I live in the city and drive part way to work where there are no bike lines and the typical city congestion, bus exhaust and bland surroundings. When I reach the bike path along the river I park and pull my Montague bike http://www.montaguebike.com out of the trunk and ride the rest of the way in. Unfortunately, the last mile is back in the thick of the city. But at least I cleared my head and got some exercise.

  • Rick Evans

    Cyclists can be their own worst enemies.

    I learned to ride when I was nine and spent years riding around NYC with my South Bronx pals. Our adventures took us across the Triboro to Queens, to Staten Island via ferry, to Palisades, NJ via the GWB; it has sidewalks and benches.

    I’ve never felt unsafe around cars. When I lived in Brighton I recreation biked around Boston. I never felt unsafe. At 60 I run my local errands around a South of Boston town and don’t feel unsafe.

    HOWEVER.

    Even in cities like Boston and New York with aggressive drivers I’ve always found the behavior of drivers more predictable than cyclists.

    I believe the hostility between cars and bikes is relatively new and stems from the rise of bicycle messengers starting in the ’80s who took obnoxiousness to a new level. While ignoring traffic rules was the norm for most cyclists, the messengers were faster and more reckless.

    When there were a number of high profile cases of cyclists running down pedestrians out came the bike apologists like today’s guests.

    When a bike lost in a collision with a car and suddenly the apologists are outraged. And unlike the female guest from Washington I would never deliberately provoke drivers by “taking the road”.

  • Rob L

    Fun show. I’ve had cars roll down their windows and yell at me when I’m in a group of cyclists. But I’ve noticed it only ever happens when the group is wearing lycra. And it’s only ever men doing the yelling. My personal theory is that it’s a form of repressed homosexuality – faced with all those tight butts, the driver gets angry to avoid being embarrassed by their own arousal.

    Just a theory….

  • justanother

    If America cities here implement “Bike Sharing Program” like the one in Paris, not only it’s good for energy conservation, but also reducing obesity here, This country would be environmentally and physically healthier.

  • justanother

    Just brainstorming while I was watching the Paris Velib bike sharing system. Wouldn’t that be nice if they install a rechargeable battery on those bikes to store our human paddle energy of watts back in those batteries. City can collect those batteries to put them for bigger energy use. Just a thought! :-)

  • justanother

    Got to love “recycled energy”! ;-)

  • P.K. Iriguchi

    Was listening to the program last night and wished that I’d had the opportunity to call in. I’m a pedestrian/driver and over the years, my contempt has grown for bicyclists who in general seem to be unable to follow the laws of the road. I’ve noted a “holier than thou” attitude among them. Yes, they are vulnerable, but so am I, especially as a pedesterian. One even yelled, “What, you expected me to stop?” when I gave him an annoyed look when I was standing in a crosswalk. And, truly, as a driver, I do not want to hit them because they failed to follow those laws of the road. Over many years, I can think of perhaps only one or two who were courteous!

  • justanother

    “One would think that because cars are able to travel from one place to another so much more quickly than bicycles, common courtesy would dictate that bicycle ALWAYS have the right-of-way. By the same token, bicycles should always relinquish the right-of-way to pedestrians. There should be no exceptions and any driver who injures a bicyclist should be arrested and jailed, and the same should happen to a bicyclist that hits a pedestrian. NO EXCEPTIONS.”

    I’m not sure if I would agree with above whole heartedly. I’ve seen pedestrians just walk so slowly in the middle of the road when they DON’T have right of way. pedestrians shouldn’t challenge motorists when they are breaking the traffic law, same goes to cyclists. If I walk across the middle of the road by knowing there’s upcoming traffic, I RUN! I don’t “TAKE A WALK”. No motorists would want to “intentionally” hit anything. I’ve had people wearing dark cloth walking in the dark crossing the road jay walking, I almost hit them, now who’s fault is that?

    No matter we are pedestrians, motorist, or cyclist, we need to bear in mind, DEFENSIVE walking, riding and driving and apply courtesy are the best ways to go.

  • justanother

    Just because someone is not driving, biking, but walking when breaking the law, doesn’t mean that someone is a victim. That someone doing so is to disrespect and challenge others.

  • justanother

    But when I am a pedestrians following the traffic light, I “WALK”, I intentionally not to get intimidated by some obnoxious motorists. Some motorists do drive like its my way or no way.

  • Algonquian J. Calhoun

    Fun show. I’ve had cars roll down their windows and yell at me when I’m in a group of cyclists. But I’ve noticed it only ever happens when the group is wearing lycra. And it’s only ever men doing the yelling. My personal theory is that it’s a form of repressed homosexuality – faced with all those tight butts, the driver gets angry to avoid being embarrassed by their own arousal.

    Just a theory….

    Posted by Rob L, on May 7th, 2010 at 1:59 PM
    ============================

    If your ‘theory’ was meant to be satirical, not funny…

    If it was meant to be serious, you are a perfect cliche of the tool that non-cycilists consider us to be.

    I suggest that you keep your ignorant theories to yourself instead of proving them to be the foolish rantings of a amateur psychologist.

  • Marc

    I commute to work every day on my bike, roughly 17 miles each way (don’t fret, we have showers at work). I was rather taken aback by the portland guest who said she rides in the lane. There’s just no reason for that. There’s plenty of room on most roads (I ride country and city roads that very often don’t have a shoulder).

    I did spend several years in San Fran and commuted on motorcycle, splitting lanes, so I’m probably more comfortable with having lots of metal very close to me than some; but there’s still plenty of room. Cars and most trucks rarely take up more than 3/4 of the lane, including mirrors.

    What does annoy me is when somebody refuses to pass me. I understand passing with caution, passing with a wide berth, but pass already!

  • Rob L

    Algonquian, not meant to be funny. What else could explain a grown man slowing down, rolling down the window, honking and yelling at people who haven’t done anything to him. Does it make you angry to hear it?

  • http://civilstreets.org Mark Chase

    As cycling becomes more popular it’s getting more important to improve the relations between modes. A site that’s trying to improve the situation is civilstreets.org

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Cyclist Culture: Pedaling Attitude | WBUR and NPR - On Point with Tom Ashbrook -- Topsy.com

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Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

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Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

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