Monday, September 3, 2007

Bikes vs Cars

A letter to the editor the other day pointed out that too many drivers seem to believe that bikes shouldn't use the roads, based on the way they harass bike riders. It's a good point, and it is too easy to be annoyed at bikes that impede the flow of vehicle traffic for even a moment. Bikes deserve a place on the road, as do pedestrians, and we all need to be more tolerant.

However, I've also seen a fair number of bike riders who seem to believe the opposite: that bikes have unlimited rights on the road and that cars shouldn't be there. They ride three abreast on two-lane roads and don't drop into single-file when a car comes up behind them so it can pass safely. They refuse to move to the right in traffic, even when there is plenty of room. They dart into intersections from unexpected directions, without slowing down or looking for cars; bikes are so much faster than pedestrians that when they use pedestrian manners, it frequently results in startled drivers and sometimes near-misses. They switch from car manners to pedestrian manners as it suits them, making them unpredictable for other traffic. In general, they behave as if everyone should and will make way for them, regarldess of their actions.

Thank goodness there are also bike riders who fall into single-file when being passed by a car and who wave at drivers who pass them safely. And bike riders who make a real effort to use the shoulders even when they are rough. It's unfortunate that, drivers and bike riders alike, there are a few bad apples who make life less pleasant for all concerned.

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