Thursday, January 18, 2018
Breaking News
Home » Rockies » Oregon » Bend » Road Rage for Cyclists Embarrassing, Dangerous, Un-American
If even one driver who hates cyclists reads this column (and next week's column), I'll not only consider it well worth the time I spent writing it, but also a big victory for public safety. The vast majority of motorists courteously and safely share roadways with cyclists, but a very small minority not only aren't courteous, but for some unexplainable reason fill up with rage whenever they see cyclists on the road ahead. Anybody who regularly rides bicycles on paved roadways knows about this minority. They not only think cyclists have no right to use public roadways but also show their anger by shouting obscenities and giving out the universal salute and even do all sorts of outright dangerous things like coming up behind cyclists blaring their horns, purposely passing inches from handlebars at high speed, or throwing beer cans and other objects, which become lethal missiles for somebody on a bicycle.

Road Rage for Cyclists Embarrassing, Dangerous, Un-American

If even one driver who hates cyclists reads this column (and next week’s column), I’ll not only consider it well worth the time I spent writing it, but also a big victory for public safety.

The vast majority of motorists courteously and safely share roadways with cyclists, but a very small minority not only aren’t courteous, but for some unexplainable reason fill up with rage whenever they see cyclists on the road ahead. Anybody who regularly rides bicycles on paved roadways knows about this minority. They not only think cyclists have no right to use public roadways but also show their anger by shouting obscenities and giving out the universal salute and even do all sorts of outright dangerous things like coming up behind cyclists blaring their horns, purposely passing inches from handlebars at high speed, or throwing beer cans and other objects, which become lethal missiles for somebody on a bicycle.

I’ve been an active road cyclist for thirty years. I only see this type of hazardous, embarrassing, and downright un-American behavior once or twice each year, but that’s enough to remind me it’s still a serious problem. And I constantly ask myself what causes this amazing anger? What makes a few people so furious at cyclists that they purposely do things that could not only kill somebody, but also destroy their own lives?

Each year, I try to convince myself it’s getting better and our culture is gradually changing to recognize that cyclists have as much right to use public roadways as motorists, something the rest of the world understands completely, but I might be fooling myself.

I suppose cyclists deserve partial blame. No doubt some cyclists don’t follow the traffic rules, unnecessarily inconvenience motorists, and have a self-righteous attitude that shines through their Spandex. But you could say the same about most groups. And is this enough to cause the rage we see and read in comment sections? How many motorists follow all the rules of the road–always drive the speed limit, always drive a straight line, always stop at stop signs, always use their turn signals?

Cyclists have lapses of judgment. I’ve lost my concentration and done stupid things on my bike. How many motorists have never done the same when behind the wheel? Why are miscues by motorists more forgivable than those made by cyclists?

When I’m on my bike and come up behind a truck grinding down a big hill or a cattle drive or street sweeper and have to slow down, do I immediately fill up with anger and flip them off when I ride by or yell, “Get a bike”? Hardly. I’d be embarrassed if I even thought about it.

When I see a driver weaving around while yapping on a cell phone or rolling through a stop sign or not using turn signals or not stopping at a crosswalk, do I ride up beside him or her yell, “Get the fuck of the road”? No, but I’ve heard this from road-raged drivers way too many times.

I have, incidentally, stopped cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road, using cell phones while riding or riding the wrong way on a one-way street and suggested, politely, that they refrain from this dangerous behavior.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect many motorists who can’t control their temper when they see cyclists have flagpoles in their yards, are big on the constitutional freedoms we enjoy in this country, are proud to be American. Yet, they’re unable to accept that cyclists have the same rights they do? They can’t understand that we also like the Bill of Rights, have motor vehicles in our garages, and pay the same taxes they do? Lots of cyclists, believe it or not, have flagpoles, own handguns, and drive big pickup trucks. I even proudly ride around with a flag on my bicycle on Memorial Day and Independence Day.

I only hope one of these over-raged motorists who purposely hazes cyclists reads this column and takes the time to answer those questions in the comment section because I’d really like to know what motivates them to have so much anger toward cyclists.

Footnote: Next week, I’ll try to answer some of the concerns I speculate might anger motorists such as why cyclists don’t use bikeways, can’t always use turn signals, avoid riding on shoulders, don’t always ride a straight line, take the whole lane on steep hills, and don’t always ride single file.

About Bill Schneider

Check Also

One Big Sky Center

Hammes Company Joins One Big Sky Center Venture in Billings

Billings, Montana is moving ahead with discussions on the One Big Sky Center proposal, which ...


  1. Thanks for this article, Bill! I just wish you got read Back East… I was biking around SE PA this weekend and thought that a piece like this was needed, particularly the reasons cyclists intentionally do some of the things that might anger motorists. Can’t wait for next week.

  2. Bill, good article. I’ve spent lots of time on a bike both for recreation and for commuting and have experienced all of the unpleasantries from motorists that you have mentioned above. There is no excuse for that type of behavior towards cyclists. They have every right to be on the road! Where I disagree with you is in characterization of equally poor behavior of cyclists as resulting from momentary lapses of judgement, distractions, etc. While that may be the case in some situations, there are far too many cyclists who simply have a blatant disregard for traffic laws, and quite simply, law enforcement needs to do a better job of citing cyclists for traffic infractions and cyclists need to do a better job of policing this behavior in their own circles. While we all witness motorists doing stupid things on a daily basis, I think the consequences are different. By this I mean that next time I’m on my bike, I don’t want to deal with a motorist who has pent up aggression from another cyclist’s behavior or lack of consideration for motorists. It is a two-way street. Motorists undeniably need to develop patience and understanding of multi-modal transportation, and those who are using our road network for non-vehicular purposes need to follow traffic laws and use good judgement. Thanks for writing on this topic.

  3. Great article. My favorite rant by road ragers is that we don’t pay taxes on the road so we shouldn’t be on them. How the heck do they figure that we don’t pay taxes?? I pay property tax on our house, income tax on my paycheck, registration taxes on our 2 vehicles, and gasoline tax every time I fill them up. Do they think that because we’re on bicycles that we live in tents off the grid and pay no money into the economy?

  4. I think anything that is a combination of annoying and easy to hurt (think of a yapping little dog) incites a predatory response. Huge differences in how a truck and bike use the road = annoyance. Huge difference in size of truck and bike = easy to hurt the biker. Result: predatory rage on the truck’s part. Not that it’s justified, but that’s always been my theory.

  5. coming from work near Glacier Park last summer, traffic is heavy due to the season. Came around corner on 4 lane (with bike path off on side) and here is this lunatic riding mid driving lane. Luckily all traffic in all lanes, including oncoming were able to slow to a crawl and for awhile we followed him. Much closer than what was safe, but what the heck is he thinking and why isn’t he on bike path. He was all duded out in his little spandex, so I assume it wasn’t his first ride. Followed him for about 1/2 mile and he made no attempt to even get off to the side of the road. He was a very lucky guy that day. Stupid, but lucky. Also, saw groups on different times on old hwy. 206. This is narrow, 2 lane and 60 mph. Also busy. Summer, remember? Not bad enough they are careless to bike on this narrow road when there are alternatives, but they ride at least 2 abreast so can’t get by them even if there is a break in traffic.
    And they wonder why drivers get frustrated??

  6. Bill,

    Good piece. I think many cyclists forget that they need to be ambassadors for their sport, transportation, etc. Set the example. We have to pick up the slack for those who give riders a bad name. In Missoula, too many students who move in and out of town. They do not know traffic rules for bikes. Too many out-of-town drivers don’t know the rules either.

    Maybe you can answer something that’s been bugging me. Why is it that no riders will ever wave to one another? Whenever I pass a cyclist coming the opposite way on my bike, I wave. They just stare in disbelief, as if my God, that guy is riding with only one hand on his handlebars. I think many riders don the spandex and have to make up for it by becoming overly aggressive and competitive. I’ve caught myself doing it once or twice myself.

  7. This is a well-written, thoughtful article. I have often wondered why some people slow down for an animal or a machine impeding their progress without so much as a second thought, but get so pissed-off to have to slow down for a human being on a bicycle that they feel compelled to dispay that rage in such a dangerous manner. We are all just human beings with families, friends, and pets no matter what pedals we use…gas, platforms or clips.

  8. A defensive driving attitude check is in order if you experience road rage when you encounter road nuisances that require you to alter speed and course temporarily. There is no guarantee that the road will be clear around the next bend. To name a few things that suddenly might appear in the middle of the road: deer, elk, moose, bear, raccoon, porcupine, debris, pedestrians, bicyclists, farm equipment, construction equipment etc. Be prepared to slow way down and wait till it is safe to pass with patient good humor. Defensive Driving attitude also lowers your stress level.

  9. Patrick,

    I haven’t really noticed that myself. It actually seems like most riders I meet do wave. I always do unless I am in a situation where I need both hands on the bars.

    I do agree, though, that slipping on the Spandex does make cyclists a bit more aggressive and competitive than they normally might be, but still no excuse for bad behavior.


  10. I can’t say I have ever had road “rage” due to a cyclist, but I have had my annoyances like everyone else. From my understanding, If a cyclist is on the road, they must follow the rules of the road. If on the shoulder or sidewalk, then they can follow a different set of guidelines. I wish everyone on bikes understood this.

    I have seen many times cyclists blowing through stop signs causing dangerous situations.

    I understand giving them the right-of-way if you see them coming, but on so many streets with limited visibility due to trees/cars, bikers need to be careful!!

  11. I think you need more than a cyclist-hater to read your column, it would take a tiny change of heart, at least, to call it a success.

    And then some. In today’s news, we read that the commuter van driver in Boise whose inattention (it seems) killed Jim Chu has finally been charged. For “involuntary manslaughter,” which can apparently be a misdemeanor. Punishable by up to a year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,000. For taking a life.

  12. Thanks for this thoughtful article. I only have to disagree with one thing. The aggressive behavior towards cyclists on our roads is quite American. I’m from Europe and I traveled a lot of countries and I don’t see this ugly side of humans towards cyclists anywhere else other then in America.

    I live in Los Angeles and the interesting thing is that in immigrant neighborhoods the drivers become more polite, understanding and careful. The more rich and “American” the neighborhood becomes, the more aggressive the drivers become.

  13. I don’t understand why drivers (and their passengers) feel the irresistible urge to pull up right next to me on my bike and scream. It’s happened three times since UM started up for the year, all on a street with plenty of room for everyone to move along — wide lanes, wide bike lanes, wide parking lanes. Yet the screaming persists from a remarkable diversity of drivers and vehicles.

    It’s annoying. It’s sometimes scary (as previously screaming has preceded being hit with thrown objects, spit, fire extinguisher spray, or simply, a hand.) It ruins my otherwise mellow commute.

    Screamers, please resist the urge and go in peace.

    Thanks for the piece, Bill.

  14. I’ve seen many bicyclists (I bike and drive) who don’t show enough concern for motor vehicles. Odd, because certainly it’s in their best interest and safety. Bicycles can be very hard to discern, especially if traveling at the rate of a motor vehicle in the city, coming out of the shadows. Some state laws do not require bicyclists to follow “the rules of the road”, and are treated more like pedestrians. There should be a standardized set of rules for bicyclists on public thoroughfares, and they should be enforced.

  15. Bill,

    Without condoning bad behavior, I think there’s a psychological reason that people act out on bicyclist when they don’t on cars–it’s a reaction to a bicyclist’s vulnerability.

    When I turn a blind corner doing the speed limit and come up against a bicyclist in the middle of the road, going 30 mph less than I am, I have a HUGE adrenaline rush. If the same thing happens with a car, I have a medium rush. As a driver, if I get into an accident in a car there’s a chance we both get banged up, but the cars are protective. If I run into a bicyclist, I may kill him/her (and this happened to my friend). Big adrenaline rush.

    I think the fear of hurting, even killing, someone quickly turns to anger. It’s not morally right to take it out by screaming at them…but psychologically, I think that’s what’s going on…and why it’s different from auto collisions.

    The fear of killing someone–a life altering event at so many levels–is pretty intense and folks don’t know how to deal with that kind of emotional intensity. They behave badly.

    But you’re good to keep reminding us to behave better because forethought helps deal with trauma.

  16. I am not sympathetic here, although I used to be a pretty enthusiastic bicyclist. Several times this summer I have seen pretty sloppy bike etiquette on highways, like two feet out in the lane with oncoming traffic in a curvy section while the bike is lugging uphill. So I get to crawl all over the brakes.
    Never mind town shenanigans.
    And I really get miffed at roadies who insist on riding no-shoulder roadways. Take 28, frinstance, or for goodness-sake, lower 35 near Polson. Nothing like sailing around a blind corner and BIIIIIKE! If these highways had shoulders, fine, but that is just asking for it. I guess I resent the idea of being held potentially liable for an objectively negligent decision.
    I mean, why d’ya think the Sun Road has hours set aside where bikes are not allowed?

  17. Good article, I like that you looked at both sides of the issue.

    Lisa, great comments. That is pretty much what I was thinking.

  18. Great article for sure. I can argue from both sides of this debate. I live in Portland and mostly drive my car. I do however ride my bike three to four times a week around my neighborhood, or to local bar’s, etc. I am constantly amazed at the disregard many cyclists have when riding in the streets here. In my opinion, there are two major issues I see almost everyday that cyclists do that drives me absolutely crazy as a motorist. The first is riding too far to the left of the lane that a car can’t pass them safely. The second is that they don’t stop at stop signs, or traffic lights. My thought is that if you are going to share the road with cars, then you must obey the same rules. Speed limits are not only to limit the amount of speed, but also to make sure cars aren’t going too slow. If you can’t go the speed of cars in the road, then you need to stay to the side and give them enough room to go around you safely. Otherwise motorists will get held up going like 15mph behind a cyclist, and then should have the right to get mad. If you aren’t going to stop at stop sign’s or traffic lights, then it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you are going to get hit.

    The other day I was driving East on Prescott and a group of 4 cyclists ran a stop sign right in front of me. We all slammed on our brakes, luckily no one colliding, but it was very close. And all the bikers started laughing at the incident as if to acknowledge it was their mistake. I didn’t yell “Get a car,” or throw beer can’s at them. I kindly shook my head, and chalked it up as another close call with a cyclist.

    The flip side to my point, is that when I hop on my bike the tables quickly turn for me. I have to admit that I do not follow the same rules of cars. I never use my hand signals, nor do I stop at stop signs. Something in my mind clicks and I am just cruising along for a free ride with no cares in the world. I may get hit some day. And if I do… I guess I deserve it.

  19. I suspect this is more due to the self-centered society that we’ve become, than hate for cyclists. Lack of patience, understanding and the warped need to “get mine” at the expense of others. Happens all the time at the order counter at McDonalds…

  20. Seems like the place to put your two cents’ worth. I’m on both sides of this issue so I’ve got to air my viewpoint. Lisa got to the crux of my biggest issue. When I’m driving I get pretty upset with bikes flitting around because if my car kills them for their negligence, I’m the one who has to live with the grief -emotionally and legally.

    I drive and ride out of practicality; my commute to school is way quicker on a bike, so I ride quite a bit. I’ve been ticketed for riding on a sidewalk (as a teenager) but now do my best to obey the rules of the road. I’ve had some close calls with my life and don’t feel like dying anytime soon. Plus, it’s just courtesy.

    I’ve had full soft drink bottles whiz by my head, too.

    But really, what gets me, is something I share with Mr. Patrick. It irks me day in and day out to get overtaken by, or otherwise encounter the racing crowd who are too concerned with their anaerobic threshold to say hello. Uh, dude, I think the triathlon is NEXT weekend. Remember, these are the same people who shave their legs “for rubdowns.” There are many bike racers in town and a good number of my friends are massage therapists. Yet I know not one who does cycle leg rubdowns. I guess I should shut up now.

    Okay, I’ll get back on track and then I’m going to go ride my bike -for fun. Goddamn it you cyclists, just put lights on your bikes. I don’t care if you think you can see fine, I can’t see you. And if I hit you some night on one of the dark bike/walk paths because I can’t see you you’d better hope I get knocked out. Lights are cheap and tiny. Use them.

  21. Bill I doubt it > ” I can’t prove it, but I suspect many motorists who can’t control their temper when they see cyclists have flagpoles in their yards, are big on the constitutional freedoms we enjoy in this country, are proud to be American. Yet, they’re unable to accept that cyclists have the same rights they do? ”

    They really blow my mind as well. I ride road and mountain bikes. I shoot guns, I do pack trips with my own horses, I back pack, I hunt and take elk, I fish, I have studied the Constitution and history diligently for 30 years. So stop swearing at me, and trying to kill me when I ride my bicycle on the roads, I’m just trying to stay fit.

    Just in case they do read this article thanks.

  22. I see people acting very badly against other cars all the time so i don’t see it as just a car / bike thing. I don’t hate people and i don’t hate cars. But I hate people in cars. No one would dare do the things they do in the “protection” of their cars face to face. I highly recommend using a flashing red rear light at all times. I get much more respect from cars than i did without one.

  23. I commute by bike to work each day. I stop at stop signs. I stop at red lights. I use arm signals. I am frustrated each day by bicyclists who do none of those things. Often I stop at intersections only to see a bicyclist next to me blow through without stopping. Some bikers ride arrogantly, blocking traffic flow unnecessarily. Others simply have poor judgment, such as riding on the unshouldered roads that Dave Skinner mentioned. The biking population has a long way to go to earn the respect of motorists.

    Motorists need to realize the great power that even a small car has, when compared to a bike. A car or truck should never ever be used as a weapon or a threatening device.

    We all just need to get along. I have had the wonderful experience of riding a bike in France. There is motorist respect there, and the bicyclists ride in predictable patterns. People 90 years old ride, men and women. It’s part of the culture, and it works. None of the problems brought up by Bill or anyone else seem to exist there. Eventually we may understand how this may work here in the U.S. Maybe we’re just not quite ready yet?

  24. Bill,

    When I see cyclist I see guys who don’t have to work for a living, why else would they be out getting exercise in the evening when hard working Americans are resting up for another day of hard work? I also see homosexuals, what man worth his salt would were clothes like that? This is Montana, get a pair of Wranglers! I also see Obama supporters who what to run this countries economy into the ground paying for Mexicans to have abortions and kill off the elderly folks with “physician assisted death squads”. I also see wolf loving hippies who want to see every last elk heard decimated by the same critters we tried to get rid of for the past several decades. I bet you queers want to me to give up my guns to don’t you? Well guess what…. Yeah, you are right I spend way too much time making up mean stories about nice folks who happen to come a little too close to me while i am out on the bike. That is until I tell myself to let it go and pay attention to the good stuff instead of ruminating about one careless person who happens to not want to share the road with me. Guys as long as there are teenagers and rednecks this is not going to stop we just need to get used to it or go mountain biking. Enjoy the good stuff!

  25. What is reasonable behavior is different in different places at different times; a calm attitude is the main thing that all ends of the human spectrum can bring to any specific moment of frustration. Solving this biker-motorist problem in the US seems difficult philosophically and expensive – but it is changing.

    The phenomena discussed occurs in America and not in Europe because many Americans are still, relatively speaking, smooth-brained teenagers. This means that Life in general is quickly reduced and simplified into 1) What I want (or “believe”), 2) What I want to avoid or am inclined to lie about, and 3) Can I have the keys to the truck, please?!

    It seems most practical to keep horses, bikes and cars divided – per the European model – although it is hard to redesign our inalienable hydrocarbon-evolved, hard-driving, work-obsessed US culture. At some locus in any transport system pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trucks must interact. The Germans are remarkably efficient this way – of course anyone breaking the law will be shot….. 😉

    Roads represent both American freedom and European bondage…. meanwhile they are just a constant source of death for our families, friends, and the natural world.

    Laws and their interstate variations/ interpretations: Everyone seems to have their own ideas about “what is right” or even “American,” or how best to drive, bicycle and who to vote for. Conformist, nonconformist, etc…. all kinds of thoughts here!

    My anecdotal observation is that bikers that pretend that the rules of the road pertain to them get in the way, are hurled abuse, and often crippled or killed. Bikers that understand the rules of the road interact with the road as if it were a live fire-breathing snake. Like motorcycles, they do not exist in the eye of the motorist; so bicyclists must often interact with the road and the sidewalk in an illegal way…. so, why not pedal into the face of oncoming danger instead of pretending that the danger behind you isn’t going to hurt you? Amazingly, if you bicycle at cars they are less likely to cut you off (and more likely to shoot you, IF they can catch you). Fred – your red flashing light is a good strategy, but one must still assume that one is invisible….

    Thus bicyclists in America are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t – which gives them a certain American Outlaw “je ne sais pas” [that would look brokeback mountain cute printed across my ass].

  26. If you really want to see how cyclists behave, try walking. I walk a lot (in Portland) and cyclists have even less regard for people walking than cars do for cyclists. They’ll run you down ON THE SIDEWALK. In theory, I think cycling is a great idea but not crazy about the reality.

  27. Thanks, everybody, for your mostly civil, courteous comments, which is often not the case with this subject. I especially like Enci’s comment about maybe this problem is American instead of, as I suggested, un-American. I’ve taken two long cycling vacations to Europe (four weeks, Italy, France and Spain) and I saw nothing but courteous, safe sharing of the roads, even though there was more traffic and the roads were much more narrow and crowded with both cyclists and motorists.

    Also like Lisa’s comment. She might be on to something there.

    And Randy, well, I only hope you were being satirical.

    Keep ’em coming.


  28. Lisa and all,

    As said before, I bike (historically both bi and motorcycle), I drive. I have a bumper sticker that says “Share the Road””.

    Years ago while driving, I was making a left turn from a complete stop into a drive ‘thru (not in a import, but a full sized American car, before fiberglass…) A college kid came out of the tree’s shadow at a clip on the sidewalk across the driving lane as I was turning. The front of the car hit him enough to knock his bike over and him off, fortunately with only minor damage to the bike (I was able to stop after just stepping on the throttle to make my turn, still leaving the front tires on the shoulder of the street).
    I jumped out and helped him, moved my car out of the street, and talked to an officer who told me I could repair damages to the bike or get a ticket, my state treating bicyclists like pedestrians. I tried to pay for the damages once the bike was fixed, but the kid decided to sue me for other expenses (not health related). The judge found only the cost of the repair to be paid, but since the kid had taken me to court and a sum was due, the decision looked on the books as if it were in his favor. I had to write a letter to the credit bureaus to explain the court judgment on my record.

    The accident was upsetting. I felt exactly as you illustrate–the initial rush quelling to anger that the kid had no consciousness of the fact that he was traveling across motor vehicle access at the speed of a vehicle in a pedestrian lane. I imagined how devastated I would have been if he had been hurt, which just made me more angry. I did not rage at the kid, but maybe I should have. Who knows if he learned anything.

    State consistent, enforceable rules equating bicycles to other motor vehicles are needed. Small children learning to ride need to get it ingrained early for their safety. Lights on bikes? Sounds good, and plates so, like cars, they can be ticketed for unsafe practices.

    Forget the speed of arrival(or burn to your quads)–paying attention to surroundings might enrich your life (as opposed to cutting it short). As for rage, do it against “the machine” and improve the laws/ safety factor (the laws in my state were changed due to a politician who lobbied to have bikes on sidewalks so his children wouldn’t have to ride on the streets..)

  29. Thanks Mochsie,

    Sorry you went through all that. Like I briefly mentioned, my friend hit and killed a bicyclist. It was ruled not her fault, but she was pretty much a mess after that. Never drove again, couldn’t hold a job, etc. She actually died herself within 5 years, depressed.

    I think how accident turns to road rage is something along these lines:
    Big surge of fear during initial “event.” Then as the realization of survival sets in, there’s all this adrenaline coursing through one’s body to deal with.

    That bicyclist robbed the driver of “control” of their life and so they feel vindictive toward them. They’re gonna teach them a lesson about “control” so then they do something that revokes the bicyclist’s control–screaming, grazing–something that recreates the fear that the bicyclist put the driver through.

    It’s pure bullying, to be sure, since the driver is clearly less vulnerable. But as those of us who take part in online discourse have seen (relentlessly), when anonymity is involved the bullying impulse rises.

    Why that seems to be an American phenomenon is beyond my poor psycho-cultural-analytic powers. But it’s damn shameful.


  30. Very good column, Bill. (And excellent comments, too. I always assume the motorists with “rage issues” haven’t been on a bicycle for a long, long time, and have forgotten what it’s like.)

    Do cyclists deserve some of the anger that’s directed toward them? If you stereotype ALL cyclists as a group, then perhaps. I’d speculate my riding is complicated at least as often by doofuses-on-bikes, as it is by ignorant or angry motorists. (Think riding-against-traffic on a chicken collision course, on a busy roadway.) But as I’ve said before… just because MOST guys in pickup trucks are ignorant backwoods rednecks, doesn’t mean is should stereotype ALL guys in pickup trucks that way! (nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

    I try to be grateful for the 90-plus percent of motorists I get along just fine with. You are the majority; I thank you for your cooperation and patience.

    (I blog about transportation cycling at )

  31. Amazing article Bill! You are right on point with this well thought out article. Any chance you could submit this to the Helena paper? We have some extremely aggressive drivers here, and it might be nice for some folks to understand a rational view.

  32. Helena Rider–I’ll submit it, but I not sure they will use it because it was published on NewWest.Net first…..Bill

  33. Like several others on here I am from Portland also. I drive and bike. One thing i want to address early, and i can only speak for Portland, but it is legal for cyclists to take the whole lane. Frustrating as it may be for motorists that is thier right and many times much safer for the cyclist. Personally, if it is a one lane street i try to stay right as much as possible. On a two lane street with no bike line and a fair amount of traffic, i have no qualms about taking a whole lane.

    There is a lot about cyclists who it’s thier own fault for getting hit because they are being stupid, but i consider myself to be a fairly safe cyclists. I generally (with the exception of not always completely stopping at all stop signs) follow rules of the road, wear a helmet, and my bike looks like a freakin christmas tree (i have lights that wrap around my entire frame and glow blue, orange, and red, along with the normal bike lights…. you simply can not miss me at night), and yet i still have had several close calls on my bike. In most cercumstances they involved being passed way to closely or not paying attention when car doors are opened.

    As for road rage, i think there is a little more bicycle awareness in portland so the most i have really experienced outside of impatiently being passed close enough that i’m pretty sure the car almost brushed my jacket, is honking on the rare occasion i do decide to take a lane. In that case i usually happily wave and thank them for alerting me that they are there as they pass me in the other lane.

    And I think if i waved at all the other cyclests every day my arm would fall off.

  34. Bill,
    Thank you for your article. All of the comments are on track in one way or another by allowing us to speak out. As a bike commuter in Missoula for 35 years, I have been impressed with the respect that I am granted as a cyclist. I attribute this to some extent on the fact that I ride as if I were driving, stop at stop lights, mostly stop at stop signs, and signal my intentions so that others sharing the road know what to expect.

    It all revolves around taking personal responsibility for our actions and being respectful of the rights of others. The ten seconds I might save by sailing through a traffic light are not worth a serious collision.

    I too wave or greet other cyclists as I pass. I also wave to motorists who are respectful of my rights on the road. Particular example are those motorists who might have overtaken and turned right in front of me but rather wait for me to pass the intersection at which they are turning.

    Smile, wave, and share the road!

  35. While I usually can’t understand what people yell at me when I’m biking because they simultaneously rev their big battletruck engines, (It’s odd how similar that behavior is among those kinds of drivers) the phrase I often hear when I can understand them is, “GET A CAR!”

    Do they really suppose that because I bike, I do so only because I have no car? And why do they care? They can’t possibly think that I’d follow such a suggestion, shouted from a moving car. I think the correct translation, in this case, is simply, “I DON’T LIKE YOU!” I wonder if they project a smug superiority on all bikers, or if they see us as carless losers deserving of abuse. Probably some of both.

  36. Each year, I try to convince myself it’s getting better and our culture is gradually changing to recognize that cyclists have as much right to use public roadways as motorists, something the rest of the world understands completely, but I might be fooling myself.
    You still feel that way after watching the birthers or teabaggers?

  37. Suggestion for motorists: treat all cyclists like regular traffic. Too often problems arise when motorists try to yield right of way or make other special concessions to cyclists. (Obviously this suggestion does not apply to your average 8 year old riding his bike to school. Everyone needs to be aware of the kid, and if not make special concessions, at least pay particular attention to his actions.)

    Suggestion for cyclists: Expect to be treated like regular traffic. Unlike at least one poster here, I do not think that means that cyclists NECESSARILY need to act like regular traffic. (I mean let’s face it, a bike is not a car, cutting a parking lot to save time doesn’t risk the safety of anyone in the parking lot, stopping at every little neighborhood stop sign probably isn’t absolutely necessary when you approach them at four miles an hour. BUT bikers MUST expect to be treated like regular traffic, and bikers MUST, MUST, MUST be absolutely certain that they are not creating a dangerous situation or disrupting regular traffic flow when they choose to bend the rules.

    As for the assholes in the pick up trucks, they’ll never change. It goes with the truck, the Calvin pissing sticker, and the small dick.

  38. Having ridden the roads of Montana since the early 70’s, it my observation that the road rage is worse – perhaps a function of more motor vehicles on the road today.
    I’d like to address what is probably the most frequently cussed behavior by cyclists – not riding as far to the right as the motoring public thinks appropriate. Most of my riding is on 2 lane roads with minimal to no shoulder. The paved area to the right of the fog line (white stripe) is either non-existent, sharply sloped, or covered with loose gravel, broken glass, metal, or other various debris which would knock me off my bike or send me careening into traffic. So, even on roads with a full 8 foot shoulder, I ride on or next to the white stripe. This, of course, elicits many rants from the motoring public. Most motorists haven’t been on a bike since elementary school, so have no appreciation for this problem. Better/more education from the Montana Department of Trans. would help reduce this point of conflict.

  39. Wow, good debate. I for one ride bikes and drive cars on our roads. I do not operate the same way when operating the two modes of transportation. Guess what, when I am riding my bike at 14 MPH on the 45 MPH road, I get out of the cars way. I stay to the right. I teach my kids to do the same. I choose roads to ride that have shoulders or bike paths if possible. In reality this is a funny conversation; a kind of a pot calling the kettle black situation. The biker is upset at the driver because the driver is upset with him or her. Both are upset due to similar circumstances. Riders want to ride in a specific area and in a specific way. Divers wants the same thing. Largely due to inconvenience and fear and of course complicated by guilt, legality and liability along with the prospect of death, a mutual frustration ensures. Now the frustration takes an even deeper and ironic twist. The rider wants to change the driver but lacks certain abilities as his $10K carbon fiber bike weighs nothing even compared to smallest and most economical car on the road. The driver wants take matters into his own hands (or bumper) but is limited because no matter what the *(&$@*% biker does, the driver will either be held accountable legally and financially or have the burden of proof to avoid it no matter who fault. This second conflict of desires and reality births an even deeper level of frustration, dislike and distrust than the first

  40. I just got back from riding a rails to trail ride in Idaho and Montana. We altered the last 13 miles as it was a shoulderless road full of curves and heavy traffic. I do not feel that as a bike I do have the same rights on the road as a car or truck. Just today I was driving down a back country road that is a 45-50 mph road depending on the area. As I come around a corner there is a group of cyclist riding 2 to 4 abreast and extending more than 2/3 across the lane. I slammed on the brakes. I could not get around them. They never went to single file or spread out so I could pass. I was mad at them. I did not do anything but I sure thought about it. You asked what separates them from a deer or tractor in the road. First of all, I thought they were smarter than they animals. Maybe I am giving them a bit too much credit. Secondly, if the deer jumps in the road, I hit him, he dies, my insurance fixes my car and I go on. If I hit a cyclist of the same intelligence, it happens differently. I might get charged with manslaughter at best and I bear significant consequences and emotional turmoil over the death.

    Other things like farm equipment as usually different for many other reasons. One is frequency. It has been a long time since a group of 12-15 tractors blocked traffic in all directions. If they did, I would be mad at them as well. I have never had a tractor dart out in the middle of traffic. Tractors do not usually dart in and out of traffic in the middle of the city during rush hour traffic. Also, most heavy machinery will stop and pull of the road to allow traffic to pass frequently. If they do not, people get mad at them too for being selfish and arrogant. They would as well if it were a group of pedestrians holding up traffic.

    There are many who want to find some obsession with hating bikes and those who ride them. Sorry, it is anyone who impedes traffic and is not considerate of other traffic. Whether it is a bike, a pedestrian, a tractor operates or even another car. Drivers of cars shot other drivers of cars in road rage long before all the chatter about biker rage started. Get over it people who rides bikes. The fact that you think bikers are so special and important that people have a special rage just for bikers is another example of your self-centered arrogance. If us bikers quit riding today, no one would ever think about us again. It is not “us” other drivers care about or rage against. It is the circumstances we create when riding. When I am driving my car I feel the same way and maybe even more so because I realize that the arrogant traffic impeding rider that is frustrating me is frustrating a lot of other people and who might still be mad and ready to go off on any rider when I encounter them on a ride with my kids. It is the same prejudice that affects all of our lives. I biker does something once and then they hate all bikers forever. It is up to those of us to ride to be the rider we should be.

    I read this and some of the replies and am reminded of the day when I was much younger expressing my grief at all the people who were “out to get me” A wise sage looked at me and said “you sure are one selfish and arrogant jackass”. Shocked at how me the victim could be address in the manner, I asked uncertain, “what do you mean?” He continues “What makes you think you are so damn important that all those people spend their valuable time thinking about you? They do not care about you. They have their lives to live and plenty of other things to think about. Get over yourself, be responsible and move on.” I would say there is a bit of that here. If you find an area where there are not many bikes impeding traffic and causing difficult driving situations, I think you will find an area that has no negative bike attitudes. If you drive though Portland Oregon and see bikers operating like a pedestrian when it convenient like dashing across cross walks, riding on sidewalks to get around cars that are backed up in rush o hour traffic and then cutting back into traffic when it is easy and not obeying other rules like stopping or signaling and going with the flow of traffic yet be the first when they feel their rights as a co-equal operator are questioned. If these people drove cars like they rode bikes many times they would be put in jail and their lisc removed. There maybe an attitude against bikers now but it most likely started where cyclist operated above and outside of what is proper and right.

  41. As a driver, I work very hard to be careful around cyclists. The last thing I want is to injure them. But I do get frustrated when I see cyclists who don’t seem to have the same concern for their own safety — the ones who don’t wear helmets, are talking on a cellphone, not signaling, etc.

    And as someone who just bought a bike for the first time in many years, I’m nervous about starting to ride. I plan to avoid streets as much as possible and stick to the river trail and parks. Drivers who are rude to bicyclists are probably the same ones who yell ugly things out windows at fat people. (It’s happened to me many times.) I don’t need to ride around feeling like I have a giant target on my ass.

  42. I suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago when an elderly female motorist struck my bicycle. I was flown to a trauma center and endured months of rehab and treatment and have a shunt in my skull to help my brain. And this came on top of my wife’s successful double-lung transplant surgery of nearly six years ago. I lost my job because of this and am now waiting to begin receiving my pension for retiring from the U.S. Air Force. Drivers, park your cars and stop polluting. Get some walking in a burn some calories. It’s no wonder there is an obesity epidemic. The typical sprawl subdivision is built around the singe family car.

  43. Try a little common sense


    Are you saying that that elderly lady who hit you should have “burned some calories” and walked to her destination? I’m sure that will work out really great for her next time she needs to go to the grocery store.

    I’m sorry to hear about your injury. But were you obeying all traffic laws? Did you have reflectors on your bike to make it clearly visible while you were riding in the road? Were you paying attention to the cars on the road or did you just pass all of the responsibility for your own safety on to them?

    I know it is a tough pill to swallow, but maybe you are partially to blame for what happened. Maybe if you had practiced a little caution you would have never been struck by a motorist. But I guess it is easier to just pass the blame.

    Too many times I have seen cyclists not using the shoulder on narrow highways with blind corners or jutting across multiple lanes of traffic without looking first. Who is really to blame here? Safety on the road is everyone’s responsibility, and that includes cyclists and motorists alike.

  44. Dear Try a little common sense,

    Are you always assuming that those that get hit by cars are at fault? Who would you blame if it was two cars that hit each other? What about two cyclists?

    In Europe, all accidents that happen on the road are by default the fault of the bigger and faster mode. Not the other way around. In America the weaker gets the blame almost by default.

    In America people get away with murder because they own a car. (Many of my friends have been hit by motorists. My husband has been hit several times. He wears a helmet (not that that would prevent an accident), he has front and back lights (not the law in California), he follows the rules of the road as if he were driving a car.)

    At every instance, the people who are not the drivers but get hit or injured in car accidents, have to fight the system. They have to fight for compensation, while they are in a comma (they don’t have insurance companies jump up and down to help them), they have to appear in court to testify (while they are in the hospital getting their cast put on), they have to hire a lawyer (while trying to pay the hospital bills out of their own pocket.)

    In the meantime, the driver enjoys freedom to speed, make illegal turns, roll through the stop signs and lights, talk and text on the phone simultaneously, eat, listen to the radio at ear splitting volume, all while driving his/her single occupant vehicle and while his/her lawyer and his/her insurance company finds ways to lift him/her of his/her responsibilities.

    40,000 people die each year from car accidents and the majority of these deaths are car on car collisions. Nothing to do with cyclists rolling through lights and stop signs and nothing to do with pedestrians jumping blindly into traffic. The proof is in the pudding, who acts irresponsible.

  45. Wow, what a floodgate of whinyness. My theory is that, sure the laws of the road say that a bicyclist has a right to the roadway. But when I bike I know damn well that the Laws of physics say otherwise, and I stay the hell out of the way of traffic.

  46. Some points of agreement:
    Yes, some folks can only get around via the personal gas-fueled car.
    Yes, many states have at least made some passing reference in their highway signage to the “share the road” idea.
    Yes, a few states I’m most familiar with Vermont, the college campus areas of Philly and Pittsburgh, and the Adirondacks of New York State) have gone beyond mere signage and actively encourage bicycling.
    And yes, walking and bicycling remain the two primary means of non=polluting personal transportation.
    The elderly woman who’s car struck me probably didn’t have much choice when it comes to personal transportation. But, on the other hand, I regularly see rather obese people who are quite capable of walking but choose instead to drive their polluting cars.
    End of my non-PowerPoint briefing.

  47. A folow-up to Try a little Common Sense:
    Yes was obeying Pennsylvania traffic regs. There was, in fact, a monetary settlement to my particular case which, yes, favored myself and my spouse. But again, my man point is this: The single-family car still remains the transportation mode of choice for many many people. The car, in point of fact, is singularly responsible for exurban sprawl — plus the never-ceasing desire among municipal officials to milk the property tax cow, forgetting as they do so that undeveloped, natural land on which trees grow does not require any public services and higher property taxes while providing untold public services in return, like filtering air pollution, absorbing carbon dioxide, providing wildlife habitat, etc.

  48. Bill,

    In my years of road cycling, I’ve been less concerned with road rage than with simple carelessness or cluelessness – geriatrics driving big RV rigs that are so frozen by the narrow roads and traffic in Wyoming that they brush right up against a bike rather than move out to pass or slow down. I don’t mean to pick on the old folks, but in my experience they are most often the drivers who fail to accommodate bicyclists, and it looks like the problem is lack of reflex or even sensory awareness.

    On a different tack, I’d like to see more periods when the parks and other public lands close to the big fossil fuel vehicles and let the hikers, skaters, bikers, etc., have days of anxiety-free enjoyment on the park roads. When Grand Teton does this every year, it’s a miracle of neighborly exchange, and unhurried, stress-released enjoyment of the park. But it’s only a week! Why not a month or more?

  49. All of these make good points.
    I hardly ride a bicycle. I ride a motorcycle. When I do I make sure that what I am doing on the road way is in my best interest. I don’t want get hurt, I just want to get to my destination in one piece & enjoy my ride.
    What I don’t understand is if the law states that bicycles are to go by motorized vehicle laws why don’t most of them?
    I have many of times almost hit a cyclist while I was turning right, they come flying beside me like a streak of lightning while I am starting to make my turn. Almost getting hit.
    I have seen many times where most of the cyclist run stop signs.
    Yes I know motorists run stop signs & do stupid things as well. My problem is if I happen to hit a bicyclist the cyclist is going to be hurt or killed. I just don’t want their mistake to be my accident & they are hurt or killed.

  50. I’m encountering less road rage as the years pass. Possibly that’s because I’m more likely to follow the road rules as I get older. I no longer pass car on the right at intersection (been hit 3 times trying that.) Also, I wear orange or highway worker green — which not only makes me visible but seems to signal drivers that I’m not looking for trouble.

  51. I encounter less road rage too, because I ride less, more defensively, and try to stay off the worst roads. The sentiments that pop up in every comment thread on the subject make it abundantly clear that the primary cause of the problem–testosterone poisoning–still exists.

    As for “no longer passing cars on the right at intersections” (which I do carefully, selectively, staying behind those rare birds who actually use their turn signals, and watch wheels to make sure people don’t turn into me, surprise!), you don’t hardly have to do that to have someone hit you turning right.

    In today’s (Sept. 30) Idaho Statesman there was a story about a 17-year-old h.s. student turning into his school parking lot who hit a ‘bent rider in the bike lane. No “blind corners” involved, just poor training, lack of experience, and reckless disregard for another’s safety on the part of the driver.
    (Story: I don’t know anything else of the incident, but I know the piece of road well; it’s not quite a mile and a half away from my house.)

  52. Loves the Outdoors

    Wow…talk about entitlement issues.

    #1) If you are going to ride a bike on the road you should be required to follow the laws. If you don’t you should get a ticket like any car would.
    #2) If you are going to use the roads you should pay a registration fee like cars for every bike you plan to ride on it. By using the road you should help pick up the tab for repairs/upkeep.
    #3) Many of the highways, especially in the Pacific Northwest, were NOT designed for bike traffic. If you want to whine about cars brushing up against you, don’t ride 3 feet inside the white line on a narrow shoulderless highway. Pick a better road to ride on or ride more intelligently.
    #4) If you want to call people who commute by car “fat slobs” take a second and think about a few things. How would a carpenter haul tools and lumber if he didn’t drive a pickup? How does food get the the grocery store you shop at? What about a mother with small children; how would she take them to daycare? etc. etc. etc. The FACT is that the U.S. is largely made up of rural communities that have low population densities. What this mean is that MOST people DO NOT live close enough to their workplace to commute to work on a daily basis, especially when you factor in other things such as getting kids ready for school, severe weather, etc.
    #5) Bikers keep talking about how discourteous motorists are, but why don’t you guys practice a little courtesy? Make it so we can see you (reflectors/lights?), Follow the traffic laws. Look before crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Let cars pass on some of these highways you choose to ride on. Is it really necessary for you to ride four wide taking up the whole lane and holding people up from their destination? Even farm equipment will pull over when they have an opportunity to let faster moving traffic pass. Maybe people are buzzing so close to you guys because you are holding them up on purpose?

    It all boils down to….like I said….entitlement. But get a clue, America’s highways and roads were built for cars not bicycles! The funny thing is that most motorists wouldn’t mind sharing the road if cyclists would follow the laws, be courteous, and drop the “I own the road because I’m a pedestrian” attitude. Just remember the old adage “Treat others how you want to be treated.” If you are going to do things to piss motorists off, well then, DUH, they are going to get pissed off at you. Is this not obvious?

  53. Lots of great comments here from both sides, so I won’t repeat most of them. But I did want to bring up one point that I haven’t seen addressed (although Rodger came close).

    I’ve transported myself around Missoula by both bike and car in the last 10 years. When I’m on my bike, I EXPECT to be treated like other traffic and I try hard to follow the same rules as vehicles. That said, when I’m stopped on my bike waiting to cross a road, DON”T STOP FOR ME! While I appreciate the intentions, I consider myself a “car” at that point and will wait my turn for a break in the traffic. Unless I’m off of my bike and intending to walk it across, keep a’movin! (But thanks anyway!)

  54. Amen to that, tt.

  55. Loves the Outdoors:

    Right on, brother. I too think cyclists bring this all on themselves. I ride often and don’t experience the kind of abuse and disrespect everyone is describing. But then again, I follow traffic laws, dress like a normal human being, and understand that the roads are only there because of cars. Maybe my humility is palpable somehow, I don’t know. But drivers don’t seem to have a problem with me.

  56. I also want to know why some motorists fly into a rage. But while we wait to find out, and then try to figure out how to change it, I suggest 2 simple rules.
    1. Ride as though the cop who is actively enforcing good traffic behavior among cyclists is right behind you every minute of your ride.
    2. Interact with motorists as though you are and will be the only cyclist they ever observe and talk to. This may not be easy in a confrontation. But we don’t want to give them more reason to curse all cyclists. Be the cyclist we’d like all motorists to meet.

  57. You last guys have made some excellent points. And Bob, if everyone driving, biking, or walking followed your suggestions road rage would not exist in drivers or bikers or anyone else.

  58. I am a cyclist. I also drive motor vehicles. I get lots of advice from people who never ride bike about how to ride a bike. I find it amusing.

    Sometimes I roll through stop signs. If someone is coming the other way of course I stop, but if it is clear I feel it’s better to be a moving target than a sitting duck. People who never ride a bike may not understand this concept. I like the Idaho law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yeild signs. They’ve been doing that for 25 years or so-with no increase in accidents. I’ve been on group rides with cops-they do the same thing.

    When you are driving your car through a neighborhood with a lot of stop signs-observe yourself. You might be surprised to find that you don’t always come to a complete stop either.

    Here in Montana most roads don’t have good shoulders-and we don’t have an abundance of alternate routes. As highways get improved here and there the situation gets a little better. We should all lobby our DOT’s to improve and widen roads whenever and wherever possible. A road with a good shoulder is safer for everybody-not just cyclists.

    If the road is too narrow to allow you to safely pass me on my bike while still in my lane then I have to “take” the entire lane. Sure it’s annoying to slow down, but it’s better for both of us-and in most cases you will only be delayed a second or two. If you were driving at a reasonable speed to begin with you probably didn’t need to slam on the breaks-just slow down gradually and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so you can pass. It’s really no big deal-most of the traffic that passes me does this with no detrimental results.

    Don’t drive two lane highways with the cruise control on-it’s easier to slow down if a bike, tractor, county weed sprayer, etc. appears up in front of you.

    Many drivers seem to have a hard time letting go of an incident in their past where some cyclist(s) did something wrong and caused them to take evasive manuevers. Let it go. Don’t project that past incident on every cyclist you see on the road. As I said, I drive too. I’ve had cyclists do some strange things in front of me. It’s usually forgotten by the next turn. Let’s all learn to forgive-all of us road users are human and prone to mistakes now and then.

    I’ve ridden over 5,000 miles this year on a bike-on every type of highway, including the interstate. Incidents of harrassment have happened, but are very few and far between for me. It’s most often high school kids. I just have to tell myself that I was once young and stupid too-most will grow out of it.

    Maybe drivers ed courses need to focus more on how to deal with cyclists and the rules of the road. This would be a benefit to the drivers, and since most cyclists take up the sport after high school, it could enlighten them as well.

    Finally, some advice I gave to my lead footed daughter-remember it’s speed limit…not a speed goal. It’s okay to go a little slower.

  59. Actually Jason wouldn’t you just lose a few minutes if you pulled off and stopped to let traffic by? Especially if there is more than a couple of vehicles behind you going up a hill? Courtesy is always good. Perhaps it would be reasonable to charge a minimum bike tax for those who want to take them on streets and highways, say $25/year or whatever the minimum is for autos. That money could then be put into a special fund for building bike lanes, instead of taking highway dollars.

  60. Thank you, Jason. I’m reminded of the adage to be slow to anger, quick to forgive. And the one about holding a grudge being a poison you take yourself hoping it will kill someone else.

    As for taxation: I am a motorist who pays an ample share of tax dollars to support road and highway infrastructure. The incremental cost of appropriate design for multimodal traffic is relatively miniscule compared to the millions of dollars it takes to lay down and maintain a highway.

    And the benefits of that incremental expense accrue to everyone: more people safely on bikes means happier, healthier citizens, and fewer cars on the road. The road lasts longer. (You should pay bicyclists for the benefit they provide.)

    Pay attention to car advertising and notice that gee, there’s just this one car in the wilderness, what fun driving must be! The reality of ever-increasing traffic jams is a huge contributor to road rage. I’m annoyed because I had to sit in traffic this morning… so this bicycle in front of me this afternoon delaying me momentarily (or god forfend for a minute or two! is just MADDENING, and did I mention how much I hate Spandex?

    Honestly, the whining is pitiful.

  61. Todd, I do pull over sometimes-gladly. I don’t want a parade of cars squeezing by me. I do ride with a rear view mirror-which helps me see if trouble is coming (like that trailer house or grain combine on a truck. But it is very, very rare for there to be more than one car in that example (uphill or downhill).

    As far as tax. How do you implement it for only the cyclist on the highway who you may not like, but not the guy who rides the bike to the post office or to get newspaper once in a while who may not bother you? How about kids who ride bikes-should we tax them too? Maybe the most fair way is to tax bicycles at the point of sale-though I would not support that either.

    I pay taxes. I own property and motor vehicles-I might pay more taxes than a lot of people who don’t ride bike at all. I ride bike with people who pay a lot of taxes-business owners and the like. Some of my tax dollars get used on things that don’t directly benefit me-that’s just the way it is.

  62. Yes, there are irresponsible/whiner bikers out there:
    Timely Exhibit A from todays Helena Independent Record…

    “Joshua J. Abrahamson | Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2009 12:00 am | (6) Comments

    “Last Sunday, Sept. 20, I was bicycling to my local grocery store when I was pulled over with lights and sirens by the sheriff’s department. I was notified that I had violated a red light and asked for my driver’s license. I produced my license and stared rather blank-faced at the deputies while read the riot act, only offering the explanation that I was trying to get out of the oncoming storm and didn’t think that it was that big of a deal. Apparently it wouldn’t have been of any significance other than I should have noticed them parked at the intersection and they felt obligated, by the expectant looks from the other drivers, to pull me over.

    I wouldn’t have given it much thought other than it makes me wonder how much “real” police work gets done in our city. I live downtown and have had my vehicle broken into twice, suffering thousands in damage, and every morning seems to present new graffiti on vehicles and buildings for our downtown residents. When it gets real bad I’ll see a police car parked in the vicinity of the vandalism and theft but a vacant police car doesn’t appear to have much effect. Apparently foot patrols are very antiquated. I suppose though that my negligence in following the law on my bicycle probably doesn’t help the city’s crime rate.”

  63. I have no problem with cyclists, as long as they obey the same rules I have to obey as a motorist. I swing into the oncoming lane if traffic allows to make sure they have room, if traffic doesn’t allow that, I slow way down and pass them with caution. My displeasure with cyclists more with the “townies” who pick and choose which rules to follow – traffic or pedestrian or their very own. I still don’t give them a one-finger salute or yell at them, but when they run stop/yield signs/lights, cut across lanes of traffic, RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK, etc., I typically let them take their chances while I continue motoring according to traffic laws. I realize these type of riders are probably the minority, but they seem very prevalent downtown and in the neighboring area and do color my impression of cyclists in general. Not to mention that cyclists want lanes on every single road – okay, I see the point and agree for the most part – yet when their lanes are interrupted by bump-outs to ensure pedestrian safety, they complain about how unsafe it is for the cyclists to have to go around the bump-outs – give me a break. Oh yeah, let’s cut down beautiful Ponderosa Pines on Big Flat so we can expand 1 mile of road to make bike lanes – what about the rest of the road? Where is that money coming from? Compromise people – not all roads can have bike lanes, motorist need to be more considerate in those conditions. Pedestrians need to be safe, cyclist need to slow down and pass slowly and safely – just like I do when passing a cyclist. I need to know that by following the rules of the road, I am operating my vehicle safely and not have to worry about some cyclist deciding to run the stop sign because there is a PEDESTRIAN cross walk there. //rant

  64. “The incremental cost of appropriate design for multimodal traffic is relative minuscule compared to the millions of dollars it takes to lay down a highway.” This is demonstrable untrue. On a cost per passenger mile basis, Roads and highways are the lowest cost mode of public transportation. But this thread indicates that a multiple use pedestrian/bike path needs to be built along some roads and highways.

  65. Mickey, do you have some economic analysis you can point us to? It’s an interesting fact, if true, that “roads and highways are the lowest cost mode of public transportation” but that’s not responsive to my point about the incremental cost of appropriate design for multimodal traffic. (Nor does it preclude the observation that we devote staggering amounts of money to roads.)

    The question of whether separate facilities are needed in any particular situation can be (and has been) debated ad nauseum. Suffice it to say there are arguments on both sides.

    Speaking from experience in Boise, Idaho, I will say that the separate facilities along the river–the Greenbelt–is widely recognized (along with the river itself) as one of the premier amenities of the Treasure Valley.

  66. That’s interesting info Mickey-thanks.

    “The American Dream Coalition’s mission is to support citizens and organizations that promote the American Dream of freedom, mobility, and affordable homeownership.”

    Since they are promoting freedom and mobility-I assume they would be first in line to support cyclists rights to road???

  67. mickey,
    are you referencing an automobile advocacy group? hardly an objective source.

  68. Thanks for an interesting diversion, Mickey, but if you wanted to actually respond to the point I raised, I’m still interested to hear if you can point to relevant facts or analysis.

    I gather from the ADC’s “About” statement that their primary mission is to counter the so-called Smart Growth agenda. (“Stupid Growth” didn’t test well for the organization name in the focus groups.) They oppose “dense urban development, restrictions on rural development, rail transit boondoggles, and barriers to auto driving.”

    Down with curbs and bollards! (And down with railroads, definitely.)

    ADC’s President, Randal O’Toole is a CATO Institute Senior Fellow with an interesting history. His Wikipedia entry currently says that he’s “an avid cyclist who always rides a bicycle to and from work, and advocates alternative means of transportation where possible.” That seems slightly implausible, given what I can see of his C.V. But hey, you never know.

    ADC likes John Forester’s POV on cycling… which has much to recommend it, but is hardly the last word on the subject. Perhaps Forester’s megalomaniacal persona is attractive?

    Forester summarizes his own point of view, that of the “vehicular cyclist” (in Bicycling, Transportation and the Problem of Evil), available on the ADC site, at (He fashions himself as that “Evil” btw, obviously mischaracterized by those who disagree with him.)

    “Vehicular cyclists consider that American bicycle transportation has two major defects. The first is that too few cyclists obey the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. This both endangers the cyclists and upsets the public. The second is that governmental bicycle policy and practice are based on motorist-designed bikeways and motorist- inspired cyclist-inferiority cycling instead of on cyclists as lawful, competent drivers of vehicles. This policy naturally inhibits the instruction of cyclists in proper traffic procedures.”

    He lumps proponents of cycling who disagree with him as “bicycle advocates” who hate suburbia and automobiles. lines up an army of their arguments as straw men and mows them down.

    FWIW, I have no problem with the general recommendation that Forester (and so many others) make that bicyclists should obey the same rules of the road as motorists (except of course where the rules differ, as they always do, sometimes with greater enlightenment, as in Idaho).

    Note also that as an engineer, I’m happy to entertain rational arguments about facilities planning, and I did not intend to get into the design details of “appropriate design for multimodal traffic” here.

  69. So are anti-automobile advocacy groups an “objective” source?

  70. My worst accident: Fellow bike riders are in my experience the greatest danger. I was nearly killed by a fellow riding with his head down into a head wind nearly 3 years ago. It went to a jury trial and ,of course, they didn’t understand biking and he got off. But, people on bikes ride against traffic, without helmets, and still don’t know it’s a problem. As for me, with a couple exceptions in many years, it’s people on bikes that present the greatest danger to cyclists. Neil

  71. I’ve been a road rider for 35 years and am very passionate about trying to improve relations between cyclists and motorists. I think laws for cyclists need to be practical, cyclists need to follow them, and motorists need to be educated about cycling law. Both motorists and cyclists have rights that must be linked to their responsibilities. Cyclists need to be more polite and follow the rules. I’ve started an advocacy – , trying to promote this very idea. The stalemate has to end. Both enjoyment and safety are at stake.

  72. I had a friend who was killed when he swerved to avoid hitting a bicyclist on a busy highway, and the people in the other car he hit head-on didn’t fare too well either. Two entire sets of families destroyed because some ignorant, inconsiderate ***hole decided they had something to prove to themselves by riding his bike 2 feet into the lane of a busy highway. FOR THE LAST TIME–HIGHWAYS ARE FOR VEHICLES, NOT CYCLISTS!!! This is a topic I have always felt very strong about, and I will continue to feel that way forever. When flesh and steel mingle in the same place and you have a speed differential in excess of 40mph, it’s a disaster waiting to happen, just simple math and physics. Sure, for every one story like mine there are probably 5 involving cyclists who are killed by careless drivers. I understand that all too well after seeing about a dozen cyclists hit by cars in a 1 year period while riding with an ambulance service in FL. I’ve watched people die on the side of the road because someone (be it biker or driver) wasn’t paying attention. The interaction between vehicles and cyclists is a very serious topic for me. We’re not in Amsterdam where they’ve got the whole ‘bikes mingling with buses’ thing down to a science. Regardless of what anyone says, the US is still the wild west of roadway fatalities, and as far as I’m concerned cyclists on highways will continue to be a danger to themselves and others. If you think otherwise, you’re delusional.

  73. Alan Gregory, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.

    There is nothing like being a survivor to make one feel just how extreme the dangers on American roads are today, particularly for bicyclists, who, let’s face it, have a lot less protection between them and a crashing object. I survived a traumatic brain injury when struck by a motorist in April 2007. A big part of the life I enjoyed up to that time was stolen from me by the motorist, who ended up paying big time to settle a lawsuit. Until people remember that the human body was made to walk, not drive, the danger will persist. Some communities are indeed friendlier toward walkers and cyclists. Burlington, Vermont, is one of them. Why? Because a majority of its citizenry value the experience of walking and cycling more than they do driving a hunk of steel, rubber and plastic.

  74. Good luck, I’ve never known aynnoe to get fatally side-wiped by a drunk dog-walker. I suppose if the streets were riddled with law-abiders, we’d find ourselves in much better circumstances.