Hey Drivers: We Don’t Ride Our Bikes Just To Tick You Off, I Promise [OPINION]
Maybe this is more of a rant than an opinion, but so be it - I'm sick of the hate and finger-pointing towards cyclists.
Did you see the video that was released yesterday? It's from Tennessee. A cyclist was hit by a Volvo, and the driver fled the scene. He told police that the man "threw" the bike at his car.
This was clearly intentional. Regardless, enter the most awful part of the internet: Facebook comments. Here's a sampling from WNEM's post about this video:
Fair warning: I'm angry. And this isn't going to be a feel-good opinion piece, so read on only if you choose.
I love to ride my bike. When we moved here three years ago, I found that it was a bit difficult, and even dangerous, to ride my bike here in Genesee County. I follow all of the rules: ride with traffic, on the shoulder, use hand signals, etc. And, even so, people honked and yelled at me, even when I was completely out of their way.
Trust me, I know that there are bad cyclists out there who do NOT follow the rules. But there are also people who drive under the influence, or text and drive...yet I don't lump all drivers into those categories, so why do you hate on me for riding my bike?
I'm not holding up traffic. I'm not delaying your commute. And I certainly don't need your permission to ride my bike. Respect me as I respect you.
You think it's not scary-as-hell to ride alongside traffic? I went for a 12-mile-ride on Sunday, and the entire time, I was mortified that somebody would be on their phone and possibly swerve onto the shoulder. I wouldn't even see it coming.
Guess what, drivers? Even the smallest car weighs upwards of 2,900 pounds. The average road bike weighs approximately 17 pounds, plus the weight of the rider. Which is still significantly less than you and your car.
You hit us, you win. Regardless. Does that make you feel better?
Over 800 cyclists were hit and killed by cars last year. Michigan is the 9th most deadliest state for cyclists IN THE COUNTRY. Yet, when a car hits a cyclist, you see comments like those in the screen capture above.
*Side note: the cyclists in the video were biking on a parkway where it's legal to ride side-by-side*
Whether you like it or not, times are changing. Bike-sharing programs are everywhere, even here in Flint.
The millenial generation aren't buying as many houses or cars, because they don't want to incur the debt. Can you blame them? Most of them already have a crippling amount of student loan debt, and they don't want to add to it.
Why would you shame somebody who wants to bike to school? Or work? Or the store? They're being physically active, taking up less space on the roads than cars and cutting down on pollution. Where's the problem? Please tell me, I'll wait.
In the meantime, try to be a little more courteous to cyclists. We're an easy target, and we know it. But, until every city has bike lanes, we're going to be riding alongside of you. It scares us more than it should scare you. And, if we're following the rules, we shouldn't be the target of your road rage.
We're not riding our bikes to pi$$ you off. We're riding because we love it. We love to be outside. We love the physical activity. For some people, it may be their only form of transportation. For others, it might be a form of physical therapy - maybe they have an injury and need a low-impact way to exercise.
Whatever the reason, remember: you're bigger than us, you're faster than us, and if you hit or even just clip us, we're likely the ones to be the most injured. We try to stay out of YOUR way, so please try to stay out of OURS.