BikeCommuters.com

The new Bike Commuter fashion?

After reading news of doctors slamming their brakes in front of cyclists, cyclists getting ran over by impatient drivers, video of a cop tackling a rider and a Colorado Sheriff hating on cyclists. I decided to dress accordingly:

I know that there is more of us riding the streets since Gas prices skyrocketed, in fact, I met a couple riders heading to Long Beach along my lonely route:

Mainstream media reports that there’s escalating tension between motorists and new bike commuters because newbs don’t know the rules of the road. I don’t know about you, but before I started commuting, I used to be a recreational rider and I did my research before I hit the streets. So I hardly think that a person that rarely rides suddenly picks up his bike and heads to work without doing his/her homework. What does my conspiracy-theory mind think? Since the mainstream media earns plenty of ad money from car companies, they try to discourage people trading their cars for bikes by using scare tactics.

So if you are newbie or if you are considering bike commuting, don’t pay attention to those reports, instead, read our BikeCommuter Profiles, you will find lots of inspiration there.

30 Comments

  1. john the bicyclist

    I like this site because it is a beacon of hope in these dark cyclists-vs-cars and cyclists-vs-cops times we live in. We need to avoid confrontation at all costs and keep riding and feeling good about it. Real world examples presented on this site are much more productive than the horrible headlines out there.

  2. tadster

    lofl great pic; thanks I needed a laugh. Don’t forget to install a personal rocket launcher on your bike.

  3. Chad

    You would think people that choose to commute by bicycle would read and understand the rules, like you said. However, I have found that to be the exception in my town. I pass very few cyclists that are doing what they are suppose to. I pass somebody going the wrong way at least every other day. If I can I usually dismount, stop them, and kindly explain the rules.

    I also see the point to your theory and think it is valid as well.

  4. Moe (Post author)

    Chad, I think that most of the wrong way riders and the sidewalk riders are the bike commuters that don’t choose to commute on bike, but have to. Here in LA, most of those riders are immigrants, and since some of them can’t get a license, their only choice is to ride a bike. My only hope is to set the example and hope they follow it.

  5. MarkR

    Per one of the articles “Mark said he thinks at least some of the Critical Mass riders were looking for a fight: “They were obviously equipped and intending to get in confrontations with motorists.” Still, he’s sorry others were hurt: “I want to apologize to the people I hit.””

    This is my view as well of CM, I’ve seen some of the YouTube videos. And even as a Bike commuter I’d buy Marks story over the CM’ers. Mark just didn’t handle it well.

    re the doc, slamming the breaks, I’ve had similar instances, particularly purposeful slam breaks and right hooks, it just happens. Always carry a phone, and pray it doesn’t happen. And be aware of your surroundings.

    And yes the cop that tackled the cyclist should be fired and charges pressed.

    I’m with John we need to avoid confrontation, and a part of that is not doing critical mass. Anytime you purposefully hold traffic at lights that’s confrontation, and problems will happen.

    And Moe, Don’t know what the law is in Cali. But here in Texas, Concealed handgun carry is legal, as long as you’ve obtained the license. I haven’t done it but I know several cyclists that have, and they always carry. I’ve considered it but I’m not sure I want that responsibility.

  6. BSR

    I am seeing more cyclists out there this year, and many of them (from their actions) appear to be pretty new at this. Maybe they haven’t ridden since they were kids.

    I had to drive this morning, and I pointed a cyclist out to my daughter. He was flying along the sidewalk, doing almost 20mph and buzzed right through a multi-lane intersection. Sure, he had the light with him, but someone turning left had to pause to let him through. He’s lucky he wasn’t hit.

    I’ve recently been teaching my daughter how to turn left in and with traffic, and explained why this cyclists actions were foolish.

    Two blocks later, there was another on the sidewalk — looking neither left nor right as she crossed a street. No cars were coming, but I don’t think she knew that.

    I see more this year than ever before. Sidewalk riding seems to be the norm for these (I assume) newbies. I’m happy to see more bikes out there, but I wish every new bike could come with a copy of “The Art of Urban Cycling” by Robert Hurst, “City Cycling” by Richard Ballantine, or “Effective Cycling” by John Forester. Maybe that would help them get a clue. It’s about more than just being able to balance on two wheels and pedal.

  7. Palm Beach Bike Tours

    I have worked for newspapers nearly 15 years. My father, also a cyclist, just retired after more than 50 years working for newspapers. My aunt and uncle have been involved with radio and television news for more than 35 years.

    I can say with absolute and complete certainty there is no media conspiracy to keep people away from bicycles and on cars.

    All money is the same color of green and businesses are whores. Car manufacturers don’t see bicycles as a serious threat to their livelihood nor does the media. Bike commuters are such a small portion of the population as to be off the radar. For an even smaller piece of the pie, look at the number of bike commuters who don’t own a car.

    The reason the media is reporting more about the tension is there is more tension on which to report. The more people who are riding bikes, the more pissed-off motorists you will find, the more poorly-trained cyclists you will find and the more altercations you will have.

    There wasn’t an elephant problem in my neighborhood until the elephants moved in. With elephants, come elephant problems.

    With an increase in cyclists, you have an increase in cyclist problems.

    I also think we’re going to see something other than a linear relationship between cyclists and cyclist problems given the reason many people are now coming to cycling.

    People who start cycling to work because they enjoy cycling are more likely to be better in control of their machine and have the base miles necessary to operate a bike safely. They were cycling for enjoyment before they took the next logical step to commuting.

    On the other hand, the most dangerous cyclists I run into are the folks who have had one too many DUIs and are forced to bike. Even when sober, they are riding because they have to not because they want to ride a bike. They often have a chip on their shoulder and rarely, if ever, follow common sense bicycling rules. (Such as riding with traffic.) I’m afraid that as gas prices ride, we’re going to see more of these utilitarian bikers on the road.

    Certainly, some new riders will learn to love the bike. Some will become accomplished cyclists. Some, however, are just biding their time until gas drops below $2.50 a gallon or until they can unload their Hummer for a Prius.

    —Matt

  8. Moe (Post author)

    BSR, I think that Bike Shops can do a better job at educating cyclists. I’ve been to many bike shops, and only one of them had a sign that helmets were required by law for kids under 16. I think it would be useful to provide some type of pamphlet regarding the rules of the road and how to behave in traffic with every bike purchase.

  9. Moe (Post author)

    Matt, my ‘conspiracy theory’ was not to be taken seriously, just look at Bicycling magazine, they have like 18 car ads!! And yes, I do agree that there are more than a few cyclists that need to be educated. The point that I was trying to get across is for those who are considering riding their bike to work is to overlook those negative reports and not to become discouraged.

  10. derek

    woah that dude got taken DOWN by NYC haha. Probably realized he wasn’t so cute right at that moment 🙂

  11. kevmo

    Off topic a little: does anyone know what the deal is with the 20-40 cyclists meeting in the City of Orange (California) every week is all about? Last night there were about 10 cyclists just doing loops in the old town round about, which in my estimation, caused unnecessary confusion to an already confusing driving obstacle.

    I rode up next to one of the cyclists and ask what’s the deal with all the cyclists and he responded smugly “just out for a bike ride man.”

    I’ve seen them riding around Orange in large packs. Just curious.

  12. Moe (Post author)

    Kevmo, there are 3 places that I know of where roadies go and do circuit laps: Santa Fe Springs, Long Beach and Fontana. However, they ride on secluded industrial areas and they are usually conned off. I don’t know what the deal is in Orange.

  13. Mike Myers

    I don’t understand the people on bikes who ride with no understanding of the rules of the road. I can imagine it would INFURIATE drivers.

    Case in point. I was out for a ride this morning, headed to the gym. I’m riding on the wide shoulder with traffic when I encounter a woman on a bike heading toward me. Now, this woman was wearing a hi-vis jacket, so she obviously rides often. But into traffic she headed. Why?

    Then I saw two guys riding on the sidewalk, into traffic—right next to a FREAKING BIKE LANE. WTF?

    If I’m in my car and I see a wrong way cyclist, I call the sheriff’s department. Our county has an abundance of deputies who have a lot of idle time. Figure having a deputy talk to a wrong way rider is more effective than me doing it.

  14. Ghost Rider

    I’ve seen that, too — folks on the sidewalk heading either with or against traffic and right next to a perfectly good (and NEW) bike lane here in Tampa.

    As for everyone else who is ignoring or violating the laws and acting the fool out there, it’s obvious: they should be reading all the tips on this site 😉

  15. Moe (Post author)

    Or fear the Wrath of the Blue Power Ranger!

  16. BeachCrusier

    When I have to drive, I am much happier coming across a cyclist in the lane, following the laws and requiring me to pass safely, than when I find some dumb ass do all the things mentioned in previous comments.

    Lately I have seen an explosion of bikes on the road around here, but the unfortunate part is that only a small fraction of them seem to know the rules or understand the dynamics in play between a bicycle and a car. The bicycle is a road going vehicle, on a bike one must obey the traffic laws, WATCH OUT, the car will always win. Being someplace besides where the large piece of moving steel expects to see something is always a bad idea.

    -Dale

  17. Paul

    Just like some of the other comments before mine, in Austin there are many more “beginner” riders who seem as clueless on their bikes as they probably are while “driving”! Last weekend I did errands on my bike for 35 miles without any car incidents, but just a few miles from home home I was hit head on by a stupid pedicab rider going the wrong way on a very dark street with NO lights! What the f**K?!

  18. 2whls3spds

    The main problem is a total lack of education for cyclists AND motorists. In NC it takes 36 hours of training to get a license to be a legally allowed to hurl a 3,000-7,000# vehicle around. In NC it is estimated that up to 1/4 of the drivers on the road at any time may not have a license! It is not due to a lack of enforcement, but over worked LEO’s and a lenient court system.

    We used to teach the basics of cycling and pedstrianism in grade school…30+ years ago…

    Aaron

  19. Ghost Rider

    Aaron, is that statistic true? 1/4 of the drivers have no license? Gasp…that’s terrifying. Is it because they’ve lost their license, or never had one in the first place?

  20. Iron Man

    What is the League of American Bicyclists official opinion on bicycle permits? Do local bike groups fight any sort of permit or license requirement for cyclists? Anyone know? What is local law enforcement’s view on it as well? Do cops want to check all bikes, do they have the time? Some sort of permit system would at least force cyclists to get a modicum of training like a driver’s test does, but at the same time I enjoy not having to pay the city or state a dime to ride my bike.

  21. Ghost Rider

    That’s a tense subject — while a lot of cycling folks see some sort of licensing as a way to gain “legitimacy” in the eyes of motorists, MANY others see it as unnecessary and even invasive.

    The fact of the matter is: we belong on the roads, license or not. Almost every state’s vehicle laws support this…in other words, we already ARE legitimate in the eyes of the law!

    Bob Mionske, cycling lawyer and writer for Velonews, had a recent quote in one of his online articles that really resonated with me:

    “Under [most state] law[s], cyclists have all of the rights and applicable responsibilities that motorists have. This means that cyclists have as much right to use the road as motorists have—in fact, I believe that cyclists’ claim to the road is greater. The right to travel is a Constitutional right, while driving is a privilege that can be revoked by the state. Thus, while cyclists enjoy a Constitutional right to travel (and thereby, a Constitutional right to the road), motorists use the road only by permission of the state.”

    Hell yes!

    And, as for training, many new cyclists could really use some…but so could a lot of motorists out there who have no idea about the laws pertaining to bicycles on the road.

  22. Quinn

    yes, I at times hop the side walk or take a longer/calmer route and I do avoid confrontation, however I have thought, many times about carrying a paintball gun, if nothing else to mark a vehicle as an identifier for the cops.

  23. Dman

    Shooting someones car with a paintball gun is a good way to get shot for real. And I’d imagine it’s illegal.

  24. Ghost Rider

    +1 on a paintball gun being a bad idea. Jeezus, just get a license plate number!

  25. climbinskier

    Forget paintball guns, I say we start an all out war. Drivers vs. cyclists, battle to death, last one standing owns the road. (please see the sarcasm).

  26. 2whls3spds

    Ghost Rider,
    I can’t find the link to the stats…but here are some more ugly ones from NC. 75% of drivers with revoked licenses continue to drive, 24% of all fatal accidents involve an unlicensed driver. Nearly half of the vehicles/drivers on the roads of NC are unisured/underinsured. NC also has a fairly substantial illegal immigrant population.

    Small wonder people don’t feel safe riding on the streets!

    Aaron

  27. MattG

    My personal favorite here on the NC coast is the wrong way rider of the ubiquitous beach cruiser. Cruisers are fun (I own one myself) but when I’m barrelling down the road and one of these guys is coasting on the wrong side of the road, he might as well get hit by a car.

    I have had to swerve into two ditches because of wrong way cruisers. Neither experience was fun.

  28. bentstrider

    I’m looking into getting either a Tiberius T8, or a RAP4 T68 paintball pistol for riding up in the Victorville area.
    You’ve got motorists who don’t know better, but I’ve come across the malicious ones that like to scream, honk their horns, or even throw things out at you for no reason.
    With all the traffic around here, if they even slammed their brakes on after a round struck their rear window, they’d get themselves into an accident.

  29. Ghost Rider

    @bentsrider….good luck not getting shot for real. What are you going to do when you pull out your paintball gun and someone retaliates with a semiauto?

  30. LoneRider

    I have to argue that the average cyclist is probably more aware of his surroundings and more attentive than the average driver. For all the drivers who moan about how cyclists don’t know or obey rules they say nothign about fellow drivers who kill people by being drunk or running stoplights. More to the point in my experience, most of what drivers perceive as cyclists being reckless is actually cyclists being safe, it is simply the driver’s ignorance or misunderstanding about proper interaction with other traffic, lane position, etc. The one thing I have noticed is some people on bikes riding against traffic or at night with no lights, but don’t look to the drivers to correct these mistakes and tell them to ride like vehicles!

    In the end, most cyclists are probably much safer road users than most drivers simply because they have to maintain a better awareness of many more factors; potholes, open doors, etc — or they could be injured or killed. That’s a powerful incentive. What’s the driver’s incentive to be careful?

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