One Less Bike

To the people who have never ridden a bicycle outside the safety of a cul-de-sac but for some reason feel as though they have any authority to tell cyclists how dangerous and annoying they are on the roads, “you are so dumb, you are really dumb–for real.

I commute to work by bike almost everyday in San Francisco. I don’t own a car, but I know how to drive one. If the situation calls for it I’ll reserve a Zipcar and drive in the city. I’ve never been hit by a car on my bike [knock on wood] or come close to hitting a cyclist while driving in the city. Perhaps this is because I know what it’s like to navigate the city by both bike and car.

If you’re cursing out a person on a bike who’s in the middle of your lane going 8 mph, well then I guess you’ve never experienced a delivery truck blocking the bike lane, someone flinging open their car door directly in front of your path, or in some cases having no bike lane at all. [Note: The shoulder is not a bike lane]

If you’re wondering why you get dirty looks and the middle finger from a cyclist after speeding past them to make it to the red light in time, you’ve just never had a vehicle weighing a ton almost clip your arm and pound you into the pavement.

If the breaks on your car make a screeching noise as you approach a stop sign, you’re going to fast, chill out. [Note: Bikes should brake at stops and obey all traffic laws, but not all of them do. Don't you think it's better to shake your head in disapproval from you car than hit someone on a bike. That could really put a wrinkle in your dinner plans]

If you’re sitting in traffic and getting pissed as people on bikes fly past you as you continue to get later and later for work, sucks for you get a bike.

Like anything you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. So unless you’ve ridden a bike in the city or alongside decently heavy traffic, your commentary on cyclists isn’t worth the air in my tires. [Note: The air in my tires is free]

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38 Responses to “One Less Bike”


  1. 2 d September 17, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I used to commute to Fremont from SF every day, and my rage level was through the roof. I sold my car a few years ago and bought a bike and now I commute by bike here in SF. Unfortunately, my rage level is going up again lately as more and more drivers cut me off, force me out of a lane, or yell at me for not being in the rightmost lane (I do occasionally have to turn left, you know).

    I don’t now what your take on critical mass is though, but I think it does more harm for bikes than good, as it just pisses drivers off and makes them want to act out.

    • 3 Doug September 18, 2010 at 9:41 am

      Critical mass is a fun time but I do agree with you that it most likely invokes angrier, opposed to more informed, motorists. It’s a great party on your bike though!

    • 4 jt September 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      I am just curious. When you are turning left, how do you cut across to the left most lane? When i’ve ridden a bike i cross the street more like a pedestrian… probably because this was the law when i was a kid and i actually got a ticket for riding across a street. Some bikes seem to just cross from right to far left without even a cursory glance. I’ve come very close to hitting someone doing this, and I was very aware of there presence before the sudden lane change. Unfortunately to cross lanes like that you will have to make sure everyone involved notices you. It is not really fare to assume that is the case.

  2. 6 Really Really September 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Since when did riding a bike become the height of pious posturing?

    Its a bike.

    There are a lot of obnoxious driver in 3000 lb. high velocity chunks of steel on wheels.

    So use your brain, and shut your mouth.

  3. 9 Anonymous September 17, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I drive, bike, AND walk around SF, and I’m really tired of cyclists who don’t stop at stop signs when cars and people are all waiting their turns. Yes, we’ve all rolled through a stop when we’ve seen that nobody’s coming, but the cyclists who blow through at full speed with no regard for anyone else terrify me.

    Also, just because you’re turning right on your bike, doesn’t mean you can ignore me in the crosswalk… cars aren’t the only vehicles that can hit someone.

  4. 11 espy September 18, 2010 at 5:57 am

    After 30 something years, I finally decided to get a drivers license. I started to drive in the city and wow. I am really stressed out. Everyday I cross my fingers hoping cyclists not showing up in front of / side of my car.

    I am all for eco and everything, I support people who prefer bicycles but cyclists in the town are so violent and They really don’t care about what I have to go through to avoid them.

    I would not say everyday, but it’s frequent that cyclist gives me finger or yelling at me. Yes, I suck at driving but the fact they intentionally cut me (which you really, really shouldn’t.. it’s not even funny…) because I am slow. It’s almost as they don’t have any clue what kind of person is driving a car next to you.

    All I ask is to be little more conscious about other people, and think about the situation – why I *have to* drive slow (within the legal speed limit, of course) and please don’t give me a finger like the road belongs to you.

    /sigh

  5. 13 Ed Jovi September 18, 2010 at 7:19 am

    A few comments on one of my favorite ice tubes posts ever…

    I’d rather die on my bike than live driving a Dodge Stratus.

    Since when did driving a car become the epitome of stupidity and douchebaggery?

    If cyclists give you the finger or yell at you almost every day then you’re clearly doing something wrong. For the sake of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists everywhere please get off the road. You’re bound to get one of us killed eventually.

    As someone who regularly drives, but trains for bike races on the road I make a conscious effort to “share the road” with cars. I don’t take up the entire road when I don’t have to, I obey the rules of the road, and if I break one of those rules I don’t get angry at the driver when it doesn’t go my way. However, I am going to take up enough room to ensure my safety since the majority of drivers are fat, lazy, half-retarded and unaware of their surroundings. If you do something stupid while I’m in my car I have a pretty solid shot of coming out alive. You do something stupid (like zoom ahead fifty feet so you can come to a stop and make a hard right into my lane while I’m moving at 25+mph) while I’m on my bike…not so much.

    I’m not a commuter on a fixie in a big city. But I occasionally ride in Manhattan (it’s this not so laid back island over here on the east coast), I have been run over by a car, and I’m not afraid to get in the face of an asshole driver. There are plenty of bad drivers, but there are also plenty of inconsiderate, stupid cyclists. Everyone needs to chill the fuck out for a second and get to work safe.

    • 14 espy September 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Like I clearly stated the comment above, I just started driving this year. How about some smile and showing “it’s cool” attitude and wait until I fucking make a complete turn.

      It’s not like I am blaming them. I acknowledge the fact that I suck at driving. I still practice in the parking lot hoping to gain more quick response.

      Whenever I can let them go, I simply do so. They never appreciate how hard for me to do that every time. But since they jumps into my eyesight without any notification – sometimes I have to take an awkward move to not to injure them.

      Instead of nice smile and bow, I get middle finger and they spit my car.

      I’m just saying.

  6. 17 jon bon jovi September 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

    there’s a**holes on both sides of the aisle.

    just deal with it. preaching from the pulpit for one side just makes it worse.

    there are cyclist who abide by the rules of the road and there are some that just feel a sense of entitlement. same with drivers.

  7. 18 Tweety September 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

    FYI – If the driver does not brake in time, the cyclist might fall and break his arm.

  8. 20 LW September 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I moved here from the east coast and trust me, drivers here are SAINTS! So few of them actually act aggressively. Sure, the occasional driver does something stupid like run a red light or turn out in front of you, but in general they are a bazillion times better than anywhere else I’ve ridden in these United States. On par with Belgium if not better.

  9. 21 Kylem1701 September 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Not some. Every bicycle I’ve ever seen runs stop signs and crosses reds before the turn green. They’re a menace.

  10. 24 Aaron B September 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Despite that the frequency of bad cycling behavior is consistently shown to be over-exaggerated by any study done on collisions, it doesn’t even matter – people driving cars have much more responsibility than those on bikes since they are licensed by the state to operate a 2+ ton motor vehicle and are the only ones posing any real danger on the streets.

  11. 26 Michael Friedman September 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Doug, Have you ever seen an accurate manual for drivers and bikers about the rules that govern them, and how to interact, under San Francisco law? I’ve often wanted to see something like that, b/c, honestly, many driver are unaware of laws governing bicycling, nor are they required to know, and many cyclists are also unaware of the laws.

    • 27 Doug September 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

      I haven’t and I wonder if one even exists. It would be great to put something like that together and make it really simple with some illustrations. I could add one right now as I just came back from a ride where a woman yelled from her car behind my friend and I at a traffic light saying “It might be safer to ride single file”. The idea of full use of the lane sounds safer to me, but thanks for screaming from your car :-)

      • 28 Matt September 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

        Not to mention the fact that we were stopped at the red light, waiting to turn left. Riding single-file on the right sure would’ve made the left turn fun.

        I agree with sentiment above. Chill the fuck out. Losing or taking the right of way at a stop is only going to put you a few seconds ahead or behind.

      • 29 Michael Friedman September 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

        Maybe we could work on putting something like that together? I’d def put in time, and I know people that would also.

      • 30 Aaron B September 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm

        There’s no reason for that to be safer unless there is actually no room to pass. Otherwise, full use of a lane, single or double-file, and not letting cars try to “share” yours, is safest.

      • 31 matthew bennett September 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

        The SF Bicycle Coalition has a great website on SF bike law here : http://www.sfbike.org/?bikelaw

        Just for my 2c… I used to ride “like a courier”; a madman. As I’ve aged I’m slowing down a lot more, and now I even stop at every four-way stop sign. When there’s a car there, they slam on the brakes instead of rolling through like normal. They often give me the look that (to me) say, “Why the hell are you stopping at the stop sign. Keep going so I can go through!”

        Traffic calming is annoying but necessary, IMHO.

  12. 32 jak September 19, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I’ve skated and bombed hills in the city since the early 70’s and still skate, I’ve cycled here all my life, I Ride a motorcycle and have a car. I have always identified with skaters and cyclists and have had many friends who were bicycle messengers in the early 80’s, and have messenged on motorcycles myself , mostly Transbay runs. I own 5 bicycles, from, 70’s bmx cruisers to disc braked suspension mtb’s.
    I have road rules that I adhere to that are unwritten, I’ve have always tried to flow with the traffic around me no matter my method of travel , If I share lanes and pass you, I’m not going to get in front of you and slow you down because it’s a dickhead thing to do. If I stop my bike at a red light, I’ll try to allow cars to get by me to take a right because it’s considerate. If I’m moving on my bike and want to blow through a stop, I’ll be ready to stop unless someone makes it clear that they’re willing to give up their right of way, in return they get a big smile and a courtesy wave . There are more but you get the idea. On the flip side I have been in fights with dickhead drivers and have taken windows and mirrors out when someone has knowingly endangered me. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t ,I’m working on it. Now that I have my credentials out of the way, let me just say That there are way more inconsiderate dickhead cyclists on the road today than there are cagers. They have no class and they ride like arrogant inconsiderate jerks. Riding side by side at 10 mph taking up the whole lane is just lame, I don’t care if it is legal,there are thousands of ways I can be an asshole everyday without breaking any laws. They seem to think that courtesy and consideration don’t apply to them because they’re on a bicycle. Most people I know thinks cyclists suck Because of your shitty riding and your holier than thou entitled riding style, not because your in the way.

  13. 33 Balzaak September 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

    as a pedestrian the uses the sidewalks – the next bicyclist I see on the sidewalk who thinks he has the right of way… won’t. And if he tags me I’ll act like all the bicyclist that was clipped by a car they cut off.

  14. 35 Derek September 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    > If the breaks on your car make a screeching noise as you
    > approach a stop sign, you’re going to fast, chill out.

    If the brakes make a screeching noise, the pads/rotors to be replaced– if it’s the tires, then yes, going too fast.

    > Bikes should brake at stops and obey all traffic laws, but
    > not all of them do.

    Agreed…

    > Don’t you think it’s better to shake your head in disapproval
    > from you car than hit someone on a bike. That could really put
    > a wrinkle in your dinner plans

    Wait wait wait. You’ve muddled the cause-and-effect in this scenario. I, as a motorist, am not angry because some bicyclists run stop signs. I am made angry because I nearly kill them when they run stop signs. Just as I would be angry at another motorist who does the same thing.

    I do not want to hit bicyclists because they run stop signs; I want to avoid it if possible, and that’s made easier if bicyclists behave in a predictable manner by obeying traffic laws.

    • 36 Doug September 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      A good amount of cars in SF need to replace their pads/rotors then. Maybe it’s the hills.

      What I was aiming for with the stop sign example was to say that it might be safer to assume that all cyclists are going to blow the sign than to think they’ll stop and be caught mid-intersection almost hitting them (even though it’s their own fault). It’s not right, as cyclists should stop, but thinking that that they will stop might lead to the situation where all drivers are try ing to avoid. Maybe I’m way off here, but it’s great to hear all sides and I’m open to the discussion.

  15. 37 matthew bennett September 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    And while we’re at it, jak up there is the only one who mentioned how annoying leap-frogging at lights is for motorists. Cars go 30mph + on market, while bikes go 10mph+. So of course it’s annoying when bikes filter in front of the faster vehicles at lights. No wonder the bus drivers with curbside stops weave in and out of the middle lane on market.

    I’m a daily bicycle commuter for 15 years, in many cities, BTW. Bikes are slower than cars, so filtering to the front causes the conflict. But I certainly agree that huffing diesel fumes behind a 38 SUCKS.

    I think fully separated bike lanes are the answer. I’ll hold my breath, starting now.

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