Motorists are often admonished to “share the road” with bicyclists. But, often get frustrated with bicyclists. In some cases, the frustration is the product of displaced aggression stemming from the pressure of heavy traffic. But, sharing the road is also a two-way street. There are many reasons that bicyclists frustrate motorists. Here are seven reasons that I get frustrated with bicyclists on the road:
1. Disobeying Traffic Rules. I was a bicyclist as a college student. The local police expected us to obey all traffic laws and issued citations for flagrant traffic violations. A friend of mine even got his license suspended when he failed to pay a citation for running a stop sign. In an effort to conserve energy and momentum, bicyclists often blow right through stop signs and stop lights.
2. No lights. Bicyclists often choose to ride at dusk or get caught out after dark. This creates a dangerous situation where a motorist may not see a bicyclist. I have even seen bicyclists riding at night in dark clothing. In most states, bicyclists are required to have bicycle headlights and tail lights when riding after dark. These are inexpensive accessories that every bicyclist should have.
3. Passing stopped cars on the right. Perhaps we are jealous, but there is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a line of cars and having a bicycle pass us on the right on in our own lane. In my state, motorists are required to give bicycles three feet of space when passing. Giving motorists one foot when passing on the right is dangerous. It also exposes bicyclists to the danger of hitting a motorist who is making an unexpected right turn into a driveway.
4. Leaning on cars. Toe clips may make bicyclists more competitive pedalers. But, they also tempt some bicyclists to prop themselves up against cars when they are stopped at a busy intersection. This is simply rude. By positioning their bicycle so close to a stopped car, they might scratch the car. Plus, they may be in a dangerous position when the stopped car starts moving again. Riding a hybrid, cruising, or mountain bike that is more appropriate for use in traffic and rough road surfaces might be a better choice for a bicyclist.
5. Poor choice of bicycling route. When motorists are making their way home after a long day in the office, they are sometimes frustrated to find relatively slow moving bicyclists on heavily trafficked commuting routes. This delays motorists who are trying to get home, trying to get their dogs out for a walk, trying to pick up kids from school extra curricular activities, and trying to get some sort of dinner on the table. It’s even more frustrating when the bicyclists are recreational cyclists who could easily pick less heavily travelled roads or designated bike paths for a cycling work out.
6. Riding in a pack. It is relatively easy to safely pass a single bicyclist on the road. But, when bicyclists ride as a team in a pack, passing becomes much more dangerous. Motorists are forced to ride along slowly behind the pack until they can find space that offers enough safe passing room.
7. Failing to keep Right. Just when motorists get accustomed to sharing the road, some bicyclists choose to take up a whole traffic lane rather than a partial lane. They ride in the middle of the lane and preclude motorists from passing them entirely. Motorists look upon this as a passive-aggressive move on the part of the bicyclist. Taking an entire lane without good reason is not sharing.
While many bicyclists have valid complaints about drivers on the roads, the bicycling community would do well to recognize their own behaviors that aggravate motorists.