Can we talk about bicyclists and their behavior in large cities with heavy foot and vehicular traffic? Sometimes it sucks, doesn’t it?
You’re walking across a street or bridge and suddenly a cyclist screams in your ear to get out of the way but all it does is freeze you in your tracks. Or maybe you’re on a sidewalk, making your way to your bus stop or subway station and there’s a bike weaving through the mass of people. Grrr.
Now, we know better than to assume such rogue bicyclists represent all cyclists. In fact, for those of us who have tales to tell about getting hit or clipped by a cyclist who was racing past us like an Olympian chasing gold and the world record, rogue cyclists stand out particularly because so many more cyclists are responsible and courteous.
You may be part of the problem if you've done any of these nine things:
You hop on one of those Citi bikes that are all the rage in New York... sans helmet. You could be the most seasoned cyclist there is, but safety always comes first. Put your helmet on.
You’re living out your Tour de France fantasies among cyclists, young and old, who aren’t going at warp 9 like you are. Slower cyclists have just as much a right as you do to that bike lane.
You get annoyed by pedestrians who are in your way, and the way you handle it is to wait until you are as close as possible to them, without actually coming into direct contact, so you can scream at the top of your lungs, “RIGHT!” or “LEFT!” — as if they understand your lingo. Pro tip: If you scare someone into nearly pooping their pants, it will take even longer for them to move out of your way.
You ride your bike at top speed, and when traffic gets too heavy for your taste, you ride on the sidewalk among bewildered pedestrians who are not expecting you to ride there. Bonus: You get annoyed at the pedestrians who don’t move out of your way fast enough.
You ride your bike on any bridge at full speed and yell at tourists who want to walk across and — heaven forbid — stop to take photos. It’s pretty narrow, and people want to walk (in both directions) as much as you want to ride your bike (also in both directions). Sharing is caring. If you want to ride superfast, maybe pick a spot that has more room for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
You run red lights, go against traffic or commit other such traffic violations. Bonus: You get ticked off when pedestrians don’t intuit that you’re going to turn illegally and therefore wander in your way. Seriously, you’re making responsible cyclists look really bad.
Do you really want to be that person? We’re not saying pedestrians are never in the wrong here — trust us, many of us are sick to the teeth of other pedestrians who stop short, veer in a diagonal directly into our path or have their heads buried in their mobile phones instead of paying attention to where they are going. But getting hit by a bike hurts and may send YOU flying off your bike as well. See why you should wear that helmet?
It’s frightening to see how close some cyclists come to getting hit. We get that the whole point of riding your bike means that you don’t have to sit in traffic for hours because you can squeeze through, but you’re still part of traffic, and being reckless puts you — and others — at risk.
Yes, we can almost see most, if not all, cyclists rolling their eyes at this one, especially those who have to contend with drivers who open their doors without checking the mirrors to see if a cyclist is riding through. And we get that road rage-y drivers do get into it with cyclists and attempt to intimidate them with their vehicles and cut them off. But two jerks don’t make a right, and you may just be cutting off someone who isn’t a jerk to cyclists, and who — to make matters worse — may not see you until it’s too late.
The moral of the story is to ride safely and try to learn some patience. Just as we shouldn’t assume that a few reckless cyclists represent all cyclists, cyclists should not assume all pedestrians and drivers are jerks who don’t care if they get in the way.
Do any of these describe you as a cyclist? Weigh in with your opinion in the comments and help us figure out how we can all share spaces without being jerks to one another.