In my intro post on this site, there were lots of comments, and some of them focused on poor riding habits of cyclists. One commenter asked me to address the question “Why do so many cyclists ignore the basic rules of the road?”
The commenter is certainly not alone in his opinion; it’s something I’ve heard lots of times, mostly from people who don’t bike often.
It’s a valid question, but I don’t think it’s the right question. I see it everyday: the thing that seems to get everyone hot is when cyclists blow stop signs. Perhaps equally as angering is cyclists riding on sidewalks. I’d add to it cyclists who talk on their mobiles while riding, those who don’t yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, those who ride the wrong way through roundabouts, and so on.
Yet I don’t see those same people asking why motorists are always blowing stop signs — which, on the bike routes, they are. Motorists are also guilty of regularly: going the wrong way through roundabouts, not yielding to traffic already in roundabouts, pulling out of parking spots without signalling — heck, without even looking –, burning red lights, pulling U-turns in the middle of busy streets, etc.
And what about pedestrians!? Crossing the road against red lights. Crossing the road without looking at all. Stepping out from behind parked cars. Crossing diagonally through intersections at a shuffle.
And don’t get me started about the running groups, jogging down the middle of the road, in the “wrong” direction, when there are perfectly good and clear sidewalks on both sides.
I bring this all up because the “Why do cyclists ignore the law?” question misses the point. It’s not all cyclists. It’s not just cyclists.
Further, I don’t think there’s a good answer to the question. My opinion is that the main reason we see these problems is relatively simple: There are no consequences. Whether motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, it’s extremely unlikely that the will VPD ticket anyone for any of the actions I’ve mentioned above. Certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any concern from anyone that they’ll face any consequences. And, there doesn’t seem to be much concern over causing inconvenience, fear, or injury to others. It’s the inward-looking “me-first” attitude of many Vancouverites.
What’s your take? Have I missed the mark? Why do the riding habits of cyclists make so many people mad? Do you think cyclists are held to different standards than motorists and pedestrians? What do you think can be done about it?
Last modified: October 17, 2011