Long-time readers know that I’m hostile to bicyclists. In 2007, I devoted an entire post to mob bicyclists. Although I didn’t blog about bikes after my trip to Amsterdam, one of the things I just hated about the city was the bicyclists. Collectively, the bicyclists make up a brutish mob that controls the streets. Woe betide the unlucky pedestrian or car that tries to cross an intersection when any bicyclists are near. Indeed, even a single cyclist, without the comfort of the mob at his street will take aim at any pedestrian foolish enough to try to cross when a bicyclist is near. They are terrifying in their arrogance and entitlement.
I live near a scenic street that, every weekend throughout the year, and every week day when the sun is shining, is a bike route. There is no bike lane, so the bikes just ride down the middle of the road. The road is extremely curvy so, as I round every curve, I recite to myself “Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle,” so that I don’t get careless and run one down. The speed limit on the road is between 20-25 MPH, depending on how curvy the road is. The speed limit is irrelevant. We drivers go bike speed: 5-10 MPH.
In other parts of Marin, bikes run red lights and stop signs, dart into traffic, block roads, and move in large packs. A few months ago, a bicyclist almost hit my car. I don’t know why. I was in my lane, on a multi-lane road, driving along at the speed limit, and he just swerved into me.
Lucky for the bicyclists, although they arouse anger in me, my dominant emotion is fear. I’m absolutely terrified that, in a run-in between my two-ton car and their bike, even if they’re at fault, I’ll walk away and they’ll be dead. For that reason, I give them an especially wide berth whenever I see them. Some drivers don’t. They act on their anger and come dangerously close to bicyclists, putting those frail bodies at risk — and putting the driver at risk of a lengthy prison sentence and the end of his life as he knows it.
My thinking has always been that the bicyclists believe that their environmental chops mean that they are wrapped in an invincibility cloak, one that allows them to ignore the law of physics. That is, I’ve thought that, in their overweening bicyclist arrogance, they truly believe that, even as they break all known traffic rules, they cannot be hurt because they’re on the side of angels.
How naive I was. They know they can be hurt. But rather than following the rules of the road, they have a different plan: to make cars illegal. More frighteningly, they seem to be succeeding in many communities.
Drivers should strike back. The reason the car took over the road shortly after Henry Ford brought mass production to manufacturing is because they are better than bikes: they’re safer, they carry more people and goods, they’re faster, they protect people from the elements, they bring more traffic to commercial areas, and they more comfortable. Certainly it’s nice if they burn fuel more cleanly, or if drivers make time in their lives to exercise so as to offset sitting, rather than walking, but they’re still better. Bicyclists, however, would have us revert to a pre-industrial time when transportation was limit to a person’s own two feet — whether without wheels, or augmented by two slender ones.