A Message to All Drivers

Particularly those drivers who are unfamiliar with the logistics and psychology behind other vehicles that are willing and able to share public roads with you

Having lived in Los Angeles all my life, I am no stranger to the concept of traffic. It’s this very same topic that has recently sparked my interest overt the past months. If there is someone with an urban planning or professional background when it comes to the psychology of traffic on and off the highway please don’t be shy and have a conversation with me. There are a lot of things I notice on the road that make no rational sense. Maybe I’m just seeing things from the wrong point of view. Before I get too side-tracked, I want to convey a few words of advice in regards to some of the words you choose to exchange to those of us riding two wheels on the road.

May is National bike month (while if you ask any cyclist, every month is bike month) so I would like to discuss two trends I have noticed with all my years pedaling on the road.

  1. Shouting, “Get off the road!”
  2. Inappropriately yielding the right of way to cyclists and pedestrians

If you’ve ever commuted to work here in the city, you have probably heard some angry stiff shout this unmistakable phrase while speeding by, often times kicking up dust in your face and nearly bumping your elbow with their side mirror. I’ve given this some thought and unless there is some strange middle ground in between the street and the sidewalk, my guess is that you (the driver) would prefer we (the cyclist(s)) ride bikes on the sidewalk instead of the street. This sounds like a plausible solution, if you choose to not think about it.

Sure riding a bike on the sidewalk clears up the mild congestion that is on our busy streets, but it does not get rid of the problem entirely. Its the same thing as moving some old photos from one box to another box and calling it cleaning up. The first law of thermodynamics states that,

 Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed.”

I am using this law as an analogy to put things into perspective for those willing to grasp this argument. To put things in easier digestible concepts, I will share an example I have come across almost once a week.

On my post-meal walks I happen to venture down a more popular street that many cars like to drive down. That being said, when I am walking down this half-mile stretch I always come across one (if not multiple) cyclists riding on the sidewalk. I don’t know about most of you, but I as a pedestrian do not feel safe when I see someone riding on a sidewalk on a full suspension mountain bike with extra wide bars made for extra handling down double digit grade dirt roads. To add to the fear, I (the pedestrian) have nothing to protect me from a collision. I do not have two tons of steel to surround myself if this person mistakenly runs into me.

Long story short, sidewalks are for walking, not bikes. If you want cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, rebuild all the sidewalks so they fit both cyclists and pedestrians comfortably.

Lastly, to those of you who do not have issues with cyclists occupying the roads you yourself are so privileged to occupy, please take one idea into consideration.

While I (and the rest of the cycling community) thank you for realizing that we (the cyclists) are only delaying your daily commutes by a matter of seconds, we too like to follow the rules and the flow of basic traffic patterns. Believe it or not there is a good percentage of cyclists who are familiar with driving a car and following the flow of traffic. There will always be some riff raff on bikes that  choose to disregard the rules of the road just the same as some select drivers do.

In my first point, I confidently spoke for the cycling community when addressing a point of view. I cannot say the same for what I am about to say now. I would much prefer that you (the driver) keep up with the flow of traffic and risk the chance of coming off as a rude driver than you yielding the right of way for me (the cyclist) and thereby causing the cars behind you to slow down and stop unnecessarily, possibly resulting in frustration and reckless driving. I know you’re trying to be nice & I appreciate the effort, but you’re putting yourself and others at a bigger risk by doing so.

Those have been increasing concerns of mine, especially since I have begun commuting a lot more. If there was something I missed, or another point of view you would like to discuss, feel free to contact me through this blog.

-dfj

 

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