Common Comments on The Topic of Cycling


These are the most common comments made on the internet when the topic of cyclist sharing the road is brought up. I’ve tried to provide some decent responses you can give if confronted with these ridiculous suggestions.

When cyclist have insurance, registration, and tags, they might have some rights on the road.
Maybe pedestrian crossings should have a coin slot so people crossing the road on foot pay a fee to press the crosswalk button, too. Speaking of pedestrians, they’re in the car’s way. They are holding up traffic by crossing the road. If cars were the most important thing on the road, should they be allowed to mow down those pokey pedestrians so they can turn right?

Still, that’s not how freedom to travel works. You aren’t granted rights by the government because you paid a fee. Rights, like the right to travel on public roads, is just that…a right. Your car registration and tag doesn’t buy you the right to the road.

Furthermore, having a tiny metal plate on a bike, isn’t going to guarantee the respect of other travelers. That respect either comes from a mutual need to travel safely together with other members of the community or it is lacking in a person’s character. No amount of signage is going to make the raging driver respect the rights of other road users. Having a plate on your car doesn’t stop you from being cut-off or honked at. Why would it change how bad drivers treat cyclist?

Stay off the road if you can’t do the speed limit. You’re impeding traffic.
I fail to see how a small object like a bicycle moving 25-45 KPH in the same direction as traffic, tucked neatly on the edge of the lane, and easily passed, impedes traffic. Here are a few things that slow or stop cars completely:

  • Pedestrians (we’ve cover them)
  • Traffic lights
  • Trains
  • School buses
  • Mail trucks
  • Delivery trucks
  • Farm equipment
  • Construction zones
  • (and frankly) other motorist

Those impede traffic, but drivers would misplace their anger on cyclist. Cyclists are part of the traffic flow. In congested cities, cyclist often out-pace cars. As a driver, if you are unable to safely pass a bicycle, please don’t drive while school buses are loading and unloading, and for God’s sake, stay away from train crossing.

Speed limits are just that: the maximum safe limit on a road under perfect conditions. They aren’t a minimum speed that the traffic must travel. And while we’re on the subject, what’s with speed humps? Are they there to slow down the speeding cyclist? No. They are there because motorist fail to observe the set speed limit and need a little reminder now and again.

Cyclist run stop signs and red lights.
Surveys show that lights and signs are run in about equal amounts by both cars and bicycles (6.8% and 7.2% respectively). If any argument for removing cyclist from the roadway is to be made based on this, cars would necessarily need to be removed, too. It’s just ridiculous to ban a particular mode of transportation based on the lawlessness of a few. Police don’t give speeding tickets to all cars in the area just because one driver is speeding.

That being said, there are often good reasons cyclist run lights. Very often the sensors built into the road that trigger the light to change are not sensitive enough to detect a bicycle. Prudent cyclist often treat those lights as stop signs because the light will never change for them.

Bikes are toys for children.
Indeed, they are. They are also the main means of transportation for more than 4 billion adults worldwide. Anyone making this observation hasn’t been on a bicycle since they were nine and needs to experience the sheer joy of a bike again. If you don’t cycle, don’t tell people who do how they need to act. You are, by definition, not an experienced expert on the topic.

Bikes should only ride on bicycle paths or roads with wide shoulders.
That would be preferred by all, cyclist included. Sadly, there isn’t the infrastructure for bicycles in all areas. If politicians and bureaucrats are to be believed, widening shoulders by a couple of feet would put an undue financial burden on their budgets. Bike lanes seem to be out of the question in all, but the most densely packed cities. When bike paths do exist in smaller cities and towns, they are often relegated to parks. That’s fine for a weekend outing, but if the bike paths don’t go where you need them to go, they are functionally useless. If bike paths existed between neighborhoods, commercial zones, and place of work, cyclist would happily stick to them. Cyclist have no more desire to mix with motorized traffic than the driver’s desire them to be on the roads.

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