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Remind Me Why I Should Care What Motorists Think...

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Remind Me Why I Should Care What Motorists Think...

Old 01-25-15, 07:49 PM
  #1  
JoeyBike
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Remind Me Why I Should Care What Motorists Think...

This past weekend my wife and I drove out of town on the Interstate (I-10 and I-51) and I tried an experiment. For the first 10 miles on I-10 in the city/burbs with 8-12 lanes where the speed limit is 60mph and I held 65mph. The second 10 miles was outside the city on an elevated section of I-10 4-lane where the speed limit is still 60mph and I set the cruise control at 65mph. The last section was also 10 miles on an elevated section of I-55 4-lane and the speed limit was 70mph and I set the cruise on 70 exactly (the fastest I ever drive).

My wife counted the cars passing us, I counted the vehicles I passed (not including those entering or exiting the Interstate). I knew I had the easier job. Here are the results.

First 20 miles. 762 vehicles passed me. I passed ZERO.
Next 10 miles. 52 vehicles passed me. I passed one box truck filled with seafood.

On the way home, same route - I passed another box truck - again seafood. We got lazy about counting the ones that passed us. Hundreds. Maybe 2 in 10 signaled lane changes. We did not count phone users.

The irony to me is the fact that when I am driving a vehicle and obeying the law (or even fudging 5 mph) I am undoubtedly annoying other motorists as they bunch up behind me waiting for an opening to get around me. When cycling around town I am annoying motorists when I run red lights to AVOID having them delayed behind me.

So given the fact that 60 minutes on a busy Interstate highway revealed two vehicles out of over 1000 obeying the law (and likely only because their vehicle would not go any faster) the question I have is this: Why should I give a d@mn what motorists think of me breaking the law on my bicycle?
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Old 01-25-15, 08:29 PM
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Because you can only be responsible for you? Otherwise, continue on as you do, and don't give a damn.
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Old 01-25-15, 09:34 PM
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What is this nonsense about motorists thinking? Of course motorists don't think. They merely react according to their training. Currently, we don't train them to obey the law. In fact, we discourage such behavior. Thus, their reactions are habitually unlawful. Sadly, they also seem to be socially trained to react negatively to people who aren't driving.

At least they are largely predictable. Think of the stupidest thing they can do and likely at least one in the crowd is doing it. (Yeah, yeah, same goes for cyclists.)
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Old 01-25-15, 09:44 PM
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Only one?
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Old 01-25-15, 09:47 PM
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I care what the motorists think only because their thoughts may influence their action, which may affect me as a cyclist on the road...
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Old 01-25-15, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
Only one?
At least one; I may bring a like-minded friend.
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Old 01-25-15, 09:50 PM
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I mostly agree with you except for the red light running. Running a red light gives us (cyclists) a bad rap. Motorists see us as just scofflaws and don't respect our right to be on the road because of that. This is really the biggest thing I hear from drivers. Running red lights just makes us all look bad.
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Old 01-25-15, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bicyclelove View Post
I mostly agree with you except for the red light running. Running a red light gives us (cyclists) a bad rap. Motorists see us as just scofflaws and don't respect our right to be on the road because of that. This is really the biggest thing I hear from drivers. Running red lights just makes us all look bad.
It only takes one cyclist running the red light for the motorists to give the entire cyclist population a bad rap, so you might as well forget it.

Law-breaking among cyclists: perception vs reality
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Old 01-25-15, 09:58 PM
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Good post @JoeyBike We've long known two facts: 1.) Most of the drivers that are angered by us eeeeeeeevil cyclists don't obey the laws themselves; and 2.) Drivers are mad at everyone and everything on the road, not just cyclists. Those were good observations in your post, now I may go sit close to a stop sign for an hour and come up with a stop-sign-runner statistic lol
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Old 01-25-15, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by daihard View Post
It only takes one cyclist running the red light for the motorists to give the entire cyclist population a bad rap, so you might as well forget it.

Law-breaking among cyclists: perception vs reality
Very interesting article. The comments at the end say it all; blowing through a red light is illegal no matter how you look at it. I believe this is the single biggest thing cyclists do to give us all a bad name. I admit to treating stop signs as yield signs when there is no traffic, but when it comes to light controlled intersections I will always follow the lights.
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Old 01-25-15, 10:11 PM
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Not caring because nobody else does...........What a sad statement, rationalizing mediocrity of character.


What ever happened to personal integrity, and being positive despite influences to the contrary.....
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Old 01-25-15, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bicyclelove View Post
Very interesting article. The comments at the end say it all; blowing through a red light is illegal no matter how you look at it. I believe this is the single biggest thing cyclists do to give us all a bad name. I admit to treating stop signs as yield signs when there is no traffic, but when it comes to light controlled intersections I will always follow the lights.
Here's my take. The motorists who dislike us don't do so because we are engaged in an illegal behaviour. They do because we are cyclists. If every single person on the bike followed the strictest letter of the traffic laws, they would come up with something to hate us for - be it riding too slow in the traffic lane, wasting their tax money on bike infrastructure, etc.

I follow the traffic lights almost all the time, but that's for my own safety.
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Old 01-25-15, 10:47 PM
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At least once a year, I have a business trip that takes me to a city that's actually on the same interstate as my town. It's 4 hours on the interstate, and maybe 5 minutes of other driving. To save fuel, I just do 65. But, I have experimented. I don't drive during rush hour, and this is very rural. The city is a city of about 75,000 people, but I live in a town of 4,000. And there's basically nothing in between. Most of the traffic is big trucks. Doing 65 there, 75 back one year I only ended up saving a few minutes. Because I can't do 75 the whole way there. I'm bound to get behind two torque-governed trucks jockeying for position up a hill, dropping down to 50mph. In fact, that's bound to happen several times. Or other situations that slow me down. And the 10mph improvement in speed doesn't actually erase that much time. But it does burn a lot of extra fuel. In my car (every car is different); there's just shy of a 3mpg advantage on the 65mph run. 34mpg at 75, 37mpg at 65 (Speed limit is 70 the entire way, by the way).

The other thing I notice, since; as I said, I do 65 most of the time; is that the same cars pass me over and over. I started paying attention to license plates (pass the time I guess?). So I'd see a little BMW blast by me. And 10 minutes later, see that little BMW stuck in a cluster with big trucks, and I'd catch up with them. A whole would open, and they'd blast off. 15-20 minutes later, there they are again (As I said, not a long in this area, so it's not an uncommon stretch of road to be alongside someone for a couple of hours). The question, to me, is glaringly obvious. What exactly does that speed give you? You burn more fuel and don't make a meaningful improvement to your time!

So yeah, I get you. I'm sure it bugs folks when I putt along in the right lane at 5 below (though, another advantage is, no jockeying for position! Other than passing the occasional 18-wheeler up a steep hill, and then them passing me down a steep descent, I pretty much can just sit in the right lane; no jockeying and passing and getting frustrated by left-lane slowpokes). But it is what it is! They can call me names, I'll be listening to some good music or an interesting conversation on NPR and not playing full-tackle interstate jockeying!
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Old 01-25-15, 10:48 PM
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When I rode thirty years ago, almost every motorist treated me with respect. There was always a handful so captivated by the novelty of an adult on the bike that they just couldn't go by without shouting something witty out the window, but otherwise, people went out of their way to give me space.

That didn't really change during the "LeMond boom". Suddenly there were a lot more cyclists on the road, but mostly we behaved ourselves and mostly the motorists adapted, and we all got along.

Then came the "Lance boom" and suddenly all the Type A jerks were driving their Beemers to the meet-up spot, unloading their $10,000 carbon bikes, and then behaving like complete A-holes on the road while dressed like tropical insects in heat. And overnight, I couldn't go for a bike ride without motorists going out of their way to make my life unpleasant.

So yeah, I have a pretty strong opinion on why cyclists should care what motorists think, and it's the same opinion I have for everyone's behavior in public: common decency simply makes life more bearable, and being a jerk because someone else was a jerk first makes for a very unpleasant world.

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Old 01-25-15, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by daihard View Post
Here's my take. The motorists who dislike us don't do so because we are engaged in an illegal behaviour. They do because we are cyclists. If every single person on the bike followed the strictest letter of the traffic laws, they would come up with something to hate us for - be it riding too slow in the traffic lane, wasting their tax money on bike infrastructure, etc.

I follow the traffic lights almost all the time, but that's for my own safety.
Having lived in a city where the cyclists, for a brief one decade window, did follow the traffic laws perfectly (imposed by a large contingent of bicycle cops), I agree that motorist will hate cyclists even when everyone on a bike is perfectly law-abiding.
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Old 01-25-15, 11:17 PM
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I wonder how much the move away from fitness affects it.

Here's an example. In a college town, you see people on scooters all the time. A 49cc scooter is cheap, uses very little gas, and doesn't need insurance or tags. Making it a popular choice among college students needing cheap wheels. (A buddy of mine had one, even though he had a drivers license and kept insurance on it. Still far cheaper to own than a car.) In other communities, a 49cc scooter is just a "DWI mobile". Something people who have had their drivers license revokes ride. I wonder if the attitude towards bike is affected by how the culture is shifting away from that. Away from fitness, more towards convenience.

I'm not one to talk about the good ol' days or proclaim the sky is falling; but certainly, culture is shifting. Not only can folks not even fathom the idea of doing something less convenient on purpose; but they don't tolerate it.

In my community, so far, I've had positive experiences. Bikes are pretty rare, so most probably don't have negative experiences with bikes. I'm not sure what folks think when they see me, but they give me room. But I'm sure if I do this long enough, I'll have some bad experiences to add to my pedigree.
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Old 01-26-15, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
This past weekend my wife and I drove out of town on the Interstate (I-10 and I-51) and I tried an experiment. For the first 10 miles on I-10 in the city/burbs with 8-12 lanes where the speed limit is 60mph and I held 65mph. The second 10 miles was outside the city on an elevated section of I-10 4-lane where the speed limit is still 60mph and I set the cruise control at 65mph. The last section was also 10 miles on an elevated section of I-55 4-lane and the speed limit was 70mph and I set the cruise on 70 exactly (the fastest I ever drive).

My wife counted the cars passing us, I counted the vehicles I passed (not including those entering or exiting the Interstate). I knew I had the easier job. Here are the results.

First 20 miles. 762 vehicles passed me. I passed ZERO.
Next 10 miles. 52 vehicles passed me. I passed one box truck filled with seafood.

On the way home, same route - I passed another box truck - again seafood. We got lazy about counting the ones that passed us. Hundreds. Maybe 2 in 10 signaled lane changes. We did not count phone users.

The irony to me is the fact that when I am driving a vehicle and obeying the law (or even fudging 5 mph) I am undoubtedly annoying other motorists as they bunch up behind me waiting for an opening to get around me. When cycling around town I am annoying motorists when I run red lights to AVOID having them delayed behind me.

So given the fact that 60 minutes on a busy Interstate highway revealed two vehicles out of over 1000 obeying the law (and likely only because their vehicle would not go any faster) the question I have is this: Why should I give a d@mn what motorists think of me breaking the law on my bicycle?
For me, I would slightly rephrase the question to say this WHY SHOULD I GIVE A HOOT ABOUT WHAT MOTORISTS' THINK. WHEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO PASS WITHOUT BREAKING THE TRAFFIC LAW, OR BY RUNNING ME OFF THE ROAD BY BULLYING ME.

So, For you, it is running red lights. For me, it is 'taking the lane'.
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Old 01-26-15, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
For me, I would slightly rephrase the question to say this WHY SHOULD I GIVE A HOOT ABOUT WHAT MOTORISTS' THINK. WHEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO PASS WITHOUT BREAKING THE TRAFFIC LAW, OR BY RUNNING ME OFF THE ROAD BY BULLYING ME.

So, For you, it is running red lights. For me, it is 'taking the lane'.
Taking the lane is legal, running red lights isn't.
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Old 01-26-15, 07:22 AM
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Taking the lane in my town would result in a ton of horn blowing and engine revving. Running certain red lights makes "blocking" traffic unnecessary. Ride the gaps and change your life!
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Old 01-26-15, 07:47 AM
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An interesting take. A few years ago, the Top Gear (UK) programme carried out an experiment driving from Birmingham to Exeter (160m approx, almost all motorway driving. One driver was tasked with swapping lanes whenever an apparent advantage offered itself and another to stick to the speed limit, mostly in the middle lane and did not lane hop. The difference over 160 miles? 5 minutes slower for steady eddie. Plus, I suspect, a fair difference in fuel saved
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Old 01-26-15, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Taking the lane in my town would result in a ton of horn blowing and engine revving. Running certain red lights makes "blocking" traffic unnecessary. Ride the gaps and change your life!
Isn't being concerned about horn blowing and engine revving "being concerned about what motorists think?"
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Old 01-26-15, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by RomansFiveEight View Post
... The question, to me, is glaringly obvious. What exactly does that speed give you? You burn more fuel and don't make a meaningful improvement to your time!

So yeah, I get you. I'm sure it bugs folks when I putt along in the right lane at 5 below (though, another advantage is, no jockeying for position! Other than passing the occasional 18-wheeler up a steep hill, and then them passing me down a steep descent, I pretty much can just sit in the right lane; no jockeying and passing and getting frustrated by left-lane slowpokes). But it is what it is! They can call me names, I'll be listening to some good music or an interesting conversation on NPR and not playing full-tackle interstate jockeying!
R58 absolutely right and it's even more true for driving in town in my experience. Sure, every once in awhile the speeder will get through a light they'd otherwise have stopped at, or get ahead of someone turning into the street instead of stuck behind them but even those successes doesn't save much time over the whole route. Racing to the stop light to get ahead of someone is another example.

I don't think that it reflects on their character though. I think that for most people, it just never occurs to them to test it objectively. And, sadly, many people just aren't equipped to understand how speeding might not actually be much faster.

Teaching my teenager to drive, one of the things I stress is to observe the traffic ahead, to prepare to react to whatever they are reacting to. The eye-opening part is that most of those drivers are only reacting to what happens directly in front of them. No value judgments, no real thought involved, just routine reactions to whatever forces its way into their attention.

In light of that perspective I can't really agree with the equivalence Joey draws between freeway speeding and scoff-law traffic in general. Yes, some are being scoff-laws and frankly being stupid at it, but the 762 vehicles passing at 65 probably not. Most of them are probably just following traffic, speeding up to pass whenever they get too close to you.

Why should you care? I don't think you should care either way. You should ride in a manner so as to ensure your safety, and to minimize traffic disruption from any technically illegal maneuver. Which may often amount to the same thing. What they think about it is mostly extraneous.
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Old 01-26-15, 09:10 AM
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Dont worry about what most drivers think, most of them dont.

However it would be a better world if BOTH drivers and cyclist obey the law.
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Old 01-26-15, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
R58 absolutely right and it's even more true for driving in town in my experience. Sure, every once in awhile the speeder will get through a light they'd otherwise have stopped at, or get ahead of someone turning into the street instead of stuck behind them but even those successes doesn't save much time over the whole route. Racing to the stop light to get ahead of someone is another example.
You can't win if you don't play.

To the OP, it would be hard to count the people obeying the law since you wouldn't be passing them or vice versa.

I haven't done much riding on the road yet (mostly been a mountain biker and only recently bought a road bike), but with what little road riding I've done I tended to roll through stop signs on back streets and go with the lights for safety rather than to obey the law. (My attitude in general towards road laws/safety has been changing, though. i.e. more likely now to follow road rules on my bike.)

It occurred to me that both motorists and cyclists factor in both their perception of what's safe (enough) and the likelihood of getting a ticket, with what laws they'll bend. Bikes are probably less likely to get a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign and the perception of danger to others is certainly lower even if the risk to yourself is higher.
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Old 01-26-15, 10:06 AM
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Unfortunately, there is a contingent on this board, who somehow believe that if cyclists follow every single rule to the letter, then miraculously drivers will love and respect cyclists. The corollary to their thesis is the mea colpa, the hand wringing "it must be my fault that the big bad car drivers don't like me!" To them, its all the cyclists fault because one cyclist sinned by running a stop sign one day and now all drivers hate all cyclists because of the one original sin. Its all our fault! Repent yee cyclist sinner, confess the heinous crime of filtering and you will be saved!

Its abundantly clear that many drivers just have an inate hatred/fear of cyclists. No matter what cyclists do, they will still find some illogical reason to criticise them.
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