New year, new attitude towards riding in traffic

Matt Tanner on January 29, 2018

I’ve yet to make any new year resolutions. So as the month comes to a close, I’m going to resolve to become a more considerate cyclist. I’m going to go out of my way to do what I can to change the bike vs. car culture and mentality.

Most cyclists will throw their arms in the air yelling for cyclists rights, 3 foot passing laws and argue with drivers when they yell “get on the sidewalk!” I get it, I get aggravated with aggressive drivers, too. But after dealing with that frustration for decades now, I realize I’m not going to change those drivers. Especially when I throw the bird and provoke them.

So with all that said, I’m ready to take the first step on behalf of cyclists and say what WE, as a bike community, need to do better:

  • If we want drivers to “share the road,” let’s make sure we’re not riding like idiots. This is especially true on our group rides. We’re not on closed roads, so we should never be crossing yellow lines, riding 5 cyclists across, or blowing through stop signs, red lights and roundabouts just to try and “win” the ride. This (understandably) pisses drivers off, which leads to the next point.
  • We need to ride and abide by the rules of the road. These rules vary for each of us based on state regulations, but nowhere should we be blowing through busy stop signs or creeping up to the front of traffic at red lights. Just ride your bike like you would drive a car.
  • We will be more courteous. If cars are backed up for an unreasonable time behind us, let’s find a safe spot to move off the road and let them by. Small courtesy and respect for the driver’s time can go a long way.
  • Although sometimes unavoidable (especially for you awesome commuters), let’s do our best to minimize the time spent on busier two lane roads. Especially on group rides. It makes it really tough for our fellow road sharers to pass. If you do have to travel on these roads, adhere to the point above.
  • We will do our best to be more visible and predictable. Let’s make sure we’re using front and back lights when riding, especially when the daylight is fading and in the dark, to help drivers see us better. Let’s also make sure we’re signalling turns and avoiding darting in and out of lanes. Smooth and predictable!
  • We will give a friendly wave to safe drivers letting them know we appreciate their patience and respect. When a driver gives you a safe pass, give them a wave or nod of the head. Acknowledging good behavior with positive reinforcement goes much further than confrontation with negative behaviors. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and get many waves back. Whoa… we are all getting along! It feels good to be friendly.

Drivers, we are ready to step up and improve relations between us.

Are you in?

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