Bicycles are not cars

Bicycles are not cars
Jesse Anderson - 09/12/2019

I was T-boned by a guy on a bicycle. He was blond and dressed in retro workout gear, and he ran the stop sign at 24th and West 2nd right into my wife’s Mitsubishi, but he sprang up afterward like a crackhead and kept going without turning to look at us. We circled back to make sure he was alright, and the guy was just sitting on his bike when we found him, chatting with another cyclist. The other guy was laughing with disbelief as he listened to the guy who hit me, his hands waving wildly as he pantomimed the incident. I pulled up beside him, rolled down my window and asked if he was concussed. He waved me off with a casual apology and admitted to running the stop sign, so I left thinking everything was resolved.

We saw the dent when we got home, one that’s still cancerous with rust today, and we realized it’d be there forever because we can’t afford to spend money on cosmetic repairs. It wasn’t fair. And it definitely wasn’t possible
to track down that cyclist because his bicycle wasn’t a car, so we hadn’t exchanged insurance information.

***

We’re all members of that “Durango Colorado Online Garage Sale” Facebook group – it’s the one thing that binds us: from the liberals downtown to the conservatives on the mesa, we’re all buying and selling and bickering in equal measure. And we never agree on cycle-related posts, especially this polemic one made by Andrea:

“To the asinine bicyclist who thinks it’s ok to take up an entire lane of traffic on 3rd avenue at rush hour, take your finger and shove it!! It’s ass wipes like you that make drivers hate bikers!!!”

The thread got dirty quick, so I took screen shots before things could get deleted. Let’s get into it:

First, the trolls came out. There were memes with dildos – mind you, on a public garage-sale site – and homophobia galore. A gentleman posted some common sense, saying we should be more like the Netherlands with protected bike lanes, but then someone named Dutch (which is ironic) called him a libtard.

Next, “G Von James” made a valid point about traffic regulations, saying it’s illegal to impede traffic on a bicycle, and a guy named Greggory quoted the laws and told people on both sides to “take a breath.” But then a guy named Lucas posted a meme of a car plowing through a crowd of bicyclists. Honestly, can you imagine being so insular during a time of mass murders that you’d post such a thing to your neighbors? I hate to say it, but we all know who Lucas voted for... anyway, moving on:

Then a guy named Ron tried to leaven the Conservative Right with dignity, saying he was a Republican who rides and supports a system wherein the road is shared. But then immediately after Ron’s post, a guy named Cody (whose profile pic looked like a Wrangler ad) said, “steel bumpers make quick work of aluminum wheels.”

I doubt that if Cody met anyone from that thread at City Market, he’d suggest killing cyclists with his huge what-are-you-compensating-for truck. But behind Facebook’s cover, Cody had no issue implying murder was OK if you were in a hurry. He’d made that comment to a lady named “Kay,” whose profile picture was of a paper heart, and her response was, “You want to run over me and my aluminum wheels when I’m on my bike? Like possibly murder me?” To which Cody responded, “... yeah, I might hit you, but it’ll be your own dumbass fault for throwing yourself in the way.”

This is the level of motorist vs. cyclist frustration that’s out there, and it exists outside Facebook because I watched a Jeep try to run a spandex-clad woman off Animas View Drive (she fought back with a middle finger) just last month. It happens regularly. We should probably do something.

I’m more of a motorist than I am a cyclist, and that’s how it is for the vast majority. Yes, I own a mountain bike, and I like to spend weekends on dirt trails (or the paved ones that lead to day drinking), but my car is more important. I use it on the road more than my bike because I drive to work. I get groceries. Sometimes, it rains or snows. But even if you’re a bicycling zealot who doesn’t own a car, you’ve got to know there will always be more cars on the road than bikes. You’ve got to admit that cars are better-suited for the road, especially when there’s a 55mph speed limit, and you’ve got to understand that logically, bikes should defer to cars for safety’s sake. So, I hate to say it because it’ll come across as sacrilegious in this town, but cyclists need to change if we’re going to defuse the frustration that leads idiots like Cody to threaten murder.

A good start would be for cyclists to actually follow the laws. Yes, Colorado law allows bicycles on roads, and cyclists are afforded the same rights as motorists (diehard cyclists cling to this like bible-thumpers to their good book), but there are other laws that cyclists need to stop breaking when it’s convenient. For instance, did you know that bicycles need a headlight and taillight to be on the road after sunset (C.R.S. 42-4-221)? Did you know they have to pull over and let cars pass if they’re impeding traffic (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5))? Hell, it’s even illegal for cyclists to take their hands off their handlebars for anything other than making required hand signals (of which the middle finger is not). If you’re a cyclist, and you want to enjoy the privilege of sharing the road, you need to follow all the laws, not just the ones that let you pedal in front of pickup trucks.

And maybe we need to go further. Maybe cyclists should be licensed and required to carry insurance, and maybe bicycles should be registered with license plates. That way, if one of them T-bones a broke-ass writer in a Mitsubishi, the innocent motorist isn’t stuck with a rusting dent. It’ll never happen, but it’s a good idea. Bikes with license plates would remind rednecks like Cody that cyclists are allowed on the road, forcing cyclists to register would make them learn the laws, and registration would require cyclists to carry insurance in case they cause accidents. Hell, it’d even help cops track down stolen bicycles.

But lastly, cyclists and motorists should be kind to one another. Just because you can “take up an entire lane of traffic on 3rd Avenue at rush hour” doesn’t mean you should. Or, if you’re stuck behind a bike, think before succumbing to road rage. That bike isn’t killing our planet like your jacked-up truck, and the person on it is simply trying to be healthy. Do you really need to run someone off the road for making good choices? It’s true that bicycles aren’t cars, but cyclists are definitely humans, so don’t be like Cody.

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