Feed on

I’ve come to the conclusion that I pretty much don’t give a crap about what other cyclists do. I don’t care if they wear a helmet, if they stop for lights, if they ride on the sidewalk, if they’re tighter than a boiled owl, riding up the wrong side of the street at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday. Wow, I just so don’t care!

Sure, I’d love it if everyone rode with traffic, signaled their turns, stopped for lights, and basically comported themselves in a sensible, civilized fashion, but there’s fuck-all I can do to get other people to act right. I figure if you ride dumb, you’ll eventually self-correct. The vast majority of dumb riders are grown ups in the eyes of the law. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to be responsible for yourself, and if your lax take on personal safety pastes you to the radiator grill of a moving van, that’s your own lookout.

A lot of people in the advocacy community really get their chamois in a bunch about cyclists whose behavior “reflects badly on the rest of us,” but I think (especially after reading comments in the local paper’s website) that most people outside of the cycling community think badly of cyclists anyhow and whether or not we behave isn’t really going to make anybody think better or worse of us. To the average motorist, we cyclists are a hindrance, an unwelcome delay, a speedbump, a nuisance, and a hazard to the health and morals of society as a whole.

I ride pretty conservatively. I try to stay out of trouble. I try to choose low-traffic routes, but I am not afraid to “take the lane” when I need to in order to stay safe. I signal my turns, I stop for lights, I do what I’m supposed to do, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it. I’m not going to force my habits down anybody’s neck, and I’m frankly sick of everyone’s kvetching, cyclists and motorists alike. Take care of your own self; don’t be an idiot, don’t be a dick.

I feel badly for the guys who ride up the wrong side of the street or on the sidewalk, on an old Huffy many sizes too small, who ride unsafely because they don’t know any better and don’t have any better resources. I’d love to be able to help hook up underprivileged cyclists (the guys who ride because they can’t afford a car or bus pass or who have lost their licenses) with decent bikes that work, and give ’em a few pointers on how to get around more safely. But for anybody else, especially people who can afford to color-coordinate their wheels and top-tube pads, y’all are on your own, with none of my sympathy.

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