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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sharing road can be bumpy for cyclists, drivers

From the Iowa City (IA) Press Citizen, 03.13.07:

Sharing road can be bumpy for cyclists, drivers
Frustration goes both ways

As the weather warms up and spring nears, you can expect to see more bicycles on the roads. While some bicyclists...ride in harmony with motorists, there are others who say there is friction between drivers and bikers.

Some cyclists say drivers go too fast around them or don't give them enough room. On the other hand, some drivers accuse bicyclists of taking up too much space, not paying attention to traffic around them and disobeying traffic laws.

"I suspect there are some bicyclists out there who aren't as law abiding as they should be," (University of Iowa English professor Judith) Pascoe said. "But the problem is the bicyclists are much more endangered than the person in the car no matter what the bicyclist does." (Read more.)
The situation in Iowa City sounds pretty tense. (A bicyclist charged after biting--biting--a motorist's finger?!?)

The most disappointing element of this article was the fact the writer had to contact the Washington, D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists for a comment. Apparently, the local bike advocates aren't yet equipped to effectively position a media message about bicycling. In the absence of effective advocacy, the best bicyclists in Iowa City seem able to muster at present is a lame, "can't we all just get along?"

As I've commented earlier, bicyclists don't get respect by behaving better than motorized travelers. Accustomed to a privileged position on public thoroughfares, many motorists simply regard bicyclists as ill-mannered children, refusing to accord adequate respect as equals on the road. They refuse to see us as grown-ups, deserving of respect.

Organizing as a political consitutency--not polite behavior--is the only way to earn respect.

Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips


amidnightrider said...

I have never thought of myself as being in harmony with motorist until seeing it in print. The phrase best describes my bike commute.

Naturally there is an occasional squeeze or close pass, but it's always by the same type. Either a car with teen"s", or an old timer of either gender.

Most times the motorist and I communicate very well with hand signals and eye contact. It's very easy really.

Anonymous said...

I talked to the biter at a critical mass ride. The article has expired, so I don't know if it's mentioned, but the driver evidently provoked him by beating him in the head with an ice scraper. The situation in Iowa city is pretty weak - I have to cringe when I see people wobbling and weaving among crowds of pedestrians on the sidewalk on their shiny new road bikes. (It's called a road bike for a reason...)