Any day now, I will pull out my biking shorts, pump the
tires on my bike, and take to the extensive system of bike trails strategically
I am a very cautious bike rider. I always wear a helmet. My first choice is to ride on bike trails, but when I do need to take to city streets, I do so carefully. I don't run red lights and I signal my turns. When riding with friends, I never bike two abreast. I try to show the drivers of the vehicles that I share the road with the same respect and caution that I wish to receive from them.
Overwhelmingly, most bikers are courteous to drivers. And, overwhelming, most drivers of vehicles are courteous to bikers. Still, every summer I see behavior by a small minority of bikers that makes me cringe. And every summer, although I am biking legally and carefully, I get yelled at by someone driving a car or am the recipient of an obscene gesture from someone in an SUV.
A few disrespectful bikers give all of us who ride bike a bad rap; just as a few disrespectful drivers discredit all of us who drive cars. It doesn't need to be like this.
To my fellow bike riders, follow the rules of the road. A
stop sign or a red light means just that. Stop. Always bike single file. Biking
two, and sometimes three abreast, isn't just dangerous, it's arrogant. As great
as the bike system is, some trails are just dreadful – like along the
To my car driving friends, you may not believe this, but you want more people riding bikes. More bikers mean less traffic on your commute. Bikers reduce the carbon footprint. More exercise might translate into health cost savings. Yelling at bikers, throwing things at us, speeding up (instead of stopping) at bike crossings, won't make us go away. Common courtesy, however, would go a long way towards coexistence. And, if you really want to get more bikers off busy streets, support efforts (and taxes) to improve the further expand the bike trail system.
A friend who is a serious biker (meaning he bikes all winter long) told me he divides the world between those who bike, and those who don't bike. Divisions like this never work. We simply have to learn to get along with each other. Bikers and drivers – now that spring is here – let's make a conscious effort to do that this year.