How do you ride?

I was chastised by a roadie on Beach Road (Melbourne) this morning because I was running red lights: "You'll give the rest of us a bad name running the reds".

Two things sprang to mind, but I didn't say anything. One is that I'm managing the risk, I've slowed down to not much more than walking pace and I'm nowhere near cars nor peds. Two, (and this is what really irks me) is that it's OK for motorists to have their pet set of road laws that they routinely break, but cyclists are expected to be squeaky clean all the time.

Generally speaking, motorists routinely speed, double-park, park in bus zones (it's OK apparently if one turns the hazard lights on), run red lights, ignore stop signs and drive pissed. The only thing that keeps them legal at all is the fear of being caught. True.

Me, I ride like a motorist drives. Like them, I'm going somewhere and I want to get there reasonably quickly. I don't have too many opportunities for speeding, but I only stop at red lights if I'm either going to have an altercation with a car or a pedestrian or if there is a copper in sight.

Road laws make it clear that if you can stop on the amber light, you are required to do so. It would seem that unless there is a red light camera at the intersection, it's perfectly acceptable to run an early red.

So why are cyclists morally required to follow laws that were developed to stop motorists from killing other people? Double-standard?

And here's another – what this crap about "driving" a car? It takes no effort – all one does is steer the thing, yet while I'm pedalling flat out and burning up calories I'm "riding". I'm doing all the work while a motorist does none. From now on, I'll be driving my bicycle while the carlubbers can ride their cars.

Footnote: Yes, I'm aware of the Hell Ride incident and IMNSHO, the cyclist concerned did not manage the risk at all and got off a bit lightly.

Views: 58

Comment by Doddsy on December 26, 2008 at 1:13pm
Ken Oath you said "Me, I ride like a motorist drives. Like them, I'm going somewhere and I want to get there reasonably quickly. I don't have too many opportunities for speeding, but I only stop at red lights if I'm either going to have an altercation with a car or a pedestrian or if there is a copper in sight."

You should also give way to Oncoming Motorists. Cyclists and pedestrians.

Your discussion opening is pretty blatant mate. Are you half cut or are you trying to raz people up?
Or are you just trying to act tough?

If your going to ride, ride responsibly and safely.

If not ease up and pull your head in. Altercations can be avoided,

be friendly on the road please... Water off a ducks back.

Comment by Colin on December 27, 2008 at 11:33am

"Let's talk about red-light running. There are two types of red-light running: "catching an orange" - or running the start of a red light - which every class of users does; and jaywalking or jaybiking - waiting for the intersection to clear and then crossing against the light - which only pedestrians and cyclists do.

Therefore, a better question is "Why don't drivers 'jaydrive'?"

Is it because they love the law so much? Did you skip the previous section?

It's because their risk/reward calculation is coming up with a different answer. And that makes sense. In a car, you're several feet farther back from the intersection and you're often a foot or two lower than on a bicycle, meaning you can't see as well (I bet those on recumbents don't jaybike as often as those on standard bikes). In a car, you're in a soundproof enclosure, so you have no stereoscopic hearing. And if you make a mistake you aren't as maneuverable as you would be on a bike or on your feet. You can't just ditch to the sidewalk. Drivers don't jaydrive because, in their own estimation, they can't. If they could, I'm sure they would.

Still, that doesn't explain the anger. Drivers get - I feel - irrationally angry about this. I wondered why for so long; and then an anthropologist friend of mine helped me to understand. Running a red light is so dangerous for cars that it isn't just illegal. It's taboo. You're breaking a social construct. That means people find it objectionable and abhorrent. So if education is needed, maybe it's needed to explain why it's safer for cyclists to do it than for drivers."
Comment by David Taylor on December 27, 2008 at 7:34pm
Bridge anyone?
Comment by Kerry on December 28, 2008 at 1:25am
Come to think of it, I often hear people say things about driving a bike (as opposed to riding one). Some of my friends say that. I've also had a motorist yell "you'll get knocked off your bike if you keep driving like that" at me.

Even though driving / riding a car doesn't require much physical work, it takes mental effort to focus on the road while dealing with all the stuff like indicator lights, mirrors, etc. I always got really tired whenever I drove a car. (Then again, I assume it must be a lot easier for people with more experience?)
Comment by Doddsy on December 28, 2008 at 2:47am
For me i find driving around Sydney to be a lot harder work than cycling... There's just too much traffic to deal with, you cant get anywhere quickly and there's so many restrictions like no right hand turns and stuff like that (its not like you can just pull over and join in with pedestrian crossings or pull slightly illegal maneuvers without imposing on other motorists.)

I get really annoyed when my non cycling family is in town and they want to be driven everywhere... Its so annoying, going to the beach and looking for car parks while trying to deal with traffic and stuff like that. Maybe i need a better grasp of public transport but its really just not my thing. I like to do the "you jump in my sisters car and i'll leave in 15-20 minutes and i'll see you at the beach."... Only problem is she's a hopeless driver and my family hates being in the car with her behind the wheel.

too bad.
Comment by Michael on December 28, 2008 at 3:35am
It takes mental work to run a car OR a bike. Either way, you have to pay attention to what's happening. And ideally to letting people know what you're intending to do, where that is necessary.

On a bike, you actually have better sight and hearing as in Colin's quote above.

On a bike you certainly do more *physical* work.

And I agree with Doddsy re preferring cycling to driving to the beach or taking the bus!


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