Trail Ramblings: Is it just me?

Are some motorists getting ruder towards cyclists or is it just something I’m noticing more? As more people commute or ride for sport some motorists seem to be increasingly less willing to share the road. I have noticed a steady increase in offensive behavior by motorists in the past year. And not for anything I’ve done wrong, usually. There’s been gratuitous honking, yelling and a seeming lack of familiarity with the rules of the road on the part of motorists. As in I have a right to be there, and not on the sidewalk. This even happens on posted bike routes. In some cases, more bike friendly regulations that take into account the realities of riding a bike, such as momentum and the ridiculousness of dismounting to use a crosswalk, would make cyclists more law abiding. If allowed on my soapbox I would go on to support the “Idaho Stop” which has shown no significant uptick in accidents from when it was introduced in the ’80’s. It allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign and a red light as a stop sign when traffic allows. It would increase the number of cyclists obeying the law tremendously.

bike crossing street

Most motorists co-exist well with people on bikes, but it’s just those few with issues that can really set a bad tone. My theory is that they believe might makes right and that they shouldn’t have to stop for a bicycle, or in any way be inconvenienced by a person on a bike, including the need to be more alert and aware of their surroundings. They blame the victim if there’s a problem. Do I sound cranky? I’m just worried that there may be a “bikelash” gaining some momentum and it needs to stop now, before things build and it becomes acceptable to be offensive towards people on bikes.

bikes on hiway

Take for example some of the legislation being introduced in our neighboring states. A South Dakota bill would require cyclists to dismount for passing cars.…/ House Bill 1073. It is “an act to require persons operating bicycles under certain conditions to stop and allow faster vehicles to pass.” Would they require farm machinery to stop too? In Missouri a proposed bill would require anyone riding a bike on lettered county roads to fly a fluorescent orange flag. The flag would have to be “not less than fifteen feet above the motorway when the bicycle is standing upright” requiring cyclists to ride with a 15-foot fluorescent flag attached to their bicycle. In Nebraska, LB 716 has been trying to make things a little better for cyclists, clarifying who has the right of way when a trail crosses a street and improving language in current law that requires cyclists to take a sidepath even when not appropriate or safe. Go Nebraska!

I know there are some bad cyclists out there that I feel like yelling at too sometimes, but there are always going to be a few, like there are bad motorists. The bad cyclists rarely cause accidents though, and usually only hurt themselves.

Cyclists disobeying stop signal or wearing dark clothing at night rarely cited in collisions causing serious injury|By Peter Walker
There is a possibility of some money becoming available for the purpose of educating and advocacy about bicycle infrastructure, i.e. N Street cycletrack and maybe other points of interest. What do you think most deserves our attention? Also, the city is still looking for constructive feedback to make the protected bikeway better, so let us know at [email protected], or the City of Lincoln Planning Department, [email protected].
car on bikepath
Sara Voboril-Porter           Truck parked on N St. cycletrack