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#1 2013-10-27 22:51:23

thaustintx
Member
Registered: 2013-10-27
Posts: 2

Some give cyclist a bad name

On an off over the last twenty-five years I have been a cyclist, so am sympathetic to creating a safe environment for cyclist.   

Recently my wife was in a crowded parking lot, backing out of her parking space.  After she completed backing up, but before she put the car in drive, a cyclist pulled up to her window calling her a “stupid cu**” and “fu**ing bit**” and told her that she nearly hit him.  My wife is a very cautious driver and has not had an accident in over 20 years and I’m sure she was not acting recklessly.    Backing out of a parking space in a crowded parking lot is as close to “slow-motion” driving as you can get so I find it unlikely that the cyclist was ever in danger.  The reality is that a cyclist has far more visibility of a car backing up than the driver of the car; this is something I think most parents teach their kids when even walking through a busy parking lot so I’m not sure why a cyclist would not get this.   It was as if this cyclist was so arrogant as to think that he bears no responsibility for his safety and that it was entirely on everyone else.     

I have heard increasingly negative feedback over the last few years about cyclist that choose to put themselves in situations that simply are not safe, and putting all of the onus on drivers to keep them out of harms way.   I think the vast majority of motorist are conscientious but I think there is an increasing level of antagonism because of the recklessness and arrogance of a minority of cyclist.  I’m sure my wife will tell at least a dozen of her friends and they will each pass it on to a few others.  It’s unfortunate that the hostile and arrogant actions of a few reflects on the community as a whole.

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#2 2013-10-28 01:42:57

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,173
Website

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

Oh, boo hoo.  Your wife got insulted.  Let me tell you what happened to MY wife last week.

Riding her bicycle, she tried to cross from a traffic lane into the bike lane, by crossing the green crossing area designed especially for that purpose, painted green, stenciled with a bicycle symbol, and accompanied by a YIELD TO BICYCLES sign to drivers right before that crossing.  As she started to enter the crossing, a white pickup truck saw her and ACCELERATED through her crossing, forcing my wife to slam on her brakes, missing her by mere inches, and leaving her shaken and nearly crying.  When she got home we had an hour-long discussion about whether we should even live in this country because (1) drivers aren't so fucking irresponsible in her native country, (2) that kind of experience is a frighteningly common occurrence here, and (3) she's very uncomfortable here, primarily for that very reason, and often feels that she doesn't even want to leave the house.  We could get a car, and we probably will, but she hates that the "solution" to being terrorized by the car culture is to contribute to the growth of the car culture, so it's a lose-lose situation for us.

Two days after that, she was bicycling with our daughter to school on an extremely low-traffic road, selected for that very purpose, when a woman on her cell phone exiting a parking light nearly took out both of them because she didn't look before she entered the roadway.  My wife screamed and the woman slammed on her brakes, then just kind of shrugged her shoulders and sped off without a care.

The very next day, also biking with our daughter, a driver at a stop sign at my wife's 10 o'clock made a wide right turn onto my wife's street (which didn't have a stop sign), forcing her off the road unless she wanted to get obliterated.

So, I'll see your one mere insult and raise you three near-death experiences.

Or, I could just raise you with insults alone.  I guarantee you that my wife has been on the receiving end of more yelled insults by drivers in the last year than your wife will ever receive from cyclists in her entire life.

Let me quote what you wrote, replacing "cyclists" with "drivers" and then maybe you'll see how prejudiced your statement actually was:

"I think there is an increasing level of antagonism because of the recklessness and arrogance of a minority of drivers.  I’m sure my wife will tell at least a dozen of her friends and they will each pass it on to a few others.  It’s unfortunate that the hostile and arrogant actions of a few [drivers] reflects on the [driving] community as a whole."

But you never thought about it from that perspective, did you?  Of course not.  You're so "sympathetic" to the idea of safe cycling that the one and only reason you joined the local cycling forum was so you could complain about your wife being insulted by a cyclist.  Boo hoo.

Here's the difference between you and me.  I don't join some car enthusiasts forum to try to explain how some drivers' actions are giving drivers a bad name.  As for you, you don't wake up in the middle of the night worrying that some cyclist is going to insult your wife.  If she doesn't come home as early as you expected, you don't start worrying that she got insulted by some cyclist.  You don't start daydreaming about what it's going to be like to raise the kids by yourself because your wife was at the receiving end of some insult.  Your wife isn't getting so frequently and strongly terrorized by insults from cyclists that you're contemplating having to move to another country to keep her happy. 

You're complaining of a stubbed toe when people around you are being raped and slaughtered.  In short, cry me a river.

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#3 2013-10-28 08:07:56

thaustintx
Member
Registered: 2013-10-27
Posts: 2

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

Michael –   Two wrongs don’t make a right.   There is no reason to take your frustration of what happened to your wife out on me.  You obviously want motorists to be more conscientious towards cyclists and I share this goal.    My point is that the actions by some cyclist don’t contribute to this goal, in fact they can bread the opposite.   

As for my motivation for joining your forum, I was referred by a mutual friend of ours who encouraged me to.    Not sure it is the best fit though.    I wish you, your wife and kids the best.   Stay safe.

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#4 2013-10-28 09:26:50

rmonsees
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 39

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

"It’s unfortunate that the hostile and arrogant actions of a few reflects on the community as a whole."  Why does that sentence apply to the cyclist community and not the motorist community?  The cyclist your wife observed needs work on his people skills, and I certainly don't think he handled the situation well, but I've seen motorists go off the handle many times over trivial things like parking spaces.  Why does a cyclist with poor people skills reflect on all cyclists, but a motorist with a similar problem does not reflect on all motorists?

   To offer some counter-examples, on two occasions I have followed and confronted a motorist who passed me on Jolllyville while I was in the bike lane.  They passed with their wheels well over the bike lane line, and the bike lane on Jollyville is narrow, so they literally missed me by inches at 45+ mph.  I was only able to follow them because they turned off into a parking lot not far after they passed me.  In both cases the person was a middle-aged lady, and the conversation went something like this:  "Ma'am, do you realize you were driving in the bike lane?"  "I was driving in the bike lane?"  "Yes ma'am, and if I had been over a few inches, you would have hit me."  <perplexed look>  "Please be careful and pay attention, my life depends on it".  And I rode off.

   So, does the "cycling community" get credit for my handling life-and-limb-threatening encounters with better people skills?

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#5 2013-10-28 11:32:16

savanni
Member
From: Austin
Registered: 2011-04-30
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

I'm rather tired of hearing about all of the "bad cyclist" stories.  I want to start hearing about the good cyclists.  But, of course, that's not the story your wife is going to tell.  And so I, a cyclist who carefully obeys all laws *AND* keeps myself safe, keeping my bike well lit at night, get to constantly hear people regaling me with stories about how irresponsible cyclists are and how they need to be held to the same standards as drivers.

I cycled three or four days a week.  An 11 mile commute each way.  Last time I saw a cyclist do something both stupid and illegal was about two years ago.  I had a flat and couldn't chase him down to yell at him (because *WOW* what he did was stupid).  I *daily* saw drivers doing things stupid and illegal.  Running red lights (one such driver came within inches of killing me), running stop signs, passing me in low speed no passing zones (I saw a lot of very near misses on head-on collisions), texting while driving, even speeding in school zones (I know that when I'm driving at or under the speed limit in a school zone and getting passed).  Yet *I* am the one told I have unresolved emotional issues when I speak about it.

This antagonism goes on because We Never Hear The End Of It.

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#6 2013-10-28 13:42:17

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

Great first post, thaustintx.
Welcome to Bicycle Austin.

Nice to hear from the trolls.
Keeps things stirred up.
There has only been one around here for a bit.

So your wife backed up without looking and then got yelled at by a vulnerable person on a bike ?
Not condoning the cyclist's alleged words.....
But,
Better for your wife, getting yelled at by someone on a bicycle,
than,
Being smashed by another impaired or distracted auto driver.
We have plenty of those, in addition to your wife.

Did she acknowledge her driving mistake ?
And learn anything, herself, from the encounter ?

Tell her please not to back over me, my wife, or our kids, either, with her car, when we are at our local grocery.
We will either be walking or riding our bikes.
After all, grocery stores are for people, not cars, Silly.
Feed your car at Exxon/Mobile.
A lot less potential for conflict with cyclists or pedestrians when backing w/o looking, there...
As these places are more for cars, by intent.

Suggest to your wife that she walk or bike to her local farmers market, grocer, or retail store ?
Much better for her, too.

Last edited by AusTexMurf (2013-10-28 22:38:34)

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#7 2013-10-28 18:53:18

btrettel
Member
Registered: 2013-10-01
Posts: 42

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

I agree that being angry won't necessarily get you sympathy. Should how angry a cyclist is matter? I don't think so, especially given that cyclists have very good reasons to be angry (see MichaelBluejay's post). But unfortunately, being angry can give a bad impression.

Often I'll stop to chat with drivers who do particularly dangerous maneuvers. I ride with a helmet cam, which I think helps keep me more civil (from the observer effect). The vast majority of the time, I think I am polite and effective. Still, I've thought I was too rude before. When you augment a bad day with adrenaline from being nearly hit, you can say things you might regret. I don't think I'm particularly rude in the linked video, but I do think I jumped the gun by threatening to report the driver before saying anything else. Probably left a bad impression. The driver was reasonably polite, thankfully, but he should look before turning and fix his rear lights.

Last edited by btrettel (2013-10-28 20:02:16)

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#8 2013-10-28 19:17:33

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

thaustintx wrote:

The reality is that a cyclist has far more visibility of a car backing up than the driver of the car; this is something I think most parents teach their kids when even walking through a busy parking lot so I’m not sure why a cyclist would not get this.   It was as if this cyclist was so arrogant as to think that he bears no responsibility for his safety and that it was entirely on everyone else.     

I have heard increasingly negative feedback over the last few years about cyclist that choose to put themselves in situations that simply are not safe, and putting all of the onus on drivers to keep them out of harms way.   I think the vast majority of motorist are conscientious but I think there is an increasing level of antagonism because of the recklessness and arrogance of a minority of cyclist.  I’m sure my wife will tell at least a dozen of her friends and they will each pass it on to a few others.  It’s unfortunate that the hostile and arrogant actions of a few reflects on the community as a whole.

Didn't have time before, but this is part of the reason my initial response was so snarky....

I have 4 kiddos. We live as car light as we are able. This means bicycle commuting to middle schools, elementary schools, work, child care, etc.... Lots of fun and good family time, however...

I see people in cars back out of parking spaces all of the time without looking.
Putting me, my wife, my kids, and other cyclists and pedestrians, even other motorists and their cars in danger.
I pull a Chariot double trailer, Burley trailer, WeeHoo iGo recumbent, and Adams TrailABike w/ my children, groceries, provisions, etc.
I use lights and flags on all.....
Watched a woman put the keys in her car, remove phone from purse, start car, place call on phone, engage car in reverse...
All right in to me and two of my kids.
Without ever looking or checking until I banged on her trunk.
I am NOT sorry that I got her attention.
Perhaps she will not immediately pick up the cell phone the next time she enters her car in a busy public commercial zone or if she does perhaps she will look, some....
This just happened at Hobby Lobby/Performance Bike at Brodie Center.
Similar recent scenes at Manchaca Randall's and Whole Foods Wm Cannon.
I pay extra attention to the parking lot surroundings and to exactly what the motorist are doing, based on experience and close calls in the past.
Luckily, as was pointed out by the OP, parking lots are usually low speed, but still very dangerous, particularly to children.
Are you implying that your wife or any other driver has the right to back over children because the car is more visible ?
She has right of way by right of her size and mass ?
Would her behavior when backing up been any different had a dump truck been converging on her rather than a bicycle ?
And yes, the driver of the car backing up a car without looking has all of the responsibility.

Cell phone use, distracted, and impaired drivers, are very real problems in our community.
Lots, give motorists a bad name, in response to the subject of the OP.

I have never had a pedestrian or cyclist yell at me, about my driving threatening them, when I have had and do have to drive.
My empathies stand with them.
I am actively looking for vulnerable folks in high density pedestrian areas and commercial/civic zones.

But, I do respect the manner and tone, the self awareness, of btrettel.

And we should all help to create a future forward, that is not so auto centric.
Where we don't have civic/community/commercial zones composed of the current stupid mess and ratio of parking lots to useful space.
Parked cars and asphalt, then, the inattentive drivers coming, or worse, leaving...
Everyone deserves something better.

Last edited by AusTexMurf (2013-10-28 20:11:03)

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#9 2013-10-28 20:12:33

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

thaustintx wrote:

On an off over the last twenty-five years I have been a cyclist, so am sympathetic to creating a safe environment for cyclist.   

Recently my wife was in a crowded parking lot, backing out of her parking space.  After she completed backing up, but before she put the car in drive, a cyclist pulled up to her window calling her a “stupid cu**” and “fu**ing bit**” and told her that she nearly hit him.  My wife is a very cautious driver and has not had an accident in over 20 years and I’m sure she was not acting recklessly.    Backing out of a parking space in a crowded parking lot is as close to “slow-motion” driving as you can get so I find it unlikely that the cyclist was ever in danger.  The reality is that a cyclist has far more visibility of a car backing up than the driver of the car; this is something I think most parents teach their kids when even walking through a busy parking lot so I’m not sure why a cyclist would not get this.   It was as if this cyclist was so arrogant as to think that he bears no responsibility for his safety and that it was entirely on everyone else.     

I have heard increasingly negative feedback over the last few years about cyclist that choose to put themselves in situations that simply are not safe, and putting all of the onus on drivers to keep them out of harms way.   I think the vast majority of motorist are conscientious but I think there is an increasing level of antagonism because of the recklessness and arrogance of a minority of cyclist.  I’m sure my wife will tell at least a dozen of her friends and they will each pass it on to a few others.  It’s unfortunate that the hostile and arrogant actions of a few reflects on the community as a whole.

I used to race a dirt track stock car regularly at Texas Thunder Speedway in Killeen Saturday nights.  We would return from the track towing the race car on a trailer behind my  8000 lb. 3/4 ton Ford diesel pickup.  Around 2:00 am we would be on Mopac pulling in to Austin.  I was grateful for the degree of protection my truck afforded me because I seemed to be the only sober driver on the road. There were a lot of late model Asian and European cars driven by young people who seemed to fancy themselves racers -- weaving from lane to lane, 80-90 mph. tailgating etc.   

Do the actions of those drivers reflect on your wife if she is young and drives a late model BMW?  Every driver, every motorist is an individual and the only thing that reflects on any one of us is our own actions.  This is understood for motorists and indeed most groups, but those who are determined to look down on cyclists will make an exception for that group.  "All you cyclists, if you want respect and bike lanes.....blah blah blah."   We built and maintain Mopac with everybody's tax dollars regardless of the prevalence of drunks out on it at 2:00 AM on the weekend.  "All you motorists, if  you want roads....blah blah blah..."  The second statement is no sillier than the first, but the second statement would have just about anybody rolling their eyes. 

In my experience, those that carry a hatred for cyclists in general are as likely to be hostile to a cyclist obeying the letter of the law as to one breaking the law.  In the past 5 years of riding the Austin area about 100 miles/week,  I can think of two cases of serious hostility from a motorist.  In both cases I was obeying the letter and the spirit of the law 100%.  Any excuse for their resentment will suffice.

Please be advised that someone backing up NEVER has the right of way and is 100% responsible for what is behind their vehicle no matter what.  Doesn't matter if it is a housewife, another vehicle, a dog, a child or a homeless drunk.

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#10 2013-10-28 22:19:31

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 193

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

Last year or so my gf and I were in a car.  She was driving (because I hate cars and hate driving and wont do it unless I really have to).  We were backing out of a parking spot at the Randals near 183 and Braker.  We had gone there to vote (to give some legitimacy to the whole affair of being in a car).  Anyway, as she was carefully backing out (because she is also a cyclist and pedestrian),  I looked back to check to make sure no one was there.   At the last second, I saw an old guy walking across the parking lot right behind our death machine.

"Stop",  I said.  And she did.  Just in time.  She was very upset that she had not also seen him. 

If we had hit him, it would have been OUR fault.  End of discussion.  End of post.  End of the poor guy just walking across a parking lot.  Well, maybe he  would have survived for a bit and died some time later - after all,  he was old.

If he had yelled obscenities at us we would have deserved them 100% because he was just walking along minding his own business.  It was OUR responsibility to check for him.  WE were in the death machine, not him.

Cars are very dangerous.   We need to reduce their numbers as fast as possible. ~ 35,000 human beings a year in the US are sacrificed on the altar of convenience to the god of laziness. (We just passed 63 Austin area human sacrifices the other day.  USA, USA, We're NUMBER ONE!!!)

To be a little fair to the motorists, these damn cars are designed more for fashion that function.   My sister has one of these idiot 'sports cars' that has about the same visibility as an Apollo Command Module on the dark side of the moon.  I reluctantly rode in it one day.  It was hard to see out of.  It is a stupid car that serves no good purpose.  It wastes fuel, endangers innocent living things, and destroys the environment.

I showered later to cleanse myself of the evil.

Then, I rode my bike.

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#11 2013-10-28 22:54:23

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 549

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

Allow me to include my recent experience ...

Friday, I was riding down Guadalupe.  Stopped at a red light.

I saw a car with their right turn signal on behind me, so I moved my bike to the left to give him space to turn.  He did so, and while he was doing so rolled down his window, looked at me and said "thanks!" and I nodded and he drove off.

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#12 2013-10-29 11:08:26

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

dougmc wrote:

Allow me to include my recent experience ...

Friday, I was riding down Guadalupe.  Stopped at a red light.

I saw a car with their right turn signal on behind me, so I moved my bike to the left to give him space to turn.  He did so, and while he was doing so rolled down his window, looked at me and said "thanks!" and I nodded and he drove off.

I do this often, too, doug...
And frequently have positive interaction w/ drivers while doing so...
I also tend to practice this much more when I am operating VC style in a roadway primarily for cars.

Key words for others, here...
"...moved to the left to give space to turn..."
Only way to do it.....don't move over to the right.
Opens you up to, at worst, right hook, oftentimes, stuck in continuing traffic turning right.

I rarely move over when I am cycling on our bike routes, particularly route 31.
And downtown, 2nd, 3rd, 4th !, 6th streets.
I want to discourage drivers from using our cycling routes to auto commute during rush hour.
I.e., don't cut through our neighborhood cycling routes, drivers.
Stick to the clogged arterials.
Demand systemic changes to our transportation network, please.

Last edited by AusTexMurf (2013-10-30 23:31:34)

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#13 2013-10-30 12:39:36

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

The thing is that it's so common for motorists to endanger our lives that it's not worthy of note to the general public.

To the OP, I encourage you to talk to your wife about cyclists. She'll realize that the majority of them ride safely and are courteous.

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#14 2013-11-02 17:54:27

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,173
Website

Re: Some give cyclist a bad name

thaustintx wrote:

Michael –   Two wrongs don’t make a right.   There is no reason to take your frustration of what happened to your wife out on me.

Wow, if THAT'S your response, then your reading comprehension sucks.  Allow me to spell out my actual points in even simpler terms:

(1) Blaming some bad cyclists for giving all cyclists a bad name is a hypocritical, prejudiced double-standard, because nobody does the same for motorists.  You have never in your life thought that reckless drivers give all drivers a bad name.

(2) Your going out of your way to register an account here just to complain about your wife getting merely insulted by a single cyclist shows that you're completely clueless about the harrowing LIFE-THREATENING EXPERIENCES that cyclists experience CONSTANTLY.  What your wife experienced simply pales by comparison.  Nobody ever had to get taken to the hospital in a stretcher because a cyclist insulted them while they were backing out of a parking space.

Yesterday my wife came home shaking and crying because yet another driver tried to end her life.  For hours she sobbed alternately "I nearly died!" and "He tried to kill me!"  But your wife, safely ensconced in her protective metal bubble, was never in any danger at all.  The fact that you think what your wife "suffered" is important to complain about about in light of the *actual danger* that cyclists suffer day in and day out, is simply sad.

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