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Unfortunately, conflict on our roads is becoming more common these days, especially when it comes to drivers and cyclists.
Cyclists will sometimes be the perpetrators when it comes to these run-ins, but have you ever thought it strange how even the most well-behaved individuals tend to change their demeanour when driving a car?
Behaviors that are unacceptable in everyday life seem to become the norm when driving. Actions such as raising a fist, yelling or making obscene gestures would not be appropriate in an office, shop or restaurant, so why should they be accepted on the roads?
When this kind of thing involves a driver and bike, some absolute classics get trotted out by drivers time and time again. If you’re a cyclist, you’ll have differently heard of some of these, but have you been treated to the last one?
1. “I Pay Road Tax, You Don’t”
Yes, the age-old argument of road tax is first up on our list. Queue eye-roll from seasoned cyclists around the world. As a cyclist, it might be amusing the first few times you hear it, but after the third, fourth and fifth time, it’s hard not to put the driver right!
Road tax is a thing of the past, and yet many drivers still cling to it as a reason why they should have priority on the road over cyclists.
For those not in the know, the truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as road tax anymore. In countries like the UK, car taxes are based on the emission rating of the car’s engine. Since bicycles have human-propelled engines and produce zero emissions (except for the occasional fart), they are exempt from road tax. Whahey!
2. “Why Aren’t You Riding in the Bike Lane?”
This is one of our personal favorites, but we must acknowledge that it’s not as simple as it seems from the driver’s perspective.
Bike lanes can vary greatly in quality. Some are well-designed and enjoyable to ride on, while others are poorly maintained, filled with litter, and, ironically, blocked by parked cars in cities and towns.
As a result, cyclists might have a better experience by abandoning the bike lane altogether and using the road instead.
Should you wish to point it out to an irate driver, cycling in the bike lane is not compulsory or mandatory – in the UK, at least. The key aspect of this kind of law is that drivers are not permitted to drive in a bike lane, or even cross the line into one.
3. “Why Have You Parked in the Bike Lane?”
Now for once, this is an argument initiated by the cyclist and not the driver. For that reason, alone it’s certainly amusing but seen in the light of the previous argument, it’s downright hilarious.
“I was only popping into the shop!” “I needed to unload something from my car.” “There was nowhere else to park.” Drivers tend to have a never-ending stream of excuses to explain why they’ve parked their two-tonne machine in what is technically a thoroughfare. How would drivers like it if cyclists started dumping their bikes on the road?
Ultimately, this is yet another good reason why not all cyclists ride in the bike lane!
4. “Your Lights Are Too Bright!”
Aha, yes! “My $50 lights are too bright, and your gazillion-dollar gas guzzler’s lights aren’t bright, are they?!”
For commuting cyclists, especially those who commute from out of town, a quality set of bike lights is a must, especially if their ride involves sections of unlit road.
We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been flashed or shouted at by drivers who think our bike lights are too bright. And yet, when a car’s headlights are whacked on full beam, the effect on a cyclist coming the other way can be catastrophic.
5. “Why Aren’t You Wearing a Helmet?”
Yes, yes, the helmet is another controversial debate in the cycling world, but don’t you find it funny that drivers don’t wear helmets in their cars? If they were so worried about safety, wouldn’t they wear one too?
As a cyclist, if you enter this kind of amusing argument with a driver, you need to have this in your back pocket…
There is a good reason why riding a bicycle without a helmet isn’t illegal (in most countries). Think of it this way: The UK government has stated that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20 to one. That is to say, the risk of cycling is relatively low, and the benefits are, by comparison, relatively large.
Enshrining mandatory helmet use in law, and thus increasing the barriers to riding a bike, would increase the number of deaths in the total population due to things like physical inactivity and other associated illnesses.
It’s easy to be all evangelical about this kind of thing, but when all is said and done, more people on bikes is just downright good for everyone. Therefore, perhaps this argument shouldn’t be seen as funny, but hey, sometimes you’ve just got to laugh, haven’t you?
6. “Why Are You Riding Two Abreast?”
This one’s for all those road riders out there. If you’ve ridden in a group or just with a mate, you know riding two abreast is commonplace. Tapping out the rhythm and shooting the breeze with someone, feeling free in body and mind until… a driver comes honking past, leering out of an open window. “MOVE OVER!”
It’s funny, though; by riding two abreast, cyclists can reduce the time a driver spends on the opposite side of the road.
Here’s how we explain it. Four cyclists riding in a single file might measure around 10 meters from end to end. Ride two abreast, and those four cyclists are now only four meters end to end. Passing the group like this would mean a driver would be on the other side of the road for much less time.