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Ah… pitting drivers versus cyclists again, are you? Well, yes – in a way. But let us be clear: we’re not here to promote bad feelings between cyclists and drivers; after all, there’s far too much negative sentiment floating around the internet.
Plus, this is the real world; many of us rely on a car for a long journey, live in remote places around the globe, and most cyclists are also drivers.
However, there are eight things we cyclists are fed up with hearing from drivers. Whether yelled through the window, shouted down at a stop light, spluttered face-to-face, or discussed in a ‘friendly’ manner, we repeatedly hear these driver go-tos.
1. Cyclists Don’t Pay Road Tax
Here it is, front and center – the good old road tax argument. Let’s take things back to basics. Road tax is an assumption many drivers hold dear, even though it’s a ‘tax’ that has long since been abolished. The argument is that because drivers pay ‘road tax’ (and supposedly cyclists don’t), they should hold the keys to the road.
We hate (well, perhaps that’s not right – love) to point out that there’s no such thing as road tax these days. In countries like the UK, any tax paid on cars is usually based on the emission rating of the car’s engine. With its human-propelled engine, the bicycle has no emissions – except perhaps that tin of beans you had for lunch, pooweeee – and therefore pays no tax.
2. Cyclists Always Run Stop Signs
Stopping at a red light is frustrating, especially if you’re a cyclist riding with clip-in pedals and barrelling down a hill at warp speed facing a hill on the other side. But let’s be clear here: not all cyclists are reckless, carefree individuals. We value our lives as much as you, drivers. And rather than being enclosed in a big metal box, luxuriating in a perfect ambient temperature, we’re out here, sweating it out with only a thin sliver of clothing between us and potential doom.
Yes, a small proportion of cyclists ignore stop signs or red lights, but so do a small percentage of drivers – hell, there are plenty of jaywalking pedestrians out there, too. Just because some cyclists run stop signs, please – PLEASE – don’t think that ALL cyclists do.
3. Roads Are for Cars, Not Cyclists
This refrain – and many similar variants, which we expand on later – is commonly spouted by irate, supposedly time-poor drivers who are hell-bent on ensuring cars maintain their supposed importance over any other form of transport.
Today, roads and other related infrastructure are primarily designed for cars, but is that a good thing? However you look at it, cars do take up a lot of space, and that’s before you even consider how often they are driven at low capacity. The best illustration of this theory? A good old-fashioned traffic jam. Ultimately, there are just too many cars for the allotted road space – and, before you say it, no – building more roads isn’t a solution either.
Bicycles, on the other hand, are compact, free-moving beasts. When have you ever seen a bicycle traffic jam? Never, right?
4. Get on The Sidewalk, Where You Belong
Now, here’s another good one. Although laws vary from state to state, biking on the sidewalk is legal in the US, so long as you give way to pedestrians. However, the sidewalk is well – the sidewalk. It’s never the most efficient way to get from A to B and is usually pockmarked with bumps and littered with obstacles.
It’s a different kettle of fish in the UK, where it’s illegal to cycle on the pavement. So, no, Mr. and Mrs. driver, we won’t be pedaling there any time soon – thank you!
5. Why Aren’t You Riding in the Bike Lane?
Aha, now this is a personal favorite of ours – and although we can certainly see the driver’s perspective on this one, it’s not all that simple as ever with these things.
Bike lanes are, how can we put it… variable. Some bike lanes are great – they’re well-surfaced, well-designed, and ultimately fun to ride on. But others can be poorly maintained, littered with rubbish, and in cities and towns – here’s something ironic – blocked by parked cars.
It’s sometimes a better cycling experience to ditch the bike lane altogether and use the road instead.
6. You’re Riding Too Slow
Yeah, yeah – why don’t you come and ride it faster?! While cycling can be faster than sitting behind the wheel of a car, it is undeniably slower for longer journeys.
But as a driver, being stuck behind a cyclist might take 10 or even 20 seconds out of their day, but what’s that in the grand scheme of things? Not much in our book.
7. Can’t You Afford a Car?!
Well, now that’s damn right rude. For those in the know, a good bike can cost a pretty penny themselves, and, well, for some of us, owning a fancy, all-singing, all-dancing car isn’t the be-all and end-all.
And don’t forget cycling, especially in built-up areas, is often much cheaper than owning and running a car, giving you more money in your back pocket for nice, useful things you actually want to buy.
8. You Biked All the Way Here? HOW?!
There’s something about driving a car that alters your perception of distance. A small drive across town to the shops can seem like a long way – maybe that’s something to do with all that time spent in traffic?
Cyclists, especially those who like to commute to work, are extremely tired of hearing people recoil, almost in horror, should they reveal they made their way somewhere by bike. Bike riders will know how feasible a five, or even 10-mile ride is. There’s something extremely satisfying knowing you’ve arrived and will later depart for a destination by bike. A feeling a die-in-the-wool driver will never, ever experience.