Urban Cycling

7 Things Cyclists Wish Motorists Knew About Riding a Bike

Cyclist speaking to a motorist

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.

Coexistence. That’s what this is about. We’d like cyclists and motorists to use a space designed for them both safely. 

This isn’t about driving a wedge between cyclists and motorists. Heck, most cyclists are also motorists themselves—they’ve got a foot in both camps.

But as cyclists, let’s show motorists what this riding malarkey is all about. Let’s shine a light on what riding a bike is really like. As a motorist, you’ll probably have thought of the first one on our list and the second too, but the last one, well… that’s controversial. 


1. We’re People Too

This is important, really important. It’s far too easy these days to dehumanize anyone, let alone cyclists. Cyclists are people, too, and we deserve to be treated with respect and consideration by everyone, not just drivers. 

Cyclists aren’t there to ruin your day. We’re your neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens who just happen to prefer two wheels to four.

Truck passing cyclist

2. Being Passed Close Sucks

Being passed too closely by a car or truck is one of the most dangerous and frustrating experiences for cyclists – it does suck. 

Many motorists are unaware of how much wind and turbulence their vehicle creates as they pass by, which can cause a cyclist to lose control or be pushed into traffic. 

But it’s not just the physical effects of a close pass – it’s the mental side of a close pass that starts to wear you down as a cyclist.

Giving cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when passing and slowing down if necessary to ensure their safety will do the world of good to cyclists out there.

cyclist versus wind

3. The Wind Can Affect Us

Unlike putting pedal to the metal, the wind can significantly impact us while cycling. When the wind is against us, it feels like we’re pedaling uphill, even on flat ground.

When the wind is behind us, it can push us faster than we intended. Perhaps, most importantly, when the wind is at our side, it can push us somewhere we don’t want to go—into the center of traffic! 

cyclist going fast

4. We Ride Faster Than You Think

Many motorists assume that all cyclists are slow – bimbling from A to B at a snail’s pace. However, that’s not always the case. In reality, many cyclists can ride faster than the speed limit on some roads, especially when there’s no traffic. 

So, if you’re a motorist, don’t assume you can overtake a cyclist. Spend time to ensure there is no oncoming traffic that could put all three parties in danger.

cyclists at stop sign

5. Stopping is a Pain

Driving a car is a breeze—a squeeze of the brake pedal, a dab of the gearshift, a flick of the steering wheel. Arguably, as cars have developed, they’ve actually reduced the connection between the driver and the huge metal box on wheels in which they operate.

On the other hand, a bicycle is arguably the closest connection a human can make to a machine. A complete symbiosis. Two things, working as one.

But that’s the thing: unfortunately, bringing a bike to a stop is an unavoidably frustrating part of riding a bike. It sucks to pull up traffic lights, it’s a pain to stop at an intersection, and that’s why cyclists will do almost anything to keep the pedals turning. 

Cyclists will track stand, hold onto railings, and come close to your bumper—not just for the heck of it but to stop themselves from coming to… well, a stop!

And yes, let’s not hide away here. This phenomenon does mean cyclists run red lights—something we wholeheartedly condemn. 

bad bike lane

6. Bike Lanes Can Be Rubbish

Bike lanes are intended to be safe for cyclists to ride, but they’re not always the greatest places to ride a bike.

Some bike lanes are poorly designed or poorly maintained, with potholes, debris, or parked cars blocking the way. Others are too narrow or too close to traffic to provide adequate protection. 

That’s why, sometimes, cyclists choose the regular roadway and not the cycle lane.

Bear this in mind before you hoot or shake a fist, if you see a cyclist riding on the road and not the adjacent bike line, there’s probably a very good reason why. We’re riding away from the curb for a reason

Riding too close to the curb can put cyclists in danger of hitting potholes, debris, or parked cars. It can also make it harder for cyclists to see and be seen by other motorists. 

That’s why cyclists ride about a meter away from the curb, or even further out, to stay safe and visible.

cyclist in long queue

7. We Cycle Two-Abreast For Safety, Not Just For The Heck of It

This one’s tricky to get into ardent motorists’ heads. Riding two-abreast can be a safer option. 

Think of it like this. You’re passing a group of 10 cyclists riding in single file along a road. Those cyclists are taking up one meter each – 10 meters in total. Overtake them in a car, and the distance (and time) you take to pass them will be 10 meters.

If those riders switch to riding two abreast, the length they take up on the road will be halved—five meters. Now, as a motorist, overtaking the group of cyclists effectively halved the time you’re on the other side. See, it’s not just for cyclists to have a casual chit-chat.

Riding two-abreast is safer for cyclists and motorists.

Share the 🚲 Love

Discerning Cyclist Store

Visit the Discerning Cyclist's Shop

Ride in style

Join our weeky newsletter to get early access to our latest discoveries.

Related reads