Of Course, His Handle Bars Will Be Safe in the Event of a Crash…

“Dear PoP,

I always wonder what the point of carrying a bike helmet is if you don’t wear it. When it’s on the handle bars it’s an additional hazard!”

Truly a bizarre sight.

Now I swear I’m not posting this to be a jerk – I’m genuinely curious. Have you ever seen a cyclist yield to a pedestrian? I’ve recently become addicted to the bikeshare program and I’ll be honest, personally, I don’t think I’ve ever yielded to a pedestrian. So seriously, just out of curiosity, have you ever seen a cyclist yield to a pedestrian or if you’re a cyclist have you ever yielded to a pedestrian? Do you think that behavior will become more common as the bike lane network expands?

98 Comment

  • Yes to both! I have yielded to pedestrians MANY times, and have seen many other cyclists also yield as required.
    I think the minority of cyclists disobey this basic rule-of-the-road.

    I have even gone so far as to use my bike to stop traffic when approaching a pedestrian in a crosswalk (since most motorists will just speed right through in disregard for the pedestrian and the law).

    • I was going to say no to both. It’s hard to stop suddenly when you’re on a bike. Better to just make the peds wait a second.

      • Except, of course, that it’s the law for cyclists to yield to pedestrians. Cyclists should be prepared to stop at every stop sign/red light regardless of whether there are pedestrians, so the stops shouldn’t be sudden.

      • I’ve found a well-placed forearm is a great reminder for cyclists who don’t yield. Especially when they’re going fast enough.

    • When a pedestrian crosses the road in front of an oncoming bicycle, and the cyclist passes behind the pedestrian instead of in front of the pedestrian, then the cyclist has yielded to the pedestrian.

      A bicycle doesn’t have to stop to yield. They stop to stop. Yield means the other guy goes first. If the cyclist passes behind the pedestrian, then the cyclist has yielded.

      That’s what you see mostly, so cyclists mostly yield to pedestrians.

      Crossing in front of a pedestrians path is NOT yielding and is improper.

  • houseintherear

    When I bike I always yield to peds. The order of right of way is 1) peds 2) bikes 3) cars, plain and simple.

    • Are cyclists in DC required to obey the rules of the road – i.e. full stop at a stop sign, as you would if driving a car? I’ve never once seen a cyclist do that – they plow through, as if drivers need to yield to them the same way they do pedestrians.

      Honest question, so withhold any snarky replies (this can be such a touchy subject).

      • out of fairness, would you rate drivers as much more observant of stop signs, no turn on red signs, etc?

        because while it’s true that cyclists have developed bad habits regarding traffic rules, it is also an indisputable fact that most motorists are not model citizens in this regard, either.

        • I hadn’t intended the question as an “us v. them” one, but to answer yours, I do find drivers are more observant.

          • you make me laugh

          • You’re not worth a response.

          • No offence,but on my commute,is see the same three behaviors from drivers literally every day:

            1)The DC Stop. First car stops at a stop sign,second car follows them through like it’s a light that turned green. Specially fun when the second car is turning left in front of me to beat me through the intersection. (Loughboro & Arizona NW)

            2)Three go through. First left turning car pulls halfway into the intersection. When the light turns red,they make their turn. Then the second car,and sometimes the third,run the light as opposite traffic starts to roll and peds are in the crosswalk. (Loughboro & New Mexico NW/Mass & Idaho NW)

            3)Talking on phones while driving. (everywhere)

            This is in addition to illegal U’s,speeding,and passing bikes way too close.

          • No offense taken. By no means am I saying that DC drivers never disregard rules of the road. I see some do it all the time (especially the red light run, which is infuriating when they take 10 seconds of my green light). But speaking honestly (I have no reason to be anything but), I see cyclists disregard them with far greater frequency.

      • yes, all bikes everywhere are required to obey the rules of the road, as if they were a car. no sidewalks, obey all lights and traffic signs. Many don’t and they are in the wrong. Amazing thing, bike riders are more vulnerable in an accident, and all too often act as if they will win the lawsuit so don’t mind the risk of injury. I bike a lot and drive in town, and am often ashamed of many of the people I see biking. of course, I am ashamed of other drivers (never coming to a full stop, on handheld phones in violation of the law, etc)

      • me

        The bike law in DC is that bicyclists are supposed to follow the traffic rules as if you were in a car. Technically, riding on the sidewalk isn’t illegal (though there is a popular myth that it is), and it’s just kind of a dick move to do so. But, while in traffic, they are to go the same direction as traffic flows, stop at lights, etc.

    • Wrong. Cars and bikes are equals.

  • Yes, I yield to pedestrians all the time.

  • Yield to pedestrians? Yes, I’ve seen it.

    Yield to cars? Rarely. Most cyclists I encounter treat cars as the enemy.

    • I ride a motorcycle, and I treat cars as the enemy….especially those with MD/VA plates.

      However, I treat cyclists and pedestrians deferentially.

      • What kind of silly comment is this? Should MD/VA get out of YOUR city? When’d you move here from Missouri, buddy? 2007?

        • Agree, telling MD/VA drivers to stay out of DC is ridiculous. We’ve got a massive budget deficit, and traffic cameras are pulling in money hand over fist. We need to welcome these sheep into the city if we want to fleece them.

      • Read carefully folks – I did not suggest they “get out”.

        I just view them as more of a threat than DC drivers – they are more likely to make last minute lane changes b/c they didn’t know that would be a left turn only lane at 14th/U, double park b/c they don’t know where to look for legal parking, or just generally be unpredictable.

        Most importantly, they are also a hell of a lot more likely to be texting.

        It’s not that DC drivers are perfect, but rather that they operate using “city assumptions” rather than “suburb/highway” assumptions, and so I have a better sense of how they will behave in any given situation…

        And for the record, although I grew up in the sticks, I’ve been living in multiple major cities for the past 10+ yrs (DC for 7+), so I have developed this prejudice against non-urban drivers through years of experience.

        • +100

          Also – when I bike, I rarely stop if the coast is clear – I’m using MANUAL POWER not pressing lightly on a pedal to make an engine go – so it takes more effort to stop/go. Of course I’m going to take advantage of any traffic openings.

  • Not only have I never had a cyclist yield to me, I’ve had one run right over me and then yell at me for getting in his way (I was in the crosswalk).

    • I am not accusing you of this!

      But as someone who bikes pretty much everywhere, the two things I am most scared of is people opening the car doors without looking and taking me out or pedestrians taking a step out into the crosswalk when they don’t have a walk signal to take a look at traffic. Both of those activities a frequently done by pedestrians (me included) and could easily result in a serious accident for biker and pedestrian alike.

      • agree both are a problem. The first is best avoided by occupying the center of a lane. As a bike, obeying the laws, you are entitled to your space in the lane. Yes, you will get hinked at and get dirty looks, but you will be safer from randomly opened cardoors. As for peds in the xwalk oblivious to all – no solutions to being dumb, yet.

      • Also, I’ve found that often pedestrians will cross against the walk signal when a bike is coming (after waiting to let a car pass), just assuming that the bike doesn’t have the same rights as a car in that instance. Well, the biker has the right of way.

        Also not accusing you of anything, just pointing out something I’ve observed.

        • +100 again

          Pedestrians crossing against the light in disregard for cyclists is a problem – I’ve been knocked off my bike by the same – in particular near the new convention center.

  • Really? I’m a relatively aggressive rider but I yield to pedestrians ALL the time. The key here is that swerving around pedestrians counts as yielding. But, importantly, you have to swerve properly so a) the pedestrians’ path is uninterrupted; and b) they don’t get freaked out by a speeding bicycle in their direction. Basically, if they’re going right, you swerve left, and leave them a nice buffer.

    • There better be one hell of a buffer there because it’s not “yielding” otherwise. You can’t possibly know how a pedestrian is going to react.

      • The only way a pedestrian could get hurt here is to (in a split second) turn around 180 degrees and leap several feet in the opposite direction. Not going to happen. Never has, in many years.

      • Pedestrians aren’t fucking deer. If they’re adults, and have spent even a few hours in an urban environment, they will act in a rational and predictable fashion. Why not lower the speed limit for cars to 5 mph? After all, one never knows what those pesky pedestrians are going to do!!

  • I yield to peds. But i also yell at them if they stand in the bike lane while waiting for the right-of-way to cross. you wouldn’t stand in the road, so you shouldn’t stand in the bike lane. peds do this a lot on 15th Street.

    • Actually pedestrians stand in the road all the time here. It makes right hand turns on green fantastically dangerous.

  • I always yield to pedestrians. Many times on my daily bike home going east on Columbia Rd. I have stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk while cars have sped past me. I’ve actually held out my hand to signal cars to stop so the pedestrian can cross. I’m well aware of who has the right of way when I’m on my bike and have deep respect for it.

    BTW, I also try to be courteous to drivers too. I’ve definitely lost my cool on my bike with drivers, a few times in ways I’m not proud of, but I try my hardest to put myself in thier shoes. I am also a driver.

    One time I gave the finger to a woman when it was really not warranted. I felt absolutely awful, particularly when, in return, she gave me a smile. I’ll never forget that.


  • Oh, and I have a question:

    As an avid bike commuter, I have relied on one of my own steeds to get around town for many years. As soon as CaBi opened, I joined and started using the system almost exclusively.

    One thing I have noticed is a drastic change in my cycling. On my own bike, which is much lighter and faster, I tend to bike much more aggressively, and have often done many of the things that tweak people about cyclists — running through stop signs, red lights, jackrabbiting through interestions…

    On CaBi, I ride like a circus bear. Those heavy bikes, with their laid back gearing, just do not permit most riders to tear around the city at breakneck speeds. There is no way I would blaze through a yellow light, like I would on my own bike, because I am afraid the CaBike would strand me on someone’s hood.

    Anyone else notice that they (or other CaBi riders) are taking it a little bit easier? Anyone else agree that this phenomenon, along with the ubiquity of the CaBikes, is beginning to alter the general perception of bikes as a legitimate and more harmonious element of the overall transportation network in our city?

    • absolutely. i agree. the cabi bikes are more geared for causal see the sights riding.

    • You’re definitely on to something. For me, a large part of it is also the upright riding position which doesn’t lend to aggressive riding. If anything, I’m more inclined to take in the scenery.

    • Also agree. Unfortunately the gearing makes it hard to do my commute under 30 minutes, though. And I find myself having a hard time being patient when stuck behind CaBi bikes.

    • Really good point. I also agree. And while it has slowed me down considerably, I also find that I enjoy the ride a lot more. (unless I’m stuck behind a ridiculously slow CaBi rider)

  • WTF? I think your either an idiot, a jerk, or both! I am an avid cyclist, have worked as a bike messenger in NYC, and have put far more miles on my bike seat than you can imagine. You should ALWAYS yield to pedestrians!!! Remember the rule: might makes wrong. Cars yield to bikes, bikes yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians can do pretty much anything they want. Even if the pedestrian is walking against the light, if they are in the crosswalk, you MUST yield to the pedestrian. I have no problem with cyclists running red lights when expedient, but not yielding to pedestrians is bullshit. This is the kind of bad behavior which gives cyclists a bad name, and creates a cyclist backlash.
    That being said….
    1) If a pedestrian runs out into the street, not looking, and slams into my bike before I can slam my break on, it’s their fault, not mine (and yes, this has happened).
    2) Pedestrians, please be aware of your surroundings! Look before you cross the street, and don’t turn your iPod volume up so loud you cannot hear what is going on around you. Also, if I’m riding my bike in your general direction, I see you. In fact, I see you way earlier than you see me. So, if a bike is riding in your general direction: do not stop, do not jump backwards, keep doing what you are doing. I will not hit you unless you do something stupid.
    3) DC cyclists, please don’t ride on sidewalks! I know it’s legal in DC, but it’s a bad idea. In NYC only kids under 13yo can ride on sidewalks, and this is a good rule.
    4) DC cyclists, do not salmon! Riding the wrong way down a one way street is dangerous and stupid.
    5) Drivers: please look behind you before opening your door on the street, dooring a cyclist can kill them!
    6) Drivers: Please do not park or drive in the bike lane. Cops: please ticket cars for blocking bike lanes.
    7) Everyone: Please don’t be an idiot, be aware of your surroundings, and be polite! It makes the world a better place, I promise.

    • Mostly good rules, but I have a slight problem with the second part of #2. I’m sure you (and the majority of other cyclists, particularly the more experienced ones) will not hit me unless I do something stupid. However, after being hit by a cyclist while I was crossing the street at a crosswalk at a four-way stop in a residential area of Capitol Hill, I will react if I see a bike coming toward me. (FWIW, I saw the bike that hit me riding in my direction, but figured I had no reason to assume the rider was one of the few cyclists who chooses not to pay attention to his surroundings. I recognize that this is a small minority, but after being hit, I’ve decided it’s better to be safe than sorry.)

    • …sorry, two more….
      8) Drivers: It is dangerous and illegal to talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time.
      Cops: please ticket drivers for talking on their cell phones, I see at least a dozen drivers yapping on their cell phones every day, so clearly they are not afraid of getting a ticket.
      9) Drivers: Do not take a U-turn on a double yellow line. It is illegal and dangerous. The only two times I’ve been hit by cars were due to illegal U-turns. Be patient and turn around at the next point where it is legal to do so.
      …ok….rant over….

    • Exactly–as a new bike commuter thanks to CaBi, it’s made me so much more aware of my habits as a pedestrian–was always on the lookout for cars but bikes were much less on my mind. Now when I’m on foot, I’m super aware of the bike lanes and keep out of them, or if there’s no lane, I make sure I’m not missing any bikes as I look out for cars. I don’t drive much, but it’s also changed my driving habits, as I deal with cars parked in bike lanes, veering into them to turn, or just drifting over every day on my bike.

    • A small correction: riding bikes on sidewalks is illegal in downtown DC (between Mass Ave. and the National Mall, more or less).

  • I am amazed at how often I see helmets dangling like that.

    As an avid cyclist AND pedestrian, I think I’m pretty good about yielding.

  • I yield to pedestrians in crosswalks all the time, and to jaywalkers too. At times, I merely swerve out of their way, and I’ll admit to a few times where my swerve or sudden braking was probably uncomfortably close from the pedestrian’s perspective. (I have done equally non-egregious things as a pedestrian and motorist.)

    +1 on the mellow ride of the CaBi bikes. Those things can barely get out of their own way…and yet once you resign yourself to pegging out at 15 mph in 3rd gear, you can get around the city efficiently. Even up the hill to Columbia Heights and Petworth!

  • I cycle everywhere and always yield to pedestrians. More accurately, I just weave behind them as they walk. I would never blatantly cut off a pedestrian while riding. Pedestrians should just walk as usual. Experienced cyclists will simply shoot a gap, not hindering your path one iota. The person posting this query seems to be what gives cyclists a bad name. The 365, aggressive riders in this town are not running over pedestrians…My personal opinion is that one should either ride hard and seriously or find a nice park to ride in.

    • It kind of depends on your definition of a ‘gap’. If you startle me with your speed when I’m in a crosswalk with the light, then you’re not yielding and you’re a douchebag. If you do this consistently, then you’re certainly going to start someone at some point.

  • I do my best to yield to pedestrians while riding, but I definitely agree about the 15th street bike lane. Peds are often standing in the lane, not paying much attention to anything besides the cars on the road.

    When I was studying in Europe and I visited Amsterdam (and other cities in the Netherlands)I was amazed when I heard that cyclists had the right of way. Kind of pissed about it, but I like the idea of it more and more as I spend more time riding around DC trying to avoid crashing into unobservant Peds in the road.

  • Just like PoP, it is not my intention to be a jerk or call people liars without evidence, but I’d like to point out that all the comments are “I am a biker and I yield to pedestrians”. Of course no one is gonna say “f**k peds, me first” even anonymously.

    As an avid pedestrian and not a biker, yes, I’ve probably seen a biker yield to a pedestrian some time but the majority of the times it is not the case.

    Moreover, the street I live on, in NoVa has a bike lane but bikers insist on using the sidewalk which honestly blows my mind. Except for the ones who are riding the wrong way.

    My opinion is that bikers are, on average, just as good/bad as everyone else on the street. Or at least I have no reason to think otherwise. But unfortunately there’s sort of a “bikers are assholes” prejudice that I wish non-bikers would get rid of and maybe bikers would stop being so defensive in discussions and stop pretending to be saints.

    • My opinion is that bikers are, on average, just as good/bad as everyone else on the street….I wish…bikers would stop being so defensive in discussions and stop pretending to be saints.

      Amen to that!

      Also, I wish people from Kentucky would stop being so defensive in discussions about how people from Kentucky are inbred douchebags who are dragging our great nation down the toilet. People from Kentucky are as good/bad as anyone else! No reason to get defensive.

  • I, as a pedestrian, was almost hit by a cyclist at was cursed at, yelled at and threatened by the crazy cyclist for being in his way. WTF? I yelled back saying he is supposed to yield to me, he almost got off his bike for a confrontation.

    • As an avid walker, i can say this is far more the norm in my experience than the exception. Cyclists, if you are in the street, operate like a car, don’t run into me when I’m crossing at legitimate times, and then look at me like I’m the douchebag. That being said I do appreciate those of you on bikes who are respectful of sharing the public space.

      Also, please get out of the way of my bus, you really slow down my commute and you really can’t bike faster than one (most of the time) k thanks.

      • Thanks, but I won’t get out of your way. I have a right to ride in the street, so your bus can go around me if you want.

        Oh, and half of the buses stink up my commute with nasty exhaust, especially the big commuter buses from the suburbs. I’ll actually ride behind the CNG DC buses many times because I feel less like coughing out my lung. The rest, I make it a point to ride in front of.

        • Just curious, what would you prefer commuters from the suburbs do, rather than take the bus? Drive?

          • I would prefer they get a bus with less / less noxious emissions. I imagine that’s more up to the bus operators than the actual commuters.

            Buses are great, and I’ve unintentionally huffed many fumes from many different ones on the way to work.

            DC has some compressed natural gas buses that are just fine to bike behind.
            Some of the really old ones are a particularly nasty, probably old diesel that I refuse to sit behind.

        • I believe this is a good example of the attitude folks are referring to in the thread that gives all bikers a bad name…

          At least s/he had the balls to come out an say it.

    • One time a pedestrian stepped on my foot. I yelled at him, and we almost got into a fist fight. Damned lopers.

  • i yield to pedestrians. hand signals are really key in communicating to cars and pedestrians both. more bikers need to realize that.

  • I bike commute everyday and yield to pedestrians. Especially along Lincoln Park and around Union Station where their are a lot of pedestrians crossing and cars switching lanes. I’ve notices that most other cyclists do the same thing.

  • I am a douchebag biker. I never thought I would be, but I am. I go through stop signs, lights, etc. Sad but true admission

  • pedestrians stand on, bikes give way, cars get out of dc

  • I’ve been driven off the sidewalk by someone who was walking a bike down it. The guy started deliberately pushing the bike sideways toward me so I was trapped between the bike and the stone wall on the other side. I kicked the bike out of my way and ran out to the street. Scary!

    • Can’t think of a better example of this kind of irrational thinking. So let’s see, some anti-social nut is walking down the sidewalk, then he starts assaulting you. If he were pushing a grocery cart, he’d just be another of the city’s population of sociopaths.

      But it wasn’t a grocery cart. It was a *BIKE*! Damn those arrogant entitled bikers with their assaulting you and stuff.

      I had a kid throw a brick at me once when I was riding. He was walking. I don’t think of this as evidence that pedestrians are lawless and violent. Because that would be fucking idiotic.

      Confirmation bias at it’s best.

      • Well I could describe all the times a bike came up whizzing up from behind me and came inches away from grazing my skin, but those everyday tales are not as interesting.

        • I was leaving a restaurant in Adams Morgan one night, and a pedestrian pulled a knife on me. Damned walkers!

      • Except, of course, that Anonymous @ 11:48 offered this as a stand-alone anecdote, not as evidence that cyclists are lawless and violent. He/she didn’t draw any conclusions about the story and what it meant about cyclists.

        • Ah, right. I assumed that posting an anectdote about lawless violent cyclists in a thread about whether cyclists are on whole lawless and violent was meant to be read in the greater context. Obviously this is not the case.

  • One thing I’ve never seen…a cyclist actually stop and wait at a redlight.

    • The whole reason people bike instead of driving or taking the bus is to avoid having to stop at lights. If they had to stop and wait at each one what would be the point of biking?

      • Exactly. And they do it because it’s perfectly safe. If it weren’t, cyclists would be getting hurt and they’d stop doing it. But they don’t. So cyclists do.

        Folks who ride bikes certainly don’t give a fuck about the tut-tutting of the small percentage of drivers who get the frownies from this kind of behavior.

      • Um, exercise and/or cost? I started biking to work a few days a week primarily because I like the fact that it forces me to get some exercise in. I have a desk job, often work through lunch, and sometimes come home too late at night to feel like exercising/have time to exercise. So, biking gives me the chance to get some physical activity in! I also like the fact that, although there was an initial investment, it’s saving me money in the long run. I don’t own a car, so driving isn’t an option, but biking actually takes more time than taking the bus for me.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I saw one just today!

    • joker, come watch my commute… well, 95% of the lights anyway.

  • Most DC pedestrians are so unaware of their surroundings they would immediately be consumed by lions if released into the wild. As a biker you just avoid them and always go behind them in intersections. I’m betting that half the situations above where someone feels a biker didn’t yield to them were the result of the ped being tentative within 4 feet of the curb such that the biker couldn’t tell what you were up to. If you’d just looked and then gone everything would have been fine, it’s acting like a squirrel that puts all of us in danger.

    • But, the point is that cyclists are supposed to stop at stop signs and red lights anyway, so it shouldn’t matter if pedestrians are tentative. I understand the point about not waiting through a red light, but cyclists should at least stop.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’m a ped and have had my share of experiences with asshat cyclists, but I’m finding that I see fewer asshats than courteous cyclists lately. yippee!

  • I can’t tell… because there are so many comments, if anyone covered where these signes are – they are, I think, on 15th Street. The reason for them is the dedicated bike lane they installed which is between the line of parked cars and the curb. If bikers don’t stop at the light, drivers turning left have difficulty seeing them through parked cars, and they run the risk of colliding. Therefore, they are supposed to stop with the ped signal.

Comments are closed.