Dear PoPville – Cyclists and Drivers Must Learn to Coexist

Photo by PoPville flickr user Glyn Lowe Photoworks

Dear PoPville,

This war ends now. No more bloodshed. Cyclists and drivers, hear me.

This is a crisis. DC, you know what our commute is like: how white-knuckle-and-teeth-grindingly awful the experience can be. Obviously, the DMV leads the nation in automobile accidents. Anyone who’s driven on our roads knows why. And now, the green revolution could not have come at a worse time: many of us have also decided to begin biking to work en masse. Not only are the cars already at war with each other, but we’ve cast bikes into the fray, as well.

Yesterday my wife and I went to the intensive care unit to visit our downstairs roommate, who last week had been hit by a car while biking. When the driver hit her, she got “very airborne,” as she put it, and when she landed and arrived at the hospital, the doctors had to put her leg bones back into her leg. She will be able to walk without assistance after months of physical therapy. Was she obeying all traffic laws? Yes.

My wife normally bikes to work. Today I decided to drive her. During the ride, I told her I was glad she wasn’t biking today. As I approached her building, we spotted a cyclist lying on the ground and a crowd around him — another accident.

This feels like Juarez. Too many accidents.

Drivers and cyclists — there’s fault on both sides. If we don’t stop hitting each other, the government will undoubtedly pass stupid legislation that will suck the fun out of cycling and make it even less fun to drive a car in DC, if that’s even possible. And more people will be hurt and killed.

The following list of suggestions is by no means exhaustive. I simply want to add to the discussion about how we can all get to work without killing each other.

1. Obey the rules of the road. Cyclists, the first one’s for you. I love you and I want everyone to bike to work, but you are breaking my heart. I’ve seen you, blowing through those red lights like you’re Road Warrior. Everyone else has seen you. Stop doing that. Cars expect every vehicle on the road to be behaving in the same way. When you don’t, they just want to hit you.

2. No really, obey the rules of the road. Drivers, we need to set a better example for those pesky cyclists. I’ve seen you drivers in the left turn lane, blowing through a light a full five seconds after it turns red because you “deserve” to turn left or something. I’ve seen you blocking the box like you own that box. You own nothing. Stop it.

3. No sudden moves. I know this one is difficult to follow, especially when other people are terrible drivers, but you really need to A) look around you, and B) make your move.

4. Use signals. You know those hand signals you’re supposed to use on a bike? Learn them and use them, even when you don’t see cars around you. Drivers, you all need to learn them too, because the insurance claim will probably not be in your favor.

5. No “shortcuts.” Watch for “short-cutters.” People on bikes can do things people in cars can’t, like darting between other cars, going the wrong way down one-way streets, cutting through people’s lawns, and generally traveling in ways that cars don’t expect. This one goes along with rule #1 — obey the rules of the road and stop doing this. And if you absolutely have to do it, follow rule #3.

Hopefully if each one of us follows these rules and pays attention we can cut down on the amount of bloodshed out there. I wish you all the best of luck, and godspeed.

157 Comment

  • jim_ed

    “This feels like Juarez”

    Really? You’re comparing thousands of murders and targeted killings a year in an ongoing drug war to bicycle/car relations here?

    • That analogy ruined the post for me.

    • They lost me at Coexist. It’s DC’s job to make sure the roads are safe. They’re asleep at the wheel, too busy frustrating drivers with construction detours, steel plates and speed cameras.

      You can’t put an unskilled and slow bicyclist into rush hour traffic and then think that’s going to go OK… China has a lot of bikes and scooters but their rate of fatal traffic accidents is stratospheric. Biking is not a safe way to commute in downtown DC, this has to be acknowledged first.

      All the crying about “Play Fair” will do nothing to curb people’s need to get to work on time in an economy where time is everything and keeping your job is paramount to affording you mortgage. People need to get real.

      • Now it’s you that’s lost us.

      • Scrillin

        Or, you know, we could use traffic-calming to slow car commuters who don’t even live here down, so I don’t feel like I’m playing Frogger when I cross K St every day.

        God forbid anyone ever uses the road for something other than automobiles.

        • You already have that… It’s called “Red Lights”. Stop crossing on green.

          • Scrillin

            14th & K St.

            Every cycle there’s 3-5 cars that blow through the red lefthand turn signal.

            I’ll meet you there and show you. Seriously, I work across the street. We can buy a pretzel and observe for 5 min.

            Then we’ll see what you think.

          • 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I obey the law when I drive, sometimes I’m in a rush to get to work, sometimes so are people on bikes, despite that, everyone is individually responsible for their actions, and Law Enforcement should be there to serve public safety in a safe manner based on laws. A lot of bicycle accidents are happening by bicyclists making unsafe decisions. Regardless, if you’re swimming with whales and being careless, you’re the one who can lose the most. It’s up to bicyclists to grow smarter and practice safety. You can’t go out in the world and expect everyone to protect your life “because they care”. This is the reality of the situation, bikers always lose in an accident. Sometimes the better decision is to ride metro downtown or rent a car.

          • Jack, I hear you on jaywalking. DC residents are too cavalier. Too many people want continue their blessed run, use earbuds (while biking), refuse to look both ways.

            Please remember that when you are in a hurry, you are cutting through someone’s neighborhood. You don’t get to rush. If you’re worried about being on time, get up early. It’s not worth killing someone.

        • Drivers pay extra for roads and infrastructure through their taxes and registration fees, bicyclists and pedestrians do not. This is another important point to consider in the process of this discussion about fairness. Had to open that can of worms too… :X

          • sunsquashed

            Um, what about income taxes? DC and federal income taxes are paying for the bulk of the costs of these roads. What is unfair is that DC roads are heavily used by Maryland & Virginia drivers, yet these drivers are not paying their fair share. As a DC residents, I feel that I have a much larger “right” to use the streets that my taxes pay for than out-of-state cars.

          • sunsquashed,
            you don’t.
            and lots of those virginmarylanders have been driving the roads for a log long time. and they also pay federal taxes.

            rid yourself of the entitlement attitude.

          • A non-trivial number of cyclists own cars too.

          • “Drivers pay extra”? Ha ha.

            Drivers cause astronomically higher costs for everyone. They pay far less than the added expenses they cause. Who pays for accidents, obesity, pollution, and three trillion dollar wars for cheap oil? We all do. Drivers are fleeloaders in the U.S. and they don’t even know it. Or they do, and feel guilty, so post baloney like this.

            Suburban drivers wandering aimlessly and recklessly around the District of Columbia, or who live in DC and keep their cars registerd in the hinterlands certainly do not “pay extra” for the damage they do to our roads, air, and people.

    • I had the exact same reaction. That line, along with the preachy list of intuative rules, diminishes the author’s original point and is obnoxious even if the initial intent of the post was well-meaning.

    • “This feels like Juarez. Too many accidents.” Sounds like the writer is comparing DC road conditions to Juarez road conditions, not Juarez cartel murders. Having driven through Tijuana many times and witnessed cars driving on sidewalks and blatantly disobeying traffic laws, maybe this is what the writer meant by “this feels like Juarez.” Just a thought.

    • Well, this thread turned into exactly what I expected.

    • Yeah, this is so much hyperbole and so little substance. Sorry your friend had an accident. Get off your soapbox.

  • Ditto. That was a very poorly considered analogy.

  • I’d like to add — bikers get off the sidewalks. I’m sick of trying to maneuver through narrow sidewalks while dodging coming from the other way, moving fast and not caring at all about pedestrians.

    • Bike lanes should be ON SIDEWALKS, not in the street. It’s the only way to get them to stop running red lights, and to keep them away from cars. Bicyclists are pedestrians because they don’t have the same protection as people in cars do. Drawing these bike lanes in streets was the most flim-flam idea ever hatched in DC. The sidewalks should be widened for bike lanes, not the other way around. Who’s working on City Planning? They should be named and shamed, the whole idea of traffic management is lost on DC gov.

      • Scrillin

        How about we make armored bikes, then?

        Or bring cars back to the 1920s, when there were open canopies and whatnot.

        Try actually walking on the sidewalk sometime (and not the sidewalk in your office park) and then tell me how you feel.

        • Well then, what’s your suggestion outside of everyone singing CoomByYah in in the streets?

          • Scrillin

            How about everyone obey all traffic laws?

            They manage to pull it off in every other Western nation.

          • Okay Plato, let’s just get rid of all the rules/laws and then expect everyone to “behave themselves” because we live in SmurfVille. Yeesh. Sorry, it’s a rainy day and I’m a little grumpy.

          • Scrillin

            I said obey all traffic laws.

            Don’t know why you think that means getting rid of them.

            I’d like to greatly enhance them – if you run a red light and cause an accident, as a biker or driver, then you go to jail for 5 years. Stuff like that. Then start having MPD actually enforcing the laws.

            Problem solved.

          • Throwing people in jail for 5 years over an accident? Wow, please tell me you’re not on DC council!! That’s pretty scary. Accidents happen, I prefer the current system with less red light running and jaywalking instead, and then if something happens, I prefer a fair trial.

          • kumbaya

      • Get in your car and calm down!

        Cyclists belong in the road. A cyclist is not a pedestrian.

      • …or bicyclists are driving “vehicles” because they are on wheels and usually go much faster than a pedestrian, even when running. And before you drag DC Gov through the mud you should get out of town and realize basically every other US city and many international cities have bike lanes primarily on the street, not the sidewalk.

        • Yeah, but I’ve ridden in DC on a bicycle back when they were allowed to be on sidewalks and it was much safer than now. Capital Bike Share has put a bunch of inexperienced riders on the streets, who can’t balance a wheelbarrow much less a bike. Requiring everyone to ride in the street is assinine, sidewalks can be wider, more bike paths can be added, and then you can leave it out to people who walk and bike riders to work out a way to get along. Much more risk of fatality from turning vehicles than pedestrians. I’ve seen these accidents and they’re very ugly on the streets, not so much on sidewalks.

          • Scrillin

            There’s a lot more pedestrians now than even 7 years ago.

          • Yes, pedestrians love to scatter like waterbugs when the entitled, helmeted bikers blow down the sidewalk. That’s way safer. For bikers.

          • They are still allowed on sidewalks outside of the central business district. (Not that that entitles them to rundown pedestrians of course). This comes back to knowing the rules of the road, unfortunately.

      • You can’t be serious with this stuff.

      • maybe bikes are ok on sidewalks that aren’t heavily used by pedestrians, but downtown that’s a complete no-no. Besides, there’s little enough sidewalk with all the patio spaces handed over to food establishments.

        If you bike downtown, you own some very specific risks. That doesn’t excuse bad behavior by drivers or poor transit planning, but I challenge anyone to find an active commuter cyclist who doesn’t have at least one cautionary tale of a harrowing close call. That risk isn’t mitigating by acting foolishly on a bike either.

      • what are you talking about, bicycles belong on the sidewalk? they belong on the street, in bike lanes. most major cities have bike lanes all over the place and they work just fine. Most places indicate that bicyclists are supposed to follow traffic laws, not pedestrian laws. what are you talking about? having them on sidewalks is completely stupid, because the movement patterns are different and even more unpredictable than on streets.

      • sunsquashed

        Bike lanes should not be on sidewalks, that would be very dangerous to pedestrians. I average 16-22mph during my normal ride. This is much closer in speed to a car than a pedestrian.

      • ” Bicyclists are pedestrians because they don’t have the same protection as people in cars do.” Nonsequitur of the Year!

      • Widen the sidewalks?

        Do they narrow the road or move the buildings back?

      • they are called sideWALKS, not sideRIDES….

      • Fine. And car lanes should be in the suburbs, not in civilization.

    • anon. gardener

      + a million. last week I was almost nailed by a biker going at top speed down the sidewalk. All i heard was “wait wait wait” and then whoosh! Mass Ave NW and 13th St NW. I was so shocked, and thanks to a cold didn’t have enough voice, to yell after her “get in the freaking bike lane.” 3 feet to the left isn’t going to make your commute any longer, there are no parked cars or obstructions – no excuses.

    • Yep. Had a kid skin my heel that way.

  • clevelanddave

    Uh, good luck with that, esp. keeping bikers in line. Some are great with obeying the rules of the road, or at least rules of common sense. But oh so many don’t and there is no one that can stop them except other cyclists because there is little traffic enforcement for bikes, unlike cars. I tend to think that if a douchebag in a car blows through red lights very often they’ll find red and blue lights behind them fairly quickly.

    On the other hand, cars and trucks are mighty powerful and many drivers don’t respect how much damage can be done and how quickly it can happen in a car.

    BTW, OP, ever been to Juarez? I think you don’t know what you are talking about and should stick with what you do. Were you there when your friend got hit by a car? Do you really know she wasn’t gliding through one of those red lights like so many other cyclists? My bet is that you’ve taken her for her word. It is terrible she got hit but do you really know even more than half of the story? And lastly, do you know DMV leads the nation in bike v. car accidents or are you just saying this because you think it is true because you’ve seen more than a few? I’d be interested to know what the real stats are…

    • Stats, eh?

      Granted this is 2008 fatalities, and not just accidents, but in going with the rather grotesque analogy that OP hijacked I feel justified using the data set. Nationally the average pedalcyclist deaths per million is 2.05. Now, DC either didn’t report a single accident, or 2008 was a rather nice year to cycle this city, but our total fatalities is a whopping 0. For the sake of argument, as OP stated “DMV area”, let’s average MD (1.93) and VA (1.4) for a total DMV (1.66). Seems to be WELL below the leader of DE ( 6.78) FL (5.77) or Idaho (4.53).

      Source –

      Long story short? Hyperbole is like riding your bike through a red light: unnecessary, unsafe, and makes everyone else just want to hit you.

  • I am fine with the use of hyperbole to make a point. And, I agree with the OP. We are definitely reaching a breaking point. With so many more bikes, people really do have to start following the rules.

    As a biker, when I go through an intersection, even on a one way street, I look all directions before even proceeding. I’ve had so many near misses with people blowing through red lights, going the wrong way that I take nothing for granted.

    It’s time for some self and police enforcement!

    • what makes you say we are reaching a breaking point? You really think hyperbole is an effective way of trying to make policy decisions? How do you define the bike-accident breaking point? What’s the number of accidents? What’s the rate of fatalities?

      According to the poster above, seems like we are below the avg. I think we’re fine. You can’t have the government nanny everyone.

    • I don’t know where the breaking point is or whether it’s being approached, but the success of the bikeshare program IS putting more bikes on the road and generally bike usage is trending up thanks to numeroud factors. I’d further venture a guess that many of the people signing up for the program and electing the two-wheelers are less experienced as cyclists. So I’ll give the OP this: unless some commonly accepted norms are adopted and generally all drivers and bikers raise their general level of awareness, we’re probably headed the wrong direction, meaning more and not less accidents. (I just ride the Metro and walk, so count me as a neutral third-party observer in making that comment. If I’m going to die on my commute, I fully expect it will be thanks to the good folks at WMATA.)

  • Fine advice if you’re interested in following rules, but not adequate if you’re trying to improve safety on the streets. Considering the actual causes of car-bike crashes*, we’d do well to add a few other cautions.

    For cyclists:

    (1) Use lights at night.

    (2) Don’t ride the wrong way down one-way streets, or on the wrong side of the street.

    (3) Stay away from card doors – at least three feet from parked cars. Riding in the center of the lane is often the safest spot in narrow DC streets.

    (4) Stay clear of right-turning cars, or cars that might turn right. Don’t pass on the right.

    For motorists:

    (1) Check to the side before changing lanes or turning right. Mirrors have blind spots.

    (2) Give three feet when passing cyclists.

    (3) Don’t try to turn in front of a cyclist – they’re moving faster than you might think.

    (4) Look before pulling out of driveways and side streets.

    * Perhaps the most exhaustive study in North America comes from Toronto:

    See also WABA’s advice on avoiding common crashes:

    • THIS should have been the post, not whatever drivel that is above.

    • @DavidR As someone who started commuting by bicycle again after a 10-year hiatus — I tried to stay in the middle of the road today since I was keeping up with traffic, which was only going 10 mph. The jerk driving a pickup behind me could have none of that and veered into the lane next to me, straddling the middle line.

      And it would be easier to keep 3 feet from parked doors if the bike lane were that far away. It isn’t always.

  • Why does this not include something about dangerous pedestrians who jaywalk?? They are also a big problem.

    • You’re right. And thank the Lord we’ve arrived at a time in DC that reckless walkers are one of the city’s gravest problems.

      • Just as an FYI rovyates, I know someone that wrecked his car when he swirved to miss a jaywalker who walked out in front of him. The accident left the driver of the car with permanent injuries.

        • In my travels far and wide, I have come to the conclusion that this is in fact a global epidemic.

        • Jaywalking is a relatively minor problem when compared to reckless driving and biking. The speed limit on city streets is rarely above 25mph, so it would have to be a pretty reckless pedestrian to create a difficult decision for a motorist. As a motorist, if you are going the speed limit and obeying traffic laws, the best option would be to slam on your breaks and hope the jaywalker doesn’t get hurt too bad. Swerving into oncoming traffic or parked cars is a very poor decision in that situation.

    • I am going to swallow my pride and agree with you. This IS a problem and I used to be part of it – up until a few years ago I was a regular jaywalker, who thought I knew what I was doing, because I got away with it. However, in recent years, after a few close calls, I realized that something had changed – either I didn’t really know what I was doing, or traffic had increased, or the anger level of drivers had increased, or all three – and I decided to stop jaywalking. Even so, I have to keep constantly alert because cars and bicyclists are not looking out for pedestrians.

  • Yes, the Juarez analogy doesn’t work but I agree with the general sentiment. I’ve been riding around town for 15 years and give thanks for only having one minor collision with a car (That was 100% the driver’s fault).

    Asking folks to be more civil is all well and good but this is an enforcement issue. I too see bikers doing ridiculous things, often as I’m sitting at a light obeying the rules. I think there needs to be a concerted law enforcement effort. Bikers will think twice about being an a-hole or an idiot after they’ve gotten a ticket.

  • While I agree with the idea of the post, I don’t agree with “make everyone follow car rules” approach. I wonder if a more radical approach that addresses everyone’s right to be on the road is better – for example, ban bikes from main roads unless there’s a separate bike lane – and provide those separate bike lanes. And for residential neighborhood streets – a living or a shared street approach would benefit all – it’s where a person, bike or a car has equal rights to be on the road at any time. I’ve posted this link before, but here’s a wikipedia link:

    • Maria – For the first time I actually agree with you! 🙂

    • Completely agree. In certain parts of the city (where there are ample bike lanes), I believe it should be required to utilize them rather than adjacent streets with no bike lanes. For example, there are still tons of bikers on 16th St while there is a very expensive dedicated lane on 15th, and lanes on 14th and 17th as well. It should be illegal to bike on 16th for more than one block. It just makes sense.

      I am sure there are parts of the city where this is not fair due to a dearth of bike lanes, but in much of NW, there is no reason for bikes to be on a street without a lane.

      • I like this idea in theory, but when ever I bike down 14th (from Petwroth-ish area to U St) there are, cars, delivery trucks, cops(!) parked in the bike lane. Always. Therefore, I avoid cycling down 14th St as much as possible.

      • sunsquashed

        There is no reason why bikes should not be permitted on 16th street. By that same analogy, why not shut down 14th street to cars and make it a bike only road while 16th could be a car only road?

        • I don’t know why not. I am not a traffic planner. If they did shut down 14th, then I wouldn’t insist on driving on it when 15th is right there. When I walk to work, I don’t insist on walking on the street.

          And they did take away an entire lane of traffic for the 15th St lanes, so it is not as if drivers have never sacrificed for a bike lane.

          Having said all that, I agree that they need to heavily fine anyone blocking the bike lanes. It creates a very dangerous situation.

        • And “no reason?” I think that safety is a very good reason. If all of the bike traffic on 16th went to the lanes on 15th, there would be many safer bikers every day.

          I know that “real” bikers hate the dedicated lanes due to slower bikers, but that is a minor inconvenience for the safety that comes with using lanes.

          • that bike lane on 15th is too narrow to handle all the traffic, and the Meridian Hill is too steep for anyone without buns of steel. however – making 14th street solely bike traffic and 16th bus and cars – brilliant. it could actually work! Just imagine the lights could be adjusted for the average biking speed, it will be awesome!!!!

          • sunsquashed

            Really? 16th St isn’t very dangerous, while 14th St. is MUCH more dangerous. And this opinion is based on many years of biking both roads, working as a bike messenger in NYC and learning how to bike in urban areas, and seeing the aftermath of multiple cyclist-car collisions on 14th. The design, usage, and lack of traffic enforcement on 14th St. makes it a much more dangerous St. for cyclists compared to 16th, DESPITE the presence of a bike lane on portions of 14th St. In general, it is much safer to bike with traffic than dart in and out of a clogged bike lane. If the police vigorously enforced existing laws, you might have some basis for your argument, but until that happens, this discussion of banning bikes from 16th is not productive.

          • I’m afraid of biking on both, but especially 14th after a driver with MD license plate slowed down enough to tell me that they will kill me. But 16th/14th, doesn’t matter – do you like the idea of making one street for bikes and one for cars?

    • Scrillin

      I hate this idea of banning bikes from the road.

      Why is that the default position?

      I don’t even have a bike, and I think this notion that the roads are for cars first, and everything else second, is preposterous.

      Living Streets or not, I don’t see why we should ban bikes over cars on, say, U St, or Columbia Road. How about we ban cars, since they’re the ones who kill and injure the most people?

      …or we just don’t ban anyone, and step up enforcement.

    • What we really need to do is ban hipsters, that will solve 90% of the fixed wheel bike accidents. 😛

    • clevelanddave

      Yea but what is missing is enforcement. Make all the darn rules you want. Build all the bike lanes you need. But if there is no practical way to enforce rules against cyclists, as good as you may be there are plenty of others that ruin it for all. For example I was driving home in the middle of rush at 12th and K and this perfectly respectible looking cyclist was riding his bike in the middle of traffic in between center lanes, going the wrong way and looked like this was perfectly ok. Put your example in here. Try going down the wrong way on a one way street in the middle of rush hour in a car. No enforcement, and a significant minority of cyclists will just do whatever they heck they want…

  • From one cyclist to others, please use hand signals! Cars don’t know which way you intend to turn.

  • Also, ban MD drivers.

  • THERE WILL BE BLOOD!!!!! or OP could take a xanax and get a grip on reality.

  • Cycling post on PoP…


  • I’d love to know why most streets (at least north south routes) can’t be structured like 15th Street NW? They have the bike lanes on the other side of the parked cars. It’s a brilliant way of protecting as many people as possible from crashing into one another.

    • Unless you force people to use them, I don’t want my tax money going to these dedicated lanes. I regularly see people biking on the main 15th St Roadway even though there is the dedicated bike lane. And tons of people biking on 16th St NW with the dedicated bike lane one short block away.

      I agree that these dedicated bike lanes are the safest, but the city should mandate their use when available, or they are just a waste of money and a hindrance to traffic/parking.

      • I totally agree with you that once they are in place, cyclists shoud be required by law to use them exclusively. I think major arteries like 14th to 18th streets, Wisconsin Ave, Connecticut Ave, Massachusetts Ave, K Street, and the like, should all have these types of lanes, and bikers should be required to stay in them. Likewise, cars and pedestrians should be required to stay out of them.

        • sunsquashed

          That doesn’t work if the cyclists needs to take a left turn. If you want to restrict bikes to only using a certain part of the road, then you have to do the same for cars….. which would mean that cars are not allowed to take right hand turns on streets with bike lanes. In fact, quick right turns from cars cutting off cyclists in the bike lane is one of the leading causes of bike-car accidents.

          • Take a left the way that a pedestrian would. Problem solved.

          • In NYC the bike lanes often continue through the turns and there are cyclist specific lights for turns. I don’t see why we couldn’t employ a similar system here. Before another tax payer complains that it won’t be cost effective to do this in DC, I suggest the city start with a few roadways (perhaps 14th, 15th or 16th streets) and see how it goes.

      • The 15th St bike lane, if you are going south, is so ridiculously uneven and such a rough patch of road, it gets a bit hairy when navigating down it with the million other bikers in that lane. Watch out for gravel, branches, uneven asphalt, and bikeshare! oh my!

        • Regarding the road conditions, you truly have my sympathies. I’ve had to replace all sorts of parts of my car due to pot holes, random bumps in the road that never seem to get fixed and the like, but if that’s the case, it seems that it would be time well spent to contact the city and inform them of the problem rather than ceasing to use the lane all together.

          As for the million other bikers in the lane, that’s something we drivers need to deal with all the time. Sure it sucks to have your commute slowed down because the person in front of you won’t or can’t move faster, but such is life. Consider how it feels to know that your car could make a light that is 3 blocks away without speeding, and possibly the next succession of lights for over a mile because of the way the city times it’s traffic signals, but there’s no chance that it’ll happen because the cyclist in front of you decided to take the lane even though there’s a dedicated bike lane on the street. He or she gets to the light that I missed because they wouldn’t move over, and without missing a beat the cyclist keeps going through the red light and suddenly decides to weave around the traffic ahead because they no longer feel like taking the lane. I don’t have the option to drive around all of the obstacles in my way on the road or to run the red light, so I have to suck it up and deal, and try not to get angry or frustrated.

          As for bikesharers, they unfortunately seem to be the zip car users of the cyclist world, and though they may be a pain in the butt for cyclists who have more experience, we all share the burden in letting them go about their commute. The fact is, everyone is stuck in some form of traffic because we live in a large-ish city. Anyone who thinks that they deserve to move about that traffic unrestricted and unchecked is making it unsafer for us all.

      • It’s good that you bring up “taxpayer money” b/c if we’re talking efficient use of those monies, than you can’t beat the “bang-for-your-buck” you get from bike infrastructure. Let’s compare lane mile costs for bike v. car infrastructure and get down to the real brass tacks about taxpayer money and where it goes.

        • I take your point, but would add that DC car owners, via registration costs, vehicle taxes, parking fees, traffic, camera and parking tickets, gas tax (23.5 additional cents per gallon last I checked), and the like, contribute to DC government funding in a way that cyclists never will.

          Also, aren’t we arguing a moot point when we start discussing the tax benefits of cycling versus driving? Cars and cabs on our roads will always be a reality. Isn’t our time better spent coming up with a reasonable solution for cars and cyclists to share the roads despite who pays for their up keep or causes them to be worn down in the first place?

    • Almost every time I drive on 15th ST I see bikes riding in the car lanes. That should be illegal to do when there are bikes lanes available.

  • Blah, blah…
    I cycle every day. I will cycle in a manner that I feel is safest and most efficient for me. If that irks drivers, then too bad. All your silly ass faux rules do is congest things. Cars are deadly, they outweigh the averge cyclist by a couple tons. It is your responsibility not to kill anyone, full stop. You hit me with your car, then my ulock is going to be used for something other than locking up my ride.

    • I honestly can’t tell whether this is a serious comment or whether someone tried to create the gold standard satirical d’bag cyclist post. “Stop signs?? Pssshhhhh. All they do is slow me down on my way to Red Derby.”

      • I am completely serious. I have as much right to the road as any car and the person who is most dangerous, who is most deadly has the responsibility to not hurt or kill anyone.

        Drivers, slow down and don’t kill anyone and you let me worry about me.

        • Fine, but you also have the obligation to observe the rules of the road. Stopping at red lights and stop signs are not “silly ass faux rules”; they are meant to bring order to what would otherwise be chaos and to ensure the safety of others on the road, pedestrians and drivers alike. You don’t have immunity from these just because you’re on a bike. Which, frankly, is a lesson that many cyclists in this city need to learn.

        • I drive a car. Can I also drive in a manner that is safest and most efficient for me?

          • Sure, as long as you follow the rules and don’t kill me I don’t care what you do. All this pent up driver rage when they see me sail by them needs an outlet other than hitting cyclists.

          • So cyclists make up their own rules & drivers follow traffic laws. Boneheaded post of the week.

          • Wow, Cyclist. It’s like you don’t even see the irony in your position. The drivers have to follow the rules, but you make up your own? Nice use of the roadways, pal. Good luck with your tough-guy U-Lock-knuckles fantasy.

        • By this logic there would never be such a thing as contributory negligence. But there is. Because we as a society decided to hold people who ignore the law and contribute to the accidents they are involved in responsible for their actions. Think of it this way, you as a cyclist are in a position to injure a pedestrian in a similar way as a car is in a position to injure you (I won’t argue the semantics of how significant or insignificant the injury would be, let’s just say it’s disproportionate but similar). If a pedestrian darts out in front of you and you get injured, you injure someone else, or you injure the pedestrian, are you certain you wouldn’t hold the pedestrian at least partially responsibe for setting the wheels in motion for the crash in the first place?

        • As a pedestrian, I’ve been hit by more cyclists (3) than car drivers (1) so I wish you would also worry about others, and not just yourself. And all 4 times, I had the right-of-way (either crossing in a crosswalk during a green light/stop sign or on a sidewalk).

        • You may be serious but you’re either totally off base or you’re just really bad at expressing your thoughts with words. It’s not reasonable to say cars have to follow the rules of the road while cyclists can just go ahead and do whatever works for them at any given time and place. Cars need to know what cyclists are doing just as much as cyclists need to know what cars are doing.

    • Wow, what a rebel! Can I carry your books?

  • All cyclists, especially the CaBi nuts, should be required to read Bike Snob by Eben Weiss. He doesn’t have a lot rules, just a general mantra of don’t be a dick and use common sense.

  • sunsquashed

    I do not know who the original poster is, but what exactly constructive can come from this post? This is just setting off 9yet another) cyclists vs driver hate thread. Why not send a letter to the police demanding better police enforcement for dangerous driving/riding? Or, support organizations like WABA that lobby for better road design that should reduce bike-car conflicts? Or, how about providing us details on the accident so cars/cyclists can know to watch out for similar accidents in the future?

  • I saw a girl on a bike pull in between two stopped cars, and as she was biking between them, her yoga mat snagged on the passenger side rear view mirror of the left car and she fell on the hood of the right car. It was hysterical, but the point is yoga is extremely dangerous.

  • OP, your heart is in the right place, but as a bike commuter it will be a cold day in hell before I give up the ability to cut between cars. It’s pretty much the entire reason that cycle commuting is better than driving downtown.

  • Let’s include pedestrians next time.

    I’ve had people cross with earbuds against the light while I was behind the wheel.

    Usually I’m a pedestrian, so I make sure I make I contact before crossing crosswalks. Especially with Maryland drivers on the loose.

  • I failed to enjoy a car who pulled into the bike lane at 5th St. near Warder Reservoir yesterday to get around some car traffic. And then I failed to enjoy it when the operator of a parked car almost doored me, having failed to check her sideview mirror. I know I will just be flamed for this, but my perspective is that car drivers engage in behavior that is much more aggressive, dangerous, unlawful, and they do it with higher frequency.

    • Forgot to say: before my bike commute, I drive my kids to school in a carpool. So most mornings I’m a motorist then a cyclist…and the drivers are worse by a lot. My 2¢

  • I had a nice chat with some other cyclists on the WashCycle board a while back. What I got out of those who responded is that they feel:

    Lane splitting to the front, stopping within the crosswalk and jumping red’s is the way to go. And not because it’s safer, but because it’s faster.

    It’s definitely not how I ride, but this seemed to be the consensus by those I discussed this with on how things should be done.

    • And that is the problem. Some cyclists on the webboard at the very org that is supposed to represent safe cycling reach consensus that it is ok to:
      1) jump red lights (which means run red lights)
      2) stop their vehicles in the middle of a crosswalk to be used by pedestrians to cross the road

      And why? Because they want to – it’s faster!

      Next up, AAA will tell us that drivers have come to the consensus that speeding is a-okay and a rolling stop is preferred.

      Entitled much? Nah.

  • OP here. More advice: if you ever publish anything online, never read the comments.

    • LOL, indeed. I hope you didn’t come back and read this.

    • Well, what do you expect when you self-appoint as the moral authority on what we should and should not do? I can’t even read your message for the annoying tone. Are you entitled to an opinion? Sure. But here’s a little advice for you: if you decide that your self-righteous attitude should be published online, don’t be surprised when we make fun of you and steal your lunch money.

    • Here’s some more advice: if you ever want to publish on-line, avoid comparing anything to a brutal drug war that has resulted in over 10,000 murders in the last four years.

  • Just rode my bike through a lot of countries in Europa. Nowhere — not even in countries with zero bike infrastructure (thanks, Croatia!) — did I feel the antagonism that exists in the US between cyclists and drivers. No one’s seemed to think that I did not have a right to ride my bike on the road. No one seemed to be pissed at me for doing so — not even on major routes. Drivers werent always cautious or careful, but i didnt feel like they hated me (or vice versa). I feel like here there is a deep-rooted cultural thing in the US, a country built on oil and auto industry.

    • I bike to work everyday, and often bike to other places as well, and have never experienced any of the antagonistic actions you or other bikers have described. Am I doing something wrong?

  • There is really nothing you can do as a cyclist that will make drivers happy. On streets with no bike lane (i.e. the vast majority), I feel pressure as a cyclist to do things things that make my trip faster, like run red lights when there’s no cars coming, and weaving between cars to get to the front. When you do follow the rules, drivers get aggressive because you’re holding them up.

  • Since everyone talks enforcement: Can we add enforcing the hands-free law to the list? As a regular biker and occasional driver, this is far and away my biggest complaint. At least 75% of the time I see a car do something that endangers me — Yup. There’s the cell phone.

    And to my fellow bicyclists: I’ve started yelling “you make us all look bad” to people that do stupid and illegal things. Could peer shaming please become a trend?

    My personal favorite anecdote: Bike pulls up to a stop light on M street in Georgetown. Mostly stops and then runs the red light (in spite of slowly moving cross traffic). In front of a cop stopped at the light. Who, of course, does nothing …

  • this isn’t a plea to co-exist, this is clearly written from a driver’s perspective. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been honked at, yelled at, sworn at, called names, threatened, while riding my bike when i was following all the rules of the road. sometimes the safest thing to do is take up the entire line as a biker, which is perfectly legal – drivers honk and narrowly blow past you anyway. how about when a car speeds past you, and then suddenly makes a right turn without signaling and cuts you off, forcing you to slam on your brakes to avoid being hit. try actually stopping at a red light on a bike, or trying to make a legal left hand turn, and see how the cars behind you react. these drivers don’t want to share the road, they want bikes out of their way so they can save 2 minutes of their time.

    drivers yell, get off the road, pedestrians yell, get off the sidewalk – the bikers aren’t the only ones with responsibility to share the road. it truly is up to everyone to act with common sense and courtesy. it’s not a war – they’re just bicycles for crying out loud!

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