Two wheels cut both ways

September 9, 2016 § 50 Comments

Something that bothers me about cyclists also bothers a lot of cagers, but it bothers us for different reasons. Because this is a family blog, and in addition to false dichotomies, vulgarity is also eschewed here, I will politely refer to this problems as “biker dicks.”

What is a biker dick? To certain cagers, a biker dick is someone on a bicycle. Simply riding makes you a candidate for punishment. To these folks, a biker dick is someone who takes the lane, slows them down, wears colorful underwear, imagines that each pedal stroke saves a baby whale, and of course threatens our American Way of Life and Making Donald Drumpf Again by running stop signs.

I’m not concerned about those biker dicks, because they’re not dicks. They’re moms, dads, prison releasees, kids, hipsters, bums, employed people, and other ordinary humans going about their business, just going about it on a bike. Carry on, you angels of awesomeness.

The biker dicks that bother me don’t really happen much in traffic, although plenty of cyclists get irate and do things that you won’t find approved of here, and use language and gestures that you won’t find approved of here. They also salmon, don’t wear helmets, and blah blah blah. Hey, if you’re dumb enough to seek death like that, seek away.

The biker dicks that bother me are much worse than those who go off on cagers or who scofflaw through traffic control devices at 6:00 AM with no one present.

I’m talking about the biker dicks who are abusive, threatening, and, yes, even injurious to vulnerable road users. When bikes are the vulnerable road user, the cagers who have the ability to crush them get zero slack in my book. Your car is bigger, heavier, deadlier, and your risk is close to zero. So slow the fuck down and show some respect for human life. If you can’t chuckle when some tweezly wanker shows you the middle finger and calls you something you normally giggle at when Bill Maher says it, take a breath or a bong hit or whatever.

But what about when the shoe’s on the other foot or, more aptly, when the wheels are on the bike path? I’ll tell you what. There is a whole slew of assholes on bikes who treats vulnerable road users, and by that I mean pedestrian meatbags, moms with strollers, old people taking a walk, kids on skateboards, and small people learning to ride tiny bikes with training wheels, with the same contempt and disregard for safety that many cagers treat us with when we’re cycling in the roadway.

How many walkers, hugging the right side of the bike path, going in a straight line, not bothering one single human being, have been accosted at the last second by some screaming, snot-blowing, wannabe jerk on a bike with the immortal shriek, “On your left!”

I wish I had a nickel for every skidmark that’s been created by these biker dick war hollers.

What’s worse, some nasty, aggressive, and potentially violent cyclists seem to have an affinity for being especially abusive to women. A friend who is a cyclist and a runner (we forgive you your jogging transgressions, DP), was on the bike path a few days ago with a cop friend. Cop had big quads and looked coppish as they jogged. Bikes gave them room and said squat even though they were two abreast. This reminds me exactly of how cagers behave when there’s a pack of cyclists. STFU and keep moving.

As soon as the cop jogged off, though, my friend, an Asian woman now jogging alone, became the target of endless last minute “On your left!” screams and even of a vile racist insult by one passing biker dick.

What is wrong with you assholes? When you are on the bike path it isn’t the autobahn, and every fool with tri-bars or a TT rig who’s trying to set the land speed record on a multi-use path with pedestrian meatbags is by definition an asshole. The same thing that cars have to do when there’s nothing but your underwear between you and two tons of steel is the same thing you have to do when you’ve got 200 lbs. of mass going 23 mph hurtling towards a 120 lb., slow moving meatbag: SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

And don’t tell me that the meatbags don’t belong on the bike path or that they’re unpredictable or kicking a ball or walking a dog. Who cares? They’re there and you know they’re there and if you hit them you’re going to do horrible damage. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. And once you’ve gotten off your Strava pace you won’t have to shriek at the last second, scaring the crap out of the walker and possibly causing them to veer into you.

At bottom, the irrational hate and disrespectful treatment shown by cagers to bikers on the streets is the same narcissistic, selfish nastiness that lurks at the bottom of the cycling psychopathletes who terrorize helpless bike path meatbags. Meatbags are people too, so SLOW THE FUCK DOWN, and don’t get me started on “Why are you even on the bike path to begin with, especially on the weekend or at other high-use times?” The bike path is sandy (bad for carbon), packed with erratic meatbags (causes carbon to break when slammed into), slow (takes away the millisecond benefits of carbon), badly paved (makes carbon ride uncomfy), and no more safe than the surface streets.

Empathy doesn’t grow in a vacuum or, apparently, when you’re racing along the bike path to get to work, make a group ride, or set some stupid PR on some stupid Strava segment. Put yourself in the meatbag’s shoes, even though they’re jogging shoes and even though your colorful underwear is way sexier. Get out of your rush mode, quit yelling like a jerk, and treat the vulnerable meatbags the same way that you want to be treated when they finish their jog, hop into their SUV, and, boiling with rage at your bad manners and dangerous habits, see you again when you’re off the path and pedaling down the street.

Because the victim you abused a few minutes ago is now a cager with a grudge and you’re the biker dick in the crosshairs. Is that really what you want?

END

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§ 50 Responses to Two wheels cut both ways

  • dangerstu says:

    They should just ban pedestrians from multi use paths.

  • dankroboth says:

    all the yeses!

  • Bob S. says:

    Amen!

  • Winemaker says:

    Are you trying to imply that it is even remotely possible that cyclists of the serious type can be narcissistic, impossible douches?
    Oh, my word, (as Ross Johnson used to say in the Nabisco Boardroom)..”….that’s a benign glimpse of the obvious, but it needed to be said.”

    The answer shall set you free on a more balanced path in life, grasshopper.

  • Russ says:

    Wise words from Wanky, I’m convinced that when i do get mown down by some cager it’ll be because of the crimes of a cycle courier that happened the day before. Bad Karma paid forward.

  • KTB says:

    Agreed!
    Not that it excuses riding faster than reasonable and prudent, but using your voice is the rule in King County (Seattle). Paths are clearly signed with “Use voice or bell when passing.”

  • MJS says:

    “that they’re unpredictable or kicking a ball or walking a dog. Who cares? They’re there and you know they’re there and if you hit them you’re going to do horrible damage. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.”

    While I agree with your premise, a MUT is not the place to be racing for Strava times, etc., but there is one big difference between the road/car/cyclist and the MUT/cyclist/pedestrian relationship and that is everyone is a vulnerable user on a MUT. A pedestrian has the potential to do horrible damage to the cyclist too, so yeah we should care.
    MUT pedestrians know we’re there there too and they should also bear some responsibility for the safety of the other trail users. Pedestrian behaviors like erratic change of direction, kicking balls, salmoning, letting the dog leash run across the entire width of the path, etc., endangers cyclists even if they are going slow. MUT’s can be more dangerous to cyclists than the road.

    • fsethd says:

      Agreed. But generally meatbags get the worst of it, especially tykes.

    • Worldchamp says:

      Everything you’ve pointed out about pedestrians applies to cyclists on MUTs. Just ask Wanky about cyclists that abruptly decide to turn left from the far right side of a bike path without regard to who might be behind.

      The point on MUTs is that EVERYONE needs to pay attention AND it’s not a place to work on bike speed. I always consider bike path riding to be skills training for races: be alert to what’s happening in all directions and know where your “exit paths” are when something unexpected happens. And I slow down to do that properly. 🙂 If I want to go fast, I get on the street.

      • fsethd says:

        I’d even drill it down to this: Vulnerable users deserve the maximum consideration no matter what they’re doing. It’s incumbent on the bike to be hyper aware and to STFD, exercise maximum caution, and take full responsibility for the wandering meatbags, their dogs, and their kids. The bike path here in LA is deadly and I avoid it like the plague. Give me a full lane on PCH any day.

      • MJS says:

        As I agreed before, the MUT is not the place to speed, but the casual users need to own some of the responsibility to be safe and need to be considerate of the other users as well, this isn’t all on the serious cyclists. No one is in a cage here.
        If a cyclist runs a stop sign and is creamed by a car, it’s the cyclists fault, no different if a Ped cuts in front of a cyclist. Stupid is stupid no matter how many precautions one can takes to avoid such incidents.
        I got taken out by a jogger who abruptly turned left as I was passing, he was wearing headphones so didn’t hear me call out. I also got taken out by a rollerblader that suddenly and predictably decided to go from sitting on a fence in th opposite lane talking with someone to skating out right in front of me. Both times I went down and got injured (fortunately only bruises), not the other person. Neither time was I speeding or not being aware of the environment I was in.

      • fsethd says:

        Well, I fully agree with you from the standpoint of liability and ethical question of whether or not responsibility lies with the meatbags as well. But I’m making a broader point, which is that in general the pedestrian is the vulnerable user and it’s incumbent on us to treat them that way–taking the extra-extra-extra degree of caution and care to prevent hurting them. This includes slowing down, and here in LA, slowing way down. Best of all and probably safest of all is to avoid the path altogether.

      • MJS says:

        *That should have said un-predictably decided to cut in front of me. (spellcheck)

      • fsethd says:

        Excellent!

  • LesB says:

    I have found the beach bike path too risky to use, both for my safety and that of toddlers toddling unpredictably. I stick to the streets where I can get creamed by tour buses.

  • dirtmistress says:

    There is absolutely no reason to go fast on the bike path. As cyclists, we’ve trained ourselves to be constantly aware. Tourists seeing the ocean for the first time, little kids, Freds, dog walkers and everyone else, except us, is distracted by everything around them.
    It’s up to us to be the smarter ones on the path and assume these people will walk in front of us or turn without looking.
    As a matter of fact, I ride with this great club that goes 2×2 on the path. They barrel along at what I would consider a pretty good clip considering the path is loaded with peds xing and scantily clad, bikini wearing young boys and girls on cruiser bikes.
    I wish we’d slow down a little bit. I know we aren’t going to hit the cyclist coming at us as we pass the walkers veering into her lane just a little bit, but she doesn’t know that.
    We need to assume everyone is clueless and
    we need to be patient and smarter than the person ahead of us.

  • Cesar says:

    Fecking brilliant

  • Agreed. Generally, with few exceptions, paths are not for serious transportation or training.

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard of several bike-bike head-on crashes recently that occurred on two-way paths. Seems like blind curves are usually involved. About a year ago someone was killed on the SR-52 path in San Diego in a crash like that, and there is no blind curve there.

    • fsethd says:

      Friend was recently hit by another biker; friend left unconscious on the roadside and the other biker fled. A few years ago a woman was killed by a cyclist while crossing the bike path in Hermosa. Anyone who’s spent any time at all on the LA beach bike path and who doesn’t realize its hazards is willfully ignorant or painfully stupid, or both.

      The bike and rider are bigger, faster, have more mass, more speed, and cause more damage when they hit slower, smaller, less massive vulnerable users.

      As cyclists we scream and cry, rightfully, about cagers who are too hurried to ease off the gas for a few seconds, yet on the bike path many, many cyclists go far beyond what their bikes or skills can handle, imperiling vulnerable users.

      Don’t get me started about e-bikes and 2-stroke motobikes, not to mention the full-on 50- and 150-cc motorcycles that regularly troll the river trail.

      Advocates have a duty to ignore the legal niceties of fault and liability and ride so that they do their utmost to protect vulnerable users, particularly on the bike path. Vulnerable user should not by punished and injured for their erratic behavior or plain old stupidity when we can mitigate the harm by STFD.

      • Peter says:

        This.

        I go by a simple credo: “Motorist : Cyclist :: Cyclist : Pedestrian” Yes, as much as cyclists don’t like to admit it, they can kill and injure people with their bikes. And, most of the time, the “cycling community” is silent about these incidents.

        It’s a simple rule: Treat people the way you would want to be treated. If you don’t like cars coming up behind you and honking their horn for you to get out of the way, don’t come up behind pedestrians and start ringing your bell or screaming “On your left!”

  • A-Trav says:

    I see some of the worst examples of this out on the trails. No wonder hikers hate cyclists- they usually pass too close and too fast. When I encounter people on the trail, I slow down to walking speed to pass. If they’re on a horse, I inquire whether the horse is cool with bikes. Sometimes I even exchange pleasant greetings with them. That’s really hard to do when you’re going 30 down the hill.

    • fsethd says:

      So what explains the hypocrisy? “Don’t buzz me with your car but I’ll buzz you with my bike.” Crazy.

  • Waldo says:

    …Which is why I avoid mixed use paths like the plague.

  • sibex9591 says:

    psychopathletes – Great new word!!

  • shano92107 says:

    great to see this being addressed Seth. I think we (cyclists) do more damage to ourselves (cyclists) in this realm than anything we do in traffic. I cringe every time I see some aero-douche tucked in his clip-on bars going for a PR on Mission Bay sidewalk, “Arrogant Bastard Ale” jersey half-unzipped, beer belly and chest hair wig blowing in the wind…

    And we wonder why people get in their cars and try to make us into hood ornaments??

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