Bike lanes are sprawling across major cities like varicose veins. Bike-share programs are on the rise. Each new rider is a new advocate for cycling. They’re one less person relying on cars or burdening crowded mass transit. They’re changing the misconception that cyclists are aloof, spandex-clad billboards, and they’re people who you know and work with.
I love it. Cycling has the power to reshape the face of city life and make us all healthier and happier. It’s much easier to face the morning after a bike ride on a cool fall day than after 45 minutes of fighting traffic while listening to wacky morning DJs.
We can’t change overnight. A city built on cycling, like Copenhagen, has gone through the natural selection of proper behavior among bikers, pedestrians, and motorists. We’re in the infancy of figuring it out. For your approval, I submit these five cyclist commuters who are okay to say something to. Their behavior needs to change, and it’s up to us to set an example.
It’s not a goddamn ice cream truck, pal. Pedestrians are used to looking out for cars and then jaywalking in peace when they know they’re not in danger of being run down by a Jeep Wrangler. When someone steps off the curb to cross, slow down instead of hopping on your bell and hammering it like you’re announcing an approaching army.
These are the people who upset me the most. This is the guy who sees a pedestrian step off a curb while he’s riding towards them, and instead of allowing wide berth and giving this person room to walk, they ride past inches in front of them, causing shock and consternation. Listen, we cyclists are fighting a battle with drivers for the hearts and minds of pedestrians. We want them on our side. Your behavior is driving them into the waiting arms of all the motorists who complain that bike racks are taking up valuable parking spaces.
When you get to a red light and there’s oncoming traffic, put your foot on the ground and wait. If you’re adept at performing track stands, do one of those and convince yourself that everyone around you is super impressed. Or pull up next to the curb and prop a foot while waiting for traffic to pass. Riding around the intersection in circles while you wait means you’re in everyone’s way, plus you look like an idiot, even more so than the guy trying to learn to track stand.
Bike lanes exist not only to give us a safe place to ride, but they also force the city to upkeep these portions of the road and make them suitable for riding. And when three people are riding in the bike lane it still leaves room for cars to pass at a safe distance. But you don’t want to be boxed in by a bike lane—they can’t put you in a box. When you don’t ride in the bike lane, however, it makes cars drive too slow or forces them to pass closer to the people who are using the bike lanes. These lanes make it safe for everyone on the road.
Solidarity, bro. We’re all in this together. Stop yelling at me.