So, today i had some down time at work. The trainees are done with the learning the new roles, and they are actively working on claim files. My role this week has shifted from training to support. I am there to answer questions as they come up.
This means I had time to actually go to the Seattle Times and check out the news. Low and behold, on the editorial page, was another rant about bikes on the road and how they do not belong there. Now the chances of the person writing the letter seeing this blog is slim and none, but what the hell….
Dear Unhappy Driver:
I am sorry you dislike my 2-wheel friends and I. Now I am the first to acknowledge that there are some BAD cyclist out there. I have almost hit a few while driving and cycling, so I understand some of your pain. There are also some pretty poor drivers as well. However, this doesn’t mean you should put down all cyclists anymore than I should put down all Old-Guys with hats behind the wheels of cars… You had some points I’d like to address:
Bikes should pay road taxes and be registered: Well, I am just guessing here, but I would be willing to bet that the percentage of cyclist that own a car that is registered, and therefore pays taxes, is probably well into the 90% range. However, every time I ride my bike home from work instead of driving, I am reducing the wear and tear on the roads significantly. To me, this means you owe me a refund!
Bikes cause congestions: Well again, lets see. Yes, the engineers haven’t done a great job in all places designing roads for use by both cars and cyclists. (But they are getting better) Add to it, rude cyclists can make it even worse. But once again, every time I bike home, there is one less car on I-5. You might get home faster overall because I am pedaling along the surface streets. (Even if you have to pass me to get to the freeway). Once again, I think you owe me compensation for your shorter commute AND less gas used.
It’s too dangerous to have cars and bikes on the road, they will get hurt: Yep, car tangling with bike? Bad. HOWEVER, I work for a major insurance company in Washington State. I will tell you for a fact that there are 100 or more car vs car accidents than car vs bike. Lets add to this the health benefits of cycling. So even though this always the chance of having an accident, there is a 100% guarantee that you will be healthier if you cycle instead of drive. The benefits seem to outweigh the risks in this category.
Damn bikers are taking our tax money to build bike paths instead of lanes for cars: Refer back to the top, we pay taxes too. The budget for bike improvements is minuscule next to the overall transportation budget. PLUS, if more bike paths and overpasses are built, we get the heck out of your way! A win win!
Bikes sometimes ride on roads and sidewalk, they need to pick one: Huh, here you want us out of your way and then back in your way. I ONLY use sidewalks when a road is too busy or too dangerous and there is simply not enough shoulder. Then I give the right-of-way to any pedestrian there. I WILL use a crosswalk if I come to a light that requires a sensor to be tripped to change. Not all cities have installed bike sensors.
Cops Never enforce traffic laws on bikes: Wrong. Been stopped myself for speeding (love down hill) and blowing a stop sign. Got lucky both times, just a warning. But for the record, I’ve been stopped in my car for the same thing, with the same result.
There should be a special bike Drivers License: Well again, most of us adults have a regular drivers license. The rules of the road are the same, AND many of us have been cycling since we were 5. We have much more experience on the bike than the car.
I am not saying the letter writers obvious frustration does not have some merit. Being both a driver and cyclist, I see the worst of both worlds, but I also see the best. I have cars that won’t pass me even though no one is coming for MILES. They back up traffic, but I get the blame. I’ve seen bikes almost get hit by cars, but it’s because the bikes placed themselves in harm’s way on purpose (I watched them do it). I would have been a witness for the car in court.
I just wish I could get every driver out of a car and on a bike, with a tail wind, on a summer day. Hear the birds, smell the air and feel the miles flow beneath you. Sadly, many won’t even get out of the car to order their Starbucks, let alone get on a bike.
So I guess I will leave you with this. I’ve put almost 13000 miles on the bike and 296000 on my car. I’ve had no problem sharing the road during all this time. Deal with it! We bikes are staying!