City Open Letter to Drivers
posted by April 6 at 9:56 AMon
Just in time for summer, a few handy tips to help drivers navigate the road without mowing cyclists down or scaring the living crap out of us.
1. You do not have automatic right-of-way just because you are a) larger b) faster c) in a hurry or d) for any other reason. So don’t buzz us, pull out in front of us, or cut us off. Your inconvenience will last a lot longer if we have to call the police.
2. Honking is not acceptable unless we’re breaking the law and endangering ourselves or others. (Honking at a biker who crosses against the light on a completely empty street is like glaring at a jaywalker. It’s about your moral superiority, not our behavior.) Honking because we’re a) preventing you from taking a right turn or b) moving too slowly in a narrow lane where we can’t get out of the way will only make us move more slowly. I promise—just try it.
3. If you yell, “Get on the sidewalk!” you’re an asshole.
4. “Yield” means yield to oncoming traffic. It does not mean oncoming traffic (yeah, that includes bikes) must yield to you. That means that when you’re coming off the freeway, for example, if there’s a biker “in your way,” you have to yield to them, even if you’re really, really in a hurry, or on your cell phone, or hurrying really fast to make the light.
5. Zooming past us does not prove you’re bigger. We know you’re bigger. It just makes you look like an insecure douchebag.
6. Pulling out of driveways without looking for bikes as well as cars endangers bikers. Especially when it’s rainy or we’re rolling downhill, it can be extremely hard to stop when you pull into our path.
7. Even if you’re not parked next to a bike lane, never open your door without looking. You can’t just assume that the biker whose path you open your door into will be able to get out of your way in time.
8. Don’t keep rolling forward into a biker’s path, even if you’ve made eye contact with him or her. You’re sending a mixed signal. Just stop and wait for the biker to pass.
9. The law says you’re supposed to keep your car three feet away from cyclists. That means if you can’t both fit in a lane, you have to wait until you can go around. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge how close you are to a biker, so play it safe and give then plenty of room.
10. If you yell at cyclists, you’re an asshole.
11. Don’t try to “outrun” a cyclist who’s going straight when you’re turning left into their path. They have the right-of-way, just like cars do. You can wait.
12. Bikes are a lot like cars — we have the same rules and the same rights as you do. The difference is, if you hit us, we’re not surrounded by two tons of steel. Don’t drive as if you’re in a bubble.
Two further notes: A) This is not an open thread for “but bikers break the law too!” whiners. Generally, when bikers break the law, they inconvenience drivers but don’t threaten their safety. Dangerous drivers (and they’re everywhere) endanger our lives. B) If anyone has anything to add to this dashed-off list, I encourage you to do so in the comments.