Share the road!

The audio clip below prompted me to write this post. Please have a listen before reading on.

Alright, first allow me to clear up some confusion that many people still seem to have, especially here in Charleston SC. Though it’s purpose and function is clearly stated in it’s name, allow me to be unequivocably clear. It’s called a ROAD-bike for a reason! It’s not a sidewalk bike, it belongs on the road. Routinely, and without fail, everyday that I am 0ut on my bike some idiot revs past me honking and yelling obscenities, screaming at me to get on the sidewalk where I belong. Mr Kornheiser mentions at about 2:40 into the clip that he doesn’t drive his car on the sidewalk because it doesn’t belong there. Yes sir, you are absolutely correct, your car does not belong on a sidewalk, and nor does a bicycle. Sidewalks, are for fire hydrants, pedestrians, dog walkers, not cyclists. Not only is it extremely dangerous, but it’s also ILLEGAL!!! A car can suddenly pull out of a driveway without warning, a pedestrian could step into our path, and what’s more I challenge you to go cruising down any sidewalk in America at 25 mph on inch thin tires. I promise you, you won’t have a good time. Cyclists should be on the road going with the flow of traffic safely.

Look, I’m all for having a real discussion about the challenges and issues with cyclists, and there are valid points to be made for and against us, but don’t just rant and vent like a raving lunatic.

Now in fairness to Mr. Kornheiser, he did issue an apology after twiterverse blew up on him. It actually got as far as to Lance Armstrong, who posted this on his Twitter page,

Listening to Tony Kornheiser’s comments/rant on ESPN radio re: cyclists. Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot.

Those were some of the kinder words thrown his way. Today Lance was on his show. If you like to listen to the segment go to the following link.

Of course we accept his apology in good faith, and it sounds like he is genuinely sorry for what he said, but this isn’t about vilifying one man, this is about the hate/hate relationship between motorists and cyclists.

I understand and admit that there are “bad” cyclists out there just like there are “bad” drivers. There are plenty of jerks on bikes who just criss cross in and out of traffic, go the wrong way, ride in the median, blow through red lights, and basically ignore all of the laws of the road and do whatever they please. Those people give us a bad name. But if you’re driving along and you see a cyclist in their “shiny shorts”, and “funny hat” obeying all the laws, give them the respect they deserve. If you’re frustrated at having to wait 10 seconds to pass a cyclists, take a long deep breath and accept the fact that you were going to be late anyhow. Do not stomp on the gas and fly by us only to make an immediate right hand turn. And for the love of all that is decent and good in this world, please learn your signals for stopping and left and right hand turns.

Also, understand that if we zip under a light just before it turns red, it’s because it is easier and SAFER for us to keep going rather than trying to come to a complete stop and un-clip and then get back up to speed with lines of traffic right on our wheel. We have to ride defensively because we are usually riding right with the traffic because most USA cities have little or no bike lanes. This is something that needs to change and I’m happy to say there is some light on the horizon.

It seems that Mr Lahood and The Department of Transportation is actually taking the needs of cyclists seriously, so perhaps we will see some change soon. There have been too many senseless and tragic deaths due to motorists hitting cyclists.

Just recently up in North Carolina, Adam Little who rode for the Subaru Fisher Road Team, was side swiped by a motorist and sadly died. This guy was a seasoned professional, wearing a helmet, but when 2,000+ pounds of metal comes slamming into you, the odds are not in the cyclist’s favor. I think something like 23 cyclists were killed in South Carolina last year. That’s a frightening statistic. If you’re on the road, please be alert. Put down the cell phone and watch the road.

We need more bike lanes in Charleston, and everywhere else for that matter! City planners, and transportation offices need to understand that it is not a solution to simply shut down a road to cyclists as is done so often in Chuck town. The road may indeed be dangerous and unsafe for cyclists, and there are plenty around here, but simply saying “you can’t go there anymore” and walking away is not a solution. Offer alternative routes, that accommodate alternative means of transportation. Look, cyclists belong on the road, cars belong on the road, we must find a way to coexist. We don’t deserve to be punished for doing something that is quite frankly, good for our bodies, our wallets, and the environment. I know it may be hard to believe, but some people actually use it as a legitimate means of transportation. Other civilized countries get it right, why can’t we?

Alright that’s my rant. Motorists, give cyclists respect. Cyclists, don’t be jerks and ride safely and obey traffic laws. Be safe out there and share the damn road!

~ by glennikin on March 19, 2010.

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