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Cyclists and Drivers

July 22, 2009

On Tuesday, July 21st, the Express News ran a story about cyclists called ‘Cyclists raising profile as more riders take to the road’.  I am concerned about the story, & the reaction I saw in the comments to it.BIKING CRAZE KMH 6  San Antonio’s Ride Like A Girl & Ridin’ With The Girls have always been passionate about cycling in San Antonio.  This is why we lead so many rides & have beginner classes & clinics to teach new riders how to ride.  We want to be at the fore-front of  increasing & improving cycling in San Antonio.

On one hand, I could be upset that the writer, Colin McDonald, seems short-sighted in his research for the story.  I feel he could have spent a little more time & gotten a wider perspective on cycling in San Antonio.  The Thursday night Urban Assault & a racer’s weekly training ride does not paint a true picture of cycling in San Antonio.

On the other hand,  I could be upset by the curt & possibly not well thought-out responses from many cyclists that commented.   I don’t know that being argumentative is good cycling advocacy.  Unfortunately, there are a good number of cyclists that are disrespectful & arrogant on the roads.  As cyclists we need to admit that & try to raise cyclists education level to be safer & more courteous as we take to the streets.

On yet another hand, I could be upset at the comments drivers made that seems to infer that cyclists just do not belong on the streets or roads at all.  A large number of cyclists in San Antonio pay taxes & have just as much invested in the infrastructure of this city.  While I know it is frustrating for drivers that come across these disrespectful cyclists, it is important for drivers to know that most cyclists are not like that.  One bad apple can spoil the bunch, though, as we all know.

So, there you have it.  I’ve got a lot of reasons to be upset this morning.  Unfortunately, my being upset will only make a not-too-great situation worse.  That accomplishes nothing.

What can we do?  That is a question I throw out to each of you.  Most of you that read this blog are cyclists.  As such, we have responsibility in what happens in San Antonio Letty MS150 2008pertaining to cycling.  Pointing fingers at the drivers & demanding that they give us our rightful place on San Antonio’s roadways will probably not work.  I want to hear from ALL OF YOU.  If you cycle in SA, you need to take the time to offer up some possible solutions here.   I will take this information & use it to start meaningful conversations to hopefully get your suggestions working for us.

I would like to suggest that we be empathetic in our approach.  Truth is, many drivers have tried to take a good attitude with cyclists & had an unpleasant experience with a poorly behaved cyclist.  For some drivers, this has happened many times.  We need to understand that this situation is real, if we are going to find solutions that serve both parties.

I would also suggest that each & every time we ride on the roads, we make it a point to be safe & courteous to all drivers, even the impatient ones.  This has been one of my goals in the past, I will work at being more diligent with it in the future.  As cyclists, our biggest power comes from what we personally choose to do each time we ride.  So, make good choices.  We also have the power to introduce change by becoming involved.  Let us see you do that, here & now.

Cyclists raising profile as more riders take to road

A note to some frustrated drivers that commented:  We hear you.  We do understand the difficulties drivers have dealing with disrespectful cyclists.  Please be open to the fact that not all cyclists are like that.  Our organization has been working hard to encourage the cyclists we come in contact with to be respectful, courteous & understanding to all drivers on the road.  Through good, open communication & possibly getting to know one another, we can find good solutions for both drivers & cyclists.  Please join with us to try & accomplish this.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. guy permalink*
    July 22, 2009 1:44 pm

    I too am concerned about the article in the express new’s.

    I understand the motorists point of veiw, and can even understand the officers statement, “You can’t be like sheep,” he said. “Just because one guy goes through (an intersection against a light) it does not mean everyone has to follow him.” It is every cyclist responsibility to ride safely and observe all hazards around them.

    What concerns me is the lack of understanding by the media, the city officials, and many motorists on the rights of a cyclist. According to Colin McDonald, and this is his quote, “As these rides grow in popularity, drivers are forced to share the roads. Bicyclists are learning their rights come with responsibilities that are helped with a bit of civility.”, he misses a very big point.

    Motorist are not being forced to share the road as if the law’s of the road are solely for motorized vehicles. There are specific provisions for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Motorists are not being forced to share the road. This makes as much sense as Texans are being forced to share North America with Oklahoma. We both have the right to be there.

    It is commonly taught in many police acadamies’ that a motorist will commit a traffic violation every four miles. I guess what I’m trying to say to those that view cyclists as the scurge of the road, “don’t point out the speck in your brothers eye, until you remove the plank in your own eye first”.

    As a cyclist and ride instructor, I will continue to teach and lead by example, safe, friendly ways to ride in traffic. I hope that my fellow cyclists in San Antonio will join me in being courteous to all motorists, even the mean ol’ bus drivers, and show them we are doing our part as we rightful use the pubic streets in our training and leisure cycling.

    I invite all the media, city officials, and local motorists to come out and ride with us. Let us show you the fun of cycling and what it means to “ride like a girl”, or my favorite, “ridn with the girls”. We teach the super beginner, the novice, and the advanced. We learn as much from our cyclists and freinds as we teach. There is always room to learn and grow. We at SA Ride Like a Girl and Ridn With the Girls are up for the challenge, how bout you…..

    theguy

    • July 26, 2009 11:12 am

      Hello,

      Thank you for your comments. I wrote “As these rides grow in popularity, drivers are forced to share the roads,” because while bikes do have a legal right to the road, the reality is many drivers do not want to share. I’m sure you have experience this.

      When these drivers come across an individual on a bike they usually do not have to change their driving as most of our roadways are wide enough for both. But when they come across 20 bicyclists the drivers do have to change and are thus “forced” to share the road.

      My aim with the story was to look at how behaviors from city staff, policemen, bicyclists and drivers are changing as the number of group rides increase.

      Your group does a great job at educating and encouraging people to ride. I wish I could have gone on all 20 of the group rides I listed in the database. But my editors would get suspicious that I was having a bit too much fun on the job. So I picked what I saw as the two extremes as I wanted to show the diversity of the style and types of road rides that exist.

      Thank you again for your comments and if there is anything happening in the world of bicycling that you would like to share, please contact me.

      Colin McDonald
      Express-News
      (210) 250-3475
      Check out my blog at
      http://blogs.mysanantonio.com/weblogs/green_living/

  2. July 22, 2009 8:08 pm

    Well said to both of you. In all the years that I’ve been involved with SA Ride Like a Girl, safety and courtesy has been just as important as skill and speed. That’s what keeps me ridin’ with the girls!

    We are fortunate to live in climate that allows us to enjoy outdoor activities almost every day of the year and whether you ride for fun or function, we need to work with our city leaders to develop safe riding for everyone.

  3. Karyn permalink
    July 23, 2009 10:09 pm

    So much that can be said…as with you guys I can see all angles of it. My personal experience is that we all need to modify what we do. We all have a legal right to be on the road. I have had some close calls with cars and busses. I had a centro bus get so close that I felt the wind from the mirror as he went by me (not cool) however, to be open about it, I could have chosen to take a different route home since a flat tire put me on that road during rush hour. I have seen many cyclists not obey the traffic laws and have made comments from time to time about “those are the types of cyclists that make vehicles hate us”. Guy and Andrea have always instilled in all of us to follow all traffic rules and keep us off busy and known unsafe streets. Kudos to them because that flows over into my daily rides with our without RLAG.

    I do feel that the stories that I have read in the papers about cyclists in San Antonio are one sided and are not researched well. There are many cyclists and cycling groups/clubs that do what is right. We rarely hear about the ones that do it right. As they say, there is always one bad apple in the bunch. It happens, but what about the bad drivers too! We will never be perfect and will never follow all the rules. I would like to see a story written about some of the groups that do it right.

    That is my 2 cents for now.

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