Tuesday 17 December 2013

Motorists complain about law-breaking cyclists because they're jealous

Summary: Motorists complain about law-breaking cyclists because they're jealous not out of concern for people's safety, let alone cyclists safety. Consequently, cyclists should continue doing what makes sense and feel free to optimise the advantages of cycling, not give in to motorists' bullying. However, regular utility cyclists will conclude that cycling is so convenient that they can afford to obey all road rules and be patient and courteous as it is more enjoyable that way.

Cycling In Oxford Red Lights
cc licenced by tejvan
Below are some of the most frequent motorist complaints with explanations of their real issues with cyclists. I offer advice on how to respond to such complaints.

1. Cyclists need to earn respect and tolerance from motorists by obeying the rules
"We are sick of the dangerous fiction that the road is there to share. In fact, the road is there for cars. Bicycles are there under sufferance. 
Most drivers grimly endure the inconvenience and additional hazards, taking extra care when they see a bike. A good cyclist understands this is a courtesy bestowed and behaves accordingly."
Miranda Devine: Warne's right when he says cyclists are out of control
- The view exemplified above is blatant bullying in car-centric cultures which should be rejected. Urban cyclists do not have to earn a right to be on public roads by paying respect to motorists and seeking their permission to have a slice of their turf. The streets have wrongly been conceded to cars and urban cyclists should unapolegetically help take them back (joining forces with pedestrians and transit users). Consequently, it is counterproductive to meekly obey or defer to car-centric rules and norms.

2. Cyclists are always going through red lights and stop signs and don't get punished
"Motorists are sick of the silent two-wheeled menaces on our road. We are sick of the way they weave through traffic, run red lights, come out of nowhere and ignore road rules to suit themselves."
Miranda Devine: Warne's right when he says cyclists are out of control
- Yes, some cyclists do roll through red lights and the vast majority of them do so perfectly safely with respect to vehicles as they are not suicidal - the cyclist is at risk of death not the motorist. It's a different story regarding how some cyclists treat pedestrians at intersections (they should always give way) but that isn't the motorist's chief concern.

- In reality, motorists are simply jealous that cyclists don't have licence plates and can ride through many red lights and stop signs with impunity most of the time. But that's because cyclists aren't riding 2 tonne vehicles that regularly kill and maim people at intersections. As long as cyclists take steps not to endanger or inconvenience others, there is nothing harmful about them proceeding safely through intersections. (Whether and when they should choose to do so is a different question).

- Finally, in most countries, the infrastructure and rules are designed around cars and until they are changed, cyclists and pedestrians may justifiably break rules as long as they aren't compromising other's safety or progress. Typically, the red lights or stop signs cyclists proceed through are the ones where they are unreasonably forced to wait and it is safe to continue.

3. Cyclists turn left (or right in the US/Continent) at intersections when it's not allowed
- Road rules designed for cars should not be applied inappropriately to cyclists. It is often unsafe for motorists to turn left when it isn't for cyclists. So why should cyclists always conform to rules made for cars? Motorists are jealous that cyclists can filter past traffic and proceed when safe to do so. Cyclists should continue to safely demonstrate their size and time-saving advantages where they feel it is justified.

- In practice, most regular utility cyclists aim to normalise cycling and choose to comply with road rules even if there is no risk or penalty involved in breaking them.

4. Cyclists don't pay their way to be on the road
- Motorists in many countries often claim they pay "road tax" and cyclists don't and thus cyclists either do not deserve to be on the road or are second-class road users who need to defer to motorists. But a road infrastructure tax paid solely by motorists simply doesn't exist. See: > I Pay Road Tax

- There are various types of vehicle registration and emission fees but these do not pay for most (sometimes any) road infrastructure expenditure and are collected because vehicles with motors need to be tracked and checked for road worthiness. And vehicles that produce emissions should pay for those emissions. Most road infrastructure is paid out of general (e.g. income) and local (e.g. rates) taxation.

- Cyclists who argue that they also have a car and so are paying their way are simply conceding the point to motorists. Cyclists should instead be proud that they are getting around on their own power, using a method that has no emissions or noise and incurs little maintenance cost. Cyclists should boast about how cheap cycling is, not try and compete with the massive costs, externalities and expense of cars. Motorists are really envious of cycling's lack of costs; it's that simple.

5. Regular utility cyclists usually become more law-abiding and courteous because they can afford to and it's more enjoyable that way
- Once you come to rely on cycling as a primary means of getting around due to its various advantages you'll discover over time how much more enjoyable it is when relaxed and riding patiently and courteously. Regular cyclists may refer to this as finding "cycling zen."

- For motorists, commuting in cities in peak hour is hell. For regular utility cyclists it can generally be extremely pleasant and something to make the most of. After you've refined your bike, accessories, routes and approach, cycling is already going to be quick and convenient. Getting there an extra 5% quicker just isn't worth the conflict with other road users, safety risks and, most of all, the negative feelings.

- The ultimate triumph of those who cycle for transport is that they can afford to give way to motorists or pedestrians and obey all road rules and still have the most efficient, convenient and enjoyable means of getting around a city.

Further Info:
The Urbanist: Why do (some) cyclists ignore red lights?

The Urbanist: Should cyclists stop ignoring red lights?

Why do cyclists infringe at red lights?

The Urbanist: Is Warne putting the right spin on cycling?

Warne's right when he says cyclists are out of control