Ok, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Bikers that want respect without giving it. New Orleans is one of the worst on both sides of the issue, and unless the bikers do there part, how can they expect any improvement? While I don’t ride a lot, if you don’t earn us the respect you don’t make me want to ride any more you are giving me a bad name.
Let me start with the bikers issues as they are easy fixes; Bikers in New Orleans:
- Don’t wear helmets
- Aren’t safe at night as they
- Wear dark clothing
- Don’t have reflectors
- Don’t have lights
- Ride the wrong direction
- Lolly gag in drive lanes
- Run lights and stop signs
- Ride cramped
- Get upset when a car passes after waiting for an opportunity
As for cars, they:
- Don’t leave 3 feet to pass
- Follow closely
- Open doors without looking
- Don’t stop behind the lines at intersections
- Cross bike lanes without looking
- Don’t look both directions at intersections
- Do rolling stops
- ((Help me here–give me your suggestions))
Ok, now that we have some issues on the table.
Let me break them down….
Helmets: Helmets are your own issue, but don’t get upset if you die or are incapacitated because you are not wearing a helmet. While the car may or may not be at fault, you are responsible to doing your part for protecting yourself. No amount of money is worth the consequences, and that is if you get any. Insurance companies have statistics showing that the helmet reduces costs dramatically, and if they can show you were not wearing one, they won’t have to pay.
Being visible: No amount of money is worth the consequences if you get injured because a car could not see you. Think about it a light colored outfit or at least a reflective band/vest along with lights and reflectors on your bike can make all the difference, and may even save your life.
Ride the wrong direction: This is one of my biggest pet peeves. A bike is considered a vehicle for a reason. For instance, at intersections, you are not as big as a car, so if you are coming from the wrong direction, you may blend in; especially since you are hugging the parked cars and telephone poles. You are not as slow as a pedestrian so you are not close enough to the intersection to be readily seen.
Ride the wrong direction II: If you are riding 10 miles per hour, and a car is going 30 or even 40 rather than approaching at 20 or 30 miles an hour, you are approaching at 40 or 50 miles per hour – – – 50 miles per hour does not leave much reaction time to prevent an accident.
Ride the wrong direction III: You can’t see the traffic signs. I was t-boned because a bike didn’t see that there should have been a stop sign; plus he was peddling super hard to try to beat a train. I didn’t have one so I didn’t stop (I often slow dramatically at most intersections in neighborhoods weather I have a stop sign or not.) Guess what, he got a ticket. I left it up to him to call, but he was in so much pain that he decided he might want to be checked out. He didn’t get treated.
Lolly gag in drive lanes: I am sorry, but its kinda hard to earn respect if you are blocking traffic. Wanna play, be aware and get out of the road when there is a car. Kids do it; why can’t adults?
Run lights and stop signs: Ok cars and bikes do that in New Orleans, but if you are going to do it, be extra aware. There is a whole movement in several states or cities (more on that when I have time to add a link) to specifically allow it, or at least not ticket for it; i.e. stop lights/signs are treated as yield signs. I believe any accident is generally said to be the bikes fault if they should have stopped.
Ride cramped: there is no reason for a biker to ride cramped. This leads back to two of the other issues Be Visible & Don’t Lolly-gag. If you are riding right up against the parked cars, you open yourself up to being door’ed, and encouraging the car behind you to pass. If they don’t have the required 3 feet of room to pass WHY ENCOURAGE the car to pass you unsafely. Fill the lane. Motor bikers have been beating this into each others heads for years. You become visible and don’t encourage people to pass at the wrong time. Plus, you generally end up riding slower, and that just pisses off the car behind you. REMEMBER, You want respect.
Get upset: I am sorry, but don’t yell at a vehicle that has waited patiently for a spot to pass you. Just politely get over, and let them pass. They may gun it, but hey let them get out of here. Heck perhaps its the only way you’ll hear some of these uber-quiet cars. Remember they respected you now show them some respect.
I am not going to talk about what the cars do wrong since we generally accept that they are doing these things wrong.
Its the bikers that think its ok to do it the wrong way. Even when they know its the wrong way.
NOTE: I frequently get upset at other bikers when I am biking. They put me in danger when they are doing it wrong.
Perhaps we can get a critical mass of people doing it right and finally earn some respect on the roads. I can not condone the critical mass rides when the thing being brought to attention is all the wrong things bikers do. Critical mass should obey the traffic rules more than others. After all 50 people going the wrong way down a road is not a simple thing of getting over to let a car pass. << –Actually happened one time, and immediately after –>> I ended up leaving town for a month and heard that the city started enforcing one way bike traffic on one way streets, and stopping at lights and stop signs. Neither of which I want to be forced to do — if I am careful for the one block I do it.