Stay in your lane!

Why, oh why won’t people use bike lanes like they’re supposed to???

More times than I can count (three times this past week alone!), while walking, I have been forced almost right on top of the median that separates the sidewalk from the bike lane by insane cyclists barreling towards me. I mean, the bike lane is right there! On the other side of the cement median! It’s wide, it’s clearly marked as a bike lane, it’s a lane quite separate from those designated for cars. Why are you twits riding on the sidewalk and terrorizing me?

Now, I have nothing against bike lanes themselves. I’ve been to the Netherlands several times, and consider Amsterdam, in particular, to be one of my favourite cities in the world. I have seen how well the bike lane system works there and in other Dutch cities. It’s well-used and seems to be well-organized. The only problems I ever saw were because of a stupid pedestrian or two not paying attention to the oncoming bike traffic – and, to be fair, one of those stupid pedestrians was … uh … me. I had such a hard time getting used to watching for cars AND bikes! I almost got run over by bikes more than once. The Dutch were probably quite relieved to see me leave the country – I was an accident waiting to happen. I very quickly learned to yell “Het spijt me” (I’m sorry) as I jumped hastily out of the way.

But from what I’ve seen and experienced here in the Vancouver area, we just don’t have that same type of biking culture as in the Netherlands. Many people just don’t seem to understand the intent of bike lanes: they exist to keep cyclists separate from vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and the idea of that is to keep everyone as safe as possible. We’ve created an awful lot of bike lanes over the last several decades, so if people are going to ride their bikes, they’d better use them! Otherwise, let’s just give them all over to vehicular traffic and let the cyclists take their chances with trucks and cars and buses.

So, bike riders, if you don’t want to use your own designated bike lanes, then get onto the road and see how you enjoy being with the traffic. Just keep the hell off the sidewalks, especially when you see me walking there. I’ll be the snarky-looking woman with the pink iPod yelling at you.


12 responses to “Stay in your lane!

  1. As someone who has biked enough over the past year or two to feel almost confident calling herself a ‘cyclist’, I couldn’t agree with you more! It is unfair to generalize poor conduct to all cyclists, but that said, I have seen my fair share of boneheads on bicycles … more so since I started cycling! I actually yell at other cyclists (from my own saddle) when I see them making stupid moves. Not only is it dangerous to themselves and others … it also makes all cyclists look bad and contributes to the generalizations that all cyclists are nuts.

    • Ducky – Cyclists just need to understand how much more vulnerable they are whenever they make mistakes. In a car, you can compensate for your mistakes much more easily, but on a bike, you can’t and you’re that much more liable to be injured (or worse). Glad that you’re one of the sane ones!

  2. I really dislike cyclists. No, I know. Not all cyclists are crazy. I think there’s one that’s actually sane. Sometimes. Once.

    Seriously, they rarely obey traffic signs or lights, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one signal a turn and they dodge in and out of traffic like maniacs. I like Jazz’s idea of sticking out your elbow. That *might* teach them a lesson…hopefully!

  3. As a Dutch woman, I ride my bike regularly and I always have to be on the look out for pedestrians who wander into the bike lane or into the street. Especially downtown where it is full of tourists. It’s amazing how little attention people pay to their designated areas. I yell a lot.

    • Nora – You mean that even the Dutch themselves sometimes aren’t looking for cyclists? Well, that makes me feel a bit better about my woeful failure to acclimatize myself to the cultural norms of the Netherlands. (And at the very least, I did improve my Dutch vocabulary, didn’t I?)

  4. Hear-hear. I am part way through a blog diatribe on asshole and rude and stupid cyclists, so I was delighted to see your thoughts. My favorites are those who ride two, three, and even four abreast and feel they have a right to.

    George Carlin said it best: “When I’m driving I don’t give way to cyclists. Why should I acccommodate somebody who’s riding a toy?”

    • mrwriteon – And then today on my drive home along that same street I was talking about, there was a family meandering along the sidewalk on their bicycles, right beside the designated bike lane: mom, dad, baby in a bike trailer. That poor child hasn’t got a chance, coming from genes like those!

      • Sad as that might be, perhaps it’s a good thing such people don’t perpetuate their kind. We refer to those remarkably vulnerable little baby trailers as ‘kid killers’ around here. Odd that a kid has to be trussed up in a seat in a car, but it’s quite legal to have him/her ride in one of those potentially lethal contraptios.

        • mrwriteon – I never really thought about it that way, but you’re right about the “kid killer” bike trailers. If kids must be in approved carseats in a car, then they should have to be in approved bikeseats too.

  5. Don’t yell, just hold your nerve and when they get close enough, just stick out your elbow. Hard.