Another hate-fest toward cyclists recently surfaced on my community's online forum.
I'm not sure what scares me more: How much vitriol exists toward cyclists or that it is coming from people in my community — the very people who likely pass me while I'm riding my bike.
It terrifies me to think that when these motorists come upon me — doing something I have every legal right to do — that they actually despise me, resenting the fact that my mere presence causes them to have to slow down and pass with care, and that if I get struck, and maybe even killed in the process well, then, I had it coming.
I understand that there are a few annoying, arrogant cyclists out there who give us all a bad name, acting as if they own the road, flouting basic traffic laws.
But should motorists who live in glass houses cast stones? Every day I witness cars running red lights, failing to stop at stop signs, speeding through neighborhoods and talking or texting on cell phones. Pedestrians regularly jaywalk, joggers run on the roads instead of sidewalks, and bulky farm equipment sometimes impedes traffic, but it's cyclists who are vilified online, being told that they should not be on the roads, that they deserve to die for doing what they love.
Where has everyone's humanity gone? Believe me when I say that no cyclist wants to create conflict, inconvenience anyone or cause an accident. All we ask is that you share the road and exercise a little extra patience and caution so that we can all get home safely to our families. Unfortunately, it seems that selfishness, righteousness and a false sense of entitlement is what prevents us from getting along. Simply put, harried motorists, rushing from one commitment to the next, do not want to have to slow down, not even for a few seconds. Not even if a life is at stake.
Comments such as, "Why should I have to move my car into oncoming traffic to avoid a cyclist?" leave me dumbfounded, but the answer is simple: You should not. The correct and rational thing for a motorist to do is to wait until there is no oncoming traffic before passing.
What also strikes me as absurd on these online forums is the conviction and passion with which people write about a subject they obviously know little about. It's clear by the comments and suggestions — for example, that road bikes traveling in excess of 20 mph should use park paths instead of roads. Just imagine the hateful and furious online posts cyclists would receive from dog walkers and stroller-pushing parents! — that few of the authors have ever ridden a road bike for fitness or for sports training, if at all, and many are completely ignorant of the law.
Like it or not, cyclists have a legal right to ride on the roads and motorists are required to give three feet when passing. Period.
So rather than post hateful and uninformed comments online, my suggestion to frustrated motorists is that they channel their energy in a more positive and productive manner by lobbying their local politicians to widen and/or protect the shoulders, and create bike lanes, making the roads safer for all.
Sherri Leimkuhler is a Times fitness writer. Her column appears every other Sunday. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or email@example.com.