(UN)ACCEPTABLE behavior?

  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Apr 16, 2007 10:41 PM GMT
    The San Francisco Bay area is a mecca for sports enthusiasts, and in particular, cyclists. There are many great bike paths and areas to ride on, and many areas for off-road bikers to enjoy, especially in Marin Co (for those not acquainted with the Bay area, we are talking the area to the north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge). You will see thousands of bikers crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and cycling through the picturesque coastal town of Sausalito on a gorgeous day over the weekend. I am very fortunate to live in Sausalito.

    Unfortunately, a great problem are bikers who habitually blast through red lights, stop streets and pedestrian crossings with total disregard for anyone or anything around them.

    The police dept. in Sausalito regularly enforces the rules of the road and in the past months have fined hundreds and hundreds of mostly city (not tourist) bikers for going through red lights. Since I (a) want motorists to respect me on my bike and (b) can't afford $120 traffic fines and (c) like to stay alive, I ALWAYS stop at red lights and ALWAYS stop a stop streets and ALWAYS yield to pedestrians.

    Yesterday, on my regular bike loop through Sausalito I stopped at a red light at the main intersection downtown only to have another biker totally ignore the light and not only blast right through it, but give a motorist the middle finger when the motorist rightfully honked his horn making a left turn. Once the light was green I caught up with the offending cyclist and politely informed him that he'd gone through a red light and that he was lucky that a cop had not fined him $120. He then rather impolitely told me to "F***-OFF, GET OUT MY FACE" and then wait for this guys...SPAT at me. Since this guy was twice my size and my bike is worth ten times what his bike is worth, merely shrugged and told him and it was people like him who give us cyclists all a bad name and why I get forced off the road by asshole motorists who hate us bikers and I end up with broken bones.

    Only afterwards did I realize I should have pepper-sprayed the pathetic asshole, but then again, that would have been tit-for tat and my behavior would have been no better. It's good enough for me to know that what goes around, comes around.

    So, I don't think there are too many people who'd argue that this is totally unacceptable behavior. If you're one of those bikers who routinely blasts through red lights and stop streets you wont get any sympathy from me when (a) you get run over (b) beaten by angry pedestrians or motorists or (c) pepper-sprayed by other irate cyclists.

    And while I am on the topic, listening to your MP3 player, wearing no helmet and biking...PRICELESS.....

    Stupid is what stupid does!
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    Apr 17, 2007 12:16 AM GMT
    Ha! Yes, those stupid idiots do give the rest of us a bad name. Luckily, the police are now increasing the fines. Not much you can do for sheer idiocy though.

    My own rant: I'm biking in Marin, going through Larkspur toward Fairfax. Suddenly, a woman comes flying up behind me and passes me ON THE RIGHT, almost hitting me. Since passing on the right is...um... unacceptable, I yelled, "Hey, pass on the left!" At which point I realized she couldn't hear me because she had an iPod on full blast while cycling.

    This was last year, and I haven't seen her since. Maybe the biking police nabbed her...

  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Apr 17, 2007 3:15 AM GMT
    ...well, sounds like this guy is doing a whole bunch of things that will eventually take himself out of the gene pool...

    - David
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    Apr 17, 2007 3:20 AM GMT
    Bikers in LA don't usually stop at stop signs or red lights. I've seen it happen so often, I figured there were some special traffic exemptions for LA bikers. Lots of bad attitude too.
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    Apr 17, 2007 3:42 AM GMT
    Kevin the Dr. of Storms knows that we have just had a major incident in S.F. with the free-for-all monthly ride throught the city called "Critical Mass." While it's not clear who was at fault, or whether the drivers of the vehicle(s) were taunting, or driving unsafely, it is clear that, as usual, the bicyclists were driving pell-mell through the city.

    It's a problem here.

    Here's a query related to this...I've been a duathlete in my athletic past (running/biking), and did a bunch of bike training. Is it me, or does it seem that there is a disproportionate amount of "attitude" among cyclists relative to their view of how they interact with the rest of the world. It could just be defensiveness...due to worrying about being hit by some crazy motorist, for sure.

    But I sure noticed that many more cyclists were unkind to one another than runners are to one another, and to others around them, when they are engaged in their athletic pursuit.
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    Apr 17, 2007 4:14 AM GMT
    (OK, I just wrote the following, and lest it sounds too one-sided, I HAVE been nearly run off the road - sometimes deliberately - by jerks in cars.)

    Sometimes I think it's arrogance, other times I think it's just mindlessness. Portland bills itself (among other pretentious things) as one of the most "bicycle friendly" cities in the country. I've never seen a biker there obeying the traffic rules. And when one of them actually gets killed bombing through an intersection, there's practically a lynch mob to destroy the driver of the car.

    For better or worse, I live in a great area for bike riding. People literally drive hundreds of miles to park in my driveway (dammit) and ride on the roads here. So I'm out riding (and trying to drive) amongst them. If I yell "on your left," or any other warning, they scatter in all directions,blocking the road even more effectively. Apparently they don't know which side is their right. More than a few times, I've driven around a blind corner to find eight bikes spread across both lanes of the highway. After risking my life to foil their suicide attempt, they usually won't even make room to pass.

    The other day *sigh* some kids were land - lugeing down the center line of the highway. I almost didn't even see them until too late.
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Apr 17, 2007 5:08 AM GMT
    Fastprof just hit another nerve-ending regarding bad attitude by bikers towards other bikers.

    Come bike or run with me on any given day on the bike/walk paths in SF and I can guarantee you an incident of bikers being inconsiderate. Now here's my experience in the 8 years of doing triathlon - it's not usually the triathletes who are the culprits, but the regular (and competitive) bikers. Triathletes will often run on the same paths that they bike on and hence usually know how irksome it is when you see a whole pelaton approaching you taking up the entire path and expecting you to run in the bushes. I've been sworn at and lightly hit by such "cycle gangs" on many occasions for merely holding my ground and running on my side of the path.

    It's really an eye-opener to witness the arrogance of other bikers out there. NOT all bikers, but a good deal. NOT all triathletes are angels either.

    Here is another little observation I've made concerning the attitude other bikers have towards me. Sometimes I wear my plain black/neon green outfit which is not your "hip biker" outfit. When stopped at red lights and often when I've arrived there first, I will have other bikers actually precede to squeeze pass me and then stop in front of me as tho I was "a tourist biker" and "stay behind us". Always gives me a thrill when I blast past them on the open paths. However, when I wear my KONA IRONMAN bike shirt, I notice a distinct difference in the way other bikers react to me. Needless to say, no-one tries to push to the front of the line at the red light.

    Lastly a very dangerous pastime of many clueless bikers is to tailgate/draft me uninvited down some of the busy hills and think it's totally cool to be 1" behind me while we're doing 40mph. If you were not invited to be tailgate/draft mem then chances are I probably am going to be unaware of you being behind me for a while. If you accidentally touch my back tire you could cause us to BOTH wipe out. Your careless act could in fact cause me serious injury and even death (in the worst case scenario - don't scoff, this shit happens - the whole reason why you are NOT allowed to draft in non-professional triathlons).

    Finally, those of you thinking of lying to a cop about your address and ID after you've caused a traffic offense and don't have your ID on you, think again...smile - you're on police candid camera FYI! Once again, PRICELESS when the cops show up at your house to arrest you. And don't think it doesn't happen.

    Anyway, this thread has been mostly negative, but I do want to say this - the majority of bikers and triathletes and tourist bikers ARE well mannered and courteous on the bike paths and do watch out for pedestrians. Thank you to those of you who do make biking out there a pleasure!

    See you on the road!

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    Apr 17, 2007 10:11 AM GMT

    I cycle in London and am quite careful of other people, cars, perdestrians and cyclists.

    However not everyone is wanting to travel at breakneck speed (you'd be killed if you did that in London), so I appreciate it when other cyclists give me room to let me cycle at my steady pace and don't see every journey as a race.

    I am curretnly working in Amsterdam. Cyclists on the board shouldn't complain about the behaviour of other cyclists until you have lived here. It is a nightmare of inconsiderate fellow cyclists.

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    Apr 17, 2007 2:05 PM GMT
    I ride a recumbent trike (a Wizwheelz TerraTrike), and for extra visibility, I have a safety flag. But, people told me that the orange safety flag wasn't visible enough, so with wire ties, I attached a US flag on top of the orange flag. Well, people do see Old Glory, but even better, people respect it. Since attaching that flag, the number of irate motorists blasting their horns and/or shouting obscenities at me has dropped to almost nothing.
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    Apr 17, 2007 2:24 PM GMT
    There is undoubtedly a difference in biker courtesy here in So California. On weekends on the main streets we have massive pelatons with massive a***s dressed in massively expensive lycra outfits showing off their collective, well, mass. Bicycles strewn all over the patio area of our local Peets with NO REGARD for anyone else around them. Then we have the smaller groups (pairs, trios...) who are fit, courteous, and street-savvy. When we (my partner and I) are on one of our favourite road bike runs, you can always tell the MA (massive a**) crowd members: they never return the wave/nod or stay to their side of the lane.
    And then they wonder why cyclists get the bad rap...
  • CAtoFL

    Posts: 834

    Apr 17, 2007 3:31 PM GMT
    Not to toss a dry twig on this fire, but ... where I live in southern California, we have both a delineated bike lane and a separate delineated golf cart lane clearly marked to the right of the car traffic lane(s). What gets my goat is when the automobile drivers assume that the bike and golf cart lanes can be used as a second lane for car traffic. In one case, a car brushed me and sure enough, I did a header over the handlebars. In a second case, I was aware of a car coming up behind me (too) fast in the bike/golf cart lanes. He was trying to cut in front of the traffic in the regular car lane. Tired of the b.s. and concerned about my own safety, I got off my bike, left it in the bike lane and stepped to the sidewalk to watch. Sure enough, the errant driver got the message and had to cut back into the car lane's traffic. He was p.o.-ed, but it's a lot better than letting idiot drivers get away with behavior that can seriously endanger our lives. And the cost of replacing my bike would've been less than the damage to the front end of his car. ;-)
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    Apr 17, 2007 3:33 PM GMT
    Bikes are not cars so blindly applying the same rules to both doesn't make any sense. Stopping at a redlight for 5 or more minutes with cars belching out fumes is a problem for me. It seems to me we need to think this thru and propose a new set of rules for bikes. Punishing bikers as if they were 3 ton, gas guzzling SUV's is a not solution in my mind.. I'm not the bad guy here no matter what the curent"LAW" says.
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    Apr 17, 2007 5:43 PM GMT
    Yeah, I'll openly admit to (slowly) rolling through stop signs (after checking both ways, of course) and treating red lights as stop signs on non-major roads (I stop, and if it's clear, I'll carefully proceed.)

    My issue there is that, especially in Austin (vs. SF where I last lived most recently) a lot of triggered (vs timed) lights don't fire for bikes, and it's an incredible pain waddling over on my bike to the sidewalk, hopping up on the curb, hitting the pedestrian cross thing, etc.

    I don't do that at major lights, though, I'll wait for it to change.

    On longer group rides, we often treat the entire group as a single entity, so the first people slow to a stop sign and then, assuming it's clear, shout "CLEAR!" and everyone rides through as a group. This just seems reasonable.

    When I lived in San Francisco I definitely noticed attitude, but I think that's just like any other culture once it gets big enough. There are a lot of bikers in SF, and they tend to ride in more organized / clique-y ways than the runners I ever saw, who seem more like lone wolves.

    It extends well into subcultures in SF, too. I was riding my (geared) road bike once through the Presidio with a friend and saw some fixed-gear riders, two guys and a girl. I commented to the girl how impressed I always was with fixie riders who could tackle San Francisco's hills (as we both ground our way up the hill to the Presidio entrance on Arguello) and how cool I thought they were. And then, oddly, as we were riding through the Presidio, one of the guys just blatantly sideswiped me on my bike, and then rode just 10 feet ahead of me and to the left, staring back at me, as though daring me to some kind of... fight? While riding? I don't even know. I just totally went submissive, "Whatever you want, sir," and let it pass. No reason to indulge that aggression.

    I try not to worry too much about public perception of cyclists simply because even if I wish it were better, there's not a whole lot I can do. I suppose I support more aggressive traffic violation fines for cyclists, except that means I'd get them for rolling through stop signs or going through red lights after stopping, both of which I try to do very consciously and carefully.

    Put it this way: if they're going to aggressively ticket cyclists for violating traffic law, there's a responsibility there to make stoplights recognize bikes and things like that.
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    Apr 17, 2007 5:48 PM GMT
    burningman: Yeah, I totally agree with that. The other thing is the absolute speed differences -- I could get ticketed for "rolling through" a stop sign at, say, 4mph... and yet probably 50% of the cars I see at stop signs roll through at easily double that. It's just that a car going 8mph looks more stopped because it's big and was probably going much faster before.

    Then there's issues where drivers don't know the law. When riding on a road, if it has a shoulder but no explicit bike lane, do I take up a lane or bike in the shoulder? I know there's a technically correct answer, but the important bit is whether the cars know that answer. It doesn't really matter, at the end of the day, what the law says if every driver on the road thinks differently.

    I get honked at and angrily cut off for taking up a full lane on roads with bad shoulders, and I get nearly-clipped when I do try to ride in a shoulder and let cars pass.

    It goes both ways, really.

    In the perfect world, it comes down to everyone treating everyone else with respect and obeying the law -- cyclists and drivers. Somebody let me know when we're there; in the meantime, things will just be suboptimal, and we do the best we can.
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    Apr 17, 2007 10:46 PM GMT
    Forget the issue that it is illegal to run a stop light or go through a stop sign without stopping. (So is jay walking!)

    Also, forget that all cyclists, at some point or another, will roll though stop signs (hopefully not stop lights). (I've done it too!)

    Let's even forget "morality" and "ethics" regarding cars spouting noxious chemicals, and cyclists having to breathe that stuff at stops. (No one is arguing that that's good.)

    The fact of the matter is people driving on the cross street while a cyclist is supposed to be stopped on the intersecting street have the expectation that people on that street will remain stopped. Plunging into that intersection through a stop is dangerous, even if you think you have looked for a safe passage. That's because some guy who was parked, for example, might see his green light and step on the gas to try go make it, while you are unaware that a parked car is about to swoop through the intersection.

    But the other thread in this Forum Post is that, for whatever reason, there DOES seem to be more "tude" with cyclists. Whether it's due to defensiveness (because of danger from motorists), bad experience (yes, I know motorists are jerks often too) or a "culture" (having to depend upon equipment and tactics to win a road race, in which many guys are of equal talent), I think it is a fact. That's a separate post, though.

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    Apr 17, 2007 11:39 PM GMT
    I should add that I was hit by an SUV that ran a stop sign about 6 years ago, thrashed my right shoulder (took the side-view mirror across the blade) and the rotator cuff. Wanker didn't have any insurance and tried to take off!!! On heavy gym days I can still feel it and my internal rotators are nowhere near as strong on my R as on my L...
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    Apr 18, 2007 2:48 AM GMT
    Yes, ww1969, I don't mean to imply that motorists are not jerks too. When I was in the midst of training for a duathlon, I was riding in the bike lane, basically with a pace line of other cyclists.

    We were obeying traffic laws.

    Anyway, I was crossing a side street (we had the right of way), and a jerk from BEHIND me (meaning, a car coming up behind me) tried to make a right turn into the side street by speeding up and trying to come around me in the intersection.

    Of course, I never saw him until he came even, passed me and then abruptly made a right turn in front of me. I couldn't stop, hit his rear end, went over the handlebars, landed on the street on my head (thank goodness for helmets and my thick head). They called the paramedics, I was treated for minor scrapes etc., X-rays were negative, so I was OK.

    There were many witnesses, and the guy was cited for reckless driving.

    So I had my own run in with a jerk.
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    Apr 18, 2007 4:03 AM GMT
    First, bizarre rationalizations why traffic rules don't apply to YOU is complete bullshit.
    Badly timed lights suck for everyone. Deal with it.

    Second... I like the jersey perception thing. I need to get one printed with "Doughnut Grinder" in big ugly letters.
    It'll be sweet when I blow by those pricks who didn't stop at the light.

    Third. YES those sensor lights REALLY SUCK when you have an aluminum frame bike. Does anybody know how much iron it takes to set them off? If it's not too much, carrying a sash-weight or something around might just be like a training aid. (Fly like the wind when you drop it.)
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    Apr 18, 2007 5:24 AM GMT
    OK.. What?
    People ride bikes... in the city?

    That doesn't happen around here. Seeing someone riding a bike is such a rare thing, people usually stare in awe.

    Ah, Detroit.
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    Apr 18, 2007 12:19 PM GMT
    mindgarden wrote:

    "... Third. YES those sensor lights REALLY SUCK when you have an aluminum frame bike. Does anybody know how much iron it takes to set them off? If it's not too much, carrying a sash-weight or something around might just be like a training aid. (Fly like the wind when you drop it.)..."

    There's one stoplight along my 4AM drive that apparently has the triggering set close to the signal my little 86 CRX Si produces as sometimes it won't trigger (if you think having to manually push the activate button on a bike, consider getting out of the car, running over to the button, pushing it, running back to the car, and moving before the green ends). So I suspect that carrying a sash weight to trigger the sensor is not practical.

    There are a number of intersections consist of side streets that have feed into our main street (Hwy 101) from only a single side (a RR right of way is on the other side of 101). On weekends, it seems the rule rather than the exception that massive groups of riders will ride through these 3-way stop signs without any attempt to slow down. At least at stoplights, absent any cross traffic, they usually slow down a little (and quickly glance to the left/right) before running the light. The less brave riders will often slow down substantially, turn right (rights on red after a stop are legal), go about 20 ft, make a U-turn, then turn right and continue on in their original direction.
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    Apr 20, 2007 6:25 PM GMT
    Yes, the cops should be fining them. I'm pretty good at following the rules, but when it's late and there's no one around, i stop and then continue through the red light.

    Seen recently: woman on a bike, no helmet, cigarette in her mouth, cellphone in one hand, coffee in the other one that's also trying to steer the bike. WTF?!
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    May 09, 2007 4:29 PM GMT
    Guys, thanks for your feedback. See my orignal (first) posting on this forum.

    The real issue here wasn't really the asshole blasting through the red light, but the fact that a fellow biker got uptight when he was confronted about it, then became abusive and then SPAT at me. THAT was the unacceptable behavior. I don't think ANYONE in their right mind wants to be spat at while out biking.

    By an amazing turn of events this past weekend, I discovered the identify of this asshole - ironically, at a triathlon I was at on SUN. There he was....I NEVER forget a face. He had not been wearing sunglasses during that incident 3 weeks ago, so I sure as hell remembered his face. And thanks to race numbers, was able to match face to name and GOD BLESS the phone book, find out where he lives AND his phone number....

    What saddened me is that here was someone who competes in triathlons who acted in this totally unacceptable manner towards a fellow biker - that just makes this whole episode even more pitiful.

    So, if this had happened to you, what would you do now, now knowing his identity and address etc? I'd be interested in hearing some feedback as to what you would do next.



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    May 09, 2007 4:51 PM GMT
    Well Storm I don't exactly know what I'd do.

    You were right to challenge his bad behaviour initially and his behaviour in response was unacceptable and showed a complete lack of manners.

    However although you've got his personal details now I don't think there's anything you could do that would improve his behaviour. From my experince louts like him don't change easily and you getting in touch my escalate matters.

    So, in conclusion. I'd let it go if I was you. You're a decent guy and there's no need to waste your energy on him and his inability to act like a decent human being.

    Cheers Loz

    or alternatively you could post a dog turd through his post box.
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    May 09, 2007 6:23 PM GMT
    I've seen many cyclists like the ones described above. They're pissed off when cars don't give heed and allow them the same rights to the road (which in this case the cyclist is justified.) But that same cyclist who asserts his rights to the road suddenly and "mystically" turns into a pedestrian when he approaches an intersection. We can't have it both ways. To those that do this and blow through an intersection or ride on the sidewalk I say you're an oxy-MORON.
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    May 11, 2007 3:14 PM GMT
    Same road - same rules