Bikes vs. Cars


The Old Gray Lady took a spin into the world of cars and bike coexisting on the road together in an article last Sunday. The story begins with a look into the increased amount of cyclists taking to the streets. They, like many others, point to high gas prices as the main reason more folks are pedaling to work.

Early in the article they get into the heat of the issue:

Every year, the war of the wheels breaks out in the sweet summer months, as four-wheelers react with aggravation and anger to the two-wheelers competing for the same limited real estate.

Okay, this is a little different in the Twin Cities where there is ample real estate on our streets. And it’s not really a competition. A car wins the fight every time, unless they are considerate and give a cyclist some space. The story then moves forward with a list of summer time altercations across the states:

In spot clashes around the country, the hostility this summer has erupted in baroque violence:

-A Brentwood, Calif., doctor was charged with assault. Police say he intentionally braked in front of two cyclists, with one smashing into his rear window and the other crashing to the pavement.

-In bike-utopia, Portland, Ore., where 6 percent of the people cycle daily — the national average is under 1 percent — a cyclist knocked off his bike clung desperately to the hood of a moving car. And a car passenger fought with a cyclist after yelling at him to wear his helmet.

-Last weekend, Utah state police arrested the driver of a pickup truck, suspected of plowing intentionally into cyclists on a morning ride.

It makes one feel good that Minneapolis is off the list. While there have been some altercations, it seems like drivers do a fairly good job of being aware and not harassing bicycles. Maybe they don’t want a dead cyclist on their hands, or maybe its just Mid-westerners being polite. Either way, the drivers of the city should get some karma points.

But that’s not the case for the cyclists. Many riders take the streets with little thought. One can see this on a daily basis downtown, where riders regularly ride their bikes the wrong direction on a one-way bike lane. It makes for uneasy passes and near collisions.

It’s also apparent on the popular SE 5th bike boulevard near Dinkytown. Riders on this strip don’t seem to realize that it’s a one-way heading northwest. They ignore the giant white direction arrows. It’s annoying to watch and more frustrating to ride, you think the person coming at you is playing chicken or maybe just high. And cruising through stop signs seems like an old pastime, as does riding on the sidewalk in a business district. The cyclists around here seem to ride with about as much care for traffic laws as Trinidadian maxi-taxi drivers.

It seems awkward to write this, but maybe cyclists should start riding like a car?

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