Being a Good Ambassador: Obey the Rules
As enthusiasm for The Rules has been growing, we’ve been having a lot of fun watching the conversation take shape and go in directions we didn’t necessarily expect it to. You have the Geof’s and the Jarvis’s who defend them honorably and even compare cycling to a religion. Fittingly, you then also have the Opus Dei-like loyalists like SGW who find purity in only one Rule, which is – tastefully – Rule #5. And, naturally, some posit that we might be idiots, and I can’t blame them; in fact, they probably have a point.
There is, however, another Rule which will never grace the list but which is critically important for our humble sport to continue to grow and garner further public support, in particular from motorists with whom we share the road. I’m talking, of course, about obeying the laws of traffic and being a Good Ambassador for our sport.
I find that much of the time when I’m put into a dangerous situation by someone driving another vehicle, it’s due to their ignorance of what it’s like to be on a bicycle in traffic. Other times, it’s because we present the impression to the driver of the vehicle that we’re somehow hindering them in their ability to also use the road or get to the bar. Whatever the cause, it’s rather inconvenient to be struck by said vehicle and as a cyclist it’s in our best interest to ride defensively and keep out of danger. (If conventional wisdom is to be believed, it would appear that in a bus/truck/car/motorcycle-bicycle collision, the bicyclist generally tends to be the worse off – at least from a physical point of view.)
Part of riding defensively, I feel, is to demonstrate that while we expect to be treated with the same respect and rights as the other vehicles on the road, we also hold ourselves to the same laws and order of traffic; don’t run red lights (unless there is a compelling reason to do so, such as a malfunctioning weight sensor), ride near the side of the road, and follow the conventions for “right of way” at intersections.
Many cyclists seem to have the expectation that they are to be respected by traffic, but that the laws of traffic do not apply to them. This double-standard does nothing to aide cyclists in winning the PR war with other traffic on the road – including pedestrians. Seeing a cyclist dodge through stop signs and red lights conveys a message of entitlement and recklessness; something I think we can agree none of us need.
Take the cyclist pictured above. As we were riding out to start our training ride on Saturday, we passed this douchebag as he was teetering down Greenwood Ave with his handlebars nearly touching his nose. We greeted him nevertheless as we rolled by, only to have him sprint onto Michelle’s back wheel (which is an annoying habit of these types of competitive twatwaffles who would shit themselves seven times before leaving the neutralized zone in an actual bike race). We ignored him and continued our leisurely roll down towards Fremont and the first bits of real riding on the route. On the way down Fremont Hill, he came careening past us, dodging pedestrians who were mid-crosswalk, flicking off cars, and running lights along the way.
We caught up to him at a traffic light which he had no alternative but to observe, and as we waited for the light to turn, I reflected on his general mentality and what his behavior communicates to the rest of traffic, of which the result is this article.
To make matters worse, he not only disobeys sensibility and law, he also offended me in his egregious Rule-Breaking. Class 5, in my estimation.