I was driving the family van yesterday and I passed by a group of bikers along Colombia. When I pulled up to the stop light at Colombia and King, I decided to move to the empty left lane so that as they approached from behind, they could have some room.
Feeling myself King Benevolence of Waterloo, I was disappointed with what I saw next.
When the bikers pulled up beside me at the light, they stopped 3 abreast. They blocked any possibility of a car behind them turning right on a red, or getting through the intersection ahead of the slow moving bikes once the light changed.
I know their motivation for taking the lane in this case; they didn’t want cars making right turns in front of them. They wanted to be able to accelerate as soon as the light changed to green. In fact, they single filed into the bike lane on the other side of the intersection when it did change.
There’s nothing legally wrong with this maneuver. Bikers have all rights to a lane that a car does. But I still think it was a stupid choice for these bikers to make.
There are at least two issues. Firstly, there is a huge imbalance in the penalty if an accident occurs. As cyclists, these guys could have paid dearly for sitting at this light blocking the lane. When stopped, you really don’t want to rely on drivers to see you. Your goal should be to make it immaterial whether they see you or not.
Secondly, as cyclists, we have to be aware of the impression we make on drivers. In many cases drivers have no idea what cycling in the city is about (hence they are muggles), though their actions have a steep impact on our safety. Some see us as real pains in the ass out there on the road. They don’t feel the need to inconvenience themselves to make the road a safer place for us. The last thing cyclists need is a wider wedge driven into this relationship regardless who’s right de jure.
I see arrogant or aggressive cycling as a sort of disservice that cyclists bring upon themselves. I take offense because I think the relationship between drivers and cyclists is worsening not improving at least partly because of some cyclists attitudes.
If you’re going to spend significant amounts of time out there cycling on the roads consider yourself an ambassador. As an ambassador, you would be doing me a big favour if you were courteous to a fault towards our muggle friends. If you’re going to be aggressive and obnoxious when riding around, then you would be doing me a big favour by taking your car instead.