"Bicyclists are some of the most self centered, inconsiderate, reckelss people on the roads"

We know that people on bicycles do not violate the laws in any greater numbers than people who drive cars. Yet, no matter how many times we say that, no matter how many innocent law abiding victims are killed, despite all the traffic engineering and crash studies that prove otherwise, many people still believe statements like the headline above.

 

"Bicycles Also" signs like this should not really be necessary, for a lot of reasons.

Newspaper reports about the proposed vulnerable user legislation people were pushing at the Bike Summit on Tuesday have resulted in some expected commentary from the online trolls and others who get angry when they see people on bicycles run red lights or ride on the sidewalk. The comment below appeared on our blog and expresses the anti-bicycle sentiment pretty succinctly. I responded here, but I thought it was worth highlighting and perhaps a separate discussion, so I have pasted my response below as well.

Not that long ago I wrote a very detailed blog post that included data from those engineering and crash studies that proved people on bicycles do not break the laws any more frequently than people in cars. You can go back and read it here, but for some reason those facts don’t seem to get much traction in the mainstream media. I wonder how it is that so many in our society are so angry that they cannot see any value in trying to protect innocent, law abiding people from harm.

The Bike Fed WisDOT funded Share and Be Aware Program messages have reached more than a million people, yet these misconceptions about scofflaw cyclists continue.  Share and Be Aware Ambassadors and media messages will go out again this spring and hopefully reach even more people this year.  Do you think those messages will change the minds of people like Kevin (below) or those who commented under Tom Held’s Off the Counch post about the VU legislation? Do you think those messages or our education can get more bicyclsts to obey all laws? Or are some people just bent on going through life angry, blind and deaf to the facts?

 

Kevin wrote-
“You want harsher penalties for motor vehicles causing bicycle death and injury. Fine. But do motorists then get a pass when the bike they hit is some arrogant spandexed clipped-in a**hole who cannot or rather will not to obey rules of the road? Blowing through stop signs and lights like the jerk on the double high custom frame on the east side of Milwaukee because he is seated 5 feet off the ground? The ones who race down sidewalks slaloming through pedestrians then dart into the street via the crosswalks to circumvent traffic rules? The one who ride in packs obstructing motor traffic?
In a world of incivility, bicyclists are some of the most self centered, inconsiderate, reckelss people on the roads, on a par with cell phone users.
Clean up your own house first.”

I responded with the following:

“Kevin,

Yes, people driving motor vehicles do get a pass when they hit some arrogant spandexed clipped-in a**hole, a jerk on a tall bike and even jaywalkers if that person is violating the laws, even if they kill that person, even after the VU law passes. Our proposed legislation will not change that. The problem this legislation is trying to address is that people driving motor vehicles currently get a pass if they kill a perfectly innocent someone on a bike or walking who is obeying the laws. Kill a kid in a crosswalk, get a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Kill a bicyclists legally going through an intersection, get a ticket for failure to yield under current laws. Our legislation also increases penalties for a person riding a bicycle who might kill a person, another bicyclist or a pedestrian. That has never happened in our state to my knowledge, but it is part of the proposed law.

 

Worst case example of bicycles was this 2010 count at Water and St. Paul in which 48% made illegal maneuvers. Counts at other locations showed better compliance.

Are some people who ride bicycles inconsiderate? Absolutely, but the facts (not anecdotal observations) show that people on bicycles do not break laws any more frequently than people in motor vehicles. They just break different laws. In fact, WisDOT studies and City of Milwaukee studies show that the majority of crashes between motor vehicles and adults on bicycles are the fault of the motorist violating the law by a small margin. City of Milwaukee bicycle counts at mid-block locations show the vast majority of people on bikes riding legally in the street. People who ride on the sidewalk or against the flow of traffic do so because they are afraid of riding in the street. The statistics varied between 23% and 48% of bicycles made illegal maneuvers in those studies. Fewer people ride on the sidewalk or the wrong way when you give them convenient safe places to ride (trails and bike lanes). The City bike counts at signalized intersections showed a significant percentage, but still a minority, of people on bicycles ran red lights. So the fact is that the majority of people on bicycles are generally law abiding.

Yield studies show the vast majority of drivers break the law.

Further, as the person who used to manage the neighborhood traffic safety program for the City of Milwaukee, I had hundreds of meetings with people because they had complaints about motor vehicles speeding, failing to stop for stop signs, and failing to yield to pedestrians. For those complaints, the city traffic engineer assigned engineering interns to do speed studies and crosswalk studies in every neighborhood across Milwaukee. The City also used unobtrusive radar units (not speed boards) that count every vehicle and measure the speed of every vehicle. In the vast majority (but not all) of those studies, on average, 65% of motor vehicles drove above the speed limit in a bell curve with most driving 5 or so mph above, but some driving as much as 25mph above the posted limit and between 77% and 100% of motor vehicles failed to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, even when a police officer was present. So the fact is that the majority of people driving motor vehicles are not law abiding.

Finally, it is no more illegal for people on bicycles to ride in groups than it is for people in cars to ride in groups. SUVs and trucks obscure the vision of someone in a smaller vehicle, but it is not illegal. People on bicycles are required to ride no more than two abreast unless they are passing a slower moving group. As long as they are obeying that law, they are not obstructing traffic, they are traffic. Many group rides certainly violate the laws and the Bike Fed is opposed to that, but try to drive the speed limit in the left lane on I94 between Milwaukee and Madison (that is the law after all) and let me know how much civility you see in the other drivers and how many thumbs up you get for obeying the law.

 

Most speed studies look like this (posted limit of 25mph) and show the majority of drivers exceeding the posted speed limit., some by extreme amounts.

For that matter, try to drive the speed limit in the right lane and count how many cars you pass vs. how many cars pass you. I have done that and typically stop counting when I get to 250 cars near Johnson Creek. Is everyone who passes me an arrogant steel-clad a**hole who will not obey the rules of the road? No, they are just following our societies’ current driving norms in which it is expected that motorists will break the law to get where they want to go faster if they can get away with it. Most people driving motor vehicles know they can drive 7mph above the speed limit and ignore pedestrians trying to cross the street, rather than stop, so they break those laws to get where they are going faster. Current culture for people who ride bicycles is similar. Many people who ride bikes, but studies show not the majority as it is with cars, run red lights because they know they can get away with it and it gets them where they are going faster.

Those are the facts from traffic studies and crash studies done by unbiased traffic engineers, not anecdotal observations.

As to cleaning up our own house, if you look at our programs, the Bike Fed teaches tens of thousands of children and adults how to ride legally and safely every year. The Bike Fed’s Share and Be Aware encouragement campaign works to get all road users to obey all laws and our messages reach millions. Those messages include getting pedestrians to wait for walk signals and bicyclists to stop for red lights and stop signs.

Perhaps you yourself ride a bicycle - the majority of people in Wisconsin do. When you are on your bike, do you feel like you get respect from people in motor vehicles, even though you obey the laws and are civil to other road users? Do you always feel safe and comfortable on the road? I would bet the answers are “no” to both questions. If you don’t ride a bicycle, perhaps your children or nieces or nephews do. Would you advise those kids that they are safe to ride their bicycles on any street in Milwaukee as long as they obey the laws? I would guess you would not give that advice.

The Bicycle Federation is working to make it safe, convenient and pleasant for anyone, from 8 to 80 to get on a bike and ride if they want to. We are working to get more bicyclists to ride, to understand and obey the law, to increase safety, to improve health, to save people some money, and to help salvage what is left of our environment. We believe that by putting more butts on bikes we can put smiles on more faces, even yours.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 11 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave lives with his wife Liz and daughter Frankie in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's west side.

31 thoughts on “"Bicyclists are some of the most self centered, inconsiderate, reckelss people on the roads"

  1. As a veteran of over 35 years of riding I’m afraid I agree that bicyclists are among the most self-centered, inconsiderate, and reckless people on the road. While many riders use common sense with regard to their position and behavior on the road, quite a few think vehicles should grant them a special dispensation because they’re on a bike. Too often I’ve seen riders beyond 3′ of the fog line and even to the centerline simply because they’re inattentive and lack basic bike handling skills. And while it’s the fixie-messenger type that is blamed for disregarding traffic signals, the reality is the offenders making things worse for us all are commuters and recreational riders. Cyclists need more discipline before they can earn more credibility.

    • Caffiene Powered,

      Unless we are casting very wide circles in our Venn diagrams, I don’t see how, even after I have demonstrated that in every study, bicyclist are more law abiding than people who drive motor vehicles, you can say that bicyclists are among the most self-centered, inconsiderate people. The facts are people who ride bikes obey the laws more often than people who drive cars. The laws bicycles break are very obvious to someone in a car. The laws people in cars break are not obvious to people in cars because they themselves are speeding and failing to stop for pedestrians, but are very obvious if you are a pedestrian trying to get across the street.

      I have a very difficult time being a passenger in a car with my friends and relatives because it drives me crazy that they can’t seem to drive the speed limit no matter how much I complain, and never stop for pedestrians.

      People who ride bikes are more law abiding than people who drive cars. Facts are facts, even if they are not obvious. I am tired of people, even fellow cyclists, giving anyone behind the wheel of a car a pass on obeying the laws. The fact is that people who drive cars are the most dangerous, self-centered, inconsiderate, and reckless people on the road, and that often includes people who ride bicycles when they are not in a motor vehicle.

      • I know your study says that cyclists don’t break the law any more frequently than motorists, but you mentioned completely different sets of laws so the comparison is not that valuable. Something tells me that had you measured cyclists yielding to pedestrians it would have been even lower than drivers, and if cyclists could go above the speed limit they would.

        The reason why cyclists do this is the same reason why driving in India looks a lot like biking in North America: every person for themselves and nobody to punish you. As a cyclist, you already feel like you’re not part of “real” traffic as you’re forced to ride between cars whizzing by you and idiots opening their doors from parked cars, so when you get to an intersection it’s pretty easy to say “t”" it”. Until cyclists get proper lanes to ride in and tickets for breaking laws there will be no change.f

        • I disagree Joe. Bicyclists do get tickets as frequently as motorists get tickets. How many people get tickets for speeding? Lots, but a very small percentage of the people who speed. I know plenty of people who have been giving tickets for riding on the sidewalk and running red lights Milwaukee. I have seen the police records on tickets given to bicyclists and pedestrians. They even get special grants from WisDOt Bureau of Transportation Safety to enforce bicycle and pedestrian laws, just as they get special grants to enforce speeding. Every study I have seen shows people on bicycles to be more law abiding in general than people in motor vehicles. That said, the Bike Fed believes people on bicycles can be even better. We have a close knit community, and encouragement efforts should be more effective. We will continue to work on better compliance to “clean up our own house” while we work on raising awareness among about the tremendous responsibility it is to drive a motor vehicle.

          As far as getting more bike lanes and trails, I have not looked at any studies of compliance rates for people who ride bicycles in places like Copenhagen or Amsterdam where there are more dedicated bicycle facilities. That would be an interesting study. It might be hard to compare to the US though since traffic fines in general in those countries are significantly higher for all infractions. Good idea though.

          • Dave, I agree with Caffeine and Shmoe. A car driver going a couple mphs above the speed limit is NOT the same as a cyclist blowing through a red light. First of all, the cyclist is creating a much more dangerous situaiton. Second, and perhaps more importantly, nobody notices a car driving a little over the speed limit, while everyone notices a cyclist ignoring a red light. So, you can tout the “facts” all you want. But it doesn’t change the fact that a high percentage of cyclists do blatantly illegal, dangerous, and conspicuous acts that make us all look bad. Trying to hide this fact behind that survey is not solving the problem.

            BTW, thanks for outing yourself as that crazy dude that drives under the speed limit. I always wondered who you were. :>)

          • Kevmo,

            Thanks for the comment. I agree that when everyone is breaking the law by driving the speed limit, nobody notices except the pedestrian or bicyclist that gets hit. Actually, even going 5mph over the speed limit results in more crashes but more importantly a dramatically higher percentage of injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. The difference between 25mph and 30mph might mean the difference between a trip to the hospital and the morgue. If you search the web for that stat, you can find the graphs that show rates of serious injuries v. speed.

            Is it more noticeable when bicyclists or pedestrians go against a red light? Yes, for sure and that promotes a bad image for all cyclists. I totally agree with you. Part of fixing our image problem with people who don’t ride bikes is increasing the compliance among people who do ride bikes. That is very important and the Bike Fed is doing all we can in that area.

            But I really believe that just because “everybody speeds” we should ignore that when people accuse people on bikes as being scofflaws. The indisputable facts are that more people break laws when they drive motor vehicles than when they ride bikes. It is a paradigm shift to take speeding or failing to yield to pedestrian seriously, but it is something we are trying to do.

            Finally, is it more dangerous for a bicyclist to run a red than for a motorist to drive 7-10 mph over the limit or fail to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk? Only to the person on the bike or walking who runs the red light. When a person on a bike runs a red light and gets hit, the person who broke the law (the cyclist or pedestrian) pays the ultimate price. When a person in a motor vehicle breaks a law around a vulnerable user, the vulnerable user pays the price, not the person in the motor vehicle. That is the inequity we are trying to address with this law.

            And yes, I am one of the few, the proud, the law-abiding who is driving the speed limit or just a bit slower ;) I do try to stay out of the left lane though out of deference to the serious law breakers. I am also the guy on group rides who waits for red lights to turn green. It is sad that it sounds self-righteous to say I obey all the laws and expect others to do the same, no matter if I am on a bike or in a car, but since I teach people to ride legally, and I expect motorists to do the same, it would be hypocritical of me to break the laws myself.

      • Dave, as a daily car commuter I have to take issue with your assertion that the laws car drivers tend to break are less obvious than those cyclists break. Speeding? Not obvious if you’re in a herd that’s doing it. But what about the inattentive drivers wandering their lanes or crossing into mine. What about those I see clicking away on their smartphones? Even those morons going the speed limit – in the left lane!

        As for the originator of this thread, Caffeine Powered is completely off base. I’ve ridden a bike since I moved to Milwaukee 30 years ago. While there are always some cyclists that break the law most times it’s no more “inconsiderate” than the drivers going 65 mph in a 50 zone on 94W. I myself have wandered around in my lane while cycling; if no one is using that lane, who cares? If I have traffic in my lane I stay right, where I’m out of the way. Or not; several skilled cyclists have been killed in the past two years while apparently doing everything by the rules. I also don’t run red lights while on the bike, or cut through parking lots to avoid traffic signals. I WILL cut through parking lots, or briefly ride the sidewalk, to avoid a busy street.

        All assertions about cycling behavior vs. driver behavior are beside the point. Cyclists (and walkers) are always going to be vulnerable because the mass and protection advantage is always with the motor vehicle. If I run a red light and hit a car, the car will sustain some damage, but I’ll like be seriously injured or dead. Even a bike/pedestrian collision is likely to cause the cyclist to suffer significant injury because the masses of the colliding bodies is not that different. Not so when motor vehicles collide with walkers or cyclists – or motorcycles for that matter. That’s why the new law is needed.

        • Thanks for a different perspective from behind the wheel! And as an FYI, we included motorcycles, law enforcement officers and equestrians in the law as well.

      • “I have a very difficult time being a passenger in a car with my friends and relatives because it drives me crazy that they can’t seem to drive the speed limit no matter how much I complain, and never stop for pedestrians.”
        I know exactly how you feel. I will no longer ride with my brother at all, and I have told him that he is a great danger to everyone else on the road.

    • I respect your right to your own opinion, but I do not respect your right to your own facts. You are wrong.

  2. Nice article, Dave!

    Always nice to see comments from the old guys who think that commuters and recreational cyclists are ruining cycling.

    • Thanks, and as I will be 50 next Wednesday, so I can say I have been riding my bike as an adult for 32 years and I remain one old guy who is happy to see anyone on a bike, skinny jeans, spandex, skirts and heels or whatever. I can also say that I do wish more people on bikes would obey the laws, but I believe the existing penalty for failing to stop for a red light (possible death or severe injury) is quite severe. Further, if a person on a bicycle does hit and severely injure or kill someone, our proposed VU legislation would allow the the prosecutor to hold the bicyclist to the same standards of punishment as the operator of a motor vehicle.

    • In Hungary gas is already around $7/gal, the median wage is roughly $600, there are more dedicated cycling facilities and yet there aren’t a lot more cyclists on the roads. Never underestimate the power of laziness and old habits!

  3. Nicely written article!

    I’ve encountered several rude motorists while on my bike in the last year. The harassment varies from a very rude loud honk to a shout of “asshole” from a rolled-down window. All of these incidents have happened when I have been riding completely legally, either alone or single-file with a group. All were done to “make a point” that I did not belong on the road. THIS makes me feel extremely unsafe on the road, not sharing the road with other cars. Interestingly, EVERY single one of these instances have fit the exact same demographic: middle-aged man in a truck or large SUV.

    Thank you for everything that Bike Fed does to hopefully make the roads a safer place!

    • Thank you Amanda. Not much we can do about angry middle aged men, but we will keep trying on all the other fronts ;) It is a wonder how some people are just so angry. I get honked at while crossing the street in crosswalks in downtown Milwaukee all the time. Even when they have those in-street “yield to pedestrians law” signs.

      I was on a big group ride in DC last year. We all stopped at a red light and the driver in the car next to me looked over and said in an annoyed tone “Well, at least some bicyclists stop for red lights!” I just smiled and said “happy Friday.” I was also walking my bike on the pedestrian bridge that abuts the Oak Leaf Trail in Wauwatosa by Cafe Hollander and a person said with an annoyed tone “At least you have the good sense to walk your bike on this bridge.” Some people are angry if you do and angry if you don’t.

      My favorite lately though are the people who honk at me when I am driving and turn on my signal and slow to make a legal turn onto another street or driveway. Like anything that slows them down at all makes them mad. I guess we now live in a Mad Mad world.

  4. I am a self-centered biker…I ride for waist and my wallet! However, I believe strongly that I have an obligation to follow the rules of the road and set an example that the biking community is not above the rules. I do believe we need to contiue to educate bikers and drivers that we can coexists on our roadways. I believe the Bike Fed is on target…we need to change attitudes which leads to changing behaviors, as well as changing the physical environment. Happy riding!

    • Thanks Michael. I couldn’t agree more. When I am on a ride, I always let people at the start know that I plan on stopping for red lights and stop signs. When I am riding alone I do the same. It does sometimes happen that I am stopped at a light and another person on a bicycle blows the red, but then I drive the speed limit and many people pass me. My friends all know I drive the speed limit, just as they all know I stop for red lights.

      We do need more and better bike facilities as well. Good engineering, good education and good enforcement, the four Es are all part of any good transportation system.

  5. I think the only way we will have a hope of even getting close to fixing this one is to require those taking state driving tests to do so on-bike and in-car. It would be nice to see some driver ed schools also offer LAB Traffic Skills 101 and 201 and for auto (“vehicle”) insurance companies offer discounts to drivers with LAB certificates.

  6. One inconvenient truth: Obeying every traffic rule to the letter, does not itself make or define responsible or safe driving. To wit, we all drive on the same interstates that used to be 55 speed limit (55 saves lives, remember that?), now they are variously 65 to 75 (I’m out west, so 75), and no ill-effects. Therefore, the speed limit is quite arbitrary. Lane usage (thank-you for staying right by the way), is the fundamental rule of the road that keeps everybody out of each other’s way. On the Autobahn, this is the chief law that is enforced. With it, there is often 40mph or more differential in speeds, but it works because everyone is grouped where they are comfortable and competent. That said, there is a time and place. I go the speed that enables me to efficiently and seamlessly navigate through most traffic obstacles (other cars, lights, stopped buses), but never more than 9 over the limit, and generally 5mph. I never speed through school zones, other people’s residential streets, or around bicycles or pedestrians, and I never, ever, break a solid line. Some laws are logical, some aren’t. The ones that stand on their own I follow, but curiously, they seem to be the ones least-enforced.

    • K.Bristol,

      I appreciate your thoughtful, albeit illegal, philosophy on driving. I am very happy to hear you do not speed on streets when pedestrians, bicyclists or children are present. I kind of agree with you to the extent that interstates are similar to hockey rinks, although the rules say “no fighting” you don’t get on the ice without pads, a helmet, mouth guard and a stick. That said, the increase in speed limits has actually resulted in more crashes and higher fatality rates.

      Based on crash records, Kockelman et al. estimated that the difference between a crash on a 55 mph limit road and a crash on a 65 mph one means a 24 percent increase in the chances the accident will be fatal. Along with the higher incidence of crashes happening in the first place, a difference in limit between 55 and 65 adds up to a 28 percent increase in the overall fatality count. That is in the US anyway.

      Lee S. Friedman, PhD, Donald Hedeker, PhD, and Elihu D. Richter, MD, MPH found a 3.2% increase in road fatalities attributable to the raised speed limits on all road types in the United States. The highest increases were on rural interstates (9.1%) and urban interstates (4.0%). We estimated that 12 545 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI] = 8739, 16 352) and 36 583 injuries in fatal crashes (95% CI = 29 322, 43 844) were attributable to increases in speed limits across the United States. Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2008.153726

      People who oppose speed limits in the US often cite the Autobahn as an example of NO speed limits and lower crash and fatality rates. More than half of the German Autobahn system has no speed limit. In fact, according to Mark Rask, author of 1999’s American Autobahn, the average speed for cars is 130 km/h (81 mph); at any given moment, 15 percent are traveling 155 km/h (96 mph) or faster. Surprisingly, the Autobahn is safer than U.S. highways. In 2001, the death rate there was 27 percent lower (0.59 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled versus 0.81 per million for the U.S. interstates), according to Rask
      .
      So would US highways be safer if we eliminated the speed limit in the left lane? Well, they might be if we made people wait until they were 18 years old to get their license, as they do in Germany. And if people had to pay $1,000 to undergo 24 hours of rigorous private instruction, including high speed training on freeways, and everyone then had to pass a comprehensive written test before obtaining a license. We would also have to spend a lot more on gas taxes so we could afford to build our roads better, too. German highways are about 27 inches thick compared to 11 inches here. And we would have to maintain our roads better in the U.S.

      So while I’m not sure your higher speeds are safe/safer argument is a “truth” inconvenient or not, I have no beef with your philosophy as long as you are driving the speed limit or slower around vulnerable road users like people walking or biking. Thanks for the comment. This post has generated some interesting and quite civil discussion here. Maybe I should write a post that people who ride bicycles are nicer than people who don’t ;)

  7. I wonder if this impression among motorists regarding bicyclists is affected by the common experience where bicyclists are noticed by motorists but not “seen”. A friend of mine was commuting to work a few years back and he encountered a driver entering the roadway from the right from a driveway. He caught the eye of the driver and proceeded since he had the right of way. The driver then drove right into him. Motorists notice the bicyclists who run stop signs or red lights or take the full lane but don’t notice cyclists who are following the rules of the road because we blend in, we are just part of the passing scene. My approach to riding in city traffic (I have been a year round bike commuter in Milwaukee for the past 11 years) is to never put myself in a position where the motorist needs to do the right thing (see me, yield the right of way, not cut me off when turning right) for me to be safe. Obeying the rules of the road is just being a defensive cyclist. And sometimes that means I take the full lane. Motorists are not always aware of the cyclist’s legal right to take the full lane and it may be they are not aware of the situation (broken pavement, missing sewer grate, black ice) that forces me to take the lane. But I don’t take the full lane by pulling in front of overtaking traffic. I stop, look over my shoulder, and then take the lane only when traffic coming up has adequate time to react.

    • Sounds like you have a good system Steve. And I agree, it is funny that bicycles are not noticed until they do something illegal.

  8. I feel that I could write a book. Excellent article, Dave. Being a year-round commuter, I could see pretty much everyone’s point of view. It is just that people take everything to the extreme when they get the chance. I think people in cars complain about bikers because they are mostly sitting in a car, and bikers complain mostly about drivers because they are mostly on a saddle. It’s all about perception and rationalization. A lot of people do not care about the facts, they only care about what they “feel” is right. The most common comment I get when I do drive (maybe once a month or so) is: “At least bring it up to the speed limit”; which shows what people know about the word “limit”. The white-knuckled driver pounding on the steering wheel and screaming at me ahead of them would be funny if it would not be so dang dangerous. I agree-people in vehicles are way more out of touch with civility than people on bikes, and comments from readers tend to show that. I also think that removing the speed limit would be bad for the US, as people in the US do not like to follow the rules like the Germans.

    Just as an aside, I make my own biking clothes, but I almost never dress in spandex because then I look like a bratwurst.

    • Thanks for the perspective as a person who rides a bike and drives. John. I’d love to hear how you make your own bike clothes!But hey, I love bratwurst ;)

      • Green Pepper has patterns you can use as is or modify, and Quest Outfitters sells the fabrics. This should be a separate article, ya know.

  9. Dave,

    Does the WI Bike Fed. have a stance/opinion on the Idaho law, which effectively allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign? I’ve also heard versions of this law that also allow cyclists to treat a red stop light as a stop sign (though I don’t know if this is law anywhere). Do you see this type of legislation improving cyclist – car driver relations, or hurting them?

    Also, can you clarify the “stop” rule for a stop sign? Does a cyclist need to put a foot down on the pavement for a stop to be full and legal in WI?

    • Hey Ben,

      Easy question first, no, you do not need to put a foot down for it to be a stop. Just stop forward motion. Some drivers get confused by a track stand though and don’t know if you are waiting or going to go. If I am track standing and that happens, I usually give a little nod of my head in the direction the waiting car is headed to signal to the person driving I am yielding the right of way to them.

      The Bike Fed does not have an official position on the Idaho stop rule, but I have a personal opinion on it. I don’t like it for Wisconsin for a couple reasons. First, this is just a guess and a minor reason, but I think Wisconsin is more urbanized than Idaho, and it might cause more problems here than there. The primary reason I am not a big fan of it is that it misses the real problem, which is there are WAY too many unwarranted stop signs that have been installed in a well meaning, but misguided attempt to reduce speeding. I used to manage the neighborhood traffic program (traffic calming) for the City of Milwaukee and stop signs are the first thing people ask for when they have a speeding problem. Stop signs are only supposed to be used to control right of way. The federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Controls specifically says stop signs “shall not” be used for speed control. Unfortunately political pressure often means they go in, even over the objections of city traffic engineers. The result is people ignore them and roll through them and midblock speeds are higher after the sign is installed because people try to make up the time they lost stopping. Crashes can also go up. Speed humps, neighborhood traffic circles and enforcement are the answer to speeding problems.

      I would prefer we got rid of the unwarranted stop signs, replaced them with appropriate traffic calming devices, and everyone would benefit. Speeds would be lower, cars would not have to stop, bikes could move freely on more roads, but would know they really need to stop when they do see a stop sign. This would also reduce pollution in larger cities by reducing accelerations, which waste fuel. This is the concept behind bicycle boulevards.

      I can’t say if motorists would dislike it more if bicycles did not have to stop, but I doubt we could get such a law passed in our political climate.

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