Life in the Bike Lane column

Find a better road, please

By: Tom Frady
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I’ve written about this before and my riding buddies talk about it often. 

Eight or nine of us were heading east on Horseshoe Bar Road a couple of Fridays ago. The road is mostly well-paved but the shoulder can vary from several feet wide to non-existent. We’re good about riding as far to the right as is safe.

“Find a better road, please” yelled a young lady, hanging out the back seat window of a nondescript sedan. She repeated it several times. I couldn’t tell by the tone of her voice and expression on her face if she was angry or concerned for our safety. 

Optimist that I am, I choose to believe the latter. 

But I would like to see that concern manifest itself in careful driving when cyclists are present. Sharing the road means we are all responsible for public safety for everyone. 

Sure, I have seen cyclists disobey traffic laws and ride in an unsafe manner.  I watched a rider run four consecutive red lights between Stanford Ranch and Twelve Bridges last week.  That behavior makes the responsible rider mad, too, because we all get painted with the “arrogant” brush.

In an ideal cycling world, all roads would have a wide, clean shoulder on which to ride (even though cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder). But that’s not the way it is. Since cars and bikes have equal right to the roads, the answer is not to tell the bikes to get off the road but to remind drivers to be careful around them. 

I have often wondered if the driver angry at a group of cyclists who are doing no more than slowing him down for a few seconds is that angry in the rest of his life, too. Just today, a group of my friends was given the finger by a young man who was traveling the other direction and another driver laid on his horn as he passed them on a hill.  Also today, we were on Ophir Road and were yelled at by a passenger in a car heading the opposite direction on Highway 80! Where does this feeling of hostility for bike riders come from? Do these people yell at random drivers as well? I think not.

It is easy to see bike riders, especially those of us in Lycra shorts, as a subset of humans that annoys and angers “everybody else” (read: drivers).  But not only are 99 percent of cyclists also drivers but they all are mothers/fathers, grandfathers/mothers, children, friends, etc., too.  You know, people. People like you and me.

Dehumanizing bike riders makes it easier to honk and curse at them, make one’s diesel pickup spew exhaust on them or even buzz them and force them off the road. This type of anger says more about the driver than the rider. 

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.