Share the Road

share-the-road-signIt’s that time of year again. The cyclists are out. And, wow, were we out in force on Saturday. The Greenway headed west between Beltline and Blake (I think it’s still technically the Greenway at this point, anyway) was like 35W at 4:30 on a Tuesday. I’ve never said “on your left” more times in seven minutes in my life. But, yes, it’s that time of year again. Cyclists are all over the place breeding anger and frustration in motorists across the Metro. And let’s be honest, we cyclists have been known to lose our cool, shake our fists in rage and throw out of few gestures as well. But here’s the deal. We’ve got to share the road, friends. All of us. Cyclists and motorists alike.

To all you non-cycling motorists out there: You have to remember that we cyclists we have a right to be there. We just do. So quit yelling, honking, swerving, and (shout out to the lovely rednecks in the big pickup on Minnetonka Blvd near Plymouth Rd last summer) throwing plastic bottles at us. If you don’t like us there, go talk to your legislator. And good luck. The cycling lobby in this town has them so wrapped around their finger, your efforts to ban us from the roads will go nowhere. So we have a right to be there. And you know what? When the speed limit on the parkways is 25mph, and the path is posted at 10mph, and I average 18, but often cruise for a couple miles at a time in excess of 25mph (depending on wind), I’m going to ride on the road. At those speeds it is simply not safe to be on a path with casual riders, kids, dogs, and rollerbladers (roller-blading is still a thing?). So, yeah, I’m going to be on the road, and you need to share it. More often than not, waiting for a safe passage will slow you down from where you’re going by no more than a minute (and don’t throw the “same road, same rules” line at me- y’all roll through stop signs at higher speeds than we do, you shift lanes without looking or signaling, you speed, etc. so you’re not following the rules either). So, motorists, just relax, slow down, wait for safe passage, and give us three feet.

To all my fellow beloved cyclists: We’re not off the hook. Sharing the road goes both ways. It means sharing the road, not hijacking it. The reality is that though we have a right to be on the road, so do the cars. So when you’re on the road, do the right thing (see what I did there?). Slow down enough to get as far to the right as you can and do so in a way that you can hold a steady line and kindly wave the car passed you, letting them know that you know they’re there, and that you know they want to pass you. No, there isn’t anything in the law that says we have to do this, but it’s the respectable thing to do. It will kill your average that much and you don’t need the KOM that badly. And, besides, despite what certain organizations in this town seem to be intimating, cars- even the big honkin’ SUVs we environmentally friendly cyclists love to stand in righteous indignation towards- have a right to be there. So just relax, slow down, prepare for safe passage and, yes, share the road. We, too, have to share it. Let’s be reasonable. Also, cyclists: You know how we feel about cars when we’re on the road? That’s how pedestrians feel about us when we’re on the path, so be careful.

I say all this because as a cyclist and a motorist (and an occasional runner) I am fatigued of the fight. And furthermore (and here’s the real point) I’m fatigued of our culture’s inability to get along in anything. This motorist-cyclist battle is a mere manifestation of a greater issue of the increasingly anxious and angry world in which we live where instead of learning to get along, we create barriers to keep from killing each other. So we spend endless dollars building more and more bike paths and lanes in a city that already leads the nation in bike friendliness, and the reason we do is none other than we don’t know how to be adults and get along.  We do not a shortage of bike lanes in this town. We have a shortage of patience. All of us. We’re all in such a hurry, and we’re all so hyper-obsessed with “my rights” and with being “right”, that we’ve lost all sense of how to compromise and find ways to get along. So, everybody, beyond just the cycling-motorist war, let’s all just relax, slow down, share the road, and enjoy the ride.

2 comments

  1. Thanks Paul. Great start. I’m glad you left it “on your left” i really don’t want to get a bell. And I’ve had glass bottles thrown at me before, they missed…

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    1. I got hit in the helmet with a plastic water bottle. Didn’t do much other than startle me, but it sure got my blood boiling. I’ve had more problems on Minnetonka Blvd. between Williston and Hopkins Cross Road than anywhere else, and it’s not close. Some real cycle-haters in that neck of the woods from my experience.

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