Dear Bicycle Riders:
My name is Nick Scholz, and I’m going to kill you.
Now, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you guys. Heaven knows there are few groups more organized or zealous than outdoor bicyclists. Believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish to kill you. I’m not going to narrow my eyes and rev my engine menacingly at you. I don’t count the cyclists I crash into with notches on a special stencil on the side of my car.
Rest assured: if I kill you, it will be by accident.
To the casual observer, it would appear that most of you are positively suicidal. It looks like you have chosen my car to be the Chariot of Fire that whisks you away to the Hereafter. Sadly, that moniker will probably become truer than you could know as your carbon-fiber bicycle gets stuck in my engine chassis at 50 miles per hour.
But, even sadder is the fact that this is not a suicide. Nor a murder. This is merely a tragedy that can be avoided if only the cyclists will decide whether they are pedestrians or riding a vehicle.
I like you, cyclists. You’re hip, you’re fit, you’re good for the Earth, and your only contribution to global warming are the hot gasps of horror emitted as you ride past in those skintight body suits. I’m assuming that your community isn’t trying to discourage the use of motor vehicles by forcing drivers to feel the crushing guilt that comes with taking a human life, one accident at a time. So, acting on that assumption, the motorists of the world would like to know how to behave around you.
The way I see it, we have two options, both of them equally sane.
1. We can treat you like we would treat any other vehicle on the road. We would hold you to the same laws and rules that cars follow. That means you have to stop at stoplights and stop signs. You have to signal when you change lanes. You have to ride with the flow of traffic.
2. We treat you like pedestrians. You’d have to use crosswalks. You wouldn’t be able to simply ride against the light all willy-nilly.
I have no problem treating you as I would any other vehicle on the road, and giving you the respect you deserve as a human being. I also have no problem treating you like a pedestrian, coddling you and knowing that you may cross a road or dart through an intersection with no warning.
My problem is with the your unspoken insistence that you have it both ways. It makes you Impossible to predict when you take up an entire car lane with your bicycle, slow at yellow lights, then ride through the intersection whenever you see a gap, as if the traffic lights don’t exist. Drivers are turning, heads rotated away from you because they believe you will act like a car and do things that we lesser mortals are forced to do, like stop at stoplights or not cross five lanes of traffic while drinking water from a bottle that came from between your legs, all while you look for some righteous tunes on your iPod.
This isn’t a declaration of war. It is a petition for a peaceful world. A world where you would ride your bicycle free from the worry that some idiot will careen into your body with his Earth-destroying four-wheeled death dealer. A world where I can get from one place to another without fear of having to pry someone’s bike helmet from the grill of my car when I reach my destination.
Can we all just agree, right here and now, that you will all start acting like either vehicles or pedestrians? Pick one and we will start treating you accordingly.
Sincerely, Nick Scholz