Massholes on Two Wheels

bikeBike photo via Shutterstock


It’s been a good week for two-wheeled transit. At its first birthday part, Hubway announced it’s getting bigger, heck even the Herald columnists are changing their thinking about bikes (if not riders — first rule of media: know your audience). And this Friday is the capper, an early morning bike party at City Hall. And to my fellow bike commuters and the bicycle curious, I’d like to make one request: Can we please start collectively following the goddamn rules of the road?

Let’s face it, commuting by bicycle is hard (this guide makes it a little easier). You’re out there mostly unprotected on oven-hot pavement riding a vehicle that weighs as much as a car’s tire, the roads are pocked like the surface of the moon, and all around you, drivers inch ever closer to full-blown traffic rage. If you can make it through a day without the adrenaline wheezing through your ears after a close call, that’s something to celebrate.

And yes, our numbers are better now with the Hubway proving so popular and it being summer and all, but in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a new phenomenon: Drivers inappropriately yielding right-of-way to bikers. This sounds like a good thing, but it’s not. Here’s why: Whenever a car stops to let you pass when it’s not your turn, it confuses the order of the road, which in turn leads to more driver rage, which in turn makes it harder ride among them. On the road, everyone has to more-or-less confidently make certain assumptions about the flow of traffic. This is what makes traveling by road, especially on bike, time-efficient: We are able to preserve our almighty momentum. The streets are unpredictable enough as it is without drivers going out of their way to be nice.

I promised myself I wasn’t going to get on a tall bike about this, and commuters for the most part are OK, but every time you see someone blow a red light, travel upstream against traffic, or force traffic to stop so as to keep from hitting the brakes, it pisses off between five and 10 car drivers who think the cyclist in question is an asshole. If we’re trying to get respect on the roads, this is no way to go about it.