by Albert McWilliams
If you keep driving like that, you’re going to kill a cyclist. When you do, it’s going to suck as much for you as it does for them. When you drive by my head at 50 mph I can’t have this conversation with you, so I’m going to do you a favor and talk you through all of your arguments as to why you’re driving wrong (you are) and then you won’t end up killing a human. So read on; you’re welcome.
It’s not if it’s when. You are going to kill or seriously injure someone. You are.Someone’s father, brother, mother, daughter – you are going to end their life, forever, like permanently dead. You’ll be a murderer.
You can save those lives. You need to do two things:
- Slow down.
- Move over.
A few facts you might not be aware of:
- When you pass a cyclist without crossing the yellow line you are breaking the law.
- When you pass a cyclist while oncoming traffic is present you are breaking the law.
- When you pass a cyclist in a no-passing zone you are breaking the law (this should be obvious yes? Because it’s called a “no passing zone.”)
This law wasn’t made up because the state hates you, or cars, or getting places quickly. This law was enacted because squeezing by a cyclist in the same lane is incredibly dangerous – to the cyclist. It’s not dangerous to you, unless you don’t like jail, or fines, or being a murderer.
NOW YOU MIGHT SAY:
“But, I have places to go and people to do! You’re in my way! Too slow!”
Okay, great, I appreciate your sacrifice. Let’s look at the math. This is math mind you and not subject to opinion. I’ll be generous and assume you’re on a 45mph speed limit road (most cycling takes place on much slower roads, but I’m in a giving mood, because I care about you). When I ride I’m traveling around 20mph. So you’re going 25mph faster than me, or about 55% faster. Again, being generous, you might be stuck behind a cyclist for 8 seconds. Usually much, much less. I know it seems like a long time, but it’s not. It’s 8 seconds. That’s with heavy oncoming traffic. However, you’re not stopped for that time, you’re traveling at 20mph. This means that slowing down, waiting for traffic to clear and passing the cyclist safely costs you about four seconds… max. Do you want to risk my life (permanently) and you being a murderer (forever) for four seconds? Really?
“But, you ride too far out in the lane, you’re supposed to ride single file, all the way to the right. You’re an asshole!”
Legally, you’re wrong (in Michigan at least). Let’s leave the law out of this though. Go ahead and see above and know that I’d rather you be annoyed than me be dead. You’d rather that too, because this way you don’t have to go home and tell your kids they can’t have a swimming pool because you paralyzed a cyclist from the waist down. Riding further out in the lane forces you to slow down and wait for traffic to clear to pass me. You’re less likely to hit me on purpose than because you drive like an inconsiderate bag of dicks.
“But, I pay taxes/registration fees/gas tax.”
This one is really dumb. See, you pay usage fees because your heavy-ass car destroys the road. Guess what, bikes don’t wear out roads like cars do. And guess what else (this is going to blow your mind) nearly everyone you’ve ever passed on a bike also has a car, and registration fees, and gas taxes (crazy huh!). However, I use my car less and cause less than my share of wear on said road than I pay for. You see where I’m going with this? You should take this argument and hope no one ever hears it because it works against you.
“But, Cyclists disobey laws all the time, they run red lights and stuff, so screw them!”
Yes, I do. I ride my bike safely. The rules say I’m supposed to pretend that I’m a car, but see, that’s dangerous if I’m the only one obeying that rule. I’m pretending I’m a car, and you think I’m a bike, and you run over me and kill me with your car. This is bad for both of us. So, the minute you treat me like a car, I’ll start acting like one. In the meantime the difference between when you break the law and when I do is that you’re endangering my life, and I’m endangering your … wiper blades? Maybe? Probably not even that.
“But, I live in Ann Arbor and Bike Lanes! Fix our roads first! Uppity Cyclists! I pay for this shit and I hate you! Bikes slow my commute! Get them off the road!”
(for reference, read the comments section here)
Here’s the thing. You’re being shortsighted. Imagine if all those people on bikes that you hate commuted downtown one-per-car. What would that do to your commute? What would that do to your parking availability downtown? What would those additional heavy cars do the pavement condition (remember that my bike doesn’t wear the road at all) ? I’ll give you a hint … you’re a lot better off with the cyclists. They’re doing you a favor. They’re saving you money. They’re paying the same as you for that road, but using it less. You should be thanking them. You should be handing me a cupcake through the window.
“But you’re wrong!”
Nope. I’m not. Who do you think knows more about cycling, the guy on the bike or the guy in the car?
So to wrap it up:
And for fuck’s sake stop texting.
This way, I won’t be dead, and you won’t be a murderer.