Cycling to work – why people hate cyclists, part 1

Today: why do people hate cyclists, part 1? This post is dedicated to Malcolm, who told me the other day that he hated cyclists.

The Evening Standard, the Daily Mail,  Jeremy Clarkson and Malcolm all hate cyclists. Their complaints are identical – cyclists are generally accused of

  1. Ignoring red lights
  2. Riding on pavements
  3. Assaulting innocent pedestrians
  4. Wearing lycra

Lets look at these charges one by one over the next few days.

Ignoring red lights
Guilty, although I don’t do this myself these days. If you want to understand why cyclists do this, get a bike yourself; it will become obvious quite quickly. Here are the reasons why some cyclists do this:

  1. It’s really annoying having to brake. You lose all your momentum and you have to push off from a standing start, which is where most of the effort in cycling goes. This comes under the heading of a Really Bad Reason to go through red lights, but it is the real reason why many cyclists do it.
  2. It’s actually dangerous to be part of a cavalry charge of vehicles when the lights go green. Your first few yards as you push off can be quite wobbly and most drivers won’t give you an inch. This is the reason why ASLs are painted on the road at traffic lights. I recommend cycling in the safest way possible, and therefore if it’s safer on a particular occasion to ignore the red light then I would do so.

Cars, vans, motorbikes and scooters often stop in the ASLs although it is a Fixed Penalty offence. I don’t know of any driver who has ever been given a ticket for this offence. Most motorbike and scooter riders actually think they are entitled to use the ASL legally. They are not.

It was when I realised that I was using all sorts of rationalisation to justify going through red lights, but the real reason was Reason 1 above, that I stopped doing it.

Tomorrow – riding on pavements.


28 Responses to “Cycling to work – why people hate cyclists, part 1”

  1. 1 progressionfitness October 23, 2010 at 08:30

    I could guarantee that everytime i drive, i see a cyclist break the law in some way!!
    I dont like them, however infrastructure for cyclists is not good enough

  2. 2 rotch December 9, 2009 at 15:59

    the best thing to do is make all london drivers do a re-test, thus getting rid of the idiots and alot of congestion making things safer for everyone.and make cyclists register and do a test and get insurance.

  3. 3 Stuart Cross November 24, 2009 at 00:23

    I find it impossible to hate anyone. Motorists do not like other road users and if they are honest hate anyone who gets the better of them at traffic lights.

  4. 4 Fixup March 22, 2009 at 12:09

    You and other motorists should be taken off the road so that us cyclists and pedestrians can move without risk of getting killed and breathe without getting lung and heart disease

  5. 5 wwwww March 14, 2009 at 12:49

    dammit cyclists are scum they should be taken off the road along with the old farts who can no longer see!

  6. 7 Andi July 8, 2008 at 20:41

    Your completely right about this – the thing is cyclists hate pedestrians because they always cross when its a green light for you and therefore you have to stop and wait for them. All in all everyone would get along better if they were a bit more considerate and actually looked out for each other. I for one always stop at pedestrian crossings and I try not to cycle irrationally thus preventing some heart attacks for drivers!

    • 8 Kevin September 9, 2009 at 14:01

      Good man, me too.

      I am a cylist (non-lycra) and a car driver.

      I get really naffed off when other cylists go whizzing past me when I stop at red lights.

      Andi, you have got it in one. It simply is all about attitude. We live in a culture which promotes ‘self’. If everyone, cyclists, car drivers (and pedestrians) treated each other the way they themselves would like to be treated… …erm, well we would’nt need websites like this.

      PS: Sorry if Andi is female by the way

  7. 9 dvicci April 9, 2008 at 17:55

    Going through Red. Road Bully or Road User? Expecting everyone to get out of their way. Going the wrong way up one way streets. Ooh I’ve been in an accident, can’t be my fault even though I committed one or more of the above. 1 meter from the bumper in front of me at 120km/h. Oh look at me aren’t I being polite? Driving off the center of the lane to squeeze out the cyclists and maybe cause injury or death. They deserve it. Silly costume. Not using signals. Laying on the horn to startle and scare. Breaking the law. Expecting everyone aged 1 to 101 to get out of the way, regardless of their transport (or no transport).

    I don’t hate them. I look out for them, no matter what my current vehicle.

  8. 10 Dominic Sayers April 8, 2008 at 13:23

    Hello man and welcome to the conversation. I would say two things in favour of Mark’s comment: firstly he has at least thought about his invective even if his points are not entirely cogent, and secondly his pseudonym is a bit more convincing than yours.

  9. 11 man April 8, 2008 at 11:05

    Mark, there’s no other way to describe you than as a prick. There’s no point trying to debate with you, because you obviously just came here to try and insult all cyclists.

  10. 12 Mark April 1, 2008 at 17:21

    Ha ha! OK, so my seplling leaves a bit to be desired! But I find its best not to stop a many during his rant!
    I guess that one of the more minor offences in my first list was “not having a bell”. Well – I can understand why you think it’s a more minor offence – and to be fair I was just searching for more reasons why they are so distasteful – but to be fair, the law is on my side on this one.
    Four wheels good, two wheels bad.
    (Actually I dont really mean that, but if it upsets the cyclists then why not)

  11. 13 Dominic Sayers March 25, 2008 at 09:48

    Hello Mark and welcome to the conversation. I’m not sure whether your contumely is directed at particular behaviour by some cyclists, or cyclists in general.

    If you are characterising all cyclists as contemptable [sic] scum then I can’t agree with you. Many cyclists are models of exemplary behaviour (myself included of course :-)). If you are simply complaining about specific behaviours then I agree with most of your list but I think hate is too big a word for some of the offences you list.

  12. 14 Mark Buckmaster March 20, 2008 at 23:33

    Going through Red. Pedestrians or Road Users? Expecting everyone to get out their way. Going the wrong way up one way streets. Ooh I’ve been in an accident, can’t be my fault even though I committed one or more of the above. Slowing down traffic. Oh look at me aren’t I being greeen. Cycling in the middle of the road. Not using lights. Not having a bell. Breaking the law. Expecting everyone aged 1 to 101 to get out the way, regardless of their transport (or no transport).

    Hate them? No hate is not a big enough word for this contemptable scum.

  13. 15 dvicci February 5, 2008 at 19:48

    I agree. Running reds is a slippery slope. Run one once, and then gate is open to run them willy nilly whenever the whim strikes. At least, that is, at least, the conventional wisdom.

    In my defense, it’s not something I ever take lightly, nor will I ever take it lightly, That’s simply not how I operate while I ride. I ride safely, with attention paid to everything I can around me. The fact that I’ve had one collision in 30 years of cycling on the road speaks to that. Certainly some luck plays into that, but I’ve avoided many situations that could have otherwise turned ugly had I not been riding it safe.

    As to cars following the same policy, I’ve intentionally run reds while driving as well. When the lights malfunction and skips me through several cycles, I’m not going to wait for the crew to come by with a fix. Nor am I going to wait for the line behind me to back up, one by one until I can back up to find another route. That would be ridiculous. When it becomes clear that the light will not change, I will find a safe moment and move on.

    The fact is, most lights are calibrated for much larger vehicles, and me on my bike will never trigger it. The will never change. Granted, I could move the bike to the crosswalk, hit the pedestrian signal, move back out and wait. At which point I really am “no different than a pedestrian” by no choice of my own. In fact, I do that at any intersection where I am not 100% certain of no oncoming traffic. Another choice, one which I take often, is to simply wait for a car to come up behind me that is weighted to trigger the light. The car arrives, the light is triggered, and we all move on. But with no cars in any direction, in the dead of night, and no chance that the light will ever trigger, I fail to see how 1. moving on through breaks the spirit of the law or regulation, or 2. ruining life for those that choose to sit and wait indefinitely. By virtue of the situation, there are no witnesses (barring video surveillance – which doesn’t exist on any of my routes), so there is no one to carry out the ruination.

    My apologies, but the wankers are those who make no room for the grey areas between the black (do it all the time!) and the white (don’t do it!).

  14. 16 malcolm February 1, 2008 at 13:22

    Yes. It’s probably worth a study or two to find out why many people return to childhood when they drive a car, ride a bike or use the road :)

  15. 17 Dominic Sayers January 31, 2008 at 21:18

    Well I agree with most of these comments, and as I’ve said I don’t myself run any red lights these days, though I reserve the moral right to do so if I believe that stopping would endanger me.

    There’s three things I’d like to say with respect to Malcolm’s last comment:

    1. Cars are not bicycles. It is difficult to imagine circumstances where a driver would be endangered by stopping at a red light. On the other hand, practically anything is a potential threat to a cyclist’s health & safety.

    2. Many states in the USA allow right turns on red. Hence it is possible to have a red light policy more sophisticated than just “STOP. ALWAYS STOP.”

    3. Malcolm, I know you believe in treating people like adults. Do you make an exception for road users?

  16. 18 malcolm January 31, 2008 at 13:22

    Red light means stop. Not proceed with caution if there is no traffic.

    What if cars followed the same policy? What if they went very, very slowly through a red light so as not to endanger anyone?

    The problem is not jumping the red light per se but the creeping attitude that red lights can be jumped. Once you jump one you jump two. Once you think you are safe jumping a red light because there is no visible traffic that hurdle is out of the way and banked and we are onto the next risk situation which is now “less risky” – or perceived as such.

  17. 19 je January 30, 2008 at 18:20

    Well, I hate (not really, but that’s the word being used for this discussion) cyclists who run red lights. You wankers who do it are ruining life for those of us who don’t run red lights.

    Usually, I think the red light runners aren’t really ‘cyclists’ per se, but just a person on a bike who thinks he or she is no different than a pedestrian. Wankers.

  18. 20 dvicci January 30, 2008 at 17:30

    I will stop at red lights. If there is no visible traffic in any direction, the light won’t trigger in my favor. I’ll proceed directly through rather than walk the bike to the pedestrian crossing button. If there is traffic, I will wait until they trigger the light.

    In order to answer the safety issue of starting off among the calvary charge, I’ve made it a habit of taking the lane if I’m one of the first few in line. I won’t move over until I’m through the intersection. If I’m further back in line, I’ll move over prior to the intersection and maintain the standard watch for right-hooks.

  19. 21 mushyp January 29, 2008 at 22:25

    Now, I don’t hate cyclists, thus I firmly believe that any opprobrium should be aimed not at cyclists per se, rather just any group in which the wearing of lycra is not only not disparaged, but actively encouraged.

  20. 22 Messenger of Doom January 29, 2008 at 21:36

    There is no valid reason to hate cyclists.

    There might be a valid reason to hate an individual cyclist, but don’t hate the rest of us just because we use the same method of transport.

    Anyway, I think you should reserve your feelings of hatred for people who deserve it more. Drunk drivers for a start.

  21. 23 malcolm January 29, 2008 at 16:44

    I find it only annoying when cyclists jump a red light at a main junction. I feel it is a valid reason to hate cyclists who jump lights on a pedestrian crossing which I have seen happen numerous times with pedestrians having to jump out of the way or wait in the middle of the road for the mostly oblivious cyclist to complete their passage.

    Am eagerly awaiting your attempt to … errr .. wriggle out of the lycra.

  22. 24 Messenger of Doom January 28, 2008 at 14:25

    Anyone who hates cyclists is a wanker in my humble opinion. Just like anyone who hates any other ‘type’ of people; blacks, jews, gays, french, whatever. It’s all ignorant and prejudiced discrimination.

  1. 1 Flipo-taku » Blog Archive » As a biker, Why I hate pedestrians Trackback on January 9, 2009 at 09:43
  2. 2 Cycling to work - why people hate cyclists, part 4 « Dominic Sayers Trackback on February 1, 2008 at 10:51
  3. 3 Cycling to work - why people hate cyclists, part 3 « Dominic Sayers Trackback on January 30, 2008 at 13:51
  4. 4 Cycling to work - why people hate cyclists, part 2 « Dominic Sayers Trackback on January 29, 2008 at 09:50

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