Friday, September 16, 2011

An Open Letter to (Some) Cyclists

Have you seen this before? Do you know what this means?

Because sometimes I wonder. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you've only recently immigrated to the United States. You're from a small, undiscovered country somewhere on the southern border of Russia, you have no roads or signals and you don't speak a word of English. It's possible.

This sign says "STOP". It is, by no coincidence, a stop sign. When you see one, the sign means "STOP". And yes, that means you. All of you. Every cyclist who rides on the roads and wants to claim the same status as a vehicle must obey the same laws as a vehicle. Including this one.

Cyclists who blow through stop signs make us all look bad. We all look like a death-defying, disrespectful lot. Cyclists who blow through stop signs make it hard for the rest of us to hold our heads high and proudly say we follow the law. Cyclists who blow through stop signs make it possible, when a fellow cyclists is struck by a car, for the rest of the population to shrug and say "Well, he really had it coming. Those cyclists run stop signs all the time."

When you blow through a stop sign, you completely disrupt the flow of traffic. Cars slam, screeching, on their brakes to keep from hitting you when you co-opt the right of way—and those same cars come to view every cyclists as a potential stop-sign runner and that throws everything out of whack. Because the next time they approach a stop sign and see someone pedaling the other way, they don't know how to react. That cyclist could be someone like the rest of us, who stops where they're meant to for traffic to proceed. Instead, you've made a nation of jumpy, angry drivers so ... Congrats. Go play on the highway.

And it is just not fucking smart. Stop signs are meant to protect everybody. They keep us all from slamming into each other, and in this rat race cyclists have the most to lose. Unlike motorists, we don't have a two-ton steel cage to protect us and we need those stop signs to keep the cars in check. But when you stop respecting them, they stop respecting you. So please. Follow the law. Be smart. Ride tomorrow too.

Same goes for these.

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