I’m a cyclist which means I get yelled at…A LOT. Like multiple times a day. I guess it just comes with the territory–I am on my 30 lb bike and you are safely riding in a 6000 lb vehicle and taking up all the room on the road –makes sense that YOU are yelling at ME.
I never yell anything back. Despite the photo at the top, I’ve never once flipped the bird. You know what actually happens after you yell at me? Okay, I’m gonna be honest here and not pretend I’m a super badass bike chick…after I get yelled at on my bike, I start crying. Like every single time. And then I’m weeping the whole rest of my ride. Because it sucks! It feels so unfair! I’m alone, dodging the elements, the obstructions. I had a long day and I’m cranking up this hill and my legs are burning and it’s dark and I’m a young woman and YOU JUST YELLED AT ME and then drove away!
If you are a driver, oh my goodness, please don’t yell at a cyclist! Take a sec to think about why they might have made the choice they did that is pissing you off so badly. There’s likely a good reason, and it’s probably all about safety.
Here’s some of the common things people yell at me while I’m riding.
- “Get off the road!” – Ahhh, so original! Thank you for sharing! I’m lucky enough to live in LA where there is actually a fair amount of education, mostly on the backs of the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, which teaches drivers to share! Not as lucky if I’m riding in my hOmaha. Whether or not it is specifically illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in your state, it is less safe. A street has traffic laws that are mostly followed, a sidewalk does not. But the sidewalk is not just a sidewalk, it is often a path between the road and more road for a car (driveways, alleys). Cars aren’t going to stop at the start of every sidewalk. In the end, it’s usually less safe for a bike to be on the sidewalk–for the cyclist, and for the pedestrians.
- “There’s a lane for you!” -Thank you for graciously reminding me, and did you notice all the garbage bins in my lane and the giant garbage truck ten feet ahead making frequent stops? Or the huge pile of broken glass? Or the delivery trucks using my lane as a loading zone? Sometimes I have to scoot out of a bike lane, even when it’s there, but trust me, I hate leaving the comfort of my lane as much as you hate sharing yours. But if you are going to yell at me about it, look up ahead, there’s probably some reason I dipped out for a bit. Most decisions I make that piss you off just slightly inconvenience you, whereas they are literally life and death for me.
- **Kissy noise**- Oh wow, thank you for making that smooching noise at me! Would you like to get married now?
- “You’re supposed to be on the right!” – Cool, I’ll just make sure to map my route so I never have to take a left!…doooooooood, I am using my vehicle to get places, just like you! So, yes, while I try to stay to the right as much as possible, sometimes I have to merge into the left lanes to prepare for a left turn. I always do this well in advance, after the traffic flow has passed me, when there is no risk of cutting anyone off.
- “STOP SIGN!“- This one I can’t be self-righteous about, it’s illegal to not come to a full stop at a stop sign in California (no Idaho stops for us.) I typically try to go through residential areas to avoid busy streets that don’t have bike lanes. This means tons of stop signs. On my usual commute, I go through multiple 4-way stops where two sides are actual dead ends. So yeah, if there are no cars in sight or if I see that the car across from me is also going straight, I will slow down (I always brake at a stop sign), look in all directions, but I may NOT put my foot down. So sure, yell at me, but how come I see 90% of cars at those same intersections roll through the stop sign and no one yells at them? What’s your excuse? Part of the reason I don’t fully stop at stop signs is just ease of transport, having to stop every 30 feet down a heavily-signed residential road is tiring for my poor, hardworking quads. Also, it’s HARD to start back up after I come to a complete stop with my foot on the pavement. If a car is waiting for me to go after a full stop, I mean, get a podcast ready, it’ll be awhile (which means frustrated cars and more YELLING!) And I also don’t like being a sitting duck, especially at night. As a female cyclist who commutes alone, I feel a lot more fear of pedestrians harassing me at night than I do of other cars. So I (safely) try to just keep zooming along. I never roll through a stop light
- “Daaaaayum, are you the white Kim Kardashian?” – I am no longer being facetious…thank you! That was the best compliment I’ve ever received. And yes, I’m trying to get #bigbootybikegirls trending!