Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reaching Out to Motorists

ATTENTION PARENTS: The comments on this post contain colourful language that you may not want children to read.

One of the things I find frustrating about cycling stuff online, especially the "educate cyclists and/or motorists" stuff, is that we Internet cyclist types, in the main, debate amongst ourselves on the finer points and rarely seem to reach the people who hate us most, the angry/misinformed motorist.

When people do comment on mainstream newspaper articles and such, the tired old arguments begin anew, with the way over the top, rude and stupid proponents of cycling or motoring turning what could be a good discussion into a big stupid mess.

I'm going to try something. It may not work at all, but if it does, I think it could be kind of cool. I am going to stick this sign on the back of my bike:

I hope some of the motorists who see me will show up here and comment. If they do, it won't be about "those cyclists", it will be about this cyclist and possibly the specifics of how I behave on the road. Now here is the important part, and the reason for this post: If you can't comment on what these people have to say without being COMPLETELY polite and diplomatic, please don't. I have been praised in the past for my diplomacy in responding to comments from people who really disagree with me, and I want to try and get real discussions going, not rude and thoughtless shouting matches.

If someone is being mean or derisive or crude, please don't try to defend me... I will kill them with kindness and can take care of myself if that doesn't work.

Of course, there is an excellent chance that nobody will ever comment on my stupid little sign, in which case I am sorry for having wasted your time and mine yet again.

Wish Me Luck,



Ham said...

But how load will you complain when they are so busy writing down the URL they run into your back wheel.

Great idea, though.

Mighk said...

Great idea, Rantwick. Maybe we should try that here in Orlando, too.

Keri said...

I love this idea!

I've had several non-cyclists tell me that they've seen a cyclist controlling the lane and it made sense to them. They knew exactly what to do so it seemed safer. Very different from the stuff people say in the newspaper comments, but more representative of the behavior of 99% of the motorists who encounter me.

It will be interesting to see if anyone stops by.

Kokorozashi said...

Wow, this is a great idea! Mighk's comment makes me think maybe we (as in, bike blog people who commute by bike or at least ride in traffic sometimes) should all give this a shot. It would make for an interesting experiment!

Though I guess I might need a shorter blog title, to avoid causing accidents.

Alexwarrior said...

I was going to get a sign that said "How's my riding? Phone 1-800-GET-BENT" but I like your sign much better!

Anonymous said...

I would think that just wearing that sign sends a message of it's own. The message that you care. Good luck, just laminate it to protect it from skunk stripe, I hope to see some feedback from it.

RANTWICK said...

Hey, thanks all who commented. I felt like a goof at first, but your supportive comments are helpful.

LizzyLou, you are dead right, I think. I'll be posting a little on that tomorrow maybe. No worries, it is laminated and attaches with velcro so I don't have to feel like a nerd full time.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I like it too, because the sign says "driving", not "cycling" or something else, while it appropriates a message most often seen on large trucks. Let's see who responds!

RANTWICK said...

JRA - Yeah, I thought that phrase would feel more familiar and pssibly generate more responses... we shall see.

Unknown said...

You're an idiot...plain and simple. Any moron that cycles in the middle of a lane on a busy road slowing rush hour traffic down to a crawl must have brain damage. It's morons like you that lead to motorists despising cyclists. Get your head out of your ass. Bike on the right side of the lane where traffic can safely pass. Taking the entire lane and peddling along at 25 kph is ignorance.

Screw you.


RANTWICK said...


Thanks for answering to my sign, despite your pretty angry approach. I have two main points I want to make in repsonse.

1 - I am simply a slower vehicle that doesn't want to get hit or squeezed into the gutter. There are lots of things that slow cars down, including other cars, heavy equipment, buses, etc. Why do I get the special angry treatment?

2 - I only take the whole lane when there isn't room for cars to pass me safely, and get out of the way to the right when I can. Remember that even though your car may fit OK at that moment, I have to also think of the moron in a cube van who figures they can squeeze by. Since I'm the one who would pay the price for their bad decision, I have to take away their opportunity to make it in the first place. As much as I would like to, I can't risk my own safety for your convenience. I have kids and stuff who would miss me.

Last thing: I drive a car almost every day too.

Unknown said...

Dear Moron,

Thanks for the garbage response. Addressing my rant as "petty" only tells me the kind of guy you are. You're asking for feedback and I gave you exactly the feedback every single person you slowed down was thinking..."Screw You".

With respect to your points I call BS.

1) You are slow despite your best efforts to squeeze your plump body into spandex. This is something no one of your build or stature should ever try to do. The tight clothes aren't going to reduce drag...they're only displaying things to the world that no man, or woman should ever display. There are slow cars, trucks, vans, ice cream trucks out there...but they avoid downtown during rush hour - as should you.

2) You are a liar. You were happily annoying traffic despite the fact there was a right line next to you that was "under construction". There was a good 2-3 feet of lane you still could of used but instead you chose to ride in the middle of the left lane. I get it - you don't want to get hit. If you can't occupy 3 feet of open lane and avoid getting hit - you shouldn't be riding a bike.

So...I suggest you do one of two things. Either stick to your car, or be considerate of the people you share the road with. That means letting faster traffic pass, and not wearing an outfit that puts your grapes on display for the world.


RANTWICK said...


I have posted my response on my new "How's My Driving" page. You can continue to comment here or switch to email, whichever you prefer.

Unknown said...

To anyone reading this (and i doubt anyone is), let me conclude with this.

I'm all for cyclists. Go ahead and peddle to your hearts content. If you're going to jump on a bike, consider the following:

1) You can't take the middle of a lane unless there is another lane available for cars to pass. It's ludicrous to think you can/should hold up other commuters. Safety is paramount for you guys...In my car I’m bigger, heavier and can do a lot of damage to you - so think!!! Take appropriate routes. Where there isn't a cycle lane, stick to the side and let cars by you safely. DON'T make cars pass you, and then pull to the front of the line at a light - you're only making us all pass you again. This is the single biggest pet peeve of all motorists when it comes to you and your bikes.

2) Clothing is comfortable but don't go out looking like Lance Armstrong unless you can pull it off. Wear quick-dry tops if you need to but don't wrap yourself up like Liza Minnelli attending a hot yoga class.

Thanks for the forum to vent...this has a lot to do with terrible eco-cyclists who have no clue how to ride a bike safely and alot less to to with RANTWICK (aka Moron) himself. His selfish cycling with a sign attached to his back simply let me type this somewhere.

I bid you all adieu.

D (AKA Pretty Angry)

RANTWICK said...

I've posted your comments and my replies on that other page again. Adieu, Pretty Angry, and thanks for responding.

Mighk said...

Dave had no interest in learning anything because he already knows it all. There was not one question in all of that. Don't feel discouraged; there are people who use such tactics in every topic.

RANTWICK said...

Mighk - I don't feel discouraged at all. Dave singlehandedly made most of the arguments you read in the comments of newspaper articles and provided an opportunity for me to answer. I asked for it, and I got it, and this will be perhaps the only place on the internet where it didn't just dissolve into name-calling and pure malice.

Unknown said...


Do teach. I'm not sure why I had to ask questions when I admitted I was venting. What was i supposed to learn? That there's 2 sides to a story?

What did I miss here?

I agree with Rantwick's assessment of this thread - it could have degraded into malicious name calling and it didn't. If you read my comments without a smile on your face then something is wrong with you, and my attempts to merge a point with good fun.

I've enjoyed this discussion - my stance on cyclists stays the same so should be safe and that means acknowledging you need to be courteous to motorists. London is a great city to cycle in - so use some sideroads and enjoy the room you get instead of the fumes of my car.

Steve said...

"You can't take the middle of a lane unless there is another lane available for cars to pass"

This goes against logic, and against Canadian law. Cyclists have a right to the road, and should only ride as far right as they feel safe. Sometimes that means taking the lane - especially if traffic is attempting to squeeze by you really closely.

The Ontario Driver's Handbook says that a driver should give a cyclist 3 feet of room when passing. Think about how that would work in a narrow lane.

Saskboy said...

I have to commend Dave for being able to ride a bike with handlebars that are 3 feet wide, on a lane that is only 2-3 feet wide. His super-human cycling skills should exist in all of us so we might better stay in dangerous non-lanes so real vehicles can breeze by us more easily on their way to gas stations.

Steve Wilson said...

That would make a great jersey vs sign.

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