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Why motorists get so angry at cyclists — a psychologist’s theory

CC/Flickr/Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
Motorists get angry when they think cyclists are getting away with something by breaking society’s agreed-upon rules.

A study issued earlier this year found that motor vehicle drivers and cyclists are equally responsible for car-bike collisions in Minneapolis. But, as comments to media reports of that study demonstrate, the finger pointing continues, with bicyclists blaming aggressive drivers for most collisions and drivers blaming “inconsiderate and stupid” cyclists.

The anger from motorists toward cyclists seems especially raw. So I read with interest British psychologist Tom Stafford’s latest Neurohacks column for BBC Future in which he offers his theory for “why cyclists enrage car drivers.”

“It’s not because cyclists are annoying,” he writes. “It isn’t even because we have a selective memory for that one stand-out annoying cyclist over the hundreds of boring, non-annoying ones (although that probably is a factor). No, my theory is that motorists hate cyclists because they think they offend the moral order.”

An evolutionary response

And how, exactly, do cyclists offend that moral order? It has to do, Stafford explains, with two cornerstones of cooperation theory: the “free rider problem” and “altruistic punishment.”

The free rider problem is the resentment that occurs when we believe some people are “cheating” at what Stafford calls the “game of coordination where we have to rely on each other to do the right thing.”

In other words, we get angry when we think someone else is getting away with something by breaking society’s agreed-upon rules.

And one way humans have evolved to deal with that problem is altruistic punishment.

“Altruistic punishment is a punishment that costs you as an individual, but doesn’t bring any direct benefit,” explains Stafford. “As an example, imagine I’m at a football match and I see someone climb in without buying a ticket. I could sit and enjoy the game (at no cost to myself), or I could try to find security to have the guy thrown out (at the cost of missing some of the game). That would be altruistic punishment.”

Blame evolution

Which brings us back to drivers’ rage at cyclists. Writes Stafford:

[E]volution has built into the human mind a hatred of free-riders and cheaters, which activates anger when we confront people acting like this — and it is this anger which prompts altruistic punishment. In this way, the emotion is evolution’s way of getting us to overcome our short-term self-interest and encourage collective social life.

So now we can see why there is an evolutionary pressure pushing motorists towards hatred of cyclists. Deep within the human psyche, fostered there because it helps us co-ordinate with strangers and so build the global society that is a hallmark of our species, is an anger at people who break the rules, who take the benefits without contributing to the cost. And cyclists trigger this anger when they use the roads but don’t follow the same rules as cars.

Now, cyclists reading this might think “but the rules aren’t made for us — we’re more vulnerable, discriminated against, we shouldn’t have to follow the rules.” Perhaps true, but irrelevant when other road-users perceive you as breaking rules they have to keep. Maybe the solution is to educate drivers that cyclists are playing an important role in a wider game of reducing traffic and pollution. Or maybe we should just all take it out on a more important class of free-riders, the tax-dodgers.

You can read Stafford’s column, which includes details about recent research on this topic, at the BBC Future website.

Comments (70)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/20/2013 - 09:49 am.

    He makes a good point

    While I’ve never had the urge to run a cyclist off the road or otherwise do bodily harm to someone riding a bicycle, at least while I’m behind the wheel of my own vehicle, I’ve certainly been annoyed by the routine flouting of those “agreed-upon rules” by Twin Cities cyclists. I’ve yet to see a cyclist issued a ticket for ignoring a stop sign or red light, while the rest of us are sitting there, waiting for the signal to change, or for the old guy in the ’83 Buick to figure out that it’s his turn to go at the 4-way stop sign…

    Cyclists ARE more vulnerable, which makes the argument that “…we shouldn’t have to follow the rules…” stupid enough that it’s the basis for some self-inflicted injury. I’d agree that there are too many drivers who slip into “oblivious” mode when behind the wheel. They ought to be paying more attention to who and what is around them instead of texting or making yet another unnecessary cell phone call. None of that, however, sanctions the kind of vehicular self-righteousness that infects too many cyclists.

    Personally, I’m more annoyed as a pedestrian than as a driver. I neither make cell phone calls nor text when driving, and I’m surrounded by a ton or more of sheet metal. In any serious collision of bicycle and automobile, it’s pretty likely the physical damage to the cyclist will dwarf the physical damage to the automobile driver. That situation is largely reversed when I’m a pedestrian, and frankly, in that pedestrian context, I’ve found Twin Cities cyclists to be at least as rude and inconsiderate to pedestrians as some drivers apparently are to cyclists. The fatality rate may be lower when cyclist and pedestrian collide, but lesser injuries are no less painful because they’ve been inflicted by bicycle instead of automobile.

    • Submitted by Monica Millsap on 02/21/2013 - 09:51 am.

      I agree that I’m more enraged as a pedestrian. I’ve encountered several bicyclists who will head straight for me as they enter sidewalks. I don’t blame them for wanting to get out of traffic, but at least respect the pedestrians who are traveling at a much slower pace.

      And while pedestrians usually face serious injuries from this type of collision, a quick web search indicates some do die.

    • Submitted by miki polumbaum on 03/22/2016 - 05:15 am.

      The problem is everywhere, including the Bay State:

      An awful lot of cyclists think that they can violate the traffic rules with impunity, which they do, refusing to realize that a bicycle is also a vehicle, and cyclists are subject to the rules of the road, also. Studies have born out the fact, too, that in the event of auto/cyclist fatalities, the cyclist, too, has often been at fault.

      Bike lanes are a good start, but cyclists must also be educated about making themselves more visible if and when they ride at night, to obey STOP signs and traffic signals, and about the importance of not going the wrong way down one-way streets, or on the wrong side of the roads.

  2. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 02/20/2013 - 10:17 am.

    I obey the rules when I ride, and go out of my way to avoid inconveniencing anyone. And yet still, once in a while, someone tries to kill me with their car. I understand the point, but I think there’s a bit more to it than this. I get a little tired of hearing that I’m not doing enough as a cyclist to avoid being assaulted by aggressive drivers.

  3. Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/20/2013 - 10:20 am.

    Interesting hypothesis

    And I’m sure it accounts for a lot of the anger out there.

    For me, though – the anger comes from knowing that BECAUSE bicyclists are more vulnerable, that if one of them does something stupid and I’m not quick enough in my response (I’m only human, after all) – that then it will be ME who has to live with the emotional aftermath of having brought harm to another – no matter whether it was accidental or not.

    It hasn’t happened to me. Yet. But the possibility haunts me – every time I see a bicyclist suddenly dart across lanes of traffic or ride through a stop sign or pass a group of a half dozen riding side by side and just barely remaining within the marked part of the road or any of a number of other things bicyclists do that could result in harm to them because cars are driven by human beings who simply aren’t 100% vigilant 100% of the time and in a momentary lapse it’s almost certainly going to be the bicyclist who comes out on the losing end.

    And that’s why I get angry.

    • Submitted by David DeCoux on 02/20/2013 - 10:53 am.

      It’s that feeling

      Do you get the same feeling when you see a pedestrian suddenly dart across a road, jaywalk, walk in the street on the shoulder?

      If not you’re not being intellectually honest. If so you’re being honest, but you must spend a lot of time behind the wheel filled with anger. You might want to talk to someone before you realize your “fears.”

      • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/20/2013 - 01:39 pm.

        Setting aside the “armchair psychologist” aspects of your comment, the fact is that I don’t encounter pedestrians doing the things you cite with nearly the same frequency as I encounter it in bicyclists. I would guess they (pedestrians) are more aware of their vulnerability, but that’s my own “armchair psychologizing” at work, I suppose.

        Please don’t spend any time fretting about the possibility of me “realizing my fears”. It’s certainly not something I lay awake nights worrying about.

        And if you’re a bicyclist, I can only hope you’re not one of those I find myself becoming upset about when they engage in risky behaviors while sharing the road with my car.

        • Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/20/2013 - 04:35 pm.


          Do you also get angry about cars who cut off trucks? After all, the scale is the same between cars and semis as it is between cars and bikes. One false move and that Toyota is a pancake! Trucks can’t stop as fast as cars due to the laws of physics and their greater momentum, so it’s very dangerous for a car to suddenly change lanes right in front of a semi, yet I see it every day on my commute. But you don’t see the angry missives about how cars don’t follow the rules of the road and how bad the truck driver will feel for the rest of his life after he’s turned a sedan driver into hamburger.

          There’s a disconnect here that doesn’t seem quite right.

          • Submitted by Pat Thompson on 02/20/2013 - 08:35 pm.

            I do get put out by cars who cut off trucks, even though I’ve never driven a semi. It’s a similar idea; so congratulations on the good analogy.

            If I’m being fair, though, I have to say I see more foolish cyclist behavior than cars cutting off trucks. Possibly because I spend more time driving on city streets than interstates/long distances.

            There does seem to be a difference between a bike going the wrong way on a street and a pedestrian going the wrong way on a road with no sidewalks. The former seems clearly more dangerous.

            I personally have no problem with cyclists not waiting for red lights and only slowing down for stop signs as long as there clearly is no one coming. Just as I have no problem with pedestrians crossing against lights if there is no traffic. But I can see that some people might.

        • Submitted by David DeCoux on 02/20/2013 - 05:47 pm.

          people, not cars, share roads

          I’m not an ‘arm-chair’ psychologist, just observant. I live in the city and I see far more pedestrians than bikes and it just so happens I see jaywalking all of the time; a crime which many metros treat as serious because of the dangers.

          Am I a bicyclist? Depends. I put on a lot of bike-miles is a year, and swimming miles, and a decent amount of walking miles, but mostly car miles.

          The world isn’t so simple for me, but I’m not angry.

          P.S. Bikes are not sharing the road with your car, people share the roads and there are a myriad of ways. It doesn’t take an armchair shrink to figure that out.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/21/2013 - 02:05 pm.


      I completely agree with Pat. And, for what it’s worth, I get irked by pedestrians that dart across the street in traffic (I have to shake my head at anyone willing to be creamed by a distracted commuter for a grand total of half a second of wasted time waiting) and smaller vehicles cutting off larger ones. As a driver, a pedestrian, and a bus commuter, all of these things strike me as dangerous and foolish, and make me angry for a number of reasons. As a driver, I’d feel absolutely horrible if I hurt someone with my car, regardless of how stupid they were. As a pedestrian, I simply don’t want to witness someone getting schmucked by a larger vehicle–I think that would at least ruin my day as well as theirs. As a bus driver, I admit, stupidity that makes me late really irks me. But, beyond that, there’s nothing like being thrown into the aisle or the seat in front of you because the bus driver has to ram on their brakes because the Prius pulled out in front of it.

      In other words, I don’t give a flying flip whether they “break the rules” as long as, by doing so, they’re not also putting themselves in danger at anyone else’s expense.

    • Submitted by Kim Millman on 09/02/2015 - 12:42 pm.

      My Point Exactly

      I had several near misses involving bicyclists doing stupid things and still blaming the driver. Once was in a city with a divided highway with a very low sunken median at night. And yep, the cyclist appeared of out the sunken median and shot out in front of my car. Where are the reckless driving tickets for bicyclists?

      The worst incident happened several years ago when I was taking a right on Kellogg off 35E at 5:00 a.m. It was was dark with no traffic, but I still was stopped looking both ways before I proceeded. As I was turning a bicyclist came from nowhere. He had apparently raced down the hill on the sidewalk and therefore was not visable at all until the last minute. We didn’t collide, but he became enraged and started banging on my car. Hmmm? We drivers look within our range of sight. We can’t anticipate a racing cyclist on the sidewalk before dawn without lights or reflective gear out of viewing range. Yet he viewed it as my fault for not getting out of his way.

      If I had hit either one of those cyclists, I would have to live with the image in my mind for the rest of my life. Is it really fair or healthy to act as though there are different rules for bicyclist when the consequences are so serious?

  4. Submitted by carter meland on 02/20/2013 - 10:43 am.

    Be wary

    While interesting, Tom Stafford is not a psychologist, he is an evolutionary psychologist which is a different bird in so many ways. Evolutionary psychology is an offshoot of sociobiology (which arguably is an offshoot of 19th-century social Darwinism). These fields of study, while popular, have been roundly criticized by leading scientists and thinkers in all sorts of fields and so any ideas they offer should be taken with huge doses of salt.

    To read one such criticism, you should check out the biologist Richard Lewontin’s 2005 essay “The Wars Over Evolution”. You can read it here:

  5. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 02/20/2013 - 11:01 am.

    The more I think about it, here’s what really annoys me about this article:

    For starters, the framing of “cyclist” vs. “motorist” is an artificial and lazy construct. In reality, we’re talking about people. I ride a bike a lot, but I also drive a car a lot. That’s true of most “cyclists.” Likewise, a fair number of people who primarily drive cars also ride a bike at least once in a while. You get the idea.

    Now, the principle being discussed here, that we get angry when other people break the rules, applies to a lot of situations. Yes, it’s irritating when someone on a bike runs a red light you have to stop for. It’s also irritating when someone in a car does it.

    And it’s equally irritating when I’m riding a bike and people driving cars break the social contract by speeding, passing too close, making illegal turns in front of me, shouting obscenities at me, and so on. Once, I was riding along, minding my own business, when someone swerved at me with their car and ran a red light to get away. Talk about “offending the moral order.”

    So why is the article about why motorists get angry at cyclists? Couldn’t the frame just as easily be why cyclists get angry at motorists?

    Stafford writes: “Driving is a very moral activity,” followed a short time later with, “then along come cyclists.” So is this really about roadway behavior? Or is the mere act of cycling itself, regardless of whether it’s done lawfully, the offense to the moral order here?

    • Submitted by Andrew Richner on 02/20/2013 - 01:41 pm.

      You got it

      Ken the last part of your comment is exactly right. The act of cycling itself is what breaks the moral code. Cycling is seen as essentially (in the terms of this article) immoral, and so there is a cognitive bias for drivers to be excessively fault-finding in regards to cyclists more than any other vehicle on the road (including slow-moving, non-signaling, sometimes poorly marked horse-drawn carriages, pedal pubs, etc. found on some city streets).

      I would wager the only other vehicle that consistently gets a similar amount of vitriol projected at it is a bus, which leads me to my own theory that the real issue is that drivers feel that it’s unfair that they should need to spend on average more than $8,700 a year on their chosen form of transportation while some people have found ways around this enormous, fixed, recurring expense. When inconvenienced by such people in any way (by having to be more attentive, by getting stuck behind them in traffic, by having to wait for a cyclist in a bike lane before being able to make a right turn, etc.) their senses of entitlement speak in the form of rage.

      • Submitted by Jeffrey Klein on 02/21/2013 - 08:41 am.

        I think you two are on the right track

        The reason I think so is that, have you noticed there’s not nearly the same amount of car-driver rage reserved for jay-walkers? I mean, breaking pedestrian traffic laws is incredibly common, yet nobody cares – probably because it’s not especially dangerous, since a pedestrian isn’t operating a 4000-lb, 40mph killing machine and can really only hurt themselves. You’d think people would regard bikes the same way – minor irritation at the fact that they occasionally flaut laws to get by in a traffic system designed (wrongly) speficially for cars*. But no, instead, it’s crazy rage. It has everything to do with this “moral order” situation a little to do with actual concern about anyone’s safety.

        *Consider for a moment all of the things that bikers have to put up with because our tax dollars are spent on encouaraging people to drive 20,000 miles a year. To get anywhere in the city you have to go through forty stoplights. You have to ride twice as far because half of our urban space is parking lots. And the side of the road that you might find convenient to ride on is full of parked cars! It’s no wonder that every now and again when a biker is stuck at a red light and there’s nobody around they might slip on through to get a little of that time back.

  6. Submitted by mark wallek on 02/20/2013 - 11:10 am.

    Why I hate (some) cyclists

    I hate some cyclists for these reasons: 1) no road etiquite; 2) inadequate or non-existant illumination when night riding. I hate (some) motorists for equally good reasons. The author aggrandizes the issue. Sloppy drivers and sloppy bikers are equally detestable.

  7. Submitted by Geoff Laskowski on 02/20/2013 - 11:24 am.

    Rest assured that like Mr. Paulman, as a regular March to November bike commuter, the frequency at which I observe other cyclists flouting the rules of the road is frustrating as I believe that being predictable and observing the rules helps prevent me from getting seriously injured or killed. However I’m more likely to shake my head rather than chase or run the offender down and remind them that they’re “ruining it for the rest of us”. That being said and not excusing the behavior of said cyclists, I’d like to suggest a little experiment for other motorists. Next time you’re on the road, make a mental note of how many drivers are going at least 5-10 miles over the posted speed, or how many fail to signal lane changes, or come to a complete stop at stop signs and before making a right turn on red. And how many of those scofflaw motorists have you seen getting a ticket? To the point of Stafford’s column, does that make you as angry? And if not, why not?

    • Submitted by Erik Ostrom on 02/20/2013 - 11:26 pm.

      Stafford’s “moral order” is not “the law”

      It’s not just that people don’t get angry at speeders. People get *angry at non-speeders*. Try going 55 on 280.

      But Stafford doesn’t claim that anger is directed at those who violate the law. He says what makes us angry is those who “offend the moral order,” who violate “rules of the road, both legal and informal.” Going a little bit over the speed limit isn’t the law, but it is part of the (stupid) established moral order of American drivers. So’s speeding up when you see a yellow light.

      • Submitted by Geoff Laskowski on 02/21/2013 - 10:45 am.

        I agree

        I understand and agree with your point about Stafford’s claim. It’s just that the most common complaint I hear is that cyclists are not following “the rules of the road”. Absent an agreement on what the informal rules are (the law being the official rule) and who gets to decide them, a motorist’s complaint about a cyclist breaking the rules is just hypocrisy. After all based on other comments, an informal rule for cyclists could be that a stop sign is treated as a yield. It’s not on the books, but neither is going 5mph over the limit or speeding up on a yellow, as you’ve pointed out.

  8. Submitted by Sheldon Mains on 02/20/2013 - 11:30 am.

    so why aren’t cyclists as insanely mad at motorists

    I ride and I drive. And I’m not going to justify cyclists who break rules and are unsafe to everyone. But, if this theory is right, if “the anger from motorists toward cyclists seems especially raw,” why is not cyclists’ anger just as raw. They have much more to loose–their lives. If this theory is true for motorists, it should also be true for cyclists.

    • Submitted by Erik Ostrom on 02/21/2013 - 01:18 pm.

      I don’t know, I get angry

      I don’t know, I get pretty angry at drivers who roll through right-on-reds, or block crosswalks when I’m on foot. Maybe the difference is that we don’t notice cyclists’ anger because they so rarely have the opportunity to kill or maim, or even get the attention of, the people they’re mad at.

  9. Submitted by David Frenkel on 02/20/2013 - 11:31 am.

    Poor drivers

    There is no shortage of poor drivers regardless of what form of transportation they are driving. Yes, police primarily go after motor vehicles but this has only put a small dent into poor driving habits. It is difficult for me to go on an urban bike ride without having a near miss with a motor vehicle. I think the biggest problem is motor vehicles only look for motor vehicles and typically do not see bikes, motorcycles or pedestrians (another story).

  10. Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 02/20/2013 - 11:49 am.

    No space for bikes in the (current) moral order

    As a friend commented on the original article, “his argument is that drivers hate cyclists for breaking the rules *as they perceive them*, not as they’re written in law.”

    The way our streets are created, there is no way a person riding a bike can avoid breaking those PERCEIVED rules. Examples of broken roles include “moving at well below the speed limit,” something cyclists can’t really help most of the time.

    Another example is “overtaking queues of cars” and “undertaking on the inside.” (Inside would be on the right — where we typically place bike lanes.) I can say from firsthand experience, cars don’t like it when I cue up in the middle of the lane at a red light – and they have to wait for my slow speed once it turns green. And friends and acquaintances have told me that they don’t like it when I “cheat” and go around on the right at a red light. Where, then, is there space for me in the current moral order?

    It’s my sense that there’s no space for bikes ANYWHERE in that moral order. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but that without redesigning roads into streets that clearly are inclusive of ALL users, there’s nothing a person on a bike can do to avoid inciting rage. Following the letter of the law (something MANY people riding bikes do) won’t help.

    And, because there’s no space in the moral order for bikes, drivers are constantly destroying their own moral order by making right hook turns, zipping around bikes only to meet up at a stop light 50 yards ahead, etc.

  11. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 02/20/2013 - 12:09 pm.

    Let’s not get so complicated.

    On the road or on the internet, I’ve never noted that motorist anger is directed in a differentiated way toward specific bicyclists that are flouting the rules of the road. I’ve heard vast numbers of stories of road rage directed toward bicyclists doing nothing but riding along the shoulder.

    Many people carry alot of anger and resentment inside them. It’s an inherent part of the existential condition. The healthy manage it, but our present economic & political society does a very good job of cultivating and desublimating it. The car has proven to be a nice, protected place to give vent to one’s anger and resentment. A bicyclist is vulnerable and unlikely to be armed, and also simplistically fits the appropriate political/lifestyle stereotype toward which folks are told to direct their anger and resentment. Voila.

    • Submitted by Pat Thompson on 02/20/2013 - 08:40 pm.


      I really wish for a Like button on MinnPost.

    • Submitted by Ethan Fawley on 02/20/2013 - 09:51 pm.

      I agree with this take

      When I’m biking, I interact with people driving much more than when I’m driving–the good and the bad interactions. I’ve never had anyone ask me for directions while I’ve been driving, but that has happened a number of times while biking. People smile at me much more when I’m biking than when I’m driving. And, yes, people get angry at me more when I’m biking than when I drive (even though I’m a safe, lawful person when biking).

      To me this says that I’m just more accessible when I’m biking than when I’m driving because I don’t have a big cage around me. I think people tend to get angry more often when they drive than at other times in life (I know I do), so I expect they just see someone on a bike as an accessible target to vent that frustration and that is why we see a little more of the negative interaction than the positive ones.

      Then the media turns it into a big battle of driver vs. bicyclist and pumps up that narrative to the point that it almost becomes true even though it really isn’t that at all. Oh well, that narrative obviously sells or I wouldn’t be commenting on this post!

  12. Submitted by Benjamin Riggs on 02/20/2013 - 01:42 pm.


    While I don’t think the article is wrong, it’s missing an even larger, more fundamental factor, which I’m fairly confident is the root cause of most bike hating: Cyclists don’t “belong” on roads because roads “belong” to cars. Motorists (generally) feel entitled to sole use of the roads, and anyone else on them is an impostor. That these ‘impostors’ break the rules motorists have to follow just aggravates those feelings.

    There is also plenty of evidence to support this: Often times, particularly in arguments online, motorists accuse cyclists of being free-loaders because they don’t pay tax on gas (as if gas taxes alone could actually pay for the vast infrastructure of roadways); cyclists get harassed by angry drivers who tell them they ‘belong on the sidewalk’ or should ‘get off the road’; and sometimes even police harass cyclists for holding up or causing traffic. The subtext of all of these being that the cyclists don’t ‘belong’ on the roads, because roads belong to cars.

    As a year-round cyclist, I’m inclined to agree that mixing car and bicycle traffic is sub-optimal, at best. However, until there’s adequate dedicated infrastructure for cyclists to travel where they need to, it’s a reality we can’t avoid. Thus, the best way to improve conditions for cyclists and reduce conflict with motorists is separate infrastructure.

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 02/20/2013 - 05:58 pm.

      There’s the rub

      “As a year-round cyclist,”

      That bit touches on my pet peeve regarding cyclists. When I get annoyed with cyclists, it’s not because of issues of sharing the road, who pays taxes for what, ride-envy, breaking of moral codes, or any such thing. It’s strictly about safety. The two most prominent situations being riders who dart through stoplights just as I’m about to accelerate through the green I’ve been waiting for, causing me to take my foot off the accelerator and/or stomp on the brakes (and yes, it happens too often, and despite the assertions of some in this discussion, I can’t remember the last time I saw a car run a red light), and cyclists who ride year-round.

      One of the things I found to be most surprising when I moved in to the city was the number of cyclists who insist on riding in ice and snow. It baffles me, really, as it seems to be far too much work, and it’s just not safe. When I was kid, eons ago, we put our bikes away at the first snow, and didn’t get them out again until spring. No one had to tell us to do that, we had no desire to try to slog through snow, and it just didn’t feel safe anyway. Granted, winters, by and large, were more severe 40 years ago, but on crowded city streets, riding on any amount of snow just seems incredibly dangerous to me. I still marvel at seeing cyclists making a hard slog of it through snow and ice, wobbling this way and that, and thinking that if they wipe out in front of me, there’s no way I could bring 3000 lbs of steel to an abrupt stop on said snow and ice. Yes, that makes me angry, because if it happens, I’ll probably be liable, and even if not, I’ll have to deal with the emotional fallout of having injured someone. That just seems incredibly inconsiderate.

      I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. Is cycling so important that it has to be done in Minnesota winters? What’s wrong with taking a bus?

      • Submitted by Benjamin Riggs on 02/21/2013 - 12:11 pm.

        Unfounded fears

        It’s amusing to me that you insist winter cycling is terribly, terribly dangerous, yet you have no experience with it. You even have the audacity to blame someone else for the potential harm you might cause with your vehicle, that’s under your control. Apparently anyone else exercising their agency is “incredibly inconsiderate” should they cause you to change your behavior in the slightest. Pardon me if my sympathy for you isn’t abundant.

        However, I do thank you for demonstrating the precise point I made in my earlier comment: That, as a driver, you feel wholly entitled to the sole use of roads, and that cyclists don’t “belong” there. You even made it in an argument online!

        • Submitted by Lance Groth on 02/21/2013 - 01:43 pm.

          Safety, not entitlement

          I didn’t say anything about entitlement. I’m speaking only about safety. I don’t know where you live, but in St. Paul, snow plowing seems to be more of a half-hearted hobby than serious business. Side streets stay messy for weeks after a snow, and most of them do not have bike lanes. They get narrower every time it snows, and are lined with parked cars. Sometimes they get so narrow that there aren’t really two lanes, cars have to squeeze through one at a time. So yes, when someone is wobbling along on a bike, having difficulty because of the snow/ice, it backs things up even more and causes a safety issue. It’s just common sense. And if you think any car is completely under control on a slippery surface, I can only conclude it’s you that has no experience at winter driving.

          If the pavement is clear and dry, the road in good condition, I have no problem sharing the road with cyclists. But cycling in inappropriate conditions that cause a safety issue is on the same par as driving while texting. Inconsiderate is the word. I don’t really care if you endanger yourself, I only care when that spills over to the other people around you. There are other transportation options that don’t cause the problem. It’s apparently you who don’t want to have to make the slightest change to your behavior.

          • Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/21/2013 - 04:28 pm.

            Wait Wait

            Lance, on the one hand you complain about how dangerous bikes are in the ice and snow, then go on to describe how dangerous cars are on the same ice and same snow. Yet you’re not advocating we take cars off the street in the winter. I’m sorry, but your logic strikes me as a little convoluted.

            How about you just worry about your stability and let the bikers worry about theirs?

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 02/22/2013 - 09:37 am.

      Regarding dedicated infrastructure

      The only time I get irritated with cyclists is when they insist on _not_ using the dedicated infrastructure. I have come across cyclists many times on my commute who are causing traffic problems by insisting on traveling on the road rather than the bike path that is five feet away. I don’t ever see recreational bicycling on that road, just commuting bicycles. Is there a reason bicycle commuters wouldn’t want to use a bike path?

  13. Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 02/20/2013 - 01:47 pm.

    From a law-flouting multi-modal commuter.

    I’m a law-breaking cyclist. Treating stop signs as yield signs (if I ran stop signs willy-nilly, as many commenters suggest, I would not live very long) is probably my most common crime, but I probably break a few other laws here and there while riding.

    I also walk a lot. Probably my most common infraction on two legs is jaywalking, though there’s some trespassing when I cut across parking lots or whatever.

    I have a car, too, believe it or not. The most common crime there is speeding, usually to the tune of 4-6MPH over the posted speed limit on highways. (I’m in good company on this, since it seems to be the rule of thumb for most drivers)

    My only mode of transportation where the law isn’t broken constantly is the bus, though if I could get my hands on another UPass I would take it in a heartbeat.

    Despite breaking the law pretty much every time I go from point A to point B, I’ve never been busted for any of these crimes. In fact, it would be pretty silly to charge someone with jaywalking, or for going just a little bit over the speed limit. These are petty infractions practiced so universally that they are de facto legal, unless you get caught by a particularly nitpicky cop.

    Cyclists are singled out for this behavior because they violate the laws of society, not the laws on the books. Complaining about lawbreaking cyclists sounds better than just saying you don’t want them on the road because they don’t deserve to be there, because they belong on the sidewalk, because they aren’t operating a holy automobile and thus are lesser than you. Cyclists break the law in the same way that everyone else does: at the intersection of convenience, payoff, low probability of harm to oneself or others, and minimal risk of being caught. Running a stop sign on a bike maximizes the first two and minimizes the latter

    Yeah, cyclists are running stop signs. It’s rampant. I see it all the time. You know why we do it? It’s not that we don’t have respect for the law – a cyclist that doesn’t obey the law gets splattered – it’s because our mode of transportation actually lends itself well to running stop signs! We’re slow-moving vehicles with a huge field of view and the ability to stop on a dime. It’s so widely recognized and practiced among cyclists that regular riders start doing it naturally. The state of Idaho recognized this phenomenon in the last few years and actually made it legal for cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign. In the last couple of sessions, Rep. Kahn tried to pass legislation allowing the “Idaho stop” here in Minnesota. If you really want cyclists to stop breaking the law, you should support changing it.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/20/2013 - 02:14 pm.

      If you must . . . . .

      The point of my comment above was not so much related to the simple act of running a stop sign. Rather, it’s doing it in such a way that a motorist is forced to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting you.

      I’m very happy to see that you state you are not one of the cyclists who does that. But there are others who do.

      If cyclists are going to collectively decide to treat stop signs as yield signs, then they need to remember the “yield” part and not blow through them in front of oncoming traffic. Because it scares the heck out of me when they do that.

      Just a little common sense, please! (Cyclists in general, not you specifically).

      • Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 02/20/2013 - 03:44 pm.

        I sincerely doubt that a significant number of cyclists are running stop signs in the way you describe, because as I stated that’s a good way to end up dead. I would reckon that cyclists running stop signs are doing so in roughly the same proportions as drivers, and for the same reasons.

        As a motorist, I have completely missed stopping at stop signs before, and it’s never intentional. I tend to assume, in good faith, that when people endanger others on the road that it’s an unintentional error or temporary lapse of judgement that occurs rarely. I’ve had many close calls on the road – some my fault, some the fault of careless drivers, and a very few as a result of overly hostile drivers. I don’t let my experiences with those last few color my perception of all drivers, and cyclists deserve the same consideration.

      • Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/20/2013 - 05:05 pm.

        Stop Signs

        I’m a bike commuter in the summer and I work in an area of downtown that has a lot of bikers year round, so I get to see the issue from both sides. When it comes to stopping at stop signs, my experience is that both cars and bikes do it with the same frequency. Most bikers do not stop at the signs and the vast majority of cars exhibit the same behavior.

        And when it comes to slamming on the brakes because some idiot ran the sign when they shouldn’t have, that is also neck and neck between the two forms of transportation.

        For some reason the drivers complaining about the bikers just doesn’t ring true for me.

    • Submitted by Arito Moerair on 02/20/2013 - 03:08 pm.

      Stop signs

      I run stop signs on my bike because (a) it’s safe when done right and (b) it’s easier than stopping. There is a big energy cost to accelerating from a standstill, just as in a car. Roundabouts save fuel because people aren’t idling and then flooring it.

  14. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/20/2013 - 02:33 pm.

    It’s really “bike envy”

    Here’s a few reasons the auto driver might be peeved at the sight of a bicyclist on the road:

    – The auto driver has a network of dependencies he must rely on and continually negotiate, and they all cost him money. The bike rider has virtually none of these. Examples:

    – Since most people buy cars on borrowed money, he must make monthly payments – with interest. This is doubly irritating because the auto owner who buys with a loan (or lease) knows that if he actually had that $25,000 in his hand, he wouldn’t waltz into a car dealership and blow it on a car !! For many car owners, the monthly payments never stop. According to, For car loans in the U.S., the average term was about 60 months in 2009. The bike rider nearly always buys his bike with cash, in an amount he can afford, and happily so.

    – The auto driver has to buy insurance to protect his “investment”. The premiums are continually on the rise, never cease, and if this weren’t bad enough, when he has an accident, he has no assurance he’ll be made whole by his insurer for his loss. His premiums may rise due to accidents that are in no wise his fault ! A bike rider, on the other hand, may not insure at all – except perhaps if he bought quite an expensive bike, to protect against theft. His premiums are a pittance compared with the auto driver.

    – The auto driver has a mountain of continuing maintenance and operational expenses – gas, oil, depreciation, periodic expensive repairs, parking etc. The bike rider has at most a tiny fraction of these expenses, maybe buys a bike chain for $10 once every couple years or so, a new tire once in a while, probably never pays a parking fee.

    – “According to a American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) study cited by Mototrend, the average American spends between $240,704 to $349,968 on automobile during their lifetime.” Yikes !! That doesn’t even count all the costs !! No wonder the auto driver is irritated when he sees one of those free-loading bike riders who spends a measly fraction of these amounts !!

    Here’s a few more reasons:

    – The bike rider’s carbon footprint due to his mode of transportation is next to nothing. The auto driver is one of the world’s major polluters. The auto driver knows that there is a serious cost to all that pollution, and has creeping awareness that he is part of the problem.

    – The auto driver has built his life around the car, and in most cases will admit he can’t live the life he’s living without the car. You might say that the bicyclist, by comparison, has brought the bike to his life not being compelled, but by choice. This sense of freedom is shared by many bike riders. The auto driver lives in a metropolis, the bike rider in a village.

    – The bike rider actually ENJOYS using his transportation, feels the road and the breeze, and gets exercise to boot. Does the typical car driver ENJOY those daily commutes in rush hour, traffic jams ? Does he get any exercise in that car?

    There is more that could be said here – but enough already. These causes for the ire of auto drivers are practical, down-to-earth. There is no need for an evolutionary theory or fuzzy notion of morality.

    While Stafford claims to go “Deep within the human psyche” to explain the rage of auto drivers, it seems a fool’s errand. There is plenty to see in the shallower waters (very shallow, indeed !) of the psyche mentioned here.

    • Submitted by Benjamin Riggs on 02/20/2013 - 03:14 pm.

      Out of touch

      I love my bike commute as well, but if you honestly think some sort of envy of your ride is what causes terrible attitudes and behavior, you’re deluding yourself. I doubt there are many motorists who look at my ride on a day like to day with any envy: They see ‘cold, crazy cyclist’ despite the fact that I’m enjoying exercise, sunshine and joy.

  15. Submitted by jody rooney on 02/20/2013 - 03:40 pm.

    Perhaps when Bike riders pay for their routes there will be more

    As recreation as far as state trails are concerned bicyclists pay nothing for their expensive- to- build and expensive to maintain trails. And don’t get me started with about the environmentally friendliness of placing petroleum based impervious asphalt in the woods for so shallow a need as recreation. Who knows what harm has been done by placing asphalt in fragile ecosystems because they weren’t subject to any kind of environmental review.

    So that part of “free loading” by bicyclists I do object to.

    As for roadways there is a significant amount of money made available through FHWA for alternative transportation and trails. How governments chose to use it is probably something that bicyclists may want to be more actively involved in if they truly want safer transportation routes.

    On our rural roads I have to go with Pat Berg I am afraid even if I am careful I might hit a bike rider who is less than careful. I drive a truck because it pulls my horse trailer and that is about 20% of my driving and I can’t afford two vehicles. Even if they run into me that’s a collision that they won’t win. Like her that worry makes me angry. Following the road rules reduces that fear because they then become more predictable.

    I ride a horse I have enough unpredictability in my life.

    • Submitted by Michael Cameron on 02/20/2013 - 06:18 pm.

      I’m floored that somehow people think that the roads are covered entirely by use taxes by drivers.
      Gas taxes and other motor vehicle taxes do not cover the full cost of road construction, operations, and maintenance, the gap is filled by the general fund state and federal dollars. Bike path construction and maintenance is a small fraction of the cost per mile of roads and highways. Additionally, if you add externalized costs of auto traffic such air pollution and higher medical costs the amount of money used for bike paths is a rounding error of that used to subsidize our automobile lifestyle.

      As for placing bike paths in the “woods”, do you think that somehow all of the roads that exist and continue to be built are not in fragile ecosystems. Most of the roads in Minnesota have been placed in what used to be forests or prairies, and just given their larger footprint, have a much larger impact on fragile ecosystems. Any project, be it a road or bike path, have environmental impact studies done to help guide how to best minimize our footprint.

    • Submitted by Ben Allen on 02/20/2013 - 10:32 pm.

      Look into the statistics

      Bicyclists have jobs like everybody else. Bicyclists pay for roads like everybody else. Paved roads started because of the League of American Wheelman, aka bicyclists who rode bikes in the 1890’s, so yes, we do pay for the roads and the paths and the development. Your fees you pay through car ownership don’t give you the right to drive in a way that can cause harm to others, more vulnerable others on the road. You pay for less than 50% of road costs, and we pay just as much as you.

      Bicyclists are indeed getting more involved to make sure that money is appropriated for the promotion of bike safety, education of bicyclists and improvement project. Read here for more:

      • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/21/2013 - 11:27 am.

        But that’s my point gentle men.

        You know the weakest argument anyone can make is I pay taxes like you. It’s like telling a policeman I pay your salary as he’s arresting you. It is generally said when you can’t make a better argument and want to continue free loading.

        It is also a slippery slope when you are a minority user. So since we all pay the same do you want us all to vote on whether cars should be on the road with bikes and let the majority rule. I think not.

        But that point aside I have no objection to bikes on the road – your over reaction sounds like little kids throwing a tantrum.

        Roads are covered by environmental laws – trails are not. They are designed with drainage by engineers and take into account the impact they have on the environment. How many engineers or even landscape architects does the DNR hire. I know one that made a mistake that was so significant I was told she had to find another job. They are for transportation purposes – a somewhat higher use than recreation. They are public because you cannot make an effective market for each road. This is not true of trails.

        You can make a market for trail bicycle use just as you can for cross country skiing, ATV, Snowmobile and Equestrian use. Last year those dedicated passes raised more money than the state parks brought in. All those folks pay taxes too but they are willing to pay to contribute to their sport why aren’t you freeloaders.

        • Submitted by Alex Cecchini on 02/21/2013 - 03:33 pm.


          Reading your 2 posts vs the responses, it’s clear which one is throwing the tantrum.

          Are you saying that roads, in your definition designed to move cars and trucks, have less environmental impact than bike trails do simply because they’re designed to properly drain water/etc by engineers? A road anywhere from 25 to 100 feet wide, carrying cars that pollute the air, the same cars that run on gasoline that pollutes the environment (drilling, transporting, refining, transporting again), the same cars that require a 8′ x 20′ space to park wherever they’re going, etc? Vs a bike trail (or lane) that is likely 4-6′ wide? You lost me with your logic there.

          We should probably start charging all those “free-loading” walkers using sidewalks that were build and maintained along with the streets they abut. Want to charge a tab fee or a street trail access fee for bikes on regional trails? Fine, I guess I’d be for that. I think your comparisons to CC Ski, Snowmobile, horse, and ATV trails is a little different as each of these require much more frequent maintenance. But I see your point.

          You’re also making a distinction between bike trails and bike lanes on streets. I don’t think the angst car drivers have toward bicyclists is against the ones riding in single-use (well, mixed if you include walkers/runners) bike trails where they never interact with cars in the first place. The anger the article speaks of is bicycles sharing roads/streets. I’m confused how anyone who is contributing to the local municipality (through property taxes, local sales tax, etc), the general state taxpayer fund (state sales tax, state income tax), and federal appropriations for certain projects (federal income tax) could be called a “free-loader” on the streets. Bikes take up about 1/10th the street area of a car, require much less infrastructure for safe riding, have much less impact on the pavement (meaning less road maintenance per bike mile ridden vs car mile driven). Beyond that, there is a philosophical argument that streets are public space and should not be dominated by one form of transportation. Car drivers have proven themselves a very dangerous and law-ignoring bunch. That’s why we’ve widened streets so much (theoretically making them safer for cars and putting a buffer between them and people, but this has only encouraged cars to drive faster in their newly widened lanes), installed thousands of stop lights, etc. A person on a bike riding on a street for means of transportation or recreation has just as much right to safe, efficient transport as a person in a car. And yes, this includes any time of the year (just like people have a right to walk about in the snow/cold).

  16. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/20/2013 - 04:26 pm.

    I’m all for bike commuting

    I’d do it myself if I hadn’t wrecked my knees years ago. If I can ever afford an electrically assisted bike, I may do it again.

    However, driving down Hennepin Avenue below downtown with cyclists makes me very nervous because there really isn’t room for four lanes of traffic and two sides of parked cars, and this is even more the case when snowdrifts reach out into the street. The cyclists, often without helmets (or lights at night) either dart around among the vehicles or ride alongside the vehicles (making me afraid that I might sideswipe one of them) or, most nerve-wrackingly of all, I encounter one of the so-called “vehicular cyclists,” who ride in the middle of the lane, slowing everyone else down to 15mph in their own one-person Critical Mass exercises.

    If I were to take up bike commuting, I wouldn’t ride on Hennepin between 36th and Franklin. No, I’d take one of the side streets that run parallel to Hennepin, most likely on the Lake Calhoun side, so that I could access downtown by coming out behind the Walker Art Center. Not only would I avoid annoying motorists, but more important, I’d feel safer, too.

    I cycled for years in various cities, especially when I didn’t own a car, but I never rode on arterial streets (too scary), only on the side streets parallel to them, and unless I was in some Godforsaken suburb, there were always parallel side streets. (Helmets weren’t as common as they are now, but I always had lights at night.)

    I really don’t get this compulsion to ride in the thick of traffic. It can’t be pleasant for the cyclist, either.

    • Submitted by Michael Cameron on 02/20/2013 - 06:26 pm.


      This is a funny example of how car drivers can be just as oblivious or intentionally violate the rules of the roads. Hennepin Avenue technically has only a single lane for car traffic in both directions, the right lane in both directions is stripped and signed to be used just for bus, bike traffic, and right hand turns. However, nearly all drivers ignore those rules and use the lane as a full lane for non-right hand turn traffic, but then get annoyed that bikes might be in the lane.

      I’m a regular bike and automobile commuter year round, and feel comfortable in all types of traffic. I would avoid Hennepin and other busy streets just as a mater of safety. Bike riders are supposed to ride to the right as conditions warrant, but are supposed to move more to the center if things are not safe. In the conditions you describe, winter riding with large snow banks and heavy traffic riding in lanes they are not supposed to, I would definitely ride in the center of the lane as needed to assert my position. Riding more to the right would actually be less safe for all involved.

    • Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 02/20/2013 - 09:47 pm.

      Hennepin Ave S!

      As a cyclist who lives 50 yards from Hennepin Ave. S, I invite YOU Karen to drive “one of the side streets that run parallel to Hennepin, most likely on the Lake Calhoun side, so that you can could access” whatever place you’re going to. While you do that, I’m going to take the lane. On my bike.

      You’re absolutely right — I should NOT dart around cars or try to fit between the lanes of traffic and the parked cars. I’ll be flattened quickly by all the drivers who imagine it’s safe to pass me within 12 inches. I promise I won’t.

      Sadly, there’s not a good alternative for me to get where I want to go. Where I’m starting AND where I’m going are both on Hennepin. (If they weren’t I would be on a different street.) It turns out there AREN’T any side streets that run parallel to Hennepin — it’s on a diagonal. And those one-way streets make it difficult to ride the extra mile out of my way and then get back to my actual Hennepin Avenue destination.

      So, to avoid those dangerous darting behaviors, I’ll be one of those worst of the worst (as you tell it), a so-called “vehicular cyclist.” I’ll take my lane. And, you, thankfully, will patiently wait an extra 12 seconds until you can pass me in the other lane. There ARE two lanes, so you can pass safely. In the OTHER lane. I’ll still be alive. And I’ll smile at you at the next light, when we end up next to each other again. And the next one, too. (Need I mention “the lane” is where Minnesota state law says I’m supposed to ride? Of course, your comment highlights that following the law breaks the *perceived* moral order of the road.)

      I hate riding Hennepin Avenue through Uptown – one of the most ridden neighborhoods of Minneapolis. But I’ll continue to do it, until there is a good alternatives for me.

      I hope you’ll join me in advocating for a different design for Hennepin Avenue S, so that we can both escape this unpleasant situation. It’s horrible that you sometimes have to wait a few extra seconds to pass me safely, and unfortunate that I am in constant fear of the irrational driver who adds me to the hit-and-run numbers in Minneapolis’ next bike crash report. We both deserve something better.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/21/2013 - 11:44 am.

        I actualy drive on the streets parallel to Hennepin

        if traffic is backed up on Hennepin itself, so I know it’s possible, even if a bit inconvenient.

        Downtown, enforcement of the right lane rules is quite lax and needs to be stepped up. If in fact the right lane on Hennepin between 36th and Franklin is supposed to be only for bicycles and buses, then I’ve never seen any enforcement of that rule in the nearly ten years I’ve driven the route.

    • Submitted by Erik Ostrom on 02/21/2013 - 12:03 am.

      Vehicular cycling is another one of those cases where you can see the difference between “the law” and “the rules.” Many cyclists take the lane because, by law, bikes are vehicles (and because, although it may slow drivers down, it also helps them *see* bicyclists and not accidentally cause collisions). But drivers tend to believe in a rule that you should go *at least* as fast as the posted speed limit, barring understandable congestion. (Congestion due to bikes is not understandable.) Both groups are acting according to the rules as they perceive them, but those rules are in conflict.

      BTW, I mostly agree with you about arterial streets, at least those without bikeways. But I understand why people ride on Hennepin: there aren’t really good alternatives. Suppose you’re going from Hennepin and 22nd to Hennepin and Lake. There aren’t any truly parallel streets the whole way. Humboldt from 26th down is basically parallel, but bizarrely it is one-way *in both directions* over the course of three blocks. You can take 22nd to Irving and then backtrack on Lake, but you’re going way out of your way, and taking more turns, which take more energy and create their own kind of risk (and you’re riding on Lake). You can backtrack to Franklin and take Bryant to the Greenway to Girard, but, same deal (plus Lagoon and a block on Hennepin anyway). Colfax, Dupont, and Emerson are north-only at Hennepin, and Fremont doesn’t go through.

      And you can make a case that any of those options is better than riding down Hennepin in traffic. But to me it isn’t cut and dried.

  17. Submitted by Dan McGrath on 02/20/2013 - 08:10 pm.

    It’s really very simple…

    The speed difference is the main problem.

    Bicycles (unless you’re a steroid-infused super-cyclist) are much slower than automobiles. Everyone’s in a hurry, so when cars get trapped behind a slow-moving, lane-hogging cyclist, motorists get upset.

    It’s also pretty annoying to see cyclists completely ignore traffic laws and fail to use bike lanes when provided, just because they’re “legally entitled” to use main traffic lanes and slow down all the rushing, harried motorists.

    There are different degrees of cyclists, of course. Some seem quite militant in Minneapolis. That type revels in causing heartburn for motorists. They’re on a mission of some sort. Whether it’s “slow down,” or “stop driving cars to save the planet,” they suck.

    Many other cyclists are more compliant (and safe), follow the rules, are considerate of faster moving traffic and don’t cause any problems. It’s the “holy rollers” that give cyclists a bad rap.

    • Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/21/2013 - 07:59 am.

      Bike Lanes

      Dan’s comment one of the most common misconceptions drivers have about bikers, namely the complaint that bikers use the road when there’s a bike lane nearby. If Dan is talking about a bike lane on the road, then bikers may be out in car traffic because, like cars, they need to make a turn up ahead. If traffic is heavy that may mean moving over a couple blocks early so they’re not doing a left hook at the last second. I’ve had to do exactly that in Washington in my commute before the Cedar Lake trail was punched all the way through to the river.

      More likely though Dan’s talking about bike paths that are a few yards off from the road. In that case bikers are required by law to ride on the street if they’re riding over 15 MPH because the paths have a speed limit. In cases like the West River Road the speed limit on the road itself is 25 MPH, so how much are the bikers really inconveniencing the drivers? You’re not supposed to be driving 35+ MPH down those roads in the first place.

      Slow down and enjoy the view–you’ll only lose 12 seconds on the way to your destination.

  18. Submitted by Andrew Richner on 02/20/2013 - 09:22 pm.

    Funny you should say that …

    The Bryant Avenue Bicycle Boulevard runs from Franklin down to 58th. And it IS a better ride (and quicker) if you go down the bike boulevard (that’s what it’s designed for). The downside is that you have a stop sign every other block, which might be a reason to take the arterial instead of the bike boulevard — you get the lights, then.

    • Submitted by Jake S on 02/21/2013 - 10:19 am.

      Not in the winter…

      Unfortunately, the street maintenance on Bryant Ave between Lake St. and Franklin is almost non-existent during the winter. Combine that with the blind corners (due to parked cars) and the cars routinely sneeking through stop signs and I believe Bryant is often more dangerous. The overall conditions must be improved during the winter months to make it viable as an everyday, year-round, bicycle artery in order to take pressure off Hennepin.

      • Submitted by Martha Garcés on 02/21/2013 - 11:02 am.


        Bryant south of Lake is always an easy ride… but getting there from where I live is another question.

  19. Submitted by Peter Fleischhacker on 02/21/2013 - 09:06 am.


    Finally, something I can comment on. Why do I want to be in front of your car? Because your car stinks and is ridiculous. A coffin measured in tons, a waste of planet wrapped up in enough ego to drown Freud. There is no possible argument, cars are the problem.

  20. Submitted by Monica Millsap on 02/21/2013 - 10:27 am.

    Having read many of these comments, I’m sure there are people who have similar angry issues with pedestrians. The difference that I see is that pedestrians already have sidewalks. They aren’t forming groups trying to lobby their case for sidewalks. Bicyclists are lobbying for bike lanes, paths, etc. So they are more on people’s minds. People are watching them.

    Politically charged language used during this process probably creates more anger than any real issues. Since these issues always create sides, people begin to lump individuals into groups, much like we do in other political issues.

  21. Submitted by Erik Ostrom on 02/21/2013 - 10:56 am.

    Another difference is that we’re all pedestrians sometimes. It’s easy to treat bicyclists as an “other” if you never ride a bike, or drivers as the enemy if you don’t drive a car. But if you park and then cross the street, you know what it’s like to be on foot (or in a chair) in a crosswalk.

  22. Submitted by Dana DeMaster on 02/21/2013 - 11:10 am.

    Complete Streets – the Pedestrian Lobby

    Actually, the Complete Streets is lobbying for pedestrians. Bicyclists, auto-drivers, semi-truck drivers all have an identity somewhat based on their road use. Everyone is a pedestrian and often don’t think of themselves that way so the advocacy movement is often on their behalf rather than explicitly by them. The Complete Streets movement looks at ways to make roads safe and usable for all users and specifically advocates for side walks in areas that don’t have them; curb cuts and light timers that are user-friendly for the disabled; better lighting and street-scape features that make roads more inviting such as benches and flower planters; more crosswalks, signalized crossings, and access across highways; and other features that make walking a viable option. Usually these are in conjunction with bicycle infrastructure and street design that make auto traffic flow better such as center turn lanes.

  23. Submitted by Ned turnbuckle on 02/21/2013 - 02:59 pm.

    This article and the data that support it are garbage. You can easily apply this to a rider experiencing an idiot driver that is texting and driving, rolling through red lights, not paying attention to their surroundings and in general being reckless and going against what society has determined to be the norm.

    Being a cyclist doesn’t in any way, shape or form make me responsible for any persons petty anger emotions about other people on the road. I am not responsible for your genetic make up. I am not responsible for you owning a vehicle that is too big to share a lane with me. I am not responsible for your ignorance on what sharing the road means. I am not responsible for the behaviors of other cyclists. I will make no apologies for other cyclists that don’t follow the rules of the road and I expect that drivers won’t make apologies for other drivers who don’t follow the rules of the road.

    If you have that big of a problem with cyclists you need to go see a therapist. You have obvious troubles managing your emotions. And again that isn’t my problem either. It’s yours. Go deal with it. Maybe you will be a happier person and won’t have to blame explosive anger on a person on bicycle that you don’t even know.

    • Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/21/2013 - 04:24 pm.

      Deal With It

      Ned, you pretty much summed it up. Drivers need to control their own vehicle, maintain a safe distance from bikers, and mind their own P’s and Q’s. It’s pretty disingenuous of drivers to complain about bikers who don’t stop when they themselves don’t bother to stop. And, quite frankly, it’s lame to then try to justify their outrage by claiming it’s a safety issue and they’ll feel bad if they run someone over.

      Just this morning I watched two cars in front of me run a red light on a left turn. One almost got creamed by a car going the other direction who had the right of way and had to slam on his brakes to avoid a serious accident. And yet we don’t see angry postings on every article about car crashes and driver behavior.

      • Submitted by Keith Morris on 02/24/2013 - 03:58 pm.

        Yes, it’s very much self-serving double standards for motorists: OK for me to run a red light within three seconds of it turning red, but outrageous for you to stop at a red light, wait for traffic to pass, and bike through the intersection. As though the former were any more legal than the latter. Motorists also spend the vast majority of travel time breaking the law with their vehicle based solely on the fact that they’re driving over the speed limit between slowing down/starting being stopped completely (which almost never happens on a rolling right turn on red).

        On a multi-lane street with no bike lanes, like Hennepin and 1st in Old St Anthony, cars have other lanes ( notice that’s plural) to choose from. When motorists choose to get stuck behind me and even honk every once in a while, it’s because they’re too dumb to simply use the other lane and would rather be a man/woman-child that feels (it’s always emotion over intellect) that the road is theirs and doesn’t want to share with others.

        And bikes are not “too slow”. It takes me 5-10 minutes to bike to restaurants, grocery stores, bars, coffee shops, museums, etc. It’s just over 40 minutes to commute out to the burbs for work when the streets and trails are clear. That’s as fast or -faster- than most motorists. It’s not my fault if you chose to live out in a place where in order to get to those places as fast as me you have to drive at 50 MPH because everything is artificially spaced so far apart. If you drive in Mpls, you’re going to be forced to deal with this scary thing called, “culture” so either deal or stay in your McBurb.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/21/2013 - 04:45 pm.

      Awfully defensive there, aren’t you?

      I wouldn’t be making therapist recommendations to other people if I were you.

  24. Submitted by Kris Palmer on 02/26/2013 - 08:15 am.

    Driver fear

    As a serious cyclist–and driver–for decades, I have been screamed and honked at and also hit by a car. The psychologist’s theory recited above involves cyclists who break the rules, but I have been shouted and gestured at when I’m breaking no rules, riding within the limit at the side of the road. I attribute driver rage to fear at the wheel. The drivers who shout and gesture are afraid of this perceived obstacle in front of them. It requires their attention, it’s vulnerable as pointed out in the piece, and they could kill someone and go to jail if they mess up, or the cyclist does, in their minds. Texting, eating, phone jabber at the wheel compound the distractions and elevate the fear.

    Reducing driver fear would be my starting point for this debate. First, every driver should learn how to pass a cyclist. Far too often I’m passed by someone who swings so wide they go all the way into the oncoming lane. Someone approaches in that lane, they swing back, now both motorists are annoyed and I’ve done nothing but ride at the edge of the road. Three feet is all that is required under law. Come up near the cyclist, that wide, wait until the coast is clear, and pass. Then relax.

    This addresses only a small slice of the problem and conflict, but it’s a good starting point. Drivers who can avoid adrenaline and anger on first sight of a cyclist will be prepared for other, more complicated encounters.

  25. Submitted by Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe on 05/06/2014 - 07:56 am.

    Another part of it

    I think part of it is the inequality of driver vs cyclist registration.

    As a driver, I was required to take drivers ed, take a written test, and then pass a road test to be able to legally drive a car.

    As a cyclist, you buy a bike, sit on it, and go off down the road.

    Not saying that just because a driver passed a road test they are a good driver, but the fact that cyclists aren’t required to have ANY training to use to the road is an issue.

    Now, obviously if you’re a cyclist who had a drivers licence as well, you’ve been through the same as drivers, and I think that shows you’ve had training to use the road.

    Personally, I think you should have to show a drivers licence to be able to ride a bike in the streets. If you dont have one, you can apply and test for a cyclists license.

    So the kids dont get left out, lets say you have to be 12 to get one and ride alone. Before that, you can still ride but you have to be with an adult over age 18 who has a drivers or cyclists licence. I’d even say a Cyclists license could be cheaper than a car one, there are some differences. And since most cyclists already have a drivers, it wouldn’t be a huge cost burden on cyclists. What it would do, is show that these folks have had safety and road rules training.

    People using a road on a vehicle of any kind need to be held to the same training standards.

    There’s a lot of resistance to this idea from the cycling community, and I dont think that helps much in the view that cyclists want to have the same road access without being held to the same standards as motorists.

    Now on the other side, in driving classes, they need to stress training motorists more on rules regarding bikes on the road.

  26. Submitted by Call M. Rodgers on 09/19/2015 - 12:29 pm.

    Sad, but true

    I am an extremely fast cyclist. No problem keeping up with the speed of cars on side streets. I follow all the same rules as cars, because, as someone with 15 yrs. daily bike commuting under my belt, it’s no problem for me. Unlike most cyclists, who quite reasonably haven’t built up the muscle mass to stop and start every couple of feet the way cars do. My point? Asking bikes to drive like cars is as unreasonable a standard as asking cars to drive like bikes. But I do it anyway. Does is work? Absolutely, in no way, no, not whatsoever. Twice, three times a day some nutcase intentionally tries to threaten my life with their car just because they can. People speed up behind me and cut me off as we’re entering an intersection, cut me off on the right, almost cause 1 4-car pile up to prove some ridiculous “point”. I can’t in good conscience recommend following the same rules as cars to any beginner cyclist. The sad fact is, if you value your life, you’re going to damn well pass on right, skirt across the red lights, and do whatever it takes to avoid this daily violence and harassment.

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