Arrogant cyclists. What can drivers do about them?
As drivers in BC, we have all come across arrogant cyclists while navigating the roads. You know, the type of cyclist who is likely to take up an entire lane of traffic rather than riding on the shoulder. Or the cyclist that insists on riding without their hands on the handlebars in heavy traffic. Oh, and who can forget those arrogant cyclists who seem to think traffic signals are for everyone else but them.
Encounters with these arrogant cyclists usually happen like this: you’re driving down a residential road well below the speed limit when, without even looking, a cyclist suddenly bolts past a stop sign, speeding directly in the path of your car. You screech to a halt, almost certain you were going to strike this two-wheeled miscreant, but somehow stop inches away from the shocked expression of his helmetless face as the cyclist finally bothered to look up. What follows is a tirade of curse words and gestures about how you need to learn to share the road. How you almost killed someone. You get so flabbergasted that you don’t even notice the waddle of spit land on your windshield, as the cyclist peddles off in a huff of steam.
Why do arrogant cyclists not have to follow the rules?
Drivers who break the rules too many times risk losing their driving privileges entirely. A few speeding tickets, maybe a distracted driving violation, and you’re likely banned from driving for months thanks to the zealousness of law enforcement, who for some reason only ever seem concerned by driving behaviour.
A cyclist who breaks the law, though? Heck, you’d be lucky to see a cyclist who doesn’t break the law. Next time you’re on the road, try this. Look for every single cyclist out there and see how many of them even bother to put on their helmets, pieces of safety equipment as essential as the seatbelts inside motor vehicles. On a great day, you might see fewer than half the cyclists on the road bothering with rule number 1. Never mind the rest of the laws cyclists have to obey.[pullquote]It’s time for law enforcement to start taking this growing population of road users more seriously[/pullquote]
According to BC’s Motor Vehicle Act, cyclists actually have to obey the same laws as drivers. The MVA states plainly that cyclists have “the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.” But when was the last time a cyclist received a ticket for distracted driving?
In fact, cyclists have to obey a list of additional rules, such as the aforementioned helmet requirement, exclusive to their vehicles of choice.
Generally, a person riding a cycle, must:
1. not ride on a sidewalk unless authorized by a bylaw or sign
2. not ride on a crosswalk to cross a road unless authorized by a bylaw or a sign
3. ride as near as practicable to the right-hand side of the roadway
4. not ride abreast or side-by-side to another cyclist
5. keep at least one hand on the handlebars
6. ride on a regular seat of the cycle
7. not permit the bicycle to carry more people than it is designed and equipped for
8. respect signs prohibiting cycling
9. not grab a hold of any other vehicles on the road
10. wear a helmet
It would be entirely unsurprising to learn that most cyclists were not aware of these rules. After all, unlike just about every driver on the road, they are not trained. At all. Anyone can hop on a bicycle and start pedalling along in traffic without a shred of knowledge of the responsibilities they have.
The listed rules aren’t even the entirety of additional laws cyclists must follow. We haven’t even talked about their duties when it comes to signalling, their responsibilities at night to add reflectors and lights, and their duties at the scene of an accident.
So why do cyclists seem to think they are invulnerable on the roads? Whether it’s the dangerous behaviour they demonstrate or their flagrant disregard for the law, it appears something is feeding that sense of entitlement that seems inherent in nearly every cyclist. Perhaps it’s time for law enforcement to start taking this growing population of road users more seriously. There are laws, and they need to follow them.
What can drivers do about arrogant cyclists?
Well, in a city like Vancouver where cyclists are seen as the messiahs of future transportation, there’s undoubtedly some leniency by the city’s law enforcement. But what drivers can do is report what they see to police. Find a safe spot to pull over and snap pictures of these arrogant cyclists. Send those pictures to law enforcement and road safety advocates. Post them online. Let these arrogant cyclists know they must be accountable to the same rules as other road users.
Unless drivers are willing to take a hard stance on the dangerous road behaviours cyclists get away with every day, the arrogant cyclists’ sense of entitlement will only grow. Do your part. Stop the double-standard of allowing arrogant cyclists to ignore the law, while drivers tip-toe around them in traffic as if they were moving, unpredictable landmines with a tendency of self-destruction.
Lastly, if you believe the behaviour of arrogant cyclists was the cause of a collision or traffic accident that you or someone you know was involved in, call us. We are BC drivers too, and know the frustrations of sharing the roads with those who feel they are entitled to breaking the law. A sympathetic ear is only a call away: 604-608-1200.