Many motorists assume the road they are using at the moment is exclusively for their use. Some of it is ignorance of the need to and even how to share the road with cyclists. More concerning is some of it is just plain old selfishness.
Recently I had a very disappointing conversation with a non-cyclist friend. The friend told me of being very upset with a cyclist sharing the road with motorist during her drive to work. She was traveling in the left of two Eastbound lanes and found herself confronted with slowing traffic as the motorists in the right lane swerved to avoid a cyclist. She admitted the total delay was less than one minute, but seemed longer. She told me the cyclists should have picked a better time or a different road or used the sidewalk for his bike ride.
Trying to get her thinking on the right track, I asked her the following questions and got the following responses:
Q: Are you proposing cyclists break the law by riding on the sidewalk so as to not inconvenience you when you are in a hurry?
A: Well no, but the cyclist has no business being on the road because it slowing traffic and creating a hazard for motorist.
Q: Do you know of another less traveled road the cyclist could have used?
Q: Do you know swerving around a cyclist is both dangerous and a violation of the 3 ft law?
A: Yes, but what could the other drivers do? The cyclist was in their way!
Q: What makes you think the cyclist's schedule is less important than yours? Do you think only motorists have to be places and do things at specific times?
A: I need to get to work and there was just one cyclist slowing everybody down!
After this conversation, it got me thinking. Given, based on my experience, most motorists falsely assume exclusive or at least privileged right to the road what is needed is a "Motorists Bill of You Do Not have the Rights” to set things on the right path. Here's what I have so far:
You as a motorist do not have the right to:
- Believe your's is the only legitimate use of the road.
- Assume bicyclists' reasons for being on the road are frivolous compared to yours.
- Get to your destination at the fastest possible speed you dare.
- Treat bicyclists as mere road obstructions in the way of your multi-ton vehicle's progress.
- Demand bicyclists use some other road or use the road at some other time.
- Be faultless if you did not see the cyclist you hit with your motor vehicle.
- Blame the presence of a cyclist for your bad behavior, such as dangerous lane changes, passing on blind curves, or exceeding the speed limit.
- Confront cyclists in your path by shouting at them, tailgating them, flashing your lights, sounding your horn, or by swerving around them.
- Simply ignore the presence of a cyclist because cyclists should not be on the road and therefore deserve whatever harm that comes their way.