Reactions and Response to My Bike Column
Joel Engardio

I left a couple comments on a version of the article shared on Facebook, but I don’t know if you saw them. Here they are again:

I encounter a frightening number of angry drivers every day. They feel entitled to do whatever they like on the roads (including idling in bike lanes indefinitely) and are easily enraged by the minor inconvenience of riding behind a cyclist for a few blocks at 10–15 mph.
It has nothing to do with insurance and everything to do with selfishness. They don’t ride bikes and have zero empathy for those that do. I’m not convinced they even realize we’re fellow humans.


America glorifies car culture. Our “golden age” — the time our culture is so nostalgic for—was a time of beautifully-designed cars, the introduction of the freeway, suburbia, etc. We imagine going out on the open road and driving as fast and as far as we like. We imagine going on a date in our cars, grabbing dinner at the drive-in, and driving to the top of a mountain to hookup with our high school sweethearts.
Speed limits were caused by geopolitics around oil and the Middle East — they had nothing to do with safety. America’s reaction? The hit song “I Can’t Do 55.”
These are the images that are ingrained in our culture, intertwined with the American Dream. They lead the same people who believe that America is the “free-est country in the world” to believe driving (and driving quickly) is their birthright. They feel entitled to an open road, and some nerd pedaling a two wheeled contraption to work is literally getting in their way.

I ride my bike nearly every day. Riding through the Park is fantastic, but if I have to ride through the city, I find myself constantly muttering “what the fuck are you doing?!” to the drivers I encounter and/or fearing for my safety multiple times per ride. I ride anyway, because I love being outside and like having exercise built-in to my daily routine. But it’s still a needlessly harrowing experience.

I know that there are many safe and respectful drivers, but the sad fact is that I encounter countless counterexamples every single time I ride. One of them flabbergasted me so much the other day that I took the time to chronicle it when I got home:

I’m stopped at a red light in the bike lane on Howard. Some dude in a pickup truck with no plates rolls up behind me, honking. Waving his cigarette in my direction, he flicks on his turn signal and beckons “Share the road! Share the road!” Annoyed but concerned for my own safety, I scoot to the left. He glides past me and continues against the red light and around the corner.
That the primary audience for the Share the Road signs is drivers was a nuance completely lost on him.

So long as I keep having experiences like that, I’m going to keep pressing for safer, separated bike lanes. And I’m going to oppose any measures, no matter how well-intentioned, that feel like they attack rather than protect cyclists. Mandatory licensing/insurance is one such measure.