Who Owns the Road? Cyclists, Cars, or Dogs?

Something that Troubles Me
There is a new Facebook group called “There’s a Perfectly Good Path Right Next to the Road you Stupid Cyclist” that is really feeding the anti cyclist movement out there. I read about it at a couple of sites that I frequent, and you can read about it here. My thoughts on this are these: Free Speech is one of the fundamental rights of this country. Free speech brings out some of the most incredible thoughts that may or may not exist without it. But it is also a double edged sword. Just as it produces so much good, it also brings out some of the most vile hatred that can be expressed. I was always taught that my right to free speech ends once it injures another person. Right or wrong, that is the way I was brought up.

If you run or bike, the likelihood is that you spend time between the curbs. If you run or bike in the country, you spend time on the road for sure. We have all had experiences where people yell at us, throw stuff at us, or just try and see how close they can get before we bail into the ditch. For women, the fear this produces has to be multiplied exponentially. Some people I know carry mace, cell phones, and camera phones to try and combat this problem. Some have even suggested carrying guns. As a huge supporter of your right to own and carry firearms, I think this is just silly.

Is there any harm in the Facebook group like the one described above? I think there is. There are enough stupid people out there who will think this is funny and will go out an taunt cyclists and runners. Someone will push it too far and someone is going to end up getting hurt. Don’t believe me? Look at Dr. Thompson who was taunting a couple of cyclists who were “riding down his canyon” in California and slammed on his brakes in front of them. They were unable to stop and BAM! It didn’t end well. He was found guilty of six felonies and one misdemeanor and is being sentenced today. You can read about it here. He is going to lose his license to practice medicine and I hope will be going to jail for a very long time.

But Mike, I am just one person, what can I do? 
There is plenty. The first is educate yourself about the rules of the road and how cyclists and runners both should be treated. I know that most of the people who frequent my blog are already educated in the rules of the road. The next step would be to educate your friends, family, and neighbors too. Help them understand that slowing down and taking a wide pass will cost them a couple of seconds in getting to their destination but could very well save a life. You can also keep a level head when someone does something silly on the road. If there is a serious problem, pull out your cell and call 911 and take a photo of a license plate. I have done it with poachers while hunting and you would be surprised how quickly people back down when the consequences of their actions run through their heads.

Globally, you can join a group like this one on Facebook, whose goal it is to have the hate group removed. You can invite everyone you know to join it. Contact the admins of Facebook and let them know this is hate rhetoric and should be removed immediately. Talk about road safety on your blogs and any electronic media you use. This is an important subject because the odds are that if it doesn’t happen to you, eventually someone you know will have an altercation with a vehicle on the road while biking or running. Let’s hope it never does…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...