On the Flip Side



I hate to say it, but motorists do have some valid complaints when it comes to some cyclists.

I was in my car over the weekend, waiting to turn right at a red light.  As a gap opened up and I was just starting to roll, a cyclists came flying by me on the right.  He didn’t slow at all for the red light, proceeded through the turn at full speed, and in the process of the turn moved out into the travel lane.  Had I not noticed movement in my peripheral vision, this cyclists could have been seriously hurt.

As far as I’m concerned, this cyclists should have waited his turn to make a right.  Instead, he needlessly placed himself at risk of being hit.  I believe cyclists should have the right to move through traffic jams, but only when it is safe to do so.  As a cyclist, it’s our responsibility to ensure that motorists are aware of our presence and not needlessly delay motorists when they reach an intersection first.  If we can’t safely do so, then we must wait just like other vehicles on the roadway.

I’m all for cyclists rights and even legally advancing the mode of transportation in ways that naturally benefit the cyclists’ ability to move around effectively.  However, I’m also a firm believer that cyclists must show other roadway users respect and this cyclist clearly didn’t do so.  This was a very clear example of how one cyclist can sour one or more motorists to our healthy, efficient mode of transportation.  Had I not been as observent, I could have easily collided with this careless cyclist.


  • Aug 11, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Riding through downtown Boston over the weekend was a thrill seekers dream. I was cut off several times by people turning right at stop lights, but ater being on both sides of this equation, know that drivers can't easily spot a cyclist to their right coming up from behind their car. In Boston at least driving is such an hair raising activity, it seems wise to give drivers a careful second look from the bike and let them go ahead into the turn if they don't see you.

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 11, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Wrong as usual.

    Biking, jogging, walking and working in a public byway are a constitutional right. Not so motoring. Motoring is a privilege that you earn and keep by avoiding running down other legitimate users of streets and obeying traffic laws, all of which were written specifically to protect these other users.

    Something about motoring makes drivers impatient, when compliance should be easy in their labor saving machines. People who think otherwise ought to have their licenses revoked.

    Actually, drivers who can't see 360° around them, who think driving is so boring or confusing they need to phone a friend, who are texting meaningless messages instead of paying close attention, ought to opt for riding busses instead of endangering children, pets, and the rest of World WHO DON'T REQUIRE LICENSES.

    This "RIDE RIGHT" message is an insult to cyclists everywhere. GIVE IT UP. Cyclists know better than anyone what the price of their actions are, huge for them personally, nothing for motorists, who have practically no idea how dangerous and inconvenient driving is. If I don't have to drive somewhere, I ride my bike or stay home.

  • Aug 11, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Alan, is your "wrong as usual" directed at me? If so, I must disagree. I ride a bicycle a lot, I drive some and I would like to think as a driver I'm more aware of cyclists because of the time spent on a bicycle seat.

    This cyclists was in the wrong. He had no right, passing me on the right as he did. I was doing nothing wrong, just flowing with traffic. It's not my job as a driver, not practical at all, to proactively prevent cyclists from doing stupid things. This was a stupid act and the cyclists is lucky I saw him.

    I've heard your argument about cycling, walking, jogging, etc being a constitutional right many times. While this may be true, it doesn't exclude these users of the roadway from being respectful of others. You are absolutely right that motoring is a privilege, one that is taken for granted by way too many motorists, but the simple fact that motoring requires a license doesn't mean all liability is placed on motorists. Cyclists are not free to do whatever they want, they must share the limited resources with others, whether we like it or not.

  • Bill Lewis
    Aug 11, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I have to agree with Mark, I am 100% carfree and bike is my main form of transport. I can't stand the idiots on the sidewalk and wrong way riders. I try to obey the traffic laws and almost never run a red except the long lights that don't trip. I am very aware of being right hooked and wait my turn in traffic. I would feel sorry for you if you took out a fellow cyclist because it is entirely their own fault. Filtering through an intersection is one of the most danerous things to do. Many riders are killed every year doing this. I sound like an old crank yelling at people in Newport for doing stupid shit but who cares maybe someone is alive because of it.

  • Dennis
    Aug 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Too bad if that reckless cyclist had been hit. Perhaps he'd just get scraped up and learn a lesson, perhaps worse. In the end, he was the one acting reckless in the public arena and that brings up the other half of the equation.

    Rights and responsibilities. The right to ride my bike on the road and the responsibility to follow the rules.I do truly feel sorry for the idiots that get hit playing in traffic, but they should not be playing in traffic. Which brings up that nasty idea of Education.

    If "we" don't educate drivers and cyclists about not only the rights, but also the responsibilities then idiots will die in traffic and idiots will kill people in traffic.

    Am I being too harsh?

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 13, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Bill, Dennis and Mark don't speak for bicyclists. Their disingenuous argument comes from an automotive mindset. In one thread they bemoan babies and women being run down; here they run down cyclists with whom they disagree. Inconsistent?

    A public right of way can be used by animals, children, construction workers, handicapped, joggers, and self propelled idiots without a license, registration, or the least expectation of any care whatever. Court cases unanimously find motorists at fault in collisions with all non-motorists, since it is a basic requirement that they avoid killing people and exercise care while operating. Insurance is a prerequisite because motoring is risky; yet they compound dangers with distractions. Forget bigger fines; you don't want repeat aggressors driving at all. Smart people choose not to drive.

    As it is, 40% of RI roads illegally ban bystanders and pedicyclists; heaven help you if you break down on them and suddenly find yourself a pedestrian, just like any bicyclist who puts a foot down. Don't even try riding on Rt 6 through Johnston, typical of most major secondaries throughout state. Now you're saying is the remaining 60% can't be equitably shared? At any given instant, cyclists are perfectly entitled to change lanes for a left turn, pass on the right, or weave to avoid ANYTHING THAT IMPEDES in the gutter (more often than not). That gives them the right to the ENTIRE ROAD at all times. Get over it.

    You and your automotive lobbyists would push cycling off streets altogether. I encourage everyone else to EXERCISE their right to use all the pavement that property and sales taxes pay for. What is property, other than something someone else owns because everyone contributed to society and made it possible? Who are motorists anyway? For every 3 there is 1 bicyclist, often someone who does both. Just because they are similar doesn't make them IDENTICAL. Laws that were ONLY DESIGNED to protect pedicyclists from motorists have been turned against them. Don't fall for it, because they are unenforceable.

    And don't expect cyclists to stick to bikeways, not unless they are prepared to give you at least 1200 miles, fairly comparable to RI's 4,000 miles of motoring infrastructure. They haven't yet installed in 2% of that; we've been waiting for almost a decade for pavement on an already decked and graded 2-mile connection in Coventry.

    Cyclists would settle for bike-ped bridges at key points and decent shoulders on secondaries. Tertiaries don't require anything, since they're empty most of the time. The cost and time to make these important changes statewide are tiny; could be done in 6 months. It's obvious that bikeways here are no more than a time killer, the carrot they are prepared to dangle while they do nothing at all to make cycling safer.

  • Aug 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Bill, Dennis and Mark don’t speak for bicyclists. Their disingenuous argument comes from an automotive mindset.

    Alan, again, you are trying to put words in my mouth. I am the only person who can tell you where my argument comes from and it is not due to an automotive mindset. It stems from the realization that neither cars nor bikes are going anywhere, any time soon, and, therefore, we must figure out a way for them to coexist. Both sides must grow their respect for each other and, yes, give in a little to make this relationship work.

    Just because my views differ from yours does not mean I don't speak for cyclists. I've never claimed to speak for all cyclists, but clearly there are at least some others out there who agree with my views. I'm willing to openly listen to other points of views, ponder them, and if I convince myself that they are right adopt them. There are certainly other views than yours or mine out there and it remains to be seen what ultimately happens.

    I encourage everyone on this blog to approach the topic with an open mind and promote productive conversations. Simple spouting the same views over and over again will not win over the minds of many. You have to justify your position and do so in a way that is both logical and respectful of those that disagree with you. Otherwise, you will never accomplish anything significant, especially when it comes to dealing with government.

    In one thread they bemoan babies and women being run down; here they run down cyclists with whom they disagree. Inconsistent?

    How so? I made an assumption in the case of the Taunton cyclist that she was riding appropriately and didn't just dash out in front of the motorist, without warning. I believe the article certainly would have said this, as papers and law enforcement around here tend to favor motorists. That said, had she been inconsiderate of other road users, i.e. suddenly swerved into the travel lane, then I believe she would have been at fault. There is nothing a reasonable person could expect a motorist to do in such a case.

    As for my case, I still believe the cyclists was at fault. Perhaps I should have been more clear in my statement about passing on the right. I have no issue with cyclists passing on the right, when it is safe to do so. In my situation, it was not safe for the cyclist to do so. I had been sitting at red light, at the front of a line of cars. I was in the process of starting a right turn on red, the car was actually rolling, when my peripheral vision caught the cyclists whizzing by me on the right and taking the turn so quickly he had to enter the lane of travel in the street we were both turning onto. It's just lucky I saw him. I fail to see what, reasonably, I could have done to avoid such a situation. Should I be required to look behind me for approaching cyclists prior to turning right on red? All that was required was some respect from the cyclist to wait their turn.

    Any time I overtake cars waiting at a red light, I do so VERY cautiously. If the light turns green, I stop advancing and get into the flow of traffic. Before I proceed to the front of the line, I always ensure I have enough time before the light will change and I make sure that the person is not turning right. If the lead car is turning right, then I don't continue passing them, as I could put a motorist in a situation similar to what this cyclist did. I think this approach is both logical and does a good job ensuring my safety.

    Forget bigger fines; you don’t want repeat aggressors driving at all. Smart people choose not to drive.

    I agree with you in part. I don't think bigger fines alone are enough to stop all motorists from driving dangerously. However, I do think people make mistakes and that there should be some sort of graduated punishment scale. People do also make mistakes at times, and while they should take responsibility for their actions, I don't believe the right answer in all situations is to suspend or revoke a license.

    Take for instance a motorist that doesn't yield to a pedestrian or cyclists in a crosswalk. Do they deserve to loose their license? For a first offense, I don't think so, a fine makes much more sense. Catch a repeat offender and they should be presented with an increased fine and mandatory driver's education. Get caught again and yes, they should face a license suspension. But it shouldn't go directly to this level without at least giving them a chance to learn from their mistakes.

    You and your automotive lobbyists would push cycling off streets altogether.

    I'm not an automotive lobbyist and have no intention of pushing cyclists off streets. Sure, if there were a separate bicycle infrastructure that went everywhere, then I might see it come to this point, but this will never happen. I fully support cyclists taking the entire lane when it makes sense to do so. However, they must do so in a manner that respects other roadway users. It is inconsiderate to take up the entire lane on a uphill climb when there is a perfectly good shoulder. A cyclists doing this is just unnecessarily delaying other roadway users.

    Out of curiosity Alan, what are your feelings about cyclist's versus pedestrian rights? I've read you state many times that cyclists have an inalienable right to the road. What about when it comes to cyclists versus pedestrians, whose rights are greater? I firmly believe cyclists must yield to pedestrians, just as cars are required by law to do so. A quickly moving cyclist, not being observant of their surroundings or caring about the other roadway users can cause significant injuries, or in some cases death, to a pedestrian. Furthermore, not everyone can afford a bicycle and shouldn't the most rights be afforded to the lowest common denominator for transportation?

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    It is not incumbent upon bicyclists to make themselves coexist. Government and motorists are pursuing criminal behavior which shouldn't be tolerated.

    License suspension/revocation is a wonderful lesson seldom given. It teaches offenders how to ride on bikes and busses, and what a privilege driving responsibly really is.

    I stop always for pedestrians who are likely to be in my way, but not necessarily someone standing on a street corner who gives no indication of crossing. Although you're framing the question that way, it is not the same between cyclists and pedestrians as it is motorists and pedestrians. The likelihood of hurting someone is negligible in the former, potentially fatal in the latter.

    As far as staying off sidewalks, WHO WALKS? I can ride the entire length of Warwick Avenue and not impede one walker on a typical day. If so, I simply brake and dismount. Yours is a specious argument at best. There's little wonder I call your motives into question.

  • Aug 13, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    It is not incumbent upon bicyclists to make themselves coexist. Government and motorists are pursuing criminal behavior which shouldn’t be tolerated.

    While this might be true in a strictly legal sense, it is not the reality of the situation and nor it will be for the foreseeable future. I'd love nothing more than to have completely separate automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities everywhere in the country, it is highly unlikely to actually happen in my lifetime.

    Although you’re framing the question that way, it is not the same between cyclists and pedestrians as it is motorists and pedestrians. The likelihood of hurting someone is negligible in the former, potentially fatal in the latter.

    I see a natural order of succession. A pedestrian on pedestrian collision is highly unlikely to cause any sort of injury. A bicycle on pedestrian collision is significantly more likely to cause an injury. A automobile on pedestrian or bicycle is even more likely to cause an injury. Granted, the later is most likely to result in serious injury or death, but the second is also likely to cause significant injuries. Motorists do bear the greatest burden for ensuring their actions do not injure other parties. Cyclists then bear the next greatest burden and shouldn't be lumped in with pedestrians.

    As far as staying off sidewalks, WHO WALKS?

    Perhaps not where you are. I happen to live on the East Bay and ride into Providence. Along my routes, there are tons of people who walk. The buses are busy, people are out walking to stores, and I've seen an increase in activity over the past few years.

  • Dennis
    Aug 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm


    I know I shouldn't, but I will.

    1. I don't speak for anyone but myself. I happen to be a Bicyclist.

    2. If some fool decides to jump out into traffic (say, in front of a legally traveling bus) and is hurt by such a move, it was the fool's actions, not the bus driver, that hurt the fool.

    As far as the bike, car, ped thing goes, Everyone should know the laws and rules involved. Not just one subset of rules (Car Laws), but all the rules for using that shared chunk of asphalt. Because we all share it.

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 14, 2009 at 4:10 am

    The REALITY, as you put it, is that 1 out of 6 RI residents are functionally illiterate. At least 25% are or agedly demented or too young. There is no amount of education you can provide to eliminate their presence. Thus, ALL the onus is on motorists. If they don't like this FACT, they shouldn't be driving. Period.

    There are some statistics taken on bike – ped collisions, but I've never heard of one resulting in fatality. There are a steady 700 bicyclists and 5,000 pedestrians killed by motorists every year. If you consider the pelaton, there have been a few fatalities in the 100 years of bike versus bike on the Tour de France, but this is extreme sports. You might zip along (i've been up to 65 mph myself), but the average of averages in speed is only about 10 mph among bicyclists, unlikely to result in serious injury. Crushing momentum multiplied by speed is why 45,000 die every year in motoring collisions. It's physics.

    Lose the anti-cyclist rhetoric. Focus on the REAL problems: Driver education and infrastructure improvements. I applaud RIDOT new "share the road" brochure, which I've been reproducing and distributing through local libraries to motorists. AAA should be sending them to their members, although somehow I think that won't occur.

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 15, 2009 at 8:50 am


    This is what they are doing in London: Guided tours around city (sort of like your bike trains)
    Note they use the phrase "assertive rider". You have to claim your rightful space; helps if you have a bunch with you.


    "I happen to live on the East Bay and ride into Providence. Along my routes, there are tons of people who walk. The buses are busy, people are out walking to stores, and I’ve seen an increase in activity over the past few years."


    Yeah, huh? My point exactly. Urban planning is wonderful. Provide… affordable housing, bikeways, quieted streets with bike lanes, parking around periphery, propane driven trolleys, sidewalks, villages… and people will use it. Fun, livable, safe, touristy. Meet people, think of new improvements, wax community wise.

    Put highways through city and remove small byways and you destroy neighborhoods. Activists like Jane Jacobs saved lower Manhattan.

    Providence spends practically nothing on arts and tourism (budget <$100,000/yr) while literally $500 million/yr. is being wasted on highways. The object of infrastructure improvement should not be to usher people through but create traffic that sticks and improves economy. This is where your pols have failed you.

  • Bill Lewis
    Aug 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Alan you are a first class asshat. Nver before in all the years I have been on a bike and my years on bike forums have I met such a crybaby as you. I thought I've seen some over the top advocates for segragation but you are the worst. I am in no way carcentric, I thought I made that clear, but saying that a bike has more right to the road is stupid. First, cyclists are frequently found at fault in accidents and fatalities do occur between bikes and peds, here is one. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/8197430… There was one in Canada recently as well. I think you should move away and find bicycle eutopia because it isn't going to happen here. I have no trouble with other vehicles almost all of the time and the few times I do it's just an asshat like you from the other side of the spectrum(roads are for cars). Why don't you do some research before you spout ideological BS.

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 17, 2009 at 7:12 am


    Issue a retraction or prepare for a lawsuit. What you are saying is libel and I won't tolerate it.

    Roads are not for cars. Roads are shared public space for anyone. Motorists are the ONLY ones restricted during their use. You are obviously ignorant.

    1.3 million people die in traffic accident worldwide every year. Motoring is a scourge that advertisers don't want you to know about. You pathetic citation of 1 or 2 bike induced fatalities is simply ridiculous in comparison.

  • Bill Lewis
    Aug 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

    So sue me crybaby. You wrote that you hadn't heard of bike v. ped fatalities and I cited several, I'm sure there are more in the third world. No one here disputes that cars and trucks kill more people. Your hysterical exaggerations are amusing to say the least but hardly reality. I really think you should move to a place where you can ride in segregated bliss on dedicated bike-ways. In the meantime I'll just ride in the lane like a grown-up and not on the sidewalk or in the gutter.

  • Alan Barta
    Aug 20, 2009 at 3:37 am

    So, Bill, are you the banker or the bus driver? I'd rather be a crybaby than someone who needs tax paid bailouts and steals from the poor or is so aloof and arrogant they think they own the road. There are worst things than being sued. You've demonstrated you're a hateful selfish moron, something the community is sure to shun when it comes to opportunities. You're likely a racist, too, since segregation is the first thing out of your mouth.

    I lead more rides that exclude no one on city streets than anyone in the state. I'm a tireless advocate of on-street biking accommodations in congested areas. I conducted the 1st comprehensive survey of avid cyclists…
    and am pursuing the mandate of the majority. There are 3 or 4 people locally who've come close to my decade and thousands of letters on behalf of cyclists, which I'll never regret even when it comes to the likes of you. The only way to make streets safe for children is to further control and restrict motorists. Bicyclists are ZERO threat, except the few, like you, who turn everything into a weapon against public safety.