In Memoriam – Nancy Belle
GAY AND GRAY: An Elder Hero for Gay Humanity

Crabby Confesses: She Despises Bicyclists

Crabby Old Lady is aware that this is an unpopular stand, but someone's got to say it: bicyclists are a worse menace that automobile drivers.

A couple of days ago, while driving her car on a local street at the posted speed of 25 mph, Crabby had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting a bicycle steered by a grown man of age 50 or so, pedaling into traffic mid-block from between two parked cars.

He too stopped, directly in front of Crabby's car, shouting and gesticulating wildly - something to the effect that Crabby was a raging @#$%^ (this is a family blog) trying to kill anyone who was saving the planet and blah, blah, blah. (Her windows were closed so Crabby missed most of the tirade.)

Since he seemed prepared to emote all afternoon, Crabby drove around him into the other lane and off to her errands as he, predictably, gave her back the traditional one-fingered salute.

This isn't the first run-in Crabby Old Lady has had with a bicyclist. About 15 years ago, she nearly killed one in midtown New York traffic as she opened the door to exit a taxi and slammed it into a messenger passing on the right.

On another occasion, a New York bicycle messenger might have killed Crabby. Crossing a one-way street, she looked to make sure traffic coming toward her was clear, then stepped off the curb only to be slammed to the ground by a wrong-way cyclist.

Like Maine where, until a month ago, Crabby lived for four years, Oregon has a lot of bike paths painted on the sides of streets and suburban roads. Also like Maine, cyclists here seem to believe their specially designated lanes give them the right to ride the wrong way on one-way streets, weave in and out of auto lanes and turn without signaling.

A couple of weeks ago, Crabby saw a cyclist reverse direction in the middle of 50 mph suburban traffic by humping his bike over the median strip of the four-lane road.

It amazes Crabby Old Lady that cyclists who so blatantly ignore the rules seem to falsely believe two things: that automobiles need no more room than bicycles to stop and that thousand-plus pound vehicles can't hurt them. (Oh, maybe there's a third thing – that they falsely believe motorists don't hate them enough to behave as cavalierly as they do.)

Now don't go telling Crabby that most cyclists are responsible. That may or may not be true, but Crabby, in her entire life, has not seen more than two or three drivers going the wrong way on a one-way street, something cyclists do regularly and, unlike motorists, deliberately. They often run red lights which motorists almost never do, and as far as Crabby can tell, not one cyclist has ever learned hand signals.

Even children are more predictable than cyclists. When they're playing near the road, you know they are likely to do something stupid just because they are young and inexperienced. So you slow way down. Grownups are expected be smarter, but the act of buying a bicycle seems to drain brain cells.

The more bicycles on the road, the better for the environment and for individual health. But until cyclists lose the holier-than-thou attitude, and the rules of the road are enforced for bicyclists as readily as for motorists, Crabby Old Lady will despise them.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Hands Across the Years


Rude, dangerous and/or illegal behavior by anyone operating any vehicle, including a bicycle, is deplorable, Crabby. I am an enthusiastic elder biker who will, as soon as this !@#$% rain stops, hop on my trusty fat tired steed to ride across town to pit cherries, then on to lunch with the "girls". On the way I will, as always, obey all traffic laws, try to be visible and predictable, and respect the rights and concerns of the car drivers I encounter. I heartily wish the few idiots who spoil it for the rest of us would get a clue. 'Illigitimae non carburundum', Crabby. It's bad for the blood pressure.

Cyclists don't just dislike people with more wheels than they have. They also yell and gesture at people on foot. Actually, they don't seem to like each other very much either. Cycling must not be much fun.

You said it all, sister! I feel the same way about it. On hiking trails they can be a hazard also as they just go so much faster than a hiker. There should be more tickets issued to them in town as a way to teach them at least there that they are vehicles and have responsibilities.

Oh Lordy, driving to work to downtown DC is no picnic. Add cyclists to the mix and my blood pressure instantly rises. We too have the painted lanes for bikes on most streets but they don't extend to the dreaded circles. I need to drive through two circles getting to work: Logan Circle and Thomas Circle. Instead of staying in the far right lane, most will wander and mingle into the middle or extreme inner circle lane. No hand signals, they just cruise in front of you. Then with very little room, they stop traffic so they can then zip out of the circle when their street comes up. Grrrr!

Mixed feelings here. You see, I live with an urban cyclist, darn near an elder herself, who rides to work and all over the city. Not being a testosterone poisoned idiot (sometimes these are even female), she's law abiding, stops at stop signs, etc. She does, when necessary in city traffic "take the lane" as bicycles are legally entitled to when to riding on the right would be more dangerous. At the speeds our traffic moves at, she's not an impediment.

But I don't ride in the city myself. Scares the heck out of me.

Interestingly, my parents rode the streets of Buffalo until their 80s. My father was probably legally blind before he gave up the bike. Better than having him drive ... And there wasn't much traffic.

Crabby, you must live on very safe streets. We live on a one way block, with a school in the middle, and we see frustrated drivers, often gunning their cars, race down it the wrong way almost daily. I get furious.

AHHH come on folks -- cyclists come in different packages just like pedestrians and auto drivers -- some obey the rules, some do not. Give cyclists a break and understand that they are trying to improve Mother Earth and that they are up against hulking autos whose drivers think they alone own the roads. I am not a cyclist anymore but wish I were. There is good and bad in all categories of mobility. -- barbara

Another blogger once wrote something to the effect of: When I am a pedestrian I hate motorists and when I drive, I hate pedestrians. But whether I'm driving or walking, I always hate bicyclist. It's that self-righteous attidtude.

Gee, give COL a glass of wine to calm her down.

Crabby, I agree but a warning is in order--be extremely forgiving of bicyclists in Oregon, where biking is akin to religion in red states.

Just give them the widest possible berth, plus all the right of way all the time, and you can't go wrong.

Annoying? You bet. Serious as a heart attack? Ditto.

Thank you. I've said the same things as you did this morning. And I will say them again tomorrow. Sigh! We live near and shop in Chico, a California University town. Chico is bicycle friendly town and that seems to give cyclists the perception that they can ride any way they darn well please. Not a day goes by that I don't see dangerous behavior by adult cyclists. Where are the cycling clubs? Why aren't they regulating the sport they love?

Thank God I no longer drive.

As a fairly new Portland resident (4 years}, I am very proud to live in a city that promotes riding bicycles. When you consider the large number of people on bikes, you have to factor in that some will not obey the laws. True, cars don't usually drive in the wrong direction on a one-way street, but they don't stop at stop signs, they run red lights, they exceed the speed limit, they change lanes without signaling,etc. I think I encounter way more rude and bad driving by vehicles.

I have learned to anticipate the errant cyclist as well as the errant vehicle driver and have peripheral vision activated when driving around town. This does not mean that you will always avoid the occasional arrogant cyclist. Just smile and go on your way. Oh, I think that is what you did!

This is a subject that causes as much controversy as the one about old people and alcohol.

My husband bikes to work. I'd like cyclists to moderate their tone regarding auto drivers and address the very real issues more seriously. And I'd particularly like cyclists in Denver to stop riding their bikes the wrong way on one way streets (this seems like a new and very dangerous habit). We are going to be sharing the road more and more in the future. I guess we all need more education on how to do it.

Well, I pitted the cherries and had my bike ride and darned near got clobbered on the bike path by a fellow bicyclist passing on the right without announcing his presence. G-r-r-r-r. That's the third time this month it's happened to me on a bike path. A collision would probably result in a scrape or two for the offenders, youthful guys, but it'd put me in the hospital and rehab, etc. Rude, thoughtless people ride bikes and drive cars. What're ya gonna do? De-fense, de-fense!

We all know automobile dirvers who have no business behind the wheel of any vehicle whatsoever. And we probably also know bicyclists who are equally awful on wheels. Yet none of that was a comfort at my brother-in-law's funeral. He was killed by a driver who ran a red light while he was riding his bike to work. So, bottom line, the rules of the road (or the bike path, for that matter) are there for a reason. Let's respect and obey them.

"run red lights which motorists almost never do"

Wow, lucky you. I live south of San Francisco, drive a three-mile section of El Camino Real, and daily see at least one driver run a red light.

I'm one of the good cyclists--I'm too old and frail to be a Bike Nazi, which is what you're describing. I'm all for everyone slowing down and taking the time for a good beer, and to that end, bad cyclists perform a service. Same service speed bumps do, and in exactly the same way. Since you're in Oregon--right?--you might like my

Well crap if my fancy hyperlink worked this time. Anyway, you might like my take on the subject:

Hubby and I lived in San Diego before moving here to Nebraska. In San Diego, many bikers rode in and out among the cars. It was either that or ride on the sidewalks and run over people popping out of businesses. It amazes me that an adult can be riding a bicycle while living in their own little world, oblivious to the cars whizzing by and to the destruction a car can do to the bicycle and the person riding the bicycle. It is impossible to stop quickly enough to keep from hitting a biker when they pull out in front of a car. It would be wonderful if towns across America were full of people riding bikes to work and to run errands instead of cars but training classes would be necessary and biker licenses issued. Too bad everything has to be regulated because people do not cooperate with the rest of society.

Obviously, the system works well if everyone - motorists and cyclists alike - obeys the rules. As seems to be the case in Holland, where bikes and cars have a long history of peaceful coexistence. It also seems to work OK in the total absence of rules, like in Kathmandu where in the oldest part of the city there are no sidewalks and you find bicycles, motorbikes, cars, trishaws, people and cows all happily sharing the same, potholed street. It's when there are rules but some people break them and both parties claim the moral high ground that the trouble begins.

<-- Hubby

The only wreck I've ever had on a bike (I rode every day in San Diego) was when a motorist pulled out of an alley and stopped in front of me. She was looking the other way. T-Bone, bent front wheel, no injuries, instant cash. Here we have miles and miles of cement biking trails through beautiful scenes where cars can't go, period. A wonderful place to ride.

One can empathize with you, and it comes down to respect for personal space ... I guess. Certainly, many feel quite the same with runners on the trails, or having to even dodge trike riders around the neighborhood, or my peeve, danged balloon holders any place - I hate them! Of course, most of us have a subliminal reason, or quite well know traumatic memory for not liking certain actions, people, and things.

In summation, I'd say "Age has it's priviliges." Go ahead and rant woman, the youngers' need to know.

That was an awfully wide brush that COL used, wasn't it. As an elder (72-year-old) "sometime" bicyclist, I assure you that some of us always use hand signals when approaching a stop or a turn...which fact most motorists in my area seem not to understand. (Me thinks it has been too long since motorists used hand signals for many of them to know what they mean.) I do not weave in and out of traffic, and stick to bike paths where they are available.

Hate is too strong an emotion for me to waste it on drivers/riders/pedestrians of any stripe; but, I respect COL's right to rant on. Go for it!


I would worry about having been in a near accident with a bicyclist, no matter whose fault it was and no matter how rude the bicyclist was. You may have been driving too fast or with insufficient attention. (Don't hit me again.)
As a driver, I live in terror of hurting someone. To me, that is the issue here. Where I live I have to drive in a constant state of alertness. This is not a pleasant recreational activity on the busy (mostly) two lane roads with many trucks, (unhelmeted) bikers, bicyclists, cars full of gawking tourists, and unattentive pedestrians in the mix, each with his our her own style of locomotion. We have many many accidents and fatalities, and I sure don't want to be involved in them.

My husband began talking about us getting bikes a few years ago. I felt uneasy on them when I was a kid, fell over on the curb next to the University of Nevada when I was a student there and a driver clipped me, and just have no inclination to get on a bike ever again. Husband is impressed that his boss, a woman my age, can win a bike race against her son. BFD, I tell him, she rides on the safe bike trails around their cushy second home at Sunriver. Grrrrrrr.

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