Death-wish on Two Wheels

I want to start this piece by saying I like cyclists. They do their bit for the city by using an unpolluting form of transport, by being out there and visible rather than floating by in anonymous steel objects, by setting a good example.

Hence this article. Last night, driving downtown, I passed a cyclist on Polk Street. He was dressed in black. He had no light or reflector. He swayed as he zoomed through what is still a fairly busy street, on some occasions swinging far out of the bike lane. He didn’t stop at red lights or Stop signs.

He was surviving on the alertness of strangers. We’ve all been there once in a while, the “oops” moments when other people’s good driving saves us from our mistakes. This guy seems to be making it a life-style.

(I also saw several other cyclists go through red lights, but they were dressed more brightly and rode less fast.)

I like cyclists. Alive and unhurt. Stay that way, okay?

6 thoughts on “Death-wish on Two Wheels”

  1. I’m a cyclist and I feel as you do about cyclists not obeying traffic signals and the rules of the road.
    Every time I see a rider dressed in black and frequently with no helmet, I want to grab them and tell them to dress in bright colored clothing with reflectors and wear a helmet. Don’t they know that dressed in black they just blend in with the road surface?
    Bikers riding at night are required to have lights.

  2. Seeing a cyclist in San Francisco who obeys traffic law is the rare exception, not the rule. And don’t you DARE suggest that they really should — the few times I’ve raised this issue among cyclists I was lucky to get out alive. Those who scoff at traffic laws (the vast majority in my opinion) put everyone out there at risk.

  3. I’m a walker, biker, and driver. It amazes me how many people of all three types ignore our traffic laws.

  4. I like having more people riding bicycles but as a car driver it scares me when they ride unsafely. More than once I have had to take the initiative to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision with an UNSAFE bicyclist. Yes, I also barely avoided hitting a cyclist wearing black and having no headlight. I have learned to expect that cyclists will not stop at intersections, much like pedestrians. But, it scares me when cyclists weave in and out of traffic like motorcyclists. They come from behind and zip in front of me with no warning or cross in front of me to turn left. What I would like to see: more visibility, use of hand signals and no swerving in front of cars. (I’ve given up on expecting them to stop at intersections with stop signs.)

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