Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Yielding

Sometime over the summer, I was riding back to Santa Monica from Palos Verdes via the South Bay Bike Path when I nearly collided with some pedestrians near the Marina. Yes, I was riding as safely as I thought necessary on a path with heavy traffic from bicycles, pedestrians (including runners, kit-flyers, surfers), and roller-bladers when I scared everyone by not waiting for the path to be completely clear during my pass. No accidents or collisions occurred, but I was a little miffed. What were all of these non-cyclists doing on a bike path? And why should I yield to them?!

After much thought (and prodding from my partner), I realized that we cyclists can be just as bad as cars in our impatience on the road. Even though many of the group rides take the time to warn us to be safe and courteous during our group rides, they often neglect to discuss pedestrians; the main focus of these safety speeches is other cyclists and cars. But what about pedestrians? Or, to extend the point a little, young children on bicycles out with their parents? Ever since that day, I've tried to be more careful on my rides and practice "yielding" to the less mobile in the same way that I'd hope cars would treat me. I'm vulnerable on a bicycle, but I'm not nearly as vulnerable as a pedestrian is.

Today one of my fellow cyclists near got into a fist-fight when he almost crashed trying to pass a parent who was taking up 2/3s of the bike path to help his son as he learned to ride. I understand both sides of the story, and clearly the parent and cyclist were equally at fault in the near collision. If this moment were unique, I wouldn't have anything to say (or blog), but on many other moments during my short training ride I witnessed other acts of impatient cyclists not yielding to our vulnerable colleagues on the road. It concerns me. And I wonder why cyclists of all people feel entitled to ignore that particular rule. I obviously get upset when I see other cyclists break the law and put me at danger. Is it a lack of awareness? Why doesn't anyone else talk about it in the LA cycling community?


Evan said...

I've seen this very same thing. On our local MUP I, as a slow rider, have nearly been ran down by club guys on training rides. I've seen many near accidents as they quickly passed families and kid riders without slowing down.

KG said...

And isn't it scary?! I wish there existed a constructive way to improve this situation because it is pretty darn frustrating.