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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Olive Branch

Political Correction Disclaimer:  Do people who ride bikes like to be called bikers or cyclists? Please, someone enlighten me. I fear that when I use one of the terms, that I'm calling someone the equilivalent of a jogger. Because I don't know the proper terminology, I'm just going to use the two terms interchangably throughout this post.

It's no secret. There tends to be a general animosity between cyclists and runners. Whether you like to admit or not, if you're a cyclist, you have some built up hatred for runners and if you're a runner, there's some pent up rage for the cyclists. In a perfect world, we like to think that we all get along as "road warriors," afterall, we should be kindred spirits... we love getting outside, enjoying nature, breathing in the fresh air, pushing our bodies, getting fit, and dodging shitty drivers that are constantly trying to take us out one by one.

But, a perfect world this is not.

To preface this, I have to say: I am envious of bikers. I admit that whole-heartedly. I'm a little resentful in the fact that I don't have the extra time or the extra income or the ass muscles to withstand hours on a bike to embark on a new hobby: cycling. I have full faith that I one day will, though. I do intend to at least dabble in the biking and possibly triathlon pool at some point in the next 5 years or so. But for now... I'm just jealous of the sleek bikes that they get to ride and the fact that they have bigger pockets in their apparel for nutrition and a holder for their water bottles on their bike!

I've always been friendly to bikers. Even if they're riding on the sidewalk and come barrelling through, expecting me to get over, while they take up the entire freaking sidewalk. I still generally say "hey" to them and give them a wave. Only about 40% of them say "hey" back. Bastards.

A couple of weeks ago, I was running with my friend C down Belmont Boulevard, which has designated bike lanes, along with on-street parking. Now, we were running at about 5:15 in the morning. It was dark. And we hadn't met a car yet. It was very quiet out. We decided to run in the parking lane (opposing traffic, of course), because the streets are lit and the sidewalks are not and we all know my proclivity to falling. It's a no brainer.

Now, there are some spots along Belmont where there are lots and lots of cars parked in the parking lane. So, when we encounter those spots, we swing out into the bike lane a little, but always head back to the parking lane as soon as we can.

We're running, talking about god knows what, and all the sudden I feel C grab my arm and pull me to the side, closer to her. And then as a bike whizzes past me I hear a girl in a super bitchy tone say, "SHARE THE LANE."

"Whoa". I said. "I didn't even see her!" And there's a good reason for that... because it's 5:15 am and pitch black and she didn't have a light on the front of her bike. I immediately got pissed at her bitchy tone. SURE, I was in the bike lane a little, there were cars in the parking lane. So, yeah, technically I was in the wrong. My bad. But dude... it's 5:15 in the morning. There were no cars out. There was still plenty of room for you in the bike lane. Bitch.

It really pissed me off that she took such a bitchy tone with us. How many times have bikers ran me off the damn sidewalk and do I ever shout SHARE THE SIDEWALK to them??? No. I get over and let them go on their merry-freaking-way.

Then, this past weekend, April and I were running along a greenway and there were tons of bikes out. We seriously heard "On your left" about a zillion times. Which is fine. I'm all about the warning! Nothing freaks me out more than to have a biker sneak up behind you like a ninja. A lot of them were even being friendly and saying "hello" back!

Until about 6 miles in... "On your left" we heard. We scooted over to the right and the biker passed, we stayed to the right and about 10 seconds later we heard... "On your right" and 1 second later some chick flew past us on the right, I started to move over to the left confused as to why she was passing on the right, when we were hugging the right side already, when her cycling partner whizzed past us on the left. WTF?

Now this area of greenway is VERY wide. Plenty of room for her and her biking buddy to both pass us on the left with no problem. Even if they wanted to both pass on the right... okay, it would have annoyed me, but I would have gotten over it. But to SPLIT us and announce that you're coming on the right, when in fact you're coming on both sides???? Not cool, my friend. Not cool.

I feel like cyclists don't generally respect or like runners and vice versa. And it's a shame, because there truly is room for all of us. Bikers, can't we come together... and be friends? Sometimes us runners are wrong and sometimes you cyclists are wrong. It happens. Neither of us are perfect. Let's make a pact to be friendlier to each other. Afterall, it's the walkers with unleashed/long leashed dogs we should all be hating.


Tiffany said...

I live in a small town in the mountains where almost everyone is active (at least my friends are). I am a runner and I ride my bike to and from work everyday. I know to not ride my bike on the super busy roads and I use the bike lane when available. As a runner I run in the bike lanes because the road slopes and the bike lane is pretty flat. Bikes should pass runners on the left and in general bikes need to act like cars - would a car pass you on the right - no. Bikes should NOT ride on sidewalks.

I have not had any issues or run-ins with bikes and running but between bikes and cars - don't get me started!

I don't think I am a biker or a cyclist I just use my bike for transportation and I am a mountain biker.

Tammy said...

SERIOUSLY!!! I appreciate it cyclists indicate they are behind me, by saying "on your left" etc...but they rarely do...sometimes I yell "share the road!" !! Cycling friends have told me they get irritated with runners who don't pay attention because they have ipods on and can't hear a "damn thing" i try to be mindful of that when I am out, to be courteous to them. I also want to get into cycling and when I do, I will definitely learn the rules of the road and riding ediquette...I say we call a truce...

Jill said...

The proper term is cyclist. Biker is for motorcycle riders I believe...but bicycle riders like to be called cyclists.

I completely agree with you - sidewalks are for walkers, joggers and runners and dogs. But bike lanes are for cyclists and bikers. You have to think about safety here. How may drivers text and drive now? Tons of bikers and cyclists get hit by cars in one it's common courtesy to stay out of the bike lane. If you are going to run/walk/jog in the bike lane, be aware - don't wear an Ipod and listen for the bikers and cyclists. Afterall, the have to be watching out for the crazy drivers.

I just recently became a cyclist but I'm also an avid runner. I used to feel like you on this topic until I've had many close calls with nutty drivers. So, now I understand.

As for the passing on the left and right cyclists - the proper fashion is passing ONLY on the left. So, when this occurs, you can always say it to the cyclist. And of course, try and listen for when one of them is coming - but they also just recently came up with a 15mph or less for speed on greenways too!

Dave said...

This made me laugh, because it's so true! As a triathlete, it cracks me up to be the enemy of the bikers one day, and then the enemy of the runners the next day.

As for bikers on the sidewalks, tell them to man up and get on the street. Don't know about Tennessee, but that's illegal here in Ohio.

And my recent favorite was the guy who called out "on your right" before passing us on the left. We were riding on the road, so unless he was planning on hopping the curb...

Keri said...

When I run on the paved trails, I keep my ipod turned down low so that I can hear "On your left". I always thank the cyclist for saying this. The ones that do not, piss me off. Oh and the other day, I got honked at not once but twice by a cyclist. Nice, maybe if your horn did not sound like a sick duck, I would have moved over on the first honk.

I also get irritated when cyclists do not smile, say hello, or even acknowledge me. If I say hi or good morning, at least nodd your head or something.

Tanya said...

Let's face it. Cyclists are crabby towards runners because we're actually getting exercise, and they're not.

Plus, they have to wear those super-dorkwad skintight flags o' many countries costumes, and we just crank it in shorts and airy, non-descript singlets.

No wonder they hate us.

Beth said...

Cyclists are as rude to runners as cars are to cyclists. Obviously there are exceptions, but in my experience, 99% of cyclists have HUGE attitudes, and I don't get it.

I ran at a greenway a few weeks ago and there are signs everywhere saying bikers (ha! I said it) can't go over 10mph, but yet, there are these balljacks out there going 16-18 mph and almost knocking people over. I told one guy to slow down and he told me to "F-ing chill out."

Nice. If he was a real cyclist he'd be on a real road.

You're preaching to the choir, can ya tell?????

Spike said...

Oooohhh I am so very anti-bikes. I barely wave at them ever. But your story about a biker at 5am without a light is crazy. I pass the same biker around 5:20ish every Saturday...but he has a bike light so we never have an issue.

Anonymous said...

Runners and cyclists are about 10% and the walkers are about 90% of the problem. I think they should be required to walk single file, right up against the edge of the path. Instead, they walk 4 abreast and take up the whole path. Even when they are only two abreast they seem to walk in such a way that they take up the entire path. I breathe so loud that they usually hear me coming and get out of the way (perhaps thinking I'm running to the hospital with a coronary), but if they don't I give the the old brush by.