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« NYC cyclist fined $1,500 for running red lights | Main | Alien Nation »

Losing momentum: An excuse not to stop, not a reason

Dionette Cherney (Right.) who was hit by a cyclist while crossing a San Francisco street has died from her injuries.

That makes me both sad and extremely angry.

This unfortunate lady’s death was totally unnecessary; it was rush hour, she was crossing in a crosswalk with a green light, and now she is dead because a cyclist decided not to stop but to push through the crowd of pedestrians.

This not stopping by cyclists has to stop; it is total bullshit. It is a stupid habit many bike riders have, and there is no logical reason for it.

I am not being critical of the cyclist who rolls S-L-O-W-L-Y through a deserted intersection on a residential street. I am talking of the failure to yield to pedestrians, or to other vehicles that arrived first at busy stop signs and red lights.

If anyone wants to argue that in both instances cyclists are breaking the law I will have to plead no contest. However, the big difference is that the latter is rude and anti-social; it pisses people off, and in this case someone has died because of it. 

Forget that 811 pedestrians were hit by cars in San Francisco last year, while only 18 were hit by a bicycle; that is not the point. Unless a pedestrian steps directly into the path of a speeding cyclist, no one should get killed or seriously injured by a bicycle.

Nearly every complaint I hear about cyclists revolves around the fact that cyclists hate to stop; or in many cases, even hate to slow down.

The reason; they will lose their precious momentum. Are they that fucking lazy that they can’t slow or stop and make the effort start again?

All it takes is get out of the saddle give a few hard pumps on the pedals and you are back up to speed again. The ones with the potential to do serious damage are the ones who have reached a level of fitness that stopping and starting again should not even be an issue.

I witness this bullshit behavior almost on a daily basis; riding on a local bike path. I see cyclists buzz past pedestrians without warning or any attempt to slow down; in many cases there are small children around who are totally unpredictable and extremely vulnerable.

There are a couple of places where the path crosses a street and you can hear cars approaching and if they are close you can even see them. Why anyone would ride a bicycle from a bike path onto a road with a car approacing is beyond my comprehension.

Yet I see cyclists not even attempt to stop but rather make a hard left, ride towards the oncoming traffic, forcing the car to swerve towards the center of the road. They then continue riding until the road is clear and do a U-turn to double back to the path.

If a car approaches in the far lane from the opposite direction, they pull the same maneuver and make a hard left into the near lane without stopping. In most cases the car will stop because the driver has no idea what this idiot is about to do. The cyclist then turns in front of the car without so much a hand signal, or thank you wave.

All this just to avoid losing that little bit of precious momentum. All types of cyclists, across the board; even people on cruiser bikes, wearing street clothes and no helmet, and not traveling at any great speed. But already they have learned that momentum must be maintained at all costs. It is a habit these cyclists have formed; probably at the same time they first learned to ride a bike.

It is a habit born out of laziness; what other reason can there be. Like all habits it can be broken, but only if there is a willingness to change on the of part the individual. If a person is riding a bike to stay in shape, stopping and starting again is increasing your rate of effort; it is a form of interval training.

Resist the urge to keep moving at all cost and embrace stopping and starting as part of your exercise regime.

If nothing else by stopping when a cyclist is supposed to stop takes away the biggest complaint both motorists and pedestrians have against us all. Yes, all of us; I'm sure I get less respect on the road because of the poor habits of others. As I have said before; stop handing them the stick to beat us with.

Slowing down or stopping when it is called for, and the resulting loss of momentum is not your enemy, it is a ticket to increased strength and fitness and greater respect from others with whom we are obliged to share the road



Reader Comments (22)

Well said.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Ogilvie

Could not agree more. It is VERY important to consider other people using the roads and MUPS with us - otherwise, everyone ends up put at risk and, tragically, sometimes people pay serious prices for the few seconds saved by someone not slowing down and/or doing what is expected.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchris

Mind set is the problem, RESPECT for others, No one cares anymore, it seems. As one who rides 40 plus miles every day, 32 on the local bike paths, A BLOODY BIG BELL is one answer. Get there attention,DING DONG, DING DONG anyone home? what with speakers in the ear and reading a book while walking and riding PLUS talking on the phone,NO wonder they get hit! But then cyclist can be just as bad, as above. Remember. it could be you!

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn GRUMP

Great post Dave ! Just yesterday while crossing a busy street in a crosswalk, I was nearly run down by a woman on a bike who did not even attempt to slow down. I yelled at her to "yield to pedestrians" as she went by. She wasn't using her electronic leash or wearing headphones, but was looking right at me. I agree with John that no one cares. I make it a point to set an example respecting other users of the road. As you stated, it's really better for one's fitness to make the effort to stop and start. As one's fitness improves it becomes natural to do this. The big problem in my area is the lack of enforcement of the law. My city has a law forbidding riding on the sidewalk, in the downtown area even the police on bike patrols ride on the sidewalk ! Talk about a double standard ! There have been complaints from many citizens about the rude behavior of cyclists, skateboarders,
and drivers alike. And on the local beach bike path it's a free for all. Even though it's posted (and painted) for "bikes only," I have yet to see anyone even being "asked" by authorities to obey the rules. Does it take an unfortunate event like the one you mention for something to change? That's how you get a "stop" sign installed at an intersection in Los Angeles. I know because a neighbor of my parents ran down an elderly man crossing the street "legally" and killed him. There was so much pressure put on the city of Los Angeles they were "forced" to install a stop sign. Locally to me I have written for a stop sign at a two way intersection and the
City "traffic expert" claims it's not needed. Well, at least 2 or 3 time a week there are accidents at this intersection and "near misses" with horns and skidding tires are a daily occurence. Too bad one must die before the City will act.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Agree totally. I was in New York City last week and could not believe the moves I saw by cyclists - not just bike messengers but hipster chicks with headphones on fixies, pizza delivery guys and commuter types not even tapping a brake through red lights - and pedestrians dodging them, including me. We'll never get respect from drivers if we don't respect people who can be harmed by us. I hope they charge the guy.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChucker

Fellow cyclists:

You could at least PRETEND to stop.

That would be a profound first step.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Souders

I so rarely ride in a city, but reading this article, as well as backtracking to the "hammer" piece, made me wonder how these same riders would behave in a city such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen?
When in town I obey the stop signs and signals when on a bike about as often as I do when in a car. I am not about to give anyone a reason/excuse to hate. Too much of that already in this world.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

fabulous post Dave. I kicked a guy out of my cycling group for about 13 reasons, I haven't bothered talking to him in person about it, he keeps trying to flag me down.

Last time he tried to ambush me at the coffeeshop, he was riding a mountain bike on the sidewalk in front of 4 busy restaurants on a saturday, where mothers with baby strollers were coming in and out of glass doors. Imagine running over a toddler.

This guy is in his 50's. Has a daughter.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

When I stop at lights and stopsigns or for a pedestrian I always signal that I am stopping and move to the right a little so the cyclists behind me don't run me over. To be honest, I don't always stop for stop signs but only early in the morning and only if I can't see a motorist or pedestrian as far as my eyes can see. I probably should stop that practice and just stop. I stopped riding with our club because the running of stop signs was so rampant. This poor woman and her family didn't have to suffer if the cyclist had taken a moment to think and stop.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJerry

I would be willing to bet that that the SF rider was a hipster on a fixed gear bike with no brakes.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDWhite

Dave you are very effective communicator. Well said! I have developed a method myself for communicating with the type we are dealing with here. It is quite simple, you glue a stack of post-it notes to one end of a piece of hardwood approximately 2"x4"x48" (for people in other parts of the world use the metric version). Then write your message on the post-it note, stick to the end nearest them and swing with enough force for it to sink in to their dense skulls. Seriously I'm not advocating violence it's just that I see these people everywhere. They are ruining the world with their laziness. We need more people with the work ethic of the WWII generation our we may not make it.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDean Langley

I've grown to HATE group rides over the last few years for this very reason. The poseur racers completely disregard the law and run red lights and stop signs, and speed past small childeren with complete abandon. Also, I have nearly hit casual recreational cyclists on pathways on a number of occasions in the past (usually because they are totally oblivious to their surroundings), and now dramatically slow down when approaching them. (I have always slowed down for children and pets) I have watched good friends suddenly veer their bicycles into traffic lanes without looking, and was surprized they were not instantly flattened! (Fortunately, the drivers of the cars were paying more attention than they were!)

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Some cliches are cliches because they express simple truisms. The right to demand respect is predicated upon your willingness to give it. Fair is as fair does.

The mortality statistics are misreported. The leading cause of "accidental" death is someone failing to extend a social courtesy out of a sense of it being a wee bit inconvenient.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkfg

As a 'nipper' in Brum my Dad said "Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself" or at LEAST something like that. BUT then that is the big problem now, How many kids have DADs anymore? IF the parents do NOT set a GOOD example how are the kids to know and grow up with respect for others. Seems reading the posts on this subject its all about thinking about someone EXCEPT your self. PLUS everyone is in such a bloody hurry these days. Slow down smell the roses!

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn GRUMP

I ride on the road with very few exceptions. I take the bike lane to force bike salmon into the curb or traffic, their choice. I stop at stop signs and traffic lights because it is the law. I'm also on our BPAC and it would be embarassing to be ticketed. I do roll slowly through stop signs if NO one is present and visible. I've been passed by cars when I've stopped for stop signs.

It is really annoying to see other cyclists blast through lights and stop signs, especially lights. I know it takes about 10 time seeing my actions to wipe out 1 idiots red light infraction. I even yell at cyclists.

I work on a college campus and see medical professionals jaywalk 50 ft from a crosswalk in front of oncoming traffic. It's completely insane.

We all have to co-operate or we have anarchy and that is where we are heading on the roads. I drive also and obey the speed limits. guess how many people blow by me? Well over the majority. But the laws get written by the criminals and the police can't enforce realisticaly to a degree required. I know someone who figures a speeding ticket every 3-4 years is just another tax. You can't blame him it's only $125 per year.

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

sitting here at the ice cream shop, hipster blows by on sidewalk, dressed all in black. Hartford CT has this wierd cult thing going on, a lot of these guys dress like that on purpose , "Ninjas". If I ever head-on one here I definitely sue his rich family.

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

This dummy hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk and received more harm to himself.


August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMitch Hawaii

Good post, but the title seems backward to me. Maintaining momentum seems like a "reason" not to stop (as in, "The reason I didn't stop was to maintain momentum.") But it's no excuse.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Titles have to be short. What I meant was maintaining momentum is not a "Valid" reason, at least not in my view, which is the whole point I am making.
In life there are reasons and excuses. Often you can tell an excuse by the whining sound.

August 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I live in your old home town, Dave. I ride coast highway between Del Mar and Orange County. There have been many times I've watched the San Diego Bike Club's long double pace line hammer through town without stopping once. I've been buzzed by that line too. No warning, just a hundred bikes brushing past me as close as possible.
At a bike trade show here the SDBC had a booth with a guy hawking membership. I told him about my experience with the club and he told me to pound sand (not so politely). This guy wasn't a punk kid either. This isn't just one bad apple it's the attitude of a whole club.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterredtaildd


That's some superb writing right there. At risk of pumping up your tyres, syndication of writing with this kind of wisdom, and this kind of tone, could do a world of good for perceptions of cyclists, and a bit of self-awareness of same.

I feel a little bit like attending confession, but I have rushed when I shouldn't have, and I'm trying damned hard to stop it. I'm also taking time out to be polite to drivers who do the right thing - and here in Melbourne, Australia, that's a lot of people. And I'm using the bell when I'm riding in parks where families etc are walking, and people are digging it.

The best urban cycling experiences I've ever had are in Copenhagen (surprise!). Dense city, packed with cyclists, peds and cars - they can manage mutual respect - so can we!

Oh also, the title is spot-on, but y'all probably know that!

Keep it up Dave.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervia collins

DING DONG ANYONE HOME? I still think a bloody BELL helps. Should be made the law also helmets OR as Phill Liggett says CRASH HATS!

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

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