Eastern Bloc Cycling Club
Poor cycling etiquette and the consequences that affect us all.
Some not so happy news from the Tour of the Ltichfield Hills event yesterday. The event director Matt Pagano received a phone call from the first selectman of the town of Warren today.
Due to the behavior of several cyclists yesterday he has received multiple telephone calls and emails from residents with complaints about;
Cyclists blocking the road
Cyclists riding 4 and 5 abreast preventing traffic from moving on the roads
Cyclists yelling at motorists (one rider in particular reportedly yelling at someone to get out of the road as she was attempting to get her Sunday morning paper)
Trash being left up and down the route (nutrition bar wrappers and goo packs, etc.)
This is very similar to the feedback we have been receiving from the SAG drivers for the last several years, several of whom are fellow cyclists. The result is that we will not have the towns permission to route the tour through the Brick School Road area or use the Warren Woods facility as a rest stop area next year.
I am hopeful that none of the offenders yesterday were EBCC members but this is a strong reminder that our actions and behaviors on the road have consequences. We bear a responsibility as ambassadors to the non cycling population. We need to be setting a positive example every time we clip in for a ride. If you are riding in a group, any group, and you witness this type of behavior say something. If we do not advocate for ourselves and educate our fellow cyclists then we will continue to see opportunities to do what we all love diminish.
This kind of “news” is, unfortunately, not really news at all, but pretty much the standard course of events whenever large groups of cyclists take to the road. I was tempted to write “when large groups of cyclists take over the road” which is generally what actually happens when groups get to any significant size. The fact that these complaints came from Warren plainly points out that the offenders were riding in either the 100 mile or 75 mile events, riders who a. generally consider themselves to be “serious” and b. should be sensitive to the affects of their (mis)behavior. Sensitivity is, however, an attribute very often lacking in folks who treat every event as a competition.
There is clearly no justification for any of the behaviors Pat lists in his post. And surely, if these actions took place in Warren, it is a virtual certainty that they occurred in other towns along the route. What is most unfortunate is that there is no practical way to identify, or sanction, the people at fault. Should these types of behaviors continue the tour - if it is able to continue at all - may well find itself limited to riding on the main roads (202, 7, 44, etc. - yuck!!) instead of being able to take advantage of some of the more scenic back roads in Litchfield County.
Since the Tour organizers collect the email addresses of (probably most of) the participants and can identify those who indicated they were doing either of the longer routes a message to those folks outlining the complaints and the affect on next years’ tour might be in order. It’s certainly not much but it’s better than nothing at all.
Good points Tom. This is certainly not the first time we have received complaints, it's a yearly thing. The first time we offered the 100 mile route we were contacted by the town of Sharon and Matt needed to exercise some skilled diplomacy to mitigate a similar situation. We plan to publicize this to the full extent on the TOTLH website and Facebook pages but honestly, how many people will even care today about what happened yesterday? The next TOTLH is 364 days away.
So what can we do? Spread the word. Keep talking about it. Think about this on every club ride, every charity ride, every Fondo. Word of mouth is more likely to reach a greater number of cyclists than websites and out-of-sight-out-of-mind news articles.
The alternative is......well I think we all know. If you want to continue to have these events, speak out!
I agree 100% with what you have said, if we're at fault, shame on us. However, whether the complaint(s) are founded or not (personally I think they are greatly exaggerated) I'm disappointed in the actions of those that complained and the first selectman. Working against a Cancer Fundraiser is selfish. Shame on them. There are worse things in life to worry about than cyclists in your town once a year.
Being a cyclist myself, I understand the desire to reflexively defend and minimize the wrongs committed by my fellow cyclists. But as I like to say, perception is 9/10ths of reality. Because we're up against a public who pre-judges us, we should be ready to OVER compensate and go out of our way to prove them wrong and give them nothing to complain about. In this instance, maybe the complaint about the trash was overblown as a committee member today drove the road through Warren and found nothing attributable to the Tour. But I can confirm for you that the behavior of the cyclists was not exaggerated. The First Selectman himself was caused to be stuck in traffic by cyclists who turned around and looked at him and still obstinately refused to move to the right. Furthermore I have a SAG driver (a former devoted cyclist) who reported to me this morning that at one point, through Warren, going as fast as he could given the narrowness of the roads and the fact that there was oncoming traffic was shocked when cyclists chose to pass him simultaneously on the right and the left causing the oncoming traffic to have to drop their passenger side 2 wheels off the road.
Unfortunately, despite my hopes to the contrary, that's not the end of the story. I missed a call today from the district administrator for the DOT and I'm waiting on a call back from him. At this point I have a real fear as to the future of the Tour. -Matt Pagano
I hate to say this but I've seen this behavior on club group rides. (The rude cycling, not littering.) There are people who are absolutely immune to the words "car back" and think traffic signals simply don't apply to them. In my experience, they are usually the more experienced riders, not the newbies.
In fact, I think groups of more than about 10 create this perception no matter how well behaved they are. On narrow rural roads, passing 10 cyclists safely can be difficult, but make it 15 and it becomes downright impossible. I cringe at how often I hear this complaint from non-cyclist friends.
I have been riding with EBCC since it was revived back in 1999. I've seen the disregard for vehicles and group riding etiquette increase to the point where I no longer enjoy going on group rides. As some have said, the larger the group and often the more serious the rider, the worse the offending becomes. Over the past 2 years, I've avoided them like the plague because of the poor riding etiquette of so many.
Earlier this week, I happened to get pulled into a non-cycling friends FB question about what to do as a driver when you happen upon a group of cyclists that won't pull over. Of course the appropriate response is to not pass, but we all know that isn't possible in this me first society. The responses by most were pretty damn scary. While I certainly would never consider putting a cyclist in danger to save a few minutes, I can understand their frustration. We have a responsibility to ourselves, to drivers, and to the many riders out there that do have etiquette and understand that the road must be shared by all. I ride alone most of the time on the road and am mistreated and judged by the actions of those offenders. Even still, I stop at stop signs, ride as far to the right as is safe, take the full lane when it creates a safer situation for motorist and cyclist, stop if a situation warrants it to make it safer for both the motorist and me, but most often I ride predictably. I move out early if I need to go around a parked car, I signal ahead instead of when I'm on top of the turn. I look multiple times, etc. In the end, a car will win every time. I have first hand experience with car vs bike and it sucks to be on the bike.
If the riders within the group aren't policing each other and keeping the offenders in check, don't expect this kind of behavior to end. Since I'm not a board member any more, I don't have to be politically correct. So be warned that if I'm on a ride with you, I will have no problem slapping you upside your head if you're riding the yellow line. I'll probably warn you first . . .
Thanks for your thought John,
Ok there maybe some cyclist whom are clueless, but there are many in every crowded.
Honestly, The problems are much deeper than just a bicycle on the road. Dealing with the public arouses many concerns. A bicycle is in the public's eye or roadway, becomes a nuisance and very spontaneously inconvenient. Two things are very wrong today. Automobile or ?, Auto drivers today assume they have an entitled right to be on the road alone. In there mind no one should be in their way, or become an obstacle on their personally owned roadway.
The two things which are misaligned in today's society, which the typical auto driver lacks both are : Patience and the ability to share the public roadway with anyone. I really hate to say but this is not a bicycle problem , but a very deep seeded problem with our society today. A very selfish outlook on where the auto driver is positioning themselves, with disregard to every and anything in their way. It is really not right to blame auto drivers, but blame the type of behavior of the majority of our society. Shame shame shame.
If road rage was not a word in the American vocabulary than this issue would also not be of concern.
I have a career which I work close to the roadside most every day. The Automobile drive is the problem, It is not the mail truck, the farm tractor, the pedestrian, or mother with a child in a carriage. Very clearly there is a deep rooted problem in our society. It is not a bicycle but as a human being with the power of vehicle which allows the disregard for any and all that get in their way when on their travel.
Lets not forget, THIS IS A DISCUSSION ABOUT A CHARITY FUND RAISER BICYCLE RIDE FOR SUPPORTING A GREAT CAUSE - ON A SUNDAY MORNING IN the so called QUITE WESTERN CONNECTICUT .
Id like to think that this problem is really several bicycles blocking traffic, but their really is no traffic on a Sunday. Most likely no emergencies
Obviously some people are trying to and successfully picking on others. There is a much more deep seeded issue than what this discussion is bringing.
Is this really the right direction for our society to be going,????? Yet we are concerned about the trivial concerns about a few or several auto drivers whom encountered ....... maybe a five minute delay while driving on a Sunday Morning. Really..............
Another time and place may have some merit but really... a Sunday morning....
Too bad the arrogance in our society speaks the loudest.
This is actually a sad discussion about who we really are.. as a society. Its really too bad it comes to this
I don't think this quote describes a trivial inconvenience or drivers merely being impatient. This is dangerous, illegal behavior on the part of the cyclists.
> a SAG driver (a former devoted cyclist) who reported to me this morning that at one point, through Warren, going as fast as he could given the narrowness of the roads and the fact that there was oncoming traffic was shocked when cyclists chose to pass him simultaneously on the right and the left causing the oncoming traffic to have to drop their passenger side 2 wheels off the road.
I think drivers bear the majority of the blame for refusing to accept trivial delays and inconveniences, but we're not going to change their attitude by giving them legitimate complaints. And boy, that one would be legit. I'd be furious if I found myself being passed on both sides.
Motorists speeding, talking on hand held phones, texting, reckless driving, failure to signal, failure to maintain lane, throwing objects at cyclists, not stopping at stop signs, etc. is also illegal and dangerous. Yes, I'm very aware that the actions of some cyclists are much less than ideal. However, there are many motorists that object to and are aggressive towards law abiding cyclists. Even without a legitimate complaint, there will be motorists who object to cyclists being on the roads. Randy makes VERY valid points.
There is no doubt this is a societal construct and something very concerning moving forward. However, if you wish to be treated with respect, you yourself should be respectful. There will always be those who disregard anyone other than themselves. I am not deterred or afraid to ride my bike on the roads, but I do know that the actions of others can have a significant influence on whether or not I make it home in one piece.
Regardless of society and the overall decline of Western Civilization... and that this thread has become the latest in what I'm sure is a long list of similar threads wherein we all vent about motorists... in this instance... we're not talking about motorist's preconceptions or prejudices, we're talking about the behavior WITNESSED by both a SAG driver, and the First Selectman of Warren.
The direct consequence of that behavior has resulted in our not being able to route the Tour through Warren again. I suppose the lesson to learn is that we all try to do a better job of self-policing when we see behavior which reflects poorly on the cycling community.
It's outrageous for the First Selectman of Warren to object to the Tour being routed through Warren. Come on, the First Selectman objects to being inconvenienced during a fundraiser ride on a Sunday morning. This is very disturbing. With several hundred riders on the narrow, winding, hilly roads in Warren, both the cyclists and motorists at some point will most likely be inconvenienced for a few seconds, that's the reality.
The reality is also that there were a ton of motorists that rode past large groups that weren't sharing the road appropriately. I saw it myself with the front group. Sure motorists are "slightly" inconvenienced, but it also re-enforces the negative views that motorists already have against cyclists. You can't expect them all to know that those groups were riding for a good cause. The only way to change society's view of cyclists on the road is for all of us to always be mindful and share the road just as much as we expect motorists to share the road with us, charity ride or not.
The First Selectman was aware there was a charity ride taking place. Charity ride or no charity ride, cyclists have the right to use the road. I rode the 75 mile route, riders did a good job of policing themselves.
Sharing the road means that BOTH autos and bikes share ! I used to ride a big ride out west, it had ~ 11,000 riders that rode 200 miles over a weekend, with a staggered start. The number one complaint from the cyclists, was other cyclist's inconsideration (passing without warning, running stop signs, and especially not riding single file on a road that had significant auto traffic. If cyclist's complain about this, think about the non-cyclist's thoughts.
I've been on rides that had "monitors" who would caution riders if needed, and would report riders to the organizers, if the rider was consistently not exhibiting appropriate behavior. this person would then be banned from the ride in the future- this required each rider to have a bib number, of course.
Something we're now considering. My early morning exhortation to ride single file doesn't work...so perhaps we try it one more year with a renewed warning in the context of us having lost the right to run through Warren. If that doesn't work, we number the riders and have a "Moto-crew" like the Angel-Ride where we have motorcyclists circulating up and down the route yelling at bicyclists if anyone is anything other than single file.
From personal experience, it's not the best solution because it always leaves the offending rider in the position of wanted to explain that they were only passing another rider....but by that point the moto-patrol has already ridden off.
Not really sure there's much more to be said, but that hasn't stopped me before!
I happen to agree 100% with Randy's conclusions about the fundamental problem of our society. But there should be no escaping the irony that the arrogance he notes on the part of motorists is the same arrogance exhibited by the cyclists in this case. "Hey there Pot, I'd like you to meet Kettle. I'm sure you have a lot in common."
>if you wish to be treated with respect, you yourself should be respectful.
Probably should just leave it at that, folks. If you choose not to, good luck taking on that 2-ton vehicle headed your way.
Moto-crew surveillance is not a bad idea, but the rules should mimic the current state law. That continues to allow riding two abreast (contrary to what the Torrington police have stated in the past years). As far as keeping to the right, we have been given the right to exercise our own judgement. Here is the law as of 2015:
As of July 1, cyclists don't have to ride as close to the right side of the road when:
Overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction; Preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; Reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or lanes that are too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side by side within such lanes; Approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right turn lane, in which case a bicyclist may ride on the left-hand side of such dedicated lane, even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right; Riding on a roadway designated for one-way traffic, when the bicyclist may ride as near to the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as judged safe by the bicyclist; or when Riding on parts of roadways separated for the exclusive use of bicycles, including, but not limited to, contra-flow bicycle lanes, left-handed cycle tracks or bicycle lanes on one-way streets and two-way cycle tracks or bicycle lanes.