There is a difference between a cyclist and a person on a bike.
Okay, this is just my opinion, and since it’s Friday, and it’s my blog, we’ll be using my opinion today…
Dictionary.com’s definition of a cyclist is a person that rides a bike. That’s the simple definition, which I will elaborate on.
My idea of a cyclist is one that
- Rides a road bike or a mountain bike (hybrids and comfort bikes do not count).
- Wears a helmet.
- Affixes his feet to the pedals through the use of clipless pedals and shoes with cleats attached to the soles. (Some might consider toe clips in this definition and I’ll give some latitude here.)
- Wears brightly colored lycra jerseys, even multicolored, but it’s not absolutely necessary. These jerseys will typically have between 1 and 3 pockets on the back. (I have seen MTB jersey’s sold without pockets and I can’t imagine that they are widely popular.)
- Definitely wears padded shorts.
- Has some sort of bike computer mounted on the bike (applies to most but probably not all).
- And here is the most important point about a true cyclist: They will always ride in the same direction of traffic.
My definition of a person on a bike would entail someone that is not wearing a helmet, usually on a comfort bike or hybrid, and more than likely either riding on a sidewalk or on in the opposite direction of traffic.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see anyone out on a bike, whether it’s for exercise, commuting, or pure pleasure. However, people, PLEASE wear a helmet and ride with the flow of traffic!!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out lately and seen riders coming at me in the opposite direction on the same side of the road as me. Never do they have a helmet on, which amazes me because it’s an accident waiting to happen… in my opinion. And when they are coming at me, do I go to the left, which seemed counterintuitive, or stick to the right, thus forcing them out into traffic? (I typically go left, while shaking my head in disbelief at the “person on a bike” in front of me.)
A few months back we heard of a “cyclist” that was hit by a logging truck. Of course several friends sent me the link for the article, asking me to please be careful on the roads. But later we found out the real truth: the female “cyclist” was using a friend’s bike, which had faulty brakes. She had lost her license and it was her mode of transportation to ride to the local smoke shop for some cigarettes. She was not hit by a logging truck, instead she ran into the back of it! I’m sure she wasn’t wearing a helmet either. When the story broke it was reported that the truck driver had failed to stop after the accident. Later it was stated that he had no idea the woman had run into the back of his truck.
If I have offended any people that ride bikes, I’m sorry. But my point is this: wear a helmet if you are going to ride a bike, and please follow the rules of the road. Part of being a good “cyclist” is being predictable to motorists and when you ride in the opposite direction of traffic you are throwing predictability right out the window because that is the last thing a motorist expect to see.
Thank you. We can go back to using other’s opinions tomorrow.
(But don’t let that dissuade you from commenting on my opinion.)