Should Cyclists Be More Respectful to Motorists?

All too frequently in Los Angeles and I'm sure in every city around the world, tempers flare up between cyclists and motorists. Recently in Los Angeles there have been a few car versus cyclist incidents and even a potential cop car versus cyclist vehicular homicide.

Tempers flare, cyclists are outraged and indignant and talk of revolution and defiance runs rampant.

But before you start flipping off cars and raging at the police, consider this:

When a car versus rider issue arises, remember that while we do need to exercise and defend our rights, it's also important to remember that whatever we think we may be entitled to, it's the motorists that allow us to share the road with them.

Anyone who thinks otherwise should try to nudge a car out of their lane next time they think their right of way is being infringed upon.

See how that goes.

More: Cars Versus Bicycles: Where's the Justice?

It's a Math Problem

Anybody who doesn't think there's a risk of serious injury or death every time they head out on the road is kidding themselves. I've spent nearly 20,000 hours over the last 15 years training in Los Angeles and Malibu with a good part of that on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It's an undeniably dangerous pursuit, and the more you ride, the more dangerous it is.

So I do whatever is possible to decrease the risk.

It's a simple question of percentages, risk versus reward.

Everything about the way I ride is designed around improving the percentages of me coming home alive.

A crucial part of that is fostering a healthy respect for cars and displaying that respect at every turn. I do everything I can to not give them a reason to get pissed at me. It's constantly on my mind. Always.

But all that hard work of showing deference and respect goes out the window the first time one of those drivers bumps up against a disrespectful cyclist. The anger that the driver develops toward the cyclist will soon be expressed to the next rider he or she sees out on the road, fair or not.

More: How to Handle a Bicycle Versus Vehicle Accident

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