Transportation | Design

About the Bike Lanes

When the roadways are a wild west

Dawn Nelson
3 min readOct 30, 2023

--

The Sunday Dispatch ~ October 29, 2023

A bike lane at an intersection under construction. Photo by author, © Dawn Nelson.

Bike lanes.

You see them in random display, sometimes with continuous design, sometimes with stops and starts that baffle the observer.

Bicyclists can use the bike lanes for increased safety, but they can still ride on regular roadways as legal traffic. Rules vary by state, of course. Where I live, bicyclists must obey all regular traffic laws and ride no more than two abreast on the roadway. So you can choose you own adventure, depending on how you feel about riding a bicycle on roads or in protected lanes.

Whenever I ride my bike, I tend towards the safer margins where they are available. But not all bicyclists are the same. We have different risk tolerances and different behaviors when out riding. Some aren’t so great.

Someone recently shared with me a story about a person traveling on a bicycle down a hill, not in the designated bike lane, but in the wrong lane altogether, into oncoming traffic.

So, you know, picking up lots of speed and heading into possible collision.

When a car suddenly turned onto the street, instead of the bicyclist correcting their mistake, they flipped off the driver of the vehicle and continued on their way.

This is the kind of behavior that gives bicyclists a bad name.

It ruins bicycling for everyone — for other bicyclists who respect the rules of the road, and for drivers (and pedestrians) who develop distrust because they don’t know whether bicyclists will be courteous. Have you ever been a pedestrian run off a sidewalk because of an ill-mannered bicyclist? It’s not fun. It feels threatening.

Another story someone shared with me was about crossing a narrow pedestrian bridge over a river. Along came a bicyclist, who was supposed to dismount and walk their bike across, and instead rode across the bridge and ran over the person’s foot and kept going.

What is it about being on a bike that makes people think no rules apply?

--

--

Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ writing creative nonfiction, memoir, essay. WIP: 0100 Series & The Sunday Dispatch.