5 Confusing Things Cyclists Do — Explained
As popular as cycling has become, there’s still a lot people don’t know about it. While some of the things they do may seem strange, there’s a reason behind all of it.
5. “Why Do They Wear Those Spandex Outfits?”
First, it’s not made of spandex; they’re usually made of lycra. Secondly, it’s called a cycling kit and it consists of shorts, a jersey, gloves, and a few other accessories. They wear it first and foremost for mobility and aerodynamics. The rider can move easily and there’s nothing to get caught in gears or chains. Also, the shorts are padded in the vital areas, since 30 miles or so in the saddle can do a bit of a number on you. Many jerseys are decorated in very bright colors for improved visibility.
4. “Why Don’t They Ride On The [Darn] Sidewalk?”
Short answer? Because it’s usually illegal. Longer answer? Because riding on the sidewalk is not only against the law in most places, it’s frighteningly unsafe. People walk there and putting a bike in that mix is asking for trouble. The roadway is the safest place for a bicycle, and the law agrees. Cyclists are allowed the full lane, as well as a three-foot clearance for safety. Yelling at a cyclist to “get on the [gosh darn] sidewalk” is like them telling you to drive in a parking lot. You also don’t get to tell them you saw another cyclist riding on the sidewalk, because that other cyclist was breaking the law.
3. “Why Do They Take Up The Entire Right Turn Lane And Then Go Straight?”
Cyclists have this thing about being hit by cars. They don’t like it. Two of the keys to not becoming a hood ornament is visibility and Euclidean geometry. When two lines intersect, you get an angle. When one of those lines is a car and the other is a bike, you get a seriously injured cyclist. Right turn lanes are also an extension of the bike lane, to which cyclists are entitled. They ride to the center of the turn lane — or even to the left of it — so you can see them and so your path doesn’t cross theirs and cause a wreck. This does not mean you gun the engine, pass on the left, and cut them off. That’s purpose defeating. Slow down, move behind the cyclist, and pass them on the right.
2. “Why Is This Cyclist Sticking Their Arm Out At Me?”
They’re talking to you. To be more specific, they’re signaling to you that they’re about to do something. A left arm out means they’re turning left, or making their way out of the bike lane to make a left turn (yes, they can do that). They will also hold their left arm out, pointing at a lower angle to let you know they’re moving to the left momentarily or exiting the bike lane. Left hand up the air, with the elbow at 90 degrees means a right turn. The same signal with the hand pointing down means they’re stopping. If you see other signals, like a fist on their back, or waving their palm at the ground — don’t worry about that. They’re talking to each other.
1. “Why Is This Cyclist Yelling At Me For Pulling Out Of A Parking Lot?”
Because of things like ^that. In all reality, one or both of the following things happened. Either you pulled into traffic without checking the bike lane or you saw the cyclist and didn’t think they’d get to you. People don’t realize the average road cyclist’s normal cruising speed is somewhere between 18-25 mph. This is a normal riding speed and is a lot faster than it looks. A cyclist has to follow the same laws of physics that you do when it comes to braking distance, and cannot always throw on the brakes hard enough when you’ve pulled in front of them. If a cyclist is coming towards you as you pull out, it’s best to just let them pass.
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