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Gini Dietrich

Rules of the Road

By: Gini Dietrich | June 28, 2011 | 
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My very first two-person time trial

This is not a blog post about PR or marketing. It’s not a blog post about social media. It’s not even a blog post about entrepreneurship or leadership.

But it’s a post about something I care deeply about so I hope you’ll grant me a little leeway today.

Family History

My dad rode his bike my entire life. Mostly because we only had one car and he had two jobs and there was only one way for him to get to work. But he was always on that bike and it didn’t matter if it was sunny or snowing. He rode.

We all fought cycling because of this. I took up running in my 20s and ran a few marathons and countless races. My little (younger, he’s way bigger than me) brother, Austin, had a running scholarship in college, where he raced nearly every weekend.

And then we both woke up (me because I’d had too many scopes on my knee and him because he was bored) and started cycling.

I’ve only been cycling for about six years (I think this is my seventh season, actually), but it’s my true love. I probably wouldn’t have loved it as much had I started from pressure from my dad. But I love it now. It’s like brushing my teeth. I can’t really go a day without a ride.

Cyclists On the Road

I don’t ride to annoy people driving in their cars. I don’t ride to hog the road. I certainly don’t ride because I have a death wish.

But there are many, many, many people who get behind the wheel of a car and become different personas of themselves. They think cyclists are there as moving targets. They think we ride just to annoy drivers.

For instance, on Saturday, I rode 43 miles. In that 43 miles, I had a woman open her door into the bike lane, nearly taking me out. I had a woman turning left into the bike lane so she could turn right a few blocks down. I had a mailman speed past me, only to brake hard so he could turn right in front of me. I had a convertible go around me as the guy behind the wheel flipped me off. I had a guy tap my back wheel WITH HIS CAR because he thought I was going too slowly and he wanted me out of the way.

Mind you. I was in the bike lane for all of this. And this was only one day. Also keep in mind that, for most of the riding, the speed limit is 25 mph. I averaged 19.85 mph on Saturday, which meant, in some cases I was riding the speed limit or even speeding with the cars around me.

Rules Of the Road

There are rules of the road. If the bike lane is blocked or impaired, cyclists have a right to be on the road. If there isn’t a bike lane, cyclists have a right to be on the road. Cyclists can ride two across. It’s the law. But we also have to obey traffic rules, which I know isn’t the case for all of us. It makes me angry when I see a cyclist running a light or moving through traffic against the flow. He makes it bad for all of us.

But the fact of the matter is, no matter how you feel about it, cyclists have as much right to be on the road as cars.

So, the next time you have to make a split decision about making that turn before the cyclist crosses your path, wait the extra three seconds and don’t risk his or her life. I thank you on behalf of the cycling community around the world.

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About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

191 comments
SheriPollock
SheriPollock

Thank you for posting this important reminder Gini.

For many people cycling is more than a passion or a way to stay fit. It is a lifestyle. The only downside is you never know if you're going to make it safely home from a ride. And that's too bad.

So, in addition to being respectful of one another, it's important for *everyone* to put their phones and playlists and bottled water aside when driving and focus on the task at hand. Cyclist can be difficult to see at times, I know, but - unlike drivers - we don't have airbags.

I've made it clear to my friends that if I'm killed while cycling I don't want anyone saying, "well, at least she died doing something she loved." I love my life more than cycling. But, if everyone pays attention while driving, I'm hopeful I can have both.

Stay to the right.

MichaelThurman
MichaelThurman

Gini,

I live in Exurbs... A small town about 30 miles outside Tulsa. I like to cycle. Country folks are even less polite than suburbanites. :-/ Pity, for we have so many rolling hills and nice straight stretches where the battle is against boredom and the wind sweeping down the plain.

To wax philosophical, cycling among the UAVs (urban assault vehicles -- Yukons, etc) and other flying blocks of metal and plastic is a bit like starting a business. We worry so much about the cars that we miss the pebble that causes the wipeout....

Ride!

Michael

Leon
Leon

G'Day Gini,

Forgive me if i've mentioned this previously. But here are two possible answers to your question.

Mark Twain said, "It aint what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for certain that just aint so."

And John Wooden said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

Of course, neither of those blokes had any success in hailing cabs by waving unclad arms.

Regards

Leon

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

I just read this out loud to my husband :).

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

The road is the exact representation of our living.

Because road practices became "normal" in our daily lives we don't really care.

The thing is that people are making the same errors on the road as in business.

Most of us (including me) are not enough responsible until...

Experiences made me understand that I have to open my eyes to have wide views of our environment. Deep inside everyone of us there is that light reminding you to protect yourself and protect the others.

Maybe it's all about respect, maybe it's all about intelligence, maybe it's simply humanity.

One of my best friend was killed recently, it's painful, for her I'm taking care of myself and everyone I'm meeting daily.

I'm not sure people are convinced that life is too fucking short, but all I have to say is :

People, honor your life so you will live long. Don't wait for a night call to understand that the road is dangerous.

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

@ginidietrich As an occasional cyclist and regular longboarder, I've been pushed off the road a few times, flipped off and called names. Ugh

Leon
Leon

G'Day Gini,

I rode a bike all through my childhood and adolescence. That was ages ago. I no longer ride a bike for two reasons. Firstly, for all the reasons you describe regarding careless, thoughtless, murderous motorists. And second, Sydney is a notoriously hilly place and it would be too much like hard work.

But y'know, your "rules of the road" concept applies to more than riding bikes in an ocean of hostile shark inspired drivers.

I'm not sure who said it but one of my "words to live by" sayings is, "nothing is so important as the proper execution of the fundamentals." Whatever your field of expertise is, find out what the bloody basics are and learn them well: like the rules of the road.

As I curmudgeon on, floundering in a boisterous, choppy ocean of web jargon and internet conceit, I have great sympathy for your world community of cyclists. Life would be much easier if your motorists and my web gurus got the basics right and observed the "rules of the road."

Regards

Leon

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

It's amazing the kind of stories that come from dedicated cyclists who are nearly run off of the road by drivers who think they own every single inch of asphalt. My dad's cousin owns a road bike shop, Cranky's (http://www.crankysonline.com/ ), and he's been riding his entire life. Some of the stories he's told are horrible -- he's been hit by cars, run off the road, etc. I love him and I don't want anything to happen to him, but it's hard when you're up against so many (crazy) drivers and it's something he can't live without. All we can do is tell him to be careful and hope that nothing horrible happens.

girlygrizzly
girlygrizzly

Gini~

I had a truck driver bump my tire when I was a kid (12-13) going down the highway while at my Granddad's place in the summer. I was so scared I had to stop and have a good cry! I've been hit, thrown and ended up in the hospital. had bones broken. Sadly, I've also been in the vehicle, listened and witnessed the road rage driver mentality. (I of course, with my mild manner, suggested that maybe they shouldn't do such a thing)

All I can say is you be careful. Be Careful. You mean a lot to a lot of people. ~Amber-Lee

ShadBoots
ShadBoots

@ginidietrich As a pedestrian, I have similar problems. Drivers ignore you, even if it is your turn. Couldn't imagine being on a bike.

nateriggs
nateriggs

I'm feeling inspired now because as a runner who's never actually hunkered down and spent the money on e decent bike, my knees have had it. It's either spend the money on a bike, or pay it to a orthopedic surgeon.

I wish insurance companies covered road bikes under preventative care... alas.

TimButt
TimButt

And hence why I only ride trails and my trainer now. I'm not willing to place my life in the path or hands of selfish and ignorant drivers. I prefer to share many more years with my 4 kids and wife.

KevinVandever
KevinVandever

I think everyone who drives a car should be forced to ride a bicycle as a primary means of transportation for some period of time. This is the only way they (we) will understand what it's like from a bicyclist's point of view. I have ridden to work while living in Chicago and Los Angeles and although no one has ever tapped my back tire with his car, I have experienced most of what you have -- not in one day, though.

One Sunday afternoon about nine years ago, I was riding with my family through the streets of Oak Park, IL and someone in a car pulled into the bike lane behind us ready to make a right turn once we cleared the intersection. All seemed ok, until the car sped around us, honked the horn and made a quick right turn in front of us. I was extremely pissed off at this move until I realized that the whole scene had really scared my youngest daughter...then I was doubly, majorly, extremely pissed off and so I took off after the car. Yes, you can imagine a chase scene through the quiet, tree-lined streets of Oak Park. I am sure I broke many laws during my pursuit as did the perpetrator, who noticed I was chasing and was actually trying to lose me. They eventually lost me but not after I literally chased them out of town. I felt like I should have pulled up to a saloon, thrown my biking helmet down on the bar and downed a shot a whiskey, but Oak Park doesn't have regular bars and I would have had to ride to Forest Park and by then...well, you know.

I am not sure what I would have done if I had caught the car (I'm a lover, not a fighter) and although the comedy of the event was lost on me at the time, riding back to find where I left my family, I did chuckle at myself a little. When I eventually found my family again, they were shocked that I had reacted like that. The "what ifs" started coming from my wife and we all rode back home not saying much. Hey, I got a great workout, though.

Anyway, I agree with you Gini that folks take on a different persona when they get behind the wheel of a car. Most feel protected by the metal and would not dare to act as aggressively and stupidly walking around in public. It reminds me of the Bill Cosby bit where he says, "alcohol intensifies one's personality so if you're already an a-hole..."

I think the same holds true for automobiles.

BlogLibrary
BlogLibrary

@ginidietrich nothin to read - I just do a quick little comment on your post at the library& link back to your post :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Yael Rozencwajg I love the analogy between road rules and business rules. You're right - we don't really learn until we experience it ourselves. So I think @KevinVandever is right in that everyone should have to ride their bikes to work for a couple of months to experience it.

And...got to bed, young lady!

annaphallactic
annaphallactic

@ginidietrich My boyfriend got doored a few years ago. I can't ride a bike but wish as a pedestrian the drivers would lay off entitlement.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Leon You are so funny! I'd bring my bike to Sydney TO ride the hills. And I agree about getting the basics right in every aspect of life. Why is that so hard?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@annedreshfield There is a story of a kid who is riding in this year's Tour. He grew up riding. His dad is a huge cyclist. And he's also one of two neurosurgeons in upstate Washington. One day he was riding to work and he got hit by a car. Was dragged up a mountain before the car stopped. The other neurosurgeon happened to be riding his bike, on his way to the hospital, and saw his friend and colleague dying on the side of the road. Saved his life. But his legs were amputated. It makes me sick to my stomach.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@girlygrizzly LOL! I suggest the same thing to some people in my household who are aggressive drivers. In one ear and out another. Whenever I'm in the passenger seat - no matter who is driving - I'm always watching for cyclists. And then I'll yell WATCH THE CYCLIST!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@nateriggs That WOULD be nice, wouldn't it?! If you need help choosing a bike, let me know! I'll be happy to spend your money for you.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@TimButt I'm stuck on a trainer for nearly nine months out of the year because of our crappy winters. Is it too much to ask for three or four months of outdoor riding?!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@KevinVandever This made me laugh out loud. Literally. I can actually see you doing this. I'm so proud!

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

@ginidietrich Oh my God...how horrible. Sometimes humans should just not operate a thousand pounds of metal and raw horsepower. Makes me sick to my stomach, too.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@ginidietrich @girlygrizzly Someone once yelled watch the cyclist so loudly that it startled me right into the cyclist. Ok, that is not true, but I did swerve. I think that my ears are still ringing.

ShadBoots
ShadBoots

@ginidietrich That's part of the reason I don't ride a bike around. I live around LA--it's an exhibition on that driving style.

annaphallactic
annaphallactic

@ginidietrich He sustained some gnarly injuries (has the scars to prove it) but nothing life-threatening, thank goodness.

Trackbacks

  1. […] how crazy people can get when they’re in their cars. For Gini, it’s a matter of people running her off the road when she’s biking. For me, it was always people playing dumb games when I was a pedestrian, like slowing down as if […]

  2. […] take the time to refresh their minds and  develop a skill or passion outside their business. Gini Dietrich cycles, Bill Dorman runs, and Brankica Underwood shoots, I take to the hills. Watch this video on […]