I've been meaning to write this for weeks, but I keep getting sidetracked thinking, "stupid things drivers do will get me killed one of these days!"
And while I still maintain that the foremost rule is : assume every driver is drunk, distracted, mentally impaired and has a personal vendetta against you, I see cyclists do dumb, rude, and dangerous things every day.
That's what this diary aims to prevent.
Yesterday going home:
1. I saw two cyclists buzz past a crosswalk where a bunch of kids were trying to cross. One even went past me as I stopped for the kids. Vehicles, whether gas, diesel, natural gas, electric, or human powered must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. It's courtesy. We're trying to have a society here.
2. When I had a green light, two cyclists right turned on red in front of me, not even slowing down at the red light. Not only is such behavior illegal and dangerous, it's rude to make me slow down or stop in the middle of the intersection so that you can right turn on red. Right turn on red, no matter what the vehicle, requires that you stop first and cede right of way to oncoming traffic. At least slow down and cede right of way.
3. Going straight down a hill, a cyclist went through a stop sign without stopping or slowing down. If you have a stop sign, it means you don't have the right of way. Slow down, and come to a complete stop if there's oncoming traffic.
4. Stopped at an intersection at a right light, when the light turned green two cyclists who came up just as the light turned green pulled around me and turned right, preventing me from moving forward. While it was probably legal, it was rude.
5. At the same intersection, a cyclist ran the red light, making me and other oncoming traffic wait until he crossed. Rude and illegal.
The primary rule for me is safety. Again, assume every driver is drunk, distracted, mentally impaired and has a personal vendetta against you. If your view of traffic is impaired (can't see around a truck, for example) slow down and proceed with caution.
If there's no traffic coming, you might slow down instead of stopping at red lights or stop signs. Illegal, but not rude and less dangerous than simply flying through the intersection.
There are times when it's safest to cross with pedestrians on the walk signal instead of going through with other vehicles on green. For instance, if you have a left turn soon after passing through a traffic light, passing through with pedestrians is safer so you can make your left turn without holding up traffic. Again, often illegal but not rude or dangerous.
A quick note on a frequent driver complaint about cyclists. Drivers complain about cyclists riding between a lane of traffic and parked cars, passing on the right. This is the bike lane, and drivers need to understand that. It's not wrong for drivers to pass on the right side a line of stopped traffic waiting to turn left if the lane is open, and it's not wrong for cyclists to pass stopped traffic in the bike lane. However, cyclists should do so with caution understanding that people come and go from parked cars and you don't want to get doored. Pedestrians pop up unexpectedly between parked cars. So moderate your speed as you pass between stopped traffic and parked cars.
In general, obey the rules of the road. Be safe, be courteous. This goes for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists -- everybody. Share the road, be kind to each other.
PS: A short note on bike helmets. A helmet is useless if it's dangling from your handlebars. It's useless when you don't have the strap fastened. Wear a helmet and fasten the strap. You only have one brain, and it's not replaceable (yet).
Edited to add:
6. After all the above, somebody came at me coming the wrong way in the bike lane. Bike with traffic, not against it.
In past years, I've written other bike diaries on getting started as a biker. Here's a few:
Please let me know if the comments if it would be helpful to have more diaries about bikes.