It seems like bike lanes are surfacing up overnight on just about every street in Los Angeles these days. I, like many cycling advocates in Los Angeles see this as a positive change for the city, one that benefits thousands within the community.
With the expansion of bike lanes throughout the city, I’m able to see more and more encouraged folks taking up their bikes to commute, and interest those who’ve never even thought of taking up cycling to commute. Bike lanes are GOOD.
With that said, I don't ride in a majority of the bike lanes in the area, and you can't make me. No matter how much you aggressively honk or yell in your harassing attempts at trying to spread your beliefs of where cyclists should and shouldn't be, I'm staying where I can legally be and want to be at.
Over the years I've had the pleasure of encountering some really aggressive and impatient drivers who feel it necessary to roll down their passenger window, lecturing me and fellow cyclists to get off the street they're on, and ride in another street that has a bike lane.
“STOP WASTING MY TAX DOLLARS! GET ON THE BIKE LANE!””THERE'S A BIKE LANE YOU IDIOT! USE IT!”
Listen, sure I’ll have to make you suffer the excruciating and tormenting pain of having to deal with the miniscule 5-10 seconds it takes to safely pass me, but angering you and other drivers is not what I’m trying to accomplish here. My goal has always been to get home and to work as safely as possible on my bicycle, and for me, riding in a bike lane has always led to a slew of dangerous situations and near-accidents in my commutes. There are also many places where there are no bike lanes and cyclists have no choice but to ride in traffic.
What most drivers don’t understand is that not all cyclists ride in the same manner and speed, and such differences determine for individuals if riding in a bike lane is safe or unsafe. For me and cyclists who ride at speeds of 22-27MPH, the last place we want to be is confined in a bike lane that has car doors opening up to our right, pedestrians/animals popping out between cars, and drivers making unsafe right-turns without legally merging into the bike lane. Again, it's not always a matter of speed. There are roads marked as bike routes — supposedly the safest places to ride — across the region that put cyclists out there with car traffic.
So please, understand that it’s not that cyclists such as myself who ride outside the bike lane want to anger drivers nor is it because we feel entitled to the road. It's because like any other person that uses the road, we all want to get to our destination(s) safely. And, more importantly, just because there’s the addition of a bike lane on a street, it doesn't mean that all the other lanes are suddenly reserved exclusively for cars now, and that I and other cyclists are required to use that bike lane.