The Bicyclist's Contract

David Alpert has a really good post over at GGW proposing a "social contract" that bicyclists should follow. For what it's worth, I've always found DC and Arlington to be a very easy place to ride a bike; at least compared to other cities where I've lived. Sure, there are challenges, but I don't think it's nearly as treacherous as it's sometimes made out to be.

(from Mulad on Flickr)

One concept I have a hard time with is the idea that people can be grouped neatly into buckets like "bicyclist" or "motorist". Aside from the fact that many people often take on multiple roles, the truth is that not all motorists and not all bicyclists behave the same way as each other.

Everyone I've met that rides a bike has a unique riding style. When I commute to work, I stop at every red light I hit and wait through the cycle. But there are people who don't, and it drives me nuts when someone on a bike pulls up to the intersection and does the "C maneuver", as David Alpert calls it. It's something I never do, but when someone sees a bicyclist doing it, it's really easy for them to lose respect for everyone else on a bike.

Similarly, for every motorist who does something irresponsible or obnoxious, there are 99 who behave perfectly fine. To me, the idea that there is conflict between groups like motorists and bicyclists is over-inflated by the fact that entire groups are being judged by the bad behavior of a few.

Really, there are responsibilities that people should follow, no matter how they get around. No one is necessarily better than anyone else. But when someone misbehaves, it's the person that's misbehaving, not the entire group of people like them, and it often goes overlooked.