There’s a classic episode of the TV cartoon series South Park lampooning Harley riders. Not bikers, the young guys who used to ride Harleys. The new demographic – which consists of old guys who pose as bikers.
These ersatz Hells Angels are recreational riders, generally in their 50s and 60s, prefer pressed leathers, favor LED Christmas light trim and teddy bears over the pickelhaube and Iron Cross.
You will find them swinging wide in the curves and going slow on the straights – often in groups that congeal traffic like General Tso’s chicken does your arteries.
All the while making lots of noise – to call attention to themselves by annoying others.
This apparently being the main purpose of the activity, as the noise made by these bikes is unrelated to performance or speed.
There are also the Spandex Harleys – bicyclists who exhibit many of the same obnoxious behaviors, such as riding in packs at speeds grossly below both the speed limit and the flow of traffic without (key thing) yielding to it.
The militant ones even have a slogan: Share the road!
But their intention seems to be: Take over the road!
Including roads that are awkward for bicycles and cars to use at the same time – regardless of technical legalities.
Busy roads, with lanes that are too narrow for two vehicles to occupy the same space at the same time – and where there’s not enough shoulder for the cyclist to easily/safely pull off, in order to allow a faster-moving car to get by without having to partially cross over the double yellow (illegal as well as unsafe, if there is oncoming traffic) or risk getting too close to the cyclist (also illegal in many states) and possibly hitting him.
Roads with blind curves and steep inclines and travel speeds grossly disproportionate to the speed a non-motorized vehicle is capable of attaining or maintaining.
The argument here isn’t about legalities. It’s about common sensibilities. If a person wants to scuba dive in shark infested waters, he ought to be free to make that choice, too. But he should also keep in mind he’s in the shark’s world – and ought not to expect the shark to make accommodations.
Interestingly, a car driver may legally pass a cyclist – unlike a motorcyclist – which makes no sense when you think about it because both take up approximately the same space, each being about the same width as the person riding them.
Arguably, it would be safer to pass the slowpoke motorcycle – because it’s more stable. A bike is powered by an engine while a bicycle is powered by one leg and then another pumping up and then down – the bicycle tending to sway left-right with each alternating pump.
Bicycles are also much more susceptible to being pushed into the path of a passing car by wind than bikes – because they’re much lighter.
Passing a bicycle on a narrow road is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t deals. To do it legally,many states require that you maintain three feet of space between your car and the bicycle – but that’s often not realistic because the road is too narrow – or because the cyclist isn’t giving you enough room to do it.
Your other option is to safely pass by moving left to make the room – but that forces you to cross over the double yellow and if a cop sees you do it, you’re up for a piece of payin’ paper, no matter that what you did was the safe thing to do.
Unless, of course, there was traffic coming in the opposite lane.
If so, you probably had to give up trying to pass and now find yourself stuck behind a Spandex Harley chuffing along at 16 in a 45 – possibly for several painfully slow miles.
He knows you’re back there – but he won’t pull off to let you get by. Maybe he can’t – because there’s no shoulder. Which ought to be clue enough to prompt the cyclist to avoid riding on such a road, out of common courtesy.
Similarly boorish behavior is exhibited by the drivers of overtaxed RVs, whose gimpy rigs can’t maintain speed on a 9 percent grade but who won’t use cut-outs provided to give them a convenient/easy place to pull off – no matter how long the line of cars stacked up behind them is.
The left lane Clovers who won’t move right – or speed up.
And who then speed up when another driver attempts to get around them.
People who can’t park straight – and take up two spots in a busy parking lot. Or snug their passenger side up close to your driver’s side door – so that you can only get in your car via the passenger side door.
But the Spandex Legions are a new kind of toothache. A kind of SA in skin-tight neon-colored bodysuits – whose recreation is also often political. Many are vehemently, openly anti-car and use their bikes to make their point via organized mass rides purposely designed to assert control over the roads and to inconvenience car drivers.
Their belligerence is as luminous as their spandex – and as unpleasant as the bulging codpieces they favor.
They insist on using any road a car uses – regardless of the practical and common courtesy problems which this creates – and the cars just better accept it. Yielding seems to them a kind of loss of face – and many adamantly refuse to do so.
And that’s the cavity which is the source of this toothache. Not the Spandex and codpieces.
Not the bicycling, either.
Laws or not, there would be no problems if slow-moving traffic (mechanically or biologically powered) did its best to avoid inconveniencing other travelers.
If you can’t keep up, then move over.
And if you won’t do that, then you’re a Fag – in the South Park sense.
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