Bikes for transportation and exercise – Not in America!

After just completely 800 miles cycling thru Germany, I was so extremely grateful for the consideration and respect that drivers gave me that I felt compelled to reply to the news report that a German cyclist had been killed by an American driver in San Francisco.

Alleged Drunken Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Cyclist Hit-and-Run Death

I just wish that my fellow American drivers could have shown the late Mr Linke the same respect that thousands of German drivers gave me. Here was my reply:

I am deeply saddened by Mr Linke’s tragic and senseless death. German tourists here have the dangerous impression that American drivers are as skilled, professional, and considerate of cyclists as German drivers are. I just finished an 800 mile bike tour of Germany and with my helmet and blinding bright taillight I felt like a paranoid idiot. The difference between German and American drivers is amazing. In Germany I often traveled on the “B” roads, our equivalent of highways and even when there was no shoulder I felt completely safe. They would pass me as if I were a car by slowing down and waiting until it was safe to pass, in America, drivers just squeeze on by at full speed while yelling obscenities. The Germans seem to take pride in their driving, its a skill to be honed. In America we seem to pride ourselves in being able to eat or hamburger, talk on the phone, change the radio station and wipe the drool off our toddlers chin all at the same time. Perhaps driving should be a privilege rather than a virtual right.

Next to walking, biking is one of the most basic, natural, and healthy activities. Its too bad that so our civic planners cant view bikes as a legitimate mode of transportation and make European style provisions for their safe use. Bikes for transportation could solve so many of our problems simultaneously: global warming, dependence on foreign oil, and our obesity epidemic.

I’ve been a bicycle commuter for two decades and there is only one thing that’s kept me alive, its my attitude. Every time I get on my bike, I pretend that I’m in a video game and all the drivers are trying to kill me – I’m serious! I use a helmet rear view mirror so I know where all the cars are at all times. The mirror is critical for safety because 95% of the time, its the car behind you thats going to kill you, not the ones to your front and sides that you can see. The moment you assume that a driver will make a legal stop at that stoplight or stop sign is the day you die. Just pretend they are trying to kill you and you will live to play the game another day. I also find that imagining you are in a video game completely eliminates the anger too. Yes, the driver didnt signal AND ran the red light but wasnt that cool, they still didnt get 3 points for killing you – ya!

19 thoughts on “Bikes for transportation and exercise – Not in America!”

  1. Sorry to break the spell but Global Warming scam is alreay exposed. They are planning out push off of us to bicycles, China style, outlaw private transport, only public transport, and service veichles are allowsed, socialist style. By the way, did you know that owning a car is concidered now to be a privilege, not right?
    Ater all, they engineered modern consumer society, put junk food places and ads all over. And now they are blaming the victim. By they i mean global elite, Trilateral Commission, CFR, Rothschilds, RIIA and all that bunch.

  2. Funny but that game attitude also applies to Japanese runners/walkers. Car drivers are fine as long as you run/walk within pedestrian zone. But there so many reckless bicycle riders here that roam around with talking over mobile or texting in pedestrian zone, and they are trying to kill runners/walkers.

    Cyclists are fine. They hardly enter pedestrian zone. It's usual people on bicycle that are reckless.

    So, be careful to bicycles when you run in Japan.

  3. When i used to live in Davis, California(college town), they had a system of bike paths connecting Davis and the surrounding towns called the Green Belt. It was the most ingenious design. it would run through backs of houses and all through down town. there were play grounds and bathrooms on the Green Belt. It was awesome. Now that i live in New Jersey i fear for my life when i go biking

  4. Maybe one of the problems in the US is the laws?

    I believe in Belgium for example if you as a car driver hit a cyclist (for any reason), it's legally your fault.

    Surprising as that may be, imagine my consternation when driving along a one-way street there I encountered a huge group of cyclists coming towards me! Apparently, they're allowed to do that too.

    It certainly hones your driving skills! :-)

  5. Scooby your decription of American roads sounds just like Austrlia and its just the same if you are driving a motorcycle.

    Assume everyone is out to kill you and you will make it another day

  6. Yes, I have always had the fortune of having companies with shower facilities. Showers are great because then I can push myself during the commute without fear of getting too sweaty. When I worked in Germany for two years I didnt have shower facilities so I had to bike at a much slower pace so I didnt arrive sweaty. If there is a gym near your work, you can always join there just to use their showers.

  7. Scooby, I noticed that you said that you are a bicycle commuter, that's excellent. Just curious–does your workplace have shower facilities or something? I'd love to be able to commute to work, but without being able to freshen up after a sweaty ride into work, it's just not practical.

  8. @Gabe Its funny, here in America the powers that be seem to nearly dislocate their shoulder patting themselves on the back when the install one single N-S bikepath and a E-W bikepath – "wow, we are SO bike friendly". Bike friendly is when every street accommodates bikes as safely as they do cars. There might be a few US cities that do this, perhaps Austin, TX or Davis, CA come close but still nowhere near as good as poorest planned German city.

  9. Just got done riding across a couple bridges in Portland Oregon, the once known as the most bike friendly city. Right before the bridge starts there are signs that say "bikes on bridge roadway" and of course everyone still honks, flips me off, curses at me, and tells me to ride on the sidewalk. The side"walk" is obviously for people that walk, not for cyclists. What is America turning into?! The people with the fancy cars, air conditioned with leather seats, heat, and everything they can possibly ask for, are now complaining about us cyclists that actually work physically hard to commute and to save our ecosystem as much as possible. I sure hope people get over this bike anger or I'll be moving to another country to ride.

  10. I do agree that getting your drivers license in most European countries I have seen is allot stricter.
    All my relatives from the US who come here don't dare to drive here because they think it's to hard.
    Maybe this is true because you just have to be 16 to drive a car and the US is way less densely populated.

  11. I wish Germans were as aware of pedestrians as they are aware of cyclist. Sometimes they even speed up when you cross the street!

  12. the problems are the roads scooby, not the drivers. many of the roads around me are narrow, making it impossible to move over. there is only so much courtesy a driver can give, and when a biker is going 20 mph under the speed limit, they need to know a driver will be passing by very close and ride in single file, not talking to each other in a group of 3 next to each other.

  13. i have to disagree with you here scooby. Chicago at least is very bike friendly with bike lanes on literally every busy street. And through all of my travels out west there has been adequate room on the shoulder of ever expressway for a biker to feel safe (if you can feel safe with cars wizzing by at 80mph) And this was a drunk driving accident, the same exact thing could have happened in Germany. Love your advice, keep it up.

  14. I bike 3300 miles on the lewis and clark trail this summer going into eleven states, and I have to completely disagree with your statement. In a group of five we had no car-to-bike accidents and only two close calls in forty-seven days. We were deep in trucker territory, and every truck took us into consideration and moved over when they could, it was only the road ways that prevented them from moving.

    Many cities in the Northwest are perfect for biking. Missoula, Montana: Portland, Oregon: Eugene, Oregon: and many other cities are covered in bike friendly road ways and many drivers give room for bicyclist.

  15. Susheel Chandradhas


    The cycling scene is similar in India. Except that there are a great deal more cyclists around, and at times they're more a menace than anything else. While cycling in India, one has to watch out for buffaloes, buses (large motorised buffaloes), autorickshaws (motorised buffaloes), motor cyclists, pedestrians, toddlers, dogs and cars. It's more of a hassle than anything, but I used to cycle about 25-60km every day while in college. It's been a while now, and I ride a bike for various reasons, but can't wait to get back to cycling.

  16. Hi Scooby,

    I can't comment for the roads anywhere else but in the UK lots of roads have had additional "bike lanes" created for cyclists only and i think its a great idea!

    I have to admit, though it has its faults, our government has done a good job on educating drivers about awareness for cyclists and also educating cyclists about vehicles (e.g. checking lights on bike work, wearing high-vis gear etc) simple but effective things and i haven't seen any road kill-style cyclists laying around!

    Also, i've heard in the Republic Of Ireland they have been creating some nature bike routes (mainly for tourists) which i will be trying out next year when i go visit family there, the scenary is beautiful and i imagine it'll take your mind off all the hills!

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