The strange psychological phenomenon that explains why people hate cyclists

Originally published at:


The real problem?


But seriously, I try very hard to be mindful of people on bikes when I’m driving (and motorcycles and pedestrians) because even if they are technically in the wrong, the outcome for them in a collision with my car will be so much worse for them than for me. Are some people on bikes dicks? Sure. So are lots of people driving cars…




Its not hard to understand at all. For me it started when an asshole in a service truck slowed down to the 40mph we were going down a hill and and moved to the edge of the lane forcing us into the shoulder filled with rocks and drainage grills that would swallow our wheels; and when we caught up with him at the next stop light he less than cordially explained to me and my friend that he tried to kill us because “You don’t pay road taxes”.

Moving forward from there, would I blow through a stop light or a traffic light if it meant I could ride a span of road without several ton vehicles that may or may not be driven by a lunatic - then yes, I am going through that damn intersection.

Its not about a few “bad cyclists”, but about many bad drivers.


I understand the phenomenon, but I don’t like the metaphor and here’s why. The bike metaphor is assuming a certain ‘kind’ of person that doesn’t like bicycles, while ignoring the social and environmental forces that influence the animosity towards bicycles. All vehicles (cars and bicycles included) in the roadway should yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, at least according to the stated law.

The actual laws of the road are that bicycles are not going to stop for a pedestrian. While cars do have that California stop, bicycles have the Idaho stop which is more unpredictable for a pedestrian. (I think the rationalization is that it wastes energy to stop pedalling and then start again, so bicycles Idaho stop, which is fine for their energy use, but it creates just a little more danger for pedestrians.) Cars are more predictable than bicycles. Rarely does a car veer into the sidewalk, and if they do, they do not casually ride in the sidewalk while I’m trying to walk my dog.


Fundamental Attribution Bias:

Other peoples’ bad behavior is because of their inherent nature, and anything good they do is just luck.
My bad behavior is because of bad luck, and my good behavior is because of how awesome I am!

Buddhist doctrine on emptiness:

There is no inherent nature. It’s ALL situational. It’s all pure blind luck.



Bicycles are so hated in DC that drivers regularly use the bike lane as their private passing lane with no consideration all for bikes that might come around a corner.

An old woman’s hit me once while I was riding in the bike lane when she crossed over and her oversized SUV’s mirror (a giant Escalade) knocked me off my bike.

When I crashed (and probably nearly died; it happened too fast to truly recall) the privileged shit head Karen in the Merc behind us fumed that I had stopped traffic causing her to go around me and the old lady while we worked out the details. Thankfully I only shredded my clothes, legs, back, shoulder and palms. :wink:

I’m not sure it’s all attribution error, but people do seem to think that if a car hits a bike, it must have been the bikers fault.

Which is insane because if I hit your car… nothing but a dent or maybe a scratch. Car hits me… I’m going to die.


A few years ago a cyclist and I came to a red light. The cyclist decided it was then a pedestrian (still riding on the bicycle ) and turned left to use the crosswalk to ride past me. (Essentially doing a left hand turn from the right hand lane) Once he was across he did a u-turn so he was off the sidewalk and back on the road facing the same intersection but now in the direction that had a green light. He then proceeded to do a left turn. The end result was the same as if he had run the red but through some really convoluted logic and routing.

That was amusing.

The cyclists that run reds through traffic are not amusing. Most cyclists do not do that but there seems to be a subset that are reckless and dangerous to everyone around them.

There are also a subset of drivers that are reckless and dangerous to everyone around them.

I am constantly in awe that I do not witness more traffic fatalities.


Which explains why everyone rides on the sidewalk, which drives me nuts
Bikes belong on the road, not on the sidewalk.


In summary:

  • People who use every mode of transport hate every other mode of transport
  • There are loads of idiots out there who recklessly endanger other people and themselves.


  • People are terrible
  • Cycling threads on the BBS belong in the “wrath” category

My personal dislike of certain cyclists – messengers and groups of 2 or more teenage boys – is still justified from my pedestrian’s vantage point. There’s just a greater chance that a member of either of those two classes will also be a dangerous arsehole.

But other than them, most cyclists I know and encounter are scrupulously observant of traffic laws, if only for their own physical safety.


I blame bad urban planners. It seems like there is space allocated and designed for pedestrians and cars, and the plan is for cyclists to get jammed in and for ‘sharing’ to make it all work. I do love sharing, I got an A in kindergarten, but it’s a bit of a sloppy fit. This usage mode really needs to be planned for, and have space allocated.


When I am full-stopped at a red light, I’ve never had a car pull up behind me, and then just then run the red.

On a bicycle, full-stopped at a red light, another bicyclist comes up from behind and goes around me, running the light, about 30-50% of the time.


Agreed. It’s bad behavior that gives bikers a bad name. The friggin scooters aren’t much better. They’re always in the sidewalk, but if people don’t feel safe on the roads it’s inevitable they’ll just use the sidewalk. That said bikes and scooters etc are what we need more of, both environmentally and even just from a city planning perspective. Personal transportation is required for urban living moving forward.

A few things need to happen IMO.

  1. roads need to be safer and fewer cars should be on the roads. DC should have some partial ban or increased parking fees for cars operating the city limits. No one should be driving and Escalade for 6-8 people by themselves every friggin day on their regular commute. Selfish Assholes.

  2. I think hard rules need to be out in place so scooters and bikers etc all stay on the road. We should be required to wear helmets and understand that bikes and scooters still have to follow basic traffic rules. IOW we should or a my have at least a written online test to get licensed just like any other vehicle.

  3. more alternate transportation lanes are needed with semi fixed barriers so cars can’t cross and the roads need to be improved. Our shorty roads here in dc have potholes you could literally fall into and gravel/ debris and trash all over them. These details need to be attended to so people feel safe.


I had a car come from behind me (while I was in my car) and run a red light by turning into and using the bike lane to get around me (waiting for the light to change) just two days ago. DC is a shit show of privileged assholes.


It’s really amazing how so many people can (supposedly) read the article, and still come in the comment section and explain why the reason they hate cyclists makes sense and is justified.


Pretty sure the study was conducted by a cyclist.

My theory is that everyone on the road is trying to kill me, from the kid in the pram to 18 wheelers.


As much as it drives me crazy to see “vehicles” on the sidewalk I have to admit I’ve never seen a bike or a scooter take out a pedestrian. I regularly see bikes taken out by cars. Of course that’s just my anecdotal experience.


LOL and especially the municipal bus drivers.