By Manuela Muroni
Living in busy cities with cramped roads during rush hour can be stressful for cyclists as they face irate drivers, oblivious pedestrians, and other obstacles. But the flip side also applies as cyclists can be real jerks if they’re not careful.
People can feel powerful when on a vehicle whether it’s a pickup truck or a bicycle. Hell, the Tour De France athletes all look like supermen out there and it’s exciting betting on them with the best sports books.
Adrenaline rushes aside, being a cycling commuter means having to share the roads with both cars and pedestrians. You can help yourself and others by NOT being an annoying cyclist.
Don’t be a wheel sucker
Ah, wheel suckers. It goes without saying this is not a flattering term and denotes those cyclists who stay behind other cyclists so they can draft and conserve their own energy. It usually applies for competitive cyclists but can also apply to commuters.
Constant wheel suckers to put it bluntly are *expletive*. Yes, wheel sucking someone is beneficial to you but just to you. But if it happens to you, you’ll feel a variety of emotions ranging from annoyance to rage.
Imagine yourself commuting home and you feel someone approaching you from the rear. So you move to the left to let them pass. Nope. You move to the right and they still follow.
You turn back to look and there sits the wheel sucker. If they’re nice enough they may wave or even apologise. Either way, it is not a pleasant feeling. So if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it to others.
Avoid riding on the sidewalk or pavement
This is one of the most common mistakes newbie cyclists make maybe because they don’t know or they’re not confident enough to ride on the road. But it doesn’t make it right, ever.
Yes, in Europe there aren’t many hard laws that prevent cyclists from going on the pavement. In some countries, cyclists are considered as pedestrians and can thus share the sidewalk.
But for drivers, it’s annoying. They don’t know when and where the cyclist will rejoin the road. And some pedestrians find that some cyclists take liberties as they bully through crowds expecting people to just move out of the way.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re on the pavement with pedestrians, get off your bicycle and walk just like everyone else. If you have to ride, do it on the road or where there are sparse pedestrians.
Don’t get too comfortable on the road
What does this mean? It means don’t do things you wouldn’t do when driving a car such as checking your phone, listening to music on headphones, or riding with no hands (this happens more than you think).
Remember, the road is for everyone not just for you or your cycling posse. At times, cycling groups can hog the road by traveling at their own leisure and stopping when they see fit. It can get to a point where they cause traffic.
Most cyclists are good cyclists and avoid all of the bad habits here. But it only takes a few bad apples to give a whole group of commuters a bad name. Do your part and stay vigilant, share the road, and be a good cycling commuter!