‘Can’t you read?!’: When one rider calls out another for rolling through a stop

‘Can’t you read?!’: When one rider calls out another for rolling through a stop

bike stop markings at broadway flint-1.jpg

Bike stop markings at North Broadway and Flint.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Is it out of line for one person on a bike to aggressively criticize another for pedaling through a stop sign in a safe situation?

That’s the opinion of local writer and rider Diane Yee, who writes about biking and other subjects at her Tumblog Citymaus. Here’s an excerpt of her story, posted Thursday:

there’s this one awkwardly, possibly misplaced stop sign in the middle of the hilly stretch of SE Salmon*. since I’m coming from uphill, i have a better view of the cross street, and there was no traffic as usual (small residential street, and four-way stop), so i just keep riding through the stop sign as usual…

except then a white guy in his 30’s wearing a helmet and sunglasses riding uphill the other way shocked me by yelling at me loudly, CAN YOU READ???…

yeah, cyclists are the only group of people who self-regulate themselves so well they’ll call out fellow cyclists for blowing through red lights, etc., because they don’t want to be one of those “SCOFFLAW CYCLISTS”, to keep up a good image in order to get more bike infrastructure. …

PDX—not as bike-friendly as you’d think!

Yee, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning from Portland State University, also mentions (accurately) that the rules of the road as we know them were written with cars in mind, not bikes, and that Idaho allows people on bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs with no apparent ill effects (unless you count the nation’s fourth-highest statewide rate of bike commuting).

“This guy, does he insult people when they ‘JAYWALK’?” she wrote. “If he drives, too, does he yell and honk at every driver who doesn’t use turn signals?”

Yee also mentions the possible race/gender dynamic that may have motivated this bit of mobile mansplaining.

On the other hand, I don’t know about her notion that people who ride bikes are the only ones who call each other out. I’ve been in plenty of cars where people, including me, have had angry words for fellow drivers. What’s different about biking is that when one of us gets teed off while riding, the other person actually hears it.

Which in my book is a pretty big mark in biking’s favor.

*The stop sign in question is quite notorious and has been the subject of quite a bit of coverage and debate here over the years. – Jonathan

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