I know you guys aren’t oblivious, but they way you feel about riding around people on the sidewalks is how most drivers feel about driving around bikers. The problem is that just like there are good drivers and idiotic drivers (Ben in the original post) there are also good bikers and idiot bikers.
Working in Shadyside I have seen bikers weaving through traffic apparently figuring cars can slam their breaks and won’t dare hit them. I have seen bikers shoot straight down Elsworth not even slowing at intersections whether the lights are red or green, and completely ignoring stop signs even when cars are there.
Unfortunately, much like it is with idiot drivers, a few bad apples ruin the bunch. Joe Average driver doesn’t notice a good biker because you guys do things right. Joe Average driver DOES notice all the bad bikers because they are being idiots (like Ben). Therefore when Joe Average sees another biker, or talks about bikers, he/she associates them with the bad bikers because that is who they have noticed in the past.
Just like hundreds of cars are around you guys every day, but it is the idiots like Ben that you remember.
Two weeks ago I was driving home and I got on Bates in S.Oakland and there was a bike in front of me. He was going at a good clip, 20 mph, so I was totally cool with staying behind him. He acknowledged the stop sign just before the Blvd and then stopped for the red light at the Blvd. When it turned green he wend down Bates hill at about 30mph and I was still behind him. The whole time I left a buffer of 2-3 car lenghts showing him respect for respecting the road himself and now wanting to make him nervous or anything (full size truck). We turned onto 2nd Ave and had to stop for the light and traffic at Hot Metal. We turned onto Hot Metal Bridge and he had to pump up the slope so I took that opertunity to pass him FAR to the left as nothing was coming off the bridge. It was right at the turn, not near the top. As I pass he yelled “F*** you!” Um… why? I left him a good safe buffer the entire time and I was no where near him when I did pass. Thinking of it now, why didn’t he take the HMB bike/pedestrian bridge to begin with? He respected the road, I respected him, and then bang, one idiotic thing and it changed the entire interaction. (No, I didn’t slow down or say anything back)