Lets Make One Thing Clear, I Am Not Slowing You Down

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 01

Dear Boston Motorists

Lets make one thing crystal clear. Cyclists are not slowing you down. You read that correctly, cyclists are not the reason you are not going as fast as you want to go.

“But what about when they ride in the street!!!!!11!!!”

No, stop it. Listen.

C Y C L I S T S A R E N O T T H E O N E S S L O W I N G Y O U D O W N.

See any cyclists here?

This is not a matter of opinion, this is a simple math problem. I can prove this with a piece of paper and a pencil. I can tell by the look on your face that you don’t believe me. You think I am just another smug cyclists using your road and slowing you down.

Ok lets do a little thought experiment. Every day while you sit in traffic and wonder why traffic isn’t moving, I want you to take a good look at what is in front of you, and take another good look at what is behind you. Keep a little note book, write down what you see. After a month or two, add up your results. I am going to guess that “cyclists” = 0 and “other people in cars” = a whole fucking bunch. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

Need more proof, how about we use some more math. A person on a bicycle takes up 8-10 sq foot of road, a car takes up 100+ square feet of road. Road space is limited…do the math. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

“But one time this guy on a bike got right in front of me and I had to go around, slowing me down!!!!”

You know one time I found a ten dollar bill on the ground, you know what happened the other 99.99% of the time, I didn’t. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

You want to know what is slowing you down? You are. You are the problem. Every day you get in your car all by your self and you drive to work. You take up all sorts of space on the street just so you can move yourself (and no one else) a couple miles down the street. You are getting in everyone way. You are taking up space on the street that another car driver could use. You speed up too fast, and then have to slam on your brakes because you don’t pay attention to the timing of red lights. You are taking up parking spots, you are blocking that driveway, you are are keeping the bus from making that turn. You didn’t let that guy merge in so he is blocking both lanes. You stopped half way into the intersection. You are slowing you down.

When you got your car you thought it was going to be like this:

Ever wonder why car commercials always show empty streets with only one car speeding around? It’s because they don’t want everyone else to see you! You getting in their way. You causing traffic. You slowing everyone down.

Just because they lied to you, and you swallowed it hook line and sinker doesn’t mean that you have the right to be a dangerous jerk bag on the streets to the only vehicles without metal armor (cyclists). If you really want to get mad at someone for all that traffic, tilt your review mirror down till you can see your own reflection and scream till you feel better.

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Posted in bostonbiker | 50 Comments »

50 Responses to “Lets Make One Thing Clear, I Am Not Slowing You Down”

  1. By Reverend E on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    You know, maybe we *should* start slowing them down. Cars go way too fast in this town.

  2. By patrick on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    i keep in an informal count in my head of times when i’ve been beeped at for (i presume) slowing down a motorist. i think about 3/4ths of the time, i am not actually increasing the length of their trip, though i may be forcing them to keep or take their foot off the gas. what’s usually happens is that there is a red light, or a line of cars sitting at a red light, or just general traffic up ahead. they beep at me, speed around me, and then stop at a light that was red when they first beeped at me, and has still not changed. and then i ride past them on the right, which means even if they stayed behind me the whole time, they wouldn’t actually be losing time. On some commutes I find I may see the same cars for pretty much the entire time, meaning that our average speed (the amount of time it’s taking us to actually move through the city) is pretty much the same. it’s frustrating for drivers, because your car can go very fast, and you want your drive to feel like the car commercials you mention, but in an urban environment during rush hour, the timing of the lights, the number of other (especially motor) vehicles on the road, and the gridlock scenarios you describe (car halfway in the intersection) are basically what determines how far you get from point a to point b. unless you bend/break the law a bit, how quickly you accelerate and what your top speed is don’t actually have much bearing on trip time.

    biking turns us into transportation geeks, and transportation geeks apparently love making long-ass blog comments on, uh, traffic. i really should get out more.

  3. By Chris on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    You totally vocalized what I’ve been thinking for soooo long!

    Recently I read through some public comments opposing a proposed bike event in my area. One person actually had the gall to argue that air pollution increased when cyclists were out in force on the roads because the cars were driving slower behind the cyclists.

  4. By selfrighteous on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Some very good points and an interesting read. I think I should, however, change my blog name to The Cyclist That’s Almost as Self Righteous as Boston Biker. Eh, maybe not.

  5. By IsolateCyclist on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    About the gridlock photo Boston Biker wrote: “See any cyclists here?”

    No. But it sure would be amusing to see a cyclist happily riding down the right-hand side of the road while the cars were stuck at a dead standstill.

  6. By geoff on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for giving voice to this issue. It further endorses the truth of one of the greatest movie quotes ever: “Driving makes you stupid.”

    And Patrick’s comment: +1

  7. By BikeBike on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Great Rant!

  8. By Pawel P. on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Great post. Keep it up.

  9. By Marianna on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve been hearing a lot about the BU Bridge re-do. Everyone’s mad that they’re removing a lane in each direction to add bike lanes, but I feel like if they left two lanes and one of them had a cyclist in it, they’d feel slowed down. That said, I’m not sure the re-do is a good plan. That intersection is the firs LIT intersection I’ve ever seen that ALSO needs a traffic cop.

  10. By Curt on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    This post needs to be posted and reposted, and reposted yet again, everywhere it possibly can, and many times over.

  11. By Eva G. on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Excellent post! It is so odd how people that don’t cycle are quick to place blame on us. In Detroit, it’s kinda’ weird because although we’re the “Motor City” and everyone drives, riding in the city isn’t half bad. MANY people have moved out and the streets are oftentimes completely empty – cyclists dream! But you go to the suburbs in either direction and all the lame snooty people drive like complete sh*theads.

  12. By Right On on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Methinks we need a whole bunch of copies of the the button I had years ago riffing on the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” PSAs.

    It read:

    “Friends don’t let Friends Drive”

  13. By William Furr on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    This city would be so much more pleasant if it didn’t have any cars in it. Okay, maybe a few for old or disabled people. But everyone else who’s fit enough to bike or walk, should.

    The cars take up so much space, put out air pollution, cost us all money and time, and kill people.

    If we took all the money that everyone in and around Boston spends on their cars every year, we could dig more subway tunnels, increase the bus service, AND buy everyone a nice bicycle.

    Are there any cities or towns in America with car-free urban centers? I’d like to live there, if so. Boston should take the lead and build some giant parking garages around the city and ban all the cars completely.

  14. By TorontoBikerSean on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Its like you read my mind when you wrote this. I think this every day on my daily bike commute. I especially think it every day the 3-4 times I am honked for choosing a more reliable, inexpensive, quieter, healthier, cleaner and more fun way to get to work.
    Canadians pretend to be more polite than the rest of the world, but put them behind the wheel of a car and they are just the same hate-filled drivers that seem to be everywhere else.

  15. By Patrick on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Absolutely–the time it takes to get from A to B in Boston by car has practically nothing to do with how fast you’re going down a given street, it has to do with how many lights you have to go through and how long you wait at each light–both almost entirely dictated by the number of cars on the road. I couldn’t count how many times some dumb motorist has done something extremely dangerous to pass me quickly, only to have to hit the brakes 5 seconds later at the next red light or traffic jam.

  16. By tandemman on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Actually, I think we could make a VERY good argument that the cars are slowing US down. If there weren’t so many of them, and so many being operated poorly, we would not have nearly as many stop signs or stop lights. We would not have to slow and take near as much time before making left turns, or lane changes. And the roads would be a whole lot better with less wear and tear.

  17. By ROBERTA LAMONS on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    I did impede traffic once in downtown LA. I was in the lane at a stop light, and a car full of elderly were behind me. They honked several times, so I turned arounnd to see them waving me toward the side. I put down my kickstand and went to see what the problem was. They quickly rolled up the windows and looked out at me in fear–a 21 year old girl in a dress. The light turned green, and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with crazies, so I got back on my bike and rode through the last part of the light, leaving them behind in more ways than one.

  18. By Debbie on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply


  19. By Leslie on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    Ha, I loved reading this!!!More please!

  20. By h4ckw0r7h on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah! I think about this almost every day. Automobiles pass aggressively just to wait at the next red light. My top speed might not be as high as a motor vehicle, but my average speed is the same or faster!

  21. By Anon on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    Funny, I read your blog post and BAM. The first comment on a Boston.com article:

    “This may be a nice experience for you but further down Mass Ave, bikers dramatically increased the traffic problems caused by snow piles, snow plows trying to work and despite much narrower lanes-double parkers!!I”

    God, is this for real?


  22. By Anon on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    Funny, I read your blog post and BAM. The first comment on a Boston.com article:

    “This may be a nice experience for you but further down Mass Ave, bikers dramatically increased the traffic problems caused by snow piles, snow plows trying to work and despite much narrower lanes-double parkers!!I”

    God, is this for real?

  23. By Ian on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    At times the cyclist will slow down the progress of a car long enough for other cars to get ahead of them. Cars get very angry if they lose their place in the queue. I don’t agree, but it is their reality. Don’t fight it, avoid them.

  24. By Charlie on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting stuck in car traffic on my bike. The roads are SO narrow due to snow that in many cases I can’t get around the huge lines of backed up cars.

  25. By JonT on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    @Marianna — Regarding the BU Bridge, I frequently ride my bike in that area, and get stuck in the traffic backups on Mountfort St. (where there often isn’t enough room to squeeze through and pass the cars — at least not at a speed faster than walking). It was definitely better before the construction started, so I really want the BU Bridge to go back to two full travel lanes in each direction.

  26. By h4ckw0r7h on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    This morning I was completely stuck on my bicycle commute on Mass Ave. Behind me there was a bus, in front of me there were two delivery trucks, and in the oncoming lane there was a tractor trailer. What was causing the traffic jam? Double-parked delivery vehicles and a road narrowed by cars parked in the bicycle lane. Not me on my bicycle, or any other bicycle riders.

  27. By David on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    a) I agree with Charlie that car traffic has slowed me down tremendously in my biking since the snow started. It’s pretty annoying
    b) The other day, I was biking down Comm Ave, two lanes, someone is double parked in one of the lanes and a driver started screaming at me for using the other lane, slowing him down. He didn’t seem to care about the double-parked car.

  28. By LogicMan on Feb 4, 2011 | Reply

    I love it! I’m an all-year bicycle commuter here in Ottawa, Canada, and your comment really reflects the sentiments the cyclists here feel. The City of Ottawa officials are paranoid about actually achieving steps forward towards bicycle infrastructure. Keep it up Boston!

  29. By becoming on Feb 5, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve actually been commuting by bus lately because of a recent HOUR-LONG BIKE COMMUTE that should have taken 15 minutes . . . . all thanks to cars + snow.

  30. By Rebecca on Feb 5, 2011 | Reply

    Today-Satuday,I drove my car from my house in Brookline to North Cambridge. Heading back home it took me about 30 minutes to go from Porter Square to Harvard Square. Many of the cars including my own had only one person. What was slowing me down? Was there an accident? Road construction? Bicyclists? As far as I could tell there were just too many cars on the road. Car drivers (I drive 50%, cycle 50%) simply need to realize that the more cyclists there are on the road the easier it will be for them to get around in their cars! When I drive to North Cambridge I always find a place near by to park my car. If it was more pleasant to get from my house to North Cambridge I would take cycling there over driving any day. Why do I always bicycle into Boston & to Harvard Square? Not because it’s more pleasant but because there is no easy place to park my car near where I want to go. So If we make it feel safer to bicycle and more inconvenient to go by car it should be a win -win for car drivers & bicyclists. We need to stop trying to fit bicycling infrastructure into the existing automobile infrastructure & instead eliminate some auto infrastructure – car lanes/ parking lanes and give us nice wide lanes over 8 ft. wide in each direction like they have in the Netherlands! Unfortunately there is no political courage to give us that!

  31. By Niki Brown on Feb 6, 2011 | Reply

    Every boston driver should be required to read this. Tweeted, google shared + facebooked!

    Love the blog!

  32. By OM Flyer on Feb 8, 2011 | Reply

    The third paragraph from the end should be sung to the tune of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake:

    You are taking up parking spots,
    you are blocking that driveway,
    you are are keeping the bus from making that turn.
    You didn’t let that guy merge in so he is blocking both lanes.
    You stopped half way into the intersection.
    You are slowing you down.

  33. By Jazz on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply


    Made another blog!

  34. By canadaCyclist on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply

    Awesome article. it is so true. Cars slow cars down. I never understand why a car block me from passing them when they are stopped. Me and my bike don’t take up that much room.

  35. By Dennis Murphy on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply

    Apparently I DID one time “slow traffic down” and received a CITATION from our bike-friendly city Grand Rapids police department..

    More on my blog-


  36. By PB on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply

    I am fortunate that in Anchorage I don’t really have to deal with traffic too much on my daily commute. I hope on a greenbelt trail that takes me the five miles from my house to the main thoroughfare that takes me the final mile and a half to my work. I only have to deal with car-nasaurs for three miles a day, most days.

    This said, I get my fair share of abuse from drivers. That said, I say what we as cyclists need to focus on is not convincing the auto driver that we are not slowing them down or that they should be as awesome as we are and ride their bikes. What we as cyclists need to do is to focus our time, money, and efforts on ensuring that city planners include ample bike lanes and multi-use greenbelt trails. We need to focus on educating the car drivers about the joys of cycling as transport. We need to smile and wave and be ambassadors for our kind even after getting a half full beer can chucked at our heads. We need to kill them with kindness.

    In a perfect world, every community would have wonderful pathway systems that allow all cyclists to peddle from here to there with only minimal interaction with cars. Until then, we need to not waste effort trying to convert the heathens.

  37. By sit ubu sit on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply

    Not to forget, the average motorist spends multiple times longer waiting at red lights than they do to pass a cyclist. Funny, they never seem to get anywhere as angry at red lights as they do when there’s a cyclist “blocking” their way.

    And since when did cars have more rights to use that public space than a bike did?

    And when was the last time you heard a traffic report stating something like “traffic is a nightmare down Main St because there is a bicycle riding down there”. Never?

  38. By the problem on Feb 27, 2011 | Reply

    The problem is that really you are just another smug, self-righteous biker. And you seem to look at “motorists” approximately the same way.

  39. By Car-driving asshole on Mar 1, 2011 | Reply

    Um, no. It is irrational to think that just because cyclists there are other reasons for slow traffic, cyclists are not the issue at all. Take for example, any instance in which a cyclist rides in the middle of a one-lane street and refuses to pull over to the right to let cars pass – please don’t tell me you think that’s because of other cars. You’re being intentionally misleading and you know it. I’ve found that bikers do this more often than not, and, just as you do, tend to hold a very holier-than-thou attitude about it. Next time, just stay to the right side of the right lane, stop bitching, and everyone will, as a result, lay off the horn.

  40. By Paul on Mar 18, 2011 | Reply

    Biking is so much more relaxing and fun then sitting in a car getting pissed off at drivers and red lights. I just do not understand why anyone would want to put their selves through the hassle of driving any distances that they could easily bike. Great exercise, great release, cheap, and you really get to know your surrounding where in a car you are passing them so quickly you miss allot of things. Everyone should try biking at least for a week and see how much more fun it makes their commute.

  41. By Jasper on Mar 19, 2011 | Reply

    I stopped reading at the first “F Bomb”. You fail at civilized communication!

  42. By Marky on Mar 27, 2011 | Reply

    I have been making this point to people in NZ since I moved here. Its very selfish to take up the whole road in a car with one person in it. My wife and I have 2 cars 1 motorbike and 12 bikes… One point I’d like to make is that motorbikes (proper ones like they make in Japan) also have no metal armour!

    I did some maths too, My commute became much longer after the recent Christchurch Earthquake (too long to cycle easily, and 1 shower for 200+ people in our temp work accomadation). I worked out it was cheaper for me to borrow $12,000 for a motorbike to commute to work on (+ pay petrol) than to do the same journey in the car I already had (just petrol). I really enjoy going down the other soppisite side of the stationery cars from usual 🙂

  43. By Marky on Mar 27, 2011 | Reply

    ps… to PB, If someone throws a 1/2 beer can at your head then dont “kill them with Kindness”, kill them with a handgun.

  44. By Richo on Sep 13, 2011 | Reply

    Great irony: In China, road engineers are consulting with Western experts on how to cater for more cars on the road and reduce the number of cyclists. Reasons: cyclists are perceived to be slowing down cars, and using cars is seen to be the progressive thing to do.
    Hilarious short sightedness and sad at the same time.

  45. By Piper on Oct 4, 2011 | Reply

    Fuck bike fags

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