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Drivers view of cyclists vs runners
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The past few times I've been out cycling and then running after I've noticed somewhat of a difference in how much room, or lack thereof, drivers give me when I'm cycling vs running. The place I ride is pretty rural so good for cycling, traffic wise. For running, there are almost no shoulders and often knee high grass on the side of the road so when cars do come and I try to get over it's sort of sucky. What's come to surprise me is when running that even though I get well off the road to stay out of the way of oncoming traffic those cars will swing way out in the middle of the road to keep space between myself and the car. Certainly, when cycling I run into far more instances of cars come very close to me as they pass by. Just seemed such a noticeable thing to me.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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Yep, for the most part drivers deal with runners better. Typically its one runner on the shoulder, not a group of cyclists riding 2-3 wide. I think drivers just find that easier to deal with and think its more of the norm.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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Running against traffic and looking drivers in the eye is an effective deterrent.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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I think it mostly comes down to the fact that drivers identify more with runners. Cyclists look less vulnerable and human. Arms, legs, and hair aren't as visible and the image is not a person on a bike, it's a "cyclist".
We all, know people act differently when they get inside a car. Most feel more powerful, less inhibited and will act in ways they wouldn't usually dream of doing. Whether that's putting their own or other people's lives in danger, making obscene gestures to compete strangers over essentially nothing, or picking their nose at traffic lights and pretending everyone can't see them.

I think a similar phenomenon is at play with perception of cyclists. If we're dressed in sport specific lycra and helmet etc, we no longer register as human at a sub-conscious level. Psychologically, we're different from runners or a cyclist who's wearing normal clothing, and sitting more upright with visible hair and face.
I believe there have been studies done that showed use of a helmet can actually increase your risk of serious injury because although you get some protection in a crash, you're more likely to have one (It's a combination of de-humanisation to drivers and that the cyclist feels safer wearing a helmet and takes more risks).
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [Ai_1] [ In reply to ]
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My experience is actually the exact opposite. Maybe its because I can't hold a line to save my life on the bike so I scare all the drivers around me, but they typically give me a decent amount of room. Running on the other hand they might slow down a little, but they barely move over. I guess I typically ride out from my house and get much more rural, but my runs don't stray too far from my house.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [lupy] [ In reply to ]
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That does seem unusual to me.
I wonder what people's experiences are generally?
That might make an interesting ST poll!
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [Brushman] [ In reply to ]
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Not so sure about eye contact. I was riding once on a country road, no cars behind me going my direction. I notice ahead a car passing another and now coming at me in my lane. I looked the other driver right in the eye until I had to ride off the road to avoid being run over.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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I definitely notice this also and I like to think that I know why. When running your entire body is moving, legs, arms, head, pretty much everything. When on a bike all that is changing is your legs in a circular motion. Also being in the cycling position you no longer look like a person rather you resemble an object. From my observations it is clear that people will move further away from a person rather than an object while driving. Also while running eye contact is common with drivers as well as runners making motions aimed at drivers to let them know they are there. Cycling always worries me cause it seems like there is just no way of being as safe as I'd like when riding. I feel much more comfortable when running knowing that I can just jump out of the way or into their windshield and while I'm on the bike I feel as though if a car is coming at me I'm going down with the bike for sure.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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I feel the same way, car drivers for the most part aren't able to deal with sharing a lane with a cyclist as much as they do with a person running! even as I ride in area where cycling is quite heavy and usual for cyclist to ride(Tampa's bayshore blvd and David's island strava route), some of the bigger SUVs and Pickup trucks tend to pass by me dangerously close and this is that my route has a bike lane and I am normally in the center of it as I ride my training rides solo!!!

I've the same reactions from cars back in my days of riding motorcycles, car driver's are for the most part a bunch of jerks when it comes to sharing a lane or anything to do with 2 wheel "things" cage drivers suck in my eyes!!!

Speed kills unless you have speed skills!!!
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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I think it's about relative speed. A runner is moving so slow from a car's perspective that they may as well be stationary. That makes for a very short and predictable pass, so if there's nothing coming the other way a driver will happily swing out and give them a wide berth. Cyclists are moving much faster which makes for a longer and less predictable pass, particularly on a bendy road where oncoming traffic is more likely to come into play during the overtake.

Think close overtaking is also more of an issue with faster cyclists. Probably 80-90% of the cyclists on the road are in the 10-18mph range on the flat, so that's what a driver's brain is programmed to deal with in terms of both the necessity of getting past and the distance they need to allow to make that pass. If you're in a good group, on a TT bike and/or doing intervals and therefore maintaining a flat speed that's more in the mid- to high 20s, then the relative speed difference decreases dramatically and the pass takes much longer, particularly if the car is at slower speeds e.g. a 40mph zone or below.

That, and some drivers are just dicks who don't like cyclists!
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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Just guessing, but I'd say most drivers view runners as 'vulnerable', whereas they see cyclists as arrogant road-hogging jackasses.

(This stereotype being reinforced by even one incident w/ a cyclist (and/or tri-cyclist particularly) refusing to move over and/or inability to hold a steady line while a car passes.)
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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Cool perspective. Definitely a lot of other experiences/opinions above, so I'll try to be brief with mine.

Drivers can suck. I don't think it's an exaggeration that 20-25% of local drivers have a phone in their hand when passing by and some of those never even looked at you when passing. After being convinced that cars were treating me more respectfully with a bright taillight (Flare R), I thought I would try it on my running pack. I almost always run with a pack because it holds my dog doo bags, collapsible bowl, massive phone and now has a bright taillight on both the front and back....along with nutrition/fluids for long days. It's just always ready to go. I'm fairly sure now that cars are being a little nicer on the days I have a stupid bright light bouncing up and down behind and in front of me.

I did the "Horribly Hilly Hundreds" in WI on Saturday and some younger guy in a Honda SUV nearly squished us right at the finish line. He was done, driving home and had both hands on his phone on top of the steering wheel and drifted right into the other lane. Here's a guy that was depending on vehicles to drive safely around him for the last 8-9 hours and within minutes of strapping his bike to the back, he's endangering fellow cyclists. As soon as a human transitions into a 'driver' it seems like all bets are off. Being obnoxiously visible seems like the best bet whether you're a cyclist or runner because I don't think we're changing drivers anytime soon.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [Brushman] [ In reply to ]
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I experience the same situations as the OP.


Brushman wrote:
Running against traffic and looking drivers in the eye is an effective deterrent.

I feel like it is this 100%.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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I have found I have more issues with drivers while running, but have had a decent amount riding.

Only had one or 2 issue while riding with at least 1 other person, but last year on 1 ride I had a beer bottle thrown at me (hit the back tire exploded and caused a flat). Then near the end of my bike I stuck out my arm to turn left and a guy gassed it and just as I was part way through me turn passed me on the left causing me to have to bail to the and fall to the ground so as not to get run over. Bought a gopro after that.

On the running side I have had people actually swerve at me while I was running, and ran the shoulder so I had to go into the ditch not to get hit (I always run facing traffic, like you are supposed to). Had other instances just like that while running.

So other than the one time on the bike I have had many more issues while running than riding.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [Brushman] [ In reply to ]
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Brushman wrote:
Running against traffic and looking drivers in the eye is an effective deterrent.

Agree. I do most of my long rides on a multiuse path, but on the stretch of suburban two-lane road I use to get to the path I try to look back multiple times at every driver approaching me from the rear and that seems to have worked as far as drivers giving me more room when they pass. I use a helmet-mounted mirror to see what's approaching.

I also read recently in the book Traffic that a study found that drivers pass more closely to a cyclist wearing a helmet than they do to a cyclist without a helmet. The authors of the study hypothesize that the drivers assume that a cyclist wearing a helmet is more skilled at keeping a straight line and thus they don't need to give the cyclist as much room. Drivers also tend to give more room to women then men when passing.
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Re: Drivers view of cyclists vs runners [Mark Lemmon] [ In reply to ]
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There is certainly a segment of motorist that take an adversarial position with cyclist and not runners. The distracted drivers are a treat to all.
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