Louisville Wheelmen Newsletter -- January-February 1995

Cherokee Park Loop Etiquette

by Dave Spitler


In "Effective Cycling", John Forrester describes the "cyclist inferiority complex" in which cyclists allow motorists to bully them into acting like second-class highway users. One sign of this disrespect is that some motorists want to lecture any cyclist who they believe is riding inappropriately, much as one might lecture an errant child. This happens all too often on the Cherokee Park Loop. "Serious" cyclists are allowed to ride in the traffic lane while "Recreational" cyclists may use the runners' and skaters' lane. Signage which directed bicycle traffic to the inside lane has been removed, but motorists still tell cyclists to get out of "their" lane.

How should law abiding cyclists respond to such bullying? Certainly not by agreeing to stop and discuss the issue. Only the police are empowered to enforce traffic law: no highway user is obligated to respond in any way to complaints or instruction from anyone other than police officers. Cyclists are not obligated to change lanes or to explain why they are riding in the "wrong" lane!

This does not mean that we must be impolite or behave as badly as the motorists who are trying to intimidate us. A polite refusal to stop and discuss the issue or to change lanes seems to work most of the time. Faced with a motorist who just will not go away, it might be appropriate to suggest a call to the police or a letter to the Board of Aldermen.

Whatever you do, do not let a motorist intimidate you into riding in the "recreational lane" in Cherokee Park if you do not wish to ride there! Refusing the demands of an angry motorist may seem dangerous, but it is far safer than trying to mix with the crowd of runners, skaters and inexperienced cyclists which you are likely to meet in the recreational lane.

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