A Message to Motorists #1

“A Message to Motorists” is a new, regular feature on EcoVelo. The intent is to help motorists see things from the perspective of cyclists to improve road relations and safety. Since many cyclists are also motorists, it will also remind us to think like bike riders when we’re behind the wheel. If you have an idea for “A Message to Motorists”, please send it to me and I’ll put it in the queue.

Dear Motorist,

When you come to a stop at an intersection where the cross traffic has the right of way, you can help cyclists on the cross street by acknowledging their presence with a complete stop. Making eye contact with them is even better, and if it’s after dark, a quick flash of the headlights would be super. Please remember that if you creep forward as cyclists approach from the side, there’s no way for them to know if you see them and if they’re putting themselves in harm’s way by passing in front of you.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

9 Responses to “A Message to Motorists #1”

  • Dave says:

    Do you think that people who have problems with cyclists on the road will be reading this blog?

  • Alan says:


    These little nuggets aren’t necessarily intended only for “people who have problems with cyclists”. Many people who have no intention of harming cyclists unwittingly do things on the road that are inconvenient if not downright dangerous to cyclists.

    Regarding my readership, my stats show incoming referrals from many websites that are not cycling-specific. That leads me to believe at least some portion of my visitors are either not cyclists, or they’re new to cycling. In any case, many cyclists are motorists too, myself included! :-)


  • Duncan Watson says:

    Passing T intersections with drivers creeping up or otherwise not signaling they will stop is one of my least comfortable situations as a cyclist. I often ring my bell or make eye contact to make sure the drivers are aware of my presence. Sadly many drivers consider this an aggressive action and get upset with me, as if I am accusing them of something.

    I just don’t want to become a sad statistic.

  • Adrienne says:

    Creeping indicates impatience, which is what makes it uncomfortable. Will this driver wait for me to get through the intersection? In my case, will the driver wait long enough to see the Burley behind me? I find the eye contact thing is an imperative. If I can make eye contact, I can either smile my thanks, or fix ‘em with my ‘you better not’ Mom eye (which freezes most people in place instantly).

    How about a post about turn signals and their required by law usage?

  • Chris Cowan says:

    @Duncan when I ring my bell at drivers at intersections or driveways I also give a friendly wave to let them know I’m not angry. They usually smile and wave back. I have this theory that people usually don’t wave at you and then proceed to kill you.. Unless they are psychopaths. :D

  • Darren says:

    As a cyclist and motorist I think these posts are beneficial. So thanks for doing it.

    I often gripe at drivers only to forget how I could approach that situation when I’m behind the wheel to make other cyclists feel more comfortable around my vehicle.

    The situation described in your post, being unable to determine if a driver is going to turn in front of me, driving too close to the bike lane, and vehicles blocking bike lanes (waiting to turn into traffic) are some of the most common and frustrating situations when I’m cycling. Being aware of my surroundings, making eye contact, and appreciate gestures (nods and waves) are the easiest way to show gratitude and make a driver feel comfortable around me. In the end, the hope is my behavior is seen as positive and rubs off.

  • David Hembrow says:

    Whether drivers will read the blog or not is beyond your influence. However, it is definitely helpful if drivers understand things from a cycling perspective.

    I notice here that not only do drivers always give way to you when they should, they also frequently give way when they have priority. This is sometimes less than convenient as I’ve already stopped, and of course it’s not something you can assume would happen.

    I think this has a lot to do with almost all drivers also being regular cyclists.

    It’s quite a contrast with the UK where a large enough percentage of drivers treat cyclists very badly such that you have to always be expec ting the worst.

  • Dave Brown says:

    Suggested topic: What does it mean when an overtaking motorist blows the horn, shouts, or even shreeks (usually teenagers)? Is it a friendly greeting or a threat? Do they expect me to wobble when I am startled?

    Thank you.

  • Helton says:

    A helpful thing motorists can do is move their hands – like calling the cyclist – above the steering wheel just below the windshield (the most visible site), while assuring eye contact, just like saying “c’mon, you may pass, I’m waiting”. A headlight flicker could be confused with “look, biker, I’m here and going to cross!”

    Thanks for the idea, many times it’s hard to see things from the others’ perspective, and it applies to pedestrians either (also when we are the pedestrians).

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