As cycling becomes a more popular form of urban transportation every day in the U.S. and other countries around the world, local governments have begun to help us cyclists by drawing out bike lanes for us to cycle safely in. This is a very welcome addition to any city street.
In many suburbs or small cities, the bike lane is generally a section of the road that is blocked off from the rest of the street by a line of trees, or a paved section. These protected bike lanes are the best, of course, but a lot of cities won’t spend that much money on making the roads safer for cyclists.
Instead, the standard bike lane is simply a marked off section of the main road. While this is usually simply marked by the universal cyclist sign, some cities have gone as far as to color the lane red or green to make it more visible to drivers.
Cyclists don’t get their own space
The problem is that a lot of drivers don’t recognize cyclists as real vehicles that need their own space. Even though cycle lanes are meant specifically for cyclists, drivers tend to drive over the lanes when trying to evade traffic jams.
A lot of the time, people park on the bike lane, ignoring the fact that this is very illegal. The worst part? Police usually fail to enforce the law that there is absolutely no parking in bike lanes. Since a few drivers don’t even know the law, shouldn’t something be done to educate them?
However, this is not the main problem. The biggest one is this: there are jerks out there who know exactly what they are doing when they park in the bike lane. They still do it, either for laughs or just because they think that rolling up in a Hummer gives them prestige.
These people are a disease that need to be stopped, but how do we cyclists fight back against these people? It isn’t like we can call a cop in every single time. Instead, cyclists need to fight back on their own. Here are a few ways in which jerks who park in a bike lane are absolutely owned.
1 – Put them on a shame site
You may be thinking that these don’t even exist. You would be surprised. Websites like Look at the A**hole in the Bike Lane that shout out about the jerks in the bike lanes all over the city and the country have become very popular amongst cyclists who feel like their few rights on the streets are being violated.
The website was started in Toronto, Canada, by the owners of a tattoo parlor right on the edge of one of the busiest bike lanes in the city. Now, small businesses usually don’t appreciate the bike lanes outside their stores. They are constantly complaining that it is reducing the amount of business that they get.
This is not true at all of course. Having a bike lane doesn’t change the amount of business that a store gets at all. In fact, it increases business if anything. Cyclists pedal along at a far more leisurely pace, which means that they can usually spare the time to walk into a store and buy whatever strikes their fancy.
Even though most businesses dislike bike lanes, this Toronto tattoo parlor loved our lanes. We loved them right back, especially when they put up a sign saying “Please don’t park in our bike lane”. Did that stop the unmentionables from parking their big, annoying gas guzzlers smack in the middle of the lane? Nope.
So the owner of the parlor took matters into their own hands. They set up a camera in their shop that looked out onto the bike lane, and connected it to website called….you guessed it: “Look at the A**hole in the Bike Lane”. They soon began inviting cyclists from all over the country who noticed things like this in their areas to submit photos and videos to their site. You should too, if you see some idiot in the bike lane in a SUV.
2 – Start a bike lane police force
This is something you can do if you have plenty of spare time on your hands. You could start a police force in your neighborhood dedicated to fighting those who park, or drive, in the bike lane. Of course, this is nothing official. However, it does help greatly in reducing the number of people violating the rules in a city.
A great example of this sort of force are the Los Supervicios, a gang of protectors in Mexico City who actively patrol the streets looking for trouble in the bike zone, and fighting it hand to hand. This doesn’t mean that you have to get out your shuriken and your daggers and go ninja on the people parking in the lane.
It just means you get together with a few fellow cyclists in your area and you patrol around looking for people who are trying to get an easy parking spot in a bike lane somewhere. Goodness knows these people are easy to find. It feels like every second person is on a bike lane trying to snag parking where no one else can.
Prevention is better than cure of course, and it is best to actively patrol and catch the people who commit these crimes (they are crimes after all) before they do it. This way you can ensure that the deed is stopped before it has even begun. What better way to make sure that these jerks stay off your streets?
3 – Stand up for your rights
You don’t have to be in a bike lane police force to get your right of way. All you need to do is have the confidence to assert yourself in the bike lane. This is your right, and no vehicles are allowed to either drive or park in the lane. Any that do so are actually in direct violation of the state or city road laws, and they could get written up.
Like the man in Beijing who went viral on Weibo for standing up against a black luxury car that was trying to take a shortcut through the bike lane to avoid a traffic jam, you too can assert yourself in such a way that drivers steer clear of the bike lane. They need to realize that cyclists are a part of the city streets as well, and that we should have just as much right to ride safely as they do.
However, it can be hard to stand up for yourself in this way in some countries. After all, it feels like an uphill battle when you are on a flimsy road bike and you are trying to stop a Hummer or some big vehicle like that from roaring past on your lane. Knowing the law in your area will help you no end though.
While the police are notorious for ignoring the requests for plain old cyclists when it comes to dealing out justice on the streets, if you know the law you can always get them to give the wrongful driver a ticket for parking in the bike lane. This can be hard to do though, especially when it is in a busy city where the traffic police have “bigger problems” on their minds.
4 – Take sweet vengeance
This is not something that you should do in a country where you don’t have protection from police for property damage. However, if you are somewhere like the United States or Canada for example, you can always try doing to the car drivers what they do to you on your bike every day by parking in the bike lane.
Show them what it feels like to have their space violated by parking your bike in the middle of the main street sometime. This will show all of these drivers exactly what it feels like. At least, this is what a recent Canadian poster campaign suggested, asking drivers how it would feel if we were to park in their lane.
In real life, it is probably best that you don’t do this, because while cops can be reticent about giving tickets to drivers who park in bike lanes and disrupt the flow of cyclists, they don’t seem to have a problem with slapping fines on bikers who park in the main streets. Strange, isn’t it?
5 – Lift the car out of the lane
When you come across a car parked in the bike lane, it can be hard to find out how to deal justice swiftly on the jerk who decided to do this. However, if you are one of two things: Thor or the Incredible Hulk, you can do what this man did, and lift the car out of the lane. This was done in reality, with no setup.
He was having a lovely day of his own, cycling down the street (possibly to the gym), on his lovely old bike, when he came across one idiot who had decided to park across the bike lane that was crossing the intersection. Instead of doing the nice thing and telling the owner to remove the vehicle, this guy finally snapped.
After all there are so many incidents where drivers have parked in this manner, and it is probably pissing everyone off. This guy took matters into his own hands, literally, and bodily lifted the car out of the bike lane!
6 – Stick a sticker on it!
There is a campaign that has been made popular, again by a Canadian company. They issue hundreds of small green stickers that say “I parked in a bike lane” and even sport a popular twitter hashtag symbol. These are available for a very low price for any cyclists to buy, and stick on the back of cars that they see parked in bike lanes.
This is the best way to make sure that you and your fellow cyclists can engage in a war with drivers who park in bike lanes without getting to aggressive. It is also quite funny to see most of these people driving around without knowing that everybody knows exactly what they have been up to.
7 – Tweet it to an advocacy group
There are some groups online that are dedicated to making the streets better for cyclists to ride on and enjoy. For example, there is a group in San Francisco that has been dedicated to making sure that the rules of the road are followed to a t. All you would have to do is take a picture of the vehicle that is violating your right of way and tweet it to the group.
8 – Drive a tank over the car
This is something you can do if you are either Kim Jong Il or the mayor of a certain Lithuanian city. You could take yourself to the nearest army base upon seeing the car parked in the bike lane, and do what the military does best. Shock and awe.
The Lithuanian mayor did exactly this by climbing into an Armored Personnel Carrier, or APC, and driving it over a Mercedes-Benz vehicle parked on the neighborhood bike lane. He crushed it completely, and showed drivers everywhere the consequences of parking in the bike lane.
Cops do it too
The sad thing about the lack of respect for the bike lane rule is that the people who are supposed to be enforcing them violate them just as much as the normal drivers. The police are notorious for parking in bike lanes, with popular channels showcasing these officers from all over the world.
However, you can always continue the fight against the jerks in bike lanes all over the world by following the 8 tips above. Although driving a tank over it can be a little illegal pretty much everywhere, you can always try the rest to make the roads a little better for cyclists everywhere.