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Cyclists Breaking the Unwritten Rules of Environmentalism

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

As cycling becomes more popular as both a sport and mode of transportation, cyclists need to be more mindful of their manners on the road. Cycling is considered environmentally friendly, and healthy, and can save you a lot of money on gas. However, in recent years, there have been several news stories of cyclists running stop signs, mindlessly discarding garbage, and even urinating on other riders. This unacceptable behavior could lead to a negative public perception of cycling. Cyclists are guests on the road and should act accordingly.

Angry Cyclist. A cyclist is throwing up his hands at a car.

If you're running a red light or stop sign, you're in the wrong.

Be Mindful of the Environment

Cyclists can fall into the trap of thinking that just because the sport has a low environmental impact, they have the right to ignore the basic principles of environmentalism. This can lead to dangerous self-righteousness, which is not a great color for anyone. Some cyclists, for example, forget that cycling also generates, both directly and indirectly, greenhouse gas emissions. They might not think twice about throwing their trash on the ground or cycling on sensitive trails. This type of behavior not only reflects poorly on cyclists but also threatens the future of the sport.

Trash in nature. Trash blown by wind is caught in a natural ditch.

After getting blown by the wind, this is where the waste ends up until someone decides to clean it.

One of the sport's biggest problems is the number of cyclists who generate waste. This includes things like water bottles, gel wrappers, and tire tubes. While some of this waste can be recycled or reused, much of it ends up in landfills. This problem is compounded by the fact that many cyclists are unwilling to pay for the disposal of their waste or participate in volunteer cleanups. This means that taxpayers end up footing the bill for the clean-up.

The carbon footprint of road cycling is huge due to the manufacturing of components that are often discarded as soon as a more technologically advanced version is developed. The production of bicycles and cycling gear creates emissions, as does transportation to and from riding areas. That's not even taking into account the fact that many pro cyclists use highly polished team bikes that are worth tens of thousands of dollars, and often get discarded at the end of the season. So not only is the carbon footprint of cycling huge, but it's also extremely wasteful.

Gas emissions. A large factory is making a lot of smoke.

This is what the smoke coming out from a factory looks like, so think twice before trashing your old bike or needlessly burning through equipment.

And finally, there's the impact of rubber tires on pavement and trails. Tires wear down surfaces, leading to increased maintenance needs and ultimately more emissions from road crews. So, if you ever think it's okay to just chuck your energy bar wrapper on the wayside because you're not emitting much carbon, please reconsider. We need to do our part to take care of the environment, even if it's just in small ways.

Don't Be Rude to Other Road Users

Every road user is subject to the rules of the road, cyclists included. This means we also need to stop at stop signs and red lights, use hand signals, and yield to pedestrians. Unfortunately, some cyclists think they are above the law and choose to ignore these basic rules. This not only puts themselves at risk but also other road users. If you're lucky enough to live in a city with bike lanes, please be courteous to other riders. Bicycle lanes are crucial infrastructure for cyclists. They are essential for the safety of all riders, especially beginner cyclists who may not be as confident or skilled in riding in traffic. The fact that some cyclists think they are above the law is not only dangerous but also selfish. Cyclists need to be more considerate of other road users and follow the rules of the road. Bike lanes are crucial for the safety of all riders, but especially for beginner cyclists.

Happy cyclists. A group of cyclists are going through the city.

A happy group of cyclists, look at that big smile.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories of strong and experienced cyclists being rude to beginner riders, calling them out for being slow on the bike lanes. This creates an unwelcoming environment for newcomers and can discourage them from cycling altogether. So, if you're lucky enough to live in a city with bike lanes, please be courteous to other riders. Remember that we were all beginners once, and it's thanks to the patience and kindness of other cyclists that we were able to enjoy this great sport. So let's pay it forward by extending the same courtesy to newcomers. So, if you see a newbie cyclist staggering around on the bike lanes, don't be a jerk and yell at them - be patient and helpful instead. After all, we were all new to this once, and we should all help each other out so that everyone can enjoy this wonderful sport.

Don't Take a Piss on Other Riders… Literally

The latitude for acceptable road cycling behavior significantly becomes wider for the pro levels. The stakes are higher, and race organizers often have dedicated cleanup crews tasked to pick up after teams and spectators. However, even pros can forget their manners in the heat of competition.

Recently, Peter Sagan couldn't help but lament how pro cyclists are developing poor bathroom habits in the peloton. In an interview, he said, "You used to have the fixed time to stop to pee together. Now everyone is peeing on their bicycles. I then ask: Is that normal? I understand if you ride the final of say the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. But at a dead-end in the race? You don't lose anything by stopping for a while." This poor hygiene is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for cyclists, as more and more riders are being forced to abandon races due to illnesses contracted on the road. With so much at stake, it's high time that something is done to address this growing issue.

A group peloton cycling through a trail.

For some cyclists in a peloton, taking a necessary break is a bit more problematic than it should be.

Pissing while riding in a peloton is not only incredibly rude, but it can also be dangerous. The close proximity of riders means that urine can easily splash onto other cyclists, which is both gross and distracting. Although we do have to accept that pissing on your bike in a race is generally acceptable during the competitive stages, it is a massive faux pas in the middle of a cramped peloton. For Sagan, this is a sign of disrespect for other riders. So there you have it, folks. Pissing while riding in a peloton is not only incredibly rude, but it can also be dangerous. If you're thinking about doing it, just remember that you could be putting other cyclists at risk. So think twice before you let go and let nature take its course.

Final Thoughts

Now that cycling is on the rise, there's bound to be more conflict on the road. In order to prevent issues from escalating, it's important to establish some basic etiquette rules for the sport. Here are some of the most important ones:

First and foremost, share the road. This is non-negotiable. Whether it's with other cyclists, pedestrians, or cars, cyclists must learn to co-exist harmoniously with other road users. Secondly, don't forget to throw your garbage properly. Just because you think you're not contributing to the carbon emissions by cycling doesn't mean you automatically get a free pass to leave your trash everywhere. And lastly, don't piss on your mates in the middle of a peloton.

But if there's one simple rule that can summarize all of these etiquette rules, it has to be this: Just don't be a jerk. By following this simple rule, we can help make cycling a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

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