An Open Letter to Cyclist-Hating Motorists. ~ Jodee Anello

Via on Sep 11, 2012

There is a human being under every helmet.

Before I begin my letter, you should know that I am new to cycling. I have only been riding for two years. There are many others who could do a better job at this because they have dealt with much more than I have, having put many more miles on their skinny tires. I am writing this from my view. A newbie to a road bike, but nonetheless, I have experienced my fair share of folks in cars with a bad attitude toward me and my fellow riders.

There are a few things that have occurred in my world recently that are prompting me to write this. I live in Sonoma County, a cycling destination. We have everything from weekenders out on rental bikes to world-class professionals sharing the same roads. We also have cars on these roads.

In the past three months, five cyclists have been killed in my county and one seriously injured. There was also an incident where an elderly man chased down a cyclist in his car and deliberately hit the rider. According to the California Highway Patrol, the speed of the vehicles involved played a major role in the deaths of these cyclists.

Also a factor in my writing this letter is a verbal altercation I personally had with a motorist in which I was doing nothing wrong except momentarily inconveniencing him. I slowed him down. He had to wait until it was safe to pass me.

I have found myself defending cyclists on numerous occasions to people whose misconceptions make me crazy. Recently, I’ve seen what people think is harmless joking in relation to the hatred of cyclists, but to me, this kind of humor only perpetuates the problem. So here I go…

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Motorist,

I am terrified of you. I know that every time I get on my bike, I am risking my life. I know that I will not win in a collision. The fear that I must conquer each and every time I ride is beginning to do a number on my head. I am beginning to think it’s not worth it.

I am a person. You see a cyclist. My loved ones see me. There is a human being under that helmet. There is a human being under every helmet. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives and grandparents. Please, do everything in your power to start looking at us as the people that we are. I am a mother, daughter and friend. There are people in my life that love me.

Perhaps if I told you a little more about what brought me to cycling, it might help you to begin to see all cyclists a little differently, because like everyone, cyclist or not, we all have our own story.

Initially, I just wanted to go out and ride. I had friends that rode, so I borrowed a bike. Shortly after, I joined Team in Training with the intent of completing a cycling endurance event while raising money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. My son is a blood cancer survivor. I rode in his honor. And I’m doing it again. This will be my second year. Please think about that the next time you drive past me and yell at me to get off the road as I battle a headwind on a solo training ride.

Now I want to tell you a few things you may not otherwise consider:

Please do not assume that I am being an idiot for riding inside the white line and not riding on what appears to you to be a perfectly good wide shoulder. You can’t see what I can and often times the conditions of the shoulder are not safe. More than likely there is either sand or gravel making it unsafe to travel on. Believe me, that last thing I want is to be any closer to you than I have to be, but I am not going to risk going down on gravel and be thrown across the road into your path.

Do not expect me to weave in and out of parked cars. It is far safer for me to take a straight line than having to keep turning round to see if it is safe to come back out from behind a parked car.

Speaking of parked cars, if you are in one and are going to get out, please look for me first.

Please don’t fault me if I don’t wave you around me on blind corners. Yes, I can see sooner than you if it is safe to pass but I am not going to take that responsibility. You need to see for yourself when it is safe. I am not being rude.

Like a car, I have the right-of-way when I am traveling straight ahead. Do not pull out in front of me or make a left hand turn in front of me when it is not safe to do so. I don’t mind slowing a bit for you, but having to stop my bike when I have the right-of-way is simply wrong and dangerous.

Don’t wave me through intersections or left turns when you have the right-of-way. I realize you think you are being nice but this can be dangerous. I will yield to you when you have the right-of-way and take my proper turn just as a car.

Give me a wave when in doubt. I will wave and smile at you. You have no idea how comforting it is to come upon a stopped vehicle waiting to move into the flow of traffic and be acknowledged that you see me.

Please, please, please, slow down when you see me and please, put away the cell phone.

I know there are rude cyclists out there, just as there are rude people in all walks of life, but please don’t assume that of me just because I am on a bike. It isn’t fair to any of us that are out there on the roads doing our absolute best to be courteous and safe.

In closing, I know that not all motorists hate cyclists. I know there are many out there who are conscientious and careful, because I see you out there, too. Thank you. I am addressing those not like you. It only takes one reckless moment and deep in my heart, I know that the majority of hateful motorists are not hateful people. I know you would feel terrible if you were to accidentally hurt or kill me, or any other human being on a bicycle.

Sincerely yours,


I welcome any fellow cyclists to add anything in the comments that I may have missed or correct me, if needed. Motorists, your comments are welcome, too. We need to co-exist harmoniously. Neither bikes, nor cars are going away any time soon.


Jodee Anello lives in Healdsburg, CA, where upon arriving there three years ago, was finally cured of a near fatal case of wanderlust. She works at a popular winery while she tries to figure out if modeling will ever work out, but even better would be writing, which is her passion. She uses her blog to improve her writing skills with poetry, memoir and personal essays. She is a runner and cyclist and enjoys home improvement projects, landscaping and making garage wine with friends. She is also the number one fan of her son’s band.


Editor: Sarah Winner

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56 Responses to “An Open Letter to Cyclist-Hating Motorists. ~ Jodee Anello”

  1. Cyclist Hater says:

    Stupid letter. Almost all cyclists are hated because they feel they can ride in the MIDDLE of the road and NOT obey stop signs. Get your cycling buddies to understand if you’re on the road obey traffic lights and signs and THEN well respect you. Otherwise you’re just a granola loser who should workout at the gym and drive a car like a normal person.

  2. Matt says:

    “granola loser”?!?, dude, you fail at insulting people. Yes, lets all work out in the gym, drive cars and be “normal”. Lets not bike, run, surf, ski, skateboard, rock climb or anything abnormal.

    I look forward to reading in the paper when you pick a fight with someone who took too long on the tradmill in front of you. Hopefully you don’t get your butt stomped by some skinny, granola eating chick.

  3. lyn says:

    Wow Cyclist Hater, you've got a lot of rage in you and are the kind of person that makes it dangerous for everyone on the road…not just bikes. Just an FYI before you climb back on your high horse, cyclists are allowed to ride in the MIDDLE of the road when it is unsafe to ride in the right due to debris, obstruction, pedestrians, oh and quite often…illegally parked cars.

    So maybe educate yourself before you get all aggro because it just makes you come off as silly and ignorant (and so do the pointless blanket insults). And if you think that working out only in the gym and riding a car everywhere is normal maybe you should travel outside of your personal bubble a bit. Quite a bit of the world uses bikes for health and commuting purposes and would look at someone like you as being abnormal.

  4. Jules says:

    Cyclist Hater,

    WOW. You’re a mess, I bet you’re unhappy in all areas of your life. Where in the rules of the road does it say motor vehicles have priority, I don’t believe it does. You may have encountered a rude cyclist, Jodee touched on that, one bad guy doesn’t make the rest that way. I’ve been ticked off at that crazy person that drives a car, rides a motorcycle, rides a bike, I don’t judge everyone by one persons actions. If I were to do so, I’d have to say most people are kind and considerate, it’s unfortunate we have to put up with the likes of you.

    Give kindness a try, it feels great.

  5. Thanks, Jodee. As the father of a son for whom his bicycle is his primary mode of transportation throughout NYC, I hear horror stories all the time, and worry a lot.

    Bob W. elephant journal
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    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  6. oz_ says:

    Well, I was gonna comment that you were preaching to the choir by posting in EJ, but the first comment shows how wrong I was!

    Great letter, Jodee – I'm totally on board. Unfortunately, we cyclists are up against an entire culture that incentivizes, rewards, and in many cases demands precisely those traits that render cyclists at acute risk on the roads. It's that culture that needs to change before we can breath a little more safely. In the meantime:

    – Oz

  7. Renee says:

    Here in Boulder in 15 minutes yesterday I watched 9 bikes blow Through stop signs, 4 through red lights, and my car was kicked by a cyclist

    When I pulled over due to an ambulance coming… He had his music

    On so loud on his earbuds I could hear it from the car but he

    Couldn’t hear the sirens. I have yet to see a cyclist get a ticket.

    I would gladly pay higher taxes for cycle only roads or widening

    And maintenance of the cycling road space so we can all be safe and

    Comfortable using our chosen mode of transportation.

  8. eleanor says:

    Thank you very much for writing this letter. I risk my life every day going to work. Good luck and safe travels. And thanks for trying to help educate the masses. Keep up the good work!

  9. thoreau2 says:

    I wish the letter had also said something along the lines of:

    In exchange for your respect I promise to follow the same traffic laws as you. I'll stop at red lights and I won't roll through stop signs. I won't ride diagonally across the road from the far right line to the far left. I'll use hand signals to let you know when I'm turning. And most importantly, I'll carry insurance in case I accidentally hit you.

  10. Maria says:

    Who would have thought that a person like "Cyclist Hater" would be on a site like Elephant. Surely he goes against the whole ethos of the site….weird.

  11. sinead says:

    I cycle everywhere. I'm in my mid30s and don't (never have) owned a car, even though I can drive, which I think is an important skill to have. Cars are terrifying, partly because you never know if the person inside has decided that they'd rather risk injuring or killing me rather than adding 10 seconds to their travel time, as are other cyclists who don't follow traffic laws and piss off drivers. But I don't much see the point of standoffs where either side says "I'll follow the rules if you do first". Um… *everyone* has to follow traffic laws. And bikes are traffic. And just like I don't automatically assume that everyone behind the wheel of a car is a jerk who is going to scare me for fun and/or shout at me and/or try to door me (yes, I've actually had someone try to door me and then get upset when I managed to swerve out of the way), drivers shouldn't assume that everyone on a bike breaks traffic laws.

    Finally, cyclists do slow drivers down. Big whoop. Roads are a shared resource that we all pay for and all have a right to use, regardless of the number of wheels we have on our vehicle. Just like drivers have to take into account that there will be traffic in the form of other cars on the road during their commute and leave enough time for that, they have to take into account that there is also traffic in the form of bikes on the road and leave time for that. I know it sucks to be running late, but your disorganization should not cost me my life or limbs.

  12. thoreau2 says:

    I posted this link above in a reply, but so others can watch this video:

    Copenhagen seems to have the best approach. Keep cars and bikes separate.

  13. sycat says:

    I understand your letter. Statistically, double that number in pedestrians have been killed or maimed.

    Multipurpose roads or paths (wherever they are) must have multi or cross education.

    My state doesn’t have bicycle safety elements as part of its driving education, how about yours?

    Just as cars and motor cycles have licensing so too should bicycles.

    What organizations are you working with to bring this about, as a suggestion to me.

    Thank you.

  14. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Are there none of those renegade cyclists here that several of the comments (including the first one) are complaining about? Is everyeone here really as pure as the driven snow? Ok, I'll admit it. I can play pretty loose with the rules of the road when I'm on a bike (but only when I'm riding in traffic, I'm very careful in places that might have pedestrians). But here's one rule I rarely break, or else I'd be in the Tour de France. I rarely spped. In places where children play, people walk, and cyclists cycle, the speed of cars should also be severely restricted, and not just by speed limit signs but by cameras. Cyclists are more dangerous than we riders like to admit, but the real monster driving the structure of our neighborhoods and restricting the movement of both children and adults, with its sheer speed and danger, is the ubiquitous automobile.

    So what's my real point out of these many points? I'll save that for another time, but I can't believe y'all are reallly such good citizens when you're on a bike!

  15. coco says:

    I am a driver. I used to cycle but the area near my residence has many tight streets very busy and 3 major stoplights which are always congested and facilitate illegal and unpredictable behavior from bicyclists and car drivers. I see so much of bikers running the red lights.. you know jjust skimming through.. and stopsigns.. nto putting their foot to the ground.. and weavign in and out of traffic. I understand why some car drivers have become bicyclist haters..

    We are scared. We are scared of killing or maiming fo rlife another human being. We are scared of what could happen to our own lives if we hit someone.
    We are scared when you run a red light in front of us or weave past cars in a narrow rain gutter. ththen pull out in front of the line of traffic you wove by and YOU GO REALLY SLOW.
    We are scared when youwear NO HELMET and hav eno hands onthe handle bars and make a left hand turn in front os us. We are scared and infuriariated when you ride on a crosswalk amid pedestrians and then SWOOP off and make an unanticipated left turn in front of cars.
    We are sick of feeling scared and becoem ANGRY>

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  17. kellis chandler says:

    I was vising Sonoma from San Antonio, and rented bikes one day with a buddy. The bike lane ended, so I quickly entered main traffic and procceeded to signal and attempt a left hand turn. Talk about risking your life!!! I was yelled at, honked at and swerved at. Amazing!!!! San Antonio (that's in Texas folks) is 3 times as bike friendly as stressed out Sonoma commuters. I'm in the wine biz, and know that most folks in Sonoma are very laid back and excepting. Hopefully a little education will help everyone be safe!!

  18. Draper says:

    I understand the message of the letter, and support anyone trying to exercise and/or connect with nature, and I would never try to endanger anyone on a bike or not. However, I think that cyclists should ride in parks unless there is a designated bike lane for their own safety and for the mental health of those who have places to be.

  19. Debbie says:

    I wish this article was true, most cyclist are rude and DO NOT OBEY the traffic laws, such as stopping at Stop Signs, or 4 way stops. I live in Danville and they even go through RED lights. I have yet to see a cyclist in my home town that is nice.

  20. Phil says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful addition to the cycling debate. I wrote a similar piece myself from a UK cyclists perspective a few months ago. It’s at if you’re interested.

  21. Greg says:

    It's only a matter of time before Cyclist Hater kills someone who rides a bike. One of the things we need to learn as a society is that crazy, violent people who are filled with anger and hatred do see their rage play out in their lives. I'm just hoping that I don't ever ride my bike anywhere near where he drives.
    Renee in Boulder – I live, drive and ride in Boulder too. How come I only very rarely see the kinds of cyclist infractions you experience? I do see college kids sometimes run stop signs and stop lights on their bikes, but I can't think of an instance where that was problematic to me as a driver. As for me and the vast majority of people that I ride with, we put effort into obeying the rules of the road. We're not perfect as a group, but most cyclists are conscientious and want to ride safely.
    The two big problems are that 1) too many drivers don't know the law, don't know for example that cyclists have as much of a legal right to the roadway as drivers do; and 2) too many cyclists don't get the fact that sharing the road is a two way street.
    Let's be careful out there. I ride my bike 5,000+ miles a year, and cycling is the joy of my life, but I also want to live to see my kids and eventually my grandkids grow up.

  22. Greg says:

    Since I wrote the reply above I discovered that Iris Stagner, a wife and mother in Texas was killed yesterday riding her bike. See:
    I also read an article related to the subject for Jodee's posting:
    Definitely worth reading for both drivers and cyclists.

  23. Shane says:

    Jodee, you are a far kinder person than I am. I have been riding my whole life (I'm now 40), and bought my first car at 36. I spent 4 years as a bike messenger, and I have come to the conclusion that human beings have some pretty serious flaws and I do not know if we have the time needed to see them understood and fixed. The basic problem, as I understand it anyway, is the illusion that "I am the most important thing in the universe". This fuels the Cyclist Haters of the world as well as untold other destructive behaviours. I find it incredibly frustrating to see so much of it, and when my life is put at risk, I tend to get a little excited.

    Great article, thank you for taking the time to write it.

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