Thanking the 87%

From today’s “Roadshow” column in the San Jose Mercury News:

My husband commutes from our home in the area of Yerba Buena/San Felipe Road to Valley Medical Center about three times a week. Although I love his commitment, it’s nerve-racking for me. I worry all the time someone is going to mow him over.

But, he says about 87 percent of the people out there in cars are respectful of his presence. They let him have the lane when needed, wave him on at rights of way, make eye contact and don’t blow their horn at him for no reason.

Thanks to all the drivers that share the road with my husband and countless others. I’d like to thank this 87 percent who realize that not only is cycling good for your health, it keeps the mileage down on the car and keeps gas money in your wallet.

Maybe someday I an unpaid intern can look through my on-bike video footage to see precisely the percentage of decent drivers vs the occasional aggressive jerk. We tend to post the exciting stuff online so that skews our perceptions, but my bike commutes are almost always uneventful. Maybe the true percentage is closer to 99%?

Today’s column also includes a real winner of a question: “I am making a right-hand turn in my car and there is a bicyclist next to me going straight. Do I wait for him to go and then turn? Or do I turn and cut him off?”

That’s a trick question, right?

More discussion about good drivers, bad drivers, and the (sadly inevitable) scofflaw cyclists in the Merc News: Some Bay Area bicyclists offer thanks to motorists.


  1. If only 87% of drivers were respectful of my riding, I’d never ride on roads again. I suspect the actual percentage is more like 99.987% and maybe even 99.9987%. It makes the rest more clearly what they are – aberrations. It is also why I often refer to the big majority as “my motorists” on my own blog.

  2. I’d say ~87% “get it.” They give me plenty of room and pass when it’s safe, without honking or buzzing. Then about 12%+ look totally confused, or zoom past abruptly only to catch the next red light (and the next one, and…). Then the <1% or so remaining are the jerks that pass no matter what, likely too close, maybe while honking, all for their rush to tailgate the next thing ahead of them.

  3. I think I must be pretty lucky that 87% of my commute is on a public bridleway, with 5-10 minutes of riding on the roads at either end. That being that, the majority of vehicles seem to pass well wide of me and wait behind me when the road narrows or there is a pedestrian crossing island. But there are some motorists who aren’t courteous or even safe – I think my percentage maybe around 95%, mostly because of the lack of time spent on the roads.

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