Cycling and cyclists on the island are a hot potato of an issue on Mallorca. Rarely do you find an indifferent opinion, and feelings tend to run high on the topic.
On the one hand, you have the cyclists who say they are behaving in an environmentally-friendly way and have every right to be using the roads like motorists. On the other are the motorists and pedestrians who say cyclists follow road rules only when it suits them, that they litter indiscriminately and act unthinkingly with regard to other people’s rights on the roads.
It seems to be a bit of a Mexican Stand-off, folks.
Affordable Mallorca is here to share thoughts on both sides. With a little understanding, and a few corrections of some ingrained bad habits, maybe these two opposing forces can finally find a way to kiss and make up!
Anti-Cyclist View #
“It is the practice of a number of them, spread out across the road, to rush down at headlong speed, more like a horde of Apaches or Sioux Indians, conches shrieking and bells going; and woe betide the luckless man or aught else coming in their way.” -Letter to the Times of London, 1892
In the eyes of those who do not share the passion of the “road toads”, there seems to be a few recurring themes and grievances. The most common include:
- Public Urination
- Not following the rules of the road
- Cycling 4-5 abreast in large groups with no a guide (unsupervised) holding up traffic
Pro-Cyclist View #
“We have all met the kind of garrulous cycle hater who would pen such spiteful words as these, and we will simply say ‘Booh!’ to it.”- Response to above quote by Cycling Magazine, 1892
Cyclists have their own set of gripes against motorists and the haters. Some examples are:
- Impatient and dangerous motorists
- Environmentally-friendly bikes vs polluting cars
- Active aggression toward cyclists
The Middle Ground #
Now it’s time to look at what kind of solutions can be made to keep road rage at bay as much as possible. Both sides are going to get double-barrel blasted for their bad behaviours, so don’t think one side or the other is getting preferential treatment. I call them as I see them, and the following are things that could quickly de-escalate the anger felt on both sides. So, no pouting when you get called out. This stuff is simply good manners and common sense, which sometimes gets tossed out when people are all fired up.
Let’s start with the foulest of the issues here. It is seriously not OK to pee on public roadsides, on people’s fence posts or anywhere where there is no door and some form of sanitary device to contain bodily excrement. Grow up and hold it or find a café or other such place along your route and stop to do the necessaries. Its revolting and disrespectful, so please, cyclists, take note and put that bad habit to bed for good. Portaloos have been set up around Andratx to try and help cyclists find convenient pit stops, and more communities are getting on board with this, so ideally this type of occurrence will soon be a thing of the past.
Not following road rules is a biggie with motorists. Blowing through red lights and going the wrong way on one way streets is pretty naughty, and dangerous. No one wants to see anyone wind up a statistic, so just obey the laws. They’re there to keep us all safe. But just to be clear, not all, or even most, cyclists ignore rules of the road. This is a shout out for those that do.
Being stuck behind a group of cyclists traveling in packs is annoying to those trying to get to work, school or just to the supermarket. The safety in numbers thing is completely understandable but taking time to notice if your actions are causing serious hold ups, especially on smaller rural roads, would go a long way in healing rifts. Cycling tour operators are proposing new regulations for the number of cyclists allowed to ride in a peloton, as well as requiring guides for groups of more than ten and requirements to bike single file or in bike lanes only. Not only would jobs be created on the island, but it would allow casual cyclists on holiday to relax and enjoy their time here and leave the road concerns to the guides.
SUCH an easy fix. Don’t do it. If you eat an energy bar on the road, tuck the wrapper into a pouch or pocket. Use only refillable water bottles. That kind of thing. You don’t get to use the eco-friendly schtick and to litter at the same time, so just remember we all love this island, let’s keep it beautiful.
Impatient and Dangerous Drivers
Motorists, it is not cool to graze up alongside a cyclist EVER. The law is 1.5 meters of space when overtaking. This is for the protection of everyone and to prevent accidents involving cyclists, of which there are over 150 per year. With 100,000 cyclists visiting every year, it’s time to get used to them being on the roads. A little planning during the busiest seasons would keep stress down. If you have to be somewhere and are taking a heavily used cycling route, leave a little early. It won’t kill you!
Bikes are a non-polluting form of transportation. Cars are decidedly not. We all get that and applaud the cyclists for choosing a clean mode of transport. Mallorca is a bit of a special case, though, in that the vast majority of the cyclists are on holiday and not using bikes to get from A to B, they are here to have some fun. Many of the cycling tourists fly home and get in their pollution-making car every other day of the year. Bottom line, we’re all trying to do our best, here. Let’s remember to be realistic with each other’s human frailties.
Aggression and Worse!
This is by far the most unacceptable thing motorists and cycling haters do. The active hurling of insults and downright aggressive behaviour is playground bully stuff. This time it’s you lot who need to grow up. Calling someone names because they are riding a little in your lane or cut in front of you is childish. It’s also hazardous, as these actions could frighten or startle bike riders causing them to fall and get seriously injured.
In Short #
In order to learn to be better road-sharers (is that a word?), both motorists and cyclists need to get out of the habit of only thinking of one’s self. We all have different agendas, and all of us deserve to have our valuable time respected. So, try to give each other a break. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and most of all…remember we’re all in this together!
#cyclingMallorca #cyclinginspain #mallorcacyclingtours #bikehiremallorca #cyclingholidaysmallorca #biketourmallorca
By Stephanie Horsman
20 October, 2020