Who’s the bigger road hazard: pedestrians or cyclists?

Pedestrians do the stupidest things.

So do bicyclists.

Here’s someone who walked into the middle of an Interstate highway at 2 a.m. and was killed by an oncoming truck.

He was wearing dark clothing.

And here’s a cyclist who, in the words of one of the commenters, “wanted to be an organ donor.”

Now, before you cast judgment, let’s take a little time-out. This could have been you or me. You never know when you’ll run out of gas at 2 a.m. and try to cross the freeway, or when you’ll be daydreaming while bicycling and swerve into the middle of what you believe to be an empty road.

But here’s something that shocked me: After writing a recent story about bikes on planes, I received a flood of toxic comments from drivers who said they hated cyclists, and that the feeling was mutual.

I must live a sheltered life. I harbor no ill will toward cyclists or pedestrians. But then I wondered: Which group is more dangerous? Which is more hated when you’re behind the wheel?

The case for pedestrians. They think they own the road, and according to many traffic laws, they’re kinda right. Motorists must yield to pedestrians. But when they act as if they own the road, by failing to cross at a designated crosswalk or running across the street even when the light is red — well, that can cause problems, even for law-abiding drivers.

My least favorite pedestrian encounters happen at schools, churches and public events, where people spill onto the road without any forethought, assuming drivers will be attentive and respectful enough to stop and let them by.

They usually do — but not always.

The case for cyclists. They also think they own the road, but they don’t. Cyclists are expected to follow all traffic laws. But I can’t remember the last time I saw someone on a bike stop at a stop sign. I’m sure it happens, I just haven’t seen it. Bikers also weave in and out of traffic, and when a car has the audacity to go somewhere they intend to, they’re not shy about giving them the finger. Oh, you know which finger I’m talking about.

My pet peeve, when it comes to cyclists, is the group of riders who take up an entire lane of a two-lane road, riding side-by-side. When I pull behind them on a country road, I wait patiently for them to finish their conversation and fall into a single line, so I can get past them. But when they fail to do that, I wait for an opening to pass them.

Again, the audacity. I see a row of fingers in my rearview mirror. Was I supposed to wait?

As to which of these two groups is more annoying for drivers, I don’t know. It’s a close call. I try to be respectful, to drive defensively, and to give both groups plenty of room on the road.

Sometimes I succeed; sometimes I don’t.

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