Friday, May 22, 2009

Cycling in the City

I ride a bike. Almost every day, even in the cold of winter (it's faster than walking, which is my second most common mode of transportation). I ride my bike in the street, going the proper direction. I stop at red lights and stop signs. I yield to pedestrians. In sum, I am conscious of others and aware of my surroundings. I don't harass drivers or pedestrians.

However, certain drivers seem to think that they can ignore the rules of the road, ignore the rules of common sense and safety and do asinine things. Such as: yelling out their windows as I drive by them. Veering into the right side of the road, where the cyclists are, instead giving them a wide berth. Attempting to grab my handlebars as I drive by them.

I'm not sure what prompts this behavior and it upsets and amazes me every time it happens. I will note that it happens more the later the hour gets, possibly because the same people who are prone to assholery as also prone to having a few and then driving home (just a guess, just a guess). I prefer the "live and let live" way of being, and to be minding my own business and then have some stranger (usually a guy, just saying. But sometimes a woman.) come at me, in what could be considered a weapon (big, hulking thing of steel with a motor versus two wheels, two legs, and a chain), is really just too much. Why are you threatening my safety? What have I done to you? I'm writing this after reading this story. To the driver of that car, you've injured a man and nearly killed a child. And for what? I mean, seriously, why? A car stopped in front of you, instead of waiting, you swerved around it. It's hard to have sympathy for you, no matter how "shaken up" by the incident you appeared to be.

I'm not sure what the first step is to changing this sort of behavior. Some strange sort of shift seems to happen to certain people when they get behind the wheel of a car. Driving a vehicle requires a level of responsibility and care for the safety of yourself and others that is lacking in so many drivers. I don't quite understand that. Does one flip the machismo switch the moment one turns the keys in the ignition? Does getting where you're going become the be all, end all of your existence?

That said, what upsets me a bit more is the bikers who exhibit asinine road behavior. The ones who pull out onto the street without looking. The ones who ride the wrong direction down the street or in the bike lane and expect that you'll move for them. The ones who blow through stop signs and red lights, even when traffic is oncoming. Since it's tipping on summer, these clueless bikers are coming out in droves. And they make us all look bad, as if we're all just road horrors, which unfortunately, makes those drivers already prone to jerkiness more jerky, and to all cyclists, not just the misbehaving ones.

Traffic laws exist for a reason, for everyone. If everyone ignores them, chaos ensures and people get hurt. I'm not sure why this isn't just common sense for many. I'm not sure where this rivalry cars vs. bike vs. peds came from. We've all got a common goal: getting to our destination safely and with the least amount of error, so why can't we just follow the rules and let that happen?

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