This is my journey as I return to school and work in a profession I once dabbled in as a means for funding an after college 7 year long ski trip...not as a viable career choice. I hope I entertain, enlighten and learn something from any readers I may attract.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Same roads, same rights, not the same rules

The mantra of bicyclists who ride in busy areas seems to be same roads, same rules, same rights. I personally loved riding my bicycle to work for the three years it was truly amenable. I am talking about daily. Depending on the time of year, I rode in the early morning cold winter darkness or even during a couple tropical storms. It was the best way to go, I would have had to wake up and leave home earlier had I chosen to drive. (also it didn't hurt the pocketbook. Once my car was broken in to and I didn't know for 3 days because I literally never needed to drive.)I won't lie. It was dicey at times, and some motorists really scared me. I think it is great that bike enthusiasts have banded together to make the public more aware of safety, and the need for safe places for folks to enjoy. But....
I am sick of bicyclists who want their cake and plan on eating it too. For goodness sake! Same rules. That what YOU keep telling me. The hardcore bicycle brigade around here wants me to ignore a third of THEIR message. I am sick of watching near misses as the rule about stopping at a red light is ignored. One way streets? Those rules do not seem to apply, either. You freak out and gesture using one finger when people drive close to you because they have to. Maybe that whole same rules thing would come in handy in this situation. Hmmm, running a red light and turning extra wide, and it is my fault you broke the law resulting in me nearly veering in to oncoming traffic while I have the light. Horns honk and you Mr Trek think people are disrespecting you. No they are honking at me for avoiding you and nearly getting all of us killed. Why the discrepancy? Yes, I realize there are as many assholes on four wheels as there are on two. No arguement there. Obviously you value your life, you are out doing something healthy. I get the whole low environmental impact thing too. I just fail to understand why you fight so hard for these basic rights only to shoot yourselves in the toes. I can liken it to one of my vices. I hate seeing smokers litter the land with discarded butts. Hate it. As a smoker, it infuriates me. All it does is give the nonsmoking public more ammunition.Same thing with bikes. If you want to further your cause, live the whole entire complete mantra. I think same rules means same rules. Get it? With every near miss you make me angrier that my tax dollars are funding enhancing an activity for those above the law. (ie bike paths and the such)Like smokers, some leadership by example is necessary. C'mon y'all. If part of your platform is same rules, start abiding that. I know there are responsible cyclists out there, there just has to be. Will you guys please get out there and show the rest how it is done? Nobody takes a cause seriously when those involved in the cause are exemplifying poor behavior. I, for one, take cyclists safety seriously. The last thing I need is another hood ornament. I already have one. I just don't see many cyclists doing the same. Running a stop sign to turn the wrong way onto a one way street is not how your cause will be helped.
I know this may infuriate any cyclist who actually reads this. I'd be furious too. Not at the messenger, though. I'd get pissed at the guy or gal who is going to benefit from your hard work and model behavior. It is not fair. The appropriate cyclist will ultimately pay the price for the irresposible cyclist. How many more times will it be the motorists fault before the police start paying closer attention to the behavior of riders, and begin taking away rights?As more and more people open up to this form of transit, more and more jackasses will buy bikes. The ensuing mayhem can be avoided if a few brave cyclists change the culture by educating others. C'mon y'all, teach these yahoos same roads, same rules, same rights. Put some emphasis on rules. Or just add another R. Same responsibility. I just want what you all want.Make cyclists live by their mantra.


Ed W said...

Madam, I feel your pain. I can't count the times I've wondered why I continue to support all those motorists with my own hard-earned tax money - money that goes overwhelmingly to build infrastructure that reinforces the dominance of motor vehicles as a transportation mode and increases our dependence on foreign oil, pollutes our air, yadda yadda yadda.

Look, let's just cut to the chase. It's ridiculous to suggest that the actions of any individual reflect on those of his peer group. It's a false generalization. If one cyclist runs a red light, all cyclists are lawbreaking fools. It's the same as saying that one speeding motorist reflects badly on all motorists. You would likely object to being characterized as a road-going menace because I encountered another motorist doing something stupidly dangerous on my daily commute, so I won't attempt to tar you with that particularly wide brush. Please, if at all possible, return the favor.

I'm an instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. We teach people how to ride safely and comfortably in traffic, and no, we don't teach them to ignore stop signs or red lights, and we never condone wrong-way riding. Chances are, you've met us 'vehicular cyclists' on the road and you didn't give us much thought, just like you don't think about the 99% of motorists who operate safely and competently on our roads. It's the fools and nutcases who get our attention, regardless of their transportation mode. The rest just slip under our radar.

But if you really want to influence people in a positive way, ride your bike. Ride it legally, observing all relevant cycling laws. Learn when it's best to share the lane and when it's better to take it for your own safety. Take a Road1 course from the League and learn to be a confident, skilled cyclist. We can change our cycling culture, but we'll do it one cyclist at a time. Trust me, when passing motorists see the same cyclist everyday on their commute, a few of them will think, "Hey! I could be doing that!"

It's all part of our plan for global domination, but failing that, I'll take a bunch of skillful cyclists on our roads instead.

CarolinaGirl said...

I gently submit that while I apprecate your comments, you did not read my post in its entirety. I pointed out that there are just as many assholes on 4 wheels as there are on 2, and that when it was feasible geographically, I rode my bike in all condtions (hurricanes, etc) every day for 3 years. You did address my solution and I do agree with you on that. It is the wanton disregard for others that had me ranting, and we both agree that education is the solution. Thank you for beng part of "whats right" with cycling.Next time, however read the post thoroughly before you make generalizations about the poster.Thanks for reading, keep on cyclng! My wish for you is safety.

common sense said...

Yes, Ed it is a real pain in the ass for paying for the roads that school busses, ambulances and police cars use. If your wife is being held at gun point, or your home is on fire, stick to your principles and insist that help cycle on over. Dumbass, it is people like you that think bicycles are the only way to go intil you need help in a hurry. Probably after you have run a light on your bike.Don't complain about paying for roads unless you can fight fires, police your property, and be totally self sufficient with out motorized vehicles.

common sense said...

ps did your bicycle & parts get here on a truck or did someone ride a bike to deliver them?