Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More responses to Chris Raschka's piece

Here are two more letters to the editor of the NY Times.

I'm not sure what I think about this (writes your blogger), but the numbers of responses to the stopping-at-lights piece and the Times's choosing to run it last week mean that lawless cyclists are on motorists' minds - well, those few who seem to have minds.

While the cyclists are hardly more lawless than the motorists, motorist scofflawing is the default; cyclist scofflawing is new and outrageous. We seem to be taking advantage, grabbing an edge on drivers sitting in line in their incredibly costly cars waiting, fidgeting, for the light to change.

Yesterday, as I rode my motorcycle along one-way, four-lane Eighth Avenue in central Denver, a guy on a bicycle (no helmet, one gear, Brooks, backpack - you know the dude) rode in the middle of the rightmost lane.

There are bike lanes on streets on either side of Eighth; I don't know why anyone would use Eighth. I assume he uses Eighth because the side streets have occasional stop signs or lights and he has no intention of honoring them in the slightest, no intention even to slow slightly so all the drivers can be sure to see him blow by, insultingly, illegally, up the right curb through the red.

I'm a cyclist and the guy's actions and evident intent angered me. He may not even be in a hurry. He may only be leaving signs of his presence, like a dog peeing on a post. He's poisonous for cycling's PR, but as someone said on a club ride on Sunday, he doesn't care about cyclists or PR. It's all about him, huh?

I wonder if one of the drivers who watched him yesterday will write the editor of the Denver Post. Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Maybe I'll write the editor of the Times.

Birds of a feather who'd never flock together: Guys who openly carry handguns in Starbucks. Guys who ride unsilenced motorcycles. Scofflaw bicyclists. All have reasonable-sounding explanations for their actions, weak explanations they use to mask their antisocial self-absorption. They want to make an impression. A negative one will be fine.

"It's our right, guaranteed in the Constitution. Loud pipes save lives. I'm a storm trooper in the anti-materialist, green revolt."

Those of us who think about how we can "all just get along" know that we're all in this getting-along thing together. Except for that guy on Eighth Avenue yesterday afternoon.


Larry and Heather said...

You nailed it with the "it's all about me" reasoning. Here in Italy it's a bit different as motorists expect cyclists to blow through the lights when it's clear, ride up between cars at a light, then turn right against the red (no right turn on red here!) and do pretty much anything they (we) please. They understand and seem to accept the increased ability to take advantage of needing only a small space -- but when it comes time to pass you, you don't always get a lot of room -- they certainly will not try to hit you but they'll give you just enough room, not much more. It's going to be tough to come back to the US and be a law-abiding cyclist again!

Jim Thurber said...

The number of law abiding cyclists in the Bay Area can be counted on one hand. The worst bicyclists are, without question, WEBCOR riders. They ride in massive groups and blow thru red lights and stop signs with impunity.

And they never, ever say hello - even to other bicyclists.

Stanford Students are a close second. They ride on sidewalks, the wrong side of the street, occasionally drunk (sometimes very, very drunk) and strike pedestrians with alarming frequency. They never, ever have lights on their bike either. Stanford can be a frightening place to be after dark during winter months.

One of these days bicycle riders might get it in their minds that they are also vehicles and begin behaving appropriately. Probably not in my lifetime, thou.