Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bicycle Miscreants

Recently, a city bus struck and killed a pedestrian here in the city by the lakes' weeds. The story isn't over but by all accounts the bus drive was in the wrong. One would think that the various responsible officials would have been drilling it into the bus drivers' heads that they need to be more vigilant in pursuit of not killing people. Indeed, you might think that motorists in general might become more introspective in terms of their need to be more vigilant in not killing people. And yet, events, as they often do, prove your, which is to say my, expectations wrong. Last Sunday not one but two buses tried to get me, one forcing me to slam on the bike's brakes. And when  I had a civil discussion with motorist later that same day, he ridiculed the notion that he ought not pass with six inches to spare. Today, two more, actually three now that I think about, tried to get me by ignoring my and several pedestrians existence and legal right of way and just now a car tried to roll slowly through the cross walk while I and some random kid on a bike were crossing, again with the right of way.

During my civil discussion with the motorist concerning  proper passing distance, he used the non sequitur of the lack of law abidingness of all or nearly all cyclists, while I denied the universality of cyclists as malefactors of great lycra, I did point out that motorists drive equally like maniacs.

Today, however, I ran across an example of the stupid cyclist to whom, I assume, the motorist referred.  First example: a busyish road with a t crossing and three stop signs. The bike lane is on the right, I was turning to the left and signaled then moved across and stopped as a car was already stopped. Just before the car moved off and I got ready to turn left, some crazy person on a semi-commuter bike swerved behind me took a left turn into the wrong lane and proceeded to ride wrong way for over a block.  I was laughing and trying not to shout out some kind of invective in hopes forestalling more of the same. Eventually, the rider got back on the right side of the road but did the exact same thing at the end of the street, that is cut across into the wrong lane 100 feet or more prior to a stop sign and turn left without paying the slightest attention to traffic. Crikey, I said, a crazy person on a bike.  After a bit more normal riding, the cyclist did the same thing only this time riding the wrong way up a hill on a well traveled road approximately in the middle.

So, I can see where some motorists get the idea that we're all a bunch of maniacs and it would have been nice had I decided to heap abuse on the miscreant, or at least to try and engage in some civil conversation about the mental unbalancedness of thinking that the rest of the world cares if you live or die, hint: it doesn't, but at the same time the only life, we'll leave aside psychological scarring, the cyclist risked was her own. Later that same ride, two cars attempted to sneak across a counterflow bike lane green and mosey through a crosswalk filled with pedestrians just down the street from where the bus hit the pedestrian. Had the first motorist not slammed on her brakes, causing the second in line to toot angrily his horn, they total could have been two cyclists and four pedestrians killed or wounded.

In short, while the world would be a better place if all of us played by the rules of the road, the motorists amongst are more likely to kill and/or maim and to the powerful goes the need to  build hedges, as E.P. Thompson put it, to limit the dangers of their greater power.

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