Rainy Day Rant

So much is going on in the two-wheeled community right now, I don’t even know where to begin.  The bike-related Boston Globe articles are coming fast and furious these days. The Mass Ave bike lanes, bike share, and the usual “Road User ‘X’ is the Biggest Road Menace Ever” op-ed have already made an appearance with the customary vitriolic comments.

More than anyone, I believe that cycling is the perfect transportation alternative to expensive, polluting, space-hogging autos and a seemingly defunct public transit system.  Cyclists, however, as a whole, aren’t doing much to increase the public perception of riding a bike.  So, when I see a comment like the one below, I almost have to agree.

Let me allow Jim Carrey to succinctly introduce the point I will thereafter try to make (NSFW language):

Let me be clear, I am no angel on the bike. When I come to a red light, I stop. But, if there are no cars or pedestrians coming I will continue on my journey.  I may even proceed through a red when all directions have the walk signal as long as I know I will not come close to hitting anyone.  What I’ve been seeing recently, though, as masses of our two-wheeled brethren take to the streets, and in many cases the sidewalk, is far more reckless.

To the person riding without lights last night who I saw coming toward me in the bike lane last night just before you swerved around me into oncoming Comm Ave. traffic, you have a death wish.

To the person hauling ass through an all-walk signal on a full tri bike (with trispoke front wheel and full disk wheel) in Copley Square yesterday afternoon, a big W-T-F to you.

To people who ride on the sidewalk anywhere at any time during any day, STOP THAT!

As I rode east on Comm. Ave. yesterday, a cyclist I’ve seen before rode into oncoming traffic in Kenmore Square, dodged traffic through several red lights in the Back Bay and then mounted the sidewalk to complete his journey.  Jesus H. Christmas.  It’s no wonder people associate riding a bike with mortal danger in this city.

I attended the bike share announcement on Thursday and listened to what seemed like a dozen politicians proclaim their support for cycling in Boston as the sustainable, healthy form of transportation that it is.  I wonder how many of those politicians would support the kind of reckless bike riding that I’ve been seeing lately.

As Boston cyclists, we’re the beneficiaries of a pro-bike city government that has laid out as much bike-friendly infrastructure as any other city in the past few years.  While I’m not going to agree with the notion presented at the Mass Ave. bike lanes meeting that we somehow have to “earn” bike lane with good behavior, we have to wonder when our collective bad behavior will erode the enormous political capital we currently enjoy.

Had the Mass Ave. bike lane meeting been more widely advertised, it could very well have been attended by more people pissed off at bike riders who nearly killed them on sidewalks than cyclists themselves.  How easy would it have been politically for MassDOT and Nicole Freedman to push on with the lanes then?  Not very, I assume.

Moreover, the comments sections of these Boston Globe articles make it clear that there’s a lot of pent up rage among motorists in this town (you know, nothing out of the ordinary).  I don’t want to be victimized by someone in a two-ton steel cage because the last cyclist they saw ran a red light right in front of them, nearly hit them on the sidewalk, et cetera.  While I am normally the last person to be in favor of appeasing aggressive motorists (who are no more adherent to traffic laws than cyclists, by the way), I’ll consider it when my personal safety is on the line.

While I assume that people who read bike blogs aren’t the same scofflaws I’ve detailed above, I hope many of you share my concerns as we head into the busy riding season.  How do we address these issues?  Do we petition local law enforcement to step up enforcement of all traffic laws?  I even contemplated stopping and turning my bike sideways in the bike lane when I see someone riding at me the wrong way.

Thank you for entertaining my rainy day rant.

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2 Responses to Rainy Day Rant

  1. Sometimes cyclists are their own worst enemies. They don’t see their own behavior as contributing to problems on the roads. When out on my bike, I’ve spoken to cyclists whose behavior crosses the line. My tactic is to use politeness. I preface my comments with concern for their welfare to prevent them from getting offended. Then I explain what’s wrong with their actions. So far, none of these encounters have resulted in a conflict, but I don’t know whether my words will change their conduct or not.

    • Self Righteous Cyclist says:

      Isolate,

      I commend you on your tactics, and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised that you haven’t gotten any backlash from fellow riders. Rock on!

      – SRC