Wednesday, July 30, 2008


In the local news today: the trucking company who's driver killed Jane Higdon 2 years ago is set to give $1 million to a bike safety fund. Then, a story on bikes vs. vehicles. It's good to see some neutral coverage of bikes as transportation, without some of the negative, anti-bike coverage the press usually generates. The new reality is settling in and growing, and we're lucky enough to have some of the most progressive bike freindly streets around. Yet, every day that I commute or just ride through town, I get a taste of why there is still conflict and danger on the streets: there are dangerous motorists, and there are equally dangerous and stupid cyclists, and every dangerous cyclist is just antagonizing one of those ass-wipes with the 4000lb guided missle. Yesterday, I almost nailed a dude, on a recumbent, going the wrong way down a bike lane on 18th, whom I didn't see coming at me through the shadows at about 5pm. Jay-sus. My alternatives: swerve into traffic, or hit him. Neither is good.

If I can see them coming, I usually pick a third alternative with the directionally challenged bikers: I put myself right at the curb, push out the elbows, and play chicken. It works with the bums, the clueless, and the baggy-pants bmx riding punks who are having issues with a straight line anyways. It especially works with the fixed gear hipsters who can't hit their non existent brakes and squawk in fright as their tail-feathers are ruffled in the head-on traffic. Better you than me, dude, I'm following the law.

I've noticed a large pick-up in bike traffic in the last few months as a) gas prices have taken off and b) the weather has permitted it. I have seen more commuters out than any other time before and with the extra riders come the extra conflicts.

I saw a guy on a fixie ride the wrong way up 13th avenue and bail off his bike in front of midtown pipe and tobacco. Not helping the cause. I saw another fixer ride off a curb in front of traffic to cross 18th because he had committed to the move before he saw the cars coming and almost got smacked. I saw that recumbent cruising the wrong way down the bike lane and scare the be-jay-sus out of me when I almost nailed him head-on. I see guys going the wrong way up the bike lane on Bertelson all the time, but at least I can see them coming for a ways.

I've been brushed by cars and trucks on purpose, had a cars hit their horns right as they passed me, been yelled at, had various items tossed from windows at me, had cars going the opposite way honk their horns just to give me the finger as I go by, and been almost caught by vehicles passing then making a right turn in front of me several times, including by one guy in a truck with a boat trailer who passed then started to turn into a DairyMart parking lot before the trailer had gone by me, on 28th. I executed a hard-right crit style turn to save my butt on that one, and was lucky I didn't hit someone coming out of the lot.

It's US vs THEM out there alright, but not the way you think. It's not cars vs bikes. It's smart vs dumb. It's respectful vs disrespectful. It's legal vs illegal. It's people vs people.

Don't be a dumbass. Don't stand for people who are. If some idiot is riding the wrong way down a bike lane, stop and set them straight, just like you would get the plates of someone who is driving dangerously. It's all the symptoms of the same disease. Our infrastructure has a long way to go before it's comfortably accommodating of bikes as serious transportation but we won't get there with a large percentage of 'people on bikes' (note i didn't say 'cyclists') behaving as scofflaws, just like we won't with a large percentage of motorists being ignorant of the laws and worse, not caring. The bike-car interactions are just going to keep growing. Let's make sure we do our part and police our own ranks as we go.

1 comment:

Miriam. said...

Exactly. I've started confronting cyclist when they run stop signs (as in no pausing whatsoever) and red lights. I'm getting freaking annoyed at the idiots on their bikes.