Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Portland bike lanes - meet the bike lane guy.

Everyone is familiar with the bike lane guy. You know, the white street painted stick figure hovering over two circles that insinuate that he's riding a bicycle. The bike lane guy lives in the bike lane, letting us all know that this traffic lane is for cyclists.

Most cyclists who live in or commute through a city see, oh, dozens of copies of the bike lane guy every day. This is him:

When we see the same thing over and over - a stick guy on a bike in the lane ahead - our brains start to bybass the actual observation of the image and start to just assume what the image is, what it represents, and assign a value to it - i.e. "bike lane guy, therefore this is a bike lane". So we miss the subtleties that we otherwise would pick up on while looking at side by side images of different bike lane guys.

Here, the bike lane guys is obviously in more of a hurry than the one above as he leans forward slightly:

And here we find bike lane guy sprinting to make an intersection before a red light, or something like that: and judging by the splat on his head it probably isn't going very well.

Now, bike lane guy can get positioned several different ways. I'm pretty sure I've seen bike lane guy in a bike lane recumbent position, and anything in between forward to the racing mode above.

But now I have to ask, how many people noticed when bike lane guy put on a helmet?

Or when bike lane guy, who usually rides left to right across your path, decided to turn himself around and head into the car traffic on your left?

Now that's kind of strange. But since bike lane guy is, afterall, the product of a stencil, it's pretty easy to flip him around and spray him onto the road the other way.

Then bike lane guy changes helmets. Did you notice when his brain bucket got a little more rounded?

Or what about when bike lane guy, who obviously is concerned about the clumsiness of a full sized bike in a city full of alternative transit options and office buildings with limited covered bike parking, got himself a little 20" wheeled Bike Friday?

Then there's the poor bike lane guy who came in the three-piece stencil variety, and got laid on the ground with a little too much paint and suffered a few bumps and bruises:

Although most of his brethren came out OK.

Sometimes bike lane guy is subtle. For example, this bike lane guy traded his old bulky helmet for a svelte new one, with some serious ventilation:

And every once in a while, bike lane guy likes to give us a smile and let us know that bike commuting is not only good for the environment and your health but also fun:

Of course, bike lane guys would be lonely without bike lane gals:

Who might think that they are princesses of the road:

And sometimes bike lane guy decided to do some decidedly silly (and dangerous) things, such as roast marshmallows / play drums while riding:

In downtown Portland, serious businessmen also commute by bike and the bike lane guy respects that:

Although you have to wonder what a Texas Longhorns fan is doing in Duck Country:

Or if Pinnochio really rides a bike:

Or if playing a trumpet while riding is a good idea at all (one nice feature to bikes is how silent they are - this defeats the purpose):

So there you go. Bike lane guy is everywhere, right under your nose, changing outfits, changing stripes, changing colors, toying with your eyes. Remember to give him a nod next time you ride over his head.

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