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Thursday, May 24, 2012

353

Make (Pleasant) Eye Contact

All of these things are very true, but sometimes bikers DO RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK, and it's the worst. No! Dooring is the worst. So is honking at people on horseback. Why would you do that? Anecdata suggests a 100% correlation between honking at people on horseback and throwing cans of Red Bull out your window. Science.



353 Comments / Post A Comment

SarahP

As a law-abiding cyclist who's been hit by cars twice, I really appreciate the article... but I've seen as many cyclists as drivers who should follow the "know the law" and "read the signals" rules!

lobsterhug

@SarahP In Boston, it seems like bikers go back and forth between being vehicles and being pedestrians. I don't think I've ever seen a biker stop at a traffic light downtown.

boyofdestiny

@lobsterhug I used to stop at every traffic light between the North End and the Museum of Science. You're forgiven for not watching me, though!

atipofthehat

@SarahP

I love and respect the cyclists, except of course for the ones who occasionally put my loved ones in danger. (To those I award a bespoke umbrella, ha ha.)

TheUnchosenOne

@SarahP Yes! Just yesterday I was at a stoplight and I saw a cyclist come up behind me and run right through the stoplight. This was an even worse idea than it sounds because there was a bus in the turn lane (there's a bike lane on this road, and the cyclist was at least in it) and so there was no way he could have seen if someone was coming from the right. And then, like 30 feet past the intersection, he signaled a left turn and cut right across the road. At least he looked behind him to make sure no cars were coming first?

lobsterhug

@boyofdestiny Maybe I'm seeing couriers and not commuters because I swear every time I'm at State St and Congress a biker just blows through the lights and manages not to get hit by some miracle.

I actually got thanked by a biker this morning because I waited to cross the street instead of running in front of him.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@lobsterhug That happened to me two days ago! I wanted to yell: "actually, I stopped because I didn't want to get run over, not because I want to let you run a red light." GGGRAAHHHHH

SarahP

@lobsterhug I work so close to you! I think the majority of cyclists around Congress/Summer/State streets are couriers--I always see a few coming in and out of the Federal Reserve building each day. But! My friends and I stop at lights! So you've just seen the bad ones, not the good ones! We exist!

I think Boston also has many transplants--ie, students and recent grads--who move here from places where bikes aren't considered vehicles, and they never think to lookup local regulations. These people bother me.

SarahP

@jacqueline and @lobsterhug If you were in crosswalks, it is the cyclist who is supposed to stop, not you!

bb
bb

@all do note the last tip on the linked post... "Judge Us Not By Our Jerks." That said, I ride nearly everyday and I am more likely to get irritated by fellow bikers than drivers.

meetapossum

@SarahP I've said this many a-time on the 'Pin: I am generally more afraid of getting hit by a bike than a car. I can HEAR a car coming if they blow the red light. I cannot HEAR your bike if you don't bother to have a bell or shout. I'm not the only one getting injured if you hit me!

redheaded&crazy

@bb "Judge us not by our jerks" is such good advice! but ugh! the jerks are the ones that are visible!

MilesofMountains

@SarahP Last week there was a cyclist riding in the middle of the lane, but he was riding on the wrong side of the road so he was riding directly into traffic. I had to bring my car to a full stop so he could ride around me. WTF, dude? He wasn't even wearing a helmet.

josefinastrummer

@MilesofMountains A helmet is not going to help a rider like that. He should be walking! Probably with a helmet on.

SarahP

@meetapossum Are you scared of Priuses for the same reason?

meetapossum

@SarahP Anything that doesn't make noise but can seriously injure me is pretty frightening.

thebestjasmine

@SarahP You can hear Priuses a hell of a lot more than you can hear bikes. I'm surrounded by both, and as a pedestrian bikers scare me a hell of a lot more.

Lenora Jane

@SarahP Hah I work so close to you guys too!

@lobsterhug "it seems like bikers go back and forth between being vehicles and being pedestrians" <---THIS. THIS THIS THIS. Once I understood that life made so much more sense.

EpWs

@meetapossum This is precisely the reason I am terrified of snakes.

jacqueline
jacqueline

This is how I feel about cyclists on the sidewalk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5kOJ-DTD5c

purefog

@jacqueline Just FYI, and in Oregon anyway, bikes are generally allowed on the sidewalk IF they are ridden at walking speed. (There are high-density areas of Portland where this is not so, but I doubt there is a civilian anywhere who knows exactly where they are.)

lobsterhug

Ugh I hate bikers on the sidewalk. My work is near a big confusing intersection that also is the top of a bike trail and bikers are always on the sidewalk. There is one who will yell at you "On the left" when she passes you. It's very considerate but angers me nonetheless.

Ophelia

@lobsterhug Yeah. I don't mind kids on bikes on the sidewalk, but adults? Sorry, it's not OK. I realize all of the issues that cyclists can face on the road, but I've been in situations where I'm walking the dog, trying to pass someone with a stroller, and an adult on a bike tries to also pass us all ON THE SIDEWALK. Seriously? Who thought that was a good idea.

That said, I'm nice to cyclists on the road! (partly because I drive a mini, so they're right at eye level, easy to see, etc.)

lobsterhug

@Ophelia Right, if it's a family riding bikes, obviously, I get why you are on the sidewalk. Otherwise, walk your freaking bike till you are at the trail or get in the street. The sidewalk is narrow enough as it is.

The worst was two years ago, they were doing construction on this bridge and had put up a temporary sidewalk that was super narrow and icy because this was the winter of epic snowfall. Two people could barely walk side by side and bikers would just ride across. And by ride I mean wobble while clinging to the fence.

ThatWench

@lobsterhug As someone who is always either a pedestrian or a biker (and never a driver), I feel like the evilness of bikes on sidewalks depends a lot on the circumstances. As in, bikes should never be on a busy sidewalk (biking at high speed past a bus stop on a busy corner? URRGGGGH), but there are places where sidewalks are less-used and the street is really a terrible place to be a bike.

Mostly, I just really hate being passed at high speed by a bike, so if I am the bike and there are pedestrians, I'm big on being an actual pedestrian (slow, cheerful, acknowledging I'm the one out of place). Again, please don't judge me by my jerk peers.

lobsterhug

@ThatWench Most of my frustration (or possibly jealousy) comes from seeing all these recreational bikers (and runners) when I'm going to and from work. What is your job that you are able to do these things when everyone else is commuting?

The road is not ideal for biking since there is a narrow bridge leading up to the intersection, so I am generally sympathetic that bikers would want to be on the sidewalk. It's just a very busy area and sometimes it would just be easier for everyone if people could walk their bikes 100 feet instead of trying to weave in and out of pedestrians.

spanglepants

@lobsterhug When I'm on a bike, I yell at car drivers who do shitty things. When I'm on my feet, I yell at people on bikes who do shitty things (like ride on the pavement). I don't swear unless they've actually tried to kill me, but I'll shout 'ride on the road!' for sure.

MuffyStJohn

@lobsterhug Cyclists who ride on the sidewalk should be killed in a fire. Or given significant fines. Whichever.

parallel-lines

Entitled assholes exist everywhere, only some of them only have 20-ish lbs of steel, the other ones have two tons of it and can kill you more easily.

I've kinda given up on my cycling advocacy in lieu of just riding like a law-abiding, sane person but I gotta be honest, it gets you no where.

boyofdestiny

@parallel-lines I'm actually pretty uneasy with the "on the road, bikes are just like cars" approach to cycling law, for the reason you said: a bike is a bike, and a car is a speedy steel missile. It can be convenient for cyclists, but it also creates a great deal of confusion and dangerous scenarios. I can think of a number of situations where riding on the sidewalk and easing through a red light are the safer alternatives for drivers and cyclists alike. Laws should address this.

KatnotCat

@boyofdestiny A lot of laws do. Biking on the sidewalk is actually legal in many areas, including in some major cities, though people will smugly tell you otherwise when they haven't bothered too look.

parallel-lines

@KatnotCat basically the law seems to be whatever that jagoff in a car yells out his window at you, which varies wildly depending on the yelling jagoff. One day I'm supposed to be on the sidewalk, the next, I shouldn't be riding at all, another tells me I'm supposed to ride against traffic. Jagoffs unite and make up your fucking mind!

C.SanDiego

@parallel-lines I always thought you were supposed to ride against traffic; I thought for sure I learned that in drivers' ed. But...apparently not.

H.E. Ladypants

@C.SanDiego Oh man. Take it from a DoT guy I talked to once at a meeting, who gets the lists of people who die in cycle accidents: That is the worst idea. The worst.

parallel-lines

@H.E. Ladypants YES! Not to mention it pushes people riding legally into traffic, which is super dangerous for them--not cool.

ThatWench

@parallel-lines I want to put all bike advocacy into making bike-awareness part of the driver licensing process everywhere. For example, every driving test should include, after parallel parking, getting out of the car safely. And this includes the *CHECK FOR BIKES* part.

I honestly think that while doing it for the driver's test may not make it a habit for drivers everwhere, it should at least teach them that road-sharing is part of the actual rules they have to follow. Which means fewer jagoffs who think you aren't part of the rules.

insouciantlover

@C.SanDiego That's for pedestrians.

JuiceBox

@parallel-lines "it gets you nowhere" except where you're going!

KatnotCat

I ride on the sidewalk frequently. It's legal where I live (I checked), I've been strike by a car in a cross walk while the pedestrian light and main light was green to cross and I'm usually cycling on a cruiser whilst wearing a dress, not speeding around in full body spandex to get to work, so I feel justified for many reasons.

Insert my snobby rant about how in Amsterdam cars, pedestrians and bikes will manage to share the same unmarked, cobblestone road together without a bunch of whining and running people over.

TheUnchosenOne

@KatnotCat I have had to dodge out of the way while walking through a crosswalk several times. And a few more times I chose not to enter it because I knew that car that was coming was not going to stop at this stop sign.

KatnotCat

@TheUnchosenOne To sum up the rest of all discussions on this topic: Everybody is terrible. Let's all take the bus!

a small sea

@KatnotCat Yeah, i ride on the sidewalk on one stretch of road on my way to work. The road is super busy/scary, the sidewalk is almost always completely empty, and I'm not tryna die. I live in a college town where, for the most part, people are more considerate (because there are a zillion bikers) but I've had friends get in bad accidents and I'd rather just play it safe and maybe be thought of as an asshole by a few people. BUT AN ALIVE ASSHOLE.

stuffisthings

@KatnotCat Yeah, try cycling on the road in many suburban towns in the South, for example. I mean, I get that some people are passionately ideological about cycling, but martyrdom seems a bit much.

Tragically Ludicrous

@KatnotCat On the big streets here in the Netherlands, there's usually a separate bike path from both the road and the sidewalk. Very obvious. Drivers are also just much more used to having bikes around all the time, because they are around all the time.

Bikers can still sometimes be dicks to pedestrians, though.

(And as much as I love biking here, I'm not sure I'd do it if I went back to the States. I'm too scared of cars that don't know how to deal with bikes. Also hills.)

Nutmeg

@KatnotCat But people on the bus are the worst

EternalFootwoman

@KatnotCat This happens to me as a runner. I've had so many people continue their cars through a crosswalk when I'm in it. Just yesterday, a guy tried to turn left across the crosswalk I was in. He slowed some but did not stop his car. I considered just stopping but thought it would have ended badly.

maevemealone

@KatnotCat In Amsterdam/Netherlands, you go to jail forever and ever if you hit a cyclist. Drivers know that. Not so much over here where killing a cyclist is pretty much a get out of jail free card. It helps with the attitudes towards cyclists.

Emma Peel

@maevemealone Maybe this is naive, but I hope not wanting to kill a person has deeper motivations than the length of the resulting jail term. I suspect that drivers in Europe, the Netherlands, etc., are simply more used to sharing the road. Bike commuting in the US, outside of college towns, is pretty new.

As a driver, my #1 fear is hitting and seriously injuring/killing a pedestrian or cyclist, because I can see how very easy it would be to do. (As a pedestrian, my closest call has actually been with a speeding fire truck, which was 100% my fault.)

Inkling

@Emma Peel
I think the reality of laws defending a person makes society more accepting of them. Like straight kids who bully gay kids; by and large, they're not fueled by a powerful religious conviction, but recognize that gay people are not respected by their own government, and subconsciously follow that train of thought.

maevemealone

@Emma Peel Of course people don't want to plow people into the ground. But yes, biking is much more engrained into Flemish culture than it is American and so the laws favor the cyclists much more clearly. As a New Yorker, cyclists and pedestrians are finding it appallingly difficult to bring charges against anyone who runs over either a pedestrian or cyclist. The Atlantic and Gothamist have articles about this but I can't find them right now. Basically, and what should not be surprising, the automotive industry lobbied for leniency when it came to hitting people and won.

KatnotCat

@Tragically Ludicrous Of course I realize that the Netherlands isn't magically a perfect place for bike's, but man it's pretty close. :)
I know that getting your license there is significantly more difficult than it is in the U.S. as well and I'm sure that helps quite a bit.

But it's a good example to show people, yes, it's possible to share the road if everyone just knows what the hell they're doing and does it nicely.

ThatWench

@maevemealone @Kat - I feel like is all an argument for my better driving test requirements re: bikes. If one of the minimum requirements for holding that license is dependent on watching for bikes on the road, you build a society that is more accepting, all around, of bikes on the road.

OxfordComma

@a small sea : When I rode through downtown LA for my old job, I routinely used the sidewalks when they weren't crowded by peds.

Because, few/no bike lanes?

Imma ride on that little strip of concrete away from 5 million pissed off drivers, thank you.

Cat named Virtute

@a small sea et al Right, but remember please to be aware of limitations of pedestrians. You can't tell it from looking at me, but I'm visually impaired, and I don't have any peripheral vision. Cyclists have blown me, nearly sideswiping me more than I can count, and even though I've never actually been hurt (YET), it's really scary! Ditto people with mobility or hearing impairments (oh god, I CANNOT imagine being a Deaf pedestrian in a city with lots of sidewalk cycling, the idea is pure terror to me), children, people with strollers, and elderly people.

TheUnchosenOne

If you are a pedestrian you hate all drivers and cyclists. If you are a cyclist you hate all pedestrians and drivers. If you are a driver you hate all cyclists and pedestrians and drivers.

lobsterhug

@TheUnchosenOne It is known.

parallel-lines

@TheUnchosenOne What if you're all three? Do you die from trying to deal with internal struggle?

Scandyhoovian

@lobsterhug It IS known.

@parallel-lines I have been a pedestrian and a driver and a cyclist in my time and I have found that more than internal struggle, it just made me very Toby Ziegler-like, in that there is now literally no one in the world I do not hate.

TheUnchosenOne

@parallel-lines I've been trying to think of a joke about being all three simultaneously but I can't think of one! Somebody help me please.

parallel-lines

@Scandyhoovian It mostly just made me into the cranky asshole I am today. MOVE IT!

tessamae

@Scandyhoovian This. I hate everyone on the road. I sometimes am shocked when a white-hot rage bubbles up inside me due to a rather innocuous thing another car will do whist driving. Brake too much? I'M GOING TO MURDER YOU. Don't use cruise control on the highway? HOW MANY YEARS VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER GET ME? Going the speed limit in the fast lane? I CURSE YOU AND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY.

It's probably not healthy.

stuffisthings

@TheUnchosenOne Or, in joke form: A driver, a cyclist, and a pedestrian walk into a bar, and the bartender is like, fuck all y'all assholes.

TheUnchosenOne

@tessamae I'm the same way! I am normally cool and collected, to the point where people I've known for years have never seen me really angry, but on the road, dang, I am screaming at every jackass who does something that is not the same as I would do it. Going the speed limit in the fast lane is the worst, because it seems like in Wisconsin you have the speed limit lane and the slow lane and it is infuriating.

queenieliz

@parallel-lines you can only be One of these at any given time. Although when I'm on my bike(not the pedal kind) I hate all cars. When I'm in my car I also hate all cars and when I am walking I hate all cars.aybe I'm just hateful....

Ophelia

@stuffisthings Did he give them a stern talking to, and an explanation of the 3-strikes rule prior to throwing them out?

redheaded&crazy

@TheUnchosenOne wow I was about 300 comments too late for my similar comment which is way down there. whoops.

stuffisthings

@Ophelia Nope, he just whizzed off on his Segway laughing.

ThatWench

@TheUnchosenOne See, and this is one of the reasons I've been reluctant to ever get a driver's license. As a pedestrian/biker/mass transit rider, you can get plenty annoyed with your peers, but there's still the fact that you see them as human beings. In a car, with the dehumanizing aspect added, they can all be COMPLETELY WORTHLESS ASSHOLES WITH NO SHRED OF HUMANITY.

TheUnchosenOne

@ThatWench You learn to not let it cloud your judgement. Well, most people do.

TheUnchosenOne

@redheaded&crazie We are both just equally awesome! Or equally intolerant of other people needing to use the same roads/sidewalks as us? I am going to stick with that first one.

Xanthophyllippa

@Scandyhoovian I was very Toby Ziegler-like before I started biking on a regular basis, though. I'm pretty certain if Richard Schiff ever met me, he'd blink and then be all, "Wait, didn't I play you on TV once?"

Megasus

I'm sorry to everyone but when I used to bike I did sometimes use the sidewalk because I didn't want to die. But usually I walked it on the sidewalk.
Also I swear like a million cyclists have gone down this year in Toronto. Last week a cab actually drove down a longboarder on the sidewalk (though what actually happened is really confusing because everyone is like "THAT GUY WOULD NEVER DO THAT") and killed him.
Oh also really annoying is when you're walking your dog on a trail, on a short leash because you know cyclists are on it, and they like slow down behind you and start ringing their bell even though you already heard them and there is more than enough room for them to get safely around. JUST GO AROUND ME JESUS.

lobsterhug

@Megano! Something about bikers passive-aggressively ringing a little bell at you cracks me up.

boyofdestiny

Is there any way for a cyclist to inform a pedestrian of their presence that isn't viewed as passive aggressive?

17th Floor

@Megano! The bell inspires rage virus in me. I care nothing about cyclists on roads as long as they obey the law, but the bell on the trail...when there is yards more trail to be had...Rage virus.

aphrabean

@Megano! I love the bell ringing, or the "on-your-left" call, or ANY notice that someone is behind me at all. Please, bicyclists! Announce your presence! I do not enjoy being zoomed past without any advance warning - stressful. (I'm a pedestrian who used to bike & who may bike again if I can overcome my fear of Chicago drivers.)

Megasus

@aphrabean I always hear them or see them before the bell though!

The Lady of Shalott

@aphrabean Once I was biking on a trail and I was always very conscientious of ringing my bell and shouting on your left! all the time, and there was a group of three or four pedestrians who refused to move over or anything, and as I went around them one of the women went "Uck, cyclists are SO RUDE!"

...I didn't do anything!!!

aphrabean

@Megano! I guess I'm just a little bit more oblivious (or my dog is much, much naughtier than yours) because I often times get surprised by someone blowing past me.

anachronistique

@aphrabean When I lived in Jersey there were a ton of students who would bike on the sidewalk and make no noise at all other than the faint whirring of their wheels. Almost got run down several times. Ugh.

josefinastrummer

@The Lady of Shalott Recently I got stuck riding my bike through a Parkinson Walk on a popular road in the park. More like a crawl, but I was being so polite, saying "excuse me, on your left" and the walk/crawlers were yelling at me. Really good stuff like "this is for charity!" and "where does she expect me to walk? On the grass?!" and "no bikes on the sidewalks!" Finally I was lucky enough to get behind another cyclist who yelled "Bikes on the left! Move to right!" for a straight mile and a half. And people are sheep, so they listened to her.

EternalFootwoman

@aphrabean I agree. I try to pay close attention when I'm running, particularly on several trails that see a lot of bike traffic. I don't wear headphones. But sometimes I don't hear someone until they're on top of me. And I appreciate the warning. It really bothers me when they just blow by.

steponitvelma

@Megano! I almost hit a pedestrian who jumped left for some unknown reason right before I was about to pass. So I decided I'd rather be an annoying biker and warn everyone I come upon, than be a person who killed someone's child with their bicycle.

josefinastrummer

@Megano! If you wore a t-shirt that said "Hey cyclists, I can hear you!" then I wouldn't ring a bell or say "on your left" to you. But sadly, most people don't. I really don't want to run you or your dog over.

bitzyboozer

@Megano! But how are they supposed to know that?

Megasus

@bitzyboozer Because I turned around already!

Snicker-snack!

@boyofdestiny Right? I mean, pedestrians tend to meander all over the path they're on and I'm aware that I'm approaching fairly quickly and they may not have heard me. Ringing the bell isn't "passive-aggressive", it's communication meant to keep us from colliding.

Xanthophyllippa

@Snicker-snack! I think the tone of the bell-ringing is what does it, if that makes sense: a little ringy-ding as they approach is helpful; waiting until they're right behind me and then ringing to raise the dead is not.

But then, I also don't find bells to be that helpful to begin with, because all they tell me is that there's a biker somewhere behind me. I'd rather have someone call, "on your left!" because then I know which way to move. When I'm biking I try to give plenty of notice (and I make a point of slowing down to pass people; I only ride at full workout speed when I have a long, empty trail to use), and when I'm running I keep my music turned down low enough that I can hear what's going on around me.

EternalFootwoman

@Megano! I thought about this thread on my run today. I ran on a mixed-use trail with bikes, walkers, dogs, runners, and the occasional horse. When I'm running, I'm very conscious of other trail users to a point--I notice that someone is there, but (especially if I'm on a longer run or doing speed and am tired) I don't see much more than that. I imagine the same is true for bikers, and they're going much faster. So it's probably easier to just ding the bell at everyone so they don't have to try and guess each time (and potentially guess wrong).

But the people who ding the bell in your ear as they pass? Not doing it right!

Snicker-snack!

@Xanthophyllippa I agree. I ring my bell as I approach so folks know I'm there and can pick a path to stick to 'til I pass. If I'm close though, and the pedestrians don't seem aware of me, I'll say something because even I find the bell sound annoying.

leonstj

I'm pretty sure that NYC has just passed a law where if you see someone biking on the sidewalk, you're allowed to give their back tire a hearty booting, and it is their own responsibility to deal with what bruising and scrapes may come.

boyofdestiny

@leon.saintjean Being an asshole has always been legal in NYC.

Ophelia

@leon.saintjean Can we also do that to adults on scooters? Gah. I don't even mind when my dog barks at them.

City_Dater

@Ophelia

My dog barks furiously at adults on scooters. I could probably make her stop, but it's hard when I agree with her so completely.

leonstj

@leon.saintjean - It seems vicious, but New York is a flâneur's city, and we must protect this. Moving quickly on a metal beasts (driven by electric, oil or foot) and disrupting our strolling is bad enough in the too-vast gulfs between sidewalks, but if you take away any more of our walking space, we'll end up just another tangle of bodies and brick, no better than [redacted].

meetapossum

@leon.saintjean I think their should also be a law that allows you to kick a car that stops in the crosswalk.

maevemealone

@leon.saintjean There is no greater joy than seeing an adult ride a razor scooter through a subway station, only to miss the train because they were folding their little toy to go down the stairs.

stonefruit

@meetapossum I usually just slap the trunk very firmly. I'm pretty sure that's permitted by SF Municipal Smugness Code, right?

stuffisthings

@boyofdestiny By "legal" you mean "mandatory," no?

Xanthophyllippa

@Ophelia The campus at which I teach is full of students on those damn things, all driving recklessly. I desperately want to stick a heavy pipe in their front tire and watch them flip end over teakettle like when the Ewoks thwart the Imperial speeder bikes on the forest moon of Endor.

meetapossum

@meetapossum I can't believe I used the wrong "there." How embarrassing :(

anachronistique

For some reason I have seen a crapton of dudes riding skateboards on the sidewalk and in the street recently. Is this a new cool-kid thing or is it just a random population of douchebags?

Lily Rowan

@anachronistique I totally saw a guy commuting on a skateboard barefoot the other day!

WhiskeySour

@anachronistique Yeah, what is up with that? Lately I've seen dudes in full business-casual wear skateboarding around. Khakis, button up shirt, backpack (always) on a skateboard. Bizarre.

KatnotCat

@WhiskeySour The sk8erboi population is aging!

aphrabean

@KatnotCat Avril Lavigne didn't see THAT coming.

The Lady of Shalott

@anachronistique Every time I see someone riding their skateboard in the street I imagine that in a few seconds I'm going to see them dying horribly after being hit by a car. Every time.

SarahP

@Lily Rowan There's a guy who commutes on a unicycle near my work!

Decca

@SarahP Omg he is just trolling everyone.

steponitvelma

@SarahP Do you live in pdx? My local unicycling commuter is especially hilarious to me because he's always pedaling SO FAST and looks SO SERIOUS.

Leon Tchotchke

@anachronistique I used to commute to work via skateboard (or longboard) a few years ago, and I still would if it was feasible in suburbland, but I have to settle for riding bikes instead. It's FRAUGHT WITH ALL SORTS OF DANGERS and I used to get injured constantly. In defense of sidewalk-skaters, it takes fooooorrrreeeeevvver to stop on a skateboard compared to a bike and I hit/got hit by cars numerous times. Depending on what size wheels you've got, the teeniest of pebbles can also cause you to just fall right on your face if you ride in the street.

That said, commuting by skateboard gives you AMAZING looking calves - or, well, at least one amazing calf. I still bike constantly and I'm nowhere near as leg-ripped as I was then.

H.E. Ladypants

@The Lady of Shalott I crashed into a skaterboarder on my way to work a while back. He was skateboarding the wrong way down the bike lane and we did one of those things where you both try to avoid each other but comically each end up going in the same direction.

It wasn't a bad crash as we'd both slowed down but the kid was pretty frenzied about making sure I was okay, as I'd toppled off a bike. It ended with him saying, "Can I get a hug? Is that okay? Can we just hug?"

So, I hugged him right there on the side of the bike lane and then we went our seperate ways.

lobsterhug

@SarahP Does he wear a newsboy hat? I used to see him all the time but haven't in a while. I used to hate seeing him to his little hop-stop at traffic lights. I was convinced he was going to mess up and fall in front of a car.

josefinastrummer

@H.E. Ladypants You are amazing. I might have hit him with his own board I would have been so mad. I will try to remember this story when I ride, just in case.

H.E. Ladypants

@josefinastrummer We were both a bit shaken. It was a good hug.

hotdog

@H.E. Ladypants THIS IS THE BEST! I want to marry that little hugger. After he learns right-of-way, of course.

stonefruit

@The Lady of Shalott that almost happened to my friend's husband, actually - skateboarder vs. truck, serious injuries, multiple surgeries/complications therewith, and now he's fine, but it was just so awful.

also, @SarahP, I routinely have to stifle my urge to shove a large stick in the spokes of a unicycle. Okay no, never would I ever do that, but still. HATE HATE HATE.

acid burn

@lobsterhug Oh my god that unicycling commuter STRESSES ME OUT SO BAD. I always see him (them?) going down hills with stop signs at the bottom and I'm just like "PLEASE DON'T DO THIS. I AM NOT PREPARED TO WATCH SOMEBODY DIE TODAY."

aphrabean

@acid burn OH MAN I am reminded of the dude in my hometown who used to mountain unicycle. Doing it on a mountain does not make it look cooler; it just makes you look more insane.

SarahP

@lobsterhug No, he wears a helmet. And is generally in a suit, with the little neon straps around his ankles to keep his pants from getting caught. He's a real commuter!

Susanna@twitter

My boyfriend's brother does ballet on his unicycle. I don't know if that's wierder than commuting or not, but he did it on Britain's Got Talent and got buzzed of by Simon pretty sharpish.

mbeth

I recently had to bike around a dude who was walking with a grocery cart in the bike lane. In rush hour traffic. COME ON!

parallel-lines

@mbeth Runners in NYC really like to run in the bike lane and get huffy when you speed past them (don't bother ringing a bell, they're wearing headphones). Um, there's a sidewalk a foot away, try that?

Megasus

@parallel-lines Did you ever see that part of the Real Housewives of New York when that one former model chick just like, obliviously runs IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD every day?

julia

@Megano! That was classic Kelly goodness. If memory serves she went on about how "free" she feels running in the streets of NYC. I assumed it was just for the cameras.

parallel-lines

@julia I see a guy doing that barefoot in midtown everyday. Dude must have the black plague between his toes.

H.E. Ladypants

@mbeth This morning I had to pass a woman with a walking in the bike lane with a crutch.

I was able to bike around her but I wanted to scream "you are already injured, why are you walking in TRAFFIC."

themmases

@parallel-lines I've seen people do this in the street where there is no bike lane, too! I don't know what delusions of grandeur are going on there, but joggers! Your personal trainer may call you a machine but you are still not a vehicle!

EternalFootwoman

@mbeth In Baltimore, it's people in motorized wheelchairs. Tooting along in the bike lane. It makes me so nervous. There's also a guy in my neighborhood who walks in the bike lane with his walker. Ugh.

I do run in the bike lane because a lot of the sidewalks are a) terrible and b) populated with dogs, strollers, etc. I run facing traffic (so I can see bikes coming) and I do it in low-traffic areas (so there aren't a ton of bikers). I also move when I see a biker coming.

tj_lil_snake

@mbeth People I have seen walking/standing in the bike lane during rush hour: Homeless dudes with shopping carts full of empty cans. Joggers. Crazy old lady walking her dog slowly and talking on the phone. Groups of construction workers on break taking up the whole lane. People hailing cabs. People with suitcases waiting for a cab to come by. Groups of friends talking to each other. Beverage delivery guys wheeling crates of soda and beer. Regular people just walking around because, I dunno, apparently the sidewalk doesn't suit them?

Not even going to talk about vehicles I've seen parked in the bike lane. I almost think bike lanes, at least in NYC, can be more dangerous than the street because you have to weave in and out of them so much and can't ride predictably in a straight line. Pedestrians think they're an extension of the sidewalk and step out into oncoming bike traffic without looking. Cars ignore them when making turns and turn right in front of bikes without looking. Everybody should just freakin' look before they do anything when there's traffic zooming around! Jeez.

Xanthophyllippa

@parallel-lines Setting aside the fact that running in a bike lane is stupid and unsafe, running on concrete is far more damaging to joints and soft tissue than running on asphalt. My guess is that the joggers in the bike lane know that, but don't know how much it'll hurt when I hit them with my 55lb. steel mountain bike with the gnarly tires.

I get frustrated by runners too, though, because we have a commuter bike path here that gets serious use at rush hour and joggers don't always stay to the sides of the trail to make passing easy. I don't even run on the path if I can help it - I run on the gravel to the side of the path. I also try not to run during the morning/evening commutes, and I also try not to go for workout rides during those times, either. It isn't fair to the commuters to have me whizzing along at 20mph, braying at them the whole way.

parallel-lines

@mbeth I get so pissy and turn into a real shit over bike lanes-I mean, people: this is the only safe biking area we get. THIS! We fought long and hard and frankly, it's not even that safe. You guys have sidewalks EVERYWHERE and we only have this. I don't ride on sidewalks because I don't want to ruin them for you. Can you just, like, not ruin it for us?

mirror_father_mirror

@tj_lil_snake Did you see this video that was making the rounds about a year ago about what happens if oyu ride in the bike lane in NYC? The guy is a bit sanctimonious at times, but he knows how to make a point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raPYgz3uIyg

I keep a running tally of the ridiculous things I see in the bike lane on my commute every day. I'm in DC now, where we get a twelve-person line of SEGWAY TOURS in the busiest, scariest bike lanes downtown. Not only are they going *way* too slow and not paying attention because they are *actually on a guided tour while in the bike lane,* but they look absolutely ridiculous while they're doing it. How do you sleep at night? How???

EternalFootwoman

@mirror_father_mirror Hahaha, I love the DC Segway tours. And the Segway cops. How do you say your job with a straight face if you're a Segway cop?

I was thinking about this today (on my run, of course). Like I said, I don't run in bike lanes often or in highly-trafficked areas, but I do run in bike lanes. I know it's not great, but sometimes the sidewalks are really crappy and unsafe and full of people walking slowly and being unaware of me running at them.

Anyway, the gist is that cities aren't typically designed for the convenience of anyone but cars. I'd love to live somewhere with dedicated, safe places for bikers, runners, and walkers.

tessamae

Nope. It seems like all the cyclists that I ever see are driving as cars, yet not following the laws that car drivers must follow. Stop signs. Red lights. Signaling. Speed limits. GOD! The ones that ride IN THE TRAFFIC LANE so cars cannot pass...hgashrfgauirhfgb. You cannot travel at car speeds. I'm late to work. Following you going 15mph is only exacerbating the situation. It does sometimes feel like entitlement at its most glorious. I could care less if you like to ride your bike! Fine! Good! Thanks for being nice to my environment! Just don't ride like such a dick.

parallel-lines

@tessamae All the cyclists? Really? Every single one?

Ever heard of this thing called confirmation bias?

boyofdestiny

@tessamae All drivers drive like dicks.

SarahP

@tessamae Cycling isn't necessarily about entitlement. Sometimes it's the only way people can afford to get around, and/or the best way for them to get to work.

H.E. Ladypants

@SarahP My mental health would be toast if I did not bike.

ejcsanfran

@parallel-lines: Anecdotal evidence is the only kind that matters! It's science, right?

bb
bb

@tessamae sadly, everyone is entitled to the same space you are.

LornaLoo

@H.E. Ladypants I think, per Tessamae's comment, the biggest takeaway from this article is the point about not always having to pass the slower vehicle. I have been a bike commuter in Chicago for 5+ years, and my current route takes me through some construction (as would an alternate route) that narrows the lanes, and slows traffic. When this happens, I frequently "take the lane" to assert enough room to safely maneuver the narrowed lane and loss of bike lane/shoulder. Nearly every day, a driver feels the need to pass me on the far left anyway, only to have to stop immediately up ahead. It's frustrating and dangerous, to say the least.

julia

@tessamae Bikes have the right to take the lane. Bikes are part of traffic when in the road. You are correct that cyclists should follow traffic rules as a car would, stopping, signaling, etc. but you are not correct that a car is more *entitled* to the road than a bike.

H.E. Ladypants

@LornaLoo Yeah. I work in east midtown Manhattan and on my ride home there is a shared bike/car lane for most of the stretch getting out of Midtown. On my way home during rush hour, I ride in the lane and behave like a car, as this seems like the safest option. (Cars are too pressed together to ride off to the side.) Traffic moves so slowly that I am travelling at the common speed of traffic (and much like the cars, could go faster if I had the space.)

Most of the time this works out okay (I also stop at lights and follow all traffic rules) but every once in a while someone gets mad at me just for being on a bike. As though those extra six feet of space I am taking up were some how the cause of all their traffic jam problems and if I would get out of the way, they would be able to drive to their heart's content.

These people confuse me deeply.

LornaLoo

@H.E. Ladypants Amen. I signal before taking the lane, in whatever way possible which is generally just sticking my hand out sort of in the way that Daria pretended to hit that volleyball in the opening credits of her show. That usually does the trick, but this morning a guy just straight up didn't think about it and started leaching out into the left lane, into oncoming traffic, on a bridge. I screamed "I'M TAKING THE LANE!" Eventually he fell behind and then waved apologetically afterward. I have believed for a long time that changing that perception in both the cyclist and the drivers mind can make a big difference in the safety of the commute for all.

parallel-lines

@H.E. Ladypants You are so brave--midtown cycling really broke me--like physically (when I got doored and am still suffering the aftereffects of the injury) and mentally. No one gave a shit, no one. I mean--I drunk girl ran into me as I was riding my bike, knocked me off, shrugged and kept walking. I had to stop because it was fucking me up too much to be so angry all the time.

H.E. Ladypants

@parallel-lines If I had to bike in west midtown I don't think I could do it. East midtown is sort of okay because it's all lawyers and diplomats and even the really bad traffic is pretty orderly. (I won't ride during the UNGA, though. That is my breaking point.)

I did get doored once on Park Ave. I got thrown into the street and my bike landed on top of me. Luckily, a couple of doormen saw this and pulled me out of the street before I got hit by traffic. It was pretty much the scariest thing. Thankfully it was just some really awful bruising, so all I needed was a couple of days rest and some strong pain-killers.

Most of my commute is pretty okay, though. Rather than being angry all the time, I get time to ride off my anger and frustrations, whereas being on the subway day after day makes me terribly depressed. So, I don't know if I'm brave, so much as I am a different kettle of mental health.

I get to be done with my commute in a couple of weeks, though! Lookin' forward to that.

parallel-lines

@H.E. Ladypants Sadly enough, I got doored on Park Avenue as well. It seems safer than it actually is...

purefog

@julia This depends on whether the entitlement you reference is "de jure" or "de facto."

H.E. Ladypants

@parallel-lines One more reason to continue avoiding Park Ave like the plague! NEVER AGAIN.

Biketastrophy

I really wish people would not bike on the sidewalk. It makes people think thats where we're supposed to be, and it endanger pedestrians. If you don't feel safe on the road, then either walk the bike on the sidewalk and/or petition the govt for some bike lanes.

Biketastrophy

@Biketastrophy Wow that was a really angry post, heres a friendly picture of Bikeyface(.com) being friendly to cars to make up for it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bikeyface/7213716778/

parallel-lines

@Biketastrophy Ha, those comics are awesome, thank you!

Heat Signature

I live in the country and summertime brings a boatload of rich a-hole tourists in their Lance Armstrong costumes. They all ride practically in the middle of the effing road, and I have to turn on my windshield wipers to clear away the entitlement that's dripping off of them.

boyofdestiny

@Heat Signature Complaining about entitlement while asserting your own entitlement to the road: you're doing it right!

Heat Signature

@boyofdestiny If you lived where I do, you'd see my point.

lbf
lbf

@Heat Signature You were the first to use the L-word in this comment thread! ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED

Heat Signature

@lbf What does this entitle me to?? (See what I did there?)

lbf
lbf

@Heat Signature as a motorist, you get infinity chances at vehicular manslaughter with no legal repercussions (Caution: offer not valid in Europe). Please enjoy responsibly.

lizard

question! i bike occasionally and drive occasionally so i have no preference but the other week i was in a small beach town crossing the street in the crosswalk i obviously waited for no cars. a man was biking (very fast) and he almost ran parrallel into me as i was stepping onto the curb. he looked pissed off but i feel like he could have slowed down as i was in the crosswalk and no cars were coming. either side.

josefinastrummer

@lizard Did you see him coming? When you say he was parallel to you, what does that mean? How could he almost hit you if he was parallel to you? If you were in the crosswalk, of course you had the right of way, but if you were waiting for a break in cars, you need to do the same thing for bikes.

Inkling

@lizard
Do you mean, he was riding down the street and you stepped in front of him? It sounds like you watch/wait for cars but not bikes.

lizard

@josefinastrummer i was crossing the street, he was going very fast and riding on the shoulder. pedestrian crossing signs in the crosswalk. he should have slowed down for me since i have the right of way,if he was obeying "vehicle" rules.

lizard

@Inkcrafter nope it was the curb once i got to the other side of the road

thebestjasmine

@Inkcrafter Pedestrians have the right of way.

Inkling

Oh okay! I was not clear on the situation.

josefinastrummer

@lizard So he was perpendicular to you? He was in the shoulder of the street you wanted to cross? Then he should have stopped or slowed down, or if there weren't any cars, he should have gone around you.

lizard

@josefinastrummer lol yeah perpendicular i knew that sounded off!

Xanthophyllippa

@lizard Yeah, but be careful here: "right of way" doesn't mean "can step out in front of whatever's coming." Your best bet if you see anything coming is to wait for it to pass, since regardless of whether it's a car or a bike, putting your safety in someone else's hands like that can end very badly.

My own way of dealing with being a pedestrian is to assume that everyone's out to run me down. Maybe not the most charitable view, but I live on a street on which four people were hit in one week last month, and this attitude has thus far kept me out of the hospital.

lizard

@Xanthophyllippa i totally agree with that stance. you can be "right" and end up in the hospital or be "wrong" and stay safe. i never just step out in front though. i was crossing in a crosswalk almost at the other side when this fucker just barreled into me and acted like i should have looked. if he were a car he would have gotten a ticket if a cop was there

julia

Get a helmet & get in the street ("It's scary!" is not valid - if you are not comfortable riding in the street, walk. Sorry to be militant but also I'm not sorry) and for eff's sake do not wear headphones when you're riding because you won't hear my "On your left" (yep, even if you feel silly it is important to announce you're coming up on someone - bikes are much harder to hear than cars).

H.E. Ladypants

@julia Oh my gosh. Everytime I see someone riding wearing headphones, I want to rip them out of their ears.

yamtoes

@H.E. Ladypants The worst is when they're wearing headphones AND drinking coffee.

josefinastrummer

@julia So true! Listen to your music when you get home safely or when you ride the bus! Not on a bike!
I was just in Denmark and the things I saw people doing while riding their bicycles was amazing. Of course it was all done in REAL bike lanes, so maybe they aren't as nervous, but wow!

stonefruit

@yamtoes I will see your "wearing headphones and drinking coffee" and raise you "wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day, wearing headphones, smoking, and CARRYING A LAPTOP CASE IN THE LONE HAND THAT IS CLUTCHING THE HANDLEBAR." SF cyclists, I am about to rejoin your number, do not make me angrier/more anxious than I already am.

entangled

@yamtoes the bikers where I live are the absolute worst. TEXTING WHILE BIKING. How does this even cross someone's mind as something to do. It is not unknown for some of these bike-texters to spontaneously fall over because they're not paying attention. (oh, and they run all the stop signs. it's a big enough issue that I regularly see bikers getting ticketed.)

anachronistique

@arrr starr What? How? I mean, I don't bike because my balance is not great and every time I try to take a hand off the handlebars to signal I fall over, but..... HOW?

entangled

@anachronistique with one hand that is kind of holding the handlebar but mostly holding the iphone. the other hand is usually on the handlebar.

and I feel you on the balance issue - I am a total klutz and really want to start biking more (the weather here has been so nice and I am so sick of being car-dependent in a pretty easy biking town). i keep telling myself if I practice, I will slowly become less paranoid about falling off or being unable to stop without crashing. Not sure if this will be the case, but I'm determined to get myself a bike and find out.

rabswom

@H.E. Ladypants I totally wear headphones while biking. But not so loud that I'm oblivious to things around me.

Texting and biking is very bad though. I don't know how people don't run into things.

GoToaster

@julia "Get a helmet & get in the street" Oh man, I want to yell this at EVERY person I see biking on the sidewalk. Those exact words.

Mingus_Thurber

Wow. I'm glad I live where I live, where bicyclists follow the laws, except for that one dude on the seven-foot-high fixie. We don't have bike lanes in this town, which might be why everybody's so polite to one another. Or maybe it's the concealed-carry law: You can never tell if the long-bearded hippie dude on the cruiser might be packing.

LornaLoo

@Mingus_Thurber Where do you live? As a law-abiding cyclist, I want to go to there.

Slutface

I really want a bike just to ride around my small town in but I don't have a lot of money. Are those bikes at Target and Walmart any good? Anyone know?

parallel-lines

@Slutface No--the components are made of plastic and wear out really fast, plus the gearing is crap and honestly, if they need a repair it'll end up costing you more than the cost of the bike. You're better off buying a good used bike that has been recently serviced.

H.E. Ladypants

@Slutface Buy a used bike! You will be able to get much nicer wheels for the same price.

null

@Slutface I got my bike off Craigs List from a woman who had put a lot of time into it and I love it so much! Just don't go for those cute vintage Schwinns, as tempting as they can be, old heavy bikes are not worth it.

Susanna@twitter

I bought mine on ebay, just make sure it's a good brand like a Raleigh or something.

josefinastrummer

@Slutface Ask around! I got my current bike from my brother's garage where it has been sitting for years, unused like an old lady's Cadillac she only drives to church on Sundays. It's not the greatest bike in the world, but it works, it's safe and it was free! And it was a real upgrade from the 10 year old Target bike I was riding around on.

Xanthophyllippa

@parallel-lines THANK you for validating what I'd pretty much suspected. I do sprint triathlons and even though they draw a wide range of biking levels and even though I'm on a commuter road bike instead of a "real" road or a tri bike, I still roll my eyes at the folks who show up with the Magna they bought at Target. Anyone who rides one of those at a tri deserves it when I hand them their ass on a platter by flying past them from three waves behind.

Probs

I don't usually mind people riding their bikes on the sidewalk. It's legal most places in D.C., and the bike people I've been around have been pretty good about it. It's definitely something of a hairy situation; whenever people say "on the left" I look back instinctively, and by the time what they said actually registers my head is facing the opposite direction and I'm just spatially like "BLUH????" and have often moved in the opposite direction of what makes sense. It's worked out alright so far. I had to jump on the hood of a car while walking in a crosswalk with the walk signal, and I'm too scared to ride a bike in the city, so I'm sympathetic to wanting to stay away from cars. I drive, I walk, no one wants to kill anybody or get killed or injured so let's all look out for each other.

datalass

@Probs Yeah, it's complicated. My own preference, in general, is that, if a cyclist has enough room to pass comfortably (like on a wide sidewalk), I'd like it if they just did so without announcing it. Sometimes cyclists will really bark out the "On Your Left" and it registers only to me as someone shouting. It takes me a moment to realize that no one is in distress/getting attacked/whatever.

Inkling

@Probs
Yeah, I agree. They experience more danger in the street than is comparable to the inconvenience of them taking the sidewalk, so it's no big deal.
I can respond appropriately to honks and catcalls, but "On your left!" makes me stagger in place like a baby giraffe. I know that feel.

MuffyStJohn

@Probs In my DC neighborhood, we have a problem with people biking on the sidewalks. Which are directly next to big, well-marked bike lanes. Bike lanes that motorists acknowledge and heed to.

If you can't handle the world's cushiest cycling conditions, then you're a coward and you shouldn't be cycling. The end.

KatnotCat

@MuffyStJohn DC, the world's cushiest cycling conditions? HA.

alabee

@Probs I live on an area of Mass Ave where bikes really can't ride safely on the road, and there are uber-wide sidewalks so it mostly works out okay. I walk to work every day, though, and I am waiting for the day when I get plowed by a bike. It is absolutely inevitable, and it may even be slightly my fault because I have the same "BWUH?" response to direction-related instructions and basically just freeze when someone yells "TO THE LEFT" at me.

Yesterday, I was on the bus, soaked from the random downpour and feeling snarly. In those situations you just have to remind yourself that travel within cities is always going to be frustrating on some level for all parties involved, you know? The upside is that you get to live in a city.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

There is a special circle of hell reserved for people who honk at horseback riders or throw things at them or let their dogs/children chase them. I think it involves being kicked in the face with a steel-shod hoof for eternity.

Heat Signature

@sudden but inevitable betrayal We also have horseback riders where I live, and they are so much safer on the road than the cyclists. Which is odd, when you think about, considering the size differential.

Susanna@twitter

@Heat Signature Yeah but drivers like horses. Everyone likes horses! Horses are amazing!

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Heat Signature I think it's exactly because of the size difference - on a horse, you have to be extra aware of dangers and spooky things to avoid setting off your thousand-plus-pound hoofy, teethy, muscley time bomb. A bike isn't generally seeing boogeymen all around him and killing himself trying to get away. :)

fondue with cheddar

One time a bicyclist (who was riding down the center line) spit while I drove past him, and the spit got on my side view mirror and splattered all the way down to the middle of the back door. He was a teenager, but still. I DON'T WANT TO CLEAN UP YOUR SPIT.

I can't imagine this is a common occurrence, but I just felt the need to vent.

datalass

@jen325 Only tangentially related, but one time I stepped in a big glob of spit on the sidewalk. I saw it but thought it was only water. Instead, it was a super-slick hazard zone. My leather heel hit it and skidded about 4 inches. I was literally windmilling my arms like they do in silent films to regain my balance. Ugh. I hate spit in any form.

fondue with cheddar

@datalass Wow. Not only is that disgusting, but you could have seriously injured yourself (or worse)!

If I ever feel the need to spit in public, I try to do it when nobody is looking and I spit in a place where nobody will see it or walk on it. If there's no such place, I don't spit. I KNOW, it's gross. But I have sinus issues and produce a lot of the ph-word (I don't even like saying it), and sometimes I don't have a tissue with me or it's too much for a tissue. Okay, I don't want to talk about this anymore I'M SORRY PLEASE FORGIVE ME. :(

Inkling

@jen325
Maybe he got a bug in his mouth? I would not be surprised if bugs are the top cause of bike-spitting.
(Not to say that spit is not totally gross, but it makes me feel better to remember that people are typically only gross when they really need to be.)

fondue with cheddar

@Inkcrafter I'm guessing it wasn't a bug. I seem to remember him yelling something at my car and looking back at me as he rode off. Teenagers...you know.

Some people are only gross when they really need to be. One time I was in Philadelphia showing the sights to a boyfriend who wasn't from around here. There were several horse carriages lined up along the road, waiting for a customer. One of the drivers actually pressed a finger against one side of his nose and shot a big glob of snot into the gutter (at least I hope it made it into the gutter). I actually heard the wet slap of it hitting the ground. It was so repulsive.

Inkling

@jen325
He couldn't have been yelling "pardon me!" could he?

fondue with cheddar

@Inkcrafter Oh, did I forget to mention the sly grin on his face?

Xanthophyllippa

@datalass @jen325 Fun Fact: in the 19th century, a lot of major cities (including NYC and Milwaukee) had laws against spitting on the street as a way of trying to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. Spitting was punishable by a fine. (Also fun but not a fact: one of my students once asked what the punishment was for being caught spitting in public. Because he notoriously didn't pay attention in class and I had just said 3 minutes before that people would be fined, I told him instead that people were forced to pick it up and eat it. He nearly gagged in class.)

fondue with cheddar

@Xanthophyllippa Ha! You're the best. :)

I did know about the spitting laws and tuberculosis! At least something good came out of that epidemic. I know that there are still places where spitting and clearing one's nose in the street are commonplace; I'm so thankful not to live in those places.

Two-Headed Girl

I bike on the sidewalk, even if it makes me feel like an asshole. My city has minimal bike lanes and a lot of ridiculously jacked-up trucks driven by overcompensating dudes, and it's just not safe. I'd rather be an asshole and alive instead of dead, y'know?

frigwiggin

@Two-Headed Girl It's much the same in my town! I've had my bike for a long time (although it's a crappy mountain bike, I should get a new one), and I wasn't able to even ride it anywhere until we moved last year. Previously we lived on a major intersection and there are no bike lanes, and cars DO NOT CARE that you are there and it is scary as shit. Now I can toodle down a quiet residential road (with a traffic circle) and I don't have to worry much. Although I'm also kind of a jerk and don't usually stop for stop signs when there's nobody around.

All lions are fierce

@Two-Headed Girl Me too sometimes! I used to live in New Orleans, and there were certain streets where the "shoulder" was just boulders of asphalt filled with trucks turning right, but the sidewalks were smooth, delicious sailing. I'd hop over to the road for pedestrians, though (safely, etc).

dontannoyme

my good idea is that a) the horn on cars should be configured to sound inside the car, right by the driver's ear, and only reach outside the car through sheer mind-blowing volume and b) there's a hornometer like your mileometer and you are fined for every use of the horn over say 5 per annum (I mean 5 is fair, right?). That should stop crappy people hooting at other road users every five seconds because they somehow think they are in charge.

I like the article. I am not a cyclist but I try to be very conscious of cyclists and pedestrians. What I don't like is that I have my heart in my mouth when I see some lovely young girl on a bike weaving between moving HGVs and bendy buses (London). Please! Why weave? You're already doing fine. Think of your mother.

LornaLoo

@dontannoyme I like the think of your mother comment... I get upset when I ride my bike by schools where parents are loading/unloading children because some will park in the bike lane, open doors without looking, generally drive erratically etc, that I've started yelling, "I'M SOMEONE"S DAUGHTER!!!" Unfortunately, since I am just yelling things at people while riding a bike past them, it hardly registers.

Decca

I long to be the kind of person who bicycles around town in a summer dress, but I am so terrified of cycling in traffic. I'm moving to a new city in a few months and perhaps I'll try it there...but probably not. I'm a wimp.

josefinastrummer

@Decca Give it a shot, at least once. I was really nervous to start riding in the city, until one day my boyfriend's family came up and rode around with us. I thought if these guys can ride in a city they don't even live in so confidently, so can I!
If you go out once and you really don't like it, at least you know. But I think once you start, you will be hooked. Especially in your summer dresses!

Decca

@josefinastrummer Hmmm you're right, I should just give it a go. I mean, I know some real idiots who manage to cycle in a city. So, yes, I will!

josefinastrummer

@Decca Let us know how it goes! I think you will find riding in a dress really fun! I do recommend some type of shorts underneath the dress, but that's just my style. Lately I have been wearing bloomer like shorts and I get a real kick out of that.

Susanna@twitter

@josefinastrummer I use a safety pin to keep things in place.

Rachel@twitter

Putting in a "HUZZAH" for the honking at people on horseback comment. WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THEY CAN DO THAT? How about I let my horse throw himself through your car?

Kinloch

@Rachel@twitter I get it from rednecks in trucks who know better. Luckily my gelding won't throw himself through the car/truck from that- but put him face-to-face with a bunch of Tour-de-France wannabes flying around a corner, and yeah, he loses his shit.

Nicole Cliffe

@Kinloch Oh, Bella would be in another state within thirteen seconds. Absolutely.

AnnaBarenina

At my old house (a acreage in an isolated part of my city) a cycling convention(? party? group? herd?) would meet up every single Sunday morning and race around my suburb, with the entire event beginning and ending literally on the verge of my property (sometimes blocking my driveway, and sometimes invading the actual land). More than once old men stripped down naked out the front of my house post-race.
Most of my feelings towards cyclists during that period of my life were negative (related to memories of driving hungover through throngs of fully- and semi-naked old dudes and sometimes having to yell at them to get out of my driveway so I could get in/out).
Luckily, they moved the meeting-spot to a different street and I moved out of that suburb.
Now I feel better towards cyclists.

blueblazes

So, I do endurance riding (horses), and have to condition on the roads to get the kind of mileage we need to stay fit. You would not believe the things people do. There is a strong correlation among lifted trucks, crotch rockets, honking, engine revving, swerving and what I can only assume are tiny brains ruled by even tinier penises.

Spandrelist

Argh, bikers. Everyone would love not to kill you but you have to at least try to help us out. Every street near my house has from one to two bike lanes. One of the streets is itself marked as a "bike boulevard", where bikers are encouraged to take up the whole lane and whatnot. And yet there are constantly bikers riding on the sidewalk and they even have the audacity to shout at me to get out of their way. Infuriating! Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, y'all. It also dangerous for the bikers.

The last accident I saw involved a biker crossing from the sidewalk to the crosswalk (note the use of the word walk) on a street with a bike lane. Oncoming cars see a clear crosswalk because bikers can of course appear much faster than your standard pedestrian. Bikers use the bike lane, I beg of you. Drivers can't be looking for you everywhere.

Also, I have to add that in this city of many, many bikers I have yet to see one follow the traffic laws when they are in the street. I think overall they need to legally clarify the role for bikes (really it is dangerous for them to be both in the street and on the sidewalks, with totally different rules in each place) and enforce the law for bikes to help make bikers safer.

silviesays

@Spandrelist I live in Minneapolis, which is just about the friendliest damn city for bikers (or trying to be). I like your comment. I'm a biker and a driver, and I must say that I've had more negative experiences as a driver toward bikers than vice versa, for precisely the reasons you've stated. It's tough, because I understand the size and safety differentials, but I can't seriously can't hack driving through the city sometimes, with all the bike craziness I see.

purefog

@Spandrelist Boy that sounds like Portland.

wharrgarbl

Does anyone else feel like complaining about bike lanes that are actually traps? Because half the bike lanes around here are actually traps. There is one now on a main thoroughfare that makes cyclists cross a lane of traffic because the rightmost lane is right-turn only, and the bike lane for some reason just has to go straight. There is nowhere to go straight to, though, because it is a T intersection, and now everyone has to either ride on the sidewalk for a block (unsafe! narrow sidewalks and many pedestrians!) or cut back across traffic again because they're actually going right like sane people.

josefinastrummer

@wharrgarbl Yes! I live in Philadelphia and can basically take a bike lane for three miles to work. Too bad half of the bike lane is in between the road and parked cars, so I really have to ride in the road to prevent being doored. And the other bike lanes are used for truck/police/church parking on any given day of the week, so it makes me want to just ride in the middle of the road, because it is safer.

Ophelia

@wharrgarbl I don't even cycle in the city, but I completely agree with this comment. There are also plenty of places where a really well-marked bike lane (and attendant infrastructure) just stops suddenly, and is replaced by nothing.

wharrgarbl

@Ophelia There is a bike lane along my route to work that makes me want to get some paint and some cement and do some vigilante infrastructuring. It randomly disappears at like, the worst possible spot, shunting cyclists into traffic with no warning, in both directions. (I feel like) I'm constantly creeping cyclists out by hovering behind them instead of passing them because they're going to be forcibly merged with car traffic in twenty feet by a raised curb and a tapered-to-nothing bike lane.

parallel-lines

@wharrgarbl http://www.flickr.com/groups/cyclelanes/
There are some serious head scratchers out there.

Snicker-snack!

@wharrgarbl Yeah. I'm in Seattle and really, really do try to ride in the part of the rode the city has determined I should be in. But, a lot of the time, the bike lanes put me in harm's way. They disappear at random, run alongside curbside parking, force me to cross lanes in the middle of intersections, etc. I'd like to follow the rules, but the rules will get me hurt or killed.

stuffisthings

@Ophelia Are you guys talking about DC? Because before I moved here I was thinking "Yay, I'll buy a bike, it will be awesome" but as soon as I saw the bike lane configuration downtown I was all, "Nuh uh."

anachronistique

@parallel-lines There's a bike trail in my hometown that was paved with asphalt with recycled glass in it. Guess how well that worked out.

elizabeast

Shoutout to anyone that also endures the hateful relationship between cars and bikes in Philadelphia.

josefinastrummer

@elizabeast AAAMMMEEENNN! I was riding south on 21st on Sunday and a car got on my tail and honked several times. I yelled back to him "Don't honk at people on bikes!" and stayed in the lane. Then he was able to pull up next to me, in his convertible, and yell "you are not a car!" I said "I know! Learn how to drive a-hole!" and smiled and waved as he peeled off and we both made the same light at Washington Ave.
For the most part though, I have been lucky in Philly and just roll my eyes a lot.

bb
bb

@elizabeast IDK guys, I moved from Philly to a bigger city recently and long for the narrow streets that prevented drivers from going fast in Center City and its environs. Drivers will be dicks everywhere, but at least they can't get up high speeds in the cramped old streets of many East Coast cities.

H.E. Ladypants

@elizabeast Oh man. I have biked in NYC and Philly. Give me NYC any day. :(

(Which is not to say that Philly isn't a lovely city. It totally is. Just. Aaaack.)

josefinastrummer

@H.E. Ladypants I just rode in NYC for the bike tour and at the end, we had to ride back to 54th Street and I had a blast! I was always afraid to ride in NYC but I liked it a lot. In Philly, once I am riding, I am okay, but I kind of psyche myself out as I to or from work, wondering if this is going to be the day I get hit. So far so good!

elizabeast

@josefinastrummer The problem here is that nearly everyone, cyclists and motorists alike, thinks the rules don't apply to them. I see drivers being assholes more than cyclists, but some cyclists are fucking ridiculous too! It's like you cannot win if you're a good cyclist or a good driver.

GoToaster

@H.E. Ladypants It's all about what you're used to, and knowing the character of the city you're riding in. I'm 100% confident about taking and holding a lane on Center City's carriage-wide streets but biking in NYC is mostly alien and nerve-wracking to me.

phlox

My biggest annoyance while biking to work is the couple on the scooter where he is driving and she is smoking and flinging cigarette ash into the bike lane. My face does not have a windshield, lady! (Yes, this has happened several times.)

I am also annoyed by: people who ride slow on the left side of the bike lane, roller bladers in the bike lane, drunk people who walk out from between parked cars and into the bike lane, cyclists insist on getting in front of you while waiting at the stop light but then go slow so you have to pass them every time you get moving again.

But I love bike commuting! It really is much better than taking the subway.

LornaLoo

@phlox yes to all of the above, plus scooters who use the bike lane as a vehicle lane.

redheaded&crazy

@phlox also extending your very logical annoyances further, can we start a movement that people walk on the right side of the sidewalk, leaving the centre free for passing slowpokes? WHY DO PEOPLE NOT UNDERSTAND VERY SIMPLE RULES OF THE ROAD

SarcasticFringehead

@redheaded&crazie It's a sideWALK, not a sideambleslowlytenabreast. Let me pass you! Everyone will be happier!

redheaded&crazy

@SarcasticFringehead takes me back to the days when i was such a pushover about my sidewalk space, letting groups of people shove me off the side. Now I give the person trying to shunt me to the side a cold hard stare and hold my ground. it's satisfying to watch them shuffle over to make space as they realize they are in the wrong.

it's actually almost more satisfying when they don't make enough space and brush/shove past me because FUCCCCCCCK YOOOOOOOOU i ain't movin. i am a rock.

Lenora Jane

@redheaded&crazie I am still pretty pushoverable in most cases BUT for some reason I am completely intolerant of people walking multi abreast in the opposite direction. If there are two of you, one of you should fall back! The sidewalk is a two-way thing! It's hilarious because two people walking abreast are actually the least likely to get out of your way, because it interrupts their conversation so completely, and yet it's the ONLY TIME that I get stubborn about sidewalk space.

Back when I lived in Montreal I had a friend from Manhattan and she was constantly a) frustratedly trying to pass people because she walked too fast, but also b) irritated that she couldn't just gently shove (as she described it) to maneuver past people like she used to in New York. New York ladies: is that a real thing? Or am I just friends with rude, rude people?

TheUnchosenOne

@redheaded&crazie Dang, fuck those people who don't get out of the way. I will move as far to the side as possible but I will not step one foot off of that sidewalk. I will move my shoulders if it's a narrow sidewalk and they're making an effort to move.

H.E. Ladypants

@Lenora Jane I have never once been intentionally shoved by a person on New York City sidewalks.

Yes, we walk fast. Yes, we dodge around each other when we want to walk faster. Yes, someone in an enormous hurry might bump into someone else. But no one ever pushes or jostles on purpose. I would find that shockingly rude.

H.E. Ladypants

@H.E. Ladypants Secret about New York: We're actually really nice. Short on time and not long on pleasantries but by and large, pretty nice.

Lenora Jane

@H.E. Ladypants This is good to know! I have only rarely ventured down there and I was beginning to doubt myself; T. makes it sound like a jungle full of really unpleasant...parrots? Like a jungle. Let's not take this too far.

stonefruit

@redheaded&crazie YES, I am also a rock! I feel like this tendency to try to sort of passively shove people out of one's way has gotten worse in years. I have responded, maturely enough, by bracing my upper body and just slamming into whoever is trying to push past me using my upper shoulder/elbows. I may not be the largest person in the world, but neither is me body-checking someone anything to sneeze at.

Cat named Virtute

@Lenora Jane Oh god, don't get me started on Montreal amblers. PEOPLE, I HAVE PLACES TO GO. I'm 5'4", my legs are NOT that long, but I still go at a very respectable clip. New York is heaven to me--EVERYONE is in the same g-d hurry. But before this I lived in Winnipeg where people are EVEN SLOWER.

atipofthehat

@redheaded&crazie

If you don't stand aside on an escalator in the London Underground, you had BEST be walking up. Briskly.

NotTheJetSet

I ride on the sidewalk sometimes too--whatever it takes not to get killed. But I try to be extremely deferential to the people on foot.

People seem to love to harp on cyclists not following the rules. I would venture to guess that most times a collision occurs between a car and a bike, it's *not* the bike's fault.

Also, this guy's snobbish "cyclists vs. pedestrians on bicycles" comment really gets my back up. You know, I don't bike hundreds of miles a month and I don't have any gear, but sometimes I like to ride my bike to the store or to work. What's the big deal?

LornaLoo

@NotTheJetSet I hate the argument that cyclists NEVER follow the laws... Drivers frequently don't follow rules either. No one set of commuters is perfect, but we can all get along.

harebell

@NotTheJetSet Why would you say that? Why not throw out the preconceptions and just look at each situation on its own terms, instead of saying "whenever there is a collision, *I* think it's not the biker's fault"?
Perhaps one of these days I can introduce you to the many bikers in my town that ride the wrong way on narrow one-way streets, which are plentiful here, and start accidents because they can't be bothered to ride that one extra block over for the street that's one-way in their direction.

bb
bb

@NotTheJetSet yep. Cyclist (oooh aren't they special) who are dicks to slow, safe, (sometimes older) bicyclists deserve a special place in hell. If you want to race, go to a velodrome.

NotTheJetSet

@harebell OK, you have a point. But people do seem to enjoy heaping on the bike scorn.

@LornaLoo Agreed.

But really I was coming back to say I liked this post, linked to on the Awl, as well as the post it references: http://www.urbanadonia.com/2012/05/its-ok-to-bully-bike-hipsters-on.html

KatnotCat

@NotTheJetSet Also, this guy's snobbish "cyclists vs. pedestrians on bicycles" comment really gets my back up.

Ugh, gross. Yes, I occasionally bike as a means of transportation, because it's cheaper than the bus or buying a car, it's faster than walking, and it's better for the environment and my health. Sorry I have other things to do than logging hundreds of miles and jerking off to my bike with my cyclists buddies.*

I have friends who are hardcore cyclists and who work in bike shops, god bless 'em, it's a fine hobby, but that guy sounds like such a douche.

harebell

@NotTheJetSet I know -- people hear & make comments in a background of all these other situations that have gotten their dander up in the past, & kind of merge past & present easily in these discussions. So, yes, hear your point too.

And I especially agree about the snobbish "cyclists versus pedestrians on bicycles" comment! yeesh.

harebell

This is all well and good except when you live in a university town full of very entitled bikers. I bike and drive both, so I have some initial goodwill always to the bikers, but it dissipates rapidly here.

The worst was when I was driving on a major congested street here, and wanted to make a right turn. So I put my signals on well in advance. Slowed as I neared. Looked, began to turn, and slammed on the brakes in order to avoid hitting this cyclist that had breezed up out of nowhere and wanted to pass me on the right -- even though I have obviously signaled that I am turning and cars don't expect to be passed on the right. She stops and yells with vicious anger at me, "You could kill someone!"

It bothered me for weeks. It wasn't just that no, I was following the rules of the road, unlike her, and in fact I braked to avoid a collision seven when she was trying to pass on the right and ignoring turning signals. But also: "dead" is not just a word. I've been around a lot of dead people, and people have died in my life. This situation was not even close. It's just nasty and abusive to throw that kind of language around, especially after I just braked in the middle of traffic and potentially dangerously startled the other cars in order to not hit you. It was just so unnecessarily nasty, and self-righteous, and it's hard to forget in order to not view all bikers through that lens.

redheaded&crazy

@harebell ohhhh cyclists trying to pass on the right when i'm making a right turn are my biggest fear! I want to be like, logically if I have my signal on, you will go around me the other way right?!

but clearly not. that would infuriate me.

SHE yelled at YOU?! what a jerk. yes, you could kill someone in that situation, and you would be held responsible even if the other person were partially at fault, and not only that but the emotional responsibility you would feel ... ugh.

Spandrelist

@harebell

We live in a similar university town, and my husband similarly stopped dead to avoid hitting a biker crossing the street in the crosswalk when three lanes of oncoming traffic had the right-of-way. The biker actually hit our car with his fist before riding off across the street, holding up all three lanes of cars with a green light! It really does lessen your general goodwill towards bikers.

bb
bb

@harebell yes, it sucks, but having lived in a college town with a lot of bikers, I would say
a) this is part of the deal of living in a quaint place with coffee shops/street life/etc. Slow down and enjoy the youthful quirkiness.
b) imagine how crappy those 19 year olds would be behind the wheel of a car.

josefinastrummer

@harebell The rider was probably scared out of her mind that she almost made direct contact with your car. People do weird things when that happens. I'll be the first to admit that if a car did that and I was in a real bike lane, I would have yelled the same thing, because you were in the wrong. Since you didn't mention a bike lane or where you live, I don't know, but I wouldn't look down on all bike riders because of one bad experience.

Spandrelist

@josefinastrummer

Wait, since when is she in the wrong? When someone is making a right-hand turn in front of you, you wait until they turn. You do not pass them on the right, be you car or bike. The presence of a bike lane makes no difference; when there is a bike lane on the right cars are supposed to take up that lane when turning right, in all but one state.

redheaded&crazy

@Spandrelist i agree with your assessment of the situation. unless the cyclist got off the bike and walked it across the intersection, making them a pedestrian, they count as a vehicle.

josefinastrummer

@Spandrelist If you have to cross a bike lane to make a right hand turn, you must give the bike rider the right of way. You are allowed to enter the bike lane to make the right, but you are always supposed to yield to the rider going straight. That's why cars have side and rear view mirrors, so you can see the bike riders coming behind you.
Yeah, it would be smart to let people making a right just turn, but do you know how many times I have slowed down on a hill to do that and the car can't decide if it wants to go or not? It's a lot easier to sit in a car than it is to balance on two wheels while the car decides if it really wants to turn.

Spandrelist

@josefinastrummer

In the road, bicycles are vehicles. To turn right you merge into the right-most lane. Obviously you should not merge into or cut off any vehicles in that lane, although that wasn't the situation here. In a given lane, vehicles are not allowed to pass a vehicle turning right on the right. Passing vehicles have to yield to the vehicle they are passing. It doesn't matter if it is a bike or a car. Unless you are saying your state has a law specifically allowing bicycles to pass right-turning cars? I hope not. I honestly am surprised that you think this completely dangerous maneuver is legal, let alone the preferred way of dealing with this traffic situation. Even if it was legal it isn't worth your life! Yield to right-turning cars in your lane!

null

@Spandrelist Where I live motorists must yield to bicyclists when turning right. Just last week a woman was killed down the street from my work, on a bike route I regularly take, when a truck turned into her lane. All weekend as I passed that site I saw devastated mourners, it was heartbreaking.

josefinastrummer

@klaus Exactly! I am riding straight! Unless there is an arrow, the person going straight always has the right of way, especially in a designated lane. The person turning right must wait until it's clear. And if that means looking behind you to see if a bike rider is coming, look! Look twice! The bike rider on the right isn't being a jerk, he or she is being safe and riding where he or she belongs!

harebell

@josefinastrummer dear god.
1) There was no bike lane.
2) The biker was therefore IN THE SAME LANE AS ME, until she decided to try to pass me.
3) In order to do that, she had to speed up from behind me, riding gaily through my blind spot, in order to make her way to a place of danger.

Cars don't do that to other cars. Why should it possibly be okay for a biker to do that to a car?

Indeed, the rider was being a jerk and in too much of a hurry (apparently) to obey the rules of the road.

I also bike and would never dream of doing this in traffic. It's egotistical and very unsafe. You strike me the same way.

harebell

@bb Haha, and yikes, yes. 19-year-olds. I don't know if I am grateful to be living in a college town per se, but it is a town that was swallowed up by a major US city not so long ago, and has high rent prices and no parking, so yes, a good part of this is that almost none of the undergrads can afford cars or need them, and much walking and subway-riding is done.
It's ironic being a defender of driving on this thread, since I didn't even own a car until reaching the advanced age of 29 and my family didn't always own one growing up. Maybe since I come from the non-driving side of things originally, that's why it's even more of a turn-off --and more weird -- to see people having knee-jerk automatic attitudes about car drivers vs. bikers vs. pedestrians -- those "other" people who don't know what they're doing.

Xanthophyllippa

@Spandrelist That just lessens my goodwill towards college students.

null

@harebell I don't see where josefinastrummer was being egotistical or unsafe, especially considering your first comment was lacking information. Obviously this is an issue that carries a lot of emotional weight, but I think we can all agree that no one wants to be responsible for taking another person's life. Whether it was your fault or theirs isn't going to help lessen that burden when it comes down to it, and yes, it really can be a matter of life or death.

josefinastrummer

@harebell Yes, you figured me out. Every morning I get on my bike and think "Today will be the day I ruin someone driving a car's life! Who shall it be!?"
Give me a break and get over yourself. You didn't just tell us about this almost accident, you peppered it with rotten comments about how awful people are who ride bikes. The fact that this incident shook you up for a month says a lot about you too.

harebell

@josefinastrummer You keep escalating the rhetoric.

1) I didn't say "how awful all people are who ride bicycles." I talked about one person, and how it left a bad taste in my mouth. Especially since I don't like words that are violent used lightly.

2) As a corollary, because Big Generalizations are not helpful to anybody, no indeed, I do not even rhetorically imagine you getting on your bike every day with these thoughts in mind. What is up with the big generalizations and lack of any nuance with you? The black versus white?

boyofdestiny

The word "entitlement" is getting tossed around a lot in these comments, always in reference to cyclists, and it just makes me laugh. There isn't a more entitled population of people than those that drive cars. So many of our laws and policies are crafted to cater to what drivers feel they're entitled to. They feel entitled to cheap/free and abundant parking, and so we have costly minimum parking requirements that hinder development of actually useful commercial and residential space. They feel entitled to be able to drive fast no matter where they are, and so traffic patterns and signal lights are devised at the expense of pedestrians. Funding for transit and infrastructure improvement suffer because drivers feel entitled to low tolls and gas taxes,

If you need a car to get around, that's fine. I wish drivers were made to pay for their fair share of the economic and environmental damage that mass car ownership causes, but I understand that that's a long and incremental struggle. But please, drivers, don't pretend that you're not a part of one of the most privileged and catered-to classes, and please don't act like people who are trying to carve out a little space on the road for an alternate method of getting around are somehow acting "entitled."

parallel-lines

@boyofdestiny AMEN.

H.E. Ladypants

@boyofdestiny Thank you for saying the thing that I am usually too polite to say.

kickupdust

@boyofdestiny DOUBLE AMEN AND A HIGH FIVE

boyofdestiny

@H.E. Ladypants @H.E. Ladypants @H.E. Ladypants Yeah, I'm not trying to be like, too confrontational and provocative. I don't think drivers as a group are bad people or anything; my whole family drives, and my girlfriend drives me around all the time! Car owners just take full advantage of some bad policies. I don't necessarily blame them for not insisting on paying more for gas or having a harder time to park. I'm just asking for a little self awareness, please, when it comes to dumping on cyclists.

redheaded&crazy

@boyofdestiny so i don't know what the tolling situation is like in a lot of cities, it seems to me they are more common in American cities than Canadian. but Toronto DESPERATELY needs tolls. Even if we were to toll the surrounding suburbs that don't pay Toronto taxes and don't vote in Toronto elections, it would make a huge difference for transit revenues we desperately need (both for public transit and highway maintenance).

Try telling drivers that. hahahahaAHAHAHAHAHAH it's so brutal.

ejcsanfran

@boyofdestiny: Wanna ride on the sidewalk and run red lights together..?

stuffisthings

@boyofdestiny I totally agree with the substance of your comment, aside from "there isn't a more entitled population of people than those that drive cars." I think a lot of the subconscious anti-cyclist rage stems, subconsciously, from the fact that ardent cyclists are far more likely to be members of groups that ARE the most entitled in other areas of life (e.g. white, well-educated, upper middle class) that leads people to be skeptical of their (totally justified) demands for fairness and equality on the roads.

Conversely, you could argue some of the "it's not FAIR" rage on the cyclists' side comes from the fact that many avid cyclists have never before encountered an area of life where the rules and social norms were actually stacked against their interests, especially for unfair and unjust reasons.

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings (Speaking of schadenfreude, the thought of all the spandex-clad lawyers and accountants from my posh suburb fighting their way through traffic hell while I'm relaxing on the bus with their maids and nannies just made me smile.)

Heat Signature

@stuffisthings Yes! This is sort of what I tried and failed to get at with my earlier comment. I have a lot of class issues, and they come out in weird places (like posts about cyclists, apparently).

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings (Also I didn't mean to say subconscious twice up there. Or maybe I subconsciously did.)

parallel-lines

@stuffisthings I really don't agree with that at all. In NYC, at least, a large percentage of people who cycle do so for their job--delivery boys, messengers, commuters etc... These are not moneyed, high society folks by any means--and outside of those who ride for work related reasons I see people of all cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. There's bike clubs operated by Puerto Ricans who deck out their vintage Schwinns, West Indian racing clubs in Prospect Park, etc... Owning a bicycle is not something only attainable to the elite.

Granted, the people doing cycling advocacy skew white and wealthy but you could argue that about any sort of advocacy--they have time and money to devote to causes? Entitlement is what it boils down to--how dare you inconvinience me and demand respect and civility? I feel like this is doubled if you are a woman--I wish I had a quarter for every time some guy called me a "bitch" for biking--be it in the bike lane or wherever else he thought I shouldn't be.

There was also a really awesome article about sexism and the dangers of biking while female in Bitch magazine two issues ago but it doesn't seem to be online :(

josefinastrummer

@parallel-lines Right on! I always find myself riding with Asian and Hispanic men and women in Philadelphia and I see plenty of African Americans out on bikes too. Bike riding is cheap! Cheaper than the bus! Because once you have the bike it is basically free.

Maybe the guys in the spandex who only ride for recreation are spoiled and entitled, but the majority of the folks riding with me are going to work the cheapest, easiest, fastest way they can.

datalass

@boyofdestiny Have you read the Slate series Walking in America? Although it (obviously) focuses on walking, it makes a great point about how the United States went from being a place in which roads were viewed as inherently mixed use until the 20th century when suddenly roads became for cars and everything else was seen as an interloping nuisance that should just get out of the cars' way.

boyofdestiny

@datalass I have! Good stuff. In the interest of disclosure, I'm going to school to study urban planning i September, and parking/automobile policy is kind of my hobbyhorse. I also plan on riding my bike to school!

H.E. Ladypants

@josefinastrummer Oh man, yes. I used to live in a very African American neighborhood. Bikes everywhere.

josefinastrummer

@boyofdestiny Are you my boyfriend? When did you get internet access at the bank? Yea for urban planning!

stuffisthings

@parallel-lines Just for the record, I don't necessarily agree with the class perceptions I outlined above, but I think they inform the debate for a lot of people. Personally, I think biking is great, but I'd rather live in a city with an amazing metro and so-so bike lanes than the other way around (says the non-car or bike owning, transit-using pedestrian).

Honestly, though, I still think public transit has much more potential to improve the liveability of actually existing American cities than bike advocacy. Unless we plan to start tearing them down and rebuilding them from scratch to look like Copenhagen, which is a plan I could get behind.

boyofdestiny

@stuffisthings You're not wrong here, although I would contend that bike advocacy and transit advocacy are of a piece in terms of attempting to chip away at the hegemony of the automobile. I don't want to make drivers out to be villainous enemies here, but in the great back and forth that is democracy in our cities and towns, the interests of drivers are often opposed to the interests of both cyclists and transit users. Let's not fight among ourselves!

H.E. Ladypants

@boyofdestiny Yeah. The big adovcacy group in New York is Transportation Alternatives and they are equally big on public transit and biking. Also, one of the interesting things they bring up is how much of our public spaces are streets and how much of that space is given over to cars. We built our cities around cars but maybe that is not the best way to build a city?

stuffisthings

@boyofdestiny Yeah but... spandex!

redheaded&crazy

when i'm driving i hate cyclists and pedestrians
when i'm biking i hate drivers and pedestrians
when i'm walking i hate drivers and cyclists

what i really need is a ford anglia and a magic wand.

anachronistique

@redheaded&crazie What about an ice cream van?

EpWs

@anachronistique Only if it comes with a rocket launcher on top. And can fly.

redheaded&crazy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher and I still want my magic wand.

Kinloch

Yes- death to anyone who honks at someone on horseback, although, my horse is a pretty cool fella. He doesn't get bothered by trucks and cars.

However if you want to see him jump 6 feet sideways, please, come at him with a bicycle! It is the most evil, scary monster his little mind can fathom.

josefinastrummer

@Kinloch The other day one of those historic carriages was in the bike lane in the middle of my city. I don't know if the driver did that because his horse gets spooked by bikes or what, but I gave them a wide berth. I didn't want to find out this horse's behaviors the hard way!

TheCheesemanCometh

I rode my bike to/from the train for work for three weeks during a bus strike earlier this year (the train drivers didn't strike, thank god, or I'd have been in real trouble) and it was both awesome and terrifying. I only have a bike lane for about half of the commute, so the rest of the time I was on the street, and damn near hyperventilating as traffic zoomed past me with a bare minimum of space. I just chanted "Fall to the right. Fall to the right." in my head to get past that part. It was lovely to ride, though, and almost soothing once I hit the bike lane. I may do it again in the fall.

josefinastrummer

@TheCheesemanCometh I do that "fall to the right" chant on really windy days. I hope you are able to ride again in the fall.

TheCheesemanCometh

@josefinastrummer I'd love to do it now, but I burn super easily, and we've been in the triple digits for a while now (why am I in the desert??) but I am looking forward to it!

josefinastrummer

@TheCheesemanCometh I am trying to be vigilante with the sunscreen and I try to cover up while riding, because we aren't in the death of summer yet but I hear you! Fall will be here soon enough!

Summer Somewhere

I compose tiny letters in my head while cycling. Most of them are directed towards car drivers, but some of them go to pedestrians or other cyclists. While commuting home recently, up a giant hill, two women stood in the bike lane preparing to jaywalk, then looked at me and laughed when they saw my sweaty, panting face. They eventually scooted out of the lane when I stared at them and made it very clear that I was prepared to plow into them at 3 miles an hour or whatever. I almost wish I had.

SarahP

@Summer Somewhere I do the same thing, only instead of "tiny letters," I compose "lengthy, scathing rants."

Summer Somewhere

@SarahP Well, I have those too, but they're less about thinking and more about trying to chase down the car that buzzed me on a curve, or screaming WATCH OUT or cusses in my scary person voice. Which someone actually responded to the other day, with a "thank you, miss". ?!

josefinastrummer

@Summer Somewhere I just started wearing sunglasses when I ride and I realized how much safer I feel when I make faces and roll my eyes. People who block anyone coming up a hill, be it on a bike, legs, knees, whatever, are jerks. I am a big fan of yelling "watch out!" or "cuidado!" which really confuses people, but it works.

Susanna@twitter

Before I got my bike I heard so much about horrible drivers, but when I started cycling I found that the most I got was a van honking at me, and to be fair, my boob had just popped out.
Maybe it's the fact I live in the countryside? In Wales?

Lenora Jane

I hate that I get super twitchy and annoyed whenever people talk bike advocacy, because I totally agree with most of that article, etc, and I know it can be scary out there--I eventually wound up cutting my losses back in Montreal when the Plateau took my third bike from me (DO NOT PARK ON PINE, LADIES, NOT EVEN FOR AN HOUR, YOUR BIKE WILL BE GONE AND YOUR FRIEND'S WILL BE MISSING A WHEEL)--and drivers can be jerks for sure, but I'm so stuck in the pedestrian aggravation mindset that I, like apparently many of us, saw this post and immediately the anti-cyclist-vitriol started bubblin'.

It's really unfortunate! Because all of my cycle-anger is pretty deraily in this context, and yet even as I type this sentence my brain is trying to find a way to worm in a segue to "My Complaints About Bikes"...GAH. HOT BUTTON ISSUE!

redheaded&crazy

@Lenora Jane I'm with you. I'm so pro-cycling and I wish I lived in a more cycling-friendly city (which, ironically, I have always thought of Montreal as being) and I want there to be clear laws for cyclists, and bike lanes with medians, and more safety, and all that good stuff.

but it's the individual jerky behaviour that makes my eye start to twitch, and I see a lot of it. (and of course I see a lot of jerky driving behaviour too).

Lenora Jane

@redheaded&crazie I guess I'm just so jaded about jerky driving behaviour that I don't really register it? And on the entitlement thing that people keep talking about: drivers are privileged in that no one is denying/doubting their right to roadspace? So individual jerky drivers can't upset the scoresheet, whereas since cyclists' position is so contentious every single thing gets dragged into the calculation.

Montreal reeeally depends on individual circumstances/areas, I feel like; I used to live like four blocks off the Parc path, which is discrete, and worked by Vendome riiight off the Maisonneuve path, which is too, so I barely had to go on real streets, but friends of mine have horror stories. Someone I know got forced off the side of the road going down the Atwater hill and ended up crashing directly into the overpass supports...egads. Further out of downtown things can either get way peachier or way worse. I eventually stopped biking 'cause too many stolen bikes (the other bad thing about biking in the Mont!)

Cat named Virtute

@Lenora Jane I live near the Atwater hill, and nothing gives me second-hand fear more than watching cyclists on that thing (though I cannot tell you the number of times I have almost been run over by assholes cycling on the sidewalk under that underpass or the one near Georges Vanier, gahhhhh, guys that is not a viable alternative!).

Sometimes I remember the summer I lived in the Plateau and constantly rode on the back of my roommate's bike (too blind to cycle) WITHOUT A HELMET and just shudder. It's a goddamn miracle that I am alive and have an intact skull. Oh being twenty.

OxfordComma

I will still unapologetically ride my bike on sidewalks when there is:

a) little pedestrian traffic
b) no bike lane
c) heavy car traffic

It's not worth getting run over--particularly since LA is *not* a bike-friendly place, and there are very, very few bike lanes, period.

Lenora Jane

@OxfordComma I think the "little pedestrian traffic" thing is key here. I don't care if bikers are on the sidewalk if there is enough space for them. I also don't care if people are walking their bikes on the sidewalk. It's when neither of those conditions apply that I get a) frustrated and b) really nervous.

It's a tough situation for cyclists, because a cyclist on the sidewalk in a case like that is there to remove themself from hazardous street conditions in which they are in thrall to the whims of bigger, faster, scarier machines (cars). It's just a matter of remembering that after hopping up over the curb the cycle is the bigger, faster, scarier machine with the folks on foot in thrall. If you're in a position to properly handle that role, then by all means, pedal away!

OxfordComma

@Lenora Jane: 'zactly! :)

I usually ride much slower on sidewalks, as well--it's just safer for everyone involved.

Lenora Jane

@OxfordComma Word. I like this! This is so civilized! This is so much nicer than when my roommates and I talk about bike etiquette! You are, uh, a politer biker than my housebros?

OxfordComma

@Lenora Jane : Thanks! I try. ;)

Maladydee

A cyclist in my city just died yesterday when a van clipped her and pushed her into the path of a semi. So yeah, I know people hate it when cyclists ride on the sidewalk, but let's be honest, the sidewalks are almost always totally empty in my city because everyone is out on the road driving like douchebags. I don't want to die, I ride on the sidewalk, or in bike lanes, I never share the road with cars when I can avoid it. I will get off my bike and walk it through a crowded block full of pedestrians on the sidewalk before I will take that bike onto the road and no one can convince me otherwise.

Lenora Jane

@MaladyDee "I will get off my bike and walk it through a crowded block full of pedestrians on the sidewalk"

THIS! Do this, guys.

datalass

@MaladyDee There are only three occasions when I get miffed at sidewalk cyclists: 1) when they are total speed demons in an area where it's reasonable to expect people to be strolling (shopping districts, etc.), 2) when they totally dominate the sidewalk (yesterday, I saw 10 people on Bikeshare cycles riding 2/3 abreast), and 3) when they sidle up beside me at a traffic light and obliviously let their tires brush against my skirt/coat/bag.

Cat named Virtute

@MaladyDee Oh god, you're from my hometown! I read that story this morning--so horrifyingly sad.

Lenora Jane

CYCLE MAVENS, I have a question, and it really is a question, I don't mean it passive aggressively or tirade-ily: is it really a huge pain to stop and walk your bike in (small) areas of peak congestion/traffic danger/pedestrianity/etc? Not every ten feet, obviously, but like, if there were an area with a lot of congestion of foot and motor variety how relatively annoying would a couple walking blocks be? OR, relatedly, if your route took you through a walk-your-bike zone, how hard would you a) gripe and/or b)try to avoid it?

Because my knee-jerk mental response to congested-downtown-traffic-danger complaints is often "get off and walk 'til you hit the bike lane/a wider street/the traffic lets up" and I'd like to know if I am being an asshole in my mind, so that I can, uh, stop doing it.

(With the second question, if any bikin' Montreallers see this, I'm thinking of that uproar a couple years ago when McGill lower campus went wheel-free and everyone freaked out about it. I never really understood the problem with walking your bike for the equivalent of two blocks, but then, I also used to/still do things like voluntarily walk back to the Plateau from work in NDG, so clearly I am not real efficiency-focused in my commuting MO.)

H.E. Ladypants

@Lenora Jane I do all those things, so I'm the wrong person to ask.

I also avoid biking through places people walk like the plague. I've got places to be and ya'll slow me up. :P

Lenora Jane

@Lenora Jane I guess the corrollary to all that would be, how often is what I've described even vaguely the context of a Dangerous Bike Moment? Am I rose-colored-goggling the biking experience by even proposing that?

Seriously, the only city I've ever biked in my home, work and study locations were all in ridiculously bikeable areas close to major bike paths/etc so I really have very little context for Unfavorable Biking?

Lenora Jane

@H.E. Ladypants Oh, I hear you, believe me, I am a pedestrian and the rest of us slow me up, too :)

Susanna@twitter

I do cycle on the pavement when the road is a death trap, and I get off when there's pedestrians everywhere. It is effort, because stopping and starting is really annoying. And you've got all this momentum that you've spent ages building up.

boyofdestiny

@Lenora Jane One way to answer your question would be to just pose it more generally: is it really a huge pain to significantly slow down/outright pause your daily commute? I think the answer, no matter how you get around, would be "yes." Or at least "kind of."

Lenora Jane

@boyofdestiny This is a fair point!

uncle jesse

@Lenora Jane I go to McGill and I disobey that rule about walking your bike through campus every day. I don't run red lights or stopsigns and I respect pedestrians but bikes are not cars, in terms of speed or weight or the danger they pose to pedestrians. If we are cautious cyclists I see no reason to keep bikes off campus, the roads are road sized! They are not sidewalks!

entangled

dammit, this is not going to help at all in my quest to convince mr. arrrstarr to start biking around with me. we live in such a bike utopia (stupid text-messaging bikers excepted), but if I started biking instead of driving, he would be stuck at home and I am mean but not *that* mean. also, I suck at biking, so maybe this is more of a wishful-thinking plan than an actually feasible one.

TheBourneApproximation

In the past 5 years, I have used my feet, a bike, and a car to go to work and do errands. Car wins for doing errands (I can buy heavy things again!). Walking wins for going to work, as it feels healthy and virtuous and traffic-free. Both were far less stressful than biking, and I can't help but feel that my quality of life went up when I could just walk or drive to things. While I missed the good exercise, I did not miss the constant mental attention (more than driving) and worrying about whether or not I was going to get KILLED that day, half the time by other cyclists. And getting suddenly caught in a sudden heavy downpour when I was bringing home tons of food. I liked the feeling of speeding down a nice empty, flat bike path in the middle of nowhere, but otherwise the experience always felt just. not. worth it.

Xanthophyllippa

I think I see more bike accidents here in one week than I did in the month I spent in China last summer, and let me just say that Shanghai traffic? In. SANE. Seriously. It looks like you're taking your life in your hands, but here's the thing: drivers and cyclists are so used to being on the same roads at the same time that the traffic patterns that are paralyzingly terrifying are really incredibly safe. As long as you stay on your trajectory and don't make any sudden moves - no swerving, sudden braking, or darting out of nowhere - you're absolutely safe, because the drivers are also staying on their trajectory and not making any sudden moves.

Bike lanes in China are bike lanes in name only. More often than not, they contain a few hundred scooters, a handful of buses, and a car that got tired of the congestion and decided to zip along on the other side of the partition.

OwlOfDerision

I live in London and I cycle - which basically means charging into full city traffic with a trident and shield, my face daubed with woad to make me look more aggressive and yelling 'FREEEDOOOMMM' (and ringing my bell) so people see me coming. The cycling infrastructure here is haphazard as fuck - some fantastic super-safe cycle lanes and some hideous Junctions of Death.

I went to visit a friend in Copenhagen last year, and their cycle paths were so beautiful that I wept a solitary tear of envy.

josefinastrummer

@OwlOfDerision I was just in Copenhagen and have never felt so good on a bike path in my life! I was yelling "FREEEEEEDOOOOMMMM" the whole time.

carolita

I've been doored twice and refuse to ride on anything but a bike path anymore. But worse was being hit while walking on the sidewalk by a cyclist who wasn't expecting me to turn right. I still have damage in my elbow from that. Please, please, bike people: USE BIKE BELLS!!!!

I actually bought a gross of 25 bike bells and started giving them to food deliverers everytime I ordered in. I even hung them on handlebars of bikes as presents.

I've asked several bicyclists I've seen why they don't use their bells and they always answer that "people get angry" at them. We need a serious bike bell etiquette campaign in NYC. I've written to the mayor. No answer.

H.E. Ladypants

@carolita "No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet"

It's the law to have a bell in New York! And they've actually started ticketing that, as well as riding on the sidewalk and riding the wrong way down the street. The mayor is on your side! (No, really.)

parallel-lines

@carolita It's actually illegal to NOT have one and my friends have been ticketed for it ($100+ fine). I'd love to see them crack down on bells and riding the wrong way down the street--some people think that's unfair because it targets delivery riders but let's be honest--every time I've nearly been mowed down it's a delivery guy.

H.E. Ladypants

@parallel-lines I know that DOT has been working really hard to get biking guidelines out there, especially in Spanish and Chinese and I'm pretty sure they've got some educational projects that will be launching soon.

I think NYC is actually doing an amazing job in restructuring the city to be more bike friendly, considering the scope of the project. The rate that bike lanes are going up is insane. The increase in the number of cyclist on those lanes is insane. And actually, I would venture that bike behaviour is actually starting to catch up with enforcement. During my commute, I can almost tell which year a person started biking by the number and types of rules they're willing to break (if any.)

This is a massive change in collective behaviour, first of all encouraging all these people to use a different sort of transit and secondly, re-educating the population that uses that sort of transit. Right now, I think we're in the middle of some growing pains and I think behaviour will keep getting better as standards become more uniform and the city adjusts to new patterns.

I am really enthusiastic about the bike programs in New York. :P

EternalFootwoman

@carolita I have to applaud this. No sarcasm, you're my hero. THAT is how things get DONE.

carolita

Oh, yes, I know it's the law, but people just don't KNOW. We need a public awareness campaign, especially now that we're going to have city bikes rolling around. I really do think this would be a huge help. After all, I'd rather people knew about this law before getting ticketed for not complying.
I love the mayor, really I do. He saved my social life (and possibly my life, who knows) by banning smoking in bars -- I never lasted more than five minutes in one before the age of 35! Could never join my friends for a drink, it was pathetic. He has my eternal gratitude. :)

H.E. Ladypants

@carolita They're handing out whopping fines now. Bit by bit the word is getting around!

carolita

@H.E. Ladypants They may be fining people in your neighborhood but they aren't in Inwood. It's the wild wild west up here. No, I really think a "Ring Your Bell!" awareness campaign is called for. It would be more about letting bicyclists know that pedestrians know they're not harassing them, but are obeying the law when they ring their bells. So that we're all on the same page. Also, I don't even think most people know how and when to use their bells. You know, like, just to let people know you're nearby and that they should avoid sudden turns or bursts of running into traffic, etc. The guy who ran me down on his bike didn't fare much better than I did. He landed in the gutter after falling over a fire hydrant. He got mad at me, which was stupid, and I yelled at him to tell him what an idiot he was, which was just human. But it could all have been avoided if he'd had a bell to ring. I understand using some of the very wide sidewalks in some neighborhoods, particularly where traffic is ruthless and frightening. But... Bells! Bells! Bells!

charlottecat

I have a policy when it comes to bikes. I have decided that it is reasonable to expect the following: bikers may function as cars or pedestrians. They must obey the applicable laws, and can't switch back and forth between the two. Thus, if they do things like go through red lights or be in the road and go in the middle of two lanes and THEN go through red lights, I am allowed to judge them as much as I want. If, however, they are in front of me and are just going slowly, I realize that it's not any more ideal for them than it is for me and it's no one's fault. That said, I wish both drivers and bikers would be more respectful because I live in the DC area.

a small sea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ&feature=youtu.be - KINDA RELEVANT FUNNY VIDEO.

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