Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Go to Your Happy Place, Patch

Here's one good reason I do not support the movement for bike paths:

I think Bikers believe they are above everybody, and they do not have to follow the same rules. What makes me mad is when they bike on a road, where there is a bike path on the side, I feel at that point they are fair game, and they can't yell at me if I miss them by 1/2 a foot because of on coming traffic.

- Troy Szczepanski

(My emphasis added in bold.)

You said it, Troy -- exactly the sentiment a lot of your idiot internal combustion friends are thinking: "The government spends billions on paths (while every bridge in the state is falling down) and the pedaling rodents still want to clog the streets! Why, you'd think they had rights or something!" Troy, you could be the psychopathic spokesperson, m'boy! And thanks to KSTP for running a hair-brained feature on "Bicyclists breaking the law." Check out the free-for-all comments forum, if you have the patience. We might be the #2 bike commuting city in the nation, but it doesn't by any stretch of the imagination mean that drivers here love cyclists.

Not that anyone asked me, but I would like to rephrase the topic with a slightly more positive spin: "Cyclists who choose not to obey ALL the rules of the road." I consider myself a respectful rider, but I don't follow traffic laws as written. Why? Because they are not written to take cyclists into account. The law says a cyclist has a right to egress within an infrastructure that was negligently designed not to accommodate the operation of bicycles for transportation. End of story. I respect drivers, mostly because they could easily crush me with one wrong move. But I assert my right to the road. In addition, I respect my life. I'd be an idiot to believe emulating the behavior and movements of a two-ton automobile would either earn me the respect of drivers or preserve my life. And drivers (as well as "do-good" cyclists) who claim that are full of shit.

Riding is a metaphor for living life -- no matter how hard you try and how nice you think you are, you're still going to bump into a few dozen people who hate you for something you wear, the way you talk, how you look, who you're with or how you're acting. Fine. Move on.

That's my philosophy of riding -- be smart; use all your senses; make wise, yet fast decisions; avoid conflict but don't fear confrontation; and, perhaps most importantly, move on. Which is precisely what I plan to do ...

7 comments:

Snakebite said...

"I consider myself a respectful rider, but I don't follow traffic laws as written. Why? Because they are not written to take cyclists into account."

I feel the same way. Good post. I technically break the laws, too. But what the cage holes don't realize is I (or we bikers) don't do it for the sake of breaking a law, but for our own personal safety (usually).

Stephen & Rachel said...

Hey Woody,
Also take into account that drivers break the rules all the time! My commute is now 2.5 miles...27 miles shorter than my commute to Dagger and can you believe I deal with the same amount of idiot drivers in those 2.5 miles?
I like your post. Fun reading!
Rach

chiggins said...

The comments section of that "reporting" was sickening. As much as I hated to agree with the sentiment of the guy who said he'd start packing heat, sure is understandable after being exposed to that naked hostility.

Gotta say, though, that as much as I hear what you're saying about bike paths... there's some really, really sweet ones along the Anacostia River here in D.C., and its' pretty awesome to saddle the kids up on the Xtracycle and ride for a while on a skinny asphalt path where the cars can't go. It's a pretty great experience, and a really nice break from the vigilance necessary to "share the road" with the zombies out here.

Patch O'Houli said...

Thanks for the comment. I hear you and also agree with you. I definitely don't mind the paths for riding with the family. Here in Mpls we can ride an old rail-trail to a great campground just 20 miles west of the city. I wouldn't trade that trail for roads unless I were riding solo and wanted an adventure. If I'm out for a leisurely spin I'd much rather be able to chat with my wife and daughters than fight traffic. I get frustrated with the messianic regard of trails and the "bike path movement" because too often irate drivers use the presence of more and more paths to justify belligerence toward cyclists who choose to use the road. A couple of things these hotheads do not realize: Paths are not always a viable option for transportation cycling since they don't go directly to the places all bike commuters need to go; In addition, paths are not the best place for cyclists who want to get somewhere fast or maintain speed since it compromises the safety of all users. But for far too many drivers, if there is a path there's no reason in the world a biker should be in the road. There are vital bits of education and tolerance many motorists simply aren't getting. Troy, (quoted in my post), as well as many others from the forum I extracted that quote from, is proof of that. Thanks again for the comment. Great discussion and nice to have comments from other areas of the US.

Stephen & Rachel said...

Hey again,
We have a lot of greenways now in Knoxville. They are pretty decent, but you are so right when you say they don't go everywhere where we need to commute to. You know I have been on the road for a lot of years. I think a lot of times car people see us and are pissed because they are just TOO lazy and large to get off their arses to ride, so they end up taking their frustrations out on us. There are just so many idiotic people in the world. Interesting that you have a lot of them in such a bike friendly town. I'm trying to educate my 6th graders on commuting ;) by setting an example.
Rach

chiggins said...

I get frustrated with the messianic regard of trails and the "bike path movement" because too often irate drivers use the presence of more and more paths to justify belligerence toward cyclists who choose to use the road.

Totally understand. The webpage that has the 70-some-odd pics of bikes in Amsterdam has some comments below the pics, and one of them really opened me up to a huge difference between here and there. It was something along the lines of, "In the US, there's cyclists and motorists. Here, there's cyclists on their bikes, and cyclists that find themselves behind the wheel of a car for whatever reason."

And I think that's at the root of it, they don't identify with us so we're a "them" instead of their neighbors and fellow citizens.

If it wasn't trails, it'd be sidewalks (in fact, I just had a fellow citizen prevail upon me to get on the sidewalk this morning). If it wasn't sidewalks, they'd be bitching that we should use residentials instead of arterials.

Maybe the key to soothe relations between us is to fire up a war with the pedestrians :)

Cheers from DC!

Andy said...

Did you folks even REALIZE that Britney Spears' younger sister is PREGGERS?!!