Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Share the Road...

Share the Road is one of those ideas that works a lot better for cars than it does for cyclists. I know you've seen the signs. You usually see them on roads that are too narrow for bicycle lanes. Or judging from my experience, maybe you haven't noticed them.

It would help if everyone was required to ride a bicycle at least 3 miles on a busy road that isn't designed for bikers. I know you're thinking I should be on the sidewalk. Some of you even holler at me to get my fat ass on the sidewalk as you drive by. Ha! Been there, done that and just about got killed.

When you ride on the sidewalk, drivers completely ignore you. I got cut off, forcing me to stop fast which caused me to flip over my handle bars. Broke two ribs. The stupid chick that cut me off didn't even see me and never stopped. Nobody else stopped either. Eventually I climbed back on my bike and rode about 2 miles back home. Now I won't ride without a cell phone so I can call someone if something happens.

Since the broken ribs, I ride my bike on the street, including country roads where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. I know that some bikers will ride side-by-side. I hear that is safer, but too me it's more than a little passive aggressive and just asking for trouble. But that's just me.

I read letters to the editor in the paper just about every week from both sides of the bumper. Drivers complain about bikers not following traffic laws. Ride a mile on my bike and then we'll talk. Yeah, I go through stop signs and red lights on occasion. But that's really the extent of my law-breaking, and it's only when the way is clear and/or there aren't any cars around.

Wish I could say the same for my fellow bikers, especially on campus. Very few wear a helmet which suggests to me they are either really dumb (and therefore, should not be allowed to ride on city streets) or have a death wish (in which case it should be OK to just run them over). Nowadays, quite a few have iPods and MP3 players plugged in. I have an MP3 player and love it. As much as I'd love to listen while riding, I just don't think it's a very good idea.

I see students riding the wrong way in bike lanes, riding on sidewalks where there are bike lanes, and in general riding wherever they feel inclined to ride, safety be damned. The other day I even saw one riding down the street on the wrong side of the road. That's another one with a death wish.

I want to live a long time. That's why I ride my bike in the first place--it's great exercise and I enjoy it more than just about any other form of exercise. So I try to ride as safely as possible. Some drivers would rather risk hitting me than moving out of their lane a little bit to provide a safe distance when they pass. Others will slow down, stay behind me and honk now and then--just to let me know they are there.

With gas prices as they are, more and more people are hopping on bikes. Frankly, I don't have the balls to ride my bike to work. I routinely ride a greater distance so that's not the issue. Bike lanes are only present for a fraction of the trip, and too many drivers are just plain rude. Just another reason you can call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

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