Sunday, May 11, 2008

Oh, So You Can Ride a Bike With No Handlebars Can You?

Unless you live in 1920 and ride a unicycle, you can't. Amazingly enough, this rant is not about that god awful song. Although its mere existance baffles my mind. Have we recovered from our 80s craze and shot straight to 1999? If you are unfamiliar with the song, I envy you. This rant is about bikers. I am not referring to the Harley Davidson riders, or the moped daredevils, but to the assholes on bicycles in Boston.

I do own a bike and from time to time enjoy using it. Bicycles are great for the environment, personal health, and entertainment. If you don't have a car and taking public transportation doesn't make any sense, then by all means take your bike. However, bikers are for the most part, assholes. Boston is not like Copenhagen in the sense that it planned well for bicyclists. In fact, it didn't really plan well for much. Just try driving from Brighton to Arlington some time and you'll see what I mean.

Everywhere I go I see these obnoxious little bumper stickers or shirts on the backs of bikers "Share the Road." I do "share the road" but the majority of bikers I see have no intention of sharing anything. "Oh, there's a snow bank here and there's barely enough room for your car as it is? Let me ride my bike extremely slowly in the middle of the road so no one can go around me." "Oh, you plan to turn right at this intersection and you've had your blinker on for a block and half? Why would I slow down or stop?" "This red light is inconvenient, I shall pause at the crosswalk and then run over some pedestrians."

Bikers are also supposed to obey traffic laws. "But I'll never make it to work on time if I do." Then leave earlier! Chances are that you will make it to work faster by walking then you will by taking public transportation so don't give me the "can't be late" excuse. You know what slows down traffic? People having to stop every five seconds so as not to hit a biker running a red light. Guess what bikers, you aren't invincible. You are not impervious to cars turning left from the opposite direction. Massachusetts bicycle law states that bikers may pass cars to the right. By right, the law does not mean that you may get in between cars or be in the center lane at a red light. You must signal when changing lanes or turning.

Take a look at this crazy intersection which I must cross through every day.

View Larger Map
This is insane!! As you can see from the map, traffic goes in several directions. After going through two traffic lights, I have to get over to my right and watch for cars who only sometimes yield when they're supposed to. This is made far more challenging when a biker gets into the middle of all the lanes and also tries to go right without signalling, staying to the right, or slowing down at all.

If I have three or four other people in my car, it can be difficult enough to see a car in my blind spot. Bicycles are extremely hard to see. Most bikers do not seem to be aware of their surroundings and oftentimes do not seem to care for their own safety. One day on my way to work, I stopped to let a woman make a left turn. The light up ahead was red so I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. It should have been fairly obvious what I was doing. However, a bicyclist decided that the red light was unimportant and so continued to speed on. As the woman turned into the street, he did not pay attention and was not able to brake in time. Instead, he slammed right into the side of her SUV. Of course she wouldn't have seen him coming, and he was out of sight of my rear and sideview mirrors when I initially stopped. He definitely should have realized what was happening. He was okay, but the accident was completly unneccessary and entirely his fault. On the offchance that I ever decide to go into law, I may just opt to defend motorists in bike vs. car accidents.

I really can't stand the bikers who think they are completely badass and can defy gravity. You know which ones I mean, the ones who get in the front and center of an intersection during a red light and refuse to put their feet on the ground. Almost every single one of these that I've seen has almost fallen and gotten hit by oncoming traffic.

Please bikers, develop some common sense and get out of my way. To that woman who rides a tandem bike with her son through Brighton Center during rush hour, why must you continually ride through red lights without even looking first? Do you give a crap at all about the safety of your kid? One day, I know that I will hit one of you, and I really don't think I'll feel bad about it.