Friday, May 15, 2009

On Why I Used to Hate Cyclists (and still do)

Now, in the years before I started cycling I lived a stone throw away from the Burke Gilman trail, which I used (and still do) on a daily basis. I used to laugh and sneer and vehemently curse at the stuipd cyclists who would create a black hole of death around them when they wouldn't adhere to common traffic laws. I realize now as I ride not ALL cyclists are evil. Just some of them. Granted, I'm not the be all and end all of cycling etiquette. I do stupid things occasionally -but never the same stupid thing more than once - I learn my lessons. (The one exception being I listing to music with one earbud in occasionally.)

However, after this "BIKE TO WORK DAY" that everyone was so "super psyched and totally revved up for", I felt it necessary to state the reasons some cyclists give the rest of us a bad name. This has been culmulating since the weather turned nice (for a while) and there's all these newbies on the road. I'm excited that the bike love is spreading - biking is awesome - (Do It!). But really, please learn the basics before you present a death hazard to yourself and those around you.

1. You-on a bicycle-are a vehicle. Follow vehicular rules.

1.a. stopping at stop signs, especially those designed SOLELY for bicycles.

1.a.1. when stopping at red lights - stop for the duration of the red light. Don't stop, see no cars coming, then run the red light. You're still running the red light.

1.b. Be in the correct lane. If you're turning right, be in the right lane. If you're turning left, be in the left lane. Don't cut me off because you have poor planning. It's JUST as dangerous than if a car did the same thing.

1.c. Wait your turn. If I get to a stop sign before you, line up BEHIND me. Don't cut me off, or stop your bike 1/2 on and 1/2 off the sidewalk in front of me and then yell at me when I don't immediately go when the light turns green because I'm unsure of whether you're going to T-bone me.

1.d. Don't ride for extended periods on the sidewalk.

2. Wear proper gear.

2.a. Wear a helmet. Period. No description or explaination necessary. You're stupid if you don't and most likely will get hurt and I will have no sympathy whatsover. At all.

2.b. As a general rule, if you're on the BMI index as overweight, please don't wear spandex. It's not good. I am not fit enough to wear spandex and so I don't. It's not good.

2.c. Fenders are friendly! Besides the asphault backwash and butt bucket you experience when you have no fenders, if you're the unlucky person to ride behind someone when they don't have fenders (EVEN THOUGH YOU DO HAVE FENDERS) you end up getting soaked. It's not really *necessary* per se, but it's courteous.

3. Don't assume since I'm on a bike and you're on a bike we're best friends. **Generally I like lots of people and am a people-person, but when you're A. riding on the sidewalk B. Weaving back and forth C. Not wearing a helmet D. Listening to your Ipod so loud I can hear it coming from your earbuds 4 feet away DON'T assume your perky little smile head bob thing is going to make me feel better/like you when you narrowly escape running me over (while I'm walking my bike on the sidewalk)

As a disclaimer - again - I am by no means at all the best rider. But every time I ride with someone and they point out something that's not condusive to good cycling I get better the next time I go out. So that's why I used to hate cyclists, and to some extent, still hate the bad ones.

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