Thursday, December 2, 2010

Get on the Sidewalk

I don't know how many times I have heard 'get on the sidewalk' from someone in a car when I am riding my bike. It has happened more than once and probably less than 100 times. Enough times that it doesn't surprise me to hear this gem of advice, but infrequently enough that it still baffles me. When I hear it,I think, really, what part of the walk in sidewalk do you not get. If they wanted me to ride my bike there wouldn't it be called side ride, or even better, bike lane? If you have had your training wheels removed from your bike, you should probably not be on the sidewalk any longer. Except, if your mommy or daddy is walking next to you, then you can have a pass for being on the sidewalk riding your bike. Since the brilliant people who scream their splendid ideas at me as they drive by never stop to hear my opinion, I feel compelled to share with my 2 dedicated readers. (you know who you are!)

This summer while out on a rather lovely ride in the local country I was told to find somewhere else to ride. Now, this wouldn't have been nearly as amusing if I had not just passed one of these signs...

Could it be that the driver was enraged at being told what to do? I don't know, but I do know that said driver did not have to move at all to pass me. I was not riding down the middle of the road, I was not riding 3 abreast (well, I might have been, but in the past I have been the only one who could see my bike riding bear and his buddy), and I was holding a straight line. So what was the issue? On those quiet country roads do they yell at the farmer driving his tractor along the road from one field to the next, or do they sit behind him until they can pass and enjoy the scenery and the peaceful life away from the interstates? If he had just stopped, I would have told him that if he didn't want to share the road he should stick to the freeways to get places!

Generally, when I am riding I like to stick to roads that known for having bicyclists on them. These roads often have signs labelling them as a bike route. Like this sign..

What remains a complete mystery to me is what I am suppose to do when the bike route abruptly ends and starts again in half a mile. I mean, is it unreasonable for me to ask, 'how does one get between the two spots?'. I know that cyclists are usually clad in Lycra, as are superheros but so far my ability to fly has failed me. (except for the times that I have super manned over my handlebars, but I can't muster that up at whim).  Call me unreasonable, but until I come up with a better option, like an invisible wonder woman jet, I will continue to ride between the two. Maybe, I should start riding on roads that aren't known for cyclists. If I am the only person on a bike that a driver encounters all day, maybe they will not feel inclined to yell pleasantries out their window at me?

Not only do things that drivers say and do give me hours of intellectual stimulation, I can ponder other cyclists behaviours endlessly.

The most prominent action that lends to speculation is why people choose to ride the wrong direction in a bike lane. Apparently, these people are not comfortable riding their bikes on the road and therefore think that it is a good idea to ride facing traffic. Well, I am here to tell you that is an insane idea. I know lots of people who are not comfortable driving on the freeway due to the speed and volume of traffic. I would never suggest to them, that to feel safer that maybe they should drive the wrong way and face traffic. How asinine would that be, and it is the same thing going the wrong way in a bike lane. If you are not comfortable riding on the road there are options for you. Go and ride on a separated bike path, get a mountain bike and ride off road, or ride a stationary bike, but DO NOT think it is a good idea to ride the wrong way. Cars are not looking for you coming the wrong way when they are entering the street. You are forcing bicyclists that are travelling with the traffic to go out of the bike lane into the traffic to get around you. And, you might not be aware but if you read the beginning of this post, drivers don't like bikes on the road!

I could make a whole post about the various way that people carry their helmets while riding, that don't involve wearing it on their head. All it leaves me to believe is that they mustn't have anything in their head worth protecting, and many riders value their bike stem more than their brain. I know helmets make you hair look funny and aren't super sexy but neither are brains splattered on the roadside. Helmets, save lives. Just ask Big Mike. Oh, and parents, who is going to look after your children who are wearing their helmets, when your brains are mush?

Why do some cyclists think that the rules of the road do not apply to them? I am referring to the guy who can't stop for the red light. I know it is a pain, I get a red light at every intersection I go through, but just because you are in the middle of your 2 minute interval doesn't mean you can't stop at a light. If you want an uninterrupted interval, you should pick a route that doesn't have a stoplight every quarter mile! I should pay more attention next time, cause maybe these idiots are the same ones who aren't wearing a helmet, in which case I understand the lack of interest in protecting their grey matter. Anyways, if we want cars to share the road with us, and respect us, we need to follow the rules of the road. That means all of us, all the time. The driver that you Mr or Ms aggro cut off today, won't be able to differentiate me tomorrow. In case you aren't sure, red means stop and green means go and that red octagon sign on the side of the road is telling you to stop. Think of the time stopped as your chance to impress the drivers who are also stopped with your amazing abilities to balance while you track stand. Your own personal built in audience, just make sure you can laugh at yourself  in case you get a sudden case of vertigo and topple over.

Until cars are driving on sidewalks, cars that aren't pink and have barbie pictures all over them, I will not be riding on the sidewalk, unless I get a set of training wheels and my mommy comes with me. (and since she didn't let me have training wheels when I was four this isn't likely to happen now!).

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