For those of us who grew up in America suburbia, summer meant riding bikes with friends all day on unlimited paved streets, parking lots and sidewalks. There weren’t any rules. We would ride our bikes in the middle of the street, trespass on private parking lots, and ride through the sprinklers in our neighbor’s yards to cool down. It was complete anarchy I tell you.
I don’t remember the exact day, but the innocent anarchy of a child was gradually replaced by rules that dictated how and where we could ride our bikes. What do you mean I can’t ride my bike on the sidewalk!? Can I still ride my bike through the sprinklers? Nope.
With maturity came responsibility. If we wanted to ride our bikes we had to follow the rules of the road, which meant we had to follow the same rules as cars. There was no way in hell I was riding my bike in the road in Los Angeles. Thus ended my childhood bike-riding days.
As an adult, I’ve spent more time as a pedestrian than a motorist. Many cities have urban trails that are used in harmony by both pedestrians and cyclists. Walk on the right, so bikes can pass on the left. Cyclists will even announce, “On your left” so as not to startle the pedestrian. It’s that simple.
For some reason, this courtesy only exists on the trails; once back on the street, all bets are off. The slogan, “Share the Road” was directed toward drivers to share the road with cyclists. But I have a new slogan for cyclists, “Follow the Damn Road Rules!”
As a pedestrian, I have to follow rules. I’m supposed to look both ways before crossing the street, I’m not supposed to jaywalk, and I have to obey traffic lights and stop signs. I also have to watch for cars that don’t follow traffic rules and aren’t keeping an eye out for pedestrians. Crossing a street in the crosswalk with a green walk signal is one of the most dangerous things I’ve done.
Now add cyclists who don’t follow traffic rules. When I talk about cyclists, I’m talking about those people who are dressed like they’re in the Tour de France. Between cars and cyclists, no pedestrian is safe. But the most obnoxious thing about my near misses with people on bikes is that they get all pissy with me. Really? How dare I walk on a sidewalk. What do I think I am, a pedestrian?
As a motorist, dealing with cyclists is even worse. Sometimes they follow traffic rules, sometimes they don’t. The unpredictable and erratic behavior of cyclists makes it very difficult for motorists to anticipate their next move. Hence road rules and the need for everyone to follow them.
It has been my experience, both as a pedestrian and motorist, that bikes don’t share the road, they think they own the road. They expect deferential treatment from everyone else to do whatever they want. I’m not sure where this sense of entitlement comes from, but it’s annoying as hell.
In the name of allegedly remedying the problem of rogue cyclists, many cities across the United States are spending millions putting in bike lanes on every. single. street. I say ‘allegedly’ because who do you think lobbies for these bike lanes? That’s right, the scofflaw cyclists. So their solution to the ‘problem’ they created is to have jurisdictions spend millions of dollars so bikes can have their own, separate lanes.
Even pedestrians aren’t given this kind of preferential treatment. Sidewalks end, sometimes abruptly. Walking on the shoulder of a major four-lane road, or walking down a muddy, unpaved sidewalk is not unheard of. The majority of the United States is not pedestrian friendly, but somehow we manage.
Fine, let the baby have its bottle and put in bike lanes that are only used by a handful of obnoxious people. With their own special lanes bikes will start following the rules that regulate cars, right? One would think. Now that bike lanes are more prevalent traffic violations by cyclists seem to have become more common and egregious. I think their very own, special lane has increased their unfounded sense of exemption from any rules of the road.
“It’s okay officer, I’m on a bike so rules don’t apply to me.”
It is complete anarchy I tell you; except this time, it’s adults acting like seven-year-olds.
by: Ana Henry – 30 May 2014