Yeah, I’m That Guy.
Hi, I’m Bobby and I’m that guy you hate. That’s right, I’m the presumptuous, self-righteous ass who thinks I have the right to ride my bicycle anywhere I please, on any street, sidewalk, alley, space between cars, in your blind spot and even in the lobby of your building. I don’t follow rules, jumping the queue, slowing down traffic, cutting you off and worst of all, I have the audacity to believe that I have as much right to the road as a car and should not have to fear death every time I ride on what is obviously a dangerous place to be. Oh, and now I’m demanding my own space to ride, taking away your parking and in some cases even traffic lanes that were obviously made for cars, trucks, buses and semis. In short, I am a lycra-wearing menace to society intent on creating Carmageddon!
Does that about capture your fury at me and other commuters who choose the bicycle to get to work?
Well, let me retort.
You and your two-ton battering ram of death scare the hell out of me. Three years ago, I was on my bike at a stop light twenty feet away from a Mack truck that rammed into a car stopped at the light. It was terrifying. Thankfully, nobody was even injured. Yet if that truck had hit me on my bicycle, you would now have one less cyclist to be angry at.
But here is a better retort. Why are you mad at me? I’m simply the messenger. And what is the message? Cars and bikes should not be forced into the same space, and there is no good reason for it. Contiguous, protected bike lanes can nearly eliminate the “bicyclist” problem for about 1/1000 of the cost of automobile infrastructure.
You and I are wrong to be angry or scared of each other. We are not to blame for decades of sadistically Darwinian infrastructure planning. For nearly a century, roads have been systematically redistributed from public spaces that accommodate all modes of use to the exclusive property of large, piston propelled, armored vehicles designed with amazing safety features for those inside the vehicle but terrifyingly deadly to any poor schlep who is not also protected by 4000 lbs. of steel, glass, plastic and rubber. We call them “traffic accidents.” Ummm, no. They are traffic collisions of armored vehicles with other armored vehicles or with defenseless human beings (or dogs, cats, deer, etc.)
Or let’s take the motorists’ point of view…why do we allow bicyclists to weave and bob through traffic, causing tension, anger, and fear for both cyclists and motorists, when for pennies on the dollar we can create a safe space for bicyclists, making them more predictable, visible and out of my damn way.
No, let’s quit giving each other the finger and bear our anger where it rightfully should go…policymakers. One of the governments’ primary roles is the safety and well-being of its citizens. Federal, regional and local governments spend trillionsevery year to keep us safe through the military, FDA, EPA, HHS, BATF, CIA, FBI, local police, fire and rescue, etc., and I’m glad of it. I can find clean water, breath clean air, call 911 and I know that it is highly unlikely that my country will be invaded anytime soon nor will my plane go down from a shoe bomb.
Yet here I am, in the middle of admittedly dangerous traffic, pissing you off with nothing to protect me except 20 lbs. of bike frame and my helmet, when a solution is not trillions of dollars away, but thousands. Outrageous!
As motorists, if you are angry at bicyclists and actually want to do something about it, don’t honk and yell at us. Demand contiguous, protected bicycle lanes.
Got something you need to get off your chest? Send your rants to firstname.lastname@example.org!