Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Critical Assholes

I swear I'm not that driver. You know, the one who whizzes by cyclists too close, turning in front of them, or beeping really loudly to attempt to make them get out of the way. (Actually, I'm so not that person that I'm not readily sure what exactly cars do that bugs cyclists the most.)

What I am, or at least what I hope to be, is considerate. When I approach a cyclist on a narrow road, I make sure I am able to give them enough clearance to easily avoid any heart attacks. If I have to slow to a crawl behind them until it's safe for me to do so, no worries. I keep in mind to watch out for people riding bikes when I toodle about town; just a couple of weeks ago I pulled up to turn right onto my street and noticed a bike was catching up with me (on the right). So I waited for him to go by before I turned.

I know that cyclists, many of them, writhe in frustration at how unfriendly the city streets can be for someone on a bicycle. There are regular protests about it in cities around the country (world!) once a month. Bicycles have just as much right to the road as cars, they say! I agree wholeheartedly, for many reasons, that cities should have dedicated bike lanes on all major roads. I wish everyone biked around more; I want people to walk to their destinations whenever possible. I wish my job were closer to where I lived; I'll never be able to be carless due to the nature of what I do, but at least the commute wouldn't burn a gallon and a half of gas every day. (I'm not quite ready to move to the city where I work, though.)

But here's the rub. I recently decided to do a brief tally in my head of the cyclists I came across while driving over the last week, because it had begun to seem to me that there were some really shitty cyclists out there.

With the exception of people biking on country(ish) roads where there were no traffic lights, every single person I've seen riding a bike in the last week has flagrantly disobeyed traffic laws, and all in the same way--by running stop signs or red lights, without even slowing down.

I kid you not, it was 100% of the urban cyclists I saw this week doing this; you can't write it off to confirmation bias.

That pisses me off.