Bike Stuff

I’ve been biking assiduously this Spring. To avoid sweat I take light rail to work and ride back – except on casual Friday, when I ride both ways. I ride the light rail and then bike to job sites, stow my bike in a corner and ignore the stares of construction workers in their hardhats while I talk to the supers about issues. It takes less and less effort every day.

With bike-to-work days and the opening of the NYC Citi Bike program, there have been a flurry of pro and con bike articles. Slate offered The Pedestrian–Cyclist Armistice, coming up with five rules each for walkers and cyclists. The rules are aimed at a thoroughly urban city area with crowded subways, heavy foot traffic and lots of cyclists. In Baltimore, we have only a few blocks where this might be the case, not all that many cabs, and lax enforcement against jaywalking.

Like Baltimore’s pedestrians, I follow the Idaho Stop protocol. When I ride in the suburbs, many of the sidewalks are completely empty, while the roads are frankly hazardous – so I often do ride on the sidewalks. We are allowed to bring any bike on light rail, and any folding bike on MARC. I think foldies are the greatest invention for transit commuters.

On the Daily Banter, Ben Cohen trolled with Reasons Why Cyclists Suck:

Cyclists also hate motorists, and make a point of giving drivers dirty looks if they get too close or try to engage them in debate.

From forty years of driving, I’ve noticed that many drivers maintain a perpetual dirty look towards other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, traffic lights, train crossings – literally anything that gets in their way. Bob Cesca responded well with In Defense of Cyclists.

News comes that petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear, has actually bought a bicycle – an electric bike, but a bike all the same. Clarkson justifies his purchase by claiming that cycling needs more regular people:

“There’s only one way they can be defeated. And that’s for normal people to start riding bicycles. We need to swell their ranks with moderates, people who ride a bike because they’ve had a drink and because taxis are too expensive. Ordinary people who ride in jeans and T-shirts and with no stupid helmet.”

I tend to wonder who will defeat whom. A lot of ordinary people already ride bikes and don’t like being threatened by drivers. New cyclists will probably feel the same way. In an English town named Poynton, one traffic planner throws drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, even kids playing ball, together on the largely unregulated street and trusts that it will all work itself out. In the US, I fear that we don’t have the patience for that. Personally, I enjoy having a marked bike lane.

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