Thursday, July 10, 2008

to the guy on the moped... and to the people who hate bicyclists

guy on the moped: um... sorry about that one. I know I cut you off at Park Drive today just as the light turned green. Thanks for yielding to me, and not cursing me out even though you had the right of way. I truly do appreciate it.

Some insight for people who hate bicyclists, particularly the part where we run red lights:
It's easy to notice a lot of animosity between the drivers of the two different types of vehicles.
And while this won't make things all better, but it will at least lay out the thought process of one cyclist who doesn't always follow the LAWS of the road. Hopefully this will help create more of an understanding with the drivers who get upset at cyclists.

~ pedestrian crossing (the unwritten rules)~
It's that old saying "No harm, No Foul"... An unwritten rule I strongly believe in... In Boston, hoards of pedestrians participate in the illegal activity of jaywalking... including me. I cross when the hand signal is red and I cross when there's no crosswalk.... that is, as long as there are no cars coming. While I occasionally fail, I make every effort to avoid slowing or blocking traffic.

Other than the fact it's technically illegal, if crossing does not inconvenience or threaten to injure anyone (including the pedestrian), there really shouldn't be a problem. Laws are meant to outline a societal standard and protect people... but if a law is not enforced, often a different unwritten standard forms from the masses. I know BPD isn't going to ticket me, (I often cross along with several officers on my way to work), so i, along with many others in the city choose to follow the basic human rules of safety and convenience.

Of course, there will always be people who abuse the unwritten rules and cross when there's traffic coming. It strikes me as selfish that someone would make a conscious decision to inconvenience someone else so they can save a few seconds. I don't condone it.

~cyclists and red lights~
A common gripe among drivers - is over bicyclists who run red lights. I'm one of them.
On my bicycle, I follow a similar pedestrian-like thinking when it comes to red lights... If there's no traffic coming and no peds crossing, I'm going through the red light (cautiously). Why? the PD doesn't bother to enforce the law, so there's no risk to me... i instead choose to follow the basic societal rules of safety and convenience for all. No traffic, no harm. I know it bothers some drivers sitting at the red light, but it doesn't hurt them and it doesn't inconvenience them. If there's traffic coming, I'll stop. If not, what's the problem?

Late at night, I sometimes see automobile drivers (particularly on beacon street in the back bay) creep through red lights when there's no traffic coming... Fine by me... You aren't endangering anyone, you aren't inconveniencing anyone... I personally wouldn't do it because I believe there is the slight risk of a ticket involved... but some people are more risk-takers than I...

For those who argue "technically illegal" is still illegal, and thus wrong (and everyone should follow the laws), I point out this example: sometimes drivers speed. 26mph in a 25mph zone is technically illegal. Find me a driver who believes there's something wrong with going 26 in a 25 and I will consider changing my attitude...

Finally, when I'm riding, I CAN take a whole lane. It's legal, and if you've ever crashed full speed into the opening door of parked car on the side of the road, you understand why i'm out as far as I am. I try to avoid inconveniencing motorists, but when it comes to safety, I believe safety is more important than convenience. My life and well-being is worth a lot more than the few extra seconds you'd save by barrelling through...

Plus, on a gruesome note, if i was close enough to the side of the road and got hit by an opening door, fell into traffic and landed under your tire, you'd have to wait for the police and fill out an accident report and you'd wind up being REALLY late to wherever it was you were in such a rush to get to. You might even have to spend a day in court clearing things up... Hitting me would inconvenience you, as well as my employer, who would have to find a replacement for me. My friends and family would be inconvenienced, having to reschedule their week in order to attend a wake and a funeral... I'm not willing to risk inconveniencing all those people just so you can save a few seconds.

Please, next time you have to go around a stupid cyclist, instead of getting mad, just think of how much time you save by not accidentally running them over. That's time with your friends or time fishing or time making the world a better place...
With that said, there ARE dumb and inconsiderate cyclists on the road - they probably have driver's licenses as well. I personally would rather see them on a bike though... it's much safer for everyone else.

And while I'm not saying we need to get along, I'm saying we should try and understand each other in order to safely co-exist...

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