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November 8, 2006

Bicycling Mayhem

Well, it's not winter yet, according to the current weather conditions, but it was cold for the last few weeks. I've seen a lot of people still out riding their bikes to and from school or work, in the dark, like me. It's been interesting doing about a 26-mile round trip three or four days per week. I'm starting to get used to it now and it's not a struggle. But yesterday and today were really bad bicycling days. Drivers have forgotten how to drive. Yesterday I got hit by a car that was zooming around the right side of some left-turning cars. It spun me around and bent my rear fender in so it was rubbing on my back wheel. With a hefty amount of force, I yanked it back out and my wheel was no worse for the wear. But it did shake me up quite a bit. I continued my ride to work and got a flat tire. The culprit was some kind of a weird hooked spike thing that penetrated deep into my tire. I patched it up in about ten minutes and was on my way again. Luckily it was fairly warm outside to do that in comfort.
Then today I was yelled at, spit at, had a young person fly through a stop sign nearly hitting me, without even seeing me and had something thrown at me which struck the back of my neck. It's odd to me that all of these cases were in Roseville and all three of them were driving big gas-hog vehicles: An SUV, a full-sized conversion van, a king-cab type pickup truck and a huge old boat-style car. Oh the power that gives to harrass bicyclists! They must feel so big in those things. Then tonight I heard about a friend who was sitting waiting for a stoplight to change and the car driver behind her was laying into the horn, yelling, "Get on the sidewalk!" and cussing. Evidently they were in a hurry and wanted to make a right turn. That made my friend more adamant about waiting for the light. She had a good point. It wasn't a right turn only lane and if there was a car there going straight, the driver behind would have just waited their turn. Nothing can be done about it when it's a car in the way, but if it's a bicycle then it's fair to harrass the driver waiting to go straight, right? Is this any way to treat fellow human beings? Come on people, is the extra few minutes gained from driving around recklessly worth a human life?
I put more reflectors on my bike tonight hoping to be a little more visible, but given the drivers out there, I think that's a false sense of security. Reflectors won't help their driving skills or their love for other people.
If you are in a car here are some lessons:

DON'T SPEED AROUND THE RIGHT SIDE OF CARS TURNING LEFT. JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU CAN BE SURE THERE ARE NO BIKES OR CARS ALSO TURNING LEFT COMING ACROSS IN FRONT OF YOU.

DO STOP FULLY AT STOP SIGNS AND ACTUALLY LOOK BOTH WAYS SO YOU DON'T RUN OVER A PEDESTRIAN OR BICYCLIST.

DON'T YELL AT BICYCLISTS OR SPIT AT THEM OR THROW THINGS AT THEM.

REMEMBER THAT IF A CAR HITS A BICYCLIST IT COULD KILL THEM. IF A BIKE HITS A CAR, THE CAR MIGHT SUSTAIN A DENT. THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE A CAR CAN DO TO PEOPLE VS. THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE A PERSON CAN DO TO A CAR, OR IT'S DRIVER. HUMAN LIFE SHOIULD HAVE MORE VALUE TO YOU. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVE? THAT YOU CAN KILL? GOOD FOR YOU. WAS IT WORTH IT? SLOW DOWN, PAY ATTENTION, TREAT HUMAN LIVES WITH MORE RESPECT. OH, AND SLOW DOWN. LIFE IS SHORT ENOUGH WITHOUT HURRYING THROUGH IT AS FAST AS WE CAN.

Posted by carl1236 at November 8, 2006 11:16 PM | Love your Neighbor | Winter-Biking

Comments

John
I am not surprised that this happens in inner ring suburbs like Roseville. In all the years I have been commuting to my current location, any harrassment I have ever received has been in Bloomington -- and usually by people driving enormous vehicles.

Hang in there

Cheers

Kevin

Posted by: KM at November 9, 2006 12:32 PM

I don't believe bikes should be going in the car lanes unless there's clearly no sidewalk. Even then I think they should move over if possible when cars pass by. If you're keeping up with the flow of traffic, then you may be an exception, but I don't see many bikes going 55mph down the road.

As for the issue of getting hit, accidents happen. I was almost slid into last night in my car due to icy roads. If a car hits ice and a bike is in the car lane, it's going to get hit, just as a car would and the results wouldn't be pretty.

That's still no good reason for people to throw things and spit at you. That's just obsurd and wrong.

Posted by: Rosko at November 28, 2006 11:12 AM

Thank you for your comments Rosko. I can understand the frustration car drivers have with slower moving vehicles, because, let's face it we are all in such a big hurry to get somewhere. We all want to go faster with more comfort it seems. (otherwise even bicycles would be abandonded for walking). In Muenster Germany, which is really like the Bicycle capital of the world, if there is such a thing, where more people bike than drive, the biggest conflict is not between bikes and cars but between bikes and pedestrians. It seems the bikes go too fast and pedestrians are seen as 'in the way' and 'unpredictable.' I don't know if I have a point, except that I see your viewpoint. Being a mostly full-time bicyclist though has changed my viewpoint toward bicyclists on the road and toward pedestrians, since I walk a lot also. I am much more tolerant and not in such a hurry anymore when I do drive a car. I hope I am never in such a hurry that I can't notice a bike or a pedestrian and give them the right-of-way wherever possible.
And you are right, the roads are crazy, but sidewalks are even more dangerous for bikes in my opinion. I have ridden on them in some places but don't like it for some specific reasons, like bad curb cuts, and blind spots for turning cars and hidden cars popping out from behind garages, etc, since the sidewalk is closer to the garages. There is generally also not room to pass pedestrians on a sidewalk. So it's difficult and dangerous. I feel safer with the cars moving in the same direction. mostly.

Posted by: John at November 28, 2006 8:44 PM