July 24, 2010 · Comments (1)
I can balance pretty well at stop signs. During my ride tonight, at a 4-way intersection, everyone was stopped. An SUV began to cross. I hadn’t put my feet down and inched forward a bit to keep my equilibrium. The SUV stopped short in the middle of the intersection and motioned as if to ask which direction I was going. I pointed to the left as I touched my foot down. The car to my right took the opportunity to floor it and cross the intersection as fast as they possibly could.
A few days ago, I was approaching 13th & Burnside when a biker passed me. I was in the lane, behind a car. The biker split lanes, rode up to the stop light and stopped. He waited until the street was clear and then rode across Burnside. It was rush hour and he went through a red light. (For those of you not familiar with Portland, Burnside is a busy street.)
While riding down the Springwater Corridor (a bike and pedestrian only pathway) I noticed that some bikers have a strange need to pass everyone as soon as humanly possible. If there is a little bit of space between you and someone who is walking, these daredevil bikers will fly through it and create quite a hazard.
A car came pulling out in front of Gwenn and I as we were walking down the street. The driver passed a stop sign and didn’t bring the car to a halt until about ten feet past the sign—in the crosswalk—and about a foot in front of us. Then he looked to see if anyone was coming. That’s when he noticed us and backed up without looking.
From time to time, when I’m riding my bike, cars will stop in strange places or in unexpected ways in order to let me go ahead. The problem is that they usually don’t account for other cars and, while it may be nice that they’re giving me the go-ahead, it creates even more of a danger. Sometimes they get mad if I don’t go and so they floor it.
When I’m riding my bike down a street with a designated bicycle route, I can hear if a car is going to kill me by how they rev the engine. Usually they have to negotiate not hitting me (legally yielding) as they overtake my bike while also timing their pass so to not hit an oncoming vehicle. Annoyed that they had to slow down from 45 to 20 in a 25 mph zone, the driver will then gun the engine so to pass as quickly as possible while also remaining as close as they can to me presumably to get back at me for making them lose .10 seconds off their trip.
There are good bikers and bad bikers. There are good drivers and bad drivers. Bikes and cars get along just fine, it’s the people who use them that’s the problem. We’re all freaking nuts! It’s human to think the “other” is the problem.
Cars are bad if you’re biking. Bikes are bad if you’re driving. When you’re in a car and another driver cuts you off, you don’t think that cars should be banned from the roads because you’re also in a car. When you’re on a bike and another bike nearly hits you, you don’t want to ban all bikes.
The real difference between bikes and cars is that cars will always crush and kill bikers dead in a very real and un-fun way for everyone involved. So, no matter if you’re biking or driving, please keep that in mind.