Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Motorist vs Cyclist, Round 1, Fight!

Ran across this piece in Urbanite Magazine, a periodical serving the fine people of Baltimore. The article asked cyclists and motorists to share their experiences riding/driving on Baltimore's streets. Here's a few I found entertaining and interesting.

The first is from a motorcyclist and is addressed to cyclists:

Many folks believe there is something about two-wheeled transport that amplifies the self-righteousness in human beings, something about gravitational harmonics intermingling with the brain’s snoot receptors. But I ride a two-wheeled conveyance and have been unaffected by this blight. Of course, my two wheels came with a motor, making them fit for travel on public roads. I think a more rational explanation is that Spandex doesn’t allow excess arrogance to radiate naturally through the body and instead squeezes it out the mouth.

By the way, I love Batman and the Power Rangers too, but I don’t feel the need to dress like a low-rent super-villain with a foam hat and tap shoes. Does all of that gear make a difference for you? This isn’t the Tour de France—it’s rush hour (or it is for the rest of us). I’ll support anything that makes you less slow, but that 3/100th of a mile-per-hour you’re gaining doesn’t seem to be worth the CFCs generated shipping your space suit from Indonesia.

Ahhh ignorance! This coming from motorcyclist dressed in pink (see the photo on the website) representing a culture that spans the gamut from fast import bikes to big ass choppers.

In my town, it seems every other week a 20 something male has killed himself by speeding on his Suzukihonda Kataninja race bike. I think we've lost three this year alone.

Nevertheless, I give this guy points for making me chuckle about my weekend, non-commuting bicycling attire. My wife calls my bib shorts & jersey a "Penguin Suit," but I'm going to use "Low Rent Super Villain" costume from now on.

Next up from a road cyclist who got slapped on the head by a motorist while riding:

Back to you, Jerk. I know you won’t see this because you don’t read anything classier than a liquor store price list. If I could talk to you, it would be to express this thought: Fear Darwin. You are an evolutionary anomaly, having nothing in common with the vast majority of drivers who pass me safely and civilly, sometimes with a five-fingered wave. One day, your type will be extinct.

And may that day come sooner, rather than later!

In my neck of the woods, I know this type well. The 20-something, flat-brimmed hat wearing white male with the massive stomper truck all decked out with skateboard/aqua sport/snowboard stickers is common in these parts. Fortunately I've not had any trouble with them; maybe California drivers are more pleasant?

Finally we get to that age-old cycling/urban planning question. Are on street bike lanes superior to grade separated bike paths? This cyclist doesn't think so:

I am not a supporter of “sharing the road,” however. Putting bikeways on the roads in the same lanes as cars, as Baltimore currently does, is clearly not a viable solution. There is not enough space for cars to pass by bikes safely. Add to that parked cars pulling out or opening doors, cars pulling in to park roadside, double-parked cars and loading trucks, and buses pulling in and out, and even the experienced biker has a lot to pay attention to.

To me this is one of the toughest issues when it comes to cycling advocacy and planning. Someone like me is comfortable riding in the street with cars all around and few, if any, painted bike lines. In fact, most of the time I prefer it because I ride with speed and want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

But the vast majority of people who ride bikes in this country do so recreationally, and I'm not sure I want them on the street in a bike lane with me. Better to push them off onto a separate bike path. Now the standard argument against bike paths is that they don't force bicyclists to learn to deal with vehicle traffic, which is a fair concern, because almost all cyclists have to interact with vehicles at some time.

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