Monday, August 18, 2008

And on ...

Chad Hermann kept at least as busy as me continuing to comment on bicyclists. He was doing it because the thread refused to die on the Burgh Report, he got emails and since stuff has starting appearing in the PG. The emails he reprints have (in the parts he reprints) a tone reminiscent of the arguments against driving 55 mph. People drving that slow represent a hazard, because we have to slow down.

Now, I know I’m lucky because almost all of my commute takes over roads with parked cars or wide enough that I pose no problem for drivers. Cyclists who have to cross bridges probably ought to ride on the sidewalk, if there is one. But you know, if your best suggestion (as one of the emails starts) is “Bicyclists should just stay the fuck off the road ” and then make some half-assed tax argument, then you are not adding to the conversation.

Again to be fair, that particular email mentioned dedicated bike lanes. Now, we might get some more bike lanes around here, but drivers are not going to be happy about having some of their commuting space cut. The letters and emails and blog discussion we are getting now will be as nothing compared to the push back from drivers if they are forced to share the road.

Dr. Hermann also referenced a Rich Lord bicycle piece in this morning’s PG. Dr. Hermann notes one quote “It takes a lot of energy to get a bicycle from zero to cruising speed, he noted, so if the coast is clear, some cyclists roll on” from Scott Bricker of Bike Pittsburgh. I suspect this is exactly the argument most cyclists would make, but as more cyclists do come onto the roads, I suspect the red light and even stop sign jumping will have to stop. It may be something experienced riders can get away with (although it is illegal), but with more cyclists on the road, all will need to behave the same, to keep unthinking drivers and/or unthinking cyclists from coming together in an unfortunate way.

Mr Bricker also apparently said that onus to avoid collisions rests most heavily on motorists (possibly not a direct quote). Well … yeah, but bikes can move to the side even faster than cars, and cars can’t stop as fast as bikes. So if a bike is changing lanes or even swinging out to avoid a parked car or a road hazard that only (s)he can see, the cyclist needs to make sure it is safe. We don’t have blinkers and the times we might need to make hand signals might also be the times we need to keep both hands on the handlebars to be able to brake. Use a mirror, make sure it is safe to swerve (otherwise stop and wait).

Lastly, I will note that Dr. Hermann, in his own defense, notes he has always skewered bad drivers over the last four years. I dunno, I read his blog periodically and I only remember maybe some drivers with cell phones complaints. It certainly seems in keeping with his personality that he might complain about bad driving he had witnessed or read about. I just wish he had made *mention* of the equally illegal behavior of cars (speeding, not stopping atstop signs) at the time he was applying “scorn, these last few days, to equally discourteous cyclists and the often silly justifications for them”. On the other hand, as I have said, we take much of the illegal behavior of car drivers for granted, in fact, we seem to count on it as we drive.

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