Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's wrong with people?

Ok, I don't post here very often anymore but I thought I'd get this one out there for a few reasons. First of all, to get you up to speed with what I'm talking about, I often read the Bike Portland blog / website and lately there's been a lot of "bike vs. car" articles and discussion. There's been a lot of this type of back and forth in the Duluth community lately too. Just a few weeks ago two boys were hit on Superior St. in two separate instances on the same day. I have not heard further but plan to contact the Duluth PD for more info. Regardless, the bike vs. car mentality is very destructive to the bike / pedestrian community.

Over the last two weeks I have personally seen four separate and very disturbing instances regarding reckless bicyclists. 1st. On my morning commute I often ride the lakewalk. On coming up to two sets of walkers, two oncoming, 1 going my same direction, I was waiting for them to pass each other as to not have to be between them all at the same time, as that was all the room there was at the time. While I was waiting the 5 seconds or so, some yahoo flys by me on the left with no notice at all, and has to squeeze between the two groups, and nearly clipping me at the same time. I decided to follow this person to see if he was indeed extremely reckless or just happened to make poor judgement at that point in time. As I was following him he continued to make passes without calling out left, or even slowing down or anything. I'm not saying everyone HAS to say left, or ring a bell, by no means am I going to say that, but what I do wish is that people would have the decency to pass with respect. A mile or so down the path he is flying along at probably 20 + mph and flys by a woman riding the same direction, with her very young son, say 6 or so, about 20 feet ahead of her. When she heard him coming behind her she quickly turned and yelled with a frantic tone to her voice either to her son to have him move way over or to the guy to tell him to slow down. I couldn't quite tell. That move really pissed me off. I quickly caught up to him and asked him to please be more careful around children. He said "what"- he couldn't hear me as he had headphones in- figures... I said to him again "no offence, but you should be more careful around kids, you can't predict their movements". Kids that young often have a less developed sense of balance and tend to swerve erratically. His response- "maybe I can just read them better then you can". Well buddy, you'll be reading them quite close when you run one down. I feel bad for all the peoples lives affected by others' reckless behavior.

Third, the same day, while riding home on Superior St. I was waiting to get onto superior st from a side road and was waiting for traffic to pass when I noticed a biker. I decided to let him pass too as he was right behind the traffic. After a while I caught up to him and we were both riding down one of the bigger hills which bottoms out at a stop light. As we neared it turned yellow, and I knew we all had time to stop but he decided to keep going and blow through the red, nearly hitting a car which had to slam on the brakes to not hit him. Maybe he didn't care if he gets hit or not, but I'm sure the driver of the car would feel pretty bad for injuring a bike rider- even though it wouldn't have been his or her fault.

Forth- today. I left work early and got onto superior st downtown, just west of lake. I notice a biker about a half block ahead of me and as I stop for the red (which was already red) he decided to keep going, again, causing a car to have to slam on their brakes. I yelled- Hey- that's what happens when you blow through reds. he said something to the effect of , why don't you wear knee pads and elbow pads too and some other comments I don't recall. I said, what ever buddy- and kept going. As I stopped at the red ahead he pulls up to me and said, you're right, I shouldn't have done that and commented Duluth needs bike lanes. I laughed with him and said I wasn't trying to be rude, but I'm sure that person didn't want to hit someone today, and being hit probably wasn't in your plans today either. He honestly seemed to recognize that he almost made a serious mistake. I hope he gets a helmet and stops for reds now.

My point of all of this? Two: first, you can't change an a-holes behavior, a-holes are just that, second, often people don't realize what they are doing really isn't that smart until it's too late. Too late is a serious thought. Cars hit bicyclists every day, some are ok, some die. It's too important to fight over who's got the right to do what and how bikers should ride. But when your actions affect another's well being, it's not just yourself your dealing with.

I can honestly see why people hate bicyclists. I said that I hate them after that other day and I still stand behind the thought that I hate those who have no respect for the lives of others. I really hope people realize we're not all so reckless.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Here's a recent link to Bike Portland http://bikeportland.org/2008/07/15/words-of-wisdom-from-the-guy-on-the-windshield/ and their main site which has about 4 links you should read. http://bikeportland.org/

1 comment:

Boz said...

Remember - 7 out of 10 people are stupid. Your well written entry really shows that. I'm soooo defensive now that I'm on 2 wheels more than 4, due to the 7/10 ratio rule.