Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The heart of the problem

It's all about respect. And cyclists don't get any.

We don't get respect from motorists. They hug us with their bumpers, tailing way too tight in hopes of snagging that extra millisecond for their all-important day. They cut us off, slicing inches from our shoulders and our handlebars and scaring off year of our lives. They honk, they yell, they throw things, they run us off the road. They hit us and back up over us and leave their cars parked on our heads until bystanders drag them away.

We don't get any respect from politicians. Bike project funding is minimal to begin with and then they use it like a political bargaining chip, playing with our lives to one-up each other and shut each other down. And before that they ignore cyclists completely until someone forces it to their attention, where they waver back and forth on the line until public opinion tells them where to put their foot down.

But we don't give any respect either.

I'm going to do more of a post on this later, but it's in the way we (not all of us, just some. But enough) ride. We jump unexpectedly into lanes, we blow through stop signs, we steal right of way where it isn't ours. We ride in packs taking up the entire road and we get so extraordinarily indignant when things don't go our way. I can't help but feel that if bikes respected cars and cars respected bikes, we'd all get along swimmingly. Like British people in the 19th century.

"Right ahead, lad!"

"G'day, sir!"

"Pip pip cheerio!"

And unicorns would leap out of glittering stoplights and birds would sing and there would be double rainbows everywhere and life would be so beautiful. And we'd love it.

But fuuuuuck can't even get any respect from pedestrians? Fucking pedestrians. These are the ones with the least footing and the most to lose and you figure that, looking up from the bottom of the heap, they'd at least have an inkling of it. But what have they got?

A snotty freaking attitude is what.

Like, seriously. I'm pedaling my own merry way down the Katy Trail. It's been a long day, I've been running on five hours of sleep, and I just want to get home. The trail is pretty full, what with the temperature dropping after heat wave numero dos, and care must be taken. I make very sure to keep an eye out for people being people and darting in front of me when I least expect it. I slow down and brake as I come across larger numbers of people. I let loose with a friendly "On your left!" (no, seriously, friendly) as I pass groups that squeeze me into the other lane.

If they don't hear me, I get louder. Once, twice, as much as I can until I get level and if they haven't heard me and haven't scooted over (which, really, is where they should already be in the first place, allowing others the use of the trail) I pipe up even further and finally shout it down their fucking ear. As was proven this time last year, the Katy Trail is not a safe place to be dumb and deaf. It usually goes pretty smoothly. Until ...

"Get off the trail!"

The hell you say?! Lady, this trail was built for commuters. Then Uptown grew and now it's swarmed with walkers and strollers (the baby kind and the people strolling along) and pets and runners and joggers and rollerbladers and those crazy elliptical-on-wheels and cyclists and fucking everybody. This trail is for all of us. Where the fuck do you get off telling me to get off the trail?!

Plus, I mean, your fat ass is kind of in the way.

1 comment:

  1. One major disadvantage of wearing earphones is that it is difficult to judge how loud you are yelling "on your left" on a trail. When I first took bike school, part of our route was on the Katy Trail. It was much more difficult to do well than anything on city streets. So you definitely have my sympathy.