Monday’s bike ride took me up to Locust Point, and oh, it was lovely after a morning reading for pleasure and doing some light grading. I followed the usual bikeway down the hill and up and around the harbor to Federal Hill and then down Fort Avenue. The ride back was just the same, and I spent some of each ride thinking about cars, as one must do, of course, when trying to share the road with them. There’s so much push back about bikes on the road–cyclists break the rules, they run stop signs and red lights, they refuse to use proper lighting at night to be seen, they ride too fast/too slow/too bicycle-speed to be on the road, they don’t wait their turn, etc. I get that. I see it, and it makes me unsafe too, especially when riders don’t heed my right of way as a fellow cyclist. Ok, true. But cars, too, are breaking the rules of the road all the time. I can’t tell you how many cars pulled through intersections to make a right turn or pulled through the sidewalk on their way out of a driveway. I’m constantly using my outside voice to remind people that they’re driving in the bike lane. Speed limits are mere suggestions, rarely headed by the speed demons on Baltimore’s arterials. I mean, I know cyclists often don’t follow rules, but we often do, and cars are just as guilty, just in a deadlier way. And then there’s pedestrians. There’s a new education campaign going around town, reminding pedestrians to stop, look, and listen in order to avoid being one of this city’s many yearly casualties in the War on Walking. Baltimore’s got some brazen pedestrians, sure, but how’s about cars slow down a bit? That sign in the distance of this picture tells walkers to take precautions to avoid getting hit, but on this day of dodging pull-throughers and speeders, it really seemed like blaming the victim, and a new study backs that up. It also argues, though, that the very design of our streets encourages speeding and other dangerous road behaviors, so we need to design better, too. I’m a rule-follower, at least of the don’t-kill-anybody variety, and here’s hoping everyone else on the road is, too, until we get better designs. In the meantime, I’ll keep paying attention and assuming cars aren’t doing the same, because in the end, they’ve got the kill advantage on me. Fortunately, being careful becomes second nature, and then you just get to ride your bike in the street with cars.
I hope your photo today is NOT one of those bike lanes.
Here in Boise, bikes are allowed not to obey the traffic rules which apparently not known by the average driver. I go home via a 4 way stop and it is amazing how any huge truck with a young guy driving it always just goes through when it is not his turn. Recently a woman was on her cell phone and not going so I did and got half way across when she noticed and came right for me screaming obscenities. She would have broadsided me had I not swerved. Sigh, human nature.
On a different bike beat, bikes can take the whole going through and cause a big backup. As an experiment down town, they have taken two lanes out for bikes downtown. Of course businesses are angry as there is nowhere for their customers to park and only one car lane right in the middle of downtown. This is ill conceived and over the top which will make more aggressive car drivers. Ah Boise.