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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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94 Responses

  1. gretel
    gretel November 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm |

    As an avid biker, pedestrian, and born-and-raised New Yawker whose brother was recently hit by a car while walking in the crosswalk with the right-of-way I exclaim, “preach!” But while I mostly agree, a big part of mind mind is also screaming out “What about PWD??!” Because the words of people with disabilities seems drowned out to me. And these are voices I want to hear more of, because it’s something I try to think about as a temporarily-abled person.

    But really I wish there was some type of contraption that forced most vehicles to drive no faster than 10 mph on NYC streets. There’s no reason you have to go faster than that. (Unless you’re driving an ambulance/fire truck/Batmobile.)

  2. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil November 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm |

    I think the problem is a lack of appreciation for the fact that streets aren’t just for cars. Over time, we’ve lost sight of the fact that streets should also accommodate cyclists and pedestrians and when you try to tell drivers that they don’t have top priority on the roads, the get mad.

  3. NonBiker
    NonBiker November 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

    I don’t live in NYC, but here is why I hate am annoyed by bikers in my town: they are supposed to follow the rules of the road like every other vehicle, but 90% of bikers do not. When I am at a stop sign they will zip past me (no split-laning allowed in my state). At a red light, they might look both ways and then go ahead. I then have to carefully avoid them on narrow roads when I pass them *again.* They are aggressive, whipping in front of people, and one biker even tapped my trunk when she felt I stopped too suddenly for her. Despite the fact bikers act like the rules do not apply to them, drivers have to be extremely careful to avoid hitting bikers.

    I wouldn’t mind bikers if they were mostly polite and obeyed the rules.

  4. April
    April November 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm |

    Minneapolis is full of cyclists, and last year, they revamped the bike lanes on two of the busiest roads downtown. For one of them, they decided to put the bike lanes in-between the sidewalk and the parking lanes. It was bewildering and dangerous. On the other street, they combined the bus lane, right-turn lane, and bike lane into one. Despite large, flashing, neon signs and brightly-colored road paint, only about 5% of drivers seem to understand this new rule, or even that it exists.

    Anyway, point being, this shit is annoying and I’m so utterly sick of this sentiment that we need to prioritize more space for more cars. Especially in places where it’s simply impractical, due to a severe lack of parking space and the abundance of foot traffic that is inevitable in an urban area like that.

    I have a lot of hatred in my heart for conservative asshats all up in arms about their precious perceived right to barrel their multi-ton SUV from the suburbs all over the place downtown every day without regard to a single other person who occupies their space.

  5. Diane
    Diane November 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm |

    What do you think about shared space as a possible alternative to bike lanes?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_space

  6. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm |

    I love bike lanes. LOVE them. It’s safe for cyclists to use (so I feel more comfortable riding my bike), if I’m driving, I don’t worry that I’m going to clip them and veer half-way into the other lane, and if I’m walking, I can do so without worrying about someone on a bike running into me (which, by the way, hurts. And freaks out the cyclist who ran into you).

  7. zuzu
    zuzu November 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm |

    Despite the fact bikers act like the rules do not apply to them, drivers have to be extremely careful to avoid hitting bikers.

    Drivers SHOULD be extremely careful to avoid hitting bikers. Yet they can be looking right at a biker and still hit them.

    This also happens a lot with motorcycles; drivers of cars don’t see them. The motorcyclist can be following all the rules, wearing neon, doing all they can to make sure they’re visible, and some jackass will plow into them at an intersection and claim that they didn’t see the biker.

  8. Sharon
    Sharon November 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm |

    I love bike lanes! As someone who is usually walking, they prevent me from being mowed down by unmannerly bikers!

  9. Jadey
    Jadey November 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm |

    My take is that both bikers and drivers are fully capable of being douchey and rude and bad at following the rules and that everyone could benefit from learning to play well with others, but in a tangle between a bike and a car, the cyclist has more to lose. As a pedestrian, I have learned to assume that all motorists are out to kill me, because the consequences of me being right on that assumption are more drastic than the consequences of me being wrong, even if I’m more likely to be wrong than right. (Although it’s worth stating that cyclists, and pedestrians too, are capable of doing things that could result in bigger accidents if multiple cars get involved, and then even drivers are at risk. Also, dying is worse than accidentally killing someone, but accidentally killing someone sucks pretty hard too.) Cyclists need to behave on the road, but there’s good reason to cycle defensively.

  10. Julie
    Julie November 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm |

    But it seems that the more bike-friendly and accommodating a city is to cyclists, the better-behaved those cyclists are — there’s no need to ride on the sidewalk if there’s an adequate and safe bike lane, for example.

    Exactly. I ride on the sidewalk when there’s no bike lane (or when I’m sharing the bike lane with a bus) but if there’s an infrastructure in place to keep my spine intact, then I obey the rules.

  11. scrumby
    scrumby November 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm |

    What I have a problem with are scooters and Vespas. I can understand a cyclist riding opting in with pedestrian traffic especailly in the case of children or inexperienced riders but every time I see a Vespa cruising on the sidewalk I want to go buy a proper motorcycle so I can ride them down in it.

  12. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin November 23, 2010 at 3:41 pm |

    One of the good things about DC is that large sections of the District were once traversed by street cars, so it hasn’t been difficult to make adequate bike paths. However, that doesn’t mean that you can make drivers be any less douchebag.

  13. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla November 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm |

    Ok, as someone who is not a cyclist and is both a driver and a pedestrian in a large urban city (Philadelphia, PA): I am ecstatic that the city has been moving quickly to mark off bike lanes in center city streets (basically, whenever a street gets repaved, dedicated bike lanes are marked off). This is because the thing that worries me most regarding cyclists is that, without a dedicated lane, I will hit them for not seeing them or not being able to react in time. Frankly, bike lanes make things safer for all three constituencies – bikers, drivers, pedestrians.

    A few specific reactions:

    (1) Bikers barreling on the sidewalks at high speeds scare the crap out of me. I have had cyclists brush past me at speeds of 20MPH or more, and I know somebody who’s grandmother was killed by sidewalk cyclist.

    (2) Car traffic flow on these newly marked streets has actually gotten better, not worse. Having one clearly marked lane for cars and another for bikes does wonders compared to a street that is one-and-a-half totally unmarked lanes. The latter caused cyclists and drivers to mix chaotically on the street, and also caused impatient car drivers to try to pass other cars on a street that isn’t wide enough to do that.

    (2a) I will note that on some streets, the bike and bus lanes are combined. That seems a recipe for disaster for cyclists, especially given how many drivers ignore the bus/bike only designation; cabbies are particularly bad at this.

    (3) I do believe that a lot of cyclists have little to no regard for pedestrians. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve barely avoided being hit by a cyclist blasting through a red as I’m crossing the street on a green. Some of them have cursed me out for daring to slow them down (when by law, they should have stopped as they have the red). Cyclists need to take pedestrian safety seriously.

    (4) “And last year, painted paths along Bedford and Kent Avenues in Williamsburg caused disagreement between cyclists and Hasidim. The lane on Bedford Avenue was later removed. ” – Dude, I want to know which of the 613 mitzvot were violated by having bike lanes. Or is this just routine for extremist Hasidim trying to make a part of New York their cordoned-off village?

  14. Anna
    Anna November 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    I have been really surprised at how very fraught the issue of bike lanes apparently is. Halifax, bless its wee cotton socks, is trying to put in more bike lanes and support bikers, and I (as a non-biker, non-driver who takes the bus) have really seen an upswing over the past few years of not only bikers, but bikers who I don’t think are going to hit me. But we’re also not rolling in dough so it’s a very slow process, almost as slow as repairing the sidewalks.

    I understand that places like Toronto and Montreal have outstanding bike culture. When I was visiting Montreal they had set up those “rent a bike” automatic stands and I understand they were quite popular.

    I think it really is a “if you build it, they will come” sort of thing, and more bikers means fewer cars, right?

  15. JustDucky
    JustDucky November 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm |

    Out here in Portland, we get a small but vocal minority doing the pushback about the bike lanes. I rarely bike in city, even with the lanes, because too many drivers are oblivious (I’ve been hit once, and almost hit twice more) – and you’d think in a town that is so dedicated to green culture, this wouldn’t be a problem.

    Most of our pushback comes from the funding aspect – the city has been redoing our sewer system, so after tearing up the road, it’s been adding bike lanes, too. I’m sure if there wasn’t the money, they’d find some other reason to gripe.

    When people complain about bikers (and they do!), I point out that the jerks on bikes are the minority, and the respectful bikers outnumber the jerks by a huge margin – and point out the fact that my near misses are not attributable to ALL drivers being idiots, I’m sure -they’re- respectful and aware.

    But then, in Portland, the bike-lane argument is one of privilege. The bike lanes are being put in where the affluent, young, hipster sorts live or are moving into (I’d like to note that that particular demographic preceded the infrastructure), while the poorer areas on the outskirts still don’t have sidewalks or parks, let alone somewhere to ride their bike.

    If we could just work on making the city a more welcoming place for ALL its inhabitants, even the 25% that don’t identify primarily as white…

    /end rant, sorry.

  16. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm |

    @Galling Galla–seconding everything you’re saying.

  17. zuzu
    zuzu November 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm |

    Jadey: Cyclists need to behave on the road, but there’s good reason to cycle defensively. Jadey

    And my point was that even if you do, some jackass in a car talking on the cellphone can kill you. I’m sorry you feel threatened by bicyclists, but maybe given that when you’re in a car you’re in a killing machine and you will be at fault in many accidents, you should keep in mind that drivers also have a duty to be careful, and that it’s not just the job of the biker or motorcyclist not to get killed.

  18. nathan
    nathan November 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm |

    A few comments as a bicyclist who does not drive:

    1. Drivers seem to remember those bicyclists who exhibit bad behavior because our “vehicles” are not the norm. I’ve never heard people publicly shouting down funding for car-centric construction because of aggressive, dangerous drivers (which there are plenty), but it’s often the case that whenever funding for bike specific construction comes up for votes, you hear stories about how terrible, misbehaving, and undeserving bicyclists are.

    2. Along these lines, whenever a bicyclist breaks a driving rule, there’s a contingent of people ready to shame us. Never mind that sometimes it’s much safer to get onto the sidewalk, or to not bike down the center of the road. In fact, I’ve had the experience many times of being honked at for following the rules, and then getting an ear full for breaking the rules. It’s sometimes a no win.

    3. Even though the U.S. is more bike friendly than it was 15 years ago, the amount of money put towards biking, bike safety, and infrastructure is still miniscule in comparison to car-centric projects.

    4. I have had many drivers get upset with me for not taking up their offer to blow through stop signs or red lights. Please read that carefully. I have come to intersections where the car has the right away, and perhaps others are coming in the same direction, and they want to wave me through. When I point to the sign, or light, and don’t move, they get frustrated – trying to wave me through. It’s an odd form of niceness, that when bikers accept are then conforming to the “rule breaker” image.

    5. Some rules for cars really shouldn’t be applied to bikes. In Minneapolis, bikers can now go through stop signs (and I think red lights) if there are no vehicles coming the other way. There was a recognition, finally, that stopping and starting are different for cars and bikes.

  19. Jadey
    Jadey November 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm |

    ?? Zuzu, I think that we are not quite on the same page, because we are making the same point, and I wasn’t actually responding to your points specifically.

    By “cycle defensively” I was referring to some “aggressive” behaviours that cyclists take are for their own safety, more than for the comfort of drivers (e.g., knocking on cars that come too close) – I may have misused the term, as a pedestrian who has never had a driving lesson much less a driver’s license, I am not familiar with all of the terminology. I was actually arguing more to the side that drivers have more responsibility on the road because of the relative consequences, but I wanted to be clear that this does not exempt walkers and bikers from responsibility as well, to try to head off criticisms from that direction.

  20. Jadey
    Jadey November 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    argh, first comment went into moderation, but maybe this one won’t.

    zuzu, I just wanted to quickly say that I think you interpreted my comment as the exact opposite of what I was trying to say. Sorry for contributing to any misunderstanding.

  21. Nahida
    Nahida November 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm |

    I’m not a biker, but I find the notion of wanting to get rid of bike lanes absurd. Especially since I walk a lot, and those things do not seem to promise appealing results when they are racing toward you on the sidewalk like scary wires of steel. And on top of that, biking is green. So yay–why complain?

  22. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm |

    OK, you know? Not stopping at red lights can and DOES affect the pedestrians who are crossing those intersections. I don’t give a fuck if you’re on a bike and you’re not going to hurt as many people as someone in a car, I’ve been hit by cyclists, and yes, you can get pretty badly hurt. FFS.

    It’s not just drivers. It’s pedestrians, and I’m not fucking shaming anyone by pointing out that barrelling through an intersection against the light or through a crosswalk when pedestrians have the walk light is really fucking dangerous.

  23. edgy1004
    edgy1004 November 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm |

    NonBiker,
    I have seen drivers blaze through red lights, pull illegal U-turns, speed, pass school buses, and a million other stupid, illegal things. The proportion of stupid people driving cars is probably about same for stupid people riding bikes. Here is the difference, very rarely does a stupid thing done by a biker result in the death of anyone but him/herself. You can’t say the same thing about drivers. I know someone said that they know somebody who was related to somebody who was killed by a cyclist but that is very, very rare. Cars kill people every day! So when you talk about how horrible it is that bikers don’t follow the rules remember that a huge part of what the cops do is make sure that drivers obey the rules because they usually don’t. By the by, I do follow the rules. I stop at lights and I don’t ride on the sidewalk and I am just as entitled to a traffic lane as you are. So next time you feel like you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO pass me even if it endangers my life remember you are breaking the rules not me.

  24. Lyndsay
    Lyndsay November 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm |

    “I understand that places like Toronto and Montreal have outstanding bike culture.”

    Lots of people are biking and Toronto just elected a mayor who doesn’t understand the use of bike lanes on main roads. So now it will be more of, “People are coming and it is not being built”. Some people seem to think increased biking is a trend and will go away.

  25. Andrea
    Andrea November 23, 2010 at 9:44 pm |

    Sheelzebub, Nathan isn’t talking about barreling through intersections when there are peds who have the right of way. He’s talking about not forcing cyclists to unclip and put their foot down if there is no on-coming traffic or peds with the right of way. Because it’s much harder for a cyclist to get started than for a car. And sometimes a rolling stop is all that is really necessary. The bike still has to slow down and look and make sure it’s safe to keep going. There are a couple of states with that rule.

    I ride constantly in NYC, since I do Ironman triathlons (4 of them as of this summer), although I usually get the hell out as soon as I can and ride over the GW bridge into NJ. And you know what? Cyclists are the most aware people out there because we can be killed. In fact, TWO of my friends have been KILLED by cars. One driver fell asleep, one took a turn so fast she flew into oncoming traffic and literally mowed my friend down. I watched my riding partner get thrown 20 feet into the air because a woman was turning and didn’t bother to yield when we were going straight. And don’t even get me started on the peds who just wander out into the middle of the street and force the bikes who have a right of way to swerve into the traffic lane. At which point we’re honked at and usually get the thrilling little experience of cars whipping by us within an inch of our bodies. So how bout we remember that cars, bikes and peds ALL have a responsibility to look out for one another.

  26. Andrea
    Andrea November 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm |

    And, with regards to NYC, at this point it is ridiculous to oppose bike lanes in a city that is horribly polluted by commuter traffic, and whose public transportation agency is choked by debt and cutting down service. At this point, stymieing an eco-friendly, money-saving commute is just criminal. No, riding a bike is not an option for everyone, but it should still be an option.

  27. gabby
    gabby November 23, 2010 at 10:37 pm |

    and i hope people also know that bike lanes in NYC, while rad, are still mostly set up alongside streetside parking, making them basically a gauntlet of dooring opportunities miles and miles long. that is, when they’re not serving their prime function, as an SUV & UPS-truck double-parking goldmine.

    and then there’s the new designated bike lanes between the sidewalks & the street parking (like the one on 2nd ave in the LES). these are rad too — but also completely disregarded by thousands and thousands of oblivious pedestrians & even drivers every day, who connnnnnnstantly stroll/drive right into them, while texting or something.

    as for cyclists not obeying traffic laws — oy. the hypcrisy! anyone sitting behind a 3-ton air-conditioned deathmobile complaining about people on bikes not following traffic laws sounds just excruciatingly dense and self-absorbed, especially to those of us who have to watch daily how liberally these same drivers interpret the same laws. and why not? they can afford to. while it only takes one idiot in a car to stop me from bicycling (or anything else) forever, the worst that’s gonna happen to a driver is a bummer of an insurance hike and a little body work (and don’t get me started about the courts’ preferential treatment of drivers over cyclists). basically, bicycles are a complete and utter afterthought in the world of traffic law. bloomberg’s bike lanes are a start, but we’ve got a long, long way to go before anyone but the most suicidal or adrenaline-addicted will attempt regular NYC commutes by bike.

    and bicyclists will start riding according to car’s traffic rules when these laws actually reflect for one second an interest in the survival of bicyclists and pedestrians — and recognize that this means planning realistic, attainable ways to **protect them from cars**. until then, the bargain between drivers & bicyclists goes like this: you continue ignoring us/threatening us, and we continue riding in a way that maximizes our chances of staying alive, lawful or not.

    (as for bicyclists who ride like jerks and threaten pedestrians: i agree, they need to check themselves too.)

  28. Athenia
    Athenia November 23, 2010 at 11:41 pm |

    First, I’d just like to say I LOVE bike lanes in NYC—and I don’t even own a bike here. I love how it creates space between the sidewalk and the road—it forces the cars to behave.

    Anyway, I would be interested to know how many of the people who want bike lanes are native NYCers vs non-NYC natives. Or even among people who come from countries where bikes aren’t affordable or available.

    I kinda feel that my love for biking is a reflection of my privilege–my privilege of being able to grow up in a town where it was safe for a kid to learn how to ride a bike and ride it wherever to her heart’s content.

  29. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes November 24, 2010 at 12:44 am |

    …in a large and diverse city, sometimes you have to make way for your fellow citizens.

    But… but… that sounds like SOCIALIZMZ!!!

    [/sarcasm]

  30. Diana
    Diana November 24, 2010 at 12:48 am |

    From Minneapolis, just visited Portland, a biking Nirvana. One problem is that bikers in certain neighborhoods of Minneapolis flagrantly ignore traffic laws – running red lights, ignoring yield signs, failing to signal – that Portlanders honor. I was admiring how SAFE and DECENT both bikers and drivers were in Portland, especially since it’s essentially a self-righteous, ideological and useless street war between bikers and drivers in Minneapolis.

    I understand – and support – occasional law “violation” by bikers that supports safety for everyone (like switching to the sidewalk when the lane is inadequate.) The bike lanes in downtown are an absolute mess, but in other neighborhoods where there isn’t quite as much traffic there is a certain reckless disregard. When a biker gets hurt, injured or killed, it’s not just the biker’s life that gets ruined – that driver will likely sustain serious damage in the form of injury, psychological trauma and a permanent financial gutting that may well match the biker’s damage.

    I see bikers in Minneapolis disregarding traffic laws in ways that endanger everyone daily. I didn’t even see it once in Portland. I favor Portlanders coming out here to Minneapolis to teach seminars to drivers and bikers. After that, I’ll pack ‘em up and send them to New York for you.

  31. Soren
    Soren November 24, 2010 at 7:10 am |

    Here in Copenhagen we have excellent conditions for bikes, and we still see some obnoxious bikers – and the same goes for pedestrians and people in cars.

    The thing is, one of the most common accidents for bikers is when a car turns right. Bikers have to stay to the right on streets, and thus are often overlooked by people in cars.

    Us obnoxious bikers, do not stay to the right when we are not turning. When I come to a crossing, I draw to the left of the cars going right, and typically pass the pedestrian walk so that I am placed either a couple of meters in front or to the left of cars going right. They have a hard time not seeing me, and an even harder time hitting me, since a bike typically will accelerate quicker than a car.

    Looking at statistics most accidents involving cars turning right and bikers involve people who typically are law abiding bikers, – more women, more elderly.

    Sometimes you increase your own chances by being an ass.

  32. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 24, 2010 at 9:08 am |

    Andrea, I never said that pedestrians were without fault, or that cars didn’t do damage or kill people (cyclists AND pedestrians included).

    I take issue with the rhetoric that get trotted out every damn time this subject comes up–it’s always car vs. bike, and fuck the pedestrians when it comes to the drivers of either. Every time I try to use the cross walk when I get the walk light, or walk on the sidewalks I damn near (and once did) get mowed down by a cyclist who didn’t think it was that bad because they weren’t operating a car and so the damage wouldn’t be that bad. Except it can be that bad–people have been killed, and pedestrians have ended up with serious injuries. Telling them that a car would have done more damage isn’t exactly going to build your credibility–they’re going to point out that the damage was done by a cyclist. Cyclists may not do as much overall damage as car drivers, but they still can do damage–they are riding metal objects at a pretty high velocity.

    No, you shouldn’t be forced to ride in traffic because of pedestrians. Nor should pedestrians be edged into traffic because of cyclists barrelling down sidewalks (which has happened to me and my friends more times than I can count). That was especially fun when I was on crutches.

  33. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 24, 2010 at 9:36 am |

    Having said all that, I’ll reiterate my position on bike lanes: They are absolutely necessary and good, and will only promote safety for everyone. Really, I don’t see the issue and think it’s really fucking douchey to oppose them. As someone who has biked and who walks (and occasionally drives in the city), I feel safer with bike lanes, and get pissy when cars park there (they should be towed and fined up to their eyeballs).

    When I’m driving, I don’t want to hit cyclists. When I’m cycling, I don’t want to hit pedestrians. And when I’m walking (most of the time), I don’t want to get hit. So really–what’s the problem with bike lanes, which would alleviate a lot of the confusion and clusterfuckness* of this?

    *No, it’s not a word.

  34. woodland sunflower
    woodland sunflower November 24, 2010 at 11:07 am |

    Like Nathan’s friend above, I had a green light and a driver made a left turn from the opposite direction into the intersection. Bam, I ended up on the roof of his car and now have a steel plate reinforcing my collarbone.

    As his story makes very clear, I was lucky.

    Lucky, because I’m basically recovered, despite braces on my teeth, a permanently cracked and sensitive incisor, shoulders that are still giving me fits months later, despite PT, yoga and the orthopedist’s claims of a `complete cure’. And I work with my hands, so this is a problem.

    Every member of my family has been struck by a car. Every single one. Again, lucky for all of us, neither of the kids were seriously hurt. My spouse and I both ended up in the hospital. And it wasn’t from not watching the cars. Physics dictates that if you collide with a car, the auto is going to transfer your half of the impact onto your fragile little bod, not a twenty pound bike. I saw that guy, saw his signal, saw him slowing down as I thought because he’d seen me.

    Nope. Even though I was oncoming traffic, even though I had the right of way, even though it daylight, he didn’t. He wasn’t looking objects smaller than a car, and this is why motorcyclists get it too.

    The number one thing that would increase cyclist safety is increasing the number of people on the road. (Cyclists do not belong on sidewalks. Dangerous to pedestrians, who have with justification the assumption that they’re free to carelessly wander about without 20 mph objects whizzing through their space) but also dangerous to the cyclists, because people pulling out of parking lots or especially backing out of driveways do not look to sidewalks for people moving. Literally. Drivers treats folks on sides as essentially stationary.

    Multi-use paths are another story, though. Please, people, if you’re walking, keep to the right, don’t walk so many abreast you’re blocking the entire path, and if a cyclist shouts `passing on your left,’ waggle your left hand so we know you’ve heard us, and won’t do something scary, like jump in front of us.

    Ninja, or folk cyclists, as my spouse calls bike-riders who ride at night without lights and ones who ride around without poorly equipped bikes and no helmets, are a problem best addressed by a healthy bike culture. I.e., education. Yes, these guys (and it’s almost always guys) are a problem. I had one crash into the passenger side of my car. I was *appalled*. I *watch* for cyclists. How could I have hit this guy?

    Well, turns out he was crossing the intersection (from the side walk), the light changed, the brakes of the bike he’d never ridden before *came off in his hand* and like a rollerblader who doesn’t know how to stop, he used my car as his `wall’. Yikes. I was glad he wasn’t seriously hurt (I took the guy home) but not about the $1200 paint job. Definitely a case of angels watching over fools.

    But see, I learned in organized group rides how to be a good urban cyclist. Again, as pointed out earlier, you get jerks or majorly clueless types in every group. People just remember the cyclists; drivers that nearly run you down (and I’ve had this happen both as a pedestrian *and* a cyclist with the right of way) are just accepted as ordinary. In fact, they’re insulted that you dared to get in the way of their precious right on red.

    Like every other minority, the entire group has to answer for the sins of individuals. Which sucks, but is reality. Bottom line? Roads are for everyone. Drivers have a lot of privilege, and they need to accept that others are entitled to use roads, too.

  35. Slug
    Slug November 24, 2010 at 11:13 am |

    Bikes don’t kill people, cars kill people.

  36. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 24, 2010 at 11:20 am |

    Slug, there are cases of bikes killing people. Not as common as cars killing people, true, but it does happen.

  37. woodland sunflower
    woodland sunflower November 24, 2010 at 11:22 am |

    Oh, sorry, the point of the digression with the guy that, um, rammed my car: since I took him home, I was able to give him a crash course (ahem!) on safe bike riding: make sure your bike is in decent working order. Go to the bike shop in town, it’s November, they’re cheap, they work with people who haven’t much money. Ride on the road, *with* traffic. Wear a helmet. There’s a group around that gives ‘em out. If you’re riding at night, for the love of little green mushrooms, *please* at least buy a $3 blinkie for the back of your bike.

    He didn’t seem to know any of this. Hopefully, some of that stuff penetrated. Because he was gonna give up after this bad experience, and I don’t want people to give up. Bikes cost money, sure but nothing like a car. Poor as this guy appeared to be, I figured if he spent a little getting that bike fixed up, he’d be ahead. Cycling isn’t an option for every trip or every one — but it could helpful for a whole more people than it is.

  38. Slug
    Slug November 24, 2010 at 11:33 am |

    @Sheelzebub – so do roller skates.

  39. Slug
    Slug November 24, 2010 at 11:40 am |

    As a biker, I always give pedestrians the right of way, and slow down and take my feet off the pedals if there are kids, because kids hardly ever walk in a straight line. I think it’s really important to recognize that people with more momentum are a bigger hazard and bear responsibility for that. (Which is why cars are the biggest threat to anyone!)

    Otherwise, I strongly agree with Nathan’s points above. Terrible drivers who kill people haven’t slowed massive development and transit subsidies devoted to cars; so what does a crop of pushy bike messengers have to do with stymieing sensible bike traffic planning?

    In my experience, most cars are pissed off at bikers because the bike means the car will have to slow down a little. Hm, drivers are worried about getting somewhere on time, and I’m worried about getting there alive. And you wonder why bikers feel a little self-righteous about getting space on the road?

    The sign on the back of my bike says: “It’s Your 10 Seconds, it’s My LIFE. Share the Road.”

  40. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 24, 2010 at 11:41 am |

    Slug, when roller skaters are as ubiquitous on the roads as cyclists, you’ll have a point.

    There were two or three people in Philly who ended up in the ICU from being hit by cyclists last year–and one died. I don’t think telling them that cars statistically do more damage is going to be of much comfort to them.

    Not to say that cycling is bad or that pedestrians never do any wrong–but there does seem to be this attitude that if you’re not driving a car, it’s not as dangerous if you hit someone. I was hit, crossing the street, when I had the light. Trust me, the damage done can be pretty freaking bad.

  41. nathan
    nathan November 24, 2010 at 11:44 am |

    Diana,

    The law in Minneapolis was recently changed by the city council so that bikers may go through traffic signals if there is no oncoming traffic coming, so some of that “lawbreaking” you’re seeing isn’t lawbreaking. I agree that downtown is a mess. I avoid it most of the time because following the laws while biking downtown actually can be more dangerous than breaking them.

    Portland is so much better because they deliberate planned for multiple forms of transit. It has been a long term planning goal of the city, and the results are obviously pretty good. Here in Minneapolis and St. Paul, it’s all been cookie-cutter. We have had a burst of interest in biking, followed by some shoe string budgeted bike projects, with no coherent vision of what an integrated transit approach might look like. We stuck a train along Hiawatha, and are now trying to connect it with the Central Corridor train, but neither train is really part of a shared vision that includes trains, bikes, buses, cars, pedestrians, etc. We have all these different organizations working on different aspects of transit, but they haven’t as of yet figured out how to come together. I’ve seen meetings to discuss a regional transit blueprint, but it’s mostly an idea at this point. Meanwhile, whatever projects can get funded go ahead, whether they make sense or not. Like the Central Corridor train, which could end up being a great benefit, but also might force out a lot of local businesses, and might make it even more difficult for pedestrians and bikers (and perhaps even car drivers) along University Ave.

    So, it’s a mess. Better than a lot of other places, but still a mess.

    It’s quite easy to say bikers are being dangerous and have bad manners, much more difficult to take a look at the bigger picture and see how, when everything is focused around making it easier and faster for cars, there is bound to be a lot of confusion, sloppiness, and unnecessary injuries and deaths.

  42. bhuesca
    bhuesca November 24, 2010 at 11:59 am |

    @ Slug –

    Seriously?? Bicycles are considered a vehicle and have the right to be on (most- not interstates) roads. A person with rollerskates is not utilizing a motor vehicle.

    Did you hear about that case where the 4 year old child and the child’s parents are being sued for negligence? The child, on a bike with training wheels, hit an elderly woman who fell and (quite a while later) died.

    Now there is a huge debate as to whether the child actually caused the woman’s death – BUT – if a child in a bike with training wheels on a sidewalk can knock down and injure an adult, then YES, bikes can cause harm to pedestrians. Even children’s bikes.

  43. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage November 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |

    And he wants to make it easier for suburbanites to clog downtown with even more cars.

    He’s also a bigot and has a history of drunken outbursts (and one dropped domestic violence complaint), but for the purposes of this thread I’ll stick to his irrational pro-automobile rhetoric. The phrase “end the war on cars” came up during the recent election campaign here, a line my partner and I like to toss at each other while watching motor vehicles clog curbsides and damn near sideswipe bikers on a regular basis.

    Lyndsay: “I understand that places like Toronto and Montreal have outstanding bike culture.”Lots of people are biking and Toronto just elected a mayor who doesn’t understand the use of bike lanes on main roads. So now it will be more of, “People are coming and it is not being built”. Some people seem to think increased biking is a trend and will go away.  

  44. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage November 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm |

    Errrr… whoops, that was supposed to be a reply to Lyndsay. I guess mobile safari doesn’t quite play nice with some things…

  45. Chris H
    Chris H November 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm |

    Since I don’t drive (thanks largely to a seizure disorder), my main problem with cyclists isn’t so much with how they act on the road as their behavior on public transit. Here in the Bay Area, at least, there’s this certain class of douchebag cyclist that believes that the senior/disabled seating on BART was installed just for them. The senior/disabled seats are located right next to the doors and face out into the aisle, rather than front-to-back. Frequently, cyclists sit down in one of those seats and hold their bicycle in front of them, blocking both seats and effectively using two seats for one person.

    Wanna take your bike on BART? Prepare to stand.

    As an addendum: Another form of cyclist douchebaggery in the Bay Area is the monthly Critical Mass ride, which blocks public transit just as much as the gas-guzzling SUV’s.

    On the whole, I have sympathy for the cyclists, and have considered getting a bike myself because the public transit in my part of Berkeley sucks and is getting worse by the month, but these particular breeds really piss me off.

  46. April
    April November 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm |

    I’ll chime in again here to say that it’s not just evil cars and snooty cyclists who are the problem. Pedestrians can be oblivious asshats, too.

    For example, I used to ride to and from work pretty often last summer before I moved to the ‘burbs. I lived in Minneapolis, and worked downtown, so I took Nicollet Mall for several blocks. Nicollet Mall, for non-Minneapolitans, is a bus-taxi-bike-emergency vehicle-only street running through the middle of the business district. The speed limit is 10 mph. The pedestrians on Nicollet are RIDICULOUS. They literally start walking across Nicollet whenever the hell they want, regardless of whether they’re at a light, and if they are, regardless of the color of said light, and regardless of whether there is a bus, car, truck, bike, or train headed straight for them. These people are utterly oblivious to the fact that a cyclist going 10 or more mph is going to hurt if they can’t get out of your way fast enough. One particularly irritating incident: I was riding down Nicollet, and halfway down the block a woman sees me heading fast down the street, and makes the decision to continue walking across. I wait until the very last possible second, screech to a halt, and give her the meanest glare I can muster. She stops in her tracks, as if waiting for me to continue riding, but doesn’t say a fucking word. I continue glaring until she decides to finish her stroll to the other side.

    This is just one incident of countless. I don’t think many pedestrians (especially those who typically drive and are only walking because they’re on a lunch break or whatever) really understand that a bike can do a great deal of damage, as many upthread have noted. My brother-in-law, an avid cycler, tells the peds on Nicollet that even though he doesn’t look like a car, he still hurts.

  47. Andrea
    Andrea November 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm |

    Chris, maybe if the infrastructure for bikes were better they wouldn’t have to take their bikes on the train in the first place? This thread isn’t about how annoyed you are with cyclists, it’s about bike lanes. I have to take my bike on the subway from time to time to get it repaired at my shop. I try to do it when the train will be less crowded, and I try to stand as out of the way as possible. But people will get angry no matter where I go. And you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck because sometimes my bike needs to go on the train.

  48. Andrea
    Andrea November 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm |

    And to Sheezelbub, my husband once hit a woman while riding his bike. It was raining really hard, he was going slowly with his hand on the breaks, but when she just walked out into the intersection on a red light and didn’t even bother to look, he didn’t have time to stop on the slippery street. It was either run into her, or swerve into traffic. (I know, because I saw the whole thing.) So, you know, even when a ped does get hit, it wasn’t necessarily the biker’s fault. I admit some cyclists are reckless, but I don’t really see how vilifying them and always painting them as the bad guy in a confrontation with a ped at all relates to their need for a bike lane (which I realize you support).

  49. Chris H
    Chris H November 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm |

    Andrea @47:

    Chris, maybe if the infrastructure for bikes were better they wouldn’t have to take their bikes on the train in the first place?

    I don’t have an issue with people riding the train with their bikes. I can’t imagine an infrastructure that would make that unnecessary for cyclists who want to get from the city to the East Bay. What pisses me off is assholes who take up not one, but two disabled seats.

  50. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm |

    Andrea, I’m not villifying all cyclists by pointing out that in these conversations, pedestrians and pedestrian safety get ignored and erased, and that the idea that getting hit by a bike isn’t “as bad” as getting hit by a car is ignorant and frankly vile.

    When I was hit by a cyclist, I was crossing the road. On the crosswalk. When I had the light. So you know, it’s not all careless pedestrians either. (Shall I now do what you did and accuse you of villifying all pedestrians?)

    Also, WRT to Chris–sie’s not complaining that people bring their bikes onto public transit, sie’s complaining that they use the seating reserved for the disabled and the elderly.

  51. Andrea
    Andrea November 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm |

    Sheezlebub, you’re right, you weren’t blaming all cyclists. I’ve just had way to many friends kills in the past few years and I see red whenever this topic comes up and it becomes a shit-throwing fest directed at cyclists for daring to be on the road.

    But as far as Chris’s comment, there are plenty of people who sit in seats meant for the elderly and disabled who are neither. If they are even slightly larger than the teensy people those seats are made for, they may even take up two. What the hell is your point? I still don’t see how your comment at all relates to a post about the need for bike lanes. If you want a forum to complain about cyclists just for the hell of it, then I’m sure you can find one. I’m telling you that it doesn’t matter where a cyclist sits or stands on a train, they will be yelled at. I’ve been sworn at for standing in a corner with my bike because the handle bar touched someone (barely). The person who flipped out actually got so embarrassed when I called him out that he got off the train at the next stop and waited for the next one.

    But the point is, everyone is mean to everyone else, everyone takes spaces they shouldn’t, and neither of these qualities is unique to cyclists.

  52. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla November 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm |

    Slug: Galling

    Tell that to my acquaintance. Her grandmother was killed by a cyclist who ran a red at high speed.

    I mentioned this in my first comment. Don’t you read?

  53. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla November 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm |

    Let’s try that again, the *right* way:

    Slug: Bikes don’t kill people, cars kill people.  

    Tell that to my acquaintance. Her grandmother was killed by a cyclist who ran a red at high speed.

    I mentioned this in my first comment. Don’t you read?

  54. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla November 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm |

    April: I was riding down Nicollet, and halfway down the block a woman sees me heading fast down the street, and makes the decision to continue walking across. I wait until the very last possible second, screech to a halt, and give her the meanest glare I can muster.

    So wait, you *intentionally* responded in a way to intimidate her? An in a manner that, should you have misjudged your speed or ability to stop on a dime, you could have hit her? Yeah, that’ll earn you brownie points.

  55. April
    April November 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm |

    GallingGalla:
    So wait, you *intentionally* responded in a way to intimidate her?An in a manner that, should you have misjudged your speed or ability to stop on a dime, you could have hit her?Yeah, that’ll earn you brownie points.  

    Yes, I did. After having my fill of oblivious pedestrians, I made the decision to show her exactly how dangerous her actions were by coming to an abrupt stop in a place where she would surely notice, rather than what I usually would have done, which was gradually slow down so that I could safely swerve around her.

    I realize my description may have been lacking to someone who wasn’t watching the event unfold in real time, but the situation was not one where I was doing anything as or more dangerous than what she was doing– which, in case you didn’t gather by my description, was completely and ridiculously negligent of both her safety and mine. My reaction was calculated and I felt safe doing exactly what I did because I was comfortable with my bicycle and the riding conditions. Anyway, my brakes squeak loudly enough for a block radius to hear, and if they didn’t, I’m not sure I would have been confident enough in her hearing me and seeing how obnoxious and inconvenient it was for me to have had to screech to a halt in the middle of the road that she was crossing without looking in any direction to have even bothered with my “teaching her a lesson,” as it were.

    I assure you, I’m not only a safe rider, but a paranoid one. I wouldn’t have bothered doing what I did if I felt in any way that it would have posed a safety threat to anyone. And anyway, she failed on all counts as far as giving a crap about anyone’s safety is concerned, which is what I was responding to in he first place.

  56. April
    April November 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm |

    Oh, and no, I wasn’t trying to “intimidate” her; I was trying to make her aware of how ridiculously unsafe it is to wander her way across a street, not even at a crosswalk, without looking and without regard to cyclists.

  57. Jadey
    Jadey November 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm |

    April: Oh, and no, I wasn’t trying to “intimidate” her; I was trying to make her aware of how ridiculously unsafe it is to wander her way across a street, not even at a crosswalk, without looking and without regard to cyclists. April

    Through intimidation tactics. Also, ineffective ones. I have various vehicles do this to me all the time, for no reason that is clear to me other than they expect me to trust their brakes and their reaction times. I have nearly been hit so many times crossing the street that I now make a point of not leaving the curb until whatever vehicle is coming has come to a full stop, which earns me a lot of impatient “hurry up!” hand gestures. I don’t care – my life and safety are at stake. Someone deliberately barreling down the street at me is not going to teach me a lesson except the one I have already learned about not trusting anything on wheels.

    So, yeah, intimidation. Was it such a waste of your time to decelerate?

    Also, you said you did it to teach her for not looking before she crossed, but in your original comment you said:

    April: and halfway down the block a woman sees me heading fast down the street, and makes the decision to continue walking across

    (emphasis mine)

    So she did see you and you saw her, and you decided you owned the road and she needed to get out of your way. Again, would it kill you to decelerate over that half a block?

  58. pedestrian
    pedestrian November 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm |

    April,
    That’s the kind of thing drivers on my campus do all the time- deliberately accelerate toward people crossing the street to teach them some kind of lesson. You’re no less aggressive, dangerous, and stupid than those motorists. Bike lanes won’t fix that.

  59. April
    April November 25, 2010 at 12:19 am |

    I’m sorry, but I can’t help but notice that my entire paragraph about the abundance of pedestrians who are oblivious and negligent keeps being overlooked in favor of criticizing my onetime method of responding to one such offender.

    Would it kill me to decelerate over that half a block? NOPE. It sure didn’t kill me the first year or so that I did it and the innumerable times that I will continue to do so. Would it kill that woman, and the literally countless before and with her to look both ways before crossing the street? And to maybe try to attempt to notice cyclists or, I don’t know, wait until the crosswalk to go to the other side of the street?

  60. April
    April November 25, 2010 at 12:20 am |

    Also, I have another comment, one I wrote before the one Jadey is responding to, in moderation. Just a note because a large chunk of my main point is contained in it.

  61. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. November 25, 2010 at 2:49 am |

    Seems like bike lanes would reduce the pedestrian, cyclist, car danger problems rather than exacerbate them.

    I love the idea and wish they could do something like that in DC which is very pedestrian friendly in the business districts, but dog awful for cyclists as far as I can tell (which is ridiculous considering the number of messengers).

    Then again, I’m for all sorts of thing that raise the costs (either in cash or time) of driving where there is excellent public transport. If the infrastructure exists people need to use it if they can.

  62. gadgetgal
    gadgetgal November 25, 2010 at 7:31 am |

    Interesting discussion – I find the laws on roads in the US hard to follow sometimes, with the ability to turn on red sometimes and the jaywalking laws. In the UK cycling lanes are also controversial, but they’ve put them in in most places, as bike-riding is always considered prefereable to car driving, it’s generally safer and better for the environment. In the UK, though, as a pedestrian I nearly always have right-of-way as soon as I set my foot on the road – it’s part of the highway code, and I find it perplexing that the US, especially outside of big cities, is so pedestrian-unfriendly, especially with regards to pavements (sidewalks!). As to the people complaining about pedestrians randomly crossing the road, bear in mind that lights are usually set up to allow drivers of any kind more time to go (seriously, time it and see how little time we’re allotted in comparison to the vehicles, you can be talking about 3 or 4 times as long in any direction) – a walker usually only has one shot at crossing a road, and then a massively long wait for the next one, in a lot of the time very poor weather. I see this as being a good reason to give both pedestrians AND cyclists more opportunity to have right-of-way, if I’m sitting in a car the rain/sleet/snow/gale-force-winds just don’t hurt me as much! And I’d also also sitting down – it’s not like I’d be expending a lot of energy, so why the rush?

  63. Mongoose6
    Mongoose6 November 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm |

    Reading through this debate, it seems like the best thing we can do for the car-bike-pedestrian debate is to separate the parties! Bike lanes are a go – maybe it will tone down the conflict. My city sent a notice to everyone trying to get compliance through moral suasion:

    “The message we wish to share is that everyone should slow down a bit, look out for others and obey the rules. Purposely ignoring the rules does not show that your method of travel is superior or that you deserve special treatment, dear careless traveler. Rather, it shows that you are acting disrespectfully and creating an unsafe condition for everyone and that is just not how we behave in [our town]…Please act courteously and practice random acts of kindness … Think of it as modeling good behavior.
    Stopping to let someone out of their driveway or giving an elderly person a few extra minutes to cross the street will only cost you a few extra seconds but it could be that special touch that someone needed to take the stress out of their day.”

    The basic message is, we should all act like adults on the road. I think bike lanes tend to decrease the frustration that can lead to bad behavior.

  64. Diana
    Diana November 26, 2010 at 12:15 am |

    The basic message is, we should all act like adults on the road. I think bike lanes tend to decrease the frustration that can lead to bad behavior.  

    This. Thank you.

    Yes, infrastructure is a problem. I’m also not thrilled to learn that bikers are being excused from the same standards that other vehicles are in Minneapolis – such as blowing through intersections if they assume no one is there.

    The reason every driver is expected to stop at a signal is just in case someone happens to be coming; bikes are vehicles and those on them must adhere to the same responsibilities as other vehicle operators – otherwise, I see no justice at all in my tax money going into building further infrastructure for these vehicles. I’d rather see it used to build a bigger train line first, in that case.

    I definitely want more cars off the road. I do think more people biking is good, when the bikes act responsibility.

    And like it or not, if you’re on wheels, the ones on their feet have the right of way. This is true even if you completely disagree with where someone has planted his or her feet. Exceptions made for maniac babies in strollers.

  65. nathan
    nathan November 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm |

    Diana,

    I don’t have any great answers right now in terms of equitable solutions, but cars and bikes are so completely different in usage and impact that I think it’s ridiculous to expect the same rules to always apply. “The rules of the road” were created with cars and trucks in mind – everything else has mostly been secondary. So, you’re basically telling me and other bikers we best behave, even though the behaviors required are often in opposition to the ways or vehicles (bikes) function. I do my best to follow the rules, not put pedestrians in danger, and stay out of the way – but it’s always with the knowledge that bigger vehicles are the privileged ones, and that other than the bike lanes that exist, and a few share the road signs, everything is geared towards car/truck traffic. As a regular bus rider, I also see how buses are frequently in a similar, if opposite, position in that they are larger, and thus move differently than cars/trucks. However, they still have to try to act like cars/trucks, and are often treated like regular cars and trucks by other drivers (i.e. honked at when slow, sped in front of, etc.) The impact of a bus hitting a car can be as dangerous/deadly as a car hitting a bicyclist, and yet in places where roads are more narrow, the very rules we all are supposed to follow can create quite dangerous situations between buses and cars. So, I think the expectation that all vehicles act the same, and always live by the same rules, isn’t realistic when the rules place cars/trucks at the center.

    Mongoose6

    Separation sometimes is appropriate, but not always possible, or intelligent. We have some wonderful bike trails in the Twin Cities, like the Midtown Greenway, that allow for bikes to be separated and operating on their own. However, anyone biking as transportation (as opposed to recreation) can’t just stick to trails. So, there has to be some combined usage. Back to the article, bike lanes are often good, but also have some problems when placed between moving traffic and parked traffic. They are a decent option, but not the only option.

    If you want to see major changes, then focusing on ways to create diverse transit infrastructure – and rules built upon those models – are essential. And people need to put down their cell phones and whatnot, and pay attention.

  66. Andrea
    Andrea November 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm |

    Diana, no, bikes are not being excused from the rules. What it means is that if they are at a red light, and no one is coming, they don’t have to sit there waiting for it to turn green. When you walk, do you wait for the light to turn green or do you go when there’s no traffic coming? And if you say you wait, congrats, because you’re the only one. Bikes do not get to blow through intersections if they assume no one is there. They get to carefully cross intersections once they’ve slowed or stopped and made absolute sure no one is there. There is a difference even if you don’t understand what that difference is.

  67. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie November 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm |

    I have a lot of hatred in my heart for conservative asshats all up in arms about their precious perceived right to barrel their multi-ton SUV from the suburbs all over the place downtown every day without regard to a single other person who occupies their space. April

    This is factual? You know these people? They all “barrel” their SUVs in YOUR city? Without regard to others?

    Or are you just making shit up?

  68. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie November 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm |

    But as far as Chris’s comment, there are plenty of people who sit in seats meant for the elderly and disabled who are neither.

    How do you know?

    I also notice you got your digs in about OMG FAT PEOPLE TAKING UP MORE THAN THEIR SHARE OF A SMALL SEAT.

    What is your real beef here? The sore lack of bicycle lanes in cities, or strangers on whom you like to focus your anger?

  69. Han
    Han November 28, 2010 at 12:26 am |

    Ugh. Completely agree with this post, and I am kind of confused as to where all the controversy is coming from. I’m a biker, a driver, and a pedestrian here in Philadelphia, and I can confidently say that there are champion assholes in all three divisions. Bike lanes won’t make anyone less careless, but they at least create some safe(r) space for bikers who are committed to sharing the road and respecting both drivers and pedestrians (which, I believe, are most of them).

    Without defined bike lanes, though, I think a lot of drivers are of the opinion that bikers are infringing on their space. Lanes increase the legitimacy of biking as a means of transportation in the eyes of many drivers, and more people might even be encouraged to bike if they knew that their needs were being taken seriously. This seems like it could benefit the city, what with the freed up traffic space and more available parking.

    It is kind of discouraging to see squabbles break out between bikers, pedestrians, and drivers over which group is the most irresponsible. I could write a fucking book about the asshole bikers I know that refuse to install brakes on their bikes, the asshole drivers I know that don’t bother watching for bikers before they open their vehicle doors, or the asshole pedestrians I know that jaywalk without a care in the world. They should all be punished accordingly. But this post isn’t really about them. It’s about bike lanes. And I approve of bike lanes.

  70. Andrea
    Andrea November 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm |

    Oh really tin foil? You think bikers are the only people who take seats meant for the elderly and diabled? How the he’ll do YOU know? And I did not take a dig at fat people at all. I said anyone over a certain size might take up more than one seat and last time I checked this can include people with broad shoulders, or people built a bit bigger. I have zero problem with fat people taking up more space. They have every right to the space they need. But cyclists are not the only ones who might sit in reserved seats or who take up room some people think they don’t deserve. I think any thoughtful reading of my comment would have made that clear

  71. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie November 29, 2010 at 10:32 am |

    Duh, I meant “how do you know they’re not disabled”? You can’t tell by looking.

  72. Andrea
    Andrea November 29, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    Um, yea, I realize you can’t tell who exactly is able bodied and who is disabled. And I don’t presume to know on a case by case basis. But what I DO know is that cyclists are NOT the only people who use those seats when they are neither elderly nor disabled. See the distinction? Not that hard.

  73. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm |

    @Andrea: What the hell is your point?

    Contrary to your assertion, I’m not blowing off steam about rude cyclists–though in your reply to me, you were more than happy to blow off steam about pedestrians. I had originally responded a curt, two-paragraph objection to Nathan’s post that cyclists shouldn’t have to obey red lights, etc. if they don’t see any traffic coming (and he pointed out that in some places, the laws have changed to reflect this). You replied to this and went off on “peds” (charming, BTW).

    @April–there are no words. You know, if I go by your justification, then I should be able to throw a stick in the spokes of a cyclist who’s barreling down the sidewalk or salmoning. I don’t do that, though because here’s the thing–someone could get hurt. When I have to drive in town or in a city, sometimes pedestrians and cylists dart in front of my car. I don’t rev my engine to make a point, or continue driving no matter how “confident” I am that my brakes will work and how sure I am of my driving ability just to teach someone a lesson. God forbid something doesn’t work and someone gets hurt, dumbass or not.

  74. April
    April November 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm |

    tinfoil hattie: I have a lot of hatred in my heart for conservative asshats all up in arms about their precious perceived right to barrel their multi-ton SUV from the suburbs all over the place downtown every day without regard to a single other person who occupies their space.AprilThis is factual?You know these people?They all “barrel” their SUVs in YOUR city?Without regard to others?Or are you just making shit up?  

    Looks like you don’t speak fluent generalized-rant-ese. Someone needs some coffee!

  75. April
    April November 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm |

    What I think, ultimately, is that bikes and cars should not be occupying the exact same space. I understand the frustration that a lot of drivers feel when they encounter a cyclist who is in the middle of the road going, as they must, much more slowly than the cars around them, and the frustration of cyclists and pedestrians who pay no attention to traffic laws and traffic signals. And really, when you think about it, it’s really dangerous, even with a helmet, to be biking right next to several multi-ton vehicles going 30+ mph. Bike lanes are usually visible and kept out of the way of motorists; these are helpful and need to be more numerous. The opposition would be baffling, but it’s pretty clear that politicians are opposed because they’re being paid for by lobbyists whose livelihoods rely on people driving as often as possible.

    What I’d like to hear is a coherent, logical opposing argument for more bike lanes. Because as of now, it all sounds like thinly-veiled garbage.

  76. Andrea
    Andrea November 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm |

    Sheezelbub, perhaps you should try to read my response more carefully. My “What the hell is your point” was directed at Chris’s rant (as was signified by my saying ‘as to Chris’s comment’) about cyclists on public transportation. That had nothing to do with bike lanes, and I was pointing out that these behaviors Chris ascribes to bikers are actually held by the general population and not unique to cyclists.

  77. zuzu
    zuzu November 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm |

    April: I’m sorry, but I can’t help but notice that my entire paragraph about the abundance of pedestrians who are oblivious and negligent keeps being overlooked in favor of criticizing my onetime method of responding to one such offender.

    Congratulations. You’ve discovered that one instance of stupid can obliterate a whole lot of smart. WTF did you even mention it for? Were you expecting people to applaud you and are now all huffy that you didn’t get what you wanted?

    Especially when it’s vicious stupidity. You’re doing exactly what the cyclists complaining about cars are doing, and you’re not doing it out of carelessness but out of some sense of teaching a pedestrian over half a block away from you a lesson.

    IOW, you deliberately acted like an aggressive asshole when you didn’t have to and now you’re sulking because you’re being called out on it.

  78. zuzu
    zuzu November 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm |

    April: Someone needs some coffee! April

    How charming. On a par with “someone needs to take her meds” or “someone needs to get some of my man-meat.”

    You’re really a winner, April.

    BTW, I consider your behavior towards that pedestrian to be no different than the behavior of the TWO minivan drivers who honked and swerved at me, deliberately, this weekend, as I rode in a bike lane on a wide, lightly-traveled road. Each of them had no reason at all to crowd me because there was an entirely empty lane on their left. They were just trying to teach me a lesson, right?

  79. April
    April November 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm |

    How charming. On a par with “someone needs to take her meds” or “someone needs to get some of my man-meat.”

    The sarcastic remark that a grouchy person needs some coffee is the same as ableism. LOL, yeah. You’re really reaching there, aren’t you?

    IOW, you deliberately acted like an aggressive asshole when you didn’t have to and now you’re sulking because you’re being called out on it.

    Do you have a quota to fulfill or something? Haven’t “called out” enough people yet?

    Oh my gawd, being lectured on the internet in the snidest tone possible is really working! I think I’m officially a better person now. Thanks, Zuzu!

  80. April
    April November 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm |

    Sheelzebub: @April–there are no words.You know, if I go by your justification, then I should be able to throw a stick in the spokes of a cyclist who’s barreling down the sidewalk or salmoning.I don’t do that, though because here’s the thing–someone could get hurt.When I have to drive in town or in a city, sometimes pedestrians and cylists dart in front of my car.I don’t rev my engine to make a point, or continue driving no matter how “confident” I am that my brakes will work and how sure I am of my driving ability just to teach someone a lesson.God forbid something doesn’t work and someone gets hurt, dumbass or not.  

    Oh my god, it’s like you deliberately obfuscate every point you try to argue against. You just compared what I said to a deliberate act of physical violence, when it was abundantly clear that I did no such thing, nor intended any such thing.

    You’re all probably right; the impulsive decision I made could have been dangerous. I’m unlikely to behave similarly in the future.

    Anything else? Really, now.

  81. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm |

    Jesus H. Christ April. Get the fuck over your persecution complex already. You go and brag about trying to scare/intimidate someone in order to “teach them a lesson” and you’re shocked that you’re not getting chocolates and flowers in response?

  82. April
    April November 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm |

    You must add 7 layers of additional drama to everything you respond to. As if I acted shocked or displayed a “persecution complex.” Honestly, the fact that I posted an anecdote that ended up being unpopular with certain members of the Feministe commentariat is neither traumatizing nor surprising to me.

  83. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 30, 2010 at 9:26 am |

    Yet you keep posting in outrage over people responding to it.

    Seven layers of drama indeed, dear. . .

  84. zuzu
    zuzu November 30, 2010 at 6:28 pm |

    April: Oh my gawd, being lectured on the internet in the snidest tone possible is really working! I think I’m officially a better person now. Thanks, Zuzu!

    Hey, just as effective as running down pedestrians!

  85. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 1, 2010 at 11:32 am |

    what I DO know is that cyclists are NOT the only people who use those seats when they are neither elderly nor disabled.

    Who said they were?

    I haven’t understood one single point you’ve tried to make, except that you’re pissed off at EVERYBODY and you make generalizations about people you don’t know.

  86. Andrea
    Andrea December 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    Tinfoil, seriously? Chris was complaining that cyclists take up handicapped seats, and I said it was ridiculous to blame only cyclists for the behavior because it’s not something unique to them, many people are guilty of it. I was responding to the fact that this post is about bike lanes, not about blaming cyclists for behaviors that are found in the general public as well. What the fuck is your problem? Seems like YOU’RE the one who’s pissed off at everyone and needs to keep making generalizations. Or maybe you’re pissed because your take-down of my comment didn’t exactly work out, so now you’re grasping at straws?

  87. Andrea
    Andrea December 1, 2010 at 12:56 pm |

    Oh, and Tinfoil? Your inability to understand my points =/= my problem.

  88. Megan
    Megan December 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm |

    nathan:
    5. Some rules for cars really shouldn’t be applied to bikes. In Minneapolis, bikers can now go through stop signs (and I think red lights) if there are no vehicles coming the other way. There was a recognition, finally, that stopping and starting are different for cars and bikes.  

    This isn’t actually true — especially the stop signs part. If you arrive at a red light on a bicycle, and wait one full cycle without getting a green light because you are not big enough to trip the light, then you may proceed if there are no cars coming, and even then it’s not exactly legal but is defensible in court.

    I’m an avid cyclist — I ride to get around, I ride for fun with my friends, I race at regional and national levels. I think bike lanes are stupid.

    Riding in a bike lane means you’re allowing cars to buzz you, you’re usually putting yourself in the way of danger in the form of opening car doors, and you’re opening yourself up to the “right hook.”

    I ride in the traffic lane, with other traffic, because I AM traffic, especially if there are two lanes going the same direction. This way, cars see me, I don’t get doored or right hooked, and no one is tempted to squeeze by me — when they have to go most of the way into the other lane to pass, they realize it’s just as easy to go all the way into the other lane to pass.

    I live in Minneapolis now, and I lived in Copenhagen for six months. The biggest difference that I saw wasn’t a matter of infrastructure, it was that almost everyone in Copenhagen has used a bicycle to get around at some point in their life, so when they ‘graduate’ to a motor vehicle, they are aware of what it’s like to be a bicyclist.

    Unfortunately, it seems that ‘good’ bike infrastructure is necessary to get more people using bikes to get around — good in quotes because I don’t actually think bike lanes are good for cycling — but it’s a widespread enough myth that they ARE good, that if it gets more people getting around on bikes, then they’re good in my book.

    Finally, I want to point out that riding on the sidewalk is INCREDIBLY dangerous not only to the pedestrians that are properly occupying the sidewalk, but to you, the cyclist. Because it is illegal most places to ride a bike on the sidewalk, drivers are not looking for people moving that fast on a sidewalk, and thus are not taking you into consideration as they make decision about when and where to move their vehicle. This is particularly dangerous if you are crossing driveways as you ride on the sidewalk.

  89. Raymond Paquette
    Raymond Paquette December 5, 2010 at 11:26 am |

    @NonBiker

    You are annoyed by cyclist who pass you at stop signs. If they just go through the stop sign, then I agree that you are right to be annoyed.

    Or, do you think that they should go around you to the right at stop signs and red lights, and go to the stop line? You say that your state does not allow split laning.

    Does that mean that you do not pass a cyclist when you are driving, unless you have a passing lane?

    I only bring this up to point out that cyclists are expected to follow same the rules of the road as motorists, but that there really is a double standard. When I ride on the right and there is room for motorists to pass (and often when there isn’t), they do pass. But when the cars are stopped and there’s room for me to pass, I should not?

  90. Raymond Paquette
    Raymond Paquette December 5, 2010 at 11:30 am |

    @NonBiker

    oops, first sentence in the 2nd paragraph should be

    Or, do you think that they should go NOT around you to the ..

  91. April
    April December 8, 2010 at 1:49 am |

    zuzu:
    Hey, just as effective as running down pedestrians!  

    Touche.

  92. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla December 14, 2010 at 11:16 am |

    Han: I’m a biker, a driver, and a pedestrian here in Philadelphia, and I can confidently say that there are champion assholes in all three divisions.

    I just saw some champion asshole pedestrians the other day. I was walking on the sidewalk when I saw a pair of runners running the *wrong way* in the brand new bike lane marked out on a recently repaved street (Pine Street) because it was oh just too inconvenient to run around walkers on the sidewalk. A cyclist going the *right way* in the bike lane had to swerve onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting them.

    I can only think that these people never ride bikes and always drive for transportation, even if it’s to go a half-mile. Hence, they take their own-the-road attitudes with them when they go out for a run.

    (And I kind of think that if most all you ever do is drive a car, when you walk, you do so without realizing that you’re not a car.)

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