March 8, 2009
Better Bike P.R.
Robert Sullivan in the New York Times, has some suggestions to remedy the venial sins of cyclists:
NO. 1: How about we stop at major intersections? Especially where there are school crossing guards, or disabled people crossing, or a lot of people during the morning or evening rush. (I have the law with me on this one.) At minor intersections, on far-from-traffic intersections, letís at least stop and go.
NO. 2: How about we ride with traffic as opposed to the wrong way on a one-way street? I know the idea of being told which way to go drives many bikers bonkers. That stuff is for cars, they say. I consider one-way streets anathema ó they make for faster car traffic and more difficult crossings. But whenever I see something bad happen to a biker, itís when the biker is riding the wrong way on a one-way street.
There will be caveats. Perhaps your wife is about to go into labor and you take her to the hospital on your bike; then, yes, sure, go the wrong way in the one-way bike lane. We can handle caveats. We are bikers.
NO. 3: How about we stay off the sidewalks? Why are bikers so incensed when the police hand out tickets for this? Iím only guessing, but each sidewalk biker must believe that he or she, out of all New York bikers, is the exception, the one careful biker, which is a very car way of thinking.
NO. 4: How about we signal? Again, I hear the laughter, but the bike gods gave us hands to ring bells and to signal turns. Think of the possible complications: Many of the bikers behind you are wearing headphones, and the family in the minivan has a Disney DVD playing so loudly that itís rattling your 30-pound Kryptonite chain. Let them know what you are thinking so that you can go on breathing as well as thinking.
As a pedestrian and transit rider, I heartily concur — cyclists shouldn’t believe themselves incapable of doing harm just because they are marginally less sucky than motorists. And longtime readers, if you’re wondering, yes — I am still pissed off at Will Wilkinson.
Hat tip to LF, Hong Kong Snarkorrespondent.