REVOLUTIONS- biking in NJ
Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Sharing the road
"Share the road". You hear the expression over and over again, on t-shirts (I have one), on bumper stickers, from the lips of roadies and bike messengers and the local dude on the singlespeed. But what does this actually mean?
The concept is often misconstrued by both cars and bicyclists -- to the detriment of both.
Cyclists often think that this means they can take up the whole road, or that cars have to stop for them, regardless of who has the right of way. This is not true, and riding as if it were is one of the reasons intolerant drivers keep on justifying their intolerance.
Drivers, on the other hand, don't acknowledge the concept at all, or if they do, they simply see it as "don't run over the bicyclists" or otherwise intend them harm. This is well and good, as no one wants to be run over or harmed, but just as the common misconception of bicyclists is too broad, the idea that "sharing the road" is limited to not committing a vehicular homicide is far too narrow.
What "share the road" actually means is that bicycles are vehicles like cars. They are supposed to be on the street and are entitled to no more -- or less -- consideration that the driver of a automobile.
This doesn't mean a bicylcist has the right to swerve into oncoming traffic. But it does mean that cars coming out of, say, a driveway, have an obligation to stop for the bicyle, just as they would a car.
Sadly, this often doesn't happen. The driver sees the bike, pulls out in front of it anyway, thinking either "oh, he can stop," or "why should I wait for a bicycle?" both these thoughts are based on the fact that the bicycle doesn't have a internal combustion engine. If that 20 lb bicycle was a 20 ton truck, you can bet your grandma's pushup bra the driver would wait rather than risk a collision.
So what can be done?
The concept has to be named, and understood. T-shirts and bumper stickers are great for naming concepts, but not for explainign them. Anyone, for instance, can put a "share the road" bumper sticker on their car. But how many can articulate just what it means and why it's important? That is the issue. Cyclists are often angry -- and justifiably so -- by idiots driving cars that nearly kill them. However, how can you by angry at someone for failure to grasp a concept that you yourself are unable to articulate, beyond a bumper sticker slogan?
Cyclists demand recognition of their place on the road -- with good reason. But they should also realize what this entails. Riding in a safe manner, as part of traffic. Not riding the sidewalk. Not riding on the wrong side of the street. Using lights after dark. Every one of these behaviors is not only unsafe but also reinforces the idiots idea of what constitutes bicylcing norms. Every fool riding an expensive road bike on the sidewalk is telling drivers that that's where bikes belong -- on the sidewalk. The bicycle is a vehicle, and it belongs on the road. Not the sidewalk, path or park (the exception being mountainbikes or cross bikes, which are offroad vehicles).
What to do? Cyclists who ride in ways that aren't keeping with traffic out of fear need to take back their place on the streets. Don't let cars crowd you over or onto the sidewalk. Ride as part of traffic. And then you can demand others "share the road" with you. But only if you are willing to share it with them.
Most bicyclists are perfectly willignt o share the road with cars, provided they aren't piloted by maniacs. Are car drivers willing to have the same regard for bikes?
Monday, 24 April 2006
Idiots on the (information) highway...
Reading a link to this...Statesman Blog
and came across a load of manure about why bikes shouldn't be on the roads, should be licensed, etc. The posts were prompted by the question of what is the most dangerous local intersection for cyclists and cars.
One person writes:
"OK If you want to treat bycycles as vehicles.
1.All bycycles must have registration tags yearly, say min $25
2.All bycyles must have inspection stickers yearly, say min $10
All cyclist must take a course and be licensed.
4.All cyclyst must carry insurance, liability at a minimun.
You want to have the same rights as automobiles, then pay for the privileged like REAL vehicles do."
The words are shocking in their ignorance and malice. Bicycles are already legally considered vehicles. Saying you want additional restrictions on them and ignoring this shows only a lack of respect for the law -- and shoddy thinking.
We who ride have to obey all the vehicle laws -- even those that don't apply to us -- like stopping at a stopsign on a main road to make a right, when we are drivign on the shoulder not the lane so any oncoming car's aren't even in our line of travel.
As to those ludicrous ideas of insuring and licensing bikes, there is no reason to license or insure bicycles as the damage they could cause, and their number on the road, are minimal compared to SUV's and cars.
"REAL" vehicles -- cars? -- don't get charged insurance cause it gives them more *rights* on the street, they are required to be insured because they present a greater *danger* on the street. Insurance is about risk, not rights or priveledges.
Some people just spout out stuff without thinking. I doubt she (assume Jen is a she?) realizes either, the inflatable tire was invented for the bicycle?
Another person writes: "ANY INTERSECTION! It is absolutely insane for anyone to get on a bicycle and go out into Austin traffic and expect to ride safely on the same roadway as vehicles. Absolutely Insane!!! It poses a hazard for the drivers as well as those on the bicycles. I cannot believe that it is not against the law to do so."
Just to remind some New Jerseyians who feel the Garden State is the most un-bike friendly place in the nation, recall these kind words about cyclists from Austin TX: "It is absolutely insane! I can't believe it is not against the law!"
As the man said, better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
Bicycles are already *legally considered vehicles* -- already (reduncancy deliberate). We are required to stop at lights and stopsigns and obey other laws...
A lot of the motorists positngon this board cloak their words in concern for the cyclists but they are only concern for themselves: "As more cars take to the streets the bikes will be at risk", said one poster; "they can skid out" said another, also raising the risk of inhaling pollution. Where do you think this auto congestion and pollution comes from? Too many bicycles?
Most cyclists own cars and drive. A lot of them are wither frugal enough to ride to save $, or ride for the fun of it. The6y already pay the overpriced insurance required by law and DMV fees, etc.
Bicycles are already "Street legal" without htese requirement. And imposing them makes no sense given the almost negligible danger a bicycle poses to a Humvee.
When I drive I am cautious of cyclists. When I ride I am cautious of cars. However I have been shot at (w/ a bb gun), had bottles thrown at me, and been run off the road by cars. I have been hit by cars 5 times despite having never violated any traffic laws and exercising more than normal courtesy towards the cars on the road. I should like to see some of those same cars do the same. They don't have to be courtious to me -- this is America in the 21st century and no one is polite any more -- but at least use turn signals when swerving at me over the legal speed limit.
Out society takes people who could never pass the already onerous restrictions for gun ownership and sets them loose on the streets in 4 ton missiles with steering wheels. Fact is the bikes were here first, why do you think the inflatable tire was invented. You car worshippers came later. You don't have to like sharing. But you have to obey the laws. I do so when I drive.
Monday, 19 September 2005
More bikes on the road
9-19-05: "I am so psyched to try that bike," said one of my co-workers yesterday. After building up a single speed beach cruiser for the boss to tool around the neighborhood in, he had asked me to build him a road bike.
"With drop bars?" I asked, skeptically.
"Yeah," he said. "I want those."
So my trusted Univega roadie, with brazed on downtube shifters, is now fitted with a set of older sturdy wheels, 25c tires, basic pedals [the clipless were removed and ready to go. There is air in the tires and it will be going to a new home tonight.
Similarly, my friend's mother wants to get on a bike, and we had planned for me to go with her to a shp -- pick out a ride. She bought a bike in the interim, but he still wants me to come over and help her set it up, adjust the ride position, etc.
Across town, an acquaintence of mine who sold bikes out of his back yard, got fined $500 for leaving one lonely bike, with a "bikes for sale" sign, out front.
I don't go out of my way to convert people to the bicycle, but by george, they see how much fun I have riding and they want one. And then along comes the government and fines a guy for trying to sell people bikes. Stupid legalistic f&*ks.
Personally, I feel the world would be a better place if more people rode. Even just once a week around the block.
But the government has different ideas. In supposedly bike-friendly Chicago, there is that crackdown going on. Cars and trucks [SUV's] routinely risk death on the roads, discouraging many from riding. For every step forward we take as a society, we leap a yard back.
So am I pissing into the wind? Waiting at the bus stop while my ship comes in? Raging against a machine which won't die? Hard to say. Every ride is fun, a reminder that we are alive and breathing, thinking, feeling individuals, not government-run automotons to be easily catagorized, defined and compartamentalized.
Will more people riding really make a difference? Hard to say that, too. One of the bike magazines gave away 50 free bikes and the recipiants began riding in earnest, encouraged others to ride, and claimed both health and emotional benefit. But was that an anomoly? It's hard even to say that those who want to ride will stick with it, let alone what difference it'd make outside the world of cyclists.
But for now, I've built a bike for one more person. Maybe that's enough.
Saturday, 17 September 2005
The Bicycle Militia?
Recall all those stories in the 1990's about radical Americans moving out west and starting armed groups, which came to be dubbed "militia's"?
The thought occured to me today as the price of gas began to go down, and I had my car fixed, but still rode a bike today. And then it hit me. All of us who ride -- for whatever reason -- are like a militia, throwing some collossal wrench into the engine of organization, social planning, and restriction.
By not doing the expected, or traditional, or "normal" thing -- drive -- we unnerve people. We puzzle them. And we occaisionally piss them off. But the end resultis that, as a whole, American cyclists are a strongwilled group. There are probably more cyclists who honestyl ride regularly, then there are religious people who can truthfuly say they regularly attend sermons. And the truth is that it's fun.
But what we have long done for fun -- often independently of one another -- is now coming together. $3.59 a gallon gas, even if it recovers to like $3 a gallon, will forever change America. Recallt he gas hikes of the 1970's? The price never went down after that.
But becausde we ride more than drive, regular cyclists are not being hit -- financially or through frustration -- by this ten-pound sledge hammer every time they go somewhere.
Because we do what's considered dangerous, unusual, and maybe a little odd [f-ing nuts I've been told] out coworkers, noncycling friends, and family regard us as wierd. Those who overestimate the effort needed to ride think that something as simple as a 40 mile ride is a herculean effort. Hey, if they want to overglorify what we are and do with resperception, the errors to the advantage, eh?
But the result is we do not fit in, we are misfits, like the militia who removes themselves from society to go train in the woods. The difference is that unlike the militia we are waging our war every day, a war against waste, frustration, absurdly high gas prices and mind-killing "routine". To us a spin to the store can a be fun adventure; to the guy int he Hummer it simply costs ten bucks.
As we wage our war, maybe the social fabric will shift, the cylcists will be welcomed, and everyone would take up biking -- or at least stop treating those who bike as freaks. But I doubt it -- and somehow, if that were to happen, it would seem almost like the enemy of mediocrity won. Who wants to be mainstream an "normal" anyway?
I'd rather be a part of the "bicycle militia" of America -- doing my own thing, and at the same time holding back to curtain of cosmic insignifigance with each turn of the cransk, and frustrating the government catagorizers and rule makers with each click of my SPD cleats on pavement.
Why? Not sure. But tearing a hole through that curtain is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than letting it fall.
Newer | Latest | Older
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
25 Dec, 06 > 31 Dec, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
19 Jun, 06 > 25 Jun, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
15 May, 06 > 21 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
17 Apr, 06 > 23 Apr, 06
10 Apr, 06 > 16 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
19 Dec, 05 > 25 Dec, 05
12 Dec, 05 > 18 Dec, 05
21 Nov, 05 > 27 Nov, 05
7 Nov, 05 > 13 Nov, 05
31 Oct, 05 > 6 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
10 Oct, 05 > 16 Oct, 05
3 Oct, 05 > 9 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
19 Sep, 05 > 25 Sep, 05
12 Sep, 05 > 18 Sep, 05
5 Sep, 05 > 11 Sep, 05
29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
22 Aug, 05 > 28 Aug, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05