Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yelling cyclist, 24, keys trucks parked in bike lanes.

I wish. The thought occurred to me today as I got rerouted in front of a speeding 18-wheeler on Comm Ave because a Coke delivery truck was making a stop at BU. There was some comfort in thinking I could make Boston a more bike-friendly city by attaching a saw wheel to my right shoulder.

Wait a second: it wouldn't make this place any more bike-friendly than it's ever been. It's tragic, really, that a city as beautiful as Boston can't be enjoyed on a bicycle. It's too stressful. Between drivers that are notorious for doing as they please and defensive pedestrians who won't deign to use the crosswalk (and God, I know, I'm one), a person on a bike in Boston has to be focused so as not to get killed. Even our mayor, while promoting a bike commute as a means of going green and getting fit, got doored by just another driver who didn't take the three seconds necessary to look over her shoulder and see if anyone was approaching. Of course, Hizzoner is an easier target than most people I see on bikes, but it's a sad symbol of the Boston biker's dilemma.

Now hold it: people on bikes are also to blame. Like the defensive pedestrian, many a cyclist has taken a catch-as-catch-can attitude to being on the road. But not all of them. Some people are just DUMB. Too often I see people going against the grain of the traffic, sometimes being bullheaded enough to go the wrong way in the bike lane, which has a picture of a bike going the right way painted on it. Then there are people who blaze through red lights, as if traffic laws didn't apply to them. I was stopped at a red light last week and was told by a smartass freshman that I didn't have to stop. I cannot tell a lie: I flipped him off.

There's no question that the situation would be vastly improved by having bike lanes all over the city, but the truth is that a lot of what makes Boston so charming, its old winding streets, is exactly the reason that those of us on bikes can't enjoy it as we go. There is simply not enough room to add another lane, even if it's only a half of one, on a great many of our most centralized streets. As it is, there are too many one-way streets because we can't fit cars going in two directions. Until we come up with a better solution, we just need to learn to be more conscientious of one another.

Drivers: re-examine your manuals! A bike is supposed to follow the same rules as a car! Bikers, take note: you can't expect folks in cars to be willing to share the road when you ride so aggressively. Please don't give us a bad name. Pedestrians: don't talk to bikers, but listen when we yell "look out!" That should be obvious, but you would be surprised.

And remember: mass biking season is almost over. The wussier bikers out there (such as myself) will be back on the T shortly after first frost.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...and don't forget - always wear your helmet!