Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Too bad I haven't bought stamps in like 15 years.

(I'm sure I'm going to get some grief for this)

Dear Bicycler:

Hi. I saw you earlier on my way home from work, and I thought maybe you didn't realize a couple of things, so I thought I'd remind you.

The truth is, I didn't actually see you until the van in front of me going 20 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone finally had room to go around you. Then I saw you. Probably because you're so much smaller than the van. And my Civic. Do you remember seeing me? It was raining pretty hard and you were all covered up with rain gear and a helmet so I doubt you did. Since you're NOT a car, you don't have a rear view mirror anyway, so I'm positive you didn't see the look on my face when I realized that you were the reason I almost missed the longest light on the planet with a long list of things I had to get done before I could go home tonight. My windows were up on account of the rain, so I'm guessing you didn't hear all the names I called you at the same time. So that's probably good.

See, here's the thing, Bicycler: you're not a car. And as such, you don't get to ride in the middle of my car-intended street. You have these littler lanes, on the side of the road, out of the way of big vans and medium-sized sedans, and they're the perfect fit for you and your ride. I'm sure you've seen them, most of them have "BIKE LANE" painted in astoundingly white letters so you know where to go. Car lanes don't need those signs because pretty much everyone knows that cars don't have many other places to go but streets and the driveway. So basically it's understood out there in traffic which vehicle goes where.

I wonder if you think that helmet is going to offer much protection should you one day find yourself slowing traffic almost to a halt in front of a really angry motorist who simply doesn't care what happens to him and is driven only by the red spots he sees when somebody really pisses him off. I also wonder what would happen if one day I just decided to drive in YOUR lane instead of my own, at like the normal posted speed, coming right at you with no real warning because your head is covered in plastic. I know I would get in a lot of trouble if I got caught, so is this your motivation? You know that in this town nobody will give YOU any shit for riding in an area that is not designated for you and causing all manner of traffic jams? Because we're so green and all that? It seems like a bit of a risk, but I guess that's the chance you take when you are trying to prove something.

I don't ride a bike to work or to the supermarket, mostly because I don't own one right now, but also because I have a lot of stuff that I have to carry around with me. So I have a car, and I'm sure that smug look on your face means that you find me disdainful and selfish while I single-handedly pollute the atmosphere. That's okay, it's a fairly fuel-efficient car, and while I'm not really into science and don't get how all that equates to the effect on our air quality, I think I'm maybe a little bit more responsible now than I was when I was driving that '78 Chevy Nova. Plus I feel pretty safe in it, what with it's steel frame and all those airbags. Which, you know, you don't have. Even remotely.

So I guess what I just wanted to remind you, dear Bicycler, is that you are not a car. You're just a guy, a human body with no real protection surrounding you, on a little non-motorized vehicle that relies solely on your legs to move faster, throwing yourself out into traffic on a rainy Tuesday night, risking others perhaps but most certainly yourself, and pissing people off that you never knew you shouldn't piss off. Not people like me, but big, mean, pissed off people on the edge of despair that might not be nice enough to just drop you a note.

Take care out there,



At 10:08 AM, March 16, 2011, Anonymous jackie said...

My sister, her daughter and I were just talking about this subject last week. I really hated it when the city decided that one full lane on SW Oak and SW Stark downtown needed to be turned into bike only lanes except for the short green area indicating that you can drive in that lane so you can make a turn. The thing that really irritates me is when I see someone riding a bike not in the designated bike lane. Then when they get to the traffic light they cross as if they were a pedestrian.

How much money has the City of Portland spent on bike related “improvements”? When I used to work I would have been more than happy if that money was spent to expedite the construction on the McLoughlin viaduct by the big Goodwill.

At 12:45 PM, March 16, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this! I'm not against riding a bike, but.. they seem to think they own the road and have a complete disregard for the RULES OF THE ROAD!! I think all bikes should have to be registered, have license plates, same as cars. They pay nothing for the use of our roads and bitch and moan about cars not "watching over them"... "BS".. I am a careful driver, but when a biker pulls into my lane, the language out of my mouth is much like a seasoned sailor!!

I wish you wrote for the Oregonian JJ... it would do a great service!!
Have a better day!!

At 1:40 PM, March 16, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Jackie said. Same for me.

At 5:55 PM, March 16, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's actually a terrific suggestion - you should send your letter to the Oregonian. I am in total agreement with you. USE THE F#%$ING BIKE LANES.


At 2:45 PM, March 18, 2011, Blogger Marita said...

I hate this time of year because it's when all the bikers come out. For whatever reason they think they are invincible and do not have to obey any of the rules of the road. Stop signs? Nope, no them. It's not just the kids, it's the adults too. Yet, drivers here are always reminding to watch out for the bikers, yada yada yada. No one tells them to watch out for us, and guess what, cars are bigger and will hurt you if we hit you (not on purpose, of course).

At 10:25 PM, March 29, 2011, Blogger Rebecca said...

Have you seen the Portlandia clip called "Bike Rider"?


At 5:36 AM, March 30, 2011, Blogger JJ said...

Haha RebaT, that's why I love that show!


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