Bike Month...the love affair continues.
Bike month is officially kicked-off this week...so says NY1 news. For a news agency owned by a gigantic corporation like Time/Warner they sure don't get much of the budget. They spend a lot of time reading headlines out of other people's newspapers, thats when you know they're cheap. Regardless they had a piece on the on-going love affair with Transportation Alternatives head honcho Paul Steely White and D.O.T. commissioner Janet Sadik-Kahn, or as Bikesnob tells us...the Wrath of Sadik-Kahn.
Someday we will have shinny safe bike lanes to ride in and free secure bike parking to deal with all the millions of people fleeing to NYC looking for work. We won't be able to afford to live here...but that is for another blog. Its amazing how they can destroy Union Square in a matter of days to put in a "New Resturaunt," but we have to wait until 2011 to have 200 miles of new bike lanes. But who uses bike lanes anyway?
Here is an article from my the New York Times on the battle for bike lanes.
photo by: Robert Stolank for the New York Times
Article published May 4th, 2008
written by: Colin Moynihan.
There is also a nice video here for people too busy to read and too busy to have New York One read to you.
Articles like this have good facts in them like: New York City had the first bike path back in 1894.
But car culture is deeply ingrained in us from the minute we first ride in a car seat home from the hospital or watch our first NASCAR event. This type of journalism drove...(get it) Tim of short-schrift blog to outrage and made a special blog posting about how much this article pissed him off.
oooohhh. You'd think the that photo above of the video would piss anyone off...not only is that person parked in the bike lane, they're halfway into another lane.
But lets give Tim a chance and see what he has to say:
Sunday, May 04, 2008
My Secret Shame
There are so many occasions for spontaneous anger when you live in a city that it is nearly impossible to recall or rank them all or to even remember the reasons for your wrath. But one group of citizens consistently outrages me, all the more so for their moral grandstanding. At times I have to acknowledge that my dislike of them is visceral and perhaps irrational. But it is no less real for that. I'm talking, of course, about bicyclists.
Ok, why is this a secret? Do you really wish you could be down with bikers and are slightly ashamed that you are just another mundane schmo who dreams of having rebellious freedom while reducing the impact of global warming on the environment. Thats what all the cool people are doing in Williamsburg. I dunno whats going on in backward Philly.
Bicyclists drive me nuts. In Philadelphia, as in cities across this great country, bicyclists routinely flout the law, riding on the sidewalk when it's convenient and holding up traffic in the street whenever possible. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a bicyclist at a stop sign or even a red light, or wait behind a car that is correctly stopped at such an intersection. Instead, the man or woman on the bicycle will weave between parked, stopped, and moving cars to gain a fractional advantage. Yet if an automobile so much as grazes a bicycle lane, all hell breaks loose.
Bicyclists no more routinely flout the law then every other citizen who...talks on their cell phone while driving (NYC) or jaywalks or has nasty thoughts about George W. Bush, (oh wait, that's not illegal...yet) This is reality. We break the law, we co-exist...I mean how else do you expect to get your Chinese food? Its not like you'd dare walk to the store and get it. And UH...lets exaggerate a little more. "holding up traffic in the street whenever possible? How does one bike hold up traffic? Bikers never hold up traffic, cars do an excellent job of doing that all on their own.
Philadelphia is not Las Vegas or Miami...its a pretty bike friendly town and most experienced rider use the street. They are probably riding on the sidewalk because some Eagles fan is double parked in his Hummer while stuffing their face with a philly cheese steak from racist Gino's. Remember to order in English.
Yes, I know that an automobile bears greater mass, velocity, and force than a bicycle and that the consequences of a motorist's mistake almost always outweigh those of a bicyclist's. But come on. Half of these people on bikes are just jerks. I'm especially bothered as a pedestrian, since half the time my sidewalk winds of becoming an impromptu bicycle lane. If my wife, baby, and I are walking two abreast, or worse, walking with a stroller, we wind up getting clipped or shoved aside by some jerk in a bike helmet who won't or can't ride on the street.
Do you walk around with a target on your body? Why are bikers always clipping you or coming into physical contact with you? Are you 500lbs wide? How often do you verbally tell bikers to get on the street? Or do you bottle it all up inside and unleash it in your blog. But hey half of us are all jerks anyway.
And please, spare me the spasms of virtue. I know it feels good to move around the city under your own power, and to tend and care for a shiny object. And you have your own catalogs with gear and shirts and knee pads or whatever. But there isn't anything virtuous about what you're doing. You want virtue? Ride the subway, or the number 13 trolley. D.on't get all holier-than-thou with people who drive or ride in cars just because they've chosen the most technologically advanced form of transportation available to the average citizen. Yes, cars have problems. Yes, parking stinks. Yes, we need to think more about global warming. But you are exactly 2/10 of a nose hair away from the occasional driver in terms of your carbon footprint, so cool your jets, bike boy.
Technologically advanced? Why because you spend so much time in traffic? Pollute the planet while you loose time looking for a place to park in spaces that could fit ten times the amount of bikes. And you run on a fuel that is run out and the source of so many conflicts across the globe. Sounds advanced? 2/10th of a nose hair...Bike Boy. Ok Massa. Who are you talking about? Is this someone who specifically keeps bumping into you and your family? Or just half of all us boy-jerks?
In case you're wondering why I'm suddenly dumping on people who ride bikes around the city, the occasion or pretext is this article in the New York Times. Here are some of the outrages:
James Frederick was in Manhattan cycling west in the Prince Street bike lane on a recent morning when a green Ford parked in the lane forced him to swerve into the narrow roadway where cars and vans were rushing past.
“It’s kind of scary because the cars next to you just keep going,” said Mr. Frederick, 49, a messenger who lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. “The city just put this lane in a few months ago, but it’s not respected by drivers.”
Feel free, Mr. Frederick, to be angry at the jerk with a green Ford parked in the bike lane. But, if you swerve at full speed into a lane of traffic, don't be surprised when the automobiles next to you don't immediately stop to let you through. Did you stop and wait and look for a safe way around when you saw, probably from some distance, that your lane was blocked? No, you didn't. That's what the rest of us have to do when somebody double-parks. Which, by the way, happens a lot.
In response, some cyclists have handed out fake but realistic-looking summonses to drivers in bike lanes, leading at times to arguments. Others said they have slapped stickers on cars that look like those pasted on vehicles that fail to make way for the Sanitation Department street sweepers.
Well, we all love vandalism, and impersonating officers. Only a bicyclist would be so impressed with his or her moral superiority that they wouldn't see a problem with this, or would be so naïve as to be astonished that these practices lead "at times to arguments." I'm surprised they haven't resorted to slashing tires, or kicking cars, which has happened to me on three different occasions when I was trying to park in a metered space.
HELLO TIM! Parking in the bike lane is ILLEGAL. Stop blaming the victims for problems of the automobile with no efficient infrastructure, because we spend all of our money on clusterbombs instead of fixing 100 year outdated things like bridges, roads and streets. Putting a fake flyer on a car is not vandalism anymore then the hundreds of catalogs I get from companies like L.L.Bean and Victoria Secret every day in my mailbox. It is also not impersonating an officer. Why do you think bicyclists are the source of all your problems? Did you not get that shiny big wheel for Christmas that one year and its scared you for life?
Ten years later, Mayor Edward I. Koch became frustrated when bike lanes that he had built on main thoroughfares like Fifth Avenue and Broadway, which were separated from motor vehicles by asphalt islands, were criticized by drivers and pedestrians and, even worse, ignored by many cyclists. As a result, he ordered that the islands be removed.
There may be responsible safe cautious cyclists out there who take as much care with themselves and their machines on the roadways as I do when I'm a pedestrian, a motorist, or a passenger on public transit. But, when push comes to shove, cyclists are just as ready to flout the law and put themselves in danger as anyone else in this crazy-ass city.
Get over yourselves, cyclists. As Stephen Colbert would say, you're on notice.
P.S.: Welcome, many referred readers. Had I known that so many people would read this post, I would have argued it differently, plugging holes and making needed concessions, but that ship has sailed. I do want to add, though, since there's been confusion on this point, that I don't own or regularly drive a car. My frustration with bikes is mostly borne out in my pedestrian experience, but in the war between drivers and cyclists, have about the same mixture of sympathy and frustration with both. (Maybe I'm just jealous.) So, instead of referring to me as "idiot motorist" or "dumbass driver," if you would call me "that douchebag who walks and rides SEPTA everywhere" I would be much obliged.
Thanks for coming, and if you're at all interested in anything else I write about, please stick around. Otherwise, in one week, I will write about why I hate puppies.
So, I guess your trying to be cute now. Hmmmm. NOt funny.