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    Bicycle Riding 101

    By Sparky | July 26, 2008

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    Since Ice is having some fun with his 101 series attempting to “lern amerikanz new driving skillz”, I decided to do something similar. Something for a segment of the population that seems to have serious issues with geometry and passive aggressiveness, and may or may not have been dropped when they were children. Repeatedly. On purpose.

    We begin today’s lesson by introducing the segment in question. You’ve all seen their saran-wrapped spandexed asses hurtling down the streets, preferably the narrowest, windiest ones in town. Yes I’m talking about your friendly neighborhood biker. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy biking and I think it’s a good form of physical fitness and I have gone through periods where I biked every day. I also am very much in favor of saving the environment and staying healthy by biking to work or school. I’ll even concede the fact that those loud spandexy thingies are good for aerodynamics. However, I still have a bone to pick with these folks. First off, they seem to enjoy riding on the windy, narrow country roads that don’t actually HAVE a bike lane, thus forcing you to drive behind those spandex monkeys for fifteen miles. And they know it. They actually enjoy having a long line of vacationers, truckers, and commuters being forced to stare at their ass as they all slowly snake through the hills.

    Stay in your damn lane
    Not that hard
    But you can’t consider yourself safe when you’re driving on a ridiculously wide street with a clearly marked bike lane like the one pictured. Oh no. Far from it. As automobile drivers, we’re quite used to the process of driving IN our lanes. That’s right, we usually like to stay in between the shiny white lines whenever possible. Bikers, on the other hand, seem to have an entirely different perception of two freshly painted white lines with the words “BIKE LANE” printed directly in the middle of it in three foot high letters with a nice arrow pointing down the middle. They choose instead to use the white line as a guide, and they proceed to ride directly on top of that thing harder than Paris Hilton on a… well, anything. It’s almost as though bikers wouldn’t quite know where to go if they didn’t have that white stripe leading them in the right direction. It’s a wonder they survive when the white lines start dotting near corners and intersections. By keeping themselves centered on the line instead of IN the bike LANE they effectively put themselves in their favorite spot – in my way. Instead of being able to “share the road”, I actually end up having to concede the road to these line jockeys. Another, related offense is the wonderful parallel bikers. In this case you have two helmet-head speedos spilling out of the same bike lane, which is illegal by the way. Not only does this lead to the inside biker encroaching even further into the roadway, but you also know that they won’t be able to move for you even one inch for fear of crushing their riding partner. We gave you an entire five foot wide lane exclusively for you to play with your pretty bike in. Now why can’t you just be happy with it and actually stay IN it?

    This leads me to my second point, which I’ve sort of mentioned already. The phrase “Share the road” is so incredibly over-used by bikers and has almost become a propaganda tool for them. I had one instance where I was trying to turn right onto a busy intersection. In this case, I signaled, went into the dotted section of the bike lane, and stopped at the crosswalk to wait until a clear spot appeared in cross traffic. The traffic was so bad in the intersection that I ended up waiting there long enough that several bikers actually caught up to me from a mile back. Instead of going around me, or perhaps understanding that I was in the legal part of the bike lane, or even just ignoring me, these bikers made it a point to maneuver as close to my car as possible by squeezing their bikes into the foot-wide space between my car and the sidewalk, nearly removing my side view mirror in the process. As they passed, one passive aggressive spandex jockey had the gall to yell at me to share the road. Kiss my bumper, son. If my car even sneezes on you, you’re just a greasy smear on the sidewalk. Don’t tempt me.

    Which leads to my final point for now. I know how it feels to ride my bike in a world that is more car-centric than ever before. I know that huge cars and SUVs take up lots of room and bikers often get ignored or even have their lives put in danger, whether they decided to tempt my bumper or not. And thanks to Ice’s Driving 101 lessons, we all know that most people can’t friggin drive to save their lives, even the ones that don’t have a Vader Visor on. All that makes bikers lives very difficult. But for crying out loud, don’t punish the rest of us for that. There’s an event in San Francisco (and various other major cities) called Critical Mass. This is an event where hundreds of bikers get together and ride en masse in an attempt to make the point that bikers deserve to be noticed. It’s basically unorganized chaos. They actually have vocabulary terms such as “corking” which is a tactic to block automobile traffic, and “die-in” which is when a bunch of bikers lie in the road to show the dangers bikers face. I don’t mind the protest so much as I do the way they go about it. Make your friggin’ point without blocking traffic. And don’t lie on my road. You’re making it sticky. There have been numerous incidents where cars who try to get through the Critical Mass have been blocked by bikers, had their cars surrounded, beaten with U-locks and had bikes thrown through windows. It’s like a bunch of eight year olds in some sick, twisted version of Lord of the Flies. Everybody needs to chill the frick out.

    And if you don’t, please do try to remember which one of us weighs 2800 pounds and which one of us weighs 180. Thanks.

    Ice:  So I making a small addendum to this post.  My biggest pet peeve at bikers is that they believe they are not required to follow the laws of the road.  Contrary to popular belief, stop signs do in fact apply to you bikers.  I realize you have to go through great effort to stop, but is that worth your life?  My sister made a legal left turn and had a bicyclist hit her, flip over her car and land on the pavement, because they illegally ran a stop sign.  They get mad when you try to legally make your right turn.  They ride on the sidewalks and then just jet out onto the street when they feel like it.  They ride against the grain of traffic (which is more than completely illegal).  Now not all bicyclists are this bad, and most of them only commit the stop sign running offense occasionally.  But don’t expect me to give you respect if you can not even respect the rules of the road.

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    Topics: 101 Classes, Rants, Sparky | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses to “Bicycle Riding 101”

    1. Ryon Says:
      July 28th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

      To quote a bumper sticker i once saw: I’ll start “seeing” bicyclists when they start “seeing” stop signs.

    2. Flu-Bird Says:
      November 16th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

      Black ice is bad news for anyone traveling