Have you ever been driving on a busy street only to find traffic immediately slow down to a crawl, and after several aggravating seconds you learn that a bike rider is heedlessly occupying an unnecessary percentage of the roadway? Of course you have! We’ve all been there. Rather than running them over, there’s got to be another solution that doesn’t end in manslaughter, or worse; a moving violation.
Cyclists: They cruise the streets with a curious sense of entitlement. Are they motorists or pedestrians? I’m not sure, but to me, they’ve painted themselves as some sort of self-important, freak hybrid of the two. They seem to pick and choose the best of each party’s rights of the road. Yes, they help themselves to as much street as they see necessary, but when it comes to a traffic signal, they won’t hesitate to look both ways and proceed — when it’s ‘safe’ of course — right through the red light.
Cyclists are certainly a bold bunch. They liken their brisk, yet comparatively slow pace to the nearly-unlimited speeds of an automobile. Yet, despite this, they’ll insist on being the first off the line when we all know that in a matter of a couple seconds, the motor vehicle will be forced to negotiate an always-annoying pass around the bike. This process will no doubt have to be repeated on the same stretch of road given traffic lights and bikers’ inherent inclination to disregard them.
To compound the issue, the promise of an endless caravan of moronic and downright aggressive drivers always seems to ensure unsafety on the road. As motorists are forced to pass bike riders in the ‘ghost bike lane’, some less-than-capable drivers insist on performing unnecessarily wide swerves around bikes — so much so that a driver feels he or she must temporarily occupy the oncoming lane and give at least 12ft of margin to a 3ft-wide object. Really?
To say that the blame lies solely on cyclists would be untrue. Yes, they are an annoyance, but the truth is, they deserve the road more than anyone. They are a paramount depiction of all that this country should be: Athletic, healthy, self-sufficient, self-propelled, environmentally sound, patient (to a degree). If all commuters were cyclists, our lives would be infinitely better. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Ultimately, commuters are impatient, useless, dimwitted, and selfish bags of rotting filth.
Despite the good intentions of cyclists, the fact remains: Cars will never mix well with bikes; therefore, they must be separated. Though efforts have been made to designate lanes specifically for bikes, there are still miles of roadway lacking them. On many streets in cities like Boston and Cambridge, building bike lanes is perhaps not even an option considering most roads were barely designed for horse carriages and pedestrians, — and on occasion, molasses — never mind box trucks and MBTA busses.
I believe that for the outlying towns and cities, the answer is simple: USE THE SIDEWALK! Come on! I can’t even count the sheer number of times I’ve seen a bike eat 7ft of busy street while the wide-open and pristine sidewalk remains clear for miles. It completely baffles me as to why towns ban bikers from the safety of the walks only to exile them onto the dangerous death zones that we call streets. Personally, I would rather get hit by a cyclist as a pedestrian than hit a cyclist as the operator of a motor vehicle.
So why is the law so backwards? I wonder — if the laws were reversed — how many lives would have been lost on the sidewalk compared to those that have been lost on the street. Such a ratio must surely be staggering. Now granted, this is not to say that a pedestrian has never been harmed or even killed by a cyclist on the sidewalk, but I really doubt that number would ever come close to the amount of bike riders killed in traffic. This is perhaps inapplicable to the disgustingly crowed streets of Boston and Cambridge, but for 90% of all streets in the country, the idea couldn’t ring truer.
So to all cyclists out there, for the sake of your safety and my convenience: Get off the street, exercise a bit of civil disobedience, and take back the sidewalk! I know I’ll gladly move over for you.