Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Suck Wind

By Daddy X

Last week Giselle posted an effective rant about abuses at her local cemetery, citing, among other trespasses, bicycling in a graveyard. Well, I’m here to belabor those entitled bicyclists themselves.

Momma X and I live in one of the most scenic and exciting locales in the country, boasting glories such as the Golden Gate Bridge, G.G. National Recreation Area, Muir Woods, Pt. Reyes National Seashore. We serve as a gateway to the Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino wine country. Vacationers come from all over the world to enjoy a wide menu of choices. Did I mention the sophistication of San Francisco? Right across that gorgeous bridge. We are lucky to experience a mild climate without the dangers and drudgery of snow. Year-round opportunities to ride bicycles to wonderful places abound.

This is not about kids who ride bikes to school. This is not about those who commute to work or do errands on bikes. My gripes are for those to whom bicycling is more than transportation. The enthusiasts. The advocates. Thrill seekers.

You probably have the breed in your midst too. They typically dress the part. Helmets sporting assorted mirrors protruding at geeky angles. Spandex is also big (less wind resistance) especially in day-glow colors.  The bikes they ride, with all available extras, cost thousands. They strap their feet to the pedals.

The bicycle ‘community’ petitions legislators to enact rules that favor bicyclists, without regard for those who actually pay for roads through licenses and registrations. They’ve even lobbied to eliminate the law requiring bicycles to stop at stop signs and red lights. They won’t stand for license plates, so nobody can be identified if they cause an accident.

Like the local guy who mowed down a 65 year-old hiker while speeding on a trail across a one-lane footbridge. He wouldn’t even slow down and wait for the woman to get off the bridge. She was lucky the accident had been observed by witnesses or the perp would never have been charged. His defense was that he hollered “Heads up! On your right,” and that she didn’t react fast enough. The nerve!

A law recently passed requiring a car to give a three-foot clearance when overtaking a bicycle. That’s all well and good, except that most of our popular cycling roads tend to hilly and winding, so they have a double line down the middle. A line that can’t legally be crossed, because visibility is limited, given the obvious danger of going into the oncoming lane. Of course, many bicyclists don’t ride single-file or pull to the right when being passed, so a car has no choice but to in some way break the law, simply by being on the same road.

There is a phenomenon in San Francisco (and other American cities) called ‘Critical Mass’ that has been going on here for 25 years. Every last Friday of the month a huge contingency of bicyclists rides through the city at commute hours ignoring stop signs, red lights, and heavy traffic to try and further screw up the flow. They are quite successful with their efforts, requiring cars to wait for many cycles of cross-traffic signals. They won’t give an inch or separate their ranks to allow for anyone to try crossing the intersection. Bikers pound on car hoods, calling out obscenities at everyone on four wheels. Fights break out.

I could go on and on about the various transgressions of bicyclists, but I wanted to get to the deeper, more manipulative aspect: The one-issue voter.

In this area, the bicycling community votes as a block. Promise bikers something and they’ll all vote for it, no matter if a proposal is good for the community or not.

Want to develop open space areas, fill in a creek, pour more concrete anywhere? Just add public access bike paths to your proposal and it will likely pass. Developers understand this, and most ill-concieved projects now include an offer of a bike lane. Adding bicycling interests to a proposal greatly increase the chances of acceptance. 

Not that bikers necessarily get anything on completion of said project. Developers who play tricks like that also don’t keep their word. The bicycle concession either disappears or becomes greatly reduced in scope. But by then, it’s a done deal.

Suck wind, bicyclers.



6 comments:

  1. Interesting take, Daddy. I guess I'm used to thinking of bicyclists as the good guys, but obviously in your part of the world they've gotten out of hand.

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  2. An excellent example of group self-indentification as "good guys." I suppose all of us think of ourselves as part of good-guy groups of one kind or another, but virtues (assumed or otherwise) such as being vegan, responsibly recycling, supporting charitable causes, etc. don't have the same potential to cause injury or even death as cyclists do. (I was going to add pro-life or pro-choice activists to that list, but in fact the pro-life side does have the potential for injury when it comes to the health and lives of women.)

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  3. I've been hit and injured while walking by a bicyclist who didn't stop for a red light, so this rant hits close to home. (I was in a crosswalk at the time, with the little white man lit on the other side. I didn't see the bicyclist coming because she was behind a bunch of cars and burst out suddenly.)

    I am all for urban planning efforts that improve the ability of bicycles, cars, and pedestrians to coexist. (In Denmark, there were really great separations between all three types of travel, and I felt safer for it.) On the other hand, it seems really wrong-headed to me to avoid stuff like license plates for identification or to remove laws like stopping at red lights.

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  4. I live in a leafy suburb west of Chicago. We have our share of militant bikers also. My husband calls them "Spandex dandies." We have multi-use trails around here, and bikers are encouraged but not required to call out things like, "Passing on your left," when they pass joggers or walkers. Some do, but the dandies never bother. They feel entitled to hog the trail, ride abreast and not single-file, and even their butts sneer at you as they ride past, to remind you how incredibly fit they are, and how fat and gross you are.

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    1. "even their butts sneer at you"

      I have to applaud that genius turn of phrase.

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