[*BCM*] The movement AGAINST cyclists
Rachel Elizabeth Dillon
red at mit.edu
Tue Jun 6 10:26:03 EDT 2006
On Mon, Jun 05, 2006 at 09:03:00AM -0700, Jym Dyer wrote:
> > No, but our kids should be exposed to and prepared for
> > reality, which right now includes a lot of cyclists running
> > red lights.
> =v= Not to mention the reality of the vast majority of cars
> speeding as fast as they can, as often as they can get away
> with it, which is of course most of the time.
Well, what is so different about a driver saying "I am going to
do this because I think it is safe and the law is wrong" as opposed
to a cyclist saying the same thing? There are a few things:
* The driver can more easily injure or kill another person if she
messes up (though a bike collision can still be nasty)
* The driver is more likely to be penalized for not following the
law than the cyclist (which would ideally mean she thinks more
carefully before deciding to violate it, though I'm not sure
* The driver is likely travelling at higher speeds where
reaction time is more important and possibly too slow
regardless --- though this can happen on bikes too, it's
much less likely
This seems to me like drivers should be more careful, but there is
still a place to decide to bend the rules, if we're going to decide
bending the rules is OK.
> =v= I appreciate your contribution, but overall I'm so damned
> sick of this argument, which is always the same and predictably
> leaves the wider context out every single time, the better to
> hammer on a point about those awful, awful cyclists.
Well, I'm not trying to hammer on a point about awful cyclists. I think
cyclists, including myself, are awesome. If you saw the way I rode,
you would not think I was the sort of person who believed in cyclists
following the law. The reason for that is that I think the safest way
to ride, drive, or walk is to do what the people around me expect me
to do. And in Boston, the people around me --- drivers, pedestrians,
and other cyclists --- do not expect me to follow the rules of the road
as laid down in Massachusetts Traffic Law.
Instead, they expect me to follow an unwritten set of rules --- just
like someone doing 55 on the freeway would get honked at and almost
run off the road in many places where that is the speed limit, someone
riding at a comfortable speed (10-15mph, say) in the lane and stopping
at lights and crosswalks will often get honked at and almost run off
the road. I've tried this, it was terrifying. If I stop at red lights,
especially in Camberville, other cyclists will sometimes yell at me. So,
when it's safe and reasonable in my estimation (ie I've slowed down and
looked both ways), I don't.
Maybe this means I'm not a strong enough person to go against the tide.
But before I started biking aggressively, I got hit by cars, doors, and
buses five times in one summer; since then, I've been hit zero times.
I've certainly become more skilled, but I've also become more aware
of the _unwritten_ rules of the road, which are, I think, at least as
important as the ones on the books.
I do find that being a daily cyclist makes me, on the occasions that I
have to drive, a much more dangerous driver. I'm not sure what I think
about that; it's a little disconcerting. If I followed the law when
biking, I expect this wouldn't happen. There are obvious solutions to
this, though, from "practice driving once a week or so" to "burn my
(Yes, cars are the devil; sometimes I'm the devil, too.)
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