Friday, July 8, 2011

do not beat your wife.

I was reading an article earlier this week about a Portland Oregon bicyclist who made a left turn despite having a red left arrow.  He said he made this move, that he knew was illegal, because:

...riding this area ~5 days a week gives me great insight into the saftey of the area. I had stopped at the signal and was well aware that there was no opposing traffic. In fact, drivers often are angry at bikers in that intersection when they have to wait a few seconds until the biker takes their left onto Terrwilliger from Broadway and merge into the bike lane...

Ok.  So what happened after the guy went through the red light was that a truck driver honked it's disapproval and once the truck had a green light attempted to run the bicyclist down and kill him.  And the bicyclist wrote in because he was upset about that, not the honking, he was upset about the near death experience.  The article gives brief (half of a sentence) mention to "attempting to kill people is wrong" (my words) but dwells mostly on how the bicyclist brought this situation on himself by *gasp* breaking the law.

No airtime at all is given to the bicyclist's position that no one was coming and staying to wait for the red light often makes drivers "angry."  Which is a shame because it has been my experience that both things (it was safe, and if I wait cars get angry) are true.

Here's what stayed with me though.  This quote:

“I like what Tom Miller says about bicyclists taking responsibility for their own public image and riding more responsibly,” Wyatt said.  “When they run red lights, motorists get angry.” 

The bicyclist should not run a red light because it's a safety issue ...... they should not run a red light because it makes motorists "angry."

That is so fucked up.  But it's also entirely true.  Once I started thinking about it I realized that a huge amount of my bicycling is about not making the cars angry.  I smile at them.  I wave.  I signal up a storm.  I stop at stop signs even when the cars are nowhere near and I wait at red lights even when for me there is no cross traffic.  Not because doing something else would be dangerous but because cars have teeny tiny tempers and when they lose them (it may be as simple as a bicyclist going for a ride with his kid) they are very dangerous.  Cars obey some of the laws when it suits them.  They'll stop at a red light if there are other cars around.  They slow down at stop signs if they do not see another car nearby.  They talk on phones, send text messages, and if they see a bicyclist do something wrong they get "angry" and when they're angry they are as predictable as Brahmin bulls covered in testosterone patches.

1.  Do not beat your wife.
2.  If your wife says rude things to you, see #1
3.  Regardless of whether you have a "good" wife or a "bad" wife see #1

Threatening bicyclists is wrong.  Hitting us when we do the wrong thing at a stop light is...also wrong.  And if you think cars and bicyclists are the same, consider what you can do with your car as a weapon when you are mad versus what you can do with your bicycle as a weapon when you are mad.

I'm done.  For the moment.

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