I have for several years kept an on-line journal. Entries are protected and get shared with a group of friends and acquaintances. A not inconsiderable number of the entries were about bicycling until I decided I needed a blog as none of my readers were bicyclists and I wanted to see if I could connect with other passionate bicycle commuters. Failing that I wanted to say what was on my mind because with the delicate feelings of my driver readership at stake I was inclined to sugar the pill.
The specific precipitating incident that brought about chafecity was a comment I got over an icon I uploaded to the journal to associate with bicycle-related entries. You can see this same icon in my blogger profile, it's a "No Left Turn" sign with "EXCEPT BICYCLES" appended. I see this sign every day on my way in to the office.
Here's what I wrote when I uploaded the icon:
I don't usually bother to write a post for an icon, or even bother explaining an icon, but this picture is special to me. I asked Contraption Captain to stop and snap a picture of this sign that we see every day on our commute to work. At this spot, there is a left turn lane that is just wide enough for a bicycle. Cars must continue on Alma street and take a far less convenient left further along. One reason that biking in this part of California is so wonderful is that bicycles are valued, mostly with nice broad bike-only lanes but also with these kinds of signs and accommodations which serve as indications that what is correct and acceptable for a bicyclist may not be appropriate for a car. In this case a bicyclist may make a left turn but a car may not.
Most of the people reading the journal are people I met and knew when I lived in Massachusetts. One of them commented.
(Massachusetts driver) I cannot conceive of where it would be safer for a bike, a slower and less protected vehicle, to make a left turn than a car. We have bike lanes in Cambridge, but people in cars drive in them all the time.
This in a nutshell is why I find bicycling in Massachusetts so loathsome. This perception that bicycles (slow and less protected) do not belong anywhere. Not even on roads with bike lanes because hey, people in cars drive in them all the time, right?
California has it's short-comings but at least in the corner of the state that I bike, the bike lanes are used by bicycles. Sometimes a car parks there and I get annoyed, sometimes a car drives in the bike lane and I get super-annoyed but I take it for granted that the lanes are there and mostly available. And I take it for granted that I belong, as do the giant majority of people around me.