Wednesday, July 02, 2008

a brief public service announcement from your friends at jaded

over the past couple of weeks we have noticed that there is a positive correlation between the rising gas prices and the increased use of bicycles in our communities. this trend is, in general, a good thing insofar as bicycling is environmentally friendly, beauty enhancing and fun.

however, before you join the growing legions of cycling citizens please consider these friendly admonitions.

1) "it's called a sidewalk, not a sideride!" as this little nugget of wisdom from our good friend junkyard reminds us, bikes belong in the streets, not on sidewalks. if you are under 12 years old or live in a carefully manicured, SUV infested subdivision, riding along sidewalks is acceptable. however, if you live in any sort of urban environment you should not be riding upon a sidewalk under any circumstances. if deplorable street conditions, construction or narrow roadways force you to take the sidewalk, please walk your bike. if you are avoiding the streets because they feel dangerous or you are uncertain of your cycling abilities, please take a bicycle safety course, strap on a helmet and sack up.

2) all together now: "it's called a crosswalk, not a crossride!" people who fail to follow this admonition will be impaled upon industrial plastics in short order.

3) if you are wheezing, bobbing and weaving and/or generally interfering with traffic you should tighten things up by riding a stationary cycle and/or practicing your riding in a parking lot until you are ready for the road. while driving a motor vehicle sideswiping is considered a crime. the rules for pedal powered vehicles are no different.

4) in regards to spandex, compression shorts and underarmour please use discretion. if you don't want to look at it in the mirror, rest assured that the general public doesn't want to look at it either.

5) learn to communicate effectively with other vehicles. relatively few of us remember the funky hand signals for right hand turn, stop and the like that we were taught in fourth grade. however, the overwhelming majority of us know how to point to our left, point to our right and point with our middle finger if need be. please put this basic knowledge to good use.

since we do not know the variations of biking laws and customs in other communities throughout the country, please feel free to add additional friendly admonitions below.


Anonymous said...


You'll be glad to know that I bike to work when it's not raining (or if I have to take something home that won't fit in a backpack).

I'm mostly a street rider, but I occasionally get on the sidewalk, but they're 90% empty. On those occasions, I'm back in the road.

But I crossbike, I don't crosswalk (or crossdress). Once again, not much foot traffic here.

My only rule I can contribute is:
If you're following me, and you know me, don't honk at me to say hello, jackass. Simply pass me, and wave out the window. There's 7200 people in this town...I'll probably know who it is!

That's it.

Kevin Smith Clark

mike said...

for my community here in Santa Cruz I would also add that Highway 9 is off limits to bikes. i was just gently admonishing a mistaken biker the other day, "hey deuche bag get the fuck off the highway."

it is a windy, narrow road. oh and did i mention it is a HIGHWAY which makes it illegal to ride a bike on?

seriously. there is no shoulder. i don't think have the people who take the road in a car should be allowed on the thing given its dangerous nature let alone the spandex wearing-oh look at me i'm leaving no carbon footprint-i'm gonna take up a whole lane and slow traffic d - bags.

james said...

As I more frequent cycler I can add a comment or two. Definitely agree on number 4. Just cause you can and are riding a bicycle, doesn't give license to look like a muffin top.

To number 1, well...allow me simply say that if Boston was designed to accommodate bicycles I would be 100% in agreement. But since the city and the surrounding 'burbs were neither designed with nor modified with clearly designated bicycle paths, there are times when a cycler has no safer option but to move onto the sidewalk. I turn your attention to the 7 blocks stretching from Judson street to Broadway during rush hour. In terms of road safety and holding up traffic, a bicycler has no safer option than the generously paved, non-potholed sidewalks of Cabot street.

Like Kevin, if this stretch is not heavy with vehicles i will ride it. But if not, there is no safer option than the downtown sidewalk. And until the city sees fit to remove an entire lane of street parking and insert a clearly marked bike lane I will continue to do so.

Safety first lest we become the next round of these on the narrow stretches of our roadways.

Not sure where point 2 came from. But asking a cyclist to dismount and walk their bicycle across the crosswalk is neither in the interest of the vehicle at the intersection, nor in the interest of the bike rider and is probably akin to asking you to obey the speed limit. It's not going to happen and will only hold up the show. Exceptions of course apply to heavily populated crosswalks.

Lastly, to point 5, i'm a total pointer. I learned the proper signs when i was in grade school but doubt anyone knows what they are. A clear finger pointer and a simple wave thanking the driver usually does the trick.

g13 said...

well, i can't speak for the other contributors to the post dr. j, but i still think that sidewalks, even along cabot street during rush hour, need to be a path of last resort. cabot street is definitely wide enough to accommodate traffic, parked cars and bicycles. i realize that riding in the road probably isn't the safest option, but it is the necessary option since bikes were made for the street, not the sidewalks. that's not to say that bikers can't use the sidewalk in manner that is similar to the way a motorist uses the shoulder of the road.

as for the bike lanes, well, none of the major cities i've visited have designated bike lanes throughout the city. even in toronto, where there is a strong biking culture, there are only bike lanes over major bridges and on major downtown thoroughfares. as we transition towards a stronger bike culture in the hub, we need more pioneers who are willing to brave the road and claim the street as their own. i realize that this transition will be a messy, and occasionally dangerous, one, but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.*

as for the crosswalks, i have no argument with bikers utilizing them per se, but if they're crossing through a walk they should not be perched upon their save'em seats. lately i've noticed that a number of local cyclists have been using crosswalks as though they were the side portals on a ms. pacman screen. thus, rather than waiting to make a legal turn as other vehicles must, they use the crosswalk to stop traffic and assume they will be safe while riding between the sacred white lines. well, if they want to use the crosswalks in that way they best put their illusions of safety aside, because if i'm coming the other direction i'm going to lock and load.

of course, there are exceptions to every rule and i'm overstating things a bit. but bicycles are vehicles and the sooner they obey the laws and take to the streets the better.

as a side note, the geek running the segway through beverly's streets best start heeding the big red octagons. otherwise, i'm going to have a fancy new hood ornament for my ninety-something honda.

* just don't let it be your egg that is cracked. neither i nor cade or fletch could live without your man love.

james said...

While I'll disagree with your assessment on Cabot's width, for the most part i'm in agreeance with utilizing the sidewalks as a last resort. That's generally what i'm aiming at, but unfortunately Cabot ain't designed much for safety on wheels.

I will add that Europe has ruined me in terms of bikes. They're everywhere. When their streets were first designed, they didn't accommodate bike traffic. they since have been modified to accommodate. No reason we can't do the same.

If i had to wager, were you to begin riding to work I've no doubt you would quickly adopt the "You're in Gentry's world now!" biking ridin' determination. :)

And lack of man love here. Hope i'm not conveying anything otherwise.

*insert another gay smiley here, indicating all is totally cool*

g13 said...

speaking of segways, check out these anti-terror assault vehicles. those are waaay cooler than the segway knockoffs the salem po-lice use!

Before Girl said...

If you're a bike, you're considered a VEHICLE. Just like a motorcycle. We don't ride on the sidewalk, so neither should you. Ever.

Pay attention to your surroundings. Just because I see you doesn't mean I care. I do care, I don't want to get sued because you ran into me, but I get punished because I'm the one in the more dangerous vehicle.

Also, always assume the drivers around you don't give a damn about you. It makes you more cautious.

Also, when the traffic light turns red, you stop just like the cars do. When the light turns green, you go when the cars do. Don't pretend you're a pedestrian, crossing the street against the lights on your bike like a walker, and then weave in and out of traffic like a car when traffic is moving. Pick one-vehicle or pedestrian, I honestly don't care so long as you stay consistent.

If there are potholes, go through them-that's what the shocks on your bike are for. When you swerve around them, you remind me of SUV drivers doing the same thing.

I don't much care if you ride or walk your bike across streets, so long as you hustle your ass across.

A point to the left or the right, or even pointing to the ground on your left, with your left and likewise with the right, is very effective.

I find it amusing that my word verification is "cyfck" as in Cycle F*#$!