Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Politically Incorrect Statement

This is a reply of sorts to Sarah's blog regarding riding a bicycle. I hate the damn things. I know they're better for the environment and all like that, but I'm frightened to death by them.

I am sick and tired of being terrorized by bicycles. When I rode a bike in the city (both Chicago and New York), it was a given that bicycles obeyed stop signs, street lights, pedestrians...all that happy horseshit. According to law, a bicycle is a vehicle, and must obey vehicular laws. (Honest. You look it up.)

When I rode a bike for transport and shopping and whatnot, I rode sensibly, I rode at a sensible speed, and I obeyed all traffic laws. Today's bicylists seem to feel that the street belongs to them, and nobody else should get in their way.

A year or so ago, I was crossing 10th Street at Bleecker. There is a traffic light there, and it was green, and it said walk. The 8th Street crosstown bus was sitting there, waiting for the light to change, and secure in the knowledge that I had the Walk sign, I crossed the street.

Only to be slammed and knocked to the pavement by a fucking bicycle that was coming from the opposite side of the bus, who evidently felt that the traffic light did not apply to him, who also evidently felt that obviously he was king of the street and the fact that people might be crossing the street and unable to see him because of the bus were none of his concern.

This was not a crazed bike messenger, by the way. This was a very well dressed young man who simply felt that he and his thousand dollar bicycle could go wherever he chose at whatever speed he chose without reference to whoever or whatever might be in his way.

And this problem goes on and on and on. When I cross a street (at a WALK SIGN, goddammit), I feel that I should be able to do so safely. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have looked carefully both ways and then suddenly been terrified by a bicycle appearing out of nowhere at warp speed, causing me to jump about a mile in the air and scuttle back to the safety of the sidewalk.

And even the sidewalk isn't safe anymore. I get tired of having to leap aside suddenly for the Chinese delivery guy, or just some random idiot who feels that instead of riding in the street until he gets to where he's going, he should get onto the sidewalk at the corner and swoop down on me.

I really do believe that bikes are better for everybody...but not until they learn some damn street manners. And yes, as a longtime city bike rider, I had my share of being suddenly doored by taxis and all the rest of it. But I don't think that's any reason why I should, for instance, be afraid of getting off a bus that can't get into the bus stop. What happens is that these nuts go between the parked cars and the stopped bus, at high speed, of course - again without regard for any human being who might be getting off the bus.

What really frosts me is that without exception, when you show fear, they all laugh uproariously. This is the best fun they've ever had! One middle-aged lady jumping about a mile as some asshole speeds within an inch of her toes is just terrific! Wow! What a great day I'm having!

Let's not forget, by the way, that bicycles don't carry license plates. This means that a bicycle can cream you all over the street, ram your head into the pavement so that you become unconscious, and merrily race off - with no possibility of anybody ever being able to catch him. Isn't that a cheerful thought?

And the bike messengers are the best. They come charging at you from the wrong way on a one way street and then start calling you names if you have the temerity to scream at them when they've just come so close that your pants are ripped. You think this didn't happen? Wrongo. My good pants torn and me with a large bloody scrape from a bike pedal. It's your fault for being in the way of the almighty bicycle.

I've given up on the idea of getting a pellet gun for large fat tourists who get in my way (this may be because I don't actually think they'd ever notice the sting what with all that flab - hey, a new NY theme song! All That Flab). I'm now getting one for any bicycle that dares to come near me. I've had it.

I hate bicycles. And I really miss riding one, but I'm WAY too scared.

Love (but not for bicycles), Wendy

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