Friday, June 17, 2011

Gripe du Jour: Urban Bicyclists, UPDATED

Yes, I said it out loud -- city-dwelling bicycle riders are a wart on the face of the Earth.

I'm not talking about the folks in padded spandex britches and helmets who tackle challenging trails, or kids that go round and round and round in circles on the street in front of their houses (like I used to do).  No, I'm talking about the look-down-their-noses, self-important folks who eschew the automobile and take up waaaay more of the road than that to which they're entitled.

Now, I'm also not complaining about those cyclists who obey the rules of the road and choose routes that aren't dominated by the busiest arteries.  I don't condemn those who cycle because they can't afford a car (or gasoline!), or those who legitimately believe they're living a healthier, greener lifestyle by doing so.

As long as they obey the rules of the road.

It's a good thing I've trained myself to look both ways before proceeding into an intersection, even on one-way streets.  In New Orleans -- a city whose stop signs and traffic lights are viewed a mere suggestions -- that training is called "self-preservation 101."  But, it's a really good thing for many a cyclist I've encountered in this neck of the woods that I've trained myself thusly, because absent that training, several of them would be little more than road kill in colorful packaging.

Yesterday, I had already looked in the opposite direction of the one-way street I was preparing to cross and saw no traffic coming from the correct way or the wrong way, when something whispered to me that I should glance at the wrong way again as I was stepping on the accelerator.  Sure enough, out from behind a parked car popped Mr. long-haired unshaven man-boy, pumping away as he listened to something plugged into his ears, decidedly oblivious to the fact that he was going the wrong way on a one-way street.  Fortunately, I braked quickly enough to save his sorry hide.  And then he flipped me off! 

If I had squished him, I would have been a total wreck, but it still would have been his fault.  In the jousting game of car vs. bike, car always wins.

Don't even get me started on those cyclists who insist on riding on busy streets at rush hour, 15 mph below the speed limit, and who refuse to get out of the middle of the lane, backing cars up six or seven deep.  Or those who won't wait their turn and peddle past a line of cars at a stop sign, on the right, and pass you as you're preparing to make a right turn.  Or those group riders that take up an entire lane at a leisurely pace. 

They're as bad as those inconsiderate air travelers who insist on strolling (or waddling) through a concourse, five abreast, taking up all the space their rolling luggage doesn't, and talking at the top of their lungs.  Almost as bad as unescorted men in grocery stores who abandon their carts in the middle of the aisle to go look at  or fetch something the next aisle over, effectively halting cart traffic in all directions.

Moogie appears to have mounted the "anti-inconsiderate dolts" soapbox today.

Anyway.  The New Orleans Police Department recently announced that tickets will henceforth be issued to cyclists who flaunt the rules of the road -- and tickets have actually been issued!  Pretty pricey tickets!  Of course, that was in the French Quarter (where cyclists often run people off the sidewalks!), and the practice probably won't stretch all the way uptown where Moogie can get some relief from menaces on two wheels. 

But it's a start.

If the world would just put Moogie in charge for only a few days, there would be some much-needed changes made in public interpersonal interaction.

UPDATE:  Inno's comment below inspired me to add a little article and video about the "World Naked Bike Ride," New Orleans chapter's, recent event.  I live in such an -- interesting -- place.  Probably not for those under 18, and probably not best for viewing at work.


  1. Hmmmm. I thought those types of cyclists only existed up here in Hippyville. Just wait 'til the Critical dumMass idiots start tying up traffic. Up in Portland they blocked a bridge which kept an ambulance from getting a critical patient to the hospital.

  2. I felt the same way as you about bicyclists when we lived in NM. They were often riding in packs on narrow two-lane mountain roads. Sometimes you could go around them easily, but many times there would be oncoming traffic. I can't tell you how many times I nearly killed a biker or myself. Now, I am a bicyclist myself. I try to stick to our country roads where traffic is very seldom seen. And I look terrible in spandex. I'd really hate to be caught dead in my bike shorts.

  3. Nice rant, Moogie. I'll vote for you to be Queen For A Day!

    re: sidewalks. The gotdamned bike messengers in SFO's Financial District were the worst in that regard. Traffic is horrible there and the sidewalks are full, too. But pedestrians lose against bikes, just as bike riders lose against cars and those asshats took advantage. I longed to see someone stick an umbrella in their spokes as they whizzed by... that would have learned 'em.

  4. We don't have Critical Mass here, Inno -- we have World Naked Bike Ride. Infinitely more entertaining (and somewhat frightening!)

    Lou, I'm certain you look FABulous in your cycling togs! Pepper rides (and raced for a number of years) and gets just as frustrated with the two-wheeled jerks down here as I do.

    I'll be expecting my crown shortly, Buck. I cannot imagine working -- or living -- in the San Fran area. Just too many crazies. And that comes from someone living in New Orleans!!

  5. Well, that bike ride wasn't exactly nekkid. Why IS it the only people who took the title of the event to heart absolutely, positively shouldn't have?

  6. I despise rude and inconsiderate people in all capacities. Especially when they're in my way.

    To quote Hannibal Lector: "Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me".