04 August 2008

Bike Rant

For those of ya'll outside of our weird little experiment that is Portland, it seems we're in the throes of a bicycle vs. auto battle, at least as far as the local media is concerned. (I'm looking at you Oregonian).
Lately the Portland fuzz have been on an education mission, stopping irresponsible bikers who blow through stop signs at problem intersections around the city, issuing written warnings, and a few tickets for "egregious behavior," also known as "being a dick to a cop who has your best interest in mind."
Wow, who would've thought I'd ever be on the same side as the pigs. Having grown up with a good ol' boy police force so corrupt that even my Mom warns me about them every time I'm visiting the ol' homestead. I grew up, much like most of inner-city America, (even though we lived 100 miles from the nearest urban area, and were white) believing that the cops hardly ever have your best interest in mind. Little things like tickets for a burned out tail-light, and random beatings along the side of the highway have made me fear the police, even though I'm an educated white male who statically should have nothing to fear.

I digress, I've been biking to work now everyday for two months, and will be riding to work almost everyday for the next two years as G needs the car to make the trip to his classes at Sylvania everyday. I was already a road nazi as a driver. I don't consider myself as being "anal" about too many things, I don't mind a messy house, I'm OK with my nasty desk at work, but when it comes to the rules of the road, I'm a tyrant. There's a reason we have these rules/laws. Even back in my stomping grounds of super laid back Bloomington, I was a very high stress driver, not hesitating to honk and yell at folks doing stupid shit that endangered the lives of myself and others.
I ride NE Tillamook St. every day, one of Portland's designated "bike boulevards," designed to be inconvenient for cars and easy on cyclists. Taking cars mostly out of the picture makes me realize that a disproportionately high number of us cyclists are assholes and dickheads, or both.
I rarely encounter an issue with motor vehicles since the few folks who live and drive around Tillamook Street know that they live on a bike street and are generally courteous and mindful of everyone.
That dude that blows the 4-way at 30th & Tillamook, nearly t-boning me after I stop and assume that you're going to stop as well, or that dude on a bike that tried to zoom past me on the right while I was patiently waiting for that red light at Williams & Russell, you go to hell and you die!
Even non-confrontational me is fed up enough to try to discipline my fellow cyclists, at least in my special passive aggressive style of a stern throat clearing and a dirty look. It seems there are quite a few of us bikers for whom that self-preservation instinct has somehow been disabled.
I'm talking about the smart folks who ride on the streets that aren't already jammed with cars, who aren't trying to make some sort of point by endangering their lives, and sometimes the lives of their children in that little cart behind them, cruising down Burnside in rush hour traffic. That's another post complelety.

I begrudgingly post a link to Bike Free Portland, who despite crossing into the accusatory and kinda crazy tone that keeps the "real" media from taking bloggers seriously, makes enough valid points to be worthy of a read.


StuckeySpalt said...

Along the lines of the cop rant...last week I was attempting to use the crosswalk through Broadripple on the Monon trail when a cop car didn't stop in spite of me edging into the road. When I raised my arms in surprise because he didn't stop, he stopped his car in the middle of the road, turned on his lights, got out of the car and got in my face. He then made me go read the sign on the Monon that said "Stop." and explained that the road didn't have a stop sign for the crosswalk, so cross traffic does not have to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

In the words of Verbal Kent from The Usual Suspects, "Fucking cops..."


Slammin' Sam said...

as a cyclist and car driver, i also hate most portland cyclists for their complete lack of regard for rules. i also hate that they have no problem complaining about the way cars treat them, then don't wait in line at a light w/no bike lane. and the way they ride on sidewalks. and the way half the people don't wear helmets.

cops are a crap shoot. there are some who are extremely nice. but like every profession where you can carry a gun, there are definitely dickheads waiting to mess you up.

josh said...

preach it brother!

I've been riding to work almost every day for a handful of years now and in that time I've had more close-calls with bikes than with cars. Here's my schtick: In general people in cars are not paying attention and people on bikes are being entitled and arrogant. There are also about the same percentage of dumb-asses in cars as there are on bikes.

That said, the thing I am most afraid of when riding is being hit by another bike when I do not have a stop sign but they do. 95% of cars stop at stop signs. 95% of bikes do not. When I say stop I mean "acknowledge that you do not have the right away, slow down, look both ways, then continue." I do not mean come to a complete stop and put a foot on the ground. Not even I do that. But I ALWAYS yield the right of way. This really freaks out pedestrians who never woulda thought someone on a bike might actually stop at a stop sign and let them cross the street.