Home / General / Advocate of murdering cyclists also hypocrite

Advocate of murdering cyclists also hypocrite

Comments
/
/
/
589 Views

Nice catch by Atrios. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy evidently believes that the appropriate punishment for violating the rules of the road on two wheels is immediate execution by the nearest willing and able automobile-wielding citizen, but attempting to punish violators the rules of the road with four wheels by requiring violators pay a small fine is an appalling act of government overreach.

A couple of other points. While Milloy’s open endorsement of murder is thankfully relatively unusual, some other elements of this column are familiar but misleading and deserve attention. This sort of anti-bicycle crap is usually trotted out in the context of providing grounds for opposition to public investment in infrastructure for cycling. This debate often takes place in cities with a sufficiently liberal population such that sneering at the poors who ride bikes is not likely to work, so it is implied or stated that the cyclist is the dread “hipster” with too much time and disposable income, imposing his hobby on work-a-day motorists. (Milloy attempts to tie his opposition to biking infrastructure to his worries about the effects of gentrification.) But, of course, it’s nonsense: poor people are considerably more likely to use bikes as a form of transportation than rich people. This is should be entirely unsurprising, when you consider the relative costs of the two forms of transportation.

Second, this column uses the tactic trotted out in comment sections everywhere (including here): anecdotal accounts of bad and dangerous behavior by cyclists is used as reasons to not support cycling infrastructure investment. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (I generally oppose most road expansion, and I think drivers who speed and otherwise violate laws that make driving safer are a menace, but I’ve never attempted to use the latter as a reason for the former), and it’s not clear it presents an accurate empirical picture of the situation (bike-car collisions that result in a fatality are far more likely to be the fault of the motorist than the cyclist). Be even if we take this at face value, and stipulate that dangerous bike behavior is presently a scourge on the city, it’s actually a better argument for the building more bike infrastructure. The reason cyclists seem reckless in cities with terrible bicycle infrastructure is that those who would be safer and saner cyclists simply don’t ride. You’re left with only the desperate and the daredevils. But as better cycling infrastructure brings out less reckless cyclists, we begin to see a ‘calming’ effect on the larger cycling community. Measured by intersection or by city, the more cyclists on the road, the fewer accidents and deaths per mile traveled.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • LeeEsq

    Many people might find this boring but a good counter-factual where Americans never developed the car culture and had a more balanced transportation system would be fascinating to read. The effects on the American landscape, society, and psyche would be humungous and completely beneficial.

    • sharculese

      I wouldn’t find it boring but I would find it too depressing to read.

      • LeeEsq

        It makes a certain amount of sense that America invested so much in car infrastructure. We are big, rich, and not very densely populated country so naturally favoring the car makes a certain amount of policy sense. Canada and Australia became car countries for similar reasons. What doesn’t make sense is the cult of the car.

        • Ghana also has a cult of the car and seriously underdeveloped public transportation. But, Ghana unlike the US is small and poor so there is something else going on. I suspect it has to do with the car being the status symbol of choice in places where money trumps traditional class status.

          • GoDeep

            I would bet that “seriously underdeveloped public transportation” has a lot to do with it, at least extrapolating from my experience w/ other African countries w/ seriously underdeveloped public transpo.

        • tsam

          Especially the reflexive hatred toward electric cars. It’s as bad as the hatred for the metric system. Only an idiot would want to keep our stupid measurement system, but here it sits, making us look like a bunch of rubes who like to torture ourselves with extra math.

          • sibusisodan

            +2.541

            • postmodulator

              Big windows to let in the sun.

              • Chilly

                You should offer a prize for anyone who gets that.

                • postmodulator

                  If it weren’t for Google, I might. I could offer to mail someone my 12″ vinyl of the single mix.

                • herr doktor bimler

                  + All of my senses.

              • Elizabeth

                OH MY GOD I love that Grant Hart song. It’s basically about my childhood neighborhood.

              • burnt

                I get it. Here is what the song references.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  cool pics, thanks. easy to imagine Bob having a desk. Grant, not so much

            • dms

              Very funny!

            • Stag Party Palin

              An ounce of prevention = ~454 grams of cure.

          • LeeEsq

            The names of imperials units have a more pleasing and less clinical sound than metric units so there are at least aesthetic reasons for keeping it.

            • Jordan

              Hmm, really? Meter sounds better to me than foot or yard. Gram or kilogram sounds marginally better to me than pound. And, basically, etc.

              Imperial units do have an archaic charm, I suppose, and I guess that does makes them sound less clinical. But I’ll take “clinical” over “olde timey” every day, so for me imperial units still lose the aesthetics race.

              • Johnny Sack

                The beauty of metric is that no memorization is required. How many meters in a kilometer? The answer’s right there. How many feet in a mile? Well I know it’s 5280 but that’s not intuitive. Etcetera.

                • Jordan

                  Oh sure, and that is one of the main reasons they are better. I’m just disagreeing that imperial units have more aesthetically pleasing names. Metric units are obviously more aesthetically pleasing from a systematic viewpoint.

                • scythia

                  The human mind wasn’t meant to think in tens, man. It needs threes and fours and sixteens to truly feel ALIVE!

                • Njorl

                  It’s the twelves that get me – a dozen, 12 inches per foot, 12 hours on the clock. I keep wondering when we lost the vestigial 6th finger from each hand.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Judging equality of lengths or bulks (and to some extent weights) is a pretty widespread human ability (after one’s Piagetian infancy is over). That pretty immediately leads to considerable accuracy (that can be improved with training) at dividing a length or a bulk into approximately equal halves. When that it mastered, there is a (pretty good) adaptive algorithm for finding one-third of a length or bulk (applying the algorithm to letter paper so as to fold it in threes used to be taught in elementary school; is it still?). Historically this probably accounts for the use in the measurement of lengths and bulks of fractions denominated by the product of a power of two, and optionally three (though rarely or never a higher power of three), although the only case I can document (not that I’ve tried hard) is Isaac Newton’s thermometry using a fluid column, where as he refined his methods (visual subdivision) he progressed from his original 12 degrees (between freezing and boiling water) to 24 to 48 to, finally, 96 (not Celsius’s 100). It’s a physico-psychological manifestation of the mass noun-count noun distinction.

                • N__B

                  It’s the twelves that get me – a dozen, 12 inches per foot, 12 hours on the clock. I keep wondering when we lost the vestigial 6th finger from each hand.

                  As the saying goes: there are men so stupid they can’t count to 21 with their pants on.

            • Gabriel Ratchet

              Yeah, but the really cool-sounding imperial measures — leagues, furlongs, gills, rods, fathoms,etc. — have largely fallen out of favor.

              • tsam

                Which is a DAMN SHAME. “Rod” is an exceptionally cool word. True story.

          • BigHank53

            There are legacy components in the english measurement system that we’re trapped with, probably forever. Ever single tire on the planet uses a rim size measured in inches, even in China and Russia. Airbus and Rolls-Royce use AN bolts. We couldn’t change that without throwing every single airplane and helicopter on the planet away and starting over.

            • Jordan

              Sure you could. You just change to .xyz meters or whatever. Naming conventions are some of the easiest to solve path-dependency problems there are.

              • Anonymous

                We have an Indian cookbook that did that, but in reverse. Does it really make sense to call for 5/16 teaspoons of ground cumin, or 7/8 oz. of water?

                • Jordan

                  Well, luckily, going to 1/4 or 3/8 teaspoons of cumin will almost assuredly be fine. When precision is needed (like in, you know, aircraft engines or whatever) you can get by fine with those tricky fractions and decimals and whatnot.

              • Johnny Sack

                Yeah this really isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. Metrication is not going to happen all at once and overnight. No intelligent person is advocating for that.

                • Jordan

                  Right. Although I think it would be funny if Obama used the unlimited power of the presidency to mandate an instantaneous total metric conversion.

                • Chocolate Covered Cotton

                  Hmm. Maybe if Obama threatened to ban the use of the metric system…

              • cpinva

                tools in the US have been available in both SAE and metric since the 60’s. most US manufactured cars use a metric standard, as do nearly all power tools. the conversion has been going on for decades, led by the manufacturers though, not the gov’t.

                in the kitchen, measuring cups have both cups/ozs. & mlltrs painted on them. the problem is that few recipes have amounts in metric. that will change I suspect.

                hell, metric is just a far more accurate methos of measuring anything.

              • Soft metrication: the UK has steel beams sized at nominally 254 and 305 mm in depth, which amazingly happen to be the same size as US 10 and 12 inches beams.

                • tsam

                  I did a “soft metric” job here at FAFB a few years ago. Soft metric drywall, but hard metric studs. Soft metric hollow metal frames. Walls too big for frames. Contractor MAD.

              • Njorl

                You can’t do that. You’d wind up calling a 2 inch 30 caliber round a 7.62×51 mm round. That would be silly.

            • tsam

              All those measurements convert. In those cases it’s just a matter of using the different term. SAE bolts probably won’t go away for a long time, but most of those are metric now too so they’re on the way out.

            • tsam

              And if you’re in any science at all, you HAVE to use metric. So if you have Imperial units, you have to convert them all before you even start applying the math. The MILITARY uses the metric system FFS.

              • Captain Haddock

                Actually, the military uses a weird hodge-podge of imperial and metric. For example, when I call an artillery battery for a precision munition strike, I give them the target’s elevation in meters; when I talk to the F-18 for something similar, I give them the target’s elevation in feet above mean sea level. Ground maneuver elements measure distance in meters and kilometers but aircraft and boats measure them in nautical miles. You just have to memorize the various conventions.

                • tsam

                  Even when I was in the Army, the shooting targets were 75, 150, 250 and 300 meter distances. All of the land distances were in Kilometers (Klicks) and the bullet calibers were all metric–ie: .223 round for the M16 was called a 5.56 mm.

                  I know they had some mixture of Imperial and metric, but for the most part, we all used metric.

                • ajay

                  A lot of this is presumably NATO-related? I think the UK and US armed forces used imperial in the Second World War, but by the 60s it was definitely metric…

              • ironic irony

                The tools that the military uses are both imperial and metric.

                Ah, the good old days of change of command inventories!

            • Warren Terra

              I’m pretty sure some bicycle tire rim sizes are normally referred to in metric units. I’m sure you meant automobile tires, but this is a biking thread …

              • Malaclypse

                700X35C FTW

                • DrS

                  Only if the bike’s a5.3

                • witless chum

                  Good job, Sir DrS.

          • herr doktor bimler

            Especially the reflexive hatred toward electric cars
            It just seems an easy cop-out to rely on electric cars to solve all the problems. Prius ex machina.

            • Warren Terra

              groan

            • Downpuppy

              You dare question the efficiency of 3 tons of vehicle riding on 4 balloons to transport 70KG of human?

              Commie.

              • ajay

                You dare to suggest that the average adult human should weigh only 70kg?

                UN-AMERICAN.

            • tsam

              It’s a quick mitigation to carbon emissions–at least in places where the power plants aren’t solely coal fired. It might not be the final answer, but it’s a big step forward from the 5.7L guzzler.

      • Don’t we basically have a counterpoint in many Western European cities?

        More generally, while I know Europe has its own problems (plenty of racism, less respect for individual freedoms that I do care about) as compared to America, it has always seemed to me that, especially Scandinavia and Northern Europe present in many ways the sort of societies that America might have become had this country not been controlled by and filled with so many selfish, prejudiced, violent white people.

        People are happier there, there is less violence, a better social safety net, walkable cities, plenty of wealth, etc. And, of course, those countries stay out of war and have small militaries.

        And even with respect to some metrics that CONSERVATIVES care about (such as the stability of marriages and family formation, and consumption taxes), they do very well.

        It’s a damned shame we can’t emulate them.

        • Murc

          To be fair, a lot of those countries suddenly show their dark side the second their lily-white homogeneity is threatened.

          Sweden and Norway, for example, have fast-growing minority populations, and there are plenty of people in both nations who can equal any racist cracker from the US in their xenophobia. Non-trivial numbers that exercise real political power, to.

          • LeeEsq

            In many ways the situation regarding racism is somewhat worse in Scandanavia because it seems to be an elephant in the room sort of problem. You can’t really solve a problem if you can’t acknowledge it exists in the first place.

            • wengler

              It’s a good thing our conservatives admit that racism exists…

              • LeeEsq

                At least some of us realize it exists.

        • tsam

          It’s not like they’re perfect utopias, but the social systems tend to reduce the gap between the desperately poor and the obscenely wealthy. And maybe there is a bit more of a sense of community and unity of purpose there instead of our mythical “self reliance” ethos that is way too prevalent in American culture. It’s a silly notion that hasn’t been true in our entire history, let alone in the modern age.

          It could be that the absolute horrors of the 20th Century happening in their homes and cities made them realize that we’re all in this together…? I think that is at least in play here.

          • LeeEsq

            Sweden was much closer to the action during both World Wars and other European horrors of the 20th century but remained neutral and basically not directly effected. Sweden emerged from both conflicts with nearly no physical damage and little psychological damages. The seeds of the welfare state and high levels of national solidarity also date back to the 19th century. One reason why socialized healthcare was resisted less in Sweden than other places by the medical establishment was that the state was the most secure form of payment for doctors during the 19th century.

            • tsam

              That was just thinking out loud. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of outcry against the social systems there–except in Greece, and it’s just American assholes that comment on it.

        • LeeEsq

          While racism is a very large reason why America ended up as it did, its not the sole reason. There were plenty of other factors why America ended up like it did though. Eliminating racism won’t get rid of all the factors.

          Racism contributed a lot to suburbinization, especially after World War II but a lot of it was because people really wanted single-family homes and a car based driving. Lots of areas without a substnatial African-American community like the Pacific Northwest suburbanized to. We simply had the space and money to sprawl. A less racist United States might even be more suburbanized because their wouldn’t be racist practices preventing African-Americans from moving to the burbs.

          • Aimai

            Well, but suburbanization doesn’t equal white flight where there is no racism and no redlining. The problem with suburbanization isn’t just sprawl but also the hollowing out of cities.

            • LeeEsq

              A less racist United States could lead to even more hollowing out of cities than a racist one because no policy would keep minority groups out of the suburbs. Racism wasn’t the only or even the main reason why lots of companies decided to move their offices and factories to the suburbs. It was more convenient for executives with big fancy homes in suburban counties.

              All I’m saying is that a non-racist or less racist version of the United States doesn’t necessarily mean that we avoid car culture or suburbinzation. People of color like cars and single family homes with big lawns to. Given the opportunity to participate fully in the market for suburban property, I’m relatively sure that African-Americans would suburbanize themselves with glee.

              • Aimai

                Of course they would–and did. No one is saying that white people liked suburbs more than black people, or cars more than black people. But the cities wouldn’t have been hollowed out and turned into poverty zones.

                • GoDeep

                  Really? If middle class blacks like suburbs every bit as much as middle class whites, I don’t see how the situation would be any different. Ppl want more space & the more $$$ they have the more they buy.

                • Ronan

                  precisely, godeep. they would just have turned into racial heterogeneous poverty zones.

              • ironic irony

                Perhaps the desire for single family home ownership is not as strong in Europe, thus eliminating the need for suburbs? I’m just spitballing here, and going of what I saw while living in Germany.

                • Manny Kant

                  But this seems like a just so story. What, exactly, about Europe makes people supposedly want single family homes with yards less than people in the United States?

                • KmCO

                  Well, the whole idea of single-family home ownership, complete with car(s) and a manicured lawn, was heavily promoted as part and parcel of the so-called American Dream, particularly after WWII. Such a lifestyle was (and still largely is, although thankfully less so now) seen as the national norm, what people simply “do” once they’re married and start families.

                • Ronan

                  (Speculatively on my part) I think the reasons are probably numerous (and Im not sure how much it is a European thing rather than a German thing.)
                  It probably (in part) developed around how much land the US had to settle, how deeply involved the state was in planning initially – specific practices and institutions developed which stressed/financed renting over ownership and that regulated building and planning in specific ways.
                  In Ireland (for example) it seems to me closer to the US than Germany, in this respect.
                  That’s a rushed, simplistic start..anyone else?

                • Ronan

                  and crossposted

        • Just Dropping By

          it has always seemed to me that, especially Scandinavia and Northern Europe present in many ways the sort of societies that America might have become had this country not been controlled by and filled with so many selfish, prejudiced, violent white people.

          And the irony meter broke!

          • Not if you parse the sentence in an ordinary way. (Hint, I wasn’t commenting about all white people in that sentence. I was commenting about white AMERICANS.)

            • weirdnoise

              I think you have a point, but I don’t think you need to bring race into it. Immigrants to the colonial South, many from places like the Scottish Highlands, brought their culture with them, a culture based on self-reliance and personal honor as opposed to community. A tendency toward violence is the result, and although the crucible of slavery refined it into a highly stratified system of class, the present-day manifestation of that culture can inflict its disfunction in a way that doesn’t always follow color lines.

              • I think it’s much more accurate to talk about it in terms of violence, prejudice, and bigotry than “self-reliance”. Southern whites have NEVER had a culture of “self-reliance”.

          • Ronan

            yeah, it’s such a bizzare statement I thought it must be played for laughs (in part)

            • Jordan

              Really? I think the key part was “so many selfish, prejudiced, violent white people.” Looks at how the bolding changes things!

              Which isn’t to say that our friends in the north aren’t prejudiced and racist and whatnot. But dilan’s comment seems like a fair, if succinct, summary to me.

              • Ronan

                The problem (afaik) with Dilan’s line here is it ignores how ‘europe’dealt with indigenous minorities in the state/national identity building phase (ethnic cleansing, extermination etc) Not all the time, but a lot. Also colonialism, great power wars etc.

                (I personally dont like declaration to ‘evil ethnic/racial group X’ myself – as it’s a rhetorical tool used mainly by reactionaries which for some reason has been approriated by the left – but Id leave that go as it’s a losing battle

                • Jordan

                  Fair enough. I’m not really familiar with Scandinavian ethnic cleansing or extermination (although I understand the Lapps did and do face real discrimination).

                  I guess the idea is that US history is completely unexplainable without a detailed account of slavery, codified discrimination and white terrorism. Maybe that is true for the scandinavian countries too.

                • Ronan

                  I was speaking about Europe more generally, but yeah I dont know much about the specifics of Scandanavian recent history either. Whatever the reality though, Im sceptical of Dilan’s idea that it’s a result of the super awesomeness of Scandanvian white people, rather than deeper issues

                • Jordan

                  Yeah, but I don’t think you have to read Dilan that way. It isn’t about the intrinsic super awesomeness of Scandinavian white people or the intrinsic super evilness of American white people.

                  Its just facts and history. America is built upon white supremacy over black people, native americans, chinese, hispanics, and on and on. Maybe something similar is true for the Scandinavians, but I doubt it.

                • LeeEsq

                  For instance the entire history of the Jewish and Roma people on the European continent, including Sweden wear Kosher butchering is illegal because its barbaric but Halal butchering is just fine for some reason so its legal.

                • Ronan

                  Ive decided to stop commenting about the US :) because it’s just too complicated and Im too ignorant of the history..though Id agree with what you said (Jordan) from the little Ive become aware of down the years (the importance of white supremact etc) .. but I just think going from there to the intrinsic evilness of American white people is..problematic

                  I agree with Lee, the history of the Jews and Roma in Central/Eastern Europe os what I was thinkg off (to begin with)

                • Ronan

                  I wouldnt agree with Lee’s second line though, which is basically an irrelvancy ; )

                • Jordan

                  Meh. I’m totally fine with laws requiring that animals be stunned before they are slaughtered.

                • Ronan

                  Im going to blame all those typos on my laptop, although it’s basically fine if Im honest

                • Jordan

                  Ive decided to stop commenting about the US :)

                  LIES! :)

                  Anyways, again, I don’t think framing this in terms of the intrinsic evilness of white americans as opposed to other people is either correct or helpful.

                  In terms of the extrinsic evilness of white americans, maybe. We really fucked millions and millions of people over.

                  But, as you note, so did white people in europe in general (to put it mildly).

                • LeeEsq

                  Ronan, its not irrelevant if your a Jew. There is very little difference in techniques between kosher and halal slaughter. It seems kind of strange to say that one is fine and the other barbaric. Its like saying Jewish circumcision is ethical because takes place only eight days after birth but Muslim circumcision isn’t because it traditionally happens when they boys were older.

                • Aimai

                  If you google the history of the Scandinavian and Swiss rejection of Kosher slaughtering you can clearly see that its pretty well intertwined with anti-semitic feelings and goals. It starts in the late 1800’s and really takes off in the 1920s and is literally links neo-nazi/xenophobic anti semitic politicians with well meaning anti cruelty advocates.

                • Jordan

                  @Aimai.

                  Well, if *thats* true then that is terrible. But, contra what you say, a quick google search does not clear things up. The best I get is that Denmark recently joined up by banning both kosher and halal animal torture slaughter.

                  Now, I am more than prepared to accept that you are right about this. So … links?

                • Frank Drebin

                  although I understand the Lapps did and do face real discrimination

                  Having your nuts bit off by a Laplander. That’s the way I want to go.

                • Jordan

                  You know, I never got those movies. By which I mean I thought they were boring. At least the late career Mel Brooks movies had some legit laughs.

              • ajay

                Really? I think the key part was “so many selfish, prejudiced, violent white people.” Looks at how the bolding changes things!

                If there’s one thing you can say about Northern Europe it’s that it’s been almost entirely free of violent white people. As Tom Lehrer noted, “Once all the Germans were warlike and mean, but that couldn’t happen again/We taught them a lesson in 1918 and they’ve hardly bothered us since then!”

        • slightly_peeved

          A nitpick; a number of European countries, like Britain, have similar rates of general violence (such as assaults) as the US does. The biggest difference is that at worst, they have a quarter of the US’s homicide rate.

          This is in no way a criticism of Europe; quite the opposite. Just that I see people make vague comments about less of a violent culture in Europe, when I think the specific difference is that Europe has decent gun control.

          • But our lack of gun control has something to do with our violent culture.

            (And it isn’t as though the only issue with American violence is gun violence. There’s also the matter of capital punishment, and our military policy. Too many Americans get off on killing people in a way that Scandinavians generally do not.)

            • LeeEsq

              Our lack of gun control has more to do with the fact that our political system creates lots of veto points. This empowers very passionate political minorities to gum up the works when they really want to. Even if you keep everything the same in terms of who supports gun control and who does not and the levels of passion on each side the same, gun activists would have a much more difficult time thwarting gun control in a parliamentary system.

              I think the same applies to welfare programs as well. If we had a parliamentary system, conservative politicians would have a much more difficult time thwarting welfare legislation even if American society was just as racist.

              • I’m not totally sure. There have been periods where gun controls have passed in the past, despite the veto points (National Firearms Act during the gangster era, Omnibus Crime Control Act in 1968, Brady law and assault weapons ban in 1994). So there isn’t necessarily a structural obstruction to gun control laws. There sure is a cultural aversion among American whites in the South and West, however.

                • DrS

                  That there have been times when the veto points have been over come during especially well covered violent times, doesn’t really make the case that our veto points are not the difference between our lack of gun control and the much more stringent forms found in parliamentary systems.

            • slightly_peeved

              But again, I direct you to the rates of assault in the US, which (according to the international crime surveys) are not particularly worse than Europe. If Americans have a more violent culture, why are they not more violent? Gun culture came to the US first, and the violence (or to be more precise, the lethality) came as a result. The US constitution is not a more violent document than other founding documents, but the others don’t tend to give arms any mention at all.

              (And it isn’t as though the only issue with American violence is gun violence. There’s also the matter of capital punishment, and our military policy. Too many Americans get off on killing people in a way that Scandinavians generally do not.)

              For almost every aspect of US culture, you can point to some other country that:
              a) has a very similar experience in that aspect.
              b) has a far lower murder rate.
              c) has a far lower gun ownership rate.
              d) Controls who can own a gun, as well as what kind of guns can be owned.

              For your examples here, Japan has capital punishment, and Israel has a pretty aggressive military policy. and (b), (c) and (d) apply.

              • But we are talking about northern Europe, where all of the “killing” metrics are lower.

    • RobertS

      You mean R.A. Lafferty’s “Interurban Queen”?

      • Dennis Orphen

        Nice Lafferty reference.

    • I left this at the bottom of the thread, but….

  • sharculese

    anecdotal accounts of bad and dangerous behavior by cyclists is used as reasons to not support cycling infrastructure investment. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense

    Exactly this. As a pedestrian, sometimes the way bicyclists use the sidewalk make me a little nervous. But some of the roads are fucking scary, and now way in hell am I going to ask cyclists to put up with them.

    • Malaclypse

      That said, bicycles really don’t belong on sidewalks. In urban areas, there are too many pedestrians to bike safely. In suburbs, a car pulling out pulls all the way through a sidewalk – pedestrians are going slow enough to see and react, bikes are going fast enough that they won’t.

      • postmodulator

        Yeah, I really would like to just have bike lanes everywhere, but this is impractical in older urban areas.

        I do kind of mock bicyclists who vehemently defend their right to blow through red lights. I’ve heard a lot of justifications from them — I have a lot of bicyclist friends — but from what I can tell all the reasons are “I want to.”

        That said I haven’t seen that as much, where I live, the last few years. Either people are being more careful or the people who weren’t being careful have been killed by cars.

        • Aimai

          I see Bicyclists blow through red lights all the time here–and worse. A very common thing is to blow through a turning lane (we have right on red) without looking at how the cars are signaling to turn. I realize that this is a complicated situation for bicyclists but its incredibly scary for drivers as well.

          • geep9

            the make signs that say “no turn on red”. practically every intersection in the 02139 has them

          • Warren Terra

            I commuted by bike for a decade, and I loathed the bad bicyclists. But that vast majority that I saw were riding on the roads, not the sidewalks, and were following the traffic laws – with the slight caveat that coming to a complete stop on a bicycle is relatively expensive, so it makes sense to coast towards a red light as slowly as possible, or to take a right-on-red without coming to a complete stop (while still slowing down plenty).

            I don’t at all recognize the behavior you describe of bicyclists ignoring the declared intentions of the cars around them. I always biked with the assumption that those cars that weren’t actively trying to kill me were unable to see me, and I always assumed other bicyclists were doing the same, perhaps to a lower degree of paranoia.

            • Aimai

              I think everyone’s experience is very much conditioned by their own…well…experience. I don’t notice the bicyclists who are careful and obey the rules and signal and I do notice the ones who blow past me without seeming to notice or who aren’t well lit on a dark night or who do other things which seem to bring the into the possibility of an accident with me or other cars around me. I’m sure that no cyclist has ever noticed me waiting patiently in my car, staring into the mirror, until they have safely passed so I can open the door to my car and get out, either. Why would they? A cyclist (quite rightly) only rmembers the scary people who door them not the ones who take care.

              • Downpuppy

                Cambridge/Somerville bikers have the general idea, but there are interpretations. Some of them like to use car stop lines, which are about the worst place for getting right hooked. (Most 10 year old cars around have mint turn signals – Never been used! – so you want to make absolutely sure the drivers see you, since you have no idea which way they’re headed) All sorts of other minor differences, but basically, the bikers get the notion that they belong on the road & are subject to the traffic laws with some minor differences.

                A few towns away – ye gods. Bikers on sidewalks, or headed the wrong way not out of hurry or defiance but because they just don’t know better. The drivers are worse. A. got mildly doored a few weeks back, and the woman who did it to her told her she belonged on the sidewalk.

                • whetstone

                  Chicago’s been putting in bike boxes for this reason. Basically bikes get their own stop line in front of cars to prevent right hooks. It works great, unless drivers decide to use the bike boxes themselves.

                • JBL

                  “Most 10 year old cars around have mint turn signals – Never been used!” Wonderful.

                • Framingham has been putting in marked bike lanes and signs to say “bikes stop here in the middle of the street for light to change,” but the bike lanes change back and forth to what is probably actually lines that mean “no parking,” and some of the streets are just scary. There are windy streets that are wide enough but cars go 50+ along them, and narrow, congested, mostly sidewalkless, not necessarily slow-moving roads that I wouldn’t walk along if I couldn’t walk 10 feet off the road on people’s lawns, and maybe not then. I’m even a little nervous walking with with my daughter on the sidewalk along some of those roads. It’s probably not as bad downtown where there’s something like a grid, as where there’s only one 250-year old road connecting one part of town with the next, and everyone passing through is squeezed onto it.

              • JL

                FWIW, I do notice when drivers do things like respond usefully to my “want to move into the left turn lane” signal (things that are considerate and that I can also see, which I may not be able to in your example). Brightens my day.

                • KmCO

                  Hell, it sometimes warms my heart to see someone actually use their turn signal. Turn signals aren’t terrifically popular around here.

            • MH

              I suspect that a lot of the people complaining about bicycles not coming to a complete stop don’t know what a complete stop looks like on a bicycle. Most regular cyclists can come to a complete stop (for several seconds – easily long enough to double check that no one is coming) without taking their feet off the pedals. The difference between that and going slowly is really only visible if you look carefully at their spokes.

          • N__B

            scary

            “That’s very ableist.”

          • JL

            Since I’m in your neck of the woods…

            One thing I actually run into a lot (almost entirely in Waltham, which is a big chunk of my normal commute) is drivers who become furious that I, having no intention of turning right, moved into a non-turning lane (after signaling appropriately and making sure I’m not cutting anybody off). Assuming that they think I have a right to be in the street at all, they think I have no right to be in any but the rightmost lane, even if the rightmost lane is right turn only. I know that they think this because some of them tell me so, sometimes loudly and with profanity. They get similarly angry if I move into the left turn lane to make a left turn, rather than suddenly cutting across three lanes of traffic to do so.

            If you have been on Main St in Waltham (where most of this interaction happens), you’re probably aware that the left and right lanes are constantly changing from turning lanes to non-turning lanes in that area, and the number of lanes also changes a few times, so this is all a giant headache and responsible for most of my negative interaction with drivers. Unfortunately there’s no way to bypass that area that wouldn’t increase the length of my ride by a few miles minimum.

            • Aimai

              Main Street in Waltham is a nightmare for drivers who are unfamiliar with the local customs and the weird turning lanes–also the street that runs down from Belmont to Mt. Auburn? I forget what its called. A lot of those fast streets don’t have appropriate lanes marked for cars and I see cars try to turn one and a half lanes into two or three lanes all the time. I absolutely agree that whatever criticisms I have of cyclists pale in comparison to my criticisms of motorists in MA. People have terrible driving skills and absolutely no courtesy.

            • Warren Terra

              I’ve done all those things in your first paragraph, thought almost never in Waltham. I would say that as a mediocre cyclist (as in, not remotely some Lance Armstrong wanna-be), on a big road if I had to make a left turn it was usually easier to walk my bike across the crosswalk than to convince three lanes of drivers of my existence.

              • Bloix

                Fifty years ago my dad (who was from New York) composed the Song of the Massachusetts Driver. He liked to sing it when he was behind the wheel:

                Back and forth across the highway,
                Merrily we swing,
                As we cross the solid white line
                This is what we sing:
                Oh we kill them all on Sunday,
                And we kill some more on Monday,
                But the day that’s our great fun day,
                Is the Fourth of July!

        • My only real objection to bicyclists is the ones who want to be both pedestrians and vehicles, by riding down the sidewalk and then blowing across the road at the intersection. I have near-missed a number of them over the years, because you don’t look for moving vehicles on the sidewalk– you look for pedestrians there, who don’t go as fast.

          If you want to ride through an intersection, you should be on the road where we can see you.

          But I totally agree with OP; this is basically a pet peeve and pet peeves shouldn’t be used to enact bicycle-unfriendly policies.

        • Murc

          I do kind of mock bicyclists who vehemently defend their right to blow through red lights.

          The more safety-conscious cyclists who do this at least don’t put anyone else at risk, depending on the intersection; if the light is red for traffic then the corresponding crosswalk will usually be green. So they roll up, hop off their bike, walk it across with the pedestrians, and hop back on.

          That’s borderline, in my opinion, but it doesn’t put anyone at risk. Hell, I did it myself a few times back in the day when I was in a real rush.

          But then you’ve got the guys who don’t even stop, they just swerve out dangerously near the people crossing and zip right along. Or if it’s an intersection without crosswalks and they decide “fuck it, there’s no cross traffic, imma blow right through.”

          Screw those guys.

          • postmodulator

            The extreme examples I’ve seen actually involved bicyclists cutting off motorists. (Once the motorist was me.) Like, “Eh, he’ll jam on his brakes, it’s fine.”

            Okay, one more and then I’ll shut up validating the wingnuts’ narrative. Last year I saw a guy bicycling down the road with an ambulance behind him, lights on, siren going, unable to get around him. I speculate that he had gone through so many red lights and up on so many sidewalks that he conceived of his bicycle as generating a bubble which insulated him from all laws. Like he probably figured he could smoke crack on his bike and it wouldn’t count.

            I don’t favor Milloy’s “murder all the cyclists” plan. I might have been okay if that particular cyclist had been murdered.

        • Bloix

          “I really would like to just have bike lanes everywhere, but this is impractical in older urban areas.”

          Ever been to Amsterdam? That’s an urban area a few centuries older than anything in the US and they’ve managed to fit bikes in just fine.

          Seriously, bikes are MORE practical in older urban areas. Distances between destinations are shorter, so bikes make more sense; cars move more slowly and stop frequently, so they are less of a threat to cyclists; you can get a critical mass of cyclists, so they become accepted as a normal mode of real transportation, not hipsters or poors.

          • Aimai

            I agree with this. I think they are moving, in some places, for a system that is like a jerry rigged Amsterdam by moving the parked cars out a few feet so there can be a dedicated bike lane between the parked cars and the sidewalk. I saw them somewhere recently but I can’ t remember where. It seems like a great idea.

            • Jay C

              Try New York City: they did just that when they put a dedicated bike lane in my neighborhood (First Avenue), Being that rara avis of a car-owner and driver in Manhattan, I thought that it would [expletive] the traffic pattern forever, but, as these things usually work in cities, after a while, one gets used to it, and, after a longer while, you seldom notice it at all. It works pretty well, AFAIC: to me, the “worst”part of the dedicated lanes is having to look out for bikers (mainly messengers/deliverers up here) an extra time before crossing the street – but I can live with that “burden”…

              I recall, though, at the last mayoral election, the Republican candidate made a specific promise, that, if elected, he would work to have every bike lane in the City (installed by the preceding Bloomberg Administration) removed. Fortunately, like most Repubs in NY, he lost…..

          • postmodulator

            I concede the point. Strike “impractical” and replace it with “logistically a bit complicated and politically rather unlikely.” Most older urban areas, they can’t even really keep up with paving the roads they have now.

          • ironic irony

            Plus, good luck finding a parking space!

        • nixnutz

          In Berlin they put the bike lanes on the sidewalks, that takes some getting used to. They have awfully wide sidewalks though.

          I think running red lights is much like jaywalking, it’s possible to do it safely but anytime you’re either endangering someone else or putting your own life in the hands of someone who has the right-of-way you’re doing it wrong. I’ll assume you’re complaining about those guys.

          • witless chum

            So’s riding on the sidewalk. When I got to the library in downtown Kalamazoo I cut across a couple little-used by pedestrians sections of sidewalk after I leave the comfort of the bike trail to minimize my time exposed to traffic and take a shortcut because of stupid one-way streets. There rarely are any pedestrians and I go nice and slow to watch out for people pulling out of driveways. If there’s a rare pedestrian, I slow down even more.

        • dms

          What’s considered “older”? One of the few good things our local autocrat Michael Bloomberg did during his last term (we try to forget about the “big gulps”) is install bike lanes on major avenues (8th, 9th) and on even some of the cross streets.

          Takes some getting used to if you are a pedestrian, because not only do you have to deal with cabs and crazy drivers when crossing the street but you also have to deal with the lawless bike riders), but I consider it (at the tender age of 60) a major plus. Add to that the program by Citibank of “Citibikes” which you can rent by the 20 minutes, and suddenly you have many more bikers all over the place.

          It’s great, IMHO, and I’m glad it happened. I think they should ban all cars (you do notice I said “cars”) in this city.

        • Steve Tower

          The impracticality of creating bike lanes in ‘old urban areas’ has been dis-proven by the explosion on bike lanes throughout New York, and even more amazingly, Boston. There’s few areas of the country more ‘old urban’ than downtown Boston, and yet with the exception of a few small enclaves around primarily residential, no-traffic areas like the North End, there are bike lanes around the entire city now, and the city is widely considered one of the most accessible for cyclists.
          It’s not impractical, a city just has to decide its a project worth investing in. Considering Boston continues to draw young tech and STEM talent that want such urban amenities, and Boston is currently growing at a rate faster than most other major U.S. cities, it seems to be a worthwhile investment.

        • DrS

          Yeah, I really would like to just have bike lanes everywhere, but this is impractical in older urban areas.

          It’d be a lot more practical if we built strong public transport in the city center. And banned cars.

      • Aimai

        My daughter is off just now to bicycle across the river to teach a dance class–about five miles? Most of it will be on a bike path but I shudder with fear everytime she does this because I know just how dangerous it is for her given how bad most motorists are–and how terrible most bicyclists are. It feels like it will take decades more of dedicated teaching to enable both bicyclists and motorists to learn to respect each other and the very different orientations they both seem to have to the road.

        • Malaclypse

          Honestly, having commuted in Watertown/Cambridge/Belmont before moving north, that’s a pretty safe commute. You really do have a critical mass of bikes such that most drivers realize that bikes are entitled to exist. I’d trade my old commute in Boston for my current commute in a heartbeat.

          Plus, if I’m right and that path is along the Charles, that’s a beautiful ride.

          • currants

            This map (bicycle collisions in Boston) was released recently–useful if you have the ability to avoid the high-risk areas.

          • Aimai

            Yeah–its a beautiful ride from Cambridge to Brookline but she is going through some streets to get down to the river and that makes me nervous. The daughter of an old friend of mine was killed many years ago in, I think, Central Square when she was biking and a really long truck turned and caught her under its wheels. I think I just have a lot of anxiety about that happening that isn’t realistic but just atavistic.

            • Warren Terra

              I went back and forth between Brookline and Cambridge twice daily for years, the only incident I had was getting my wheel caught in the train tracks near the BU bridge. I never used bike lanes, but there was plenty of room on the roads that had traffic, and the more cramped roads didn’t have traffic.

            • JBL

              Central Square is a death-trap — absolutely the most terrifying place to bicycle that I ever met in greater Boston. (I biked from Brookline to MIT for years in grad school.)

              • Warren Terra

                Really? I liked biking Central Square just fine: lots of visibility, never a problem. The only places in Cambridge I truly hated were the rail tracks I crossed every day, twice (you probably crossed them too, east of the BU bridge, it’s the fastest route between Brookline and MIT) and the underpasses on Mass Ave near Harvard Square.

                • Aimai

                  The worst thing in Central square is the *&^% pedestrians. There is something terrible about the signage, the iconography, and the zebra crosswalks that creates an incredible hazard for cars and bicyclists (I think). One thing I hate in MA is the zebra crossing where there is also a light. As a driver I want to know that I can drive up to a light and stop when its red. Or I want to know that a zebra crossing is present and I must stop for the pedestrian at any time. But when they are both together I can’t estimate a proper speed between crossing points–I don’t know until I’m right up against the crosswalk whether there is going to be a person in it or not–and lots of people are always throwing themselves across the street to get to the buses.

                  Its a very chaotic stretch for a stretch in which nothing much is happening–I mean, its not complicated like Harvard Square. Its just a long street interrupted by random lights and crosswalks. But I think that the traffic patterns, for some reason having to do with the buses, causes a lot of people to jaywalk or to cross between lights. You really have to keep your wits about you driving through it.

                • JBL

                  Well, I shouldn’t claim my experience as universal. I always felt like there was a huge amount of unpredictable movement by cars, trucks, buses and pedestrians through the bike lane — people pulling abruptly into and out of parking spots or making aggressive turns, people double-parking in the bike lane, mildly erratic pedestrian behavior. It’s also the place I’ve come closest to being doored. By comparison, the train tracks never bothered me at all. I think I always switched to the sidewalk rather than bike the underpasses in Harvard Square.

            • Steve Tower

              The city has gotten a lot safer for cyclists in the last 10 years or so.

        • Bloix

          Aimai, as a driver, pedestrian and cyclist whose wife was hit last fall(after two surgeries and 9 months of physical therapy, she’s back on the bike and doing very well, thank you), may I give you some friendly advice:

          Get your daughter some lights. Have her use them day or night. Rear flashers are very important, even in the daytime. My wife was stopped at a light in broad daylight when she was hit from behind – the driver said he didn’t see her and I believe him.

          You can even get a couple of clip-ons, one for each side of her backpack- they’re cheap and easy to use:

          http://www.amazon.com/Clip-Go-Flashing-Reflectors-Lights/dp/B00DVQTFKQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1405021299&sr=1-5&keywords=backpack+clip+on+lights

          Since my wife’s accident, I ride only with lights, and I wear a hi-vis jersey and hi-vis cycling gloves.

          • Malaclypse

            Second this. A good, light day-glo reflective vest is about 5 bucks.

          • Aimai

            Thank you so much for the reminder, Bloix. We do have lights on her but I recently saw something I really think is amazingly smart–it was a bicyclist with something like a glow in the dark baton (?) that seemed to stick out like a foot before and after them, maybe even a bit to the side. Speaking as a driver I was ecstatic! They were the most visible bicyclist I’ve ever seen. Lots of the lights people have are just not good enough or only visible from one angle. You are right to remind me to check her lights and also to beef up her light/clothing situation. Up until recently she only bikes during the daylight hours but as she’s gotten older and is going away to college in the fall I need to realize that she will end up biking more and more in the gloaming or at night. Thank you so much for making me think about this now. I really appreciate it.

            I am terribly sorry to hear about your wife, by the way. What a horrible, horrible thing to have happen. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering you have both gone through.

            • Bloix

              It was pretty awful when it happened but now it’s mostly a story we can use to horrify our friends. “The bone was broken in four places! They had to put a plate in! With two-inch screws!”

              • Bloix

                Oh, and not to be a nag, but a mirror is a big help if you have to ride in traffic.

              • Aimai

                My best friend was hit by a car last year as she walked across the street–an ambulance stopped to let her cross and a car zoomed around it and hit her breaking her leg so the bone came through the skin and she had to have it pinned. It took months for her to be up and around. The guy denied he had done it. Even though her husband and the ambulance drivers were right there and saw him do it.

                • Elizabeth

                  I think I met that guy, when he rear-ended me, denied he had done anything, and drove away after refusing to give me his insurance info. Got his license number though.

                • ajay

                  My best friend was hit by a car last year as she walked across the street–an ambulance stopped to let her cross and a car zoomed around it and hit her breaking her leg so the bone came through the skin and she had to have it pinned.

                  When I was learning to drive it was drilled into me again and again that you never ever stop to let pedestrians cross. Obviously you stop at red lights and zebra crossings and so on, but you never just do it out of the goodness of your heart, because you will block the line of sight between the driver behind you and the pedestrian in front of you. So the driver behind you will think “oh, ajay’s just stopping to park or look at a map or something” and will naturally move out to overtake you, just in time to clobber the pedestrian as she steps out from in front of your car.

                  (This driver sounds like human waste, of course, but that’s a separate issue.)

                  Drivers: do not stop to let pedestrians cross! You are not doing them a favour!

                • Ronan

                  ah na, i disagree here – it’s a judgment call. You (the driver) should be able to tell from your surroundings (what road you’re on, traffic etc) whether cars behind will overtake you if you stop to let a pedestrian pass. For a beginner it makes sense as advice (who doesnt have the experience) but in general, for people who are comfortable driving, I wouldnt hold it as a set in stone rule

                • ajay

                  You (the driver) should be able to tell from your surroundings (what road you’re on, traffic etc) whether cars behind will overtake you if you stop to let a pedestrian pass.

                  Well, this professional, experienced ambulance driver got it completely wrong, didn’t they?

                • Ronan

                  na, the person from behind did. in fact it proves my point about actual driving norms, that the ‘experienced ambulance driver’ did stop

            • whetstone

              Lights and a bell. Depending on the route options I would avoid arterials–in my experience as a bike commuter, it’s easy to default to arterial roads because, duh, they’re arterial roads.

              Side streets are often safer, simply because the speeds are slower. The difference in crash severity for pedestrians from 25-40 MPH is vast, which is why NYC is lowering speed limits.

            • Warren Terra

              I saw a Youtube of these awhile back. They’re pricey, as I recall, but look amazingly cool and are highly visible.

              (and, as a longtime bike commuter, I really hate people who let the side down: people riding on the sidewalk when there’s plenty of safe road, people without helmets, and especially people without lights).

              • Aimai

                Those are incredibly cool! But at that price they would make me worry her bike would be stolen just to get the lights. However there are a lot of cool lights on the market. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! I’m ordering some different ones tonight.

          • Elizabeth

            Thanks for the excellent reminder/advice, and I’m so sorry about your wife’s accident. That sounds terrible.

          • DrS

            There are some flashers too that put a red line on the ground that show where the “three foot rule” lies.

      • sharculese

        True. They really really don’t.

        But considering some of the things they would have to put up with on the roads around here, it’s hard to get angry.

        • Marek

          Harrumph.

      • djw

        a car pulling out pulls all the way through a sidewalk – pedestrians are going slow enough to see and react, bikes are going fast enough that they won’t.

        data.

        There are a few stretches in Dayton where I take to the sidewalk. The conditions:

        1) A fast road, with little to no shoulder.

        2) A strethc with no or very few turn-offs or driveways.

        3) Sidewalk pretty much never has any pedestrians, and if it did I could see them well before I encounter them.

        • Malaclypse

          Thanks for the data. Am I reading that right that even kids are safer in streets?

          • djw

            It appears so, yes.

          • yes

            In Palo Alto between 1985-89.

        • A road near my house is really too narrow and busy for cyclists most of the time. Here’s my question: a cyclist on the sidewalk gets to a green light the same time I do, in my car. I’m turning right. He’s going straight. (The only reason we got to the intersection the same time is that I slowed down to take a sharp turn from one narrow street to another. And he’s going quickly enough that, at the point I look for pedestrians before turning, I can’t easily see him.) If he were on the shoulder he would have the right of way. Does he still have the right of way, or by driving on the sidewalk does he become a pedestrian?

          Also, I wish people were still taught pedestrians should walk against traffic. Especially when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk on the other side of the parked cars.

          • I thought that comment was going to go at the very end.

          • Malaclypse

            Does he still have the right of way

            Well, if you take the right-of-way yourself, you may kill him. I’d hope that answers the question.

            • Exactly. I may kill him. But it’s a terrible road and he’s passing me on the right, going three times as fast as I am at that point. He’s on the sidewalk, behind a bunch of shrubberies and people on foot, and at the point where I have to make the decision whether or not to turn, I can’t actually see him. The decision for me is whether to be aware for about half a mile (or longer, if the light has only just turned green, which means I had to slow down but he didn’t) that he may or may not be coming up on the intersection just after I decide to turn, and he may or may not be preparing to stop and cross with the light, the way a pedestrian would.

              It’s more likely that he’s going to think I’m an asshole, and that after turning I’ll wonder how far back he really was from the corner by the time I got there, than that I’m actually going to hit him (or he’ll drive into my passenger-side door), actually. And this is in MA, where I didn’t know it was legal to drive on the sidewalk, but where nobody gets ticketed for anything so trivial anyway. In theory, I think this is one of the streets that has a bike lane marked and you do see cyclists on that block, at least in the other direction (where there’s no sidewalk), though there’s not really enough room to pass them.

              • DocAmazing

                Are you asking a question or making a case?

                In pretty much every case, pedestrians have the right-of-way over bikes and cars, and bikes over cars. The bicyclist is “passing on the right” to the same extent that pedestrians are “passing on the right”.

          • djw

            This is a good question. Most of the time, riding on the sidewalk is not actually legal, so it doesn’t exactly make sense for someone doing something illegal to have the right of way, although obviously the safe thing to do is give it to them. But in jurisdictions (like Ohio) where sidewalk riding is permitted? No idea.

            • JBL

              “Most of the time, riding on the sidewalk is not actually legal”

              Is this really true? In Minnesota, the default is that riders can choose sidewalk or road, and obey the appropriate set of rules. (In “central business districts”, which I don’t know what that means, riding on the sidewalk is forbidden.)

          • DrS

            Also, I wish people were still taught pedestrians should walk against traffic.

            I didn’t know this was a thing, but I guess it went cause freedom?

            I ride on the American river bike trail a lot. It’s so much easier for both pedestrian and cyclists when pedestrians follow the rules and go on the opposite side of traffic.

            • Ronan

              it is a thing, but i didnt think on sidewalks (just on roads without them – so you could see the car)

          • MH

            In places where it is legal for the cyclist to bike on the sidewalk (like Minneapolis, which is the one I know about) they have the legal status of pedestrians*. (When they’re in places where cars go they’re motor vehicles, when they’re in places where people go they’re people.) So in those cases a bicycle crossing an intersection where pedestrians would counts legally as a pedestrian. And they can switch back and forth if they want, as well.

            In my experience once the number of cyclists got large enough, and the city policies for bicyclists got positive enough, people stopped having much trouble noticing when cyclists were doing it, so the main lesson is to just keep in mind that it’s a possibility and look out for them.

            *(with some additional restrictions about not buzzing people and not in all places)

        • GoDeep

          I used to bike commute in LA and I used the sidewalks as much as practicable for pedestrians. There were short stretches where I had to stick to streets and even w/ bike lanes I dreaded them. I have no prob w/ bicyclists using sidewalks as long as they put pedestrians first.

          • Ronan

            youre back. good to see it.

    • Murc

      Exactly this. As a pedestrian, sometimes the way bicyclists use the sidewalk make me a little nervous. But some of the roads are fucking scary, and now way in hell am I going to ask cyclists to put up with them.

      Weird story time: in the town I grew up in (this is back in the 80s) cops and authority figures in general would yell at us kids for NOT bicycling on the sidewalks. If we hopped out into the streets we’d get yelled at, because it was felt we were needlessly putting ourselves in danger as “pedestrians” in moving traffic when there were this very nice very wide sidewalks that often had light-to-nonexistent foot traffic on them.

      That hasn’t happened in a long time, of course, but it came up during my formative years and stuck with me for a long time. I didn’t know that bicycles had a right to the road for a very long time! When I found THAT out, in my early teens, it broadened my cycling range immensely.

      • STH

        My cyclist friends frequently still get people yelling at them to ride on the sidewalk, despite the fact that it’s illegal. There’s a real education gap in this country about cycling.

        • djw

          people yelling at them to ride on the sidewalk

          I get this in Dayton semi-regularly (although I think it is legal in Ohio, or so I’ve heard).

          • tribble

            As I recall, it was legal in Ohio provided the bicyclist was traveling no faster than the walking pedestrians.

            That’s obviously not going to happen very often.

        • ScottRS

          Actually it’s perfectly legal where I live (Madison WI), except for certain places. One cannot ride on the sidewalk in areas where the sidewalk is immediately adjacent to a structure/building (with no intervening space/lawn) or on the area called the Capitol Square.

          • Warren Terra

            Yeah, in a great many places it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk except in rare restricted zones.

            I still hate the people who do it, though. It’s terribly inconsiderate of pedestrians to ride on the sidewalk in circumstances where you can safely ride on the roads.

          • Johnnie

            That being said, except when getting to my apartment on the opposite side of the bike lane on a one way street, I pretty much never ride on the sidewalk. Madison’s biking infrastructure is pretty nice though, so that helps.

        • JL

          I get that frequently in Waltham, MA.

          Towns around here vary in terms of whether they allow biking on the sidewalk, and if so, how fast you can go.

          There’s a hilarious bit of Arlington Center in Arlington, MA, right before you get back on the Minuteman Bikeway after the two-block break, where there is no method of crossing the street onto the Bikeway while staying on your bike, that is legal. You’re not allowed to ride on the sidewalk and the place where you would turn onto the Bikeway from the road has a concrete barrier in the middle of the road.

          • Downpuppy

            I usually take Warren St through Arlington instead of the east end of the bikeway to avoid Arlington Center.

            You can stay on the bike Eastbound, more or less, but west takes a long walk.

        • My cyclist friends frequently still get people yelling at them to ride on the sidewalk, despite the fact that it’s illegal.

          Thankfully, riding on the sidewalk is not illegal everywhere, especially for bicyclists’ safety considerations. My state (Illinois) does allow it, and I’m sure more than a few others do too.

        • Jake

          When I was a kid I rode my bike to our downtown pretty frequently (mid-sized college town, maybe a 10-minute ride to the comic book shop from where I was coming from). I was pretty proud of myself for riding in the street like I was supposed to, and then one day, riding as close to the curb as I could, someone came up beside me and rode me off the road.

          To this day, I don’t know if they were just being a total asshole to a kid for no reason, or if they just didn’t understand that I was allowed to ride in the road.

        • whetstone

          We’re absolutely abysmal at educating drivers about cyclists in driver’s ed—which would make for more considerate cyclists, too. If you’re a beginning bike commuter, you’re basically on your own in terms of learning not just the law, but the inevitable gray areas. Which keeps a lot of people from cycling. If driver’s ed included the rules of the road for cycling, it would normalize it a lot more and give people a start in thinking about safe cycling behavior.

          Take the Dutch, for example: in their driver’s ed (which is much more involved than ours), you can do your driver’s test perfectly, but, when you finish, if you don’t check for a cyclist before opening your door, you automatically fail. In America, we blame cyclists for running into opening car doors.

          • GoDeep

            There’s really no clear answer to the ‘who has the right of way for opening car doors’. In most cities there are so few bicyclists that it wouldn’t make sense (nor would it be remotely realistic) to expect drivers to look every time they open the door. In that case it makes more sense (to me) to put the onus on the bicyclist to either ride more slowly, make more sound, ride in the car lane, or otherwise be more cautious.

            • Malaclypse

              In most cities there are so few bicyclists that it wouldn’t make sense (nor would it be remotely realistic) to expect drivers to look every time they open the door.

              And yet, the law expects them to. No, really. It does.

              And why the fuck is it “unrealistic”?

            • Who gets out on the street side of their car without looking in the sideview mirror first? Darwin’s Law works both ways.

              • KmCO

                My thoughts exactly. Looking before opening your car door street-side is pretty much Common Sense 101.

              • One of the most pleasant parts of owning a right hand drive vehicle in North America is that I exit onto the sidewalk.

            • Warren Terra

              it makes more sense (to me) to put the onus on the bicyclist to either ride more slowly, make more sound, ride in the car lane, or otherwise be more cautious.

              I’m going to venture a guess you’re not familiar with riding a bike in the city. For one thing, I have no idea how you’d make enough noise to attract attention, especially without pissing off everyone on the road.

              • Lee Rudolph

                I’m going to venture a guess you’re not familiar with riding a bike in the city.

                GD claimed above to have bike-commuted in Los Angeles for several years.

                For one thing, I have no idea how you’d make enough noise to attract attention, especially without pissing off everyone on the road.

                Basket-mounted Howitzer.

                • GoDeep

                  There were plenty of places I didn’t bike b/cs I thought it was too dangerous. When I did encounter parked cars I either got on the sidewalk (preferred), got in the car lane, or (if #2 was too dangerous), dismounted and pushed my bike on the sidewalk. I’m pretty risk averse. Of course LA isn’t NYC. There prolly aren’t many streets in Manhattan without lots of parked cars. So while it was inconvenient in LA it might be a barrier in NYC. Even if the law is on the biker’s side as Mal suggests, its still the biker who bears the pain of an accident. That’s what happens when high transaction costs meet Coase’s Theorem. From a policy perspective I just think its more likely that bikers will avoid opening doors, then passengers will look both ways. When I bike I might *hope* they do but I sure as hell don’t *expect* them to.

                • DocAmazing

                  Well, this is why we have personal injury attorneys. If a driver opens a door into a cyclist, they can dig deep and find several hundred thousand reasons to look in their rear-view mirror next time they open a door.

          • ajay

            Take the Dutch, for example: in their driver’s ed (which is much more involved than ours), you can do your driver’s test perfectly, but, when you finish, if you don’t check for a cyclist before opening your door, you automatically fail.

            ISTR that the Dutch actually teach you to open the driver’s door with the right hand, not the left. So you have to reach right across your body to get to the handle. It seems incredibly awkward, but the reason is, of course, that it automatically torques your head and body round to the left and so you end up looking over your shoulder and will see any oncoming bikes.

      • Malaclypse

        Mini-Mal (age 8) has been asking about riding on streets. About a month ago, her school does a bike safety rodeo one Saturday, so I tell her we’ll ask the policeman running it when she could move off the sidewalk. I expected an answer of sometime between 10-14. Nope. “We don’t think bikes should ever be on streets.”

        I decided that getting arrested in front of my kid would be a bad response.

        • Murc

          If that’s verbatim, I find that response fascinating in its use of “should.”

          Because that’s interesting, isn’t it? He’s not explicitly advocating Mini-Mal ride on the sidewalks, which is illegal most places. He’s not saying she CAN’T ride in the streets, which is basically always legal if you aren’t on an interstate.

          He’s saying that the cops don’t think bikes should be on the streets. Which is probably true. Makes their lives a lot more difficult, I imagine.

          But there’s lots of things cops would rather we not do.

          • Malaclypse

            It was close to verbatim.

            And in MA, bikes can be on sidewalks, except for certain business districts. Doesn’t change the data djw linked to, however.

          • VCarlson

            It’s occasionally legal if you are on an interstate – if it’s the only way to get from point “A” to point “B,” frex. A college roommate rode her bike on the part of the interstate between Davis and Sacramento – the part that was a causeway over the flooded rice fields. She’d tell us about drivers trying to mash her against the barrier.

            • Malaclypse

              Many years ago, I biked down to the Harpoon brewery for Octoberfest. I had way too much beer, and when I left I was drunk, it was dark, and the Big Dig had closed a shit-ton of streets. And all of a sudden I realized – “Holy shit! I’m riding a bike on Route 93! I’m going to die!”

              Longest distance to an exit ever.

            • djw

              You’ll see some brave souls going through the Cascades on I-90 in the summer, as part of some insane epic bike journey. (I really don’t get that. I rather enjoy cycling for the first hour, and can bear it for the second, but at that point I’m done. And I can hike all day without getting bored.) There’s a pretty wide shoulder most of the way, as I recall.

              • BigHank53

                The Cascades are a big mountain range: there are only four paved roads going across them in the state.

              • I’ve ridden this, I think. You can start with your feet on the beach and ride to the very top on a gorgeous road with wide shoulders and four utterly brutal climbs. Then it’s thirty km or so downhill to a charming little town. Took me about six hours as I recall. My legs have never been so sore.

                • Just checked a map, it’s called highway 20, or the cascades highway.

                  It was brutally hard. Supposedly it can compare to a medium mountain stage of the TDF.

                • Yeah, US HWY 20 starts in Newport, OR, heads through Corvallis (where I am) across the valley and then climbs up over the lower “Tombstone Pass” , down a bit, and then up over the second higher pass between the Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington volcanoes, then descends down into Sisters (the charming town you mentioned).

                  It’s pretty amazing.

                  It continues all the way across the state, and technically actually goes across the whole country, ending in Boston, but I think sections of it are now Interstates. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_20

      • whetstone

        If we hopped out into the streets we’d get yelled at, because it was felt we were needlessly putting ourselves in danger as “pedestrians” in moving traffic

        Yup. I get as irritated as cyclists on the sidewalk as anyone else (I work on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the heart of the tourist district and they’re frequent), but I try to remind myself that lots of people are accustomed to the above. Infrastructure creates habits.

    • tsam

      I encounter quite a few asshole bicyclists here in Spokane, but they are way way way outnumbered by drivers who think they own the road and can’t put down their phones long enough to get to their destination.

      Assholes on the road are assholes. Whether the vehicles are motorized or not doesn’t mean jack.

      • KmCO

        I am an avid cyclist-enthusiast, but I am also inclined to agree with this. Here in the 303, there are so many absolute mother-loving assholes on the Cherry Creek bike path who ride like they own the trail and don’t give a shit about anyone or anything else on it. I am willing to bet a very good sum of my savings that these very same people who bike recklessly also drive like assholes when behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle.

  • I was unaware of the horrible suffering endured by bicyclists in the US. Perhaps they should all emigrate to the Netherlands in some sort of Zionist movement so they can be the ones oppressing others. As a pedestrian I have been hit by drunk bicyclists in Amsterdam and London. The first time in Amsterdam I was on a sidewalk and the second time in London in a cross walk with the light on my side. But, if bicyclists had their own state which pushed all the walkers out into reservations then these problems would all be solved. ;-)

    • LeeEsq

      Dear Administrators,

      Can somebody please lay down the law with J. Otto Pohl and tell him to stop making unncessary and off topic references to Jews, Israel, or Zionists? This entire post was unnecssary, not funny, and offensive. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

      Respectfully,

      A Concerned Poster

      • TribalistMeathead

        Yeah, but it ended with an emoticon, so it doesn’t count.

        • N__B

          Does that rule apply to bank-robbery notes as well?

          • Chuchundra

            I have a gub

            • Turkle

              +1

      • Just Dropping By

        I’d contend that was funny even if you don’t agree with the characterization.

        • LeeEsq

          Even if it was funny, it is still offensive. We wouldn’t tolerate similar cracks if it involved other minority groups.

          • Jordan

            I dunno. Frontposters here use ‘gypped’ to mean “robbed” or whatever. So …

          • Ronan

            Has political correctness now outlawed mentions of zionists ?

            • Jordan

              Nah, but in a totally context-free out-of-nowhere assertion like this, its just using “Zionist” as a slur. Which in this case certainly seems (mildly) anti-semitic.

              • Ronan

                it was certainly an enigmatic comment

            • LeeEsq

              Ronan, what Jordan said. There was simply no reason for J. Otto Pohl to bring up Zionists in this post. Zionism has absolutely nothing to do with this post. When you combine this with past comments J. Otto Pohl made about Jews like complaining how it was for Jews from USSR to get asylum in the United States compared to other groups one begins to suspect that J. Otto Paul has problems with Jews beyond being sympathetic towards the Palestinians.

              • Ronan

                Sure but zionism is a nationalist movement not an ethnic group so deserving of abuse

                • LeeEsq

                  J. Otto Pohl and many others have a tendency of picking on Zionism and ignoring other nationalist movements. I find people that pick on Jewish nationalism but not other forms with equal vehemence problematic.

                • Ronan

                  i think there’s good reason to *at this moment* though(ie whats going on in gaza) J Otto is well known for his vocal support of the Palestinians, so id see it in that context

        • TribalistMeathead

          I’d contend that, like every other joke Jotto has ever attempted, it wasn’t.

      • Administration

        Dear Posters,

        Do not read the jottos.
        Also stay in the boat.

    • postmodulator

      There are bike-related pedestrian strikes in the US too — one in SF a couple of years ago killed a guy — but of course their numbers are dwarfed by the death tolls of our four-wheeled murder machines. (Which, thanks to climate change, will probably actually play a role in killing eighty percent or so of humanity.)

      • VCarlson

        All I have to say here is the possibility for the survival of a pedestrian in a drunk bicyclist vs drunk driver encounter is much higher.

        • postmodulator

          So…what I said?

          • VCarlson

            Yeah. Sorry. Bad nest. I meant to point that out to JO, but didn’t want to get too close.

      • JustRuss

        I was on a bike trip in the Netherlands a few years ago when I happened to check a cycling website and read about a pedestrian killed by a drunk cyclist…in my town, on my street, at an intersection I ride through almost every day. It was very surreal.

        • I knew the woman who was killed. It was surreal.

          • Assuming of course that it’s the incident I’m thinking of (I can’t think of another in the recent past here).

    • JL

      Is this a JOtto Markov chainer bot?

      • Jordan

        Well, if so, it has passed the touring test.

    • joe from Lowell

      It’s difficult for a cyclist to emigrate from the US to the Netherlands. Very poor bike infrastructure along that corridor.

      • sharculese

        Welp. This is my post of the day.

      • Warren Terra

        what if they do that one long leg by pedalo?

    • TribalistMeathead

      I was unaware of the horrible suffering endured by bicyclists in the US.

      Do you think the reason everyone here thinks you’re an asshole is the fact that you are, in fact, an asshole?

      • tsam

        That’s unpossible.

      • Anonymous

        sniffle

  • Murc

    How about those of us who support massively increasing the infrastructure investment in cycling and, indeed, all other forms of non-car transportation? Are we allowed to be pissed off at the bicyclists who use the road when it suits them, but magically transform into sidewalk and/or shoulder using pedestrians the instant they’d be momentarily inconvenienced by a red light or by slow traffic?

    … actually, come to think of it, I feel the same way about those guys as I do about motorists who refuse to zipper merge in an orderly fashion, instead zooming all the way down past everyone patiently waiting and then elbowing their way in at the last second.

    • postmodulator

      That reminds me of another fun bicycling anecdote! I saw a guy on a bike Acting in his Capacity as a Pedestrian run into a guy Acting in his Capacity as a Motorist. They both stood up, didn’t seem to hurt, and then started screaming at each other about what an idiot the other one was for Doing It Wrong.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Are we allowed to be pissed off at the bicyclists who use the road when it suits them, but magically transform into sidewalk and/or shoulder using pedestrians the instant they’d be momentarily inconvenienced by a red light or by slow traffic?

      When I have been a bicyclist (not too recently), I did that. I did it by, at such an instant, dismounting my bicycle and walking it along the sidewalk and/or shoulder until the situation was favorable for remounting.

      Probably it’s impossible to do that when wearing Lycra, though.

      • Hogan

        One of many reasons I never wear Lycra. It’s a privilege, not a right.

        • N__B

          The Village Voice – back when (a) it was worth reading and (b) had a sports section – ran a piece on biking in the north Jersey suburbs called “Tour de Bergen.” I remember one sentence fragment: “the feeling of hot, wet lycra wrapped around my balls made me understand why some people become perverts.”

          • tsam

            I will be reporting to the sporting goods store immediately following work.

      • UserGoogol

        It depends on the exact situation and how crowded things are, but I think it often makes sense to just slowly drift your bike along at walking speed (or whatever speed is appropriate) instead of actually walking your bike. Precisely because I’m not the “lycra wearing” kind of bicyclist, I’m not always very elegant at remounting my bike, so remounting just means I’m wasting more time fumbling around on the shoulder and getting in everyone else’s way.

    • JL

      I get that this is frustrating, but it is also very frustrating to be a cyclist who routinely gets harassed, shouted at, intentionally startled, physically forced off the road, even gets the odd death threat or two, from drivers, and then whenever there is a conversation about cycling so many people’s first response is “Oh but cyclist misbehavior is so annoying.” Cyclists and drivers don’t have equal power and aren’t at equal risk. And cyclists are routinely victim-blamed when something bad happens to them.

      None of this transforms rude behavior into not-rude behavior, but I have to wonder why so many people focus on misbehavior among the relatively powerless and vulnerable group, or insist on equating their misbehavior and that of the dominant and relatively less vulnerable group.

      • postmodulator

        physically forced off the road

        Have you seen any of the Youtube clips from that weird war the Hasidim in NYC have declared on bicyclists? There was one where a driver tried to force a biker into a row of parked cars — like, slowly, deliberately, it was clearly intentional — then got out and started yelling that he was going to call the cops. The biker was like, dude, please call the cops.

        • JL

          I had not seen that, no. I’ll have to look it up.

          I fairly frequently get drivers coming up behind me and squeezing me in so close to the curb that I almost hit it – sometimes I’ve actually had to jump off the bike (pulling it onto the sidewalk with me in the process) to avoid crashing against either the curb or the car.

          Also, as someone with a naturally hair-trigger startle reflex that has been made quite a bit worse by PTSD, one of my serious pet peeves is drivers that get right up behind me and then go “HOOOOOONK!” This is Massachusetts so that happens a lot.

          • People do that when I’m putting out the trash. I’m sure they’d claim they seriously thought I looked like I was going to wander into the street.

            • JL

              This morning I had a driver of a commercial vehicle, going in the other direction, honk at me while, as far as I could tell by the direction of his line of sight, attempting to stare at my boobs as he passed by. Not quite the same phenomenon, but similarly involving obnoxious honking.

              • Maybe he was in the market for a sports bra and wanted to see how yours held up.

                • Aimai

                  badump bump.

        • N__B

          Specifically Williamsburg, where the Hassidim live in one part, hipsters live in an other, and there are two streets that are major thoroughfares where the city has created bike lanes. The Hassids are offended at outsiders inflaming them sexually by showing off their lower arms.

          • LeeEsq

            Kent Avenue is a mess because of the attempts made to meet the bike lane demands of the cyclists and the parking needs of the Satmar Hasidim.*

            *For those who are not in the know, the Satmar Hasidim are considered annyoing even by other Hasidic dynasties.

            • artisten

              also more pedophilic

              • LeeEsq

                My personal take is that the Satmar are just bitter that Chabad and Breslov are more popular than they are.

        • nixnutz

          I had something like that happen to me in S.F. once, a guy was on his phone and he, I believe absent-mindedly, squeezed me into the parked cars and then got out and yelled at me for scratching his paint with my pedal. Yeah, I didn’t do that on purpose, that was you almost killing me, asshole.

      • djw

        None of this transforms rude behavior into not-rude behavior, but I have to wonder why so many people focus on misbehavior among the relatively powerless and vulnerable group, or insist on equating their misbehavior and that of the dominant and relatively less vulnerable group.

        Exactly this; well put.

        • Aimai

          Well–people are focusing on misbehavior that they, themselves, have experienced. I’ve experienced, and complained about, plenty of misbehavior from other motorists. In fact I spend most of my time in the car criticizing the crappy driving of other drivers. But I have also seen and feared incredible amounts of reckless, stupid, and dangerous driving by cyclists who are either unwilling to follow the laws or oblivious to the sight and speed issues affecting the cars they are riding among. That’s fucking scary. I’m not angry with cyclists and I’m not focusing on their sins because they are powerless–I’m frightened. I’m petrified that I’m going to hit someone by accident.

          I have been in two bike related accidents. Once, when I stopped for my red light, a very nice young man on a bike behind me crashed right through my rear window. He said, sweetly (thank god he was unhurt) “No one in boston stops for a red light so I didn’t think you would.” He came through the rear window right over my baby in her rear facing car seat along with a shower of glass.

          The other time was my fault: I was backing down a long driveway with a big bush obscuring my view of the street. I could see that there were no cars coming but I did not see the bicyclist who was coming down the street. Luckily he wasn’t hurt either but he could have been and it would have been devastating.

          I spend a lot of my time driving watching out for bicyclists and trying to guess at how good they are, how rule abiding they are, how aware they are of me. I don’t really have to expend the same energy on cars because by the nature of the road and the space they occupy they are less likely to spontaneously move into my space or come up beside me in unexpected ways. A car that is four cars behind me is going to stay four cars behind me. A bike that if four cars behind me can be next to me in no time at all. There’s a real problem for both car drivers and bicyclists in the mismatch between the speeds and attitudes of the two kinds of vehicles. Its not a plot against cyclists–its just a fact.

          • sparks

            You end up having to think for everyone else. BTDT, still doing it. Only tangled with one bicyclist in all my years as a driver and he hit me while going the wrong way down a one-way street. No injuries, trivial cosmetic damage.

            I took his bike to a shop and had it fixed for him since he was a high-school kid and it was his transportation to/from school.

      • STH

        Yes, exactly right, JL.

      • Malaclypse

        This.

      • Joe Bob

        I was a road racer and year-round (in Minnesota) bike commuter for many years. People who aren’t out on bikes regularly have absolutely no idea of what motorists routinely subject bicyclists to. I have had people in cars throw garbage at me. A passenger in a moving car once tried to grab me. On numerous occasions I had people pull their car within inches of me and threaten to hit me or run me off the road.

        I did once have someone threaten to shoot me but this was long before the days of ubiquitous concealed carry so I have never had anyone actually brandish a firearm. In the early ‘90s one guy in my road biking group briefly carried a small pistol on training rides. He was a hothead and concealed carry was plainly illegal at the time, but we all understood his sentiments.

        • Cheap Wino

          I easily have 15,000 commuter bicycling miles lifetime and have seen and experienced just about everything. The worst was when a guy leaned out the passenger side of the small pickup he was riding in and body slammed me from behind knocking me off my bike in what was pure-luckily away from the truck rather than under it. Pretzeled my front wheel and my back has never been the same 25 years later.

          I’ve had commuter buses pull up to their stop while still in the process of passing me, running me off the road, while I was in a clearly marked bike lane no less.

          I have to walk away from any conversation that begins with some driver complaining about reckless cyclists before I get up on my angry soapbox and become an unpleasant cheap wino.

    • UserGoogol

      I don’t really see the problem with that. Bicycles are in many ways halfway between cars and pedestrians, and should be treated as such. (As evidenced by all the mixed-use bike/pedestrian paths out there.) Bikes shouldn’t drive in the sidewalk in general, (standard sidewalks are far too narrow for someone going at any sort of decent speed) but if they want to cut across for a bit why not?

      • Murc

        It’s unsafe and usually illegal?

        You want to get onto the sidewalk, goddamn stop and get off. Same applies if you want to run a red light.

        • Bloix

          Um, here in DC it’s perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk outside the central business district. On upper 16th St, where I come out of the park on my home, the sidewalk is broad and empty, and much safer than the street.

    • malraux

      Isn’t the zipper merge by definition the merging style where you go all the way to the end and then merge at the last possible moment? Early merging is the opposite of zipper merging.

      zipper merge defined

      • Murc

        Except that if you’re moving at highway speeds (as this article notes) you should merge early.

        Also too, a lot of people won’t merge politely, period, no matter the circumstances. They’ll zip along in their soon-to-be-nonexistent lane until the last second, ignoring many primo chances to merge over, until they hit the end, and bull their way in.

        Or if traffic is already stop and go, they’ll try and merge in at the same time the guy directly in front of them does, because why should they let some asshole in the other lane get “ahead” of them?

        • malraux

          Assuming both lanes are moving at highway speeds, it shouldn’t matter much when they merge. If one lane is going appreciably slower though, then you should start doing the zipper merge, which involves going all the way to the end of lane and merging at the last second. Ignoring earlier areas where they could merge and continuing to go in their current lane is correct.

      • VCarlson

        There are also cultural differences. If you’re in an area where the practice is to get out of the to-be-disappeared lane as soon as it’s posted and you persist in driving to the end and demanding to be let in, you’re an asshole. If you’re in an area where the practice is for people to continue to drive in the to-be-disappeared lane, then do a more or less one to one merge at the end, and you try to stop it, well, you may still be an asshole, but you’re more likely to be red faced and angry in your car.

    • Karen

      Idiots will be idiots, whatever mode of transportation they employ.

    • Rob in CT

      …motorists who refuse to zipper merge in an orderly fashion, instead zooming all the way down past everyone patiently waiting and then elbowing their way in at the last second.

      This may well be my #1 pet peeve about driving. And I have a lot of them. That one, though, gets me hopping mad. Every. Single. Time. I am apparently incapable of letting it go.

    • Crunchy Frog

      It won’t happen until the price of refined oil goes up 10x. When you figure out how to that, you’ve also figured out how to solve approximately half of the world’s current problems.

  • Aimai

    The whole article was awful, just awful–especially the crappy assertion that “old people” live in DC but transit out for work and need their cars for that. If you are talking about older working class people we’d be better off creating and maintaining an extensive public transportation system so that they don’t have to own and maintain cars at all but can still get around the city and to work without needing a bicycle. And ditto for younger working class workers. He wants to maintain car culture for rich people but that shouldn’t be the primary concern of the city and its planners.

    • GoDeep

      Maintain car culture for rich ppl??? I didn’t get that at all. I strongly agree that DC should extend its Metro out at least 25 miles in all directions but I doubt if given the massive political & jurisdictional complexities this happens anytime before 2165. Fact is its difficult enough to drive in DC w/ its crappy roads as it is, making it more difficult for drivers will hopefully be career suicide for any politician proposing it.

      • Lee Rudolph

        I strongly agree that DC should extend its Metro out at least 25 miles in all directions but I doubt if given the massive political & jurisdictional complexities this happens anytime before 2165.

        The intermodal synergies with gondoliers and vaporetti in what’s now the Tidal Basin will be pure pleasure for all!

      • Bloix

        “I strongly agree that DC should extend its Metro out at least 25 miles in all directions”

        This is actually a terrible idea. Heavy rail subways are extremely expensive per unit length to build. They make sense only for densely populated areas where different lines can link up so that people can reach almost any point in the core coverage area. The whole point of a subway with service every few minutes is the transfer – trains run frequently so that people can get off at transfer stations, hop on another line without long waits, and walk to their distinations. And subways run frequently all day and most of the night. They’re not just for the morning and evening rush.

        For far-flung areas, you can’t have dense enough coverage to replace cars. And you can’t link up lines with transfers – not very many, anyway. The lines are much too far apart. So people use the system only for commuting, twice day. They get to the stations by car or bus, and then take the train into town. For this sort of service, what you want is surface commuter rail that runs to the main train station on a schedule, not a metro system that needs to run every few minutes to work.

        The DC system already has too many long spindly lines to distant suburbs, and has just built a new one – the Silver Line (this at least has the advantage that it will eventually go to Dulles Airport). The reason is that to get the Metro built in the first place there had to be support from five suburban governments, and they all wanted deep penetration into their territories. They wanted a twice-a-day commuter system to work in tandem with cars, not an urban transportation system that could replace cars for city dwellers. So the DC system is a compromise.

        DC and the close-in suburbs would have been better off with a denser in-town network and shorter lines, and a system like that would have required smaller subsidies and less maintenance.

        If your idea of the DC system comes from the DC subway map, you really should look at a to-scale map sometime. You’ll be amazed at how small the downtown dense coverage is and how long and spindly the lines get once you’re a mile from Metro Center.

        • GoDeep

          Touche. Agree in all respects.

          I did a 26 mile commute for a while thru the entire North-South length of DC and it was a 2hr drive on the best of days. Think abt all that resulting air pollution and I gotta believe there’s a light rail solution that makes economic sense, at least once the externalities of climate change & air pollution are accounted for.

  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    It was an awful article but I missed the endorsement of murder.

    • sharculese

      Probably means this part:

      It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.

      Also, can we talk about this:

      I recall in the not-so-distant past when the city’s bikers weren’t newly arrived, mostly white millennials but black juveniles whom D.C. police frequently stopped — at least in neighborhoods that were being gentrified. Stopped for riding on sidewalks. Stopped for riding in parking lots.

      Which, Jesus Christ, talk about learning the wrong lesson.

      • JL

        Yeah…the solution to racist policing is not dropping everyone to the lowest common denominator of policing (also, WTF is wrong with riding a bike into a parking lot?). If he wants to make the case that black cyclists are treated worse than white cyclists, he should do that – I’d have no trouble believing it.

        • Murc

          (also, WTF is wrong with riding a bike into a parking lot?).

          People don’t know this, but the rules of the road do in fact apply in parking lots. This is usually more of a car sin than a bike sin; I see so many people who are otherwise good motorists transform into crazy people the second they’re in a parking lot, like they think the rules have stopped applying. But if you’re zipping across the lines at a crazy angle, be you in a car or on a bike, you’re committing traffic violations.

          Now, in practice, this can be ignored a lot. I learned to drive in a completely empty school parking lot my mom took me to. I spent a lot of time on my bike in empty lots just doing aimless circles while I talked to my friends. Both things are technically not cool and you can be ticketed for them. But you’d have to be a real dickhead cop to do so.

          On the flip side, if a bunch of kids are out back in a corner of a very busy Wal-Mart parking lot or another high-traffic area… I wouldn’t ticket them unless they ignored repeated warnings, but if I were a cop I’d tell them to move along and maybe recommend some places that are less likely to result in the store owners calling me to kick the loiterers out or in one of them getting clipped by a guy.

          • postmodulator

            I learned to drive in a completely empty school parking lot my mom took me to.

            There’s a lot of churches in the town I grew up in, which is in the Snow Belt in Northeast Ohio. Part of learning to drive up there is going into a church parking lot on one of the six days a week when they were empty, to practice going into controlled skids so you’d know how to recover from them. “Doing donuts.” (Do people do this anywhere else?)

            Those empty church parking lots also made excellent lovers’ lanes come nightfall.

            • Rob in CT

              Yes, people do this in New England too. I did it, and I do think it helped me handle driving in the snow.

          • I see so many people who are otherwise good motorists transform into crazy people the second they’re in a parking lot, like they think the rules have stopped applying.

            Some of us call that SCCA-sanctioned fun.

        • Aimai

          I think he approved of the extra hasselling of black bicyclists. He doesn’t seem to think it was wrong at all.

          • whetstone

            I don’t think he approved of it. I think what Milloy was trying to say is that D.C. was hostile to bikes when it was just black kids and is now rolling out the red carpet for white professionals. I don’t have any particular expertise in this, but I’m willing to bet he’s right.

            Then he brings up the disparity in where bike lanes have been built. Again, a totally reasonable point but one that sounds weird in context: “cyclists are terrible! We need to accommodate and encourage them!”

            Thing is, there’s actually logic to this. The current belief in transportation circles is that cyclist behavior will improve if you accommodate cyclists, for a couple reasons. Cyclists will use bike infrastructure because it’s safer, drawing them from roads that don’t have it and have a lot more gray area. They’ll be more likely to obey laws, because the laws align better with the infrastructure. And more cyclists means more inexperienced cyclists, who are less willing to take risks. Conversely, the riskier bike infrastructure seems, the most likely that users will be risk-takers–which discourages new cyclists.

            Inside Milloy’s column is an actual reasonable argument. It’s just a shame that he has to be such a dick about it, but a lot of smug newspaper columnists write like that.

      • Bloix

        Courtland Milloy is an interesting case. He’s the Washington Post’s voice of old, black DC. For the last decade or so, every column he writes has been more or less the same. He doesn’t like any young people but he particularly doesn’t like young white people. And he doesn’t even live in DC anymore – he lives in Prince George’s County, which is where the black middle class migrated to when the crack-induced gang violence became intolerable 25 years ago.

        Milloy hates that “his” city no longer exists and he hates the mostly-white and significantly gay in-migration that has restored the economic and social life of the city. He just wants all these people with their fancy bikes and fancy beers to go away so Marion Barry can be mayor again. He’s the urban black exemplar of get off my lawn.

        • pseudalicious

          Um… restored economic life for whom?

          • Ronan

            gentrification can restore it for a lot of people; shopowners, those who own property, those on long term rent controlled leases or secure public housing .. but also obviously not in those demographics.

            • Ronan

              ‘but also can obviously be a negative for those not in those demographics’ ..it aint a zero sum game, is all

    • djw

      “It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.”

      If motorists follow this suggestion and start intentionally strike cyclists with cars as punishment, the death of some of those cyclists will be a likely and predictable consequence of this policy. What is murder but intentionally causing the death of others?

      Perhaps he’s suggesting trying to hit them in ways that are less likley to result in death, but I don’t think that dodge works. If I intend to merely injure you by trying to shoot you in a the arm, but you perish from the gunshot wounds anyway, I don’t have a compelling legal defense against a murder charge (especially if I was, to stick with Malloy’s logic, shooting you as punishment for littering or something).

      • Jared

        “Some drivers might think it’s worth it” is not the same as “I definitely think you should do it.” He’s toeing the line, sure, but you (and Atrios) are exaggerating here.

        • runsinbackground

          He’s toeing the line, sure

          Yeah, him and every other asshole who ever opined that he wouldn’t be surprised if someone shot that judge. People like Milloy are perfectly capable of pretending to not understand their own implications without you covering for them.

        • djw

          Yeah, I’m not inclined to give much credit to the “some people might say” dodge, which is a way of saying something while giving yourself plausible deniability later.

          • Aimai

            Logically: no behaviors that a cyclist can display are deserving of death. Hitting a cyclist does not, in fact, “only” result in a fine. It will generally also result in injury and/or death. To assert that a motorist would quite understandably choose to take the risk of injury/death to a cyclist because the legal fine is so low is pretty disgusting. Either because it imputes to the motorist a willingness to essentially buy, for 500 dollars, the right to mete out rough justice to rude bicyclists or because it implies that the only problem with hitting a cyclist is that you might have to pay the fine.

          • Jared

            I’m not saying he’s making any sense, I’m saying let’s not raise the temperature of the argument by jumping to the worst possible interpretation. Internet flamewars are like arguments with drivers I’ve had as a bicyclist:
            it’s tempting to respond with your full wrath, but it’s usually healthier to give the other person some credit for not being a complete asshole. Even if he’s wrong about everything.

          • Chocolate Covered Cotton

            There’s a world of difference between being negligent resulting in an accident and hitting someone deliberately. I assume the $500 fine is for negligence. Vehicular homicide (or attempted VH) is still a thing, yes?

    • rea

      It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.

  • STH

    A friend posted this article on Facebook yesterday. Cyclists are treated like a despised minority in the U.S. Drivers find ways to blame them for violence perpetrated against them, that violence is punished with a slap on the wrist, etc. Any time there is any discussion anywhere about cycling, the comments go immediately to spittle-flecked screeching about cyclists running red lights and never get beyond that. Because that is obviously what is most important about cycling. And any bad behavior by a cyclist means they’re all a menace to society, while bad behavior by drivers is just accepted, despite the massive damage it does.

    • Murc

      Has to do with people viewing driving as the norm, and thus the foibles associated with it as the cost of doing business, and cyclists as these folks who are somehow obscurely “getting away with something.” Also, motorists REALLY don’t like giving up lane space. To an extent that’s merely practical; it means they have less space to drive in and are assuming more risk at the same time. But god, are they jerks about it.

      That said, I only enjoy one thing more than a good round of “asshole cyclists I have known” and that’s “asshole motorists I have known.” I’m especially appalled by guys who are aggressive drivers and proud of it, like they’ve somehow beaten everyone else on the road in some weird game, the rules of which are unclear.

      • postmodulator

        like they’ve somehow beaten everyone else on the road in some weird game, the rules of which are unclear.

        In The Information by Martin Amis, he’s got a bit where one of his asshole characters (and does he have any other kind?)explains that driving is not a means of getting from point A to point B, it’s a way to enforce your will upon those around you.

        • Hob

          Indeed, and the guy is a driving instructor:

          “Your purpose when driving is not to arrive at your destination safely or quickly. Your purpose when driving is…?”

          “To impress your personality on the road.”

          “Exactly. To show who own the road.

          It’s a throwaway gag, but I like that right after he says this, they hit a patch of unusually empty streets and he’s disappointed that there are no other drivers to overtake.

      • Rugosa

        This: “guys who are aggressive drivers and proud of it” and the jerk’s assertion that enforcing speeding laws is more dangerous than letting people drive as fast as they want remind me of people who say obeying traffic laws causes more accidents than flouting them. I live in Boston, capitol of left-turn-from-the-right-lane and speed-up-to-beat-the-yellow driving.

      • Malaclypse

        Has to do with people viewing driving as the norm, and thus the foibles associated with it as the cost of doing business, and cyclists as these folks who are somehow obscurely “getting away with something.”

        Patrick Nielsen Hayden used to link to stuff showing the history of our assumption that streets belong to cars rather than people, but my google-fu is weak.

        • Anonymous

          Google for “the invention of jaywalking”, you’ll find a bunch of recent stories.

    • postmodulator

      You know, I actually agree with you in principle, but I pretty much hate cyclists saying “WELL YOU SAY THAT CYCLISTS DO BAD STUFF BUT MOTORISTS ARE WORSE.” I’m willing to stipulate that motorists are worse, and that their bad behavior is more likely to lead to bad consequences.

      But, “despised minority?” I just backspaced out a rather virulent insult and might instead advise you that this sounds like overstatement.

      • JL

        You might be willing to stipulate it, but a lot of people aren’t…and worse, any time there’s a story about a cyclist getting hurt or killed, people in news site comment sections and the like jump to rant about how terrible cyclists are. Victim-blaming is a constant. Police often don’t take your reports of driver aggression seriously (as I’ve learned from first-hand experience). Meanwhile, many kinds of common driver misbehavior are treated as unremarkable. I think the cyclist defensiveness that you’re seeing is a reaction to that.

        • JustinV

          I bow to no man in my contempt for the cyclists who almost kill me twice a week (I am a pedestrian resident of Brooklyn, and the hipster cyclist who thinks he can blow through crowded crosswalks or ride full speed on the sidewalk is not a myth here). But the police are garbage to cyclists. I have annecdata that cops have intentionally blocked bike lanes to give out tickets for cyclists who then leave the lanes, I have seen NYPD members park their cars in bike lanes to go into a corner store, I have a friend who was ticketed for “riding on the sidewalk” because he had not fully dismounted when his tires hit the curb in front of his apartment. Meanwhile, I have also seen buses blow through crosswalks consequence free. That seems like the larger problem.

          • postmodulator

            I have annecdata that cops have intentionally blocked bike lanes to give out tickets for cyclists who then leave the lanes,

            This behavior’s been captured on video in SF.

            • Malaclypse

              And NYC.

            • sparks

              After being hassled as a pedestrian in one Critical Mass demonstration in SF, I’m not sure I feel that bad about this.

        • postmodulator

          I suppose it probably is. But motorists treat other motorists like shit too. Motorists hit pedestrians. Pedestrians walk out in front of cars (I’ve been commuting to work on a college campus for fourteen years. Trust me). Cops routinely disregard lots of things. That’s because cops suck, it’s nothing to do with bicyclists qua bicyclists. Everybody sucks.

          Most of the bicyclist misbehavior that people complain about is primarily dangerous to the bicyclist. As Aimai noted upthread, that’s a large part of why it’s uniquely frustrating. We expect motorists to be homicidal, because motorists are people and people are moist robots with broken behavior inhibitors. But bicyclists seem suicidal.

          And I still think that on a blog that would rightfully mock MRAs or White Power dickheads for claiming to be the real oppressed minority, claiming that bicyclists are an oppressed minority is foolish and just plain tacky.

          None of this is intended to be a defense of Badly-Named-Pundit in the original post or a defense of motorists or an instruction that everyone should stop cycling. And of course basically no actual human anywhere ever has defended news site comment sections.

          • JL

            I don’t think the analogy with MRAs or White Power assholes works. In both of those cases, you’re talking about people from a dominant/privileged group who are actively promoting the continued oppression of their unprivileged counterparts and then claiming that the people they’re oppressing are actually oppressing them. That’s not what’s going on here, though you could certainly still make a case for it being tacky to compare cyclists as a class to women, black people, LGBTQ people, etc, as classes.

            • postmodulator

              In both of those cases, you’re talking about people from a dominant/privileged group who are actively promoting the continued oppression of their unprivileged counterparts and then claiming that the people they’re oppressing are actually oppressing them.

              Eh. There’s some tiny minority, like two percent, of MRAs who honestly think they want equal rights for women too, that men genuinely do have it worse in society, and basically have just been too massively blinded by privilege to get their heads out of their asses. But yeah, imperfect analogy. I’m sticking to the “tacky” bit, though.

        • Johnnie

          I blame their stupid carbon fiber bikes. Fucking weight weenies.

      • STH

        I would refer you to my partner and most of my friends, who are long-distance cyclists. They NEVER go out on a ride without getting yelled at by drivers, having things thrown at them, drivers pulling up too close to scare them, etc., etc.

        A cyclist that we knew was out on a group ride here and was hit and killed by a drunk driver. 19-year-old driver and this was his second DUI–two years before he was legally able to drink. The cyclist was out on a wide country road with no other traffic. He was fixing a flat, so was well off the road and lit up like a Christmas tree. The driver who killed him got a 2-year sentence.

        • Aimai

          That happens to pedestrians, as well–and to other drivers. People get killed all the time by drunk drivers and the driver gets away with it. Thats not because cyclists are any different from anyone else–its because drunk/unlisenced motorists are treated like gun nuts as people who are excercising an important american privilige that ought not to be trammeled unnecessarily.

          • JL

            I’m also a pedestrian reasonably often, and cars scare me as a pedestrian too. And they scare me as a (very very inexperienced) driver. But as a pedestrian I normally have fewer close encounters with them than I do as a cyclist, since I’m not on the road with them as a pedestrian (and drivers rarely dispute my right to be a pedestrian). And if I’m a driver, I have a little extra protection from the metal box surrounding me – I could be hurt or even killed by another car, but it would take a worse collision to produce the same level of injury than it would if I was hit by a car while on a bike.

            • Aimai

              Absolutely–pedestrians and bicyclists are more vulnerable to other drivers than people in cars–although people in cars are plenty dangerous to each other at the speeds they are generally going. But the point I was trying to make is that Drivers, like gun nuts, are treated as a special category of person who is less responsible for “accidents” and “negligence” than other people. For a very long time, as I think Mad Men might have made clear, drunk driving was treated as a common foible and drunk driving that killed other people was treated as an accident, practically a misdemeanour. It has to do with the cultural baggage associated with car ownership and driving in this country. I guess what I’m arguing is that cyclists aren’t uniquely disabled w/r/t police and law its that drivers are uniquely favored.

              • JL

                For a very long time, as I think Mad Men might have made clear, drunk driving was treated as a common foible and drunk driving that killed other people was treated as an accident, practically a misdemeanour.

                My local rape crisis center (which I guess is also yours!) really likes to use this in our 101-level dynamics-of-sexual-violence trainings – that it used to be that societal ideas of preventing drunk driving casualties was telling potential victims not to be on the roads at certain times/places because of drunk drivers, but now we have “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”, bartenders confiscating keys, and more understanding of the seriousness of drunk driving, more understanding that people driving drunk is not just an inevitable part of the human condition that we should accept, and that we could apply this shift to sexual violence as well.

                • Aimai

                  Yes, this is a very good analogy and very important. I was just talking about it this afternoon (like, ten minutes ago) with my daughter who has just been corralled into a hideously stupid girl empowerment summer program with the Mayor’s office. She is supposed to do some kind of “media” project aimed at teens. She really wanted to do guns and work on creating gun awareness and gun rejection among teens based on ideas like the “don’t be that guy” rape awareness campaign in Canada–that is have teens discuss guns with their parents and each other rather than leaving the discussion up to the elderly gun nuts. Emphasize safety in the home rather than ownership and fetishization. Things like that. Unfortunately she got voted down and they are doing some awful and routine thing on “poor body image” for girls which is, ultimately, (to my mind) more of this individualization of the problem.

  • Trollhattan

    I cycle-commute any day it’s not raining, which in California is now 365.25 days/year. Also happen own two cars, a van and a motorcycle, but commute in none of those.

    You’re welcome, people who don’t have to compete for my parking space.

    Am now accustomed to conversations wherein somebody who has seen bicyclists behave badly unloads their laundry list of those bad things with the expectation that I will defend and/or apologize because, as a bicyclist I am also all bicyclists. Also, too, for some reason they frequently complain about Lycra bicycling clothing. Okay.

    I now agree to “take responsibility for the sins of all bicyclists” but they, in return, must take responsibility for the sins of all motorists. And then I launch into a retelling of everything I’ve seen drivers do for the last several decades, most being acts of deadly intent/inattention whilst operating a two-ton moving device. (Come to think of it, I only have to relate the previous week.)

    The libertarians, of course, only want people who “pay for the roads” on the roads. They’re a little soft on who actually payed for the roads but know to the penny what it last cost to fill the eff-two-fiddy at Sam’s Club.

    Anyway, “Courtland Milloy” can go to hell at the same time he curses his parents for the absurd name.

    • Murc

      Courtland Milloy sounds like the name of an American villain on Downton Abbey.

      • VCarlson

        Or a P.G. Wodehouse tale.

    • gratuitous

      Send me the bill for your next drink, as we are unlikely to meet in a bar. The only part of your post I wouldn’t write is that I cycle-commute even when it’s raining (in Oregon, if you don’t ride when it rains, you don’t ride very much).

      • Very reflective waterproof clothing for the year-round-Oregon-cycling-commute win!

        Shorter: me too.

    • Alex Hall

      “The libertarians, of course, only want people who “pay for the roads” on the roads.”

      What’s profoundly weird is that the costs of the road are overwhelmingly from heavy trucks. The rule of thumb is that road wear goes up by the fourth power of axle load. A semi causes damage equal to several thousand cars, and the proportion of distance traveled by each type means that basically all road wear (obviously frost heave and the like are different) is caused by trucks and buses.

      Actually, current road taxes are a massive subsidy for the trucking industry. We pay in proportion to fuel use, and of course a semi that damages like 8000 cars doesn’t burn 8000 cars worth of diesel. We’d be much better off shifting freight back onto the rails as much as possible, and it’d be greener to boot.

      • BigHank53

        There was a sticker around here that I saw on the back of a few heavy trucks that went something like “This vehicle paid $1800 in fuel taxes last year.” And you got yourself a bargain, dude, ’cause after the libertarian revolution those privatized road tolls will make your nose bleed.

    • Warren Terra

      I walk to work. You’re welcome, bicyclists who don’t have to compete for my bike-rack space.

      • N__B

        I walk to work as well. Surprising we haven’t met.

        • Warren Terra

          I’d remember meeting a polar bear. Also, poorly suited to the climate in Southern California.

          • Bears, in general, are masters at camouflage.

            • Warren Terra

              Why did you link to a picture of a tree?

      • nixnutz

        I used to bike to work until I got sick of starting every day pissed off.

        • Dennis Orphen

          People who drive autos to and from work ALSO seem to be angry or miserable or both. That might one of the reasons why some drivers hate cyclists. Cyclists are getting away with something, not being (as?) broke and unhappy like almost everyone else.

    • Malaclypse

      The libertarians, of course, only want people who “pay for the roads” on the roads.

      And of course, gas taxes pay for highways, where bikes don’t go. Local roads are paid for by some combination of property/income/sales tax, depending on locality.

    • MH

      I firmly support the idea that people who actually use the roads should pay for them with a dedicated gasoline tax. I would happily pay a separate “bicycles only” tax for the creation and maintenance of separated bicycle lanes and paths all over my city if the maintenance and creation of roads for cars/etc. had to be paid at the pump.

      Of course, one of those reasons is that I know that the bicycles only tax would be absurdly low given how little maintenance is required for them, and how many people would immediately switch to only using bicycles if gas ended up reflecting the full cost of the roads.

  • Kurzleg

    Apologies if someone already made this point up thread. My wife and I went 15 years as a one-car couple, which meant I bike commuted to work through 15 MN winters in addition to riding quite a bit as a hobbyist bike racer. Bike infrastructure – at least that which we have in the Mpls area – tends to separate car and driver and is therefore much safer. In my younger years I used to laugh at folks that used the bike trails in Mpls and the western suburbs, but in my middle age I ride almost exclusively on these trails because it minimizes my contact with cars. Ultimately, this separation might not be the best solution since it doesn’t train drivers to look for cyclists and learn to co-exist with them, but personally, the bike trails make for more enjoyable riding.

    • Ultimately, this separation might not be the best solution since it doesn’t train drivers to look for cyclists and learn to co-exist with them, but personally, the bike trails make for more enjoyable riding.

      About 2/3rds of my commute is on “dedicated, but shared” bike paths. Unfortunately in the summer months that means slow-moving old people, kids, dogs, strollers, and the occasional bike. I’ve never used my bell so much in my life.

      It’s still nicer than the (extensive) bike lanes we have on the streets here, and there’s no comparison to riding on a road with no shoulder or dedicated bike lane [shudder].

      • Kurzleg

        You talking about Portland? Was there in April and stayed at a place in SE right on a bikeway @ Cesar Chavez Way. The bikeway is great, but even with dedicated lanes the other city streets seemed pretty congested with both cars and bikes. Even so, if not for the high housing prices I’d move there in a second.

        • Corvallis, about 90 minutes south of Portlandia. Much smaller, way less busy, and a really, really good biking infrastructure. We also have a significantly higher percentage of bike commuters than Portland.

          Same high prices for housing though.

  • MoonBoots Mike

    As someone who either drives or walks & takes mass transit, and is not a cyclist… I fully see the benefits of improving the infrastructure around my city for biking. And I don’t necessary view cyclists as a separate species, worthy of all sorts of stereotypes.

    that being said, the Critical Mass people are all complete creeps.

    • postmodulator

      I have good friends who do Critical Mass. I never understood their logic. “Once we get a bunch of people fired for being late back from lunch, they’ll be indefatigable advocates for bike rights!”

      • Downpuppy

        4th Friday of every summer month on City Hall Plaza is bike day. Huge swarms come in from the outer suburbs. Very annoying.

        Although, this one time in band—erm, I mean right by Center Plaza, I got a flat. Pushed the bike into the event & they changed it for free.

        So, Greatest Things Ever!

    • nixnutz

      I was there for the first Critical Masses, they rode along the same route I took home from work, and I always thought it was stupid and counterproductive. Mostly because they mostly inconvenienced pedestrians and bus-commuters but it also seemed to me that drivers got much more hostile and aggressive, in a pervasive and long-lasting way, in response.

      I think it was the second or third month that a driver road raged and plowed into a group of riders, which was obviously the driver’s fault and not Critical Mass’s but was also entirely predictable. I can see how that would harden people’s attitudes but the whole thing was stupid from the beginning.

    • Warren Terra

      I’ve seen local versions of Critical Mass that are more like fun, flamboyant parades at off hours instead of militant attempts to screw commuters in order to score a triple bankshot that helps cyclists. But, yeah, the more famous Critical Mass types, of the latter variety, have been testing their helmets a bit too much, and doing too many no-helmet controls.

  • Alex O’connor

    I am not sure the title of the blog post accurately represents what the columnist has to say in his article. He hardly advocate “immediate execution” of cyclist who disobey traffic laws.

    I am a frequent bike commuter who navigates the surface streets of the City of Chicago; I disagree with his sentiment, and even suggesting that someone would chose to pay 500 for the chance to hit a cyclist is grossly irresponsible and not at all funny. It is not identical to calling for “immediate execution”. Such characterization simply undermines your credibility.

    While that portion of his article is clearly a despicable gimmick of over-blown rhetoric; there are some good points in the article re the bike infrastructure in DC & its relationship to disparities in public investment in infrastructure in poor black areas vs more affluent more white areas.

    Additionally his point about riding on side-walk (sans the needless implied threat of an endo) is well taken and points to a need for better bike infrastructure not less.

    Other than your characterization of this article as calling for the “immediate execution” of scofflaw cyclist I generally agree with the rest of your post.

    • Aimai

      The comment about hitting cyclists and paying the fine was in a different essay.

      • Alex O’connor

        Yeah, I know I read The Post article; It (the Post article) does not call for the “immediate execution” of cyclist scofflaws. That is the point of my post; to claim it (the Post article) does undermines the credibility of the OP; and this blog in general.

        I agree with the rest of the substance of the OP post.

        • Aimai

          Hyperbole?

        • runsinbackground

          Pretty hard to “shoot to wound” with a car against a bike, especially at speed.

          • Alex O’connor

            I’ve been hit several times. I was wounded on each occasion; never at least not yet was I “immediately executed”.

    • Roads existed long before cars did. That the US has decided to co-opt roads for automobiles is an abomination of the first order.

  • Librul Idiot

    While Milloy’s open endorsement of murder…

    did he threaten a head on a pike?

    • sharculese

      Awwww…. you’re still bitter about how that tantrum didn’t work!

  • TribalistMeathead

    I was wondering if Milloy was the same Post writer who coined the term “myopic little twits” to describe twentysomething whites who move into the District.

    Yep.

    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bestofdc/peopleandplaces/2011/best-new-political-label

    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2012/07/16/courtland-milloy-youre-still-myopic-little-twits/

    • Srsly Dad Y

      He’s basically an African-American Mike Barnicle. He has some redeeming value, I think, in that he voices the authentic sentiments of longtime, working-class city residents that otherwise wouldn’t appear in the paper.

      • ajay

        he voices the authentic sentiments of longtime, working-class city residents that otherwise wouldn’t appear in the paper.

        Truly, the entitled asshole’s voice has been tragically stifled by Big Media.

        • Srsly Dad Y

          You’re missing the sociological significance of his columns. As a body, they reflect the perspective of African-American “native Washingtonians” who perceive a lack of respect for their political accomplishments (Marion Barry) and norms. He has repeatedly accused mayors of conspiring with developers to make DC less black. You need to understand what Milloy’s audience understands, that the stereotyped “biker” in the column is a myopic white twit who gentrified an African-American neighborhood, and the “driver” is an aging African-American resident like Milloy.

          • Srsly Dad Y

            What Bloix said. I didn’t read the whole thread.

      • TribalistMeathead

        I mean, he’s also right about the bizarre support for Fenty and Rhee, as well as the pushing of the narrative that unions drove them out of office, amongst otherwise-liberal citizens.

        But stopped clocks are right twice a day.

  • Johnnie

    While sitting round the campfire a couple of weeks ago after a hard day of fishing drinking, my loud, boorish tea party uncle goes on a huge rant over how angry he is that some horrible minority is “imposing” bike lanes on his street and taking away the on-street parking. Which is hardly utilized, but he believes is a major selling point of houses on that street. There’s something really strange about fully formed adults getting so upset at the prospect of cyclists(!) on the road that really mystifies me. It’s interesting to note the close correlation between anti-bike and conservative sentiment though.

    • Aimai

      I think that cycling is seen as countercultural, hippie, and not responsible (in that it doesn’t conjure up images of family/car/mortgage and solidity). To a certain kind of person it seems like it represents transience, youth, and freedom and almost a contempt for tradition/propriety. I think there are people at both ends of the economic spectrum who can’t wrap their heads around people with money (hipsters/yuppies) who won’t spend that money on an expensive car. I also think there’s a class aspect to this as well–I’m pretty sure that being hasselled for driving while black isn’t nearly as bad as being hassled for biking while black with the added risk of being attacked by motorists just for the biking part.

  • Rob in CT

    The only issue I have with bicylcists (and motorcyclists too) is that I’m scared I’ll screw up and kill them. I’m always on pins and needles when one is close to me.

    • JustRuss

      I cycle a lot, but I still have the same reaction when i’m driving. Bikes are small and can be hard to see. On the plus side, they’re very nimble and the cyclists should be very aware of your presence. So if you don’t do anything stupid–I’m looking at you, Mr. Right Turn Without Signaling!–everyone will be fine.

      • Warren Terra

        Yeah, in a decade my only accident with a car (my only accident that wasn’t me-versus-bad-road-conditions) was a car the swerved into my lane and braked, right in front of me, without signaling. I was seriously injured trying to avoid plowing into them.

    • JL

      I have that reaction to everything, including other drivers, when I’m driving (which is why I didn’t learn to do it at all until about 10 years after I was legally eligible and still almost never do it – I figure that I’m in control of a deadly weapon and I’m paranoid about harming someone with it). So I can appreciate this concern. On the whole I’d rather interact with a driver like that than one who doesn’t bother to consider the damage they could do.

    • MH

      Almost every negative experience I’ve had with cars (especially the two times I’ve been hit) could have been avoided if the drivers took the precaution of looking in front of the car when going forwards. So while I firmly support being nervous and very careful about cyclists, because I am one, most of the trouble that cyclists face has more to do with criminal level negligence and direct malice on the part of the drivers.

      The fact that there’s so much of that, and that as a society we’ve decided that the results of it is inevitable and accidental is a separate problem.

  • I’ve been on my bike and had people in cars almost kill me.

    I’ve never been in my car and had someone on a bike almost kill me.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Well played, Old Bean. There is a variation of the theme that I use when someone tries to remind me it is illegal to ride a bicycle while intoxicated: “How many innocents have drunken cyclists injured, maimed or killed? How much property has been damaged?”

  • joe from Lowell

    So Lowell had a shooting – no, really! And the City Council responded by telling the Chief of Police to enforce the curfew for juveniles more vigorously. Kind of a meh idea, but here’s where it gets good:

    Our own beloved Councilor Rita Mercier comes out with this gem “When you see a kid who’s ten years old riding a bike across the city at maybe 11:30 at night, you know he’s not visiting grandma. He’s running drugs.”

    Drugs, people!

    • Warren Terra

      To be fair, when my grandpa was ten he was making booze deliveries around town. I doubt he could have afforded a bike, though.

      • Lee Rudolph

        So, he was a mule?

        • Aimai

          You shoulda seen his cantaloupes!

    • Dennis Orphen

      And if that child is of color the bike must be s****n too!

      • joe from Lowell

        Schwinn?

        I don’t think you have to bleep out “Schwinn.”

    • Downpuppy

      Lotta greasers hanging out at the Zayres!

  • Elizabeth

    I’m sorry to hear about so many bad experiences on both sides. I used to bike all the time back when I was young. Then I got a little older, acquired a family and a tighter schedule, and got a car.

    For the last four years, though, I’ve been biking to work and I love it. I get to work in a great mood. I mean it’s kind of ridiculous how I’ll be riding down the road feeling like a million bucks while random thoughts like “life is awesome” bubble up unbidden from my subconscious.

    Now that I’m biking again, I’ve noticed a big change since my youth. Back then, I experienced regular harassment from drivers; yelling, insults, intentionally coming really close, etc. Now, drivers seem very courteous; occasionally people are a bit clueless but I think in four years I’ve only experienced what I would call harassment maybe once or twice (and it was pretty mild).

    In return I’m trying to be a courteous bicyclist and a good “ambassador” for biking. So kudos to all you courteous drivers in Minneapolis who have learned to share the road. You’ve changed my attitude (plus made it much easier for me to enjoy riding to work). I think change is possible.

    • tsam

      +1000

      I LIKE YOUR ATTITUDE

    • whetstone

      Awesome, this is what I like to hear. Minneapolis is a model for bike infrastructure. I’ve noticed similar things in Chicago in the past few years. I think more people are cycling, which means that the percentage of risk-taking cyclists is lower, and that drivers are more accustomed to cyclists–and thus more cognizant, and less surprised, of how they operate on the road.

      We’ve also gotten much better infrastructure, which cyclists are using. We got a two-lane buffered bike lane running through the middle of downtown with cyclist-specific traffic lights, so cyclists tend to congregate there–again, giving drivers something to expect (and getting them off the streets that cause more driver-cyclist conflict).

      And bike share. Apparently since we got bike share, shops are selling more commuter bikes, suggesting that the bike share program is getting more commuters on the street.

      As dickish as columnists like Milloy can be, I’m actually pretty hopeful for the future of bike-friendly cities. I feel like we get a lot more hostility from the media these days than actual drivers.

      • MH

        The extent to which bicycle positive policies are also a source of civic pride in Minneapolis doesn’t hurt either. Sometimes I wish cars around here were less overtly courteous. Really drivers! I don’t need to you yield the right of way to me when I have a stop sign and you don’t. We both get where we’re going faster without sitting there looking at each other trying to figure out what we’re doing.

        • JBL

          Oh god 1000 times this! :)

  • tsam

    RE: Bicycles and cars: Everybody needs to CHILL THE FUCK OUT and get everyone home alive. That would be cool for me. If you have to slow down or stop for a minute to be safe, you’ll fucking live.

  • Denverite

    In Denver, the main dispute involving cyclists is usually over the use of bike paths and lanes* by pedestrians/runners. Usually what happens is that the paths get so clogged with pedestrians/runners that the parks district imposes a speed limit for the bikers, then they complain about how they shouldn’t have to accommodate non-bikers and why can’t you just go run around the park (um, because that gets really boring, the same reason you don’t go bike around the park), then the park district comes up with some stupid compromise like you have to slow down in various spots but not on the stretches between them.

    * Runners run in bike lanes even where there’s a sidewalk because the asphalt is better on your legs than concrete.

    • Denverite

      I will say that in Colorado generally there can be issues in sharing the road on some mountains where the road in question is a narrow switchback with no guard rails and everyone is already lightheaded from the altitude.

    • BigHank53

      I don’t mind sharing the local path with runners. I do wish they’d look over their shoulders before hanging a sudden left. I nearly knocked some guy on his ass last year, and had to ride off the left side of the path to do it. If there’s been a baby stroller in the oncoming lane, he would have gotten it.

    • JL

      I don’t mind sharing the Bikeway and similar paths with pedestrians, whether running or walking, as long as they don’t block the whole path (I’m a pedestrian on them pretty often, for that matter, as they’re the only reasonable pedestrian route from my house to the subway, and also as I run). We don’t seem to have as many disputes about this, though, just a few mild grumbles.

      I suspect the terrain and other aspects of the situation are different in Denver than in metro Boston, though.

  • Socrets

    I do not support murdering bicyclists. I do, however, support letting Darwin take out the repeat serious offenders.

    • Socrets

      Also, if paying more in taxes means that bikers get their own roads, then fine by me. I vaguely remember something like it when I was in Amsterdam a few years back where I saw bicyclists and people on scooters on their own road while pedestrians were on the sidewalk.

      • JustRuss

        Yeah, in Dutch cities cyclists get their own lanes, and in the country they get separate highways. It’s quite awesome.

  • The average car can go from 0-60 in 8-10 seconds. So even if you had to slow down to a crawl to pass me, you’d be back up to speed in no time at all.

    Is my life not worth 10 seconds out of your day?

  • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

    Milloy is a dick about bikes, but I’m with him on speed and red light cameras. If the fucking pigs want to give me a speeding ticket, they should have to catch me themselves. And red-light cameras cause accidents, especially when municipalities shorten yellow-light times when they install the cameras.

  • mememe

    That’s OK, because I want to guillotine Milloy, making us’re equally bad on both sides.

    But, Lee*ESQ* wasn’t your problem that JOtto was RIGHT about Israel, poor Likud Party “leftie”? Yes, my jewish-LIBERAL-diaspora brain thought is was clearly a great joke.

    In fact, I call JOtto my thread winner just because it’s what you deserve.

    Remember, rest of thread, out of topic helps with funny.

  • liberal

    LeeEsq wrote,

    Can somebody please lay down the law with J. Otto Pohl and tell him to stop making unncessary and off topic references to Jews, Israel, or Zionists?

    Zionists =/= Jews. Zionists adhere to a political philosophy, hence are fair game for scrutiny, etc.

  • As a cyclist just recovering emotionally from a (thankfully) non-injurious accident with a fire truck — unless you want to count the fact I broke a fire truck as “non-injurious” — Imma just leave this valuable historical document here

    • ajay

      You, on a bike, ran into a fire truck, you were unharmed but the fire truck was broken? Who the hell are you, Godzilla?

It is main inner container footer text