Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back in the Bike Saddle Again

I deleted my traffic-blog, Small Laws, but that doesn't mean traffic stops happening. I was attracting a lot of negative attention from people who'd bitch about my work there—not directly to me, mind. No comments on my blog, but they'd link to my posts from other message boards and it was no feat to find them and see what people were saying.

The "Minneapolitans are terrible drivers" posts were criticized on the "Minneapolis is awesome" blogs.

The "cyclists have a portion of responsibility in traffic safety" were decried on the "cyclists can do no wrong" blogs.

Nobody brought the discussion to me, because Minnesotans don't do that. If they don't like what you're doing, they talk behind your back. If they like what you're doing, they announce it around you: not to your face and ostensibly to one of their friends, just as you're passing by. Once, a guy on a stage with a microphone at a trivia contest told me to fuck off because I called him out on a bad trivia question. After the show he approached my table, turned his back to me, and apologized to all of my friends in case he offended them: "No hard feelings? We'd really like to see you guys come back again." I'm forming a theory that anyone who looks you in the eye is from Chicago or Madison.

But I'm biking again, Rebecca and I bought year-memberships to Nice Ride, Minneapolis' awesome-freakin' bike-sharing program. I can commute to work: there's a Nice Ride rack a block north or south of my apartment, and another half a block from where I work. It is the height of convenience, great exercise, and a great excuse to indulge in choccy milk.

Is it low of me to be so uncharitable?
After all, she was preoccupied with
multitasking: driving her pricey car,
yakking away on her iPhone, and
putting an uppity cyclist in his place.
She shoved me out of the bike lane
today: she nearly clipped me going
down the street, then she parked
her BMW in the bike lane to prepare
for a right turn, two car lengths ahead
of the indicated lane merge.
It's also life-threatening, of course. Occasionally you get a pedestrian giving you the stink-eye as they stroll out in front of you, but this is rare. Once in a while I encounter a car that doesn't understand they have to (or doesn't care to) give me three feet of space when they pass, and without making strict physical contact, nonetheless bully me out of my lane. Minneapolis is wonderful with more and more bike lanes all the time, but depending on the socio-economic stratum of the neighborhood you're in, people may not care about an extra painted line on the road. Usually, however, cars are alert and respectful: today I successfully hand-signaled my way across three busy lanes of traffic down Portland Avenue. People saw me and gave me plenty of room. There was no ego, there was no resentment, there was only traffic harmony.

Most common, however, is aggression from other cyclists. I stop at red lights, per MN Statute 169.222, but most cyclists do not. They ride through them and, half the time, they ride a little too close to me to teach me a lesson: you need to get out of my way, nerd. Hipsters and professional cyclists have two things in common: they're profoundly image-conscious, and they have complete disregard for law, safety, and community. I suppose those are both forms of deep self-interest, but it's useful to underscore each manifestation of it.

And I know I'm a broken record, but no one reads this blog anyway so I can go ahead and bitch about it on occasion here. Nothing makes a difference: polite conversation, citing the law, leading by example, or shouting at strangers. Nothing makes an ounce of impact, not one joule, so let me shout into my own void, thanks.

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