Friday, September 26, 2014

"You got a shitty job, and I got a dollar."

I hate unassertive cyclists. And I hate waiting around for nothing. As a cyclist, virtually every T-intersection traffic stop creates a situation where you can assertively run the red and continue on your path or stop at the light like a law abiding citizen.

You can probably take a guess at which option I opt for, and I hate coming across a momentum stopping cluster of law abiding citizens waiting for nothing but lights to change to carry on.

But more so than those cyclists are the bystanders. I once had a ped at a tram stop point out to me that I had to stop behind a tram so long as it's doors are open. I was baffled as to whether he honestly thought I didn't know the law. Did he think that I would bother to point out to the myriad of peds daily that they were standing in a bike lane, often on a set of words that said 'stand clear'. I don't because peds are peds and generally oblivious to their surroundings. They are genuinely ignorant of the law. You don't cycle as long as I do and remain ignorant of all the traffic laws you violate regularly.

This morning a guy honked at me as I ran a red. A red he in his jeep had to wait for. I was transitioning through a number of T-intersections (all of which he'd have to stop for) and heading into the heart of the CBD where bikes travel much faster than cars so I never had any chance of encountering or being confronted by the guy (I actually don't know if it was a guy).

But it set me off anyway, you have to cut through all the bullshit of what these people will report they are doing - trying to point out I'll get myself killed that way. Call me up when I'm breaking the law. Trying to keep me and others on the road safe.

Truth be told, I can't honestly imagine what somebody hopes to accomplish by beeping a cyclist when they run a light or make an illegal turn or don't dismount in front of a 'cyclists dismount' sign.

What I hear, in that car horn is 'it's not fair, I can't run a light so why should cyclists get away with it?' wine wine wine wine wine. A big noise from a small person inside a protective, uneconomical, inefficient shell.

To which I say 'yeah, of course it's unfair. Why do you think I cycle?' As far as I'm concerned, any car withing 5km of the CBD is an admission of logistical failure. Taxis sure, goods delivery vehicles of course. Single commuter driving to work? You fucked up.

Deal with it, you can't register bicycles they are too easy to steal, lend, borrow, onsell, repair, modify etc. Meaning that short of a police present to pull you up on the law, there's no legal repurcussions to transgressions for most cyclists. There's no number to take down, a red light camera gets a photo of a John Doe the police don't have the resources to trace.

Then one night as a lady yelled from her car as I legally took a lane she was driving down and assumed the law must be that a car can run down a cyclist who changes into a lane like a regular vehicle: 'do you have a death wish?' (I responded 'Yes' to confuse her, you don't get much time in these situations) but the best response would have been 'do you?' largely because it is an incredibly high risk activity to confront anybody on the road.

But pertinant to this discussion, the answer is no. I have witnessed many traffic accidents involving cyclists in my time, and with no exceptions, seriously, not one, the cyclist with the 'death wish' has been in full compliance with the road rules. The most common accidents I have witnessed (and experienced) as a cyclist, is having somebody open a car door into a cyclist (known as dooring).

The cyclist is always riding perfectly legally as a cyclist in these situations. Often they are in harms way because they are riding in the bike lane they are both designated and required to ride in.

And just as most pedestrians are killed in pedestrian crossings, and very few are killed while jaywalking, I have seen numerous 'stupidly dangerous' feats of cycling in my time, ones I don't have the confidence to try on. Like riding at night with no lights and no helmet, and riding against the traffic, and cutting across an intersection as traffic is passing through... I've seen all kinds of 'stupidity'.

What I've never seen is one of these acts resulting in accident or even injury. Hence I have to put 'stupidly dangerous' in scare quotes, because my experience is that obeying the road rules is dangerous, and stupid unnecessary risk taking appears to be quite safe.

If it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid.

The quote of the title of this post comes from Joe Rogan, in his context it was copping bad attitude from a stripper. In my context, if you are driving a car into the CBD sitting in congested traffic, getting frustrated by your work commute, frustrated enough that seeing a cyclist just skip the lights and ride on his merry way. And you can't look around and think that you are in a comfortable climate controlled environment with a sound system and that's why you chose this mode of transport. Then you made a shitty choice and just fucking choke on it, choke on it silently thanks.

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