Monday, July 18, 2011

rushin' reds

Today, riding home from work, I nearly got hit.

But...surprise, surprise...not by a motor vehicle.

I was turning left from Drake onto Burrard. Ironically, it was on the separated but in-my-opinion-awkardly-positioned bike lane, which means that it's more like turning left off a one-way street than off a regular two-way street. (Not exactly, but my ungrateful nitpicking about the separated infrastructure will have to be left for another day.) The traffic-light structure is that of a pedestrian/bicycle-activated crossing, so bicycles follow the pedestrian-crossing symbol instead of a green light. (This is a tradition which has always seemed somewhat contradictory to me, in that the powers-that-be seem to be constantly trying to keep bicycles off of sidewalks and associate them instead with motor vehicles. For the love of two wheels, WHICH DO YOU WANT US TO BE?! No wonder everybody's confused.)

Anyhoo... as the light changed and I prepared to cross, I did my instinctual check to my left to see if the cars were stopped and nobody was running the red. Two lanes, both stopped, good. Then, as I started to accelerate, a guy on a bike comes careening past the cars on the inside. Not in a bike lane; there was extra space which I think was from an unfilled parking spot. Based on our relative positioning at the time, I chose to stomp on the pedals to try to accelerate out of his way, loudly yelling "Woah, dude!", and he swerved the other way to avoid me. As he powered on through the red light without a word, I crossly -- and futilely, I expect -- yelled, "Red light!" after him.

So here's why I'm retelling this story.

As a group, we cyclists waste a tonne of breath nagging each other about helmets (in both directions). So my request is this: for anyone who knows any cyclists who routinely make a habit of this unpredictable road vice, can we attempt to expend equal effort to applying peer pressure on such cavalier, rules-don't-apply-to-me behavior? Because this isn't about the safety of one of us; it's about the safety of all of us.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

in a word

The man in the elevator, eyeing my red bicycle, asked where I had ridden.  "To and from work," I replied. "It's convenient."

"Yes," he agreed, then paused, seeming to search for a word. "And...civilized."

Yes, sir.  Exactly.