Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ridiculous Debate

This is the second time this year that Pretty Lady has been suddenly so fed up with Americans that she has contemplated moving to Amsterdam.

The first time was reading an article in Salon about veterinary practices, several months ago, and noting that opinion was running 3 to 1 in favor of going into excessive debt in order to torture one's pets into living marginally longer lives.

The second is this: Drivers or Bikers: Who Sucks More?

In Pretty Lady's opinion, this ought to be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of Americans have no brains.

People. We are in the middle of both an energy crisis and an obesity epidemic. And yet, it seems that almost none of us have connected these two indisputable facts with the notion that perhaps we ought to pay closer attention to the plight of bicyclists.

Pretty Lady's friends know that she is, at various times, a driver, a biker, and a pedestrian. She practices safe navigation, no matter what her medium; she sees the situation, impartially, from all sides. And she is here to testify that most car drivers suffer from an undeserved sense of entitlement that must be trained out of them, if society is to survive and thrive.

Car drivers double-park in bike lanes, on arterial roads at rush hour. They do not check their rearview mirrors before pulling into the bike lane, or opening their door into same. They honk at bicyclists when approaching from behind, apparently under the mistaken impression that their engine does not sound like an approaching dragon with bronchitis. They block your turn, even when you are actively looking them in the eye and signalling your intention.

Pedestrians wait to cross the street while standing in the middle of the bike lane, or in the section of street that would contain a bike lane, if there were one. They walk out into the street in front of bicycles while looking directly at the bicyclist, as though we were invisible.

Pretty Lady has this to say, to all drivers and pedestrians: BICYCLES. ARE. TRAFFIC.

Please stop and let this sink into your mind for a moment. Weigh the ramifications. Allow both your conscious and your subconscious minds to register this information to their very core; acknowledge that this is a substantial change from your current beliefs and perceptions.

For, from an energy efficiency perspective, from a healthcare perspective, it makes profound sense for people to get in the habit of integrating bicycling with their functional lives, insofar as getting on a bicycle is NOT tantamount to taking one's life in one's hands. We have no right to whine about how gasoline costs are killing us, how we don't have time to excercise, when there is a perfectly good bike lane between home and the grocery store, the post office, the park and the café, and the Transportation Alternatives newsletter giving us a means of agitating for enforcement of traffic laws.

Pretty Lady must confess that in her ideal city, there would be dedicated bike lanes on all roads, demarcated by green belts on either side. Light rail trains with rapid, easy wheelchair access would occupy the center of these roads, with moving sidewalks nearest the storefronts; car traffic would be relegated to select alleyways and far-flung interstates. And Pretty Lady says this as one who has staunchly refused to divest herself of her beloved 4-wheeler, even in the inner city during a fuel crisis.


Anonymous said...

I gave up biking as a means of transportation because I really do feel it's tantamount to taking my life into my own hands. I try to be careful, but the number of times I almost got mown over or doored was great and upsetting.

I am, however, a great fan of York Regional Transit. It's exquisite.

Anonymous said...

During one summer in my youth, two friends suffered broken bones in accidents with cars while biking. I am terrified of biking.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this yet, but check it out: Bike lanes to be created on Broadway.


Anonymous said...

And bicyclists need to hear:


You'll not earn points by taking the bike down the white line between cars, nor can you expect to be treated at all well when you cross through an intersection on a red light because you're just biking, causing traffic to panic to avoid the suicidal idiot on two wheels.

MacLaren said...

I'm with you - biking is fantastic as transportation and as exercise.

Though it's quite dangerous. It's almost as if drivers have it "in" for you, many times.